Yosemite Hike - 2011

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Our Very Own Happy American Girl!

Sydney at The American Girl Doll Store in Los Angeles

SHE DID IT!  Sydney set her sites on getting herself an American Girl Doll and she raised over $100 to get it.  In case you didn't know, Sydney started a business over the summer called Sydney's Funtastic Faces.  

She made quite a bit of money painting faces during play dates at parks and was even hired for a birthday party!  The final push to make money was the "Hot Co-Co" stand the girls had a few weeks back and taking care of The Brook's dogs while Mike was visiting The Road Scholarz! I could tell how determined she was to make the last $10 she needed when I witnessed her pick up dog poop for the first time in her life!

Why drive to to LA to get the doll?  Well, there are only 3 American Girl Stores in the U.S.; 
Los Angeles, Chicago & New York.  For those unfamiliar with "the dolls", there is a series of books tied to each doll and each story has a great historical fiction component which Sydney has been thoroughly enjoying.

Truth be told, the store was a bit overwhelming but Syd handled herself great and was very focused.  With all the accessories for the dolls, it will be easy to shop for her for Xmas and birthdays for many years to come.  Assuming Mia isn't a passing fad! 

Saturday was a day for the memory books!  A proud day for Scott & Me and hopefully one that Sydney will always remember and look back on as a big accomplishment.

Possible Girl of the Year for 2008....."Shelby"

Our American Girls

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekends like this....

Mom & Girls at Race For The Cure

Weekends like this...make it all worthwhile!  Scott was out of town this weekend so it was just me and my girls.  Saturday was spent with back to back soccer games, a local children's production of Sound of Music followed by an afternoon birthday party for one of Shelby's classmates.

This morning after getting our extra hour of sleep, the girls and I woke at 6am and were soon off to Race For The Cure, after a quick doughnut run of course.  The walk was great as always and I had my token "moment" with Mom before the race started and thought how proud she'd be of me getting my girls out there for such a special event.  I think I figured I've been doing The Race for over 12 years!  It was extra special to walk with our friends The Defreitas' who were first timers.  The walk is always such a special event and even more so today, to experience it with them, their first time.

I'd promised the girls a lemonade stand all week.  Today was payday!  Unfortunately it was cold and misty so we decided on a hot cocoa stand.  They went to town making a list of supplies, took inventory, made some signs, and then we headed to the store.  They had a class operation complete with cash register and quite a nice price strategy.  Fifty cents per cup with a choice of marshmallow and/or whipped cream for an additional 25 cents each.  

All said and done the girls stuck with it for a few hours, even through some rain, and made 
$16.00.  Yes, the money was key today for Sydney because she reached her goal of saving $105 dollars to buy her own American Girl Doll!  

It was a great day with my girls and I was proud of them for their hard work and the fact they walked over 3 miles this morning without one complaint!  And so when Scott got home from Colorado, there were dishes in the sink, laundry left from before he left and beds unmade but boy, did I enjoy my kids today and felt present with them!

How could anyone resist a handmade sign that read, "Hot co-co stand!"

We set up in front of Hearst Elementary.  
Thought we'd get more traffic there than at our end of the street.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween on a Friday, I've decided, is one of the best things ever!  How great it was to trick or treat our hearts out, ignore the clock and enjoy the night out with friends from Explorer in Pt. Loma.  It's been said before, The Fortune's love Halloween, and this year was no different.  The girls new right away what they wanted, Sydney a "Groovy Girl" and Shelby a devil.  I was hot on an idea for Scott and me since it was my year to pick.  Scott obliged as King Triton to my Mermaid but now I must wait 360 something days to see what he picks for us next year!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Olympic Trip Itinerary

Sat., August 9th – San Diego > Los Angeles > Hong Kong

Sun., August 10 – Late arrival Hong Kong. To hotel for sleep!

Mon., August 11 – Morning explore close to town, Afternoon tram ride overlooking all Hong Kong, Gondola & Trek to Buddha.

Tues., August 12 – Morning shopping and exploring, afternoon train to Shenzhen, visit Splendid China and China Folk Culture, depart on evening flight from Shenzhen to Beijing. Gwen greets us at airport and takes us to “our” apartment.

Apartment in Beijing - Douban Hutong, Building 2, Door 9, Flat 1802 Chaoyang District, Beijing, China - Phone: 86 135 220 71 447

Wed., August 13 – Settle in @ apartment, afternoon USAVB Reception @ USA House

Thur., August 14 – First Olympic Events! Morning Beach VB 9:00 USA & Evening Beach VB, then late night evening Men’s Indoor VB

Fri., August 15 – Great Wall Mutinyan Section, sporting good store!

Sat., August 16 – Morning Indoor Men USA 10:00, Tiananmen Square, Emporer’s Palace and more site seeing.

