Saturday, August 31, 2013


We are back to Minnesota, and back to real life. It has been really hot and somewhat miserable as we've been busy unpacking and running 1,000 errands.

Our California summer of fun is nothing more than wonderful memories! Keeping with our tradition of doing something different every weekend, here are the things we did in August:

Santa Cruz Boardwalk
We wanted to do this, but it wasn't quite as exciting as we thought it'd be. It was really crowded, and we used a meter to park, so we didn't have a lot of time to stand in lines. Looking back on the pictures, looks like we spent our time at the boardwalk finding places that said "Santa Cruz Boardwalk" to take pictures in front of! haha Well, and, of course, Sophia has to ride every carousel she sees.

Big Basin Redwood State Park 
I had seen the big huge Redwoods with my parents in July, but Russ didn't get to see them, so we went to see them with some of our friends in the ward. These trees were incredibly tall instead of incredibly round, but they were still pretty massive trees. The tallest tree at Big Basin was taller than the Statue of Liberty. We hiked around a little bit, and then ate picnic lunches and popsicles. As you can see, Sophia really enjoyed hers.

In the morning on our anniversary, we went to the Oakland Temple to do a session and some family name sealings. Being so close to the bay, everything was shrouded in mist. From the entrance of the parking lot, you couldn't even see the temple!

This was probably the number 1 thing of my to-do list while we were there. I was really really excited about going, but being there turned out to be a little creepy. Interesting, but creepy. After all, it was a prison with the motto of "If you break the rules, you go to prison. If you break the rules in prison, you go to Alcatraz."

We did an audio tour that had lots of clips from actual prison guards and actual prisoners and heard lots of crazy stories. It's only 1.25 miles from San Francisco, so sometimes if the wind was right, the prisoners could hear people talking and laughing. Apparently, though, the temperatures and tides in the bay made it so people couldn't just swim to freedom (plus they were under heavy guard).

We went on a beautiful clear day, and had a great view looking back at the city on our windy boat ride. Sophia was so happy about being on the boat. We rode a train to the city, and a boat to Alcatraz - what more excitement could a toddler need!?
There wasn't a great photo spot on the island, and my hair was flying all over on the boat, but before you get on the boat, they take your picture in front of a big backdrop of Alcatraz. Then they charge you like $20 to get the picture, so instead, I sneakily took a picture of our picture. Here are captions for the pictures below:
- Sophia and Russ pretending to be inmates, and I took a picture from the visitor side. As you can tell, Sophia was excited to look through a window and see mommy on the other side (or maybe she was excited to be in jail...)
- Me standing by some buildings that aren't really that obvious what they are. In fact, I'm not even sure if that is the actual prison building. The island was really like a small town with several buildings because the wardens and some guards lived there with their families. And that guard tower was actually made for a movie set, not actually used by the prison guards. 
- Sophia was not happy when we were exiting the boat
- Showing how close we were to land
- the jail cells were only 5 feet wide and (I believe) 7 feet long. 
- The picture of our "official" picture. It turned out a little blurry :(

Sophia had a big butterfuly band-aid on her head when we went to Alcatraz because two days before, she hit her head on the corner of the coffee table and had her first big, bloody wound. I was really freaked out by the blood, but Sophia was more traumatized by us holding her down to put the band-aids on.
Before we got the butterfly band-aids, I just put a normal one on it. Sophia thought it looked pretty and wanted me to have one too. :)
This is a couple hours after it happened. Overboard on the band-aids? Maybe. We were trying to close the wound up so it wouldn't scar so bad. Unfortunately, toddlers aren't super cooperative, so she can call it her my-mom-was-to-cheap-to-take-me-to-urgent-care-to-see-if-I-needed-stitches scar.
This was also at Alcatraz. Sporting just one giant band-aid this time :)
Legoland is actually in Southern California, but we drove from San Francisco to Oceanside, where one of Russ's brother's lives, and went to Legoland with them. I thought it was really cool! We didn't actually ride any rides, but there were lots of neat things made of our legos. My favorite were the mini versions of US cities, especially San Francisco and Washington DC since we recognized so many landmarks!

- Top left: Washington DC (of course)
- Top right: Sophia was fascinated with the tiny sculptures. Also, Aunt Lil got buckets of popcorn, and Sophia carried one around, wouldn't let anyone touch it, and probably ate her weight in popcorn (almost). I spotted a Taj Mahal and had to take a picture of it too.
- Bottom left: San Francisco. The middle circle picture is the tiny Fisherman's Warf sign. It was so cute!
- Bottom right: Sophia and I in front of New Orleans.

