Saturday, September 21, 2013

Serene Week

Brandon, Ben and Sharley flew home the Monday after the wedding. Once again, I was up at 4:30 and my poor sleep deprived body was crying to go back to bed but I wasn't going to miss a minute with my kids.

Serene and the girls however stayed until the end of the week. It was wonderful to have them for an entire week with no distractions. Lisa played a lot with them daily going to museums at Balboa park and other stuff but unfortunately I had to work. Sydney kept telling me that she wanted to climb up Black Mountain so Friday morning I went into work late and Lisa and I hiked up Black Mountain with Sydney and Haley. They were so excited.

As we were driving to the tail head I was rather confused when Sydney kept talking about how we would have to go on our hands and knees. I finally realized that she thought we would be scaling some cliffs. I hope she wasn't disappointed to learn that we would be able to walk on a trail all the way to the top. 

So we reached the trail and started walking and immediately Haley was complaining because she was too tired to walk. She then decided that rather than walk to the top she would be an Eagle and she would fly to the top. Of course Sydney couldn't be out done so she started to fly as well. I was surprised by how long that lasted. It is a two mile hike up Black Mountain and I think they flew for the first half mile. They eventually had to come down and get a drink of water but then they were off again. I'm not sure where the Vulture came from but they would switch back and forth between being an Eagle and being a Vulture. 

The inevitable finally happened though and before long the little eagle (Hayley) made a crash landing and skinned her knee. After that I had to carry her on my shoulders. So much for flying. They did make it a full mile though before I had to carry anyone and Sydney hiked the whole way. The last mile can get fairly steep in places too. 

Even though Black Mountain is scarcely more than a big hill, the view from the top is rather nice. If you look closely in the picture you can actually see the ocean from the top. The hike down was a whole lot faster than the hike up and then it was time to say goodbye to my darling little granddaughters. Serene and her girls flew out on Friday. It really stinks that my grand-kids all live so far away from me. I don't think I get to see them again for at least another six months. 

Even MILD dehydration will slow down one's metabolism as much as 3%.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Day After

The day after the wedding was another rough morning. We now had all six of our children at home, all six of their spouses and all six of our grandchildren. Who knows if this will ever happen again and it is surely not going to happen for several years so of course we need to have family pictures taken. Without torturing you with all of the scheduling conflicts let me just say that the only time available was 8:00 AM on Saturday. We had to hurry because Alex and Wendy had a plane to catch for their honeymoon in Hawaii.

As you can imagine, it was another morning not too unlike the morning of the wedding. After some yelling and screaming we got everyone out the door and in a car and we arrived at the beach pretty much on time. As soon as the family pictures were done and Alycia and Trevors pictures were taken, Trevor took the newly weds off to the airport while the rest of us did individual families and of course the grandparent pictures. It was a beautiful morning at the cove so you can be expecting some new family pictures on the blog in the not too distant future.

After recovering at the house for a bit we ended up at the beach with the kids. It was even more fun because we met up with the Kooymans and the Sanchez's. After we were all thoroughly exhausted (it is funny how spending a day outside can sap all of ones energy) it was back to the house and more games. We played a new game this time called Avalon. It is a lot of fun but we tended to get a bit more riled up than usual. Alycia thought it was all so funny she actually video taped us and put together a short (15 second) video clip. Before you watch the video let me tell you what to watch for. At the beginning you need to watch Sharley ready to take Brandon by the throat and strangle him. At the end you need to watch Justin simulating a venomous animal with fangs spitting poison.  

As usual we played games way into the night but we knocked off a bit earlier than usual because Justin, Kira and Grandma had early morning flights requiring that we get up at 4:30. Normally that wouldn't have stopped us but once Justin landed he had a fourteen hour drive to make and we really didn't want to lose that lovely family in one of those mountain valley's in British Columbia. 

