Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Years

I am having so much fun with my family here that I just can't find the time to write my blog. I know it is late but I'll give an update. The Monday after Christmas we all went to the Zoo. They had a special evening program called Jungle Bells. We relaxed most of the day and then headed to the Zoo in the late afternoon. When we got there I was a bit disappointed because all of the animals were in bed (do animals have beds?) and there wasn't much to see. After a while I realized that some of the really cool nocturnal animals that you don't normally see active in the day time were active at night. Things like Jackals and rodents and such but the coolest were the lions. I don't know if I've ever seen a very active lion but they were sure frisky that night. It was actually quite fun walking around in the dark and it Evan was pretty excited to be motoring around in his electric wheel chair. He scared me to death on several occasions because there were some very steep hills and he was going VERY fast down some of the hills.

On Tuesday we headed for a local park that Lisa discovered in the newspaper or somewhere. When she first mentioned it I wasn't too excited about it but what a fun place it was. Inside of Kitt Carson Park they have a small area that is surrounded by a wall and covered in mosaic tiles and stones, glass and other cool looking things. We spent hours there just taking pictures and climbing on things. Ben and Sharley had to work and that is a shame because I think Sharley being the artist would have loved the place. From there we headed to one of the better hamburger places you'll ever find called Chi Burger - Chi Burger. They have a list of about 200 toppings that you can put on your hamburger and if you order and finish one of their "One Pounders" they'll actually take your picture and post it on their wall. I've never actually tried for that award but on this visit Brandon decided to go for it. The hamburger was the size of his head. He said the first third was very delicious, the second third was OK and the last third was miserable. He did finish it however. Better than the hamburger however are their milk shakes. You can order pretty much any flavor (or mixture of flavors) that you want and they're delicious. I ordered a banana, vanilla macadamian nut. They used macadamian nut flavor however rather than the real nuts so it was a bit of a dissappointment but still very good.

Wednesday was the wedding of Brandons best friend growing up. Brandon was in the bridal party. Lisa, Brandon, Serene and I went to the sealing in the morning and the entire family went to the reception that evening. It was a long but fun day. It is always fun to go weddings like this where you get to visit with people you don't get to see very often. They also had a dance so I got to swing dance with my girls. When I went to BYU one of the smartest things I did was audit dance classes. I loved to dance but I am not very good at it so I figured this would help me. At the Y they always have way more girls in the dance classes than they do girls so they are thrilled to let you audit the class just to get you there. By auditing it I didn't have to worry about homework or anything and besides all that, I figured it would be a fun way to meet girls. I took ballroom dancing and learned swing dancing along with the cha-cha, tango, latin hustle and others that I don't remember. It was a lot of fun and I became pretty good at swing dancing. I have since taught Lisa and all of my kids to swing dance and they've all exceeded my abilities (which isn't saying much) so when we get the chance to swing dance the Leavitt's have fun. They only had one swing dance that night so Kira grabbed Brandon and Alycia grabbed me. Poor Sarah was left out but after the Bride and Groom left she made a special request of the DJ and Sarah and I danced on an empty dance floor. It was fun.

Thursday was New Years Eve. We took the family to Torrey Pines State Beach and hiked out tot he cliffs overlooking the ocean. This is a short but stunning hike. We've made the trip many times but on this trip we learned that about a hundred feet from the parking lot there is a little museum that we've never noticed before. It was very interesting. It used to be a restaurant but has been renovated. This is the first day that Ben and Sharley were able to join us. It is a real bummer that they had to work but we are all very grateful for Ben's good fortune in getting on with Wells Fargo. He is going to have some very good benefits working for them and some excellent experience that can go onto his resume. New Years was a bit of a bust. Kira, Justin, Alycia, Trevor and Alex went to the Young Adult dance. Yes, I know that the married kids are supposed to be going to single adult activities but they had a ton of fun. They had much more than just a dance going on. It was in one of the museums in Balboa Park and they had laser tag and other stuff. Alex was a bit bummed because apparantly every single person there was pared off so there were slim pickings for the dances. Brandon and Serene were planning on celebrating their Third wedding anniversary with a dinner and a movie but Serene was sick so they postponed the celebrations. Ben and Sharley did go to dinner and a movie and Sarah went to the youth dance. Sarah called me about eleven and came home early. She has been enjoying too much junk food over the holidays and her IBS had caught up to her. I went and brought her home early and she passed out on the couch. As for Lisa and I we were planning on babysitting the grandkids that night. I just ended up falling asleep on the couch and the New Years came with me completely unawares.

Happy New Years

The new efficient traffic lights that use LED's save a lot of power but they're too efficient. The old traffic lights generated so much excess heat that they melted all of the snow and ice that would build up on them. The new ones get covered with snow and ice and cause a lot of traffic accidents.

