Monday, April 25, 2011

This is what happens when you are the last child at home.

Over the past year and a half, since Ashley left for college, 
Brooke has been the last and only child at home.
After spending lots of quality time, this past week with Mom and Dad, 
vacationing, just the three of us together 24/7,
Brooke has decided that being an only child isn't such a bad gig.
If fact, she came to that realization one night,
 as we were eating dinner at a nice restaurant, for the third night in a row.
 After she finished her delicious meal, it was if a light went off in her head 
and she said, "Wow!  This is really sweet!  I feel so spoiled!  
Hanging out with you guys and being the last child does have it's perks!"
And she is right, she is least for now.
I mean, it's hard not to.  She is the only child that I can fuss over, dote upon
and pay attention to at home.  She gets to pick what we are having for dinner,
 text me and tell me what special treats to buy her at the store, 
have me help her with projects, ask me to drop off "forgotten" homework at school
 and pretty much, our schedule revolves around Brooke's schedule. 
I'm not complaining.  I love it! 
 And if any of the other kids were home,
 I know that Brooke would willingly share all this extra attention and love from Mom and Dad.
But along with all the "perks" of being the only child 
comes the responsibility of still being a child.  The only child. 
 Fortunately, being a child has never been a problem for Brooke. 
 I think in my mind, (and all of her siblings) Brooke will always be "Brookie" 
or "Brookalina" or "Brookers" or my personal favorite, "The Bear."  
She will always love pigs,  always shop at GapKids, and forever think that "sexy is the C word."
So, since this was the last year that we celebrated Easter with a kid at home,
 I was glad that the Easter bunny still paid us a visit.
Once again, Brooke acknowledged that there are a few advantages 
of being the last kid at home on Easter, such as:

1. The Easter bunny still comes to your house and hides Easter eggs, 
but you can take your time and leisurely "find" the eggs
 since you don't have anyone else running around, "looking" for the eggs. 
 I believe it was about 2 pm before Brooke finally found the last egg under the couch.

2. You don't have to share any of the Resees peanut butter Easter eggs with anyone but Dad.
  Don't worry, Mom wasn't left out.  She had her own stash of See's Milk Butterchews chocolates 
and she didn't have to share them with anyone. That's the advantage of being the Mom:)!

3. You get to keep all the money that you find hidden in the Easter eggs, 
which totaled about $12, mostly in quarters, nickels and dimes.
 But it is always good to have some spare change in your pocket. 
If you add in the $2 bill from Grandma, you have a grand total of $14.  Not too shabby.

4. Mom still has to take tons of Easter pictures, 
but you no longer have sisters in matching Easter dresses 
sharing the spotlight in the photo with you. 
Nor do you have a brother in a matching tie, suspenders or an argyle sweater.
  (Boy, do I miss those days when I could dress Tyler up in a matching Easter outfit.)
I've asked Brooke many times, if she would please stop growing up.
When she was little, I'd tell her, "I want you to stay just the way you are forever."
And she would answer and say, "I'll always be your little girl."
And she is right, she will always be my little baby!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spring Break in Monterey

