Friday, April 30, 2010

Day 5 of the Cruise: Debarkation

TC and I had early flights out of San Diego, so we were some of the first people to debark. But once we were off the boat we found that we had way more time than we needed to get to the airport and get checked in. So, we walked to the airport. It was a 45 minute walk, which is kind of long when you're rolling luggage behind you and then a wheel on one of your suitcases breaks making it so you have to drag it behind you... And when you're wearing flip flops that wear your skin thin in some spots...

But I'm not complaining. It was a lovely walk. And what made it even lovelier was the weather. It was fantastic. And, TC and I both took pleasure in the fact that we weren't throwing money away on a $32 shuttle bus ride.

Our connecting flight in Phoenix was delayed, but we did get to see John McCain. By evening, we were back home, tummies full of Cafe Rio, we were unpacked and to bed early.

The end.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Soft at last!

I know, I know. I'm interrupting my riveting postings about the trip (Is it wrong that I'm bored with talking about the trip? I went on a trip. Yada yada yada I had fun.) to tell you something unrelated. But I'm so excited I can hardly contain it.

I made chocolate chip cookies last night and I took the advice that Heidi, Shannon and Brianne gave which was to under bake, and not to use butter. So, I used margarine instead of butter. The dough was spongy and whipped cream like which worried me. Plus, it was really sticky (which just meant I had to lick my fingers a lot). But I pressed on. I also pulled the cookies out well before they seemed done and voila! This morning TC and I have soft cookies.

They are still soft people, even after an evening in the cookie jar. It's a miracle. Or it's because I followed good advice. Or a combination. All I know is that the cookie gods got together and decided to bestow upon me the blessing of non-tooth-breaking cookies.


Day 4 of the Cruise: Ensenada, Bartering and Rip Offs

On Thursday we woke up already docked up in Ensenada, Mexico.

I don't have many photos of Ensenada because we didn't take the big camera with us. However, I have my words to paint a picture. *coughcheesycough*

Right off the ship we hopped on a bus that took us downtown. It cost $3 a person, and was a complete rip off. The bus took all kinds of unnecessary turns just so the ride seemed longer, and so that the bus guide had time to tell us about the great deal they had today only for a ride to La Bufadora (advertised as a 20 minute drive, which was actually 45 minutes each way), and a city and shopping tour. Only $15 a person. The whole family signed up because it sounded like a great deal.

So we went to La Bufadora, which is pretty cool.

And we saw the blow hole.

By then I needed to use a restroom real bad. Real real bad. Luckily for me, there was a restroom right by the blow hole, for only 50 cents a person, plus tips. At least the bathroom was clean.

Man with a guitar. Your tips is his salary.

Right by the blow hole is a flea market. Man those sales people are aggressive. There were several pharmacies selling Viagra that called out to my Dad (he's the right age, I guess) that they had something for him.

Dad posing with the Viagra Man.

I was looking for an embroidered top. That was my one want for our time in Mexico. So we went in to nearly every shop that had the kind of top I was looking for and in the end still left La Bufadora empty handed.

I did however spend 30 minutes bartering with a man we will call Jaime for an embroidered sundress. It was their display model and had obviously been outside in the sun for a long time. It had some light stains (which when I pointed out the "manchitas" Jaime said, "Ah, pero eso se lava" or "But that will wash out."). It also had taken on the form on the hanger it had been hanging on for a while. ("We change those dresses every day. We only just put that out there this morning.") The price started at $65. That's dollars, people. WAY too expensive. I would only pay that much for a dress if it was very well made, one of a kind, or a fantastic brand. This was none of the above (maybe one of a kind, MAYBE). Jaime tried every trick in the book. He tried to appeal to my sympathies. ("This will be my first sale of the day. I have children [college-aged] at home to feed. I came in to work yesterday despite the storm and bad weather and today I have the flu, and I'm all achy and everything.") We got him down to $30, but by then I was tired, and didn't want to pay more than $10 for something so poorly made, so we walked out. Jaime was not a happy man. It's too bad that I don't care about Jaime's happiness when it involves ripping off tourists.

Not to worry though, we still had our shopping and city tour. The shopping area is really just along one street, four blocks long. The tour was like this: "There's the main shopping area," as we drove by. What a chuckle.

After the tour all twelve of us settled on a restaurant to have lunch in. It was called Habana Banana. Once we got seated the waiter tried to pull a fast one on us. He said that the prices on the menu were all wrong; they had just changed their prices yesterday and hadn't had a chance to update the menu. So instead of just a little more than a dollar for a drink, it was $3. We walked out on that place, and some of us returned to the ship. TC and I stayed with Polly Tishan, Dough Boy, and CK1 and CK2. We found a little taco shop to have lunch in, found a grocery store to buy candy (Mexico has like the best gummy bears ever), and I eventually found my embroidered top, which I found out once I brought it all the way home was poorly made. The seams are not finished and many of the seams don't match up. What a rip at about $20. But it has the embroidery I was looking for. I just may pick that top apart and resew it.

