Friday, December 31, 2010

We're having a girl!

Wednesday Calvin and I had a wonderful doctor's visit. We spent over 30 mins in the ultrasound room watching the baby move and taking pictures. They checked out everything they could to make sure the baby was healthy. It was very reassuring and so much fun to watch her move around. The ultrasound tech was awesome - we were so pleased with the appointment. They had a big screen television mounted on the wall in front of Calvin and I so that we could watch everything she was doing on the computer very easily. It was the perfect balance of mixing the measurements needed to check out the baby's health along with letting us watch her move. I drank a big hot chocolate on my way to the appointment to help with activity, and it worked!

It took a little while for us to get the baby to pose for the confirmation, but she's all girl! Her name will be Kathleen Margarette Dickenson. She's named after both mine and Calvin's grandmothers. This is a name that Calvin and I have had picked out since before we were married. We do plan on calling her Kathleen. Oh, and we have a great 4D profile picture of Kathleen playing with her foot! (In the 2nd picture below)

This week Calvin and I have been working hard at getting the baby's room ready. We have all the furniture rearranged, drawers cleared out, and closet cleared. I plan on decorating a little more throughout January, and I believe now that the space is created the objects will start to fall into place as we set up the crib and plan for the other baby stuff to fill the apartment. It is a fun type of "spring cleaning" and we've been happy to do it. This mixed in with baby reading and research has kept us pretty much wrapped up with baby the majority of each day. Calvin laughs because it's the one thing that gives me energy these days. I can stare at stroller options and reviews for hours.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A White Christmas

Christmas this year was just as wonderful as I expected it to be. I am so grateful for my family and if I haven't said it yet on this blog - my parents are awesome. We went home on the 23rd. Hung out with the women on the Fender side of the family on the 24th for small shopping errands and lunch. Then the whole clan filled up the last two rows of Bethlehem UMC at the Christmas Eve service. (Calvin went to the 4:30 service at Salem UMC where he is working this year and came back for a 9 p.m. double header in the same night.)

Then on Christmas day Jason and Brandy came over late morning for gifts with our family and the entire Fender family came to my Mom's house this year for Christmas dinner. It was a big Christmas as usual, but not very stressful. My mom did an excellent job at keeping it all running smoothly. To top it all off, on Christmas morning it started snowing beautiful large snowflakes and didn't stop until the following morning. Church the next day was canceled and we spent an extra day relaxing with mom and dad before heading back to Durham! The snow had to be at least 6 inches or more by the time it was done. It was so beautiful mainly because it was all snow as it fell without the usual freezing rain that accompanies it.

Below is a picture of us in front of Mom's Christmas Tree. Also, Calvin had fun making a couple videos of my favorite Christmas traditions with our new HD camcorder that we were given for Christmas. After Grandpa tells the Christmas story and gives us his thoughts for the year, Santa always comes to visit us to pass out presents. Here's a link to view him passing out the presents to the kids. These guys represent the 4th generation of the family that all still get together on Christmas night. Also typically each year we have a "gag gift" or two passed out. Melissa's family hit the proverbial nail on the head this year creating a Bah Humbug shirt for Dad and giving us all Nerf darts to shoot at the biggest Scrooge in the room! We all really got into it, and it became a Nerf dart fight with the whole family. Here's a link to view the fun!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

We’re on vacation: whoooohooo!

The fall semester has come to an end, and this is one of the times where I love that Calvin and I are both on the Duke semester calendar. This past Thursday Calvin took his last exam then on Friday I went to my last day of work. I’ll go back on January 4th and Calvin heads back to class on the 12th. So we’re currently enjoying two full weeks of vacation here at the apartment together.  It’s wonderful having this much time to just be together in the apartment, check off a to-do list and catch up with friends over delicious meals. So far on the list we’ve finished up the Christmas baking and shopping, Christmas cards are sent, presents have been shipped, and I’ve set up and done as much as I can for now on the baby registry at Babies”R”Us. Plus, last night I got to see my two favorite ladies in the whole world – my roommates from college. Brandy, Lucia and I all went to dinner at Four Eleven then the UNC game v. William and Mary. We were in the rafters, but it was still a great time to catch up in a nostalgic atmosphere. And 5 years after graduation there’s nothing like singing "Hark the Sound" with one girl on each arm to bring a tear to your eye. (Here’s a view from our seats below.)