We decided to stay closer to home this spring break. 
 Especially since we have been traveling so much lately, and I'm kind of tired of traveling by plane.*
(scroll to the bottom of this post to read the sadannoying, funny story 
about how I lost my new favorite coat with a darling ruffle.) 
So we suggested to Brooke that we head down the coast to Monterey. 
 She was so excited because she said that she had never been to Monterey or Carmel.  
That isn't really true, but it has been a long, long time since we have taken a family trip down there 
and she was probably so young that she doesn't remember it. 
 Apparently, neither does Ashley, so after having such a fun time in Monterey these past few days, 
we decided that we are already planning another trip back there this summer with Ashley.
First thing Monday morning, we headed over to the 17 mile drive 
with our bicycles and Brooke's running shoes.
Dad and I rode our bikes while Brooke ran 10 miles along the coast.
The view was pretty spectacular, with the beach on one side and the golf course on the other.
I love this picture of her running with the waves crashing in the background!
Brooke and Dad making the last turn back to Spanish Inn, ready for some lunch.
Dad and Brooke stopped and took a picture of the baby seals,
which, by the way, is illegal.  Oops!
After a great workout, Dad treated us to a yummy lunch at Roy's at the Spanish Inn.  
This was our view from our table.
Brooke, with her new favorite running trail, the 17 mile drive (and Mom's favorite riding trail.)
We spent the afternoon at the Monterey Bay Aquarium...
where we enjoyed the seahorse exhibit...
and saw a dragon seahorse.
The penguins were adorable!
We loved the colorful fish.
And of course, we made Brooke put her hands in the water and pick up the starfish.
We had to talk her into touching the starfish, but she is a little kid at heart and
before I knew it she was at the interactive learning center entertaining herself.
And then we caught Brooke, on her hands and knees going through the tunnel
 at the Flippers, Flukes and Fun exhibit.
After we finished at the Aquarium, Dad and Brooke did some shopping at the Cannery.
Brooke loves the 17 mile drive so much and so do I...
so we drove back there that evening to see the sunset.
And take some cute pictures of Brooke along the way.
And more cute photos!  I was wishing that I hadn't forgotten my camera.
I had to resort to using my iPhone the whole trip.  Not bad but not quite as good as my big camera.
Since we all had a great workout that day, 
we rewarded ourselves by going to Old Fisherman's Grotto on the wharf in Monterey.
Brooke had the filet and it was delicious!
She wished Tyler was there to help her finish it.
Dad ordered the crab and put on a bib so he wouldn't spill on himself.
Brooke and I walking along the wharf with the roses given to us as we left the restaurant.
Mom and Dad, on the second day of riding along the 17 mile drive with Brooke.
The ride was shorter that day because Brooke only had to run 6 miles.
Brooke and Dad along the scenic drive.
 That night we went to dinner at the Fishwife, which was incredible.
Brooke ordered the chicken pesto pasta and said it was delicious!
I took a few bites of her dish and I have to agree, it really was yummy!
I ordered the salmon and it was absolutely, hands down, 
one of the best grilled salmon I have ever tasted.
Brooke is definitely a "daddy's girl."
I don't know what she is going to do without him next year,
nor do I know what he is going to do without her.
We spent our last day doing a little shopping 
and enjoying the sights on Ocean Avenue in Carmel.
Dad was a very pleasant and patient shopper 
and joined us as we browsed from store to store.
We are so lucky that he is such a good sport, 
doesn't ever complain about shopping, 
and even picked out a few items for Brooke to try on.
He actually has quite a eye for fashion and we always enjoy his fashion commentary
and appreciate his fashion sense and advice.
After a fun morning of shopping, we had lunch at Demetris Greek Restaurant in Carmel.
The restaurant came up first on Trip Advisor with reviews like, 
"the best place to eat on the Monterey peninsula" 
and "the happiest place to eat in the world" 
and "most deserving of every accolade received." 
I think we would agree with the review that read, 
"Great food and great fun and great atmosphere!"
Just look at how fun and festive this place looks!
And everyone in the place is so happy!
 What a fabulous way to end a wonderful trip!
We can't wait to start planning our trip back there this summer with Ashley!

*My sad, annoying, funny story that I promised to share:
On my last flight home from Utah, I got caught in an extremely long security line, got stopped by TSA because I had a roll of starbursts in my bag. Apparently, it looked like a dangerous weapon. Once I got cleared at security, I had to full out sprint to my gate, E47, the furthest gate away. I'm fast, but not as fast as Brooke, so by the time I arrived at my gate, it was closed. But there was a lady at the desk checking in passengers to a flight to Denver on the other side of the gate. I begged her to check me in so I could run down the hall (I was at the discount wing of the SLC airport) to catch the plane. She looked at her watch, then looked at me (I think she sized me up as someone that was somewhat physically fit) and said, "OK! But hurry to gate 38!" I, once again, took off in an all out sprint to gate 38, which was the very last gate at the end of the wing.  I boarded the plane and was relieved that I made the flight as I found my seat, 6B, I put my cute coat up above in the overhead bin and sat down. I quickly got my Diet Pepsi out of my carryon bag, my People magazine, put on my headphones and made myself comfortable. I was ready to take a nice nap, when an older couple boarded the plane and came to my seat and questioned me about my seat.  They looked confused.  I looked confused. Then someone asked me, "Are you going to Denver?"  What?!  Denver?!  It took me a few seconds to realize that I was on the wrong plane and now for sure, I was going to miss my flight.  I grabbed my Diet Pepsi and People magazine, threw my iPod and headphones into my bag and once again started running.  The kind stewardess yelled to me, "Gate 23" as I was sprinted down the runway.  Of course, gate 23 is the furthest one away from gate 38. Seriously, I'm not making this up.  I finally made it to gate 23, which was closed, but there was someone waiting outside for me (I think the nice stewardess must have called ahead for me.)  She opened the door, I boarded the plane, sat myself down, completely exhausted and out of breath by now.  And as soon as I sat down, they closed the door and pulled away from the gate.  And right at that moment, I remembered that I had left my cute coat with the cute ruffle on the plane heading to Denver.  There was nothing that I could do but sit there and sulk.  So that is exactly what I did.  All the way home.  Once we landed, I put in a lost baggage request at Delta baggage claim but I haven't heard anything yet.  It was just such a cute coat and I got it on sale this winter at a cute little boutique on Main Street in Park City while shopping with my friend, Sue.  But I'm over it...really, I am...well, now that I have written this long post, I am really, really over it.  When Brooke and Dad picked me up and I told them my sad story, Dad was so nice and said, "Don't worry, I'll buy you another coat and it will be cuter than the one you just lost."  He reminded me that it was just a coat.  And he's right.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Kimber on

