Friday, May 25, 2007

A Week with 3 Boys

We've had the DeShong boys here for a week while their parents were in New York. It was such a blessing to be able to care for them. As we prepare to pass them back off to their parents this afternoon, here are a few observations about being little boys:

It doesn't hurt to ask for soda with every meal, no matter how unlikely it is to get it.

If you have any pain, the minute you swallow pain medication, you instantly feel better.

You might as well leave the bathroom light on for the next time you come (and the seat up as well).

There is never any need to wash your hands because they will just get dirty again anyways (and if you do wash them, don't bother with soap).

You can help out Aunt K by washing out your ice cream sundae bowl in the jacuzzi.

Three boys can never agree on one box of popsicles.

If you don't like the food being served at a meal, say you have a stomach ache.

Contrary to popular belief, Vance does not know how to tie his shoes.

No matter what time you go to bed, always try to wake up by 6:30 a.m.

Playtime is most fun when ALL the toys are out at once. And, even better the further they are scattered.

Changing your underwear daily is a waste.

Using an indoor voice is a great accomplishment (so is not running).

"But my mom lets me do that" carries no weight at Aunt K's house.

Swimming with Drew is the most fun you'll ever have.

Anything can be accomplished with a candy bribe.

And, now I will end with a brief story from our Costco trip this week. We had quite the load. By the end of our trip, the food was piled so high in the cart that you could no longer see in front of it. You had to pull the cart from the back. As I loaded the last item into the cart, a 2-pack of milk, I had to remove the 3 pineapples I had and asked the boys to each carry one. Here are the differences between the boys. Austin quickly found a strategic place in the cart for his pineapple and was perfectly hands free. Luke carried his pineapple with no complaints whatsoever, and thought nothing of it. And Vance, well, he lagged behind, whining in loud voice, "this pineapple is TOO heavy!" (give me a break - did he see the cart I was pushing??)

So, it's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun, and a real privilege to know my nephews so well and to spend time with them.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Kitten update

It took a few days, but Jack has finally made a friend out of Fiyero. Jack wanted to play, play, play with Fiyero, but he would just hiss and growl constantly. But now, as shown in the photo above, Fiyero has decided Jack is actually pretty fun to hang out with. They wrestle and play all day, until both kittens drop from exhaustion!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Yes, we are crazy

Cute little Fiyero - 6 weeks old.

Yes, we know. We are crazy. ANOTHER cat. But, isn't he sooooo cute?

It all happened this way. In the morning when we called the vet to make an appointment for our kitten Jack (now 14 weeks) to get another round of shots, the receptionist asked me, "Would you like another new baby? We just found a mother and her 6 week old kittens Thursday and they need homes..."

Sadly, our beloved cat Blue disappeared Saturday and has not returned. Unfortunately, we had a sinking suspicion right off the bat that we wouldn't be getting her back, as it was not her habit to be gone but an hour or so if we ever let her outside. She was just a homebody, who loved to be where we were. She was usually found wherever the family was conjugating. We don't know what could have happened to her, but we all felt heartbroken. It was in the back of my mind that the only cure for this type of heartbreak is replacement. I just wasn't thinking that replacement would be so soon. But, it is hard to find a kitten, and here was one just at the right moment. You know the rest of the story!

It is our custom to name our cats for cheeses (cats eat mice, mice eat cheese...). However, the only three cheese names we liked were not universally agreed upon. Rich wanted Ricotta, to be nicknamed "Rico" (BAD Napoleon Dynamite connotation), Emma and I wanted Stilton (Rich bagged on that), while Drew favored Colby (kind of cute but didn't fit him). So today, we got the idea that he'd make a cute Fiyero (character from WICKED). So Fiyero it is (pronounced FEE-AIR-OH). So far, he's been a little nervous but seems to be coming around gradually. He is starting to warm up to the other cats and us. He didn't hiss or growl nearly as much today! He's got quite a repetoire of funny sounds! We are all anxiously awaiting his first purr!

Austin with Fiyero

We miss you, Blue. We love our Boo-Boo girl.

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Wonderful Celebration

On one of our hikes- just us and the Pacific

We just returned from 3 glorious days at The Lodge at Torrey Pines to celebrate our 20th anniversary. This amazing craftsman style resort sits on the cliff in La Jolla overlooking a gorgeous golf course and the Pacific Ocean. We wanted a place to just relax and enjoy each other...and I can't think of a better place than this. The Lodge is modeled after The Gamble House in Pasadena, and is richly furnished in dark woods, tiffany lamps, and soothing colors such as sage and maize. We arrived on Wednesday (our anniversary) and at check in were told that they were able to "upgrade our room" (OK, go right ahead). So, we ended up with a 600 sq ft. deluxe room, with a large fireplace and patio with chaise lounges, in full view of the golf course and ocean (it's a bit overcast in the photo below). Nice!
The Views from our patio

That night, we celebrated our anniversary dinner at George's at the Cove, the place of our engagement. What a gorgeous meal. Their menu is extremely innovative -pure California cuisine. Here's our dessert - a warm pineapple upside down cake with basil ice cream - and happy anniversary written on white chocolate. Absolutely exquisite!