Today the goal is to finish my Christmas craft, wrap the remaining presents, enjoy lunch with the Doi family, and clean the apartment. Tomorrow we’ll be going home to visit my family in Davie County, returning on Sunday. 

The goal for the following week: Clean out the office and make it nursery ready! We’re expecting preparations for figuring out the best way for baby to fit in our 925 square feet to pretty much take all week. Calvin is also in charge of research on car seats, strollers, and baby monitors so that we can make decisions there. But with perfect timing as we are making these preparations we’ll be finding out the gender of our little bun in the oven on Wednesday the 29th. This will also allow us to give a name to our baby and energize our efforts to organize before the spring semester starts. 

I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas with the ones you love.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The highlight of Thanksgiving is always Jason.

The highlight of Thanksgiving for me is always spending time with my brother. I look forward to it every year. This is the one time of year that Jason and I catch up and spend time together with a focus on each other - even if there really isn't anything new to say. I do see Jason at other times throughout the year around his racing schedule; however, this is the one holiday where the priority is some sibling bonding time. I love the fact that each year this is our time together, and this Thanksgiving weekend no exception. Last week Calvin and I went home for the annual Stockert "Night Before Thanksgiving" with Jason, Brandy, Mom and Dad. It was quite calm for us this year given that I'm pregnant and Calvin still physically hurts from the party last year. We had fun none the less, and we definitely didn't get in the way of Jason and Dad still having a good time. In my opinion, it's the kind of family bonding that the holidays are made for. I am claiming now to watch out for next year though. Calvin will be in charge of baby and I'm planning a night of checking out for Mommy!

Thanksgiving Day with Mom's side of the family was as truly enjoyable as always. My mom and aunt stuffed us full or delicious food and enough left overs for 3 more complete meals! They really out do themselves and spoil us every year. Then on Friday and Saturday Calvin and I went to my grandparent's mountain house in Sparta, NC with Jason and Brandy. I guess somethings never change with little sisters. We like to tag along whenever we can!

While in the mountains we met my Aunt Patty and her family at a choose and cut Christmas tree farm. With their help we picked out the perfect 7 foot tree to go in the corner of our living room. Since Sunday the 28th was the first Sunday of Advent we put of the tree and decorated it Sunday night! Below are pictures of the tree in our living room and the glass angels on our kitchen bar that my grandfather has given me over the years.

I'm glad the Christmas Season is here. Decorating is fun when it includes only two boxes of decorations full of only things that you love. This year Calvin and I are making Gingerbread Caramels to go with our gifts. I also have a fun craft idea that many of the women I love will be receiving as gifts. (This is really the only time of year I ever attempt to be crafty.) So I hope you all are also getting into the Christmas spirit, pulling out the same old holiday cds, and thinking about ways to be sweet to the ones we love. The only thing now is to work in more time to exercise.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Cards: To send or not to send, that is the question.

Every year I consider Christmas cards. I always debate on whether to send or not to send. Last year I even admit so sending retaliatory cards only. That's right, if you got a card from me, it was only because you sent me one first. I know that makes me lazy, but I still love you all just the same!

When considering Christmas cards for this year, thanks to my dear friend Megan, I caught sight of a few designs from Shutterfly. I love them, and after seeing the choices I knew for sure this was the year to get back in the groove of sending well wishes to all our loved ones. As we start to prepare for our family of three, this seems like a good thing to do. Why wouldn't the people closest to us love to receive an annual picture card to remind you that we're thinking of you and we love you dearly? I know that it does always bring a smile to my face when I receive cards from others. The good news is, this is the last year of having to stare at just me and Calvin. Next year there will be someone even cuter in your mailbox waiting to wish you a Merry Christmas.

