Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Road Trippin' with Karen & LaMar

We're off to Sedona in the morning.  I'm packing up tonight so we can jump in the car first thing and go.  We've packed Red Vines, JoJos, cinnamon toffee almonds, some fruit (for health) and waters.  And some Diet Coke for L.  All the essentials.
 The basic schedule is river kayaking on Monday (they're inflatable Funyaks!), the Grand Canyon on Tuesday, Indian ruins on Wednesday morning and then Katie and the yummy little girls on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  In between we'll explore Sedona a bit, eat some good food, then have fun in Mesa with everyone.  Katie needs help hanging some pictures and picking out paint colors.  L wants to just have fun with the little ones.  Hopefully we can manage both.  Oh yes - and somewhere along the way I will meet up with Jenny of the Denton Sanatorium blog (see previous post).  I'm very much looking forward to that.
I plan to take lots of pictures to delight and amaze you with upon my return.  We'll see if that becomes a reality.  My usual MO is to get so busy in the moment that the camera is completely forgotten.  I will do better this time.
I'll miss reading all of my friends' adventures while I'm gone, but we'll catch up next weekend.  Ya'll stay safe and be good.  And Jenny - here I come!  Put your eatin' pants on and think where you want to go.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Betty Ann Friedman - making believers of the 7th grade

We've had another writing assignment from Jen of Denton's Sanatorium.  You can read about it here  and you should also go to her blog to read everyone's homework.  I thought about who I could write about - I've had so many heroes in my life -  folks who have gone the extra mile for me, and many who did me great service even when they didn't realize it.  This one's for Betty Ann.
I was in 7th grade at McPherson Junior High.  I was shy, with gorilla hairy legs that I wasn't allowed to shave.  (I did anyway.)  I was dying to wear white go-go boots or granny boots.  We were in love with all things from England (specifically Carnaby Street!) and San Francisco/hippy-ish.  I had a heavy heeled walk that wore down one side of the heels of my shoes and I considered myself lucky that I didn't have to wear taps on them like I did in 6th grade.  (I'd learned to walk on my toes so the taps wouldn't *tap*)  I wore glasses and had braces.  In short, I was an awkward geek trying to figure out who I was.
There was a class called CORE that was a sort of English and World History class combined.  The teacher was Betty Ann Friedman.  Mrs. Friedman was from Georgia.  A Steel Magnolia.  She had short blonde hair, and was like a drill sergeant.  We were all afraid of her for about two weeks.  She had a fierce temper and didn't stand for any nonsense - not that I gave her any.  We soon learned that she demanded our best, but when we gave it, she would give her all in return.  She had a round foam pad that she would use to pound her head on the blackboard when we were particularly stupid.  She was sarcastic and snarky.  We adored her.
I had (and still have) a friend that dates from 6th grade.  Marion.  I thought she was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen, and she was (and IS) the coolest and best friend I'll ever have.  But at some point in that 7th grade year we got into a silly argument.  She had one of those white blouses with ruffly sleeves that in the 60's were soooo Carnaby Street.  I loved it.  My mom wasn't one to buy into fads so I didn't have anything like it.  And I was jealous.  So I told her I didn't like it. * I know... so mean.*  Marion didn't even bat an eye.  She looked me from underneath her super long eyelashes in her cool, offhand way, and said "You're just jealous."  And I was... so, so jealous.  And she wouldn't talk to me for a few days.  I was miserable, especially knowing I deserved it.  But Betty Ann noticed.  She asked me in her gruff manner with that southern accent what was up.  When I told her she just shook her head and said "Don't worry.  It won't last."  I guess it didn't take a genius to see that it was just a silly kid fight, but the relief and comfort I felt from having her support was huge.
Later on in the year, there were elections for the next year's class officers.  Betty Ann wouldn't rest until I ran for office - I think it was for Secretary-Treasurer.  I didn't want to - I'd rather have pulled out my eyelashes.  So she showed up at my house.  MY HOUSE.  In my living room.  Talking to my mother on our living room couch.  She did not take "No" for an answer.  The next thing I knew I was running for office and making posters, and writing a speech.  And I won.  Son of a biscuit - I WON.  It was a heady experience to know I could work through my shyness and fear, and succeed.  Thanks to her, I've done it many times since.  Betty Ann never doubted me for a second.  Never once questioned it.  And that's when I began to believe in myself.
Marion and I went back once to see her after we were in High School.  I think it made her happy to see us, although I'm sure it's odd to send silly 14 year old girls on their way to high school, and when they come back they are young women and very different from the little girls that you used to know.  But maybe not.  I imagine there is still a little glimmer, a small slice of that essence of ourselves that is always there from beginning to end, making us as recognizable as babies as we are at 99.
I don't know where Betty Ann Friedman is now, or if she's even still alive.  But somewhere, a tough gal from Georgia is holding forth, giving someone needed direction, even as she pounds her head on a foam pillow against a blackboard.  She's taking names and standing for no sass.  She expected the best from us, and somehow we managed to give it to her, surprising ourselves most of all.

