S: Brown Family 2008
2: Disneyland! | We bought season passes to Disneyland for Christmas. It has been one of my favorite things I have purchased. The girls are so excited about everything. Ali loves every ride in the park. She enjoys the kiddie rides with enthusiasm like no other but she loves Space Mountain, Thunder Mountain and the Mattahorn. She told Cameron that Space Mountain was scary but she said "but it was really fun too!" Ashling isn't big enough for all the scary rides but she loves looking at the princesses, riding the merry-go-round and peter pan. She is scared of all the scary rides like Pirates of the Carribean and she is so cute because she puts her hand on her mouth and opens her mouth in awe and fear but she does not cry. The fireworks were amazing. They had these large flames come off the castle that were so hot we could feel them from where we were watching the fireworks.
5: Sunday, February 3rd This is our favorite year for snow since we have been married. Right now it is snowing hard and we have about six or more inches of snow. That is in addition to the other 2 1/2 feet of snow that we have. It is a winter wonderland. Ali didn't have school last Thursday, Friday, Monday or Tuesday!!! Can you believe that? And it is looking like she might not have school tomorrow also. Cameron has become very close to the snow blower and has spent hours trying to get the snow off our driveway. Last Monday I was completely snowed in!!! I could not get out of the garage if I wanted to. So we enjoyed a quiet day at home. Unbelievably in addition to the snow we have also had about 8-10 inches of rain in the last week. Today we had church in the dark. It was snowing and raining and the power was out. It was neat to sit in the dark and listen to the testimonies about President Hinckley. I can't help but think how happy he was to go home and see his wife and enjoy her company once more. When I think of President Hinckley I think of how much he loved his wife. We heard him speak in Stake Conference about 3 weeks ago. He spoke on how to improve marriage. It was a great talk and I appreciate being able to listen to him implore us to have good marriages. \ | Yesterday we went skiing. We have season passes to Snow Valley. I love having them!!! Cameron is volentering there a few times and so then we all get season passes. Cameron was up there yesterday but he took a long lunch in between shifts and spent time teaching Ali to ski. I went skiing up on the mountain. It is nice to live so close to the ski resort and and go skiing for a couple hours and then come home. I also took Ali up skiing on Tuesday for awhile. It is a lot of work to teach someone to ski and I am grateful for all the people who spent time teaching me to ski.
6: Stacey was kind enough to come and watch the kids for us while we went on a cruise with Cameron's family. Before the cruise we went to Disneyland with the girls. It was a nice day and we had fun going on rides, running around the island, and visiting princesses. | Disneyland!
7: While we were gone Stacey took Ali to school, took Ali to ballet, played with the kids, took them shopping, taught them exercises and spoiled them rotten. They loved it!
8: Bon Voyage! | We were able to get to the port of Los Angeles with no problems. We went through the check in process fast and painlessly. Soon we were on board the ship. We enjoyed watching the ship pull out of port and seeing all the sights of the port. The port of Los Angeles is pretty amazing in of itself. My favorite picture of Sue is here. She was very happy to be on the cruise and showed it by doing lots of silly things to entertain us all. We spent the first day learning to relax over a long 5 course dinner.
10: A day at Sea! | Talk about relaxing. The second day was perfect. It was warm, not too windy and very beautiful. The seas were calm and we were all ready to relax. We spent the day running around the ship, relaxing in the sun and hot tub, (the pool was freezing,) and eating. What else could you want. I will tell you I was amazed because Cameron did actually read a lot of the day. In fact he even passed up other things to read. It was a climbing book so maybe he was imagining himself climbing the 8000 meter mountains like Ed Vestures. Who knows? At night we went to dinner again and then spent the evening exploring the ship. We went to a magic show, played games and even went dancing. And of course we ate.... and ate.... and ate....
14: Alcapulco! | The cliff divers were pretty amazing. They climbed up the rock and then prayed to their saints in the shrine at the top. Then they dived into a small channel when the waves were right. It was cool because they were unionized and everything. They only dived a couple times a week to make sure that they did not hurt themselves. I bought Ali and Ashling a shell that had the sea in it.
