Friday, June 24, 2011

To Read!

Woohoo! I have a new mystery novel to read. I just purchased Jennie Hansen's new book, If I Should Die. I love that title--it's a great chills-along-the-spine title.

Here's the blurb about the book:

"One morning on a routine jog, Kallene’s running partner, Linda, confides that she’s filing for divorce. The next morning, she’s gone without a trace, leaving behind her frightened young daughter. Since Linda’s enraged husband refuses to notify the police, Kallene steps in to initiate a missing person search, not knowing it would soon become a murder investigation — or that she’d soon fall for the charming lead detective. With Linda’s handsome brother also on her mind, Kallene must navigate the rapids of a double romance as well as the deepening suspicion in her upscale Utah neighborhood. Intrigue turns to danger as Kallene faces the consequences of hasty judgments. And when startling new evidence casts Linda’s murder as the work of a determined killer, Kallene needs the intervention of unlikely heroes to avoid being the next victim."

Jennie Hansen is one of the long-time stars of LDS fiction; in 2007, she received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Whitney Awards. I bought the Kindle version of her new book--it is so cool to be able to purchase LDS fiction at the click of a button!

What's on your summer to-read list?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Disneyland, or We Did It!

We have now taken our first-ever family trip to Disneyland. Yes, we live in California; no, we had never taken our kids to Disneyland. Scandalous! (A friend suggested we might have been in violation of some law to have never taken the family there. I wouldn't be surprised). But this year, we finally took the plunge. We realized our kids are getting so old—our oldest daughter just turned twenty, and we’ll have two in college next fall—that if we wanted a full family trip to Disneyland, we’d better hurry and do it before the kids started to scatter to missions, marriage, grad school, etc.

We left the day after my daughter Shauna graduated from high school. Shauna didn’t feel particularly sentimental about leaving high school; she’s not one you’d see crying at graduation. Her take on graduating was more along the lines of, “It’s over! Hahahahahaha! You can’t make me go back!” She had some great teachers and great friends, but high school was never her scene, and she’s thrilled to be heading to college in the fall.

On the way to southern California, we stopped at Pismo Beach and wandered around. (Bugs Bunny fans may recall Pismo Beach as one of the many destinations Bugs Bunny was trying to reach, but missed when he didn’t take that “left turn at Albuquerque.”). The sand there was super fine and it was windy, but I didn’t worry about my camera since it’s one of those cameras that you can get wet or drop. This doesn’t mean we won’t break it eventually; it just means we’ll have to work harder to achieve that goal. We could accidentally break Fort Knox, given the chance.

So it turns out that a lot of people like going to Disneyland. I knew there would be long lines, but didn’t realize the streets themselves would be packed solid with people. This website puts summer attendance between 50-60 thousand people daily. Good heavens! That’s a decent-sized city, all packed into a theme park! And attendance peaks at Christmas break—70 thousand visitors will be standing ahead of you in line, waiting for Splash Mountain, so I hope you brought something to read (which, I did, actually. I had my Kindle in my purse in case I needed it, and I did pull it out a couple of times—once when Indiana Jones broke down and once when I was sitting outside Space Mountain waiting for my daughter). My husband was reading War and Peace on his phone when he got bored. War and Peace is a good choice for Disneyland: no matter how long the line, your book is longer.

The Fastpass system worked great for avoiding super long waits on popular attractions. We would trade off so my youngest daughter, who didn’t want to do the crazy stuff, could do more kid-friendly rides while others went on the wild ones. Longest lines were for the new Star Tours, so we got Fastpasses there. They have different storylines for the ride, so it’s luck of the draw which one you get, and I think I must have gotten one of the less thrilling ones, since afterward I felt like meh, it was okay, but I sure wouldn’t wait two hours in line for that. But others in the family seemed to enjoy it more.

Everyone had fun, even my husband who was still suffering from a serious case of poison oak (poor guy), my older son who formerly hadn’t liked amusement parks, and my second daughter who isn’t keen on crowds. I loved it—I’ve always loved amusement parks. When I was a kid, our family trip to Lagoon was almost as exciting as Christmas. Few things were as thrilling to me as racing around with my sister, going on Dracula’s Castle or that old wooden roller coaster. I’d love to take the family back to Disneyland some day, so, taking a cue from my brother’s family (huge Disneyland fans--he even has the CD of all the ride music which means he voluntarily listens to It's a Small World), I’ve started a Disneyland jar where I put spare change. I always have a container on top of the drier where I can put the change I find in people’s pockets, so why not take a jar, label it “Disneyland” and put that on the drier instead? It makes it a lot more fun to check pockets. If I fill up the jar, I . . . well, maybe I’ll be able to afford a frozen chocolate-covered banana for everyone. Hmm, maybe I'll need more than one jar . . .