Evan in the Mosaic Park

Sydney, Serene, Brandon and Hayley in the Mosaic Park





Trevor doesn't seem quite as interested as the rest of us do

Alycia getting eaten by a snake

Sydney at Kitt Carson Park

Evan at Kitt Carson Park

Sydney in the Mosaic Park

Sarah in the Mosaic Park

Brandon and Trevor being fed to the Snakes

Brandon with his One Pound Hamburger

Sydney loves Uncle Trevor

Torrey Pines Park

Lisa and I

Torrey Pines Park

Since you had to pay for parking we piled everyone into one vehicle and entered the park leaving the other cars outside the park

Three very beautiful girls heading out for the New Years celebrations

Sunday, December 27, 2009


This week has been so full of fun and action that I haven't had a chance to get to my blog until the wee hours of the morning and by that time I'm way too tired to do anything. I thought I'd share this first picture of Kira at the airport. I must admit that I'm quite proud of her for being able to travel with all of that stuff. Luckily the airlines were quite good with her and the kids.

Our normal Christmas Eve tradition is to make a bunch of hors d'oeuvres but his year Ben offered to make his home made taco's. How could we refuse that? They were really good too. Christmas Eve Grandma Shaw showed up and with her arrival we were now out of beds and bedrooms. Neither Grandma nor I could afford to put her up in a hotel room for two weeks so I was going to make a little "apartment" for her in the garage. Lucky for Grandma, Ben felt sorry for her and offered up his bedroom and him and Sharley are sleeping on a blow up mattress on the floor. That was very good of him but I feel bad because we have a lot of late nights around here. The late nights are not a problem for Ben because it is usually with us "boys" that are up late playing "Settlers" but Sharley is in the other room trying to get some sleep while we're all yelling and screaming in the other room. To make it worse she has been sick too.

With Grandma we are now at seventeen people. There is Lisa and myself, Kira, Justin and their two kids. Brandon, Serene and their two kids. Ben and Sharley (and their cat). Alycia and Trevor, Alex and Sarah and then Grandma.

With seventeen people in the house we have a lot of presents under the tree. On Christmas Eve it is a tradition of ours to have a talent show. I think Trevor and Sharley were a little nervous but we all had a lot of fun. To call it a talent show is a bit generous because our "talent" can be just about anything. One year Ben demonstrated how he could get a dozen or so Ritz crackers in his mouth. That was impressive. This year Sarah shared her racing times from cross-country. Alex showed of the hair that he can now grow on his chest. He has a large dark patch on his chest sort of like a birth mark and that is where the hair is growing, Alycia actually played a song that Trevor taught her on the guitar. Trevor did a magic trick where he levitated his body. I'm still trying to figure out how he did that. Ben and Sharley shared matching tatoo's that they've discovered. They have matching ink spots in their skin where at some point in their lives they were stabbed with a pen. Brandon shared his new body, Serene cooked some souffle's, Sydney told us the colors of the lights on the tree, Hayley did a dance (with a lot of help from Brandon), Kira showed off her muscles that she has developed in his shoulders packing around two twenty pound boys. I must admit that it was quite impressive too. Justin showed a video of himself bungee jumping and other extreme sports events. The coolest was where they dropped him 200 feet into a net. Wow. Evan read a book, Landon dressed up as a Sumo wrestler (that was really good) and I shared my element collection. Since I've started at Hi-Z I have access to a lot of chemicals so I decided to start a collection. Some of the elements I've been able to collect are silicon, gadolinium, boron, barium, magnesium, aluminum, carbon, copper, iron, lead, tellurium, indium, germanium, gold, silver, nickel, molybdenum, titanium, and I'm sure there's more but I don't know off the top fo my head. I need to figure out how I'm going to do the very toxic, radioactive or explosive elements. The gases could be tricky too but I can seal those in quartz. On Christmas Eve we also went caroling to some of our neighbours. We've been doing that since the kids were little so it was fun for them to see our grown kids with children of their own.

For Christmas I won't take the time to share everyone's gifts with you but I got some cool stuff. A couple of books, a Star Trek tree ornament (very cool), nuts, candy, socks, a portable gas barbecue, the Star Trek movie, another movie called "Follow Me Boys" which is a very old movie about a scout troop (appropriate for me), tickets for a Gondola ride in the San Diego Bay (that aught to be fun) and I'm not sure what more but there is more. Later in the day of Christmas Day we walked along Christmas Card lane.

Saturday was a special day. We wanted to go to the temple as a family but since Alex and Sarah can't attend the endowment part of the temple sessions we followed the endowment session with baptisms which Alex and Sarah can do. It was pretty special to see every member of my family sitting there in the temple. Sarah figures that should become a new family tradition and I think I tend to agree.

Today is Sunday and we all went to church and showed of my Grand kids to the ward. That was fun. This afternoon we've just sat around playing games, watching movies and eating. I'm not exactly sure what Lisa has planned for the rest of the week but I know tomorrow we're taking the grand kids to the zoo. It has been many years since I've been to the zoo so I'm looking forward to it.

Evan loves Grandma's nativity sets.

Alex gave Sarah a "T" shirt from his fraternity.

Here come the kids on Christmas morning.