I'm also excited to tell you that because of this post they are offering me 50 free cards (If you're a blogger you too can get 50 free cards, find out more here). 

I feel like each year I realize more and more the importance of family and friends. I'm looking forward to taking time this year to make sure the people most important to us know that they are loved. Thanks Sutterfly for making it so easy to reach out to friends and family this holiday season. I am now looking forward to the Christmas card season for the first time since we got married.

Below are a few of my favorite designs from the tons available to choose from. Any opinions on which one to go with?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A 3 Yr Old. Planning for Baby. & Happy Thanksgiving!

Last weekend Calvin and I kept Brooke's daughter Adah. Brooke should be proud, she has really raised a sweet girl. Adah stayed with us from Friday night through Sunday morning. We were able to keep her fed, clean, entertained and safe. So I guess that deems it a successful weekend! Adah will be turning 4 this December, and I think one of the most entertaining events of the weekend was seeing her interact with a friend her age in downtown Mebane where hands were quickly interlocked and the loud gibberish conversation that only they could understand began. Calvin promptly looked and me and said, "So you think we're having one of those do you?" But I know he really thought it was just as adorable as I did.

Here's a picture of Adah and I on the "carousel" at Sonic. 

As far as the update for our household goes - overall things have been pretty calm for us here. Calvin is working on a puzzle, he has finished his first round of paperwork to begin the ordination process, and he is doing really well in classes here at the end of the fall semester. Right now I am consumed with online shopping/comparing of baby items like: cribs, carriers, car seats/strollers, bath tubs, diaper bag, bedding and more. All of this is in the effort to try to find what is best for our particular needs. We are planning to clean out and organize what is now the office over winter break to get it ready for the baby in the spring. This is a great time to do it because Calvin will have plenty of time and I will be taking vacation for the last 2 full weeks of December! I guess we'll probably work on our registry then too while we have the time to think about it together. Oh, and also, my best friend Lucia (who is a wonderful photographer) is planning to put me in touch with her friend Tracy who specializes in newborn photos. Take a look at her website. Won't this be perfect to have photos like this once the baby comes?

One last thought for today. My best friend Brandy sent me this image in an e-mail. The caption was: How pumpkin pies are made. In honor of all the pumpkin pies that will be eaten this weekend I felt like it was a must to post on the blog. Have a happy Thanksgiving and I hope you enjoy your families!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Pregnancy Update

I'm at 13 Weeks and in maternity clothes already! I love stretchy pants. They are so dang comfortable. I have no idea why we as women don't find a way to make these stylish with or without a baby in the belly. Of course, since I've always carried my weight around my midsection it is lovely to go to a store and shop where everything in the place is made for you to have a large belly! While it does feel like I'm early to maternity clothes, when considering the belly band many women use - isn't that basically the same thing as wearing the stretchy part of the pants on maternity clothes anyways? Maybe it's different if the maternity clothes don't fit your body style as well as they fit mine.

There are quite a few Fun Facts for this stage of the pregnancy:
This week the baby is the size of a peach!
Fingerprints have already formed on the tiny little fingers.
Plus, according to the book my Aunt Diane sent me in the mail, the baby is already practicing the basic reflexes that "are essential to a baby's survival." Right now there is still plenty of room for the baby to move around in the womb. This won't be the case a few months down the road. So the baby is already trying to bounce or leap by using the walls of the womb as a spring board. This is the "stepping reflex" apparently; which explains why babies jump and try to move forward when you hold them upright on your lap as an infant. Isn't that pretty amazing?