Frosted Flakes!

Good deals everywhere.

After some shopping, we walked back to the cruise ship (seriously, it was like a 15 minute walk so the shuttle bus in the morning was completely unnecessary).

In summary, I wouldn't return to Ensenada on purpose. But it was fun while we were there.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 3 of the Cruise: Catalina Island and Getting Seasick

We woke up on Wednesday morning to the continuing storm. But we got to see a rainbow that ended right in the water.

So we tendered from the ship to Catalina Island.

That's not our shore boat, obviously, but that's what ours looked like.

Once on shore we posed for some pictures, and did some shopping.

Clarissa, aka Shark Bait, was excited to have found a street named after her. Or was she named after the street?

Then we rented golf carts. TC was our driver, and Hot Fuzz was the driver of the other cart.

CK1 and CK2 enjoying their cart ride.

TC is a good driver. Promise.

See? How can you not trust a face like this?

Mom and Dad enjoyed their ride.

Hula Hoop and Cucucachoo in the other cart.

After the golf cart ride we had about an hour to spare before our glass bottom boat tour, so we stopped for lunch. Catalina is really a cute little place.

This baby head kind of freaked me out. Why they put an adult sized t-shirt on a baby head, I will never know.

Then a tragedy struck. Our glass bottom boat ride was cancelled because the seas were too rough. Disheartened, we decided we would tender back to the ship and have a proper lunch (because cheap wads like TC and I didn't actually eat anything on Catalina).

While we were waiting for the shore boat to take us back to the ship, we saw this little guy:

Have you ever seen a sea lion walk around? It's adorable. Stinking adorable. And those suckers can really move fast.

It was then, and only then, that I got seasick. The hard transition from land to rough seas was too much for my little inner-ears to take. Luckily Sunshine Eyes (aka CK2) had some Bonine to share. I was able to make it to dinner, skipped dessert and basically slept the rest of the evening. Everyone else went to shows, had a great time, got more ice cream cones. But me? I was stuck in bed. Sleeping off the motion sickness. So sad for me. I know.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 2 of the Cruise: Sunny weather, a storm, and an elegant dinner

Tuesday started off sunny, so most of the family gathered around the pool to lay out, swim, or play on the water slide. All morning we enjoyed the sun. After lunch, however, the winds picked up, and a storm blew in. I may be exaggerating, but the winds were like hurricane force. Or stronger. Once the wind picked up, the ship started rocking and swaying and moving.

That evening, we had an elegant dinner. The whole family dressed up and we even took a family photo, which I don't actually have. Mom does. I'll get it from her later. Anywho, the photos I posted of our party in this post are all from elegant night, except for my parents and TC and I.

So here we are. Mom and Dad.

TC and I.

What am I wearing, you ask? Oh. You didn't ask? Oh. Well I feel dumb.

Well, I'll tell you anyway. I'm wearing my Tadashi dress from last July. Since I never did follow up with photos of the dress after all the advice and help I asked for, TC took some photos of me especially for you.

Please try to ignore the yellow lighting and slight pudge. I had just eaten (a lot) people.

And a close up of the flower.

Seriously, I feel like a million bucks in this dress. I'm still working on inventing reasons to wear it.

And just you can enjoy this sight:

TC in a suit.

TC trying to keep a straight face long enough to do a GQ pose.

So, back to the elegant evening. After dinner we took in a show. It was very easily the worst show I have ever seen. It was entertaining in all the wrong ways. Photography was strictly forbidden, so I have no photos to show you, but it was something like this: low budget Vegas meets mediocre scripting and song writing. The performers were talented and earnest. However, the costumes were cheap (I could see that from my middle of the auditorium seat) and unnecessarily overt. Imagine the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy" being sung accompanied by a very loud band, "showgirls" marching and high-kicking in red, white and blue thong leotards with blue capes, carrying flags and wearing red, white and blue top hats. It was like Old Glory threw up all over their costume closet, spewing stars and stripes everywhere. *shudder* It makes me ill just recounting it for you.

Okay. Now I'm done being a complete snob. Honestly, I don't know what I was expecting. I was on a cruise ship, after all. And the show was free. So...

After the show TC and I stumbled to our stateroom. We stumbled because the ship was rocking so violently. It was hard to tell the sober from the inebriated.