PS: I wish I had a picture of me in 7th grade.  Oh, the visual... it would give this story so much punch.  On the other hand, sometimes things are better off forgotten. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Birthday Gift

A quick post that I should have done before now.  My very clever daughter in law, Ronna, made me the most lovely gift: a bag for my yoga mat.  A few months ago I'd asked her if she knew how to make one.  I'd seen some for sale, but they were $50 - $100 and that was a little steep for me, being just a yoga novice.  She didn't know how, but I send her a picture of one I liked and she kept it, apparently, and worked up a little pattern for one.
She sent it to me for my birthday, and I was surprised and amazed and in love with it all at the same time.  She couldn't have picked fabric I love more and it's so great to be able to take my mat to class in it's own little tote.  Plus, all of my yoga friends were envious, which is what makes the gift even better.  Here's a picture of it:

She makes cute bags and purses and beautiful little makeup bags as well.  You really should visit her blog here as I know you'll want one of her items.  If you don't see anything that hits you right now, wait a bit.  She was just in Maui and sprained her ankle badly so she's out of commission for a couple of weeks.  But she'll be back to it soon.  Leave her a comment if there's something you desire  - she's so clever I think she can make anything.  If you scroll down far enough on her blog you'll see the cute diaper bag she designed for me to give to my niece.  I'm telling you, this girl is CLEVER.  Plus, she has 2 of the smartest and cutest kids ever - our Lexi and Matthew.  I'm going to Arizona this next week to see Katie and the girls, but soon it will be time for another Denver trip.  It's been too long again...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

If you're trying to *save* me, at least sign your name...

Still practicing being awesome.  How about you?  Some days it's harder to practice than others, isn't it?  But as long as you give it a good try, I think you can count it - even if you briefly get a "tone" in your voice when someone bugs you for the 99th time while you're trying to tally up vacation hours.  *sigh*  I'm only human, you know.
But you guys - I had something kind of weird/creepy happen today.  I came home, pulled the trash cans in and collected the mail.  As I was going through it, there was a nondescript little envelope addressed to "Resident."  Huh.  Junk mail, I thought.  I almost threw it away, but instead brought it upstairs and opened it.  Inside was a typed and photocopied list of about 10 anti-Mormon websites.  I can't remember all of them, but there was one called ConcernedChristians and another called 4Mormon.com or org - can't remember now.  I went to one of them just to see what it was, and it was a site with stories about ex-Mormons, and how they became ex-Mormons, and their pathetic little stories.
It was very creepy.  There was no other message - just the list of websites.  So I started to wonder: were we targeted or was this sent to everyone in the neighborhood?  Or did someone have a list of Mormons in the area?  I tell you, it makes you look at your neighbors funny, and I don't want to do that.
I've never EVER had anything like this happen, and it's very disappointing.  Things like this make me wonder why people can't just be concerned about themselves, and stop worrying about my salvation.  I don't bother anyone or pressure anyone with my beliefs - why would someone want to be so unkind as to try to insult mine?  (I say "try" because the attempt was ridiculous, and ignorant, to say the least)
Has anyone else ever gotten anything like this, randomly and anonymously, in the mail?  It's more than a little creepy.