So as the first trimester is coming to an end, so is morning sickness from what I can tell. I think I'm starting to get more energy back, although it is not uncommon to find me asleep at 8:30 pm these days. Apparently now I'm headed into the time of gaining about a pound a week. So soon there will be a real belly to rub verses one that just looks like I've gained a few. At this point I am most looking forward to being able to feel the baby move and the 20 week ultrasound where we'll hopefully learn the gender.

This week we also checked one other big thing off the agenda. I'm very happy to say that daycare is now reserved for our baby starting in September 2011! We will have the only infant 3 day a week slot at KinderCare. This daycare is located right around the corner from where we live and work. I have to say that the ladies that run this daycare are by far the most accommodating and customer service focused of all the places I spoke with. Right now we're expecting for Calvin to be able to keep the baby on Mondays, daycare will cover the middle of the week, and we'll get to see my Mom every Friday as she helps with the 5th day of the week. It's perfect really. It will save us so much money to only go part time, and since I get off a little early on Fridays Mom won't have to miss date night with Dad!

As a side note: I've had several people ask if Rascal can tell that I'm expecting. My response is that I definitely think so. Most of the time now he is sleeping right under me on the floor instead of laying on the floor closer to my feet or at the foot of the bed. I can't get up now without him moving for me. When he jumps up to snuggle with his front paws on the couch, he has not jumped directly onto my belly since the very beginning of the pregnancy. Also as I type this he is cuddling with us in the bed. His head is on my lap which in the past would have never happened while I was doing something else.

Today one of my goals is to take my Aunt Sissy's advice. I'm hoping to get Calvin to video tape me twirling around in the same place wearing the same outfit over the course of the pregnancy. Hopefully at the end we'll be able to edit it together as a progression of time experiment!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Rally to Restore Sanity

To be honest, the best part of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was getting to spend the weekend with Ian and Rebecca Scott. They are one of my favorite couples. I love how easy it is to hang out with them and letting me crash at their place made the weekend really cheap! Thanks again for being such great hosts.

While I am glad to say that I was in attendance, and I love John Stewart for creating this event - I was a little disappointed with the rally itself. It was much much better to come home and watch it back on the dvr vs. being there. With all the visual jokes and the music guests they lined up it was a great event on television!

We actually had a fairly good spot in the crowd. We were about half way back on the National Mall. There were 3 different large monitors I would have been able to see had I been 3-4 inches taller. The consensus across the crowd was just how unbelievable it was that everyone was so friendly, quiet and subdued. I guess the correct word really would be "sane".

I wish I had more to say about the weekend. Overall it was a lot of fun, and now I can check attending a rally or large event in Washington D.C. off my list of things to do! Below are some pictures of us at the rally and the view from where we were at. Also Ian and Rebecca's neighbor had the best Halloween decorations in their yard I've ever seen. The picture doesn't even do the whole scene they created justice. It was very scary, especially when the lady who lives there stuck her head out of the front door and told us to come back tomorrow night at dark for the full show. I wonder what else they had planned once the sun went down...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We're Having a Baby!!!

It's true. We would like to officially make the announcement. I'm pregnant!

We're so excited to welcome this new baby into the world. Right now I am 11 weeks pregnant and the baby is due on May 19th. We feel like we're living our dream. I can so easily remember driving down 15-501 with Calvin while we were dating and talking about how many kids we wanted and what kind of parents we want to be. It's so much fun to be living that reality now.

To answer the most popular questions: Yes, this was planned. We were so lucky to get pregnant the very first month we started trying. And Yes, we do want to find out the gender when that is an option. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to plan as much as possible, so that would be one thing just to help with my obsession to think ahead.

So far there have been several meaningful experiences with the pregnancy, but let me highlight two of my favorites that come to mind right away. The first one is that we've already been able to see the baby at 8 weeks on an ultrasound. Calvin skipped class to come to the appointment with me. The doctor zoomed in on the baby's heart and we could see and hear it beating. 170 times a min! What an amazing realization that there's a real little life in there. One that will grow up to contribute to the world and have thoughts and opinions of their own!