This is Kimber jumping for joy on her last day of her contract.
For the past three years, Kimber has been working as a reporter/anchor 
for News 12 Connecticut in Norwalk, Connecticut.
She has really enjoyed her job there,
 but the commute from New York City everyday has definitely been a challenge. 
 Most days she was on the road between 2-3 hours, at least, somedays longer.
She has learned a lot and grown as a reporter while working at this station.
She covered some interesting news stories such as the murder of Annie Le on the Yale campus.
She actually appeared on the CNN that morning as their "local reporter", 
which was very fun to see her on a national news station.
One of my favorite stories (and most humorous) is the story
 about the hot sauce that spilled in the middle of the road in Fairfield, CT.
She won an Emmy for that story.  It was her second Emmy.
Kimber loves reporting the news and is good at it.
Now that she has completed her contract at News 12 Connecticut,
she is working as a freelance reporter at right in NYC, closer to home.
She is enjoying the commute (only a few stops away on the subway),
likes the flexible hours, but also, she loves being back at FoxNews,
 where she first interned 7 years ago in NYC.
Then she returned to Fox, right out of college 
and worked as a writer/producer for the Tony Snow show for FoxNews in DC.
When she left FoxNews for her first "on air" anchoring job at KIFI News8 in Idaho Falls,
her boss said, "Well, we will see you back here on air in 5 years!"
That was almost exactly 5 years ago.

Here's her first travel story for

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mary Ann and the little girls

Spending time with these two three little girls, is one of my favorite things to do.
 So Friday night we took my sister, Mary Ann and her two little girls, Megan and Molly 
out to dinner at Brick Oven to celebrate Mary Ann's birthday.
As soon as we checked in with the hostess, the little girls saw a large bouquet of party balloons. 
They turned to their mom and begged, "Can we have a balloon? Please! Please!"
Mary Ann, being the soft spoken one, didn't even get a chance to answer before I took matters into my own hands
 and said, "Of course you may both have a balloon!" 
Then I grabbed a couple of balloons from the lady and tied them to the girls wrists.
The girls squealed with joy and I thought to myself, 
"Wow! It's amazing that such a simple (and cheap) thing as a balloon can bring such a thrill."
Once we were seated, our waiter came up and the little girls asked if they could order a drink.
I quickly answered and told them that they could order a lemonade, homemade rootbeer or chocolate milk.
They clapped their hands with joy and once again, I thought, "Wow!  That was so easy!" 
Just watching their reaction made Ashley and me giggle and laugh.
Apparently, it's a tradition at Brick Oven for the birthday boy or girl 
to stand on their chair while the crowd sings happy birthday to them.
So when they brought out Mary Ann's birthday pie,
 the little girls insisted that their mother stand on her chair.
Mary Ann, being not only soft spoken but also reserved, replied,
 "Oh no!  I'll just sit here while they sing to me."
The little girls didn't miss a beat and in unison they said, "Then I'll stand up for you!"
And just like that, they were both standing on their chairs
 enjoying all the attention from the crowd.
Too cute!
The minute the singing ended, 
they were quickly by their mother's side to take a bite of the pie.
Watching the little girls enthusiasm and excitement 
 when the "balloon man" came over to our table 
and asked the girls what character would they like him to make
was probably the highlight of the night.
Megan asked for Naveen from Princess and the Frog.
The girls were completely mesmerized as the "balloon man"
 twisted and turned the balloons and created a masterpiece.
It really was quite amazing to watch, 
both the "balloon man" and the little girls expression 
while they watched the "balloon man" create Naveen. 
The happy little girls with Naveen.
Molly asked the "balloon man" to make her Rapunzel from Tangled.
Doesn't this guy just look like a "balloon man?!"  He was awesome!
My absolute favorite picture of this two little girls with their balloon creations!
As we walked out of the restaurant, I couldn't help but stop by the counter
 where the old fashioned lollipops are displayed.
I turned and asked the little girls if they would like a lollipop.
Once again, they squealed with excitement, jumping up and down with joy.
I think that I probably won the "Favorite Aunt Award." 
 I have some pretty stiff competition but maybe just for one night.
Me and my sister, Mary Ann.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Melina's Wedding