On a happier note, Mia had a happy day today at preschool.  She got to write her name on a chalkboard and on Thursday its *gasp* sharing day!  Very, very big stuff.  She also received her new book from Mema - The Kissing Hand.  (If you've never seen this book, and you have a little one going to preschool, check it out - it's darling!)  Things are looking up in Mesa.

I think the little island girl will soon become a desert flower...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

On Being Awesome

I was struck by a post I read the other day by my blogging friend Katie.  It started with a quote:
Anyone can be cool
But being awesome takes practice

You can read the entire post here.  It links you to a couple of articles about being awesome vs being ordinary.  I laughed when I first read it, but it kind of stuck with me.  I kept thinking, "I want to be awesome..."  So, this weekend, I decided I would practice being awesome.  I would set goals and accomplish them.  I would go out of my way to do things for other people, instead of just sitting back in my comfy world being ordinary.

It was a great weekend.

On Saturday morning, instead of my ordinary stay in bed reading until 10:00 routine, I was up and in the shower.  I'd been invited to a girls' luncheon in honor of the birthday of an old friend of mine.  At first we were going to meet in La Canada, and then it got changed to the Black Cow Cafe in Montrose.  Now, first of all, that whole area is at least an hour away from me, and I'm not familiar with it at all.  My eyesight is OK under normal circumstances, but I get nervous when I'm driving in territories unfamiliar.  I was uncomfortable with the drive, but I was determined to go.  At the last minute, L made the suggestion that he drive me, and while we had lunch he would tool around and explore the town.  It's really a charming area, with cute shops and restaurants, and homes ranging from cute to amazing.  The whole area is set up against the Angeles Crest mountains, and is right next to Pasadena (home of the Rose Bowl).  I snapped at that offer.  My only worry just vanished.  It was a beautiful day - bright, sunny, warm, but not too warm.  When we got to the Black Cow, people were sitting outside eating.  Perfect.  We had about 1/2 an hour's wait, so we visited, I got a chance to reconnect with my friend's daughters and daughter in law, and we had the best time.  My friend's husband is one of the premier French Horn players in Los Angeles, if not the country.  He's probably played in every movie you could think of.  He's an amazing talent, my friend is a brilliant pianist (and she can sing) and all of their children are loaded with talent.  They are all either aspiring actors or singers.  It's a glimpse into another world.  I always feel like I've been to Disneyland after a day with them, and then I go back to my ordinary life filled with ordinary people.  (But I like my ordinary life with ordinary people.  This other world is interesting and fascinating and filled with famous people, but it's kind of exhausting.)  
But back to lunch.  It was brilliant.  The food was so good, and we talked, and laughed, and had such a good visit.  I've known this girl for a long, long time, and I've known her kids since before they were born.  I need to do this more often.  One of the girls has a husband who is an aspiring comedian, so we made tentative plans to get together and go see Oscar when he performs.  I can't imagine living like that, but it's fun to be on the fringe.  I made me feel awesome just to be with my friends in a place so far away from Orange County.
I don't know if you're supposed to have goals on the Sabbath, but I set 3 for myself today: 1. Scramble eggs, cheese, and pancetta together and then assemble them into little egg burritos for my breakfasts this coming week.  2. Bake 2 chicken breasts (stuffed with ricotta - yum!) for a couple of my lunches this week, and 3. Bake some cookies to give away - mostly to start using up that surplus of chocolate chips that I've managed to collect in the pantry.
I was doing pretty well.  I'd managed both 1. and 2.  Then my mom and dad came over.  We visited for awhile and then we went over to see my grandma and aunt before we had dinner.  After that it was getting kind of late, but I wanted so badly to be awesome today, so at 8:30 this evening I was baking cookies, folks.  I haven't watched TV or wasted time this entire day.  I used my calm and patient voice all day - even when the first batch of cookies burned. (Martha Stewart said to bake them for 16-18 minutes.  Seriously, they were done at 10 minutes.  I think that recipe was a typo.)  
I was pretty awesome today.  It's time for bed ( I always seem to be doing this blogging thing late at night...) and I'm going to get a good night's sleep and practice being awesome again tomorrow.  I like the feeling.

Mia being awsome on her new bike.