The second experience that comes to mind is one from church this past week. The church I'm attending now includes communion in the service every week. Patti, the person serving me the "wine" knew I was pregnant - she just found out that morning. So as I dipped my bread into the cup she stated "Rebecca, this is the blood of Christ shed for you and your baby." Tears immediately started flowing. I can't really describe how powerful those words hit my soul. It seems so inherent yet profound to recognize that one of the greatest forces in mine and Calvin's life - the love Jesus has for us - is also there for this tiny little growing baby who is currently only the size of a lime. At times when the pregnancy still seems unreal or distant that just brings it back home for me.

I've known since high school one of my greatest purposes in life was to be a mother. I'm so very much looking forward to this new chapter in our lives. I only hope I can enjoy this part of the journey for all that it has to offer.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Lunch at the Cherry's

This past Saturday I had the most perfect lunch in China Grove visiting my best friend from childhood, Ashley Cherry. She and I got together with both of our mothers for a quiet lunch of pasta salad, fruit, and chicken salad croissants. (plus chocolate chess pie!) With everyone bringing one small item it made for an easy and delicious lunch all around.

I think everyone knows what it's like to be blessed with friends like this. We haven't seen or really spoken with each other in 2 years other than the general e-mail updates with pictures of her sweet little boy Nick. However showing up at her house on Saturday was like we were catching up from a visit just a few months ago. And Ashley's two year old son is such a charmer! It's amazing the power a small child has to make adults feel at ease and loved just by crawling into their laps or asking to be held.

Ashley, thank you for such a yummy, easy and relaxing lunch. I feel so blessed for us to continue this friendship that started as soon as I was born. You and your mother always help me stop to remember the wonderful memories of sleep overs, hermit crab racing, roller skating in the garage, playing with the playhouse in your back yard, watching your dad trim the elephant bush, eating blackberries, and running down the street as often as I could to ask if "Ashley could come out and play". Just writing this list of highlights brings so many specific stories to mind, and all of them were good times together. I hope it won't be so long next time before we see each other again!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Home Alone

Well, Calvin is in California, so this seems like a perfect time to update the blog. I've had a lot of fun so far this month, and I'm looking forward to going into fall and the holiday season! (Only 5 weeks away from the annual Stockert Thanksgiving throw down!)

On Saturday 10/2, I got a little mother-daughter alone time when Mom came into town for a trip to Trader Joe's, dinner at Ted's Montana Grill, and the Sugarland Concert at Walnut Creek. I loved Jennifer Nettles before, but now she's seriously number 1 on my list. She is incredibly cute (I wish I looked like that when I danced), and she's an incredible artist. Plus, mom and I always enjoy people watching and there's no better place to do that then on the lawn at Walnut Creek.

I've also been lucky to catch up with quite a few friends over the past couple weeks. I have to say this is one of my absolute favorite ways to spend time. It is always easy to count your blessings with good food and good company. I'm looking forward to continuing this trend through the end of the month!

Last Saturday 10/9, I had the privileged of watching 3 of my buddies complete an incredible athletic task of 4 triathlons in 3 days. White Lake hosted the first ever Triple T event in NC where these crazy people sign up as both individuals and teams to compete in a Super Sprint triathlon on Friday, 2 Olympic distance triathlons on Saturday, and then a Half Iron Man on Sunday! Congratulations to Mike K, Forester, and Scott for finishing. This type of event is so hard core they don't even give you your t-shirt until you finish. Forester and Scott did so well they placed 3rd in the men's team division. You guys are incredible - I love watching you kick butt! I'm so impressed, and thanks for the excuse to go to White Lake and hang out for the day! I love that place.