15: Ziwataneo was a quaint little fishing village with lots and lots of American type hotels. We rode a water taxi to Los Gatos beach and were the first people there. (A tip is that when cruising get off the ship first and you will get the best deals and have areas to yourself for longer.) I was very excited to go Snorkeling. We asked some people where to snorkel and they pointed to an area around some rocks that was good for snorkeling. So Wade, Melissa, Cameron, Todd and I headed out there. Mike followed a little while later. We couldn't find the way to get out past the rocks as it became to shallow. So we all decided to head further to the west. I found a little canal that went through the rocks and figuring that everyone would follow me I swam out past the rocks. Nobody followed though. I saw lots of cool fish and was in my own world under the water so I didn't realize that there might be any danger. When I realized no one else had come I called them over and Melissa came out there. We kept having a hard time with the waves and so we were having to work way too hard. It seemed fun to me but I guess that isn't where you should really snorkel. The next thing I knew the waves were crashing harder and harder and it was too hard to swim back. A wave too my fin and that was the last time I saw it. Well then I panicked and got washed up on the rocks and coral. After being pummeled in the coral for awhile I decided to walk across it and then swam the long way back to the beach. I was not the only one who got chewed up on the rocks and everyone had scrapes and cuts. The most disappointing thing to me was that I had lost the fin and now could not snorkel any more for the whole trip. I went to a place that rented gear to see if I could buy some new fins and I explained that I had lost my fin. A little later a woman came and said that she had seen her cousin on a boat pull something out of the water and she thought it was a fin. So she said she would ask him when he came back. But she didn't come while we were sitting on the beach and I was really disappointed knowing that I had to buy new fins and that if I didn't buy them soon I wouldn't be able to snorkel at all. We walked down the beach and Cameron kicked a rock harder than was necessary while he was paying attention to the beautiful sights. He got a blood blister and it hurt him a lot. We also saw a woman who got caught in a current and had to be rescued by a local. Going to the beach is different in Mexico. There are no lifeguards and you have to hope that you can swim good enough or else someone will have pity on you and rescue you. Later as we were leaving that woman waved me over and she had my fin! I was so happy to have it back. I am glad I asked around about it since finding it was much better than having to buy new ones.
16: Puerto Vallarta is beautiful. There is a thick canopy of forest that is fairly tropical inland and tons of palms right along the beach. Also the beaches have white sand and look great. The water is fairly warm. The city is very large. It surprised me how big it was. I was still expecting a small little town like little Ziwataneo. But this town had every American store you can imagine. There were restaurants, stores and even a costco. We had a van taxi take Mike, Sue, Wade, Melissa, Cameron and I to a beach called Mismaloya beach. It is at the bottom of the jungle and a river ends in the cove. One end is a private hotel and the other is covered with little umbrellas and a nicer restaurant. The restaurant was made with a stone floor and a large thatched roof. We were attacked by people who thought our only purpose in being at the beach was to spend money. Everyone asked if we wanted to snorkel. Finally one lady told us she would take us for an hour and half out the the rocks for 50 dollars. That sounded good to us so we loaded up our stuff and went out there.
17: Snorkeling is lots of fun. We saw a ton of fish and were able to feed them bread. When some took it right from my fingers they bit me. I am glad they didn't have too many teeth! He also took us on a tour of the area. The caves were really impressive. Back at the beach we relaxed on nice loungers. We enjoyed a wonderful fajita lunch right under our own umbrella. It would be nice if we had those services at our beaches in California. We also relaxed and took a nice walk along the beach. Soon it was time to go back to the ship. Once on the ship we went to the Tex Mex restaurant and had Mexican food. The food on the beach was much better. I guess the Asian cooks have a hard time doing Mexican right. Or maybe it was the fact that we had just had the authentic Mexican food. Dinner was its regular almost two hour ordeal. It is fun to sit and visit for that long with each other.
18: Cabo San Lucas | The last port we stopped in was Cabo San Lucas. It was so beautiful. We thought of Angie and Luke who we seem to remember went here for their honeymoon. All ten of us hired a boat and went snorkeling. On the way to the snorkel spot we saw many humpback whales. Our boat driver was amazing and he got us very close to the whales and knew how to stop for the best pictures. And we weren't even on a whale watching trip! We snorkeled in a nice cove where we saw many fish and fed them rolls from the cruise line. Then we went over to Lands end and the arch. Our boat driver got us up close and personal to the seals. We went to Lovers Beach and he dropped us off for a little while. The pacific ocean is dangerous while the other side is calm. I went for a nice swim. Did I ever tell you how much I love swimming? We finally we able to secure some Mexican dresses for the girls in Cabo and we found the best price for them so I was glad I waited. I love the negotiating system for things. It is fun to see what the lowest price you can pay for something is. I wonder if Gap would consider doing it? We had to tender from the cruise ship on to a smaller boat to cabo. On the way back to the ship the seas were rough and our boat threw us for quite a ride. Cameron was thinking where he would jump if the boat went down. I was not that scared but found out from a fellow passenger that last year he went on a cruise and an older lady broke both her legs when she didn't jump far enough and landed between the boat and the ship. Needless to say we over jumped to make sure that we landed safely on the boat.
