Saturday, January 11, 2014

December 2013 Highlights

Our colds continued on through December. The week before Christmas they really got bad, whether the old cold or a new one, we don't know. They were finally bad enough for us to go into Insta-care to see if we had infections. Paul had fluid in his lungs, but not pneumonia. Meanwhile, December was a busy month.

December started out with a birthday and a trip to San Francisco (documented on a separate blog). Kohler turned 9 on December 2nd. We weren't able to join him in his celebration, but we did wish him a happy birthday before we flew out to San Francisco.

The Relief Society had a special activity in December called "Christmas with the Prophets". The idea came from a book of that title which talks about the Christmas traditions of our ladder-day prophets. They had a special dinner during which several of the sisters read Christmas stories of each of the prophets. Diane's creativity shines again with Andrea's help on the committee. It was a good activity to bring the spirit of Christmas to the season.

Table settings for Relief Society dinner
Displays of Ladder-day prophets
Christmas is the time for music. We won the lottery and received four tickets to see the Tabernacle Choir and orchestra Christmas concert at the conference center in Salt Lake. We invited Steve and Lisa to meet us in Salt Lake, have dinner with us (at P. F. Changs who has a gluten-free menu), and attend the concert. It was a wonderful experience.
Our gluten-free Chinese dinner
Christmas at Temple Square
Alyssa and Andrea had their orchestra concert. The orchestra was made up of three elementary schools in the area. It was a lot of fun even though many of the orchestra members have only been playing their instruments for a few months. 
Fabulous cello section of the elementary school orchestra
Besides instrumental music we had some choral music for Christmas. All the students at Hillcrest Elementary School gave a concert at the middle school. That included three of our grandchildren, Lauren, Kohler, and Alyssa. 
Lauren (black dress) sings with the 1st grade choir
Kohler (center front) sings with the 3rd grade choir
Alyssa sings a solo with the 5th grade choir
Christmas brings family traditions. It started with a nativity play written by Alyssa and performed by Alyssa, Kohler, Lauren, and Brynlie. Mary (Brynlie) couldn't quite keep the balloon under her shirt. The play even included a shepherd's lamb (Smokie).
Nativity play
One fun tradition Andrea brought from her mission to Germany was "Advent". On each of the four Sundays leading into Christmas they light a candle on an advent wreath. On the fourth advent (the Sunday before Christmas) they have a special spiritual program. This replaced our normal Christmas Eve program. Each of the family were able to play a Christmas piece on the piano (or on the organ for Diane). This was followed by another Christmas play.
Andrea and Alyssa on cellos
The Nativity
One of the Christmas traditions we enjoy in Logan is going downtown and look at the gingerbread houses on display in several of the stores. Some of them are quite elaborate. 
The family looking at gingerbread houses
Capital Theater
Old woman and the shoe
As well as looking at gingerbread houses we had a lot of fun.
Ride 'em cowboy
You aren't really going to try this are you?
Well, Christmas has come and gone with pajamas for Christmas Eve and presents for Christmas day. 
Happy family models pajamas
Present time

Well, it has been a good month (other than colds) and an adventurious year. It makes us wonder what the new year will bring.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Meeting in San Francisco

One of the activities Paul has missed while being on a mission is the meetings of the Acoustical Society of America. At the beginning of December (2nd -5th) they held their meeting in San Francisco, so we took a short vacation. It was a good break, even though it was dampened a bit from perpetual colds. 

We flew out early on Monday (Dec 2nd) and took a shuttle from the San Francisco airport to the hotel, the Hilton at Union Square. We forgot to get some extra cash before leaving and used most of what we had for the shuttle. It's a good thing we didn't forget to take a credit card.

Hilton hotel decorated for Christmas
Union Square decorated for Christmas
Tuesday was a big day for attending sessions of the conference. Paul enjoyed getting back to learning about musical acoustics. Meanwhile, Diane met with the "accompanying person's" group, but there wasn't much going on. She did get some rest (which helped with the cold) and some reading done. During a break in the afternoon we took a short walk to Chinatown which was close by. We didn't speak much Chinese, however. 
The four monkeys in Chinatown
The Chinatown lucky lions 
This looks just like Beijing
We walked through Macy's. It was fun to see how the big city stores decorate for Christmas. As you walk into the store you can see the expanse of jewlery and cosmetics filling the whole first floor, larger than any of the department stores in Salt Lake. Crowds gather around the window displays that are animated for Christmas.