And yesterday was Dave Ramsey Day with the Total Money Makeover Live event in Raleigh! I met up with Darcia and Joe to go to this event. Joe was a master at getting us through traffic with NC State football and the State Fair all going on at the same time. The event lasted from 1-6 p.m. so naturally I did not expect to stay the entire time, but we did! It was very engaging. I loved seeing Dave and I think I needed the refresher to get me focused again on the financial goals that Calvin and I have. Sadly though, I think Dave has talked me out of getting a new car this year. Waiting one more year won't hurt, and I'll enjoy not having car payments hang over my head if we wait. In the mean time, it will be much cheaper to take really good care of the paid for car that I have now. However, I do still plan to take advantage of shopping around all the 2011 models now to see which one I would like to buy after the 2012s hit the lots!

One last thought for tonight. Ladies, if you haven't seen the movie Julie & Julia yet - go and rent it this week! It's such a great story on so many levels - definitely a great way to spend a girl's night in.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Home Sweet Home

As I was getting ready to clean the apartment, I thought about how most of our friends and family have not actually seen where we live! We moved into our current residence right at a year ago. It's a small little one bedroom apartment with a "den" about 2 miles from Duke's campus. Since I'm working at Duke and Calvin is in school there it works out really well for us. We ride to campus together most days. Here's a little virtual tour!

the front door

view walking into the apartment

We spend a lot of time watching this wonderful gift my parents blessed us with last Christmas. Is it right to say "blessed" about a television and blue ray player?

Rascal spends most of his days in this exact spot.

This apartment does have a big master bedroom with a vanity and sink. It helps tremendously in the mornings since there's just the one bathroom.

Life in this apartment is simple. It's wonderful to have no maintenance and plenty of time on our hands. I do look forward to owning a home again; however, at this time I'm in no rush. We actually fit better in 925 sq ft than I expected, and I can honestly say I'm happy here; this feels like home. This is a big step considering how resistant I was as we moved from our house in Fuquay. I loved that home as well. If I have to say there's one thing I learned from the move, it's that Calvin is my home. Wherever we live, so long as it is together, will make for a wonderful life.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Typical, Perfect Weekends.

The past two weekends have reminded me just how fun and rejuvenating a typical weekend can be. Saturday Breakfast to catch up with friends, fresh goodies from the farmers market, afternoon naps, a little bit of exercise, reading a book, watching a movie with my husband, worshiping in a new church and a meal with new friends after the service. If I can keep up the trend of planning weekends like these past few, I'll be one happy and well fed lady.

Breakfast with two of my dearest friends, Lynn (in the middle) and Annette (on the right). These ladies have been true spiritual teachers and cheerleaders for me. If I can take one simple pleasure in the world it's listening to how these ladies pray.

Papa Murphy's has come to Durham! Since they take food stamps, Calvin and I have deemed that this take and bake place can be charted under our grocery expenses for the month. This decision may make Papa Murphy a regular visitor in our home.

Also, the quest for a new car has begun. I've started looking in hopes to purchase towards the end of this year/beginning of next. If you drive a small SUV, I want to hear how you love it - or don't! Plus, did you purchase new or used?

And Julie, thanks for taking me out for my first bike ride on the roads. I appreciate you being so patient with my slow, awkward, and out of shape butt. I'm going to practice, and next time we go out together I hope to impress!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. - H.G. Wells

I have a new bike! Yes, one without a kickstand. One that classifies as a real road bike with skinny little tires.

I bought this road bike because for the past two years my soccer buddies talked me into participating in the White Lake Sprint Triathlon in May. I enjoyed both races even though I was out there on a very cheap mountain bike, complete with it's kickstand and pink shock. That poor bike was so slow and heavy, plus the gears did not operate correctly at all. Even through I put "hybrid" slick tires on it, there was really no helping that clunky thing get faster or more efficient. At the end of that second race this past May I reached my goal of swimming gracefully and running the entire 5k at the end. It was then I realized that I enjoyed triathlons. I like the training schedule, the camaraderie with my friends, and the fact that this is something I could strive to get better at each time I race. Plus, this will be the perfect way to stay fit over the next decade or longer. With biking and swimming being such low impact sports, they're perfect for getting old! I think if I plan on about 2-3 races per year it should be enough to keep me exercising consistently. The trouble is, I was done with my current bike. I had out grown its ability, and I refused to ride it any more. Rides were no longer fun, they were just frustrating. So after a 4 month search and debate on how much to spend, I finally committed to purchasing a new bike for $270 from (Thinking back on it, it seems like this past May was over a year ago now.)