                               Katie and I being awesome in Puerto Rico

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm Blogging At 11:24 pm ?!?

Can you feel it?  Fall is just around the corner.  The days have been perfect blends of sunshine and warmth with just a hint of crispness, while nights are cooling off quickly once the sun goes down.  It's almost time to bring out light sweaters and maybe even some boots, but not just yet.  It still feels like I'd be pushing it just a bit - just like when I was a kid and I couldn't wait to wear a new sweater I'd gotten for school, so I'd impulsively wear it, and roast to death that day because the temperatures were still hovering around 80 during the day.  But I just couldn't wait.  I've gained a little discipline over the years, but not much.  I've got boots begging me to pull them on every time I open the closet.  Sweaters calling to me from the drawers.  Not yet though...not quite yet.
It was a rough week.  Our company is going through transition - sales territories are being realigned, people have lost their jobs.  More to come next week.  I am having to adjust how I do things, and get used to new people joining our group because their group got split up.  I'm happy to have my job still, but it's hard to know that others weren't so lucky.  The down time this weekend is doubly precious in that respect.  It's time to escape job pressure and to actually forget about the job for 48 hours.  This weekend I am going to concentrate on spending time with my true companion L, celebrating my friend Colleen's birthday by going to lunch with her and her daughters, and planning for my upcoming trip to Arizona.
I'm getting more than a little bit excited to see Katie's new house, and spend time with her and the girls, who are both getting so big.  Mia has started preschool (although she says she "doesn't need it") and Hayden is crawling all over the place.  I talked to Katie tonight, and "Daddy" had just gotten home from Tucson.  I could hear Mia in the background giggling and playing with him.  All was right with the world. Daddy was home.
I'm so tired I can hardly sit here, so I'm off to bed.  L and I went out to eat and he fed me Chinese.  It was delicious - something called "Wonderful Chicken" (Chinese restaurants are so funky!!) - and it really was wonderful.  I have to say, though, the best Chinese food I've even had was in San Francisco at a little hole in the wall called Nan King.  Amazing food.  People standing in line outside to get in.  Typically rude and abrupt waiters - they just want you to eat and get out so others can come in - but it's all part of the fun.  Anyone in the Bay Area ever eaten there?  I can't remember exactly where it was, but I loved it.  OK - I'm babbling because I'm tired.  I'll leave you with 3 new pictures of 10 month old Hayden, in honor of our upcoming visit there.  I might have to bite those chunky little legs.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Eagle Has Landed

The Mister is back home from his travels to Provo.  It was so sweet to sneak out of work early and run to pick him up at the airport.  He threw his bags in the car, and the first thing he said to me was "I'm starving - are you hungry?"  (Music to my ears since since we were down to some old romaine and a small round of Bonbel Laughing Cow cheese at our house.  And some eggs.)
The 55 freeway was jammed so we got off and went to Pei Wei in Irvine.  After a lo mein bowl and yakking L's ear off, I felt much better.  So good to have my best friend home again - I get kind of lonely without him sitting in the glow of his computer.
He had a good trip.  He and Andrew accomplished a lot.  Andrew's doc told him he needs to move on, expand his sights.  Right now he is living in an apartment owned by the state.  The other people who live there have mental health issues, and really don't live normal lives.  Andrew, by contrast, is getting better.  So much better, in fact, that he was told to move somewhere where he could be surrounded by higher functioning people who would inspire Andrew, rather than tempt him to become complacent.
In order to move, Andrew needed a job to help pay for the added expense.  His doctor told him he was up for it, and he was feeling pretty confident himself.  While his dad was there with him, he submitted several applications, and actually went on an interview.
Today, while we were sitting in Pei Wei, Andrew called.  He got a job!!  It's part time work, cleaning carpets.  This may not seem exciting to most of you, but really, this is huge.  Andrew has been recovering from a breakdown for the last year or more.  He's been fighting hard to come back through a haze of meds that have gradually been reduced more and more, giving him more clarity.  L said he was even talking a little bit about the possibility of going to school.  (!!!!!) For now though, a part time job is perfect.
Andrew will probably never be completely normal.  He'll always be a little quirky, and a lot sweet.  He fights mood swings and depression.  When he's heard enough talk or commotion, he'll get up and leave the room without a comment - even if you're in the middle of a sentence.  He sometimes needs a gentle nudge to get going.  But he tries so hard to do the right thing.  The carpet cleaning people will never regret hiring him because Andrew is one reliable, on-time, hard working person.  We're hoping that this little part time job will lead to him going to school or finding some type of training for a career he'll enjoy.
We're so grateful for all of the people around him who have been so kind and helpful.  For some reason, people who have worked with him - doctors, social workers, and counselors - have always wanted to go the extra mile for him.  Maybe in their world they don't see a lot of success stories, and in Andrew they see possibilities.  Thank goodness for all of them and their hard work and extreme kindness.  It does make a difference.