19: Our last cruise day was cold, stormy and windy. I personally liked it. It was fun to see what the sea really can do from the safety of a big boat that can handle what the sea puts out. Cameron and I sat in the hot tub with very high winds and it was fun to be in the hot tub during such a storm. At last we had to come home. It was fun to see the girls again and they both looked like they had grown inches while we were gone.
21: St Patrick's Day!
22: Here in Running Springs one of the neatest things to do in the Spring is go to the Daffodil Garden. Cameron and his family went every year growing up and I wanted to take my children to enjoy it. It is a garden created by a single woman. There are tons of fields of daffodils and it is beautiful to walk in. I called my friend, Julie, and we decided to go today. It was beautiful a beautiful day. The birds and squirrels woke me up this morning because they were so excited for spring. The sky is blue and there are only a few clouds floating by. It was warm too, much warmer than I expected. It felt like spring and the flowers were spring. The girls were so excited to go to the flower garden and it was so fun to take three little girls. The third girl is Laiha, the little girl I baby sit almost every day. They ran around and posed at each spot for pictures.
23: EASTER | happy | Spring Time
25: EASTER | happy | Spring Time
26: so many | Each memory we keep with care means future happiness to share. | Ashling is such an easy child. She is mellow, kind and easy to entertain. She loves her sister, Ali, more than anything and is always asking if it is time to pick up Ali from school. She loves Little Einsteins and watches the same 4 DVD's over and over again. She also loves her dog, Sierra, and always lets Sierra come in because she might be cold or she is lonely. Ashling also loves Ariel. She likes to color, play on slides and read books. She is the child like me who loves to read for hours and hours. She loves to throw rocks in rivers and lakes like her daddy. She can sing her ABC's and count to ten or more and she is finally learning her letters. She pretends to read everything and also asks you how to write your name and pretends to write that on everything she draws.
27: LIVE WELL LAUGH OFTEN LOVE MUCH
28: HAPPY BIRTHDAY
29: Ashling is 3 years old!
30: Camping at Barton Flats | We decided to go camping to Barton Flats this weekend. It was so fun. We brought two cars because Cameron worked for awhile on Saturday and I wanted to get there a little sooner. We brought Ali and Ashling's bikes as well as the scooter. Now remember that Ali only learned how to ride her bike a couple weeks ago. But she was riding her bike everywhere. On the dirt, up the hill, down the hill. She is now an expert bike rider. She also met a friend named Evan who was camping with his dad. The Dad, Bart, was a great skateboarder and was teaching his son to skateboard. He let Ali ride the long board sitting down.
31: We weren't prepared for her to stand up as we forgot helmets. (Don't tell the police.) Ali played everything with Evan and thought it was really fun to have a friend. She is very social. Ashling enjoyed camping too. She helped us set up the tent, carried all the little items from the car and rode her bike around. She was pretty good natured about the fact that her sister was playing with her friend all the time. She remembered us camping almost a full year ago and was anxious to do everything the same. The best thing about the campground was the big tree swing. The girls loved to swing on it and spent a lot of time on the swing. Camping was so relaxing. I guess the girls are really at good ages to take camping and we are planning on going a lot more this summer.
32: The Mexican Dresses!
34: Memorial Weekend! We went to Phoenix to visit Stacey and Tony. It was very cold in our mountains and still not quite hot there. We enjoyed the visit and went hiking, visited Sedona and then finally got to swim on Monday! On the way home we had a tire blow out on us but we were able to buy a new one quickly!
36: HAPPY BIRTHDAY
37: happy birthday Ali
41: We went to Mammoth for 4th of July weekend. It was a great vacation. We left around 10:00 on Friday morning. We drove to Lone Pine and ate Carl's Junior while we played at the wonderful park in Lone Pine. It has a great park, a wonderful field with trees and a creek running through it and picnic tables. We spent about 45 minutes there and then we drove up to Pine Creek on the other side of Bishop. Cameron fished, Ali tried to catch butterflies, Ashling threw rocks in the river and watered the plants and I read. We were all happy. It was all going well until we left. There was one stinging nettle plant in the area we were in and we had warned the girls to stay away. But Ali managed to fall right in the middle of the stinging nettle plant. She got it all over her arms. And of course we didn't have our first aid kit with us. So I borrowed some cream from someone at the creek and in a little while she was feeling better and forgot all about it. We then checked in to our condo and I took the girls swimming while Cameron worked on starting dinner. He came to join us in a little while and they enjoyed the hot tub while I sat on the side. (Pregnant ladies are not supposed to be in hot tubs and the pool was cold with the wind blowing.) After dinner we drove down to Crowley Lake to see the fire works. We found a place we thought would be really good and played a little frisbie while waiting. The fireworks were okay but it was a little far from the fireworks and we were a little disappointed. Next time we will know to park closer. On Saturday morning we made Orange rolls and had a nice breakfast. Then we went to the Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort and rode the tram to the top of Mammoth Mountain. It was a great view and a great day. We hiked around, had lunch and looked at the discovery center. We loved showing the girls the Sierras and can't wait to take them backpacking next year! Ali loved seeing the volcanoes and she ran all over trying to catch butterflies. Ashling liked to tell Ali that she saw a butterfly and watch her catch them. On Saturday afternoon Cameron went fishing with Ali who went fishing for butterflies. Ashling and stayed at the condo and took a nap. Later we took the girls swimming again. Then Cameron took Ali and Ashling to another firework show in the village. Ali and Ashling danced to beach boys music and enjoyed a small firework show. (I was feeling a little under the weather so I stayed at the condo.) Sunday we checked out of the hotel and drove around the lakes in Mammoth. We then drove south and stopped in Big Pine Canyon for a couple hours. Once again Cameron fished, Ali caught butterflies and played house with Ashling and I enjoyed reading. We ended our vacation and drove the rest of the way home.