Sun, August 17 – Evening Beach VB USA

Mon, August 18 – Morning Beach VB USA, depart for Manila at 4pm. Overnight Swagman hotel.

Tue., August 19 – Early flight from Manila to Borocay via Caticlan. Arrive White House Beach.

Wed., August 20 & Thur., August 21 – Boracay!

Fri., August 22 – Boracay > Caticlan > Manila for a quick overnight

Sat., August 23 – Manila > Hong Kong > Los Angeles > No flights until Sunday morning. We drive to San Diego and arrive just before midnight!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


At the check-in counter at the Manila airport.

This is the sign outside the men and women's bathroom

As if a pregnant belly isn't "documentation" enough

Monday, August 25, 2008


Day 14 & 15 – FRIDAY & SATURDAY AUGUST 22 & 23, 2008

Never one to get the whole time change thing down, I’m not sure I will do this last part of our trip justice. Even sitting down to type this, I’m tired trying to recall where and when the last leg started….

Friday morning, our last morning in Boracay was fantastic! We all went for a long morning swim after breakfast and did some exploring at some rocks half submerged in the water by high tide. During our swim, Mom introduced the girls to “skinny dipping” which they thought was funny. Apparently words like “liberating” and “freeing” are still way over their head!

A trip back to Jonah's for a second round of milkshakes and this time we tried some local fare too that didn’t disappoint. Curried veggies and rice have been Jana's staple when all other choices are suspect!

Bags packed and time to leave Boracay. We’re all sad to say goodbye to the beautiful ocean and white sand beach. A special time for our family and great memories! I think Scott and I were especially sad because we knew what lay ahead in terms of getting (all the way) home.

All packed and ready to start the LONG trip home

Breakfast of champions!

Friday 2pm taxi to boat back to Caticlan, plane to Manila, arrive at hotel at 8pm, quick dinner (Shelby half asleep at the table), watch some Olympics, Saturday Wake-up call at 2am, shuttle to Manila Airport by Saturday 2:30am only to find out all flights to Hong Kong cancelled due to a Typhoon!

Passing time in the airport...

Getting punchy, been up since the crack of dawn!

Just like their Mom, they can sleep anywhere!

Wait, wait, and wait some more, to figure out any possible options to get home. After 5 hours the girls fell asleep on the airport floor. After another hour we were suddenly, and secretly, told they were putting us on a flight but we had to be discreet about it. It pays to be calm when talking with the airline representatives, as most other passengers were yelling and delirious not helping the situation much. Having two tired kids and some Olympic pins certainly scored big points for us we're sure of that. We run to customs, then to the plane – yep, we were the ones that everyone on the plane was waiting for – you know the looks “those” people get! Oh joy! Our seats weren't together which of course took some begging of other passengers and calming of the girls nerves.

Off to Hong Kong we go…getting closer to home. Arrive Hong Kong at Saturday 11am but wait, no flights have left Hong Kong for over 24 hours so lots of backed up flights and no airplanes. Miraculously get rebooked on a flight to LA, hand out some more pins to avoid a three hour baggage check line and proceed to search all over for United terminals and some info about departure time and finally on a plane and depart Hong Kong Saturday 11pm. Oh joy, 12 hours in the Hong Kong airport! The girls were champs and the last few hours we spent talking to two delightful young gals form New York that had been in Beijing for The Games. Great to hear someone else’s account.

And we think Scott is tall! Hanging with Yao Ming in the Hong Kong Airport

Arrive LA 8:00pm Saturday clear Customs, get luggage and haul ourselves over to United Departures in a different terminal. We were certain we’d miss our connection to San Diego, but confident there would be others that night but were we wrong. Last flight out was 10:40pm and it was overbooked so our choice was:
A) a hotel with a flight at 7am Sunday morning
B) call Gretchen to come and get us
C) rent a car and get home as fast as possible to our own beds

Answer: C) Advantage Rent-A-Car here we come!

A quick drive to SD, thank you Scott, and home sweet home midnight Saturday. I’m not quite certain the course of events that happened over the next couple of hours. Everyone seemed to play musical beds and Sydney finally fell asleep sometime after 5am.

Our welcome home from The Brooks'

Today (Sunday) has been a blur. We did some unpacking, laundry and back to school shopping for the girls since school starts tomorrow. Scott says it might be an awful morning tomorrow but I’ll take it as it comes. At least we made it home!

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY: Hanging in there as a family and making it home!

FUNNY FORTUNE STUFF: Running through Hong Kong Airport trying to find our gate.

SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY: Nothing to really note here, except that from now on when I hear about bad weather in other parts of the world, I mat be a bit more sympathetic.

DAILY FAVORITES: Getting home safe and sound. Also listening to the talk about ways to save money for a trip to London in 2012!