Oh, and we also fit one last ice cream cone into our already long day. I love all you can eat ice cream and frozen yogurt.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cruise: The Players and the Ship

On Monday we embarked on our first cruise. With my parents, two of my sisters and their husbands, two nieces, one nephew, and one brother-in-law's mother, we set sail. Wearing matching t-shirts (fabulously tacky, no?). With nicknames.

From Cruise Apr 2010

Gordita: Bratovna

TC: Max Power (he got it off a hair dryer)

KL: (middle) Hula Hoop
KH: (right) Hot Fuzz

KH's Mom: (left) Cucucachoo

CH: (right) Poptart Jedi

Mom: Mamarazzi

Dad: Super Chief

KW: (right) Polly Tishan

SW: (left) Dough Boy

CK1: (right) Shark Bait

CK2: (left) Sunshine Eyes

Monday, Day 1: Embarkation.
Tuesday, Day 2: "Fun Day" at Sea.
Wednesday, Day 3: Catalina Island.
Thursday, Day 4: Ensenada, Mexico.
Friday, Day 5: Debarkation. Flight home.

The whole trip really started on Sunday morning, at 5am, at my parents' house where we all met up for breakfast and family prayer. Everyone in the party except for TC, my parents and me drove down to San Diego. TC and I flew in to San Diego and met up with my parents. We took the super-duper overpriced Carnival shuttle to the ship ($16/person one way) which is actually only about 2 miles from the airport. Note for anyone who might take this cruise: catch a taxi for about $18 rather than pay $32 for two people, plus the obligation to give tips. What a rip!

Mom and Dad on the Carnival shuttle bus.

We found the rest of the family and had lunch together. Then as a family we explored the boat, took some photos, and rested for a bit before dinner. I think the Jedi convinced his parents to take him swimming.

TC and I checked in to our deceptively named Stateroom and had a laugh at the curtains covering what looks like it might be a window, but is not.


Self portrait in the mirror.


At 5:30pm we pulled away from the port. We gathered at the front end of the ship to watch. They blew the horn which is unsurprisingly loud. I was giddy with excitement as we pulled away and sailed out to sea. How fun!

At dinner we met our server, a man from Thailand, who I will refer to as Thailand. He was hilarious. And as he served us our food he would say, "Wow."

Shark Bait and Max Power at dinner. They are homies.

Up next, Day Two: Laying out and elegant dinner.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Everybody look at me I'm sailing on a boat.

*cue stock footage of cruise ships, port of San Diego, people behaving obnoxiously on a cruise ship*
One cruise. In the ocean. Sailing to Ensenada. From San Diego. It was a cruise that would change their lives. Forever.

*cue footage over the ocean, racing toward the boat*
They will discover the mysteries that the water hold for them.

*cue footage of me popping Pepto*
They know the dangers of the all day buffet. But will they succumb?

*cue footage of pasty white legs on a lounge chair by a pool*
Will their legs blind the others?

*black screen with white lettering: Coming Soon. Spring 2010.*
Coming soon (when we get back) to blogs (this one) near you.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Apostle Stats

A friend sent me a link to this:

which has statistical analysis on the number of children of the current LDS Apostles. Surprising, the average number of children is 5 (I guess I thought it would be higher).

And one other thought for this Friday: I was lovingly reminded by a friend the other day that I have a 4-5 year window in which to conceive any children (he didn't say what would happen after 4-5 years, but I would suppose that I will become barren, bitter and unable to conceive). I guess I'd better hurry since my window of opportunity is closing in on me. I was grateful* for the reminder.

*grateful does not quite describe my feelings about that conversation.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spreken ze Español

My boss just said that to me and it made me laugh, so I'm sharing it with you. But it really has no bearing on this post. I just thought maybe it would make you laugh too. Or at least smile. Come on. Crack a smile, will ya?

I have some more great news, but I didn't want to overshadow TC's good news with my good news. I am quitting my job. I have my reasons, which I will explain to you in a few weeks. And I'm not planning on looking for gainful employment. I'm planning on staying home and being a homemaker. It's my dream job, and I am immensely excited about it. Just think of all the things I can accomplish, all the talents I can develop, all the wonderful ways in which I can manage our household... I am really REALLY looking forward to it.

Now, you have to know that I wouldn't share news without at least a bit of a whine, so here it is:
The majority of people who find out that I am going to be a homemaker tell me, in these exact words, "What are you going to do all day. You're going to be so bored."

If there is one thing I know about myself for sure is that I do not like to keep a tight schedule. So the idea of having free time all day is not overwhelmingly tear-inducing-boredom. It is freedom.

Anyway, my point is that I'm quitting, I'll be staying home, and I'm excited. And I won't be bored. And just because people have been telling me that I will be bored, out of spite, I am going to make sure that I'm never bored. (I like to set the bar high.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

I got nothing.