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sailing, Sailing . . . or Not

Here's a fun picture for a Saturday morning. This is a photo of the Bay Bridge at sunset, taken when we were out sailing in San Francisco Bay several years back. The picture is my favorite souvenir of that sailing era. My other souvenir is a nervous twitch.

Just kidding. I'm over it now. Maybe. For a year or so we were co-owners of an old sailboat. My husband has always been interested in sailing--he even took a sailing class in grad school and got to sail up and down the Charles River in Boston (where you really don't want to fall in). As for me, I'm not into sailing--the fact that boats don't have brakes is very intimidating to me, and I have deficient spacial ability, so the "pull the sail this way to go that way" and all is anything but intuitive. I found that I didn't enjoy owning a boat--disliked it intensely, in fact, and found it exceedingly stressful. Sailing our own boat scared me, and boats constantly slurp up money, whether or not you're actually in them on the water. Our boat got dubbed the Sea Weasel. Our co-owners did eventually come up with another name for it, but I don't remember what that name was--something about a duck, maybe? No matter. That boat will always be the Sea Weasel to me.

When we sold the boat, I was greatly relieved. My husband now has a little sailboat you can pull behind your car. I like this one much better. It's small and harmless. There's no danger of crashing into somebody's million-dollar yacht. No danger of much of anything--when you sail it on lakes, if you fall in, you can get back in the little boat--no harm done--as opposed to sailing on the Bay, where if you capsize your boat, you'd better hope the Cost Guard gets to you before hypothermia sets in or you end up in the path of a freighter heading toward the Port of Oakland.

I'm a wimp. I know it. I guess I just wasn't cut out to be a salty old sea dog. Other things that scare me: small parking places, missing a flight, and online gym classes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Fast Forward

My oldest daughter recently turned twenty. To which I say . . . WOW. I mean . . . twenty?? Twenty is, as you might have heard, a two-digit number that has a two in the tens column. A two! We’ve gotten used to having teenagers around. For a while there, we had three of them, but now our oldest has moved Beyond Teenager.

It was twenty years ago that we went on that four-mile walk trying to encourage labor to start (it didn’t work). Twenty years ago that my husband penned that note that said “Place Baby Here” with an arrow, and put it in the crib. Twenty years ago that I wore those blue and white flowered maternity pants with the gray-striped T-shirt with the red logo—good grief, what a combo. What was I thinking? Perhaps this was the root of that unfortunate fashion era my daughter went through eleven or twelve years later, represented by a large, red, batwing sweater and tie-dyed pants. Ask her about it sometime; she likes to discuss this era in her fashion history.

It’s strange how fast time is moving now. When the kids are young, it kind of seems like they’ll be young forever—or at least someone in the house will be young; you’ll have babies and toddlers and diapers and binkies in perpetuity. Then, bit by bit, milestones begin to creep past—or rather your children begin to creep past milestones. Your oldest child starts school. Your second child starts school. Your third child becomes a world-renowned paleontologist and moves to South Dakota to excavate dinosaur bones (Okay, that milestone hasn’t happened, but don’t anybody blink or we might miss it).

And here’s the really weird thing: once one child grows up, it sets you on this downhill rollercoaster slope. I have five kids, and they’re all growing up in fast motion. No more diapers in the house? Check. All the kids in school (holy moly!)?—check. One kid in college? Check. TWO kids in college? Check, as of this fall. And while you’re thrilled for your kids and it’s wonderful to see them growing up, it’s a little poignant to realize that it won’t be that long before you’ll have no one to take trick-or-treating.

Kids really do grow up. Apparently, that’s not just a myth.

In other news, on Memorial Day, we had a fun family trip to the beach and then to Point Lobos in Monterey. It was 63 degrees and sunny at the beach, which is about as good as you can expect at the coast (it can be 100 degrees inland and in the 60s at the coast). If you’re visiting the beach in northern California, summer or winter, bring a sweatshirt. If you want to actually get into the water, bring a wetsuit or an exceedingly strong constitution. We go the wetsuit route (short wetsuits—knee length and elbow length). It’s SUPER cold when you first walk into the water, but if you just stick with it for a few minutes, venting your pain by shrieking, you’ll be fine and can have fun boogie boarding. Optional bonus activities: drinking seawater, getting sand in your ears, stepping on something unknown that you think might be a creature.

Here are a few pictures of Point Lobos.