Sunday morning was quite eventful. Let me see if I can tell the story without getting too lost. Grandma and I went to airport first in Justin's rental car. The plan was to drop grandma off and then drop off the rental car, take a shuttle back to the airport to meet up with Kira and Justin. Because our van is the only vehicle that can accommodate Evans wheel chair they had to use our van. Well that was the plan. Grandma was a bit slower than I had planned so we got left late. Traffic was ok (after all it was 5:00) but when we got to the airport Grandma got the airlines mixed up and we went to the wrong airline. After waiting in line for a while they told us that we were at the wrong airline so it was off to the correct airline where we waited in another line. When we finally got to the counter the guy told us that we had missed our flight by less than five minutes. The plane was still right there but now days they won't board you if you're not there 30 minutes early and he told us they sometimes cut you off at 45 minutes. After staring at his computer screen for a long time he finally told us that we were out of luck and had to come back tomorrow. 

Grandma was very upset and the ticket agent was a kind fellow so he went back into his computer and by overriding the computer and doing things manually he got her on a flight through Houston that got her in at 10:00 at night. It was going to be a very long day for Grandma.

Now I was panicking about Kira and Justin. There was no way I was going to get his car back in time but then I got a text from them that there was an accident on the freeway and they were at a stand still in danger of missing their flight. I now had plenty of time to return the car. While waiting I prepped the guys at the counter and met Kira and Justin at the curb. Kira ran right into the counter where I had explained everything and I helped Justin unload bags and kids. Grandma missed her flight by 5 minutes and Kira made hers by 5 minutes. I am so glad that they made their flight.

Contrary to popular belief, children don't learn new languages any faster than adults do.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Wedding Day

Friday was the wedding day. Everyone woke up early and the house was a mass of confusion. In the end careful planning and clearly defined schedules and assignments ensured that everyone had a car when they needed it and everyone was at the temple relatively on time.  Alex and Wendy and parents first, siblings next and children and grandmother later. Of course once we entered the beautiful temple all of the stress and anxiety was gone and we were able to enjoy the spirit of this blessed event. 

Dan Northcutt was our stake president several years ago and he is now a sealer at the temple so we asked him if he would preform the ceremony. He did a great job. It was a beautiful ceremony. Everyone then rushed outside to begin the long wait in the hot sun waiting for the happy couple to come out. 

I know I usually come from these weddings with a ton of my own pictures but for the last few weddings I've just wanted to bask in the moment and so I have taken very few pictures. That means that for this posting you're stuck with the few pictures I was able to gather. Sorry, I will post another entry when we get the official pictures back. 
I do want to share the video that Chris McClain took. This was a very low budget wedding but the one thing we have decided that we will spend money on is the video. Once the wedding is over all you have left are the pictures and the video and of those two I've found that you watch the video ten times for every time you go back and look at the pictures. With Alycia's wedding we lucked out and found a great videographer. We have used him for every wedding since then.  It will take a long time before we get the final video from the wedding but he took Alex and Wendy for a couple of hours on Thursday and made a teaser to show at the wedding. It was kind of cool because with a temple wedding no one gets to see the moment that Alex see's Wendy in her wedding dress for the first time. This video captures that moment. I love the video and can't wait to see the full video.

Following the wedding Lisa and I rushed home, loaded up the cars and headed to the venue. The reception was held at David Stones home. He has a beautiful yard that he lets people use for weddings and his place is stunning. The only decoration we needed to do was the table settings. He has a Koi Pond, Gazebo, dance floor, beautiful lights and a stunning view. You couldn't ask for anything more. 

 The reception was a blast. Molly Sanchez spent all day cooking the food and it was delicious. Lilly Greenlaw (a friend of Lisa's) worked with Lisa and Kira do the flowers.

I had two jobs to do and I managed to pull them both off but one created some panic and I had to pull in some major help. My first job was the chandelier over the sweetheart table. I don't know if you can see it above Alex and Wendy in the picture but it is several baby-food jars hanging from chains with candles in them. It actually turned out quite well if you ask me.