I'm feeling so uninspired lately. That's the reason for my radio silence. I finished a few projects and I'd like to share, but I don't have anything interesting to say or show you. I enjoyed General Conference but again I don't have anything interesting to share. I'm happy, just uninspired. And I need to sneeze. I hope you all are doing well and if you've found your inspiration, maybe you can help me find mine. :)

Update: I sneezed. But I'm still feeling uninspired.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Panhandlers and vagabonds

Last night, TC and I braved the rain and snow and wind and walked ourselves to the Trax station, hopped on a train, and rode the few stops to the Gateway, where Tucanos lives. We overate and it was wonderful. We had an extra buy one get one free birthday card (since we both have birthdays in March, we both get a card, and we only needed one) so we gave it to a family of four that was sitting at the table next to us. That gave me a warm fuzzy.

What didn't give me a warm fuzzy was this: Once we got off the train a panhandler stopped us to ask for money. We told him we didn't have anything to give him (who carries cash these days?) and I, thinking I was being helpful, told him that there are a variety of shelters nearby that he could go to. It WAS cold and snowing after all and I certainly don't want him to be out in the cold. The man was offended, visibly, audibly. He told me, and I quote, "I will give you a million dollars right now, a million dollars, if you let one of your children go to one of these shelters." He went on explain that those shelters are rife with drugs, and anyone who sets foot in of those shelters will immediately become a drug addict.

He became pretty belligerent, so I just started to walk away. That made him pretty angry, but neither of us were about to stand in the cold and argue with him about whether or not we could or wanted to or would give him money.

That interaction got me thinking about the billboards I've seen recently around downtown declaring: Support shelters, not panhandlers. We do that. We donate money to charitable organizations that help the homeless, impoverished and needy. Is there more we can do? Sure! But giving money to a man on the street that yells at you isn't the way.

After we walked away, TC commented to me how ironic his statement was, "I will give you a million dollars..." How, buddy? You were just asking me for change.

We have lived and walked downtown now for nearly six years. You can bet that I have seen the same people over and over again asking for money. One man asked me everyday for money for a chicken dinner for his wife and child. Finally, tired of him asking me, I told him I would give him money if he would just leave me alone (bad precedent to set, I know) and never ask me for money again. He agreed and I gave him some of my lunch money. However the next day he asked me again for money. *sigh*

Then there are the people who tell these elaborate stories, like the guy who told us how he had driven here from Wyoming, and ran out of gas, and had no money to pay for a fill up, and just needed enough money to put a little bit of gas in his car to drive to his friend's house in Bountiful. The logic there was lacking. Plus, we had just seen him hang up his cell phone before he came over to us. Call someone, like maybe your friend?

There was one lady that made me laugh: she came up to us explaining that she was very drunk (and one could see that she was not lying), and that she had gambled all her money away in Wendover, and that she took a bus back to SLC and now she was stuck. She wanted money to buy more booze. I appreciated her honesty.

The other night there was a man who stopped us in a parking lot and told us a whole story about how he was a hard-working man, and he had a wife and he took care of his woman, but that they had fallen into some bad luck, and if we could just help him he could stay in a hotel across the street that offered rooms for $20 a night. He already had ten dollars, and he just needed ten more. He appealed to TC saying, "Imagine you were out in the cold with your woman. Imagine your woman ain't got no place to sleep. What you gonna do? You gonna be a man and do what it takes so she has a comfortable bed to sleep in? I'm doing what it takes right now. I don't like being out here. Do you think I like asking strangers for money? No. I don't wanna be begging on the streets for money, but that's what I got to do. If it was just me, I'd go hungry and sleep in the cold. But I got my woman to take care of." We spent a good five minutes with him as he explained that he wasn't able to go to nearby shelters (I can't remember the reason now, but it vaguely made sense at the time) and that he was a veteran and had served this country. He explained why so many other options for the homeless didn't work for him or his wife. His story was good. If nothing else, we enjoyed talking to him. He was kind, and appealed to our sense of empathy, and he won us over.

The whole issue puts me at odds with my senses. I feel sympathy for those who are suffering. My mind gets to thinking, "What if this person is really going to go hungry and cold tonight? What if they truly need help? What if I could have been the person to help them?" And then I feel the irony of the situation: TC and I are going to a restaurant specifically to overindulge and we are denying help to someone who may not have eaten in days. It's taxing to think this all through, and to feel all through it.

So what's the point of this? I'm not really sure what I want to say in the end with all of this. I think I'll stick with the advice to give to charitable organizations, rather than individuals. Hopefully they will take advantage of the resources around them.