42: Ali's first day of 1st grade and Ashling's first day of preschool.
47: First Year of Soccer!
48: Cameron replaced the ugly carpet with tile in all the bathrooms over the period of the year. It was quite a job and I don't think he really wants to do tile again.
50: Trick or Treat
52: Ina and Shiloh came to California and came up to visit us on Sunday. It was fun to have them at our house. The girls (Lizzy, Ashling, Ali and ShiAnne) played outside and made a big game of babies. They then cleaned up, ate dessert and watched a movie before going downstairs to fall asleep. The adults enjoyed talking to each other and then they taught us how to play settlers of CAtaan. (Now I want that game for myself. ) It was fun to have friends over to visit. They stayed the night at our house and the next morning went to Disneyland. | I met them after lunch at California Adventure. I was a little worried because pregnant women really don't belong at amusement parks especially without their husbands, but I spent the first hour and a half sitting on a bench while the kids, Ina and Shiloh and Jill and Cameron(Jill's husband not mine,) all rode rides. Ali really liked Muholland Maddness which Jill and Cameron and Ina and Shiloh took her and ShiAnne on. Ashling wanted to be tall enough and tried standing on her toes but she is still not quite 42 inches tall. We all rode on California Soaring which is my favorite ride (especially when I am pregnant.) We also went to the It's a bug's life movie which I do not recommend to people with little girls. My girls screamed and sceamed and demanded that we leave. Ali and Ashling really enjoyed themselves and I was happy I took them, although a little tired after a long day with the kids.
55: It's The Little Things In Life That Matter
57: A Day to Give Thanks
58: We went on a drive to Wrightwood to see what we could find. We saw beautiful fog down in the valley and stopped to take some pictures. Then we drove to Wrightwood where we shopped, walked around the ski resort and had some lunch.
59: On our way back we drove to Gunther's tree farm and found the perfect Christmas tree.
60: The Nutcraker
61: Ali was in this year's production of the Nutcracker ballet of Lake Arrowhead School of Dance. I loved it. I loved helping the little girls dress in the back, I loved putting make up on my six year old, I loved her wearing a little leotard and sweats to keep warm just like a real ballerina, I loved talking with the other moms backstage and I absolutely loved watching the show Friday night and seeing my little girl complete her parts perfectly. She was a gingerbread and then later a lady bug. On Friday night Cameron, Ashling, Sue, Mike, Torrey and Ali were all able to go and see her perform. I never knew what all the obsession was with the nutcracker but after a week of being immersed in it I love it! Ashling was also very cute all night. She enjoyed watching the dancers, was dressed really cute in her red velvet Christmas dress and then she fell asleep in daddy's arms while watching. I thought my little girls were the cutest there and was very proud of both of them. It's moments like this when I love being a mom!
62: Snow Days are the Best!
63: But ski days are even better! | It was a beautiful crystal clear skies kind of morning with a warm southern California sun shinning on us. Cameron took off early to ski and make first tracks. The girls and I awoke a little slower and moved slowly through the morning routine. Bad roads made for no school and great powder made for no work. | Cameron got lots of first tracks in the morning and then spent the afternoon teaching the girls to ski. It was basically Ashling's first time skiing although we had tried a little last year with no success. Both girls did great. Ashling skied some on her own and Ali tried to remember everything she had learned last year. I walked up the bunny hill with both girls enough times to get my exercise and helped them remember to put their hands on their knees and to make pizzas. All the while I was wishing that I could be skiing too. There is nothing wrong with an eight and a half month pregnant woman skiing- is there?
65: J O Y