OLYMPIC UPDATE: A historical Olympics. China spent $40 Billion on hosting the Olympic Games. A lot of it was infrastructure needed for the city, but now the politicians have to figure out what to do with the Water Cube and other Olympic structures. They spent $400 Million on the Opening Ceremonies. London has a tough act to follow.

A historical outcome in volleyball. I couldn’t be prouder of the USA VB teams in how they represented themselves, competed at the highest level, and made all of America proud. Never in the history had one country dominated volleyball, as we won gold in Men’s and Women’s Beach, Men’s Indoor, and silver in Women’s Indoor Volleyball. As the athlete AAC representative for the volleyball, member of USA Volleyball and USA VB Foundation, it was truly rewarding to be part in helping out the success. The Men’s team completed the dream with an upset win over #1 Brazil in the last event prior to the closing ceremony. All of America was able to witness the joy of the win and the sadness of the head coach Hugh McCutcheon as he reflected on the last two weeks since the tragic event.

Thank goodness for DVR, as now that we are home we will be able to catch up on some of the missed events from the last two weeks. USA won the overall medal count, but China won the Gold competition. We knew that this was going to be a tough Olympics versus the home team China, but a great Olympics to be part of and experience it first hand.

Friday, August 22, 2008


Random boats

Peace on the beach

Sand up close

The sign of a relaxing vacation

Cuties at sunset

These little piggies went to....

Thursday, August 21, 2008



Today was devoted to snorkeling. The girls have practiced, in the Brooks' pool, but I wasn't convinced this outing would be a winner so I was already managing expectations early in the day. I have never been happier to be wrong! The girls took to the water instantly and we followed their lead swimming around for the next few hours.

On our way to snorkel

We learned snorkeling is like skiing; invest in good equipment to keep things in working order for the kids (and parent's) sakes. We were at the mercy of what the snorkel boat had so needless to say, we all made do with quirky masks and fins that were too small. It was amazing to experience the underwater sea life with girls as they saw it for the first time. They were in awe of all the fish and coral and Sydney and Jana even saw two eels. Shelby kept saying the huge corals looked like brains!

This is so fun!

We stopped for lunch, steamed rice and milkshakes, at Jonas, a place that was recommended to us. The milkshakes did not disappoint. It’s unanimous; we will be going back on our way out of town tomorrow. Our entire afternoon was planned around watching Misty & Kerri play in the Gold Medal match for beach vball. You should have seen us all huddled on the bed cheering for the USA!

Nighttime swim for Scott & Sydney

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE DAY: Snorkeling, snorkeling & more snorkeling, Scott and Sydney’s nighttime swim in the ocean & Jana having sushi! A head massage for Jana for $8 with Coconut Oil – supposedly to repair my dry hair. Still not sure the oil was a good idea or not?

Sushi time!!!

FUNNY FORTUNE STUFF: Shelby so excited when she got in the water and saw all the fish, we could hear her in the water, face down talking into her snorkel saying, “Oh my goodness!”

SEEING THINGS DIFFERENTLY: When we were out snorkeling, a man paddled up in a boat and said something to our boat captain. Next thing I know, I was reaching for Scott’s wallet to pay some fee for all of us to snorkel there. We’ve found, there’s never just one price here. Case in point, all separate transactions….. Paid for the boat, snorkel & mask (did include hotel pick up & drop off) Paid to get on a private island with caves Paid fee for snorkeling in a cove Paid for fins rental Also for some reason, napkins seem to be at a premium here. We seem to be constantly asking for them and needing more b/c they are so small.

DAILY FAVORITES: Man paddling in a boat around the snorkeling area selling ice cream. Watching USA Beach Women win Gold in the rain and watching USA Indoor Women crush Cuba 3-0 live.

OLYMPIC UPDATE: Needless to say, I didn’t think things can get any better from a volleyball standpoint. The USA indoor women pulled off a huge upset by beating Cuba easily 3-0. The USA team lost to Cuba pretty badly 3-0 in pool play, but we prepared much better in the second match. The USA coach is former Gold Medalist from China, Lang Ping, and is considered the greatest volleyball player in Chinese history. She has come through big time for the USA and was featured on NBC nightly news last night. USA indoor women will play #1 Brazil for the gold medal now. USA is on a roll! Misty and Kerry came through in the rain to win 108 in a row and the gold medal match over China. Last time they lost a match was one year ago and clearly have been rolling all the way through the Olympics. Great to see them excited winning the Gold again. Tomorrow, Men’s Beach Gold Medal Match with Todd and Phil and Men’s indoor semi’s USA vs. Russia. Don’t want to jinx anything, but USA VB could sweep the whole Olympics!

TRAVELING INSIGHT: Have a waterproof camera on hand for all water adventures with kids. We failed at this and missed some great photo ops!