Arizona news: I've gotten reports that Mia got her first bicycle - a pink Princess one.  She loves it, and is riding it all over.  Life is getting better and the big move in is imminent.  I'm getting very excited to see everything when I go in a couple of weeks.  I've also heard rumors of a dance class and preschool.  It doesn't get better than that, does it? Well, ok - maybe if it were in Hawaii.  Other than that, preschool, dance class and a new bike are the things that make life sweet at four years old no matter where you live.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I've Had Just About Enough Of My Own Company

A quiet Sunday.  A good Sunday, but quiet all on my own.  I scooted home from church, changed clothes, grabbed a book and some water and took myself out to the patio to sit in the sun and read for a little bit.  It was hotter than it looked out there, but I'm not quite ready to give up the healthy glow and tanned legs yet. It makes me feel thinner, and if I can't actually BE thinner, I at least deserve to FEEL thinner.  There's just something about the cancerous UV ray sunshine that makes you feel healthier.  I know, right?  There's no rhyme or reason to it.  I do limit my time out there to 1 hour.  I can't take any more than that anyway these days.  I can remember sitting on the roof of my dorm at BYU slathering baby oil all over my body and then sitting there with a foil covered piece of cardboard reflecting the sun's rays even more intensely on my face and shoulders.  Now THAT was nuts.  And we'd do it all afternoon.
So I did my hour, couldn't handle it any more than that, and I came inside.  Drank about a gallon of water.  Wandered around the house aimlessly.  Did some wash.  Changed the sheets on the bed.  Finally - my parents came over after going to see my grandma.  I sat with the folks visiting for awhile until they got bored and wanted to go home.
I called my BFF Marion and talked to her for quite a long time until she, too, had to go.  Something about wanting to eat dinner.  Dinner.  What to eat for dinner?? (I'm so out of practice fending for myself...)  L usually does the grocery shopping (I would rather pull out my eyelashes) and he shops how he cooks: as if everything is going to be made from scratch.  When I shop, I like to buy lots of sauces and gourmet goodies to spice things up a bit, and ease the preparation.  I'm all about the ease of preparation.  Not so much about the chopping and peeling.  So as I was looking through the pantry for dinner inspiration, I wasn't seeing a lot to get excited about.  And I couldn't go to the store.  It's Sunday.  I finally chopped up some romaine, found some southwest spiced turkey slices, some cheese and some fresh green beans (from Trader Joes!) and made myself a nice little salad.  I have to admit that I got the salad idea from Marion because that's what she said she was having.  It was a good idea.
L called from Provo.  All is well there.  He and Andrew went on a little hike this afternoon.  Cleaned Andrew's apartment (it was typical boy apartment - stinky and messy), had a little dinner, watched some football, and called it a day.  Andrew is doing well and was glad his dad was there to visit.
Katie called from Arizona.  She lost her only house keys.  One minute they were in her hand, the next minute *POOF* they were gone.  They looked last night, they looked again today.  They are gone.  Abducted by aliens. Stolen by gremlins.  Gone.  Mystifying.  Not quite sure what the next move is, but she's hoping to avoid a locksmith.  They went to their new church.  It went well.
I drove to my brother's to drop of the Mustang parts catalog that L does for the family biz.  I really didn't want to leave the house and drive over there, but I'd promised L that I would so off I went.  And now I'm back home.  Every light in the house blazing and every door locked tight.  TV blaring.  I hate being alone all night.  I found this old picture of Mia.  It's kind of how I feel right now.