On Thursday afternoon, I had the sweet privilige of attending the wedding
 of our dear friend, Melina Itinose to her sweetheart, Jared in the Salt Lake Temple. 
 Melina's father, Elder Itinose, was Tyler's mission president from Brazil, 
whom we have come to love and adore. 
 Actually, we have come to love and adore the entire Itinose family 
as we spent time with them in Brazil and 
while they have stayed with us in Park City on a number of occasions.  
We have loved getting to know Melina and her sister, Mariana
 and spend time with them while they have been attending BYU. 
 I am amazed at the courage and faith of this family 
as they have encouraged these two girls to leave their home and family,
 learn a new language and live in a foreign country just to have the unique opportunity to attend BYU.  
The entire family came for two weeks to enjoy general conference and the wedding. 
 It was wonderful to see this sweet family together again at this happy occasion.
Jared and his brand new bride, Melina coming out of the temple.
The entire sealing was in Portuguese.
I didn't understand a word but it didn't really matter.
I still cried as the sealer recited the beautiful promises and blessings in Portuguese.
The handsome couple!
Melina and her brother, Paulo.
Melina, the gorgeous bride poses in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.
At the reception with the newlyweds.
Melina and Mariana, sweet sisters with their sweethearts.
Elder and Sister Itinose
Enjoying a few moments with Elder and Sister Itinose.
Elder Itinose has taught himself how to speak English since he was called to be a general authority. 
It is wonderful to communicate and converse with him even though at times he might struggle to remember a word,
you can feel his kindness and love.
Paulo posing with the wedding cake that his family made.
Melina wanted a traditional Brazilian wedding cake 
but none of the local bakeries could make one to her liking 
so the Itinose's took things into their own hands.
The entire family baked the cake in our kitchen at Vintage.
Everyone took part in the activity, which took all day and night
 (actually Paulo said the were up until 3 am to finish the cake.)
It turned out beautiful and tasted amazing too!
Once the dinner was over, they brought in this red suitcase full of crazy dress up gear, 
such as neon necklaces, glowstick bracelets, colorful boas, heartshaped sunglasses
 and headbands with antennas.  It was awesome!
Mariana and her boyfriend, walked from table to table distributing the items
to the guests 
and within minutes we all looked like we were going to Carnival (mormon syle!)
I guess it's a Brazilian wedding tradition.
It was so festive and fun!
Just look how fun and festive we are!
Now that we have our party accessories on, we are ready to party with Mariana.
Paulo was the man of the night.  Seriously so grown up!
Allie partying it up with the Itinose siblings, Mariana, Paulo and Annalisa.
With our party gear on we are ready for some fun.
So glad that my boa matches my outfit:)!
The red suitcase was passed from table to table with all the guests
rummaging through the pile of party items and accessories.
As the guests choose their individual party accessories, 
you could feel the excitement in the room.
Brazilians take this dress up stuff seriously!
Now that the dinner is over, and the party gear are on,
it's time for the dancing to begin.
First up on the schedule is the Daddy/daugther dance.
Melina and her father hit the dance floor and kicked up their heels
to traditional Brazilian music.
President spun and twirled Melina around the dance floor.
It was definitely the most touching moment of the evening, 
watching them sway to the music.
You could feel the deep love that they had for each other as they danced
to a beautifully choreographed traditional Brazilian dance 
which was a combination of a polka/swing/folk dance all in one.
All three of us cried because it was so tender and cute!
Then Elder and Sister Itinose took to the floor together and danced.
Then Paulo, who has been taking dance lessons and is quite the dancer, took Allie by the hand 
and told her that he would teach her how to dance like that for her wedding!
Paulo told Allie that she is a good little dance
 but probably needs to work on her facial expressions.
This is definitely my favorite picture of the two of them dancing...I love it!  
Don't worry, Paulo is dancing with Allie, he is just hiding behind her.
Then it was Ashley's turn.
Paulo and Ashley made quite the dancing couple.
Of course, I wanted a dance lesson from Paulo too.
I think I got the twirl down...
but then I stepped on Paulo's toes...oops!
That Paulo is such a good sport!
I love this picture of Melina and her adorable boyfriend.
We think they make a darling couple.
It was a wonderful day, spending time with wonderful friends.
I'm so glad that we were able to share this special day with them.