Trevor isn't exactly sure about babies but it looks like he's starting to warm up to them.

Alex is ready to go snow boarding.

That is a lot of people for Christmas dinner.

Pretty much every night we play "Settlers of Catan" until the wee hours of the morning. Typically around 2:00. It is going to be tough for Ben now because he needs to drive to Anaheim for work every morning.

The fossil record shows that Whales are descended from an animal that looked a lot like a large dog and ran on land.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Poinsettia Bowl

The last of my children arrived today and just in time to go to the Poinsettia Bowl football game. It just so happened that the University of Utah played in the game this year and since we have two kids attending the U of U we thought it would be fun to go. When we checked out the price of the tickets however we decided that perhaps it would be better to spend our money on other things like food. That is when Justin decided that it would be fun to go and watch the game as a family so he kindly sprang for all the tickets. We had a blast. We started out a bit slow but then we took off and never looked back. By the end of the game the "Cal" fans were all so demoralized that they all left early. Poor Ben however is being trained for a new job and his choices were to take the two weeks of training during school (it is pretty tough to miss two weeks of school) or to do it over the holidays. That means that pretty much every single day during the holidays he's going to have to run up to Orange County and attend training for two weeks. It will all be worth it in the end however because he has been hired by the Wells Fargo Bank and not only does he get full benefits including tuition reimbursement but it will be a great way for a student working towards a business degree to get started. He was hired in large part because of his Spanish and so this job will also fill a requirement for his business major and his Spanish minor. That was a long way for me to say that Ben showed up to the game late but still got to watch the half time show.

In addition to the very good game I also had a new first tonight. Justin, Evan, Sarah, Ben, Sharley and I were all standing in line for a hot dog during the half time show when all of a sudden, tremendously loud explosions burst above us in the air. They set off fireworks but they were being fired from just over a wall where we were standing. The fireworks were exploding right above our heads and the explosions were reverberating off the concrete walls surrounding us. Every boom echoed off three or four walls so we heard four times the explosions as there really was. The finale was so spectacular that the entire sky above us was glowing so brightly that it literally looked like the sky was red with fireballs bursting and shooting stars shooting all over. The picture doesn't come close to doing the whole experience justice.

Following the game we all came home and the original plan was to go and walk Christmas Card Lane but it was late enough that we just ate dinner and then Justin gave Lisa her Christmas present when was a game of Guesstures. Peter and Maron came over and we all played a rip snorting game of Guesstures. It was a lot of fun. After Guesstures the women all went to bed and the guess continued the night with a game of Settlers.

It is so fun to have the family all home. I'm so looking forward to the holidays.

Jingle Bells was originally written as a Thanksgiving song.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


The next problem I would solve is immigration. Immigration into the United States is ridiculous. It took Lisa and the kids six years to get their citizenship and that is while they were married to a US citizen. That is nuts. Instead of dealing with the problem however our government just stands by and watches people flood across the border. While I'm not terribly concerned about the average Mexican trying to make some money to support his family, I'm very concerned about the middle eastern terrorist disguising himself as an innocent Mexican man trying to support his family. I'm also extremely concerned about the tons of drugs that cross our borders and the sex slaves and the dirty bombs. If I were the guy in charge I would make immigration extremely simple requiring a physical exam and a background check. This would help to keep out many of the third world diseases and criminals. I would then close our borders tighter than a drum. Nobody would get across our borders illegally. I would build a fence in the metropolitan areas and fly predators out in the desserts where there are fewer people. If I spotted anyone trying to sneak into our country I would warn them once and if they didn't turn around I would shoot them. Do that once or twice and you won't see too many people trying to cross illegally. If immigration were simplified then the honest people wouldn't have to come across illegally anyway. All the guys sneaking across would be bad guys.

All people entering our country (citizens and non-citizens alike) would have a computer file created about them. The file would have a record of how often they cross the border along with any jobs they've had and everything else anyone would want to know. All travelers would be fingerprinted and when ever they enter the country they would scan their thumb prints and the file would pop up with a big picture of them and it would be green saying they can enter or red meaning they had to be pulled aside for more questioning. The businessman who travels twenty times a year would obviously be no threat but there is no way anyone on the terrorist watch list would get by since the screen would be big, red and flashing saying, "arrest this guy".

I would use the same system for anyone applying for a job too. Thumb scanners are cheap and every business would have one. If you want to hire someone you just scan his thumb and it will display his picture and tell you if he is legal to work in the States.

Flying on a plane would also require a thumb scan as would foreign students at college. This way you could easily track anyone who is in the states on student visa's etc. and if they decide to run they would have to walk since thumb scans would be used for most forms of travel.

This system would be very simple to set up and it would prevent all forms of stolen identity since your picture is displayed. It could be implemented tomorrow but unfortunately no one seems to be interested.

In 2006 it was reported that between 2001 and 2005, 45,000 illegal aliens from countries on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror (SST) or from countries that protected terrorist organizations and their members were caught trying to cross the Mexican border into America. I wonder how many were not caught?