I want L to hurry up and come home.  Two more days, 1 more night.  Tomorrow there's work, and then I bamboozled a friend into having dinner with me tomorrow night and then going to yoga.  Monday night alone, then Tuesday work.  Pick L up at John Wayne at 4pm.  YAY!  I'm tired of talking to myself.  I've heard it all already.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Katie's Not In Puerto Rico Anymore...

It's been a week of angst.  My daughter has landed in Arizona after 3 years of Puerto Rico.  Talk about whiplash.  The baby is teething (again), is cranky, and has cried almost nonstop since their arrival.  Her poor little nose is probably all boogery from the dry AZ climate, after only experiencing PR humidity her whole life.  Seriously.  I feel like that every time I go to Utah or Colorado to visit.  I just don't cry about it because I have discovered Mentholatum and Vick's.
Every day I've talked to Katie she's expressed loneliness (Zach is already in classes in Tucson, she has no car, and hasn't met any friends yet) and frustration (no car, living with in-laws, trying to get her house set up while having no car and living with in-laws.)  I've tried to think what I can do from California, and a couple of days ago L and I were this close to jumping on a plane to try to give her some help.
And then I had an epiphany.  I have a blogging friend who lives near where Katie moved.  I emailed her asking her a couple of questions.  And instead of simply answering my questions and telling me to have a nice day, this lovely lady (and very busy lady, I might add)  provided complete contact information and offered her help to my daughter.   I am blown away by her generosity.  She couldn't have picked a more effective way to get my friendship for life.  I offered to take her to lunch when I'm there visiting later this month, but that is totally inadequate payback.  If one of her chicks ever comes to my neck of the woods, however, I will totally be there for them.

Update today: Katie sounds like her old self.  She'd gone to her new/old house (see, its new to her, but it's about a 60 year old house...  Retro.  Yeah.  Retro.) She'd started to unpack boxes.  She bought a couch which will be delivered tomorrow.  She bought some bedding, and had some fun unpacking dishes and flatware she hadn't seen in over 3 years.  She plans to be in her "new" house by this weekend.  Tomorrow is her 6th wedding anniversary, but it seems like yesterday she was the beautiful bride.
I can't wait to get there to see everything, and help her with some things, get her little house in shape, shop for some "extras."  Until then, thanks to one of the nicest blogging friends I've never met - Jen - who was willing to go out of her way for us.  If you want to "meet" someone nice, go to her blog here .  You'll enjoy her perspective on life, and her lovely family.  She's someone I'm truly excited to meet in person.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Catching Up With The Girls

For those who are interested, I saw Grandma and Margie yesterday.  You wouldn't think a 99 year old lady and her 70-something daughter would be so wily and hard to reach at home, but think again.  I've been trying for two weeks to catch up to them and finally did yesterday on a nice Sunday afternoon.  Nabbed 'em after dinner when they were too slow and docile to dodge my repeated calls.
 They're doing well in their new home.  Grandma continues to amaze me with her sense of humor and resilience.  Margie looks happy and relaxed.  Margie does not like to be photographed, so I respected it.  Yesterday anyway.  I did grab a couple of shots of Grandma.  They're not great, but I love old faces - the essence of their character becomes part of the lines and wrinkles.  And Grandma has a happy nature, and just enjoys the heck out of everyone she meets, which is evidenced here.

Grandma telling a funny story about her youngest great grandchild , Ariana.  It involved tooting/farting, which she found hilarious.  We're a classy bunch...