What better way to say Happy Anniversary than with dessert?

So as you can see these two foodies were quite thrilled. We also enjoyed two other fabulous dinners - one for Rich's birthday (day after our anniversary) at Trattoria Acqua, and Cafe Japengo for sushi on the last night. Not to mention a trip to Whole Foods for cheese, olives and other snacks. Not to mention room service breakfast every day at 8:00 a.m. (included in our hotel package). We were quite well fed. Food is always such a large part of our vacations!

The best part of the vacation was just enjoying the time together. We relished the time of leisure reading in front of the fireplace and on the patio, taking long, scenic hikes in Torrey Pines Reserve (walking distance from the Lodge), and even sneaking in a nap or two. Rich led us through a study of passages in Scripture that pertain to marriage and God's commands to husbands and wives, which allowed us to marvel in the way God designed marriage and how He blesses it richly. We reflected on our years together and how grateful we are to God allowing us to share life and serve Him together.

We finished our glorious weekend Saturday with a trip to the famous Apple Pan Restaurant in L.A.(which will have to be another blog) and a walk around The Grove. Today, it is back to reality (and a big dose as I am watching Suzanne's boys for the week). Rich is back at work, and I am under piles of laundry. But, Torrey Pines is still on my mind.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Porto's Bakery

Yum-O: tiramisu, dulce de leche napoleon, triple chocolate mousse and the rest

Aren't these gorgeous?! I just had the extreme pleasure of visiting the new Porto's Bakery on Hollywood Way in Burbank. I had to take a trip to Sheridan Gardens, and what would you know but Porto's is just RIGHT down the street. At the very moment I saw it, a strange phenomena occurred in which something like a giant suction cup got ahold of me and deposited me right into the pastry line! So I said, "Oh well, I might as well buy something since I'm here!" But seriously, boy was I glad the wait in line was 15 minutes, because I needed that much time to decide! I was glad I had a great excuse to buy something, as tonite we are going out with my dad and the DeShongs to celebrate Mother's Day, as well as a couple anniversaries and birthdays. My plan was to get one dessert for each person, but I plan to con everyone into giving me a little bite so I can taste them all. C'mon, we're family, right?

Walking into Porto's is an utterly amazing experience. You just feel like you've entered a special place. Kind of a landmark. No wonder my mom used to rave about this place. You think to yourself, I am doing something extremely cool right now. Such a simple thing, pastry. I know, I know! But, oh how the senses are evoked, particularly sight and smell. You find yourself breathing very deeply - and you can really smell things baking in the back. My eyes popped as I viewed what must be the most beautiful croissants in the entire world. (And I am very partial to croissants -just ask Emma, my partner in crime) Then, I scanned the many different incredible types of danish. Breathtaking! Then the cakes...and then what I think is truly special... little individual desserts. Each one is a masterful work of art. Finally, it was my turn, and a very nice lady helped me choose just the right ones. And just for good measure, I picked up a couple danishes and a cinnamon roll for "the kids." Another thing that explains why the place is so busy - the prices are so reasonable. Just $1.50-$2.50 each for these gorgeous individual desserts. These are the kind you get in restaurants for $12 each! I was just jumping for joy as I exited Porto's with my boxes of pastries. What a delightful experience I had today. I can't wait to go back...soon I hope!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Birthday in Paradise

Brady enjoying shrimp at The Crab Cooker, Summer 2002

Today, May 11, would have been Brady’s 18th birthday. You could let your mind wander as to how this day might have been if Brady had never been diagnosed with cancer. He would be weeks away from graduating high school and preparing for college…He would have earned the right to vote by reaching this monumental age…There would no doubt be a great celebration for both of these milestones. But, he is not here, so none of this will take place. Sad? Yes, in a way. But ever since Brady left us in early 2004, we have been deeply grateful that he spends his days (though not “days” to him) with the Lord Jesus Christ. How insignificant to Brady that today is his 18th birthday! Compared to living in eternal joy and peace with God in heaven, a birthday party or graduation has zero appeal.
Rich and Brady outside the restaurant

Our family always does something on May 11 to commemorate his birthday. It is usually something that Brady enjoyed doing. One of his favorite places on earth was the beach. And his favorite beach restaurant was The Crab Cooker in Newport. I can still see the greasy butter sauce on his chin as he enjoyed his shrimp plate (see photo for detail!). So today, we are heading south to celebrate his birthday and life. We’ll hang out on the beach for awhile, perhaps catching some waves. Then we’ll head over to the Crab Cooker for a most familiar meal of red clam chowder, skewered grilled shrimp, parmesan mashed potatoes topped with paprika, and coleslaw. On the way home, we’ll probably make a stop on Balboa Island for a famous Balboa Bar. It will be a special family day as we remember Brady most likely with laughter as well as tears.

Join us in praising God for the gift Brady was to us, the way he touched our lives forever, and for the faith God granted him, so that his home is in heaven. His birthday today will truly be paradise!