My second job was to have the table and screen set up to show the video. I was good and had everything ready to go but I didn't actually try it out to see if it worked. Yes, you're way ahead of me. As we were setting up for the reception I set up the screen, ran the extension cords had the table and the equipment all set up, pulled up the video on the laptop and then I went to plug in the projector. The plug was a European plug and there was no adapter to plug into and American receptacle. After about ten panicked phone calls I finally got a hold of Lee Evans. Lee can fix anything remotely related to computers. He actually loaded up his own personal equipment, drove on over to the reception and set up his own equipment to show the video. I owe him big time.

Lisa suggested to Alex that it would be cool if he and his groomsmen performed a dance for Wendy. It was touch and go if it was actually going to happen but in the end they all got together and practiced after the family dinner the night before the wedding. It turned out really cool. Our videographer captured it for posterity.

After everyone had fully belly's and the toasts and thank you's were over, the party began in earnest. The dance floor was packed up until we finally had to shut down the DJ. We only paid him until 9:30 but it looked like he was prepared to go on all night. We have also used him for our last three weddings too so perhaps he was giving us a bonus.

Lisa had previously given everyone a clean up assignment so the clean up went very quickly as well. We all managed to get home at a reasonable time and then we still played late into the night. It was a wonderful day.

Seventeen tons of gold are made into wedding rings each year in the United States!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Temple and the Family Dinner

Thursday was another great day but a whole lot less intense than Wednesday was. I got up early to go and pick up the U-Haul truck. I took the truck straight to pick up the tables. Since everyone was home in bed recovering from the day before I ended up loading the tables by myself. I felt bad waking everyone. 

I then brought the truck home and filled every last remaining space with stuff Lisa had ready for the reception. I dragged Justin with me and we then headed over to the Stones home where the reception was going to be. Alex's Utah friends met us there and helped us unload everything. We then dropped the truck off and headed back home to get ready for the temple. Today was the day that Wendy went through the temple for her endowments. It was also the first time that I was able to see the new temple film. It is so much better than the old film. Adam and Eve seem so much more real to me. I love it. I know it seems funny that I work at the temple every week and I still haven't seen the film but I end up dealing with last minute emergencies all night and don't have any time to go through a session. I just need to start scheduling myself for a session once in a while. 

After the temple we came home and loaded up every vehicle we could and headed back to the Stones to set up the tables. While we were doing that Lisa and others (I don't know who) headed to the church to set up for the family dinner. We always like to have a family dinner because that is the only chance we really have to get to know our new in-laws. Things are way too crazy the day of the wedding and the night before is so much more relaxed. We had tons of spaghetti and garlic bread and spent the night telling fun stories about Alex and Wendy. 

After the dinner we cleaned up the church and then came home and played games until the wee hours of the night. By this time we had a very full house. There was Lisa and I (2) our six kids (8) their six spouses (14) six grand kids (20) and Grandma (21). Of course there was just no way that they would all fit in our home which seemed to large a week earlier but right then it felt very tiny. Several of our children were farmed out to good friends. I think I need a bigger house. 

Of course we couldn't just go to bed so we stayed up very late playing games until the wee hours of the morning. Alex was all worried about getting enough sleep so he bailed early. I love it when my family comes home and I'm not about to miss a single moment of our time together. There is plenty of time to sleep after I'm dead.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

The Bachelors Party

I know the wedding was weeks ago but I am only now recovering from the wonderful week that led up to Alex and Wendy's wedding and the days following. When my family comes home I love every minute that we are together and we usually stay up till the wee hours of the morning playing and visiting. That is normally OK because we can sleep-in the following morning but not this week. We would stay up until after 2:00 and then have to get up early the next morning. Wednesday was Alex's bachelors party and we were up at 5:00 to haul him off to the beach.
Thursday was our day to get the venue ready for the wedding and I was up at 7:00 to go pick up the rental van,
Friday, of course, was the wedding. No one slept in on that day
Saturday was family pictures at the beach at 8:00. We were all up before 7:00
Sunday was the first trip to the airport, up at 4:30
Monday was another airport trip at 4:30 and everyone of those days we were up until at least 2:00. I was so exhausted.