Dolphins, JoJos, and Family: A Beach Day At Newport

Saturday was the beach day I'd requested.  It was supposed to be the hottest day of the week - upper 80s at the beach.  L rousted me out of bed early.  The night before I'd gone to yoga.  An hour and a half of Sleeping Tiger pose and Monkey pose left me feeling like I'd been run over by all the animals.  (Sleeping Tiger is when you lie on your back with legs and arms up in the air.  You hold that for a couple of minutes and then you hear the dreaded words: 'For an EXTRA challenge, hold your head up'...  Monkey pose is balancing on your tail bone with legs up and arms extended.  Hold for 1 minute.  You are shaking at the end of that minute.)  The beach wasn't sounding that good with an aching neck, but I downed some Excedrin and became a new girl.  A beach girl.
By the time I was ready (which wasn't too long), L had loaded the car and was waiting patiently outwardly, but impatiently inside.  There's that tenseness in the grip on the steering wheel that says I took too long...  But we were off, and it was a glorious day - in north OC.  As we got off the freeway in Costa Mesa it was still bright and sunny, but off in the distance we could see Hoag Hospital shrouded in fog.  As we passed over the bridge at Lido Isle it was densely foggy.  No matter, we said.  It will burn off quickly we said.  It was then a little before 10:00.
We reached the Balboa Pier parking lot and found a parking place.  Unloaded our stuff.  Looked for a fire ring.  All taken.  ALL TAKEN.  At 10:00.  One family said they'd gotten the last one 10 minutes before.  L gave me a lot of stinkeye after that, and grumbled under his breath about him telling me when needed to be down there by 9:30.  Whatever.  We found a spot closer to the water and set up camp.  L had bought us a canopy and it was so nice to have that as we were there all day.
But what to do about cooking dinner?  L set off to find a little store, and came back with a little hibachi type BBQ.  Perfect!  We'd brought chicken-pineapple quesadillas to grill, as well as hot dogs, chips and hummus, strawberries, drinks and Trader Joe's JoJos (the best store bought cookie EVER).  We also had the makings for s'mores.  Scott and Ashley were coming around dinner time with a macaroni salad.

Until then we just sat back and enjoyed the sound of the waves.  There were even some dolphins out in the water playing - a happy harbinger of the day to come.  Just watching them dive and swim parallel to the beach made me insanely happy.
I was listening to some children play in front of us.  One of the little boys was bantering back and forth with a little girl about his age.  He said "I'm going to say horrible words to you every day!"  The little girl said "Good!"  Apparently the words were so unspeakably horrible he couldn't even mention what they were.  For some reason that was hilarious to me.  L sat next to me listening to the BYU game on his i-Phone.

At half time he reached over, grabbed my arm, and said "Let me hold your wing."  Ahhh... the romance is just crazy good with us.  Up until about 1:00 it was still foggy.  And then, the clouds parted, the sun burst forth, and the glorious day at the beach began.  The sky was blue, the sun sparkled on the water which, in turn, reflected the blue sky.  The beach started to fill up.  I took a little nap in the warm sun.  Woke up and had a few JoJos.  Walked up to the pier, stood in line in the ladies' restroom (why is there always a line?!?)  walked down the pier a bit, and then made my way back to camp.  Absolutely beautiful day.

Around 4:00 the wind kicked up.  It was a little bit cold as the temperature hadn't gotten as hot during the day as promised.  I put my jacket on.  Around 5:00 I went to the car and switched my shorts out for sweat pants.  It was tempting to stay in the car out of the wind, but that wouldn't have been fun either.  Around 6:30 we fired up the old hibachi as Scott and Ashley were on their way.  The site of the flames cheered me up as I buried myself under layers of towels.  

I had to take out my contact lenses as the cold wind was giving me ice cream eyeballs (which will lead to a good headache if you don't do something like take out the lenses).  I put my hood up.

Finally - dinner.  Does anything taste as good as food grilled outside?  Crispy hot and melty quesadillas, grilled hotdogs, creamy macaroni salad - so delicious.  It was hard to stop eating, but I had to save a little corner of tummy for a s'more.  Sticky and chocolately ooey-gooey-ness enclosed by crunchy graham cracker.  I especially love the charred edges of marshmallow crunchiness.  I used to be able to eat a few of them.  1 is enough now.  But YUM!!

We talked and laughed and ate with the kids until we were all so frozen we couldn't take it anymore.  In the distance behind us, bonfires were blazing, but we were out in the cold.  It was 9:00 and time to go home to showers and warm beds.  We loaded everything up and as we were driving towards home I reached up and touched my salty, sticky hair.  It smelled like salt air and smoke, and was impossibly tangled.  Perfect.  Goodbye summer.  It was a really good one that I'll remember for a long time, bringing our family together, and giving me a new daughter.  

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