I'm very excited about my new bike. It is still a basic bike with a steel fork, and bottom of the line Shimano components, but it is going to be exponentially better than what I had before. Calvin and I decided to make sure I would enjoy riding on the road before we invested in a more expensive bike. So hopefully I can find a group or two to ride with and see how that goes.

Now with just a little bit of assembly, a tune up and getting the wheels trued - I should be all set!

White Lake 2010 - The 2nd go around with my pink shock!

The new bike in my living room!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Calvin's Home Town

After spending 3 days in Denver - we headed to Siletz, Oregon to visit Calvin's family. It is a rather large family with both his Mother's side and his Father's side right there together in Siletz and the surrounding towns. The main purpose of this trip was to meet our niece - Aaliyah. Jermaine and Angie had this beautiful baby girl on July 26, just one day after her due date!

Jermaine and his little girl.

A very proud Grandma Luann.

This was also our first time meeting Angie and her two boys Darian and Cayden. We enjoyed playing with them very much. Angie is great and she has awesome little boys.

One part of visiting Oregon I've made mandatory every time we go is visiting Newport Bay. It's only 15 mins away from where Calvin grew up. Really there's 3 main reasons why I always have to go there. 1. It's beautiful. 2. The Rogue microbrewery is there with not only great beer but also the best clam chowder I've ever had. 3. Most importantly, there is a perfect little mom and pop taffy store called Newport Candy Shoppe that sells all kinds of yummy taffy. The key is that their taffy is made with egg whites only, which makes it super soft. I love it so much. It's one of my favorite things.

Newport Bay Bridge

On this particular trip, Sea Lions were all over the bay. They were very fun to watch. If you're a local, Calvin claims they're very annoying and loud. As a visitor they're pretty amusing.

(I'm still working on posting a video of the seals here)

While we were in Oregon - it was also Pow Wow weekend in Siletz. This is an annual event to celebrate the town's heritage. Over half the town has some form of Native American ancestry. They are all a part of the Confederate Tribes of Siletz and most of the town is an Indian reservation. The main attraction for the Pow Wow is competition dancing in different types of native tradition. The singers and drummers were amazing. There is also a ton of beautiful jewelry for sale and there are Indian tacos. An Indian taco is basically taking the ingredients that make up a taco and putting it on top of Indian fry bread (much like an elephant ear here in the south). Super Yummy.

On the left are the Grand Marshals for the parade into the Pow Wow, and on the right there is a real little buddy hanging out in that carrier!

On this trip we did have the freedom to hop around from place to place. So we spent 2 nights with Calvin's Mom, 1 night with Grandma Maggie, 2 nights camping in Aunt Kristy's and Cousin Jennifer's back yard, and 1 night in John's trophy room. It worked out well. Plus I really enjoyed the cook out and camp fire by the river while we were at Aunt Kristy's. Chrystal, Calvin's sister, also came in from Montana to visit for the weekend. So it was good to see her as well. At the camp fire John told incredibly entertaining stories of his encounters with bears.

This trip was the first time we went to John's house. He lives there with his wife Lisa, and her children Stephanie and Joe. Their house is beautiful. It's sits all by itself on top of a mountain. You have to drive 2 miles straight down hill to get to their nearest neighbor. Below is a picture of the view from their back yard. Oh yeah, and those stories he had about bears, most of them occurred right there on the property surrounding his house.

John and Lisa's back yard view.

I do have to mention that John has quite a trophy room a his house. It's perfect for having a separate guest house and impressing hunters that he is hosts