Today I want to share what a wonderfully exhausting day we had at Alex's bachelors party that Ben had planned out. As I mentioned, it all started at 5:00. The boys from Utah wimped out on us and couldn't drag themselves out of bed on time and Trevor, Alycia, Sam and Sarah couldn't drive from Provo in one day so they overnighted in St George and missed out on the early morning events. Frank arrived at 5:00 AM and we all gathered together to wake up Alex. Justin flew down on Tuesday just so he could join in the party and of course we played until about 3:00 so most of us were working on less than two or three hours of sleep. 

Ben and Frank had bought a package of adult diapers for Alex to wear. I repeat, this was Ben's plan and I claim no responsibility for any of it but I was there and I took pictures as evidence. Frank, Ben, Brandon, Justin and myself all rushed into Alex's room and forced him to change into the diaper. We then hauled him off to Pacific Beach for an early morning dip into the ocean. Thank goodness the beach was nearly empty at that morning because everyone except myself decided that it would be a good idea to change into diapers and join Alex. Here is a picture of them before they all ran into the ocean. The picture of them coming out of the ocean with the waterlogged diapers is much more interesting but I decided not to share that one with you. 

Following the early morning dip we went to "The Broken Yolk" for breakfast. They have this 12 egg omelette that is free if you can eat it within an hour. When the food came there was no way that he was going to eat that omelette. In fact, we should have just ordered the omelette and the rest of us would have been satisfied with just that. I had two eggs over easy and that was plenty for me. 

After breakfast it was back to the beach. By this time the beach was much more crowded and they weren't done with the diapers yet. This time it was just Alex and they made him stroll down the crowded beach with all of the onlookers. All of the women were pulling their children as far away from Alex as they could get him and all of the guys were grinning and making comments like "that must have been a heck of a bet". I felt bad for Alex but when they pulled out a can of creamed butternut squash and poured it into his diaper I felt even worse. You can only imagine what that looked like coming out of his diaper. I was looking around for fear someone had called the police but luckily it was all over before anyone came. We sent Alex into the ocean to clean himself up and then we were off to the house to pick up the late comers and head off to the paint ball park on Camp Pendleton. The boys have had paint ball guns for years but I've never actually gone to a paintball park with them. Boy have I been missing out. That was a ton of fun. I was having way too much fun to take any pictures. If Justin sends me one of the pictures he took I will add it to the blog. The last battle was a free for all and it was by far the best. Ben and I ended up in a standing shoot out from about fifteen feet away. We shot each other up until finally I dove for cover calling for an alliance. At the end of the day I counted at least twenty round dark bruises all over my body. Two of them were bleeding quite nicely. It was so much fun. 

From the paint ball park it was straight to the cart race track with a short break for dinner. These little carts can hit speeds up to fifty miles an hour. We had one practice race, a qualifying race and then the grand finale with trophies and all. It was also a ton of fun but when you come in last every single race it just isn't as much fun. I enjoyed shooting people a whole lot more. My average lap time was only one or two seconds slower than the fastest lap time but after sixteen laps that adds up. I think on the final race I was finally figuring out the tricks of braking and accelerating around the hair pin turns but it was too little too late. Ben won first place with Justin coming in second and Pat third. Ben's trophy now has a coveted spot on his mantle alongside the family pictures. 

After the races we headed to the church where we set up three XBox's so everyone could have a humongous Halo tournament. We also had a nasty poison ball war in the gym with tennis balls. By this time I was starting to feel my paintball wounds. Brandon totally flaked out in some corner and it took us twenty minutes to find him. The final hurrah for the day were the Rocky Mountain Oysters. I've always wanted to try these but never got the chance. Fried with enough butter and garlic they really don't taste all that bad. I rather enjoyed them. Ben brought five pounds of them and that was more than enough for the twenty some odd people who were there that night. 

By the time we got the church cleaned up and got to bed it was somewhere around 2:00 and I had to go pick up the rental truck by 8:00 the next morning. My week of sleep deprivation was under way.

Thai Ngoc, born 1942, claimed in 2006 to have 
been awake for 33 years or 11,700 nights.