Tuesday evening was our first banquet buffet. Paul asked what they had that was gluten-free. The server pulled out a list and showed him all the things he could eat (there goes another 5 pounds).

Wednesday was our tourist day, since there were fewer sessions of interest at the conference. We started by walking through Union Square and watching the ice skaters. 
Union Square ice skaters
We then went back through Chinatown.
Gateway to Chinatown
We then walked down (and up) the street to Coit Tower. The tower itself was closed, but we got a good view of the harbor. 
Tower on the hill
Coit Tower - closed for renovation
View from Coit Tower
From Coit Tower we followed the Barbary Coast Trail to Pier 39, an eclectic shopping center by the harbor. 

Pier 39
We walked through the stores then stopped to watch the sea lions fighting for the best sunning spot. 
The sea lions of Pier 39
A tourist of Pier 39
We decided to have some lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. It ended up being a restaurant honoring Forrest Gum of Tom Hanks fame. The server even stopped by to give us a pop quiz about the movie. It was a hard quiz because we ordered water to drink instead of pop (or is that soda in California?)

Bubba Gump's
We walked on to Fisherman's Grotto and found a couple of pirates.
Pirates of Fisherman's Grotto
We started to get tired so we decided to head back to the hotel. It looks like a short distance on the map, but nothing is a short distance in San Francisco. On the way up Nob Hill and down again (with several hills in between) we stopped by a lovely little garden and the famous Lombard street.

The garden 
Lombard Street
We stopped by a musical instrument store close to Chinatown to see what they had of interest. We didn't buy anything, but it was fun to look through.

How would a yunluo look under the Christmas tree?
We finally got back to the hotel tired. We figured that it was a 6-7 1/2 mile walk, all up and down.

Thursday there were more technical sessions all day. We took a break for lunch at the California Center, a big mall with a spiral escalator. 

The queen, in red, riding down the spiral escalator

We had another banquet buffet in the evening. After the buffet, Paul had a meeting for the technical committee for musical acoustics. This was the committee he chaired before the mission. 

Friday was the day we headed home. We had a little free time in the morning so we went to watch the streetcar at the end of the line. When it reaches the end of the line they have a turntable where two men turn the streetcar around so it can return the other direction.

Streetcar merry-go-round
On the shuttle back to the airport there were a group of salespeople from Chicago who had been to San Francisco for a training meeting. One of the group was so hung over from partying the night before he was completely incoherant and sick. It made us very thankful for the Word of Wisdom. 

We got back to Logan safely and enjoyed being with family again.

November 2013 Highlights

Time keeps slipping by. We have had colds for the past 2 months and have not been able to get much done. Meanwhile, life goes on around us.

November was the month for two birthdays, Brynlie and Lauren. Brynlie turned 5 on November 7th. Her favorite number is now 5.

Brynlie still like toys
A hug for sister Kamary
Jason taking pictures with Andrea's "mini"
Lauren turned 7 on November 24th. Our grandchildren are growing too fast, right under our noses. 
Kohler, Laren is old enough to blow them out by herself
We were able to get the last of the leaves raked up and the yard ready for snow. It was just in time because we did have snow in November. 

Diane is the Relief Society meeting coordinator (whatever that means). It actually means she has a lot of stress trying to prepare a meaningful activity for the sisters each month. In November they had an activity which demonstrated ideas for making Christmas treats. They also had a craft where they made tiles with a Christmas message. The young women were invited to join them for the evening. It was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed it (even Diane, once it was over). Andrea is on the committee and was a lot of help. 
Andrea making Christmas treats
Kamary making Christmas tiles
 Diane wasn't able to rest when the meeting was over because they decided to collect recipes and make a little cookbook for the missionaries. Along with the cookbook was a box of treats with messages from members of the ward. She shot the budget with postage for the missionaries. 

Andrea and Alyssa have been learning cello together. Andrea learns by helping out with the orchestra at Hillcrest Elementary School. It means getting up early twice a week for orchestra before school and participating in a recital at the school.
Famous cello duo
November is Thanksgiving time and we have a lot to be thankful for (in spite of being sick). We are fortunate to have Andrea and Jason living with us so we can be close (very) to our grandchildren after being away for 18 months. We had Rehan Baktur (Paul's friend at school) and her daughter Jaren join us for Thanksgiving dinner. 

Logan has a November Fest which is a favorite activity for Diane. Many of the people doing home crafts get together to sell their wares. Usually Paul goes with Diane, but this year Diane went with Andrea, Hanna, and Kamary while Paul stayed home with the other kids. He has been doing a lot of that lately.