 There were also several Star Wars exhibits. They totally brought out our inner nerd. :)
- in the picture of Sophia and Princess Leia, she is reaching out to Russ and asking for her popcorn bucket :D
- The character statues were cool, and I especially loved the scenes made of out legos. The ones I included were Naboo, Hoth, and Tatooine. And the x-wing statue behind us in the one picture is the largest sculpture made of legos.
Minnesota State Fair
We didn't go to the fair last year, so decided we'd make sure to be back in time to go this year. It was a hot, HOT morning, but I'm really glad we went! I'm also glad we went this year instead of last because Sophia would have been too little to do the Little Farm Helpers - and that was my favorite part! It's geared towards kids a little older than Sophia, but basically, they got aprons and buckets and did "farm chores". She rode a tractor of hay, fed the chickens, collected eggs, planted a seed (check out her tiny garden gloves!!), picked an apple, and then went to the farmer's market. (She was also supposed to milk a cow and feed a sheep, but she was too scared of them) 
We met up with our friends from Provo, the DeWitts, who happened to be visiting this week and have a daughter just a little older than Sophia. It was great to catch up with them, and really fun to see the girls interact instead of just stare at each other like they did as infants.
After Sophia worked on the farm, we did the obligatory carousel ride, and headed over to the Miracle of Birth Barn and watched a baby pig being born! We also saw lots of other animals. For $1 you could get unlimited milk, so we did that, and Sophia tasted her first chocolate milk. She loved it and kept asking for more (or "me" as she says). 
Then we did a couple things that we just felt like we needed to do while at the Minnesota State Fair, namely: ate battered and fried cheese curds, tried battered and deep-fried recees, and, last and certainly weirdest, saw the sculptures of beauty pageant winners carved out of giant blocks of butter (that's what Sophia and I are standing in front of in the top right picture).

That was our FUN-FILLED, BUSY August. I have a feeling that after this summer, these next months are going to be quite dull. :)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Aniversary in Numbers

5 years
1 international trip
484 GB of pictures
2 Bachelor's degrees
5 apartments
3 states
1 year of graduate school completed
5,000 blessings
0 far
1 car to share
1 adorable daughter
2 miscarriages
1 charmed life 

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Shortly after my parents visited and we went to the family reunion, I had my birthday! I didn't take nearly enough pictures, but it was a fun-filled day. Sophia and I met up with Ashley, Ava and Gavin to play at the park, Rachel joined us for lunch, and Russ got home from work a little early to take me on a date. He got a babysitter and we rode into the city for dinner, rode the "Historic Streetcar" along the Warf (which is one of the things I really wanted to do while I was here), and walked around the city. I also heard from my family and got some time in the afternoon to read a book - always my favorite part of Sophia's nap. It was a really nice day.
Sophia LOVED having a friend come over. I don't think I'd ever seen her so happy to show off her toys. They even posed with Sophia's binkys!
A couple days after my birthday, we had our second set of visitors: Russ's parents! They came for 3.5 days, and we kept them busy. :) First, we went to tour the Jelly Belly factory. I remember watching Mr. Roger's Neighborhood as a kid and being fascinated with watching how things are made, so this was especially cool for me. It was also neat to see several giant pictures people have made out of jelly beans. There was a line for the tour, so Sophia kept busy by finding the letters "S" and "O" on signs (the 2 letters she knows best), and buckling/unbuckling her stroller. We're so lucky that she's happy and generally easygoing!
The jelly beans hanging from the ceiling were cute!
Sophia had a lot of jelly beans at the factory, so once I accepted that she wasn't going to take a nap that day, we headed over to the Oakland Temple.
Grandma Lee kindly entertained Sophia while Russ and I went to the Family History Center for our ward assignment.
When we went into the Visitor's Center, Grandpa Lee took Sophia over to the Cristus statue and told Sophia, "That's Jesus" and she immediately signed "friend". It was one of those moments when you get goosebumps, you started to tear up, and all the sister missionaries in the room go "awww".

*We interrupt this blog post for some cute pictures of Sophia from throughout the month:
Sophia got these "scripture specs" in nursery...also, I just noticed she's not wearing any pants in this picture. The wanting-to-be-naked phase has started a little bit this month
An artistic shot :)
If one bow is good, 8 must be awesome.
I love taking pictures of Sophia at the temple because the grounds are so beautiful. In the second picture here, she spotted an airplane up in the sky. I'm always impressed how quickly she hears and notices airplanes.
Baby's 1st cookie dough beater

*Now back to your regular update.

On Saturday, we headed into the city again to show Russ's parents Fisherman's Warf. This second time going, we made sure to go all the way to Ghiradelli Square and have sundaes! (When you go into the chocolate shops, they give you a small square of chocolate. Sophia ate hers, snatched Russ's, and tried to steal mine, too. I guess she loves chocolate as much as her mommy does)
Sophia (eating chocolate) with the $60, 5lb chocolate bar.
There's no way we could've eaten one each. We shared the chocolate one, but for the picture, it looked cooler to seem like we each had our own :)
We also tried to see Coit Tower and the famously crooked Lombard Street while we were there, but both of those ended up being way too busy to do more than drive past on a Saturday afternoon. While Russ was in traffic, I did run up to the tower, which gives a 360 view of the city, and snapped a couple pictures.
Coit Tower
Showing some of the steep hills in crowded San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge covered by haze
We ended the month with a trip to Lake Tahoe, and the first night I'd ever been away from Sophia! The interns went on a team-building trip, and I was lucky enough to be invited to tag along! We stayed in a resort hotel and went paddleboarding in the morning. I was nervous about paddleboarding, but it wasn't as hard to stay on as I thought it'd be, and Lake Tahoe is beautiful! I'm so glad we got a chance to go. And although I was worried about Sophia, and it was, for lack of a better word, weird to do things without her, she had a really great time staying with a family in the ward with 3 little girls. She didn't cry when I dropped her off, and she was excited to see us the next day, so that's what I'd call a success!

We keep checking things off of our San Francisco bucket list! We've got a few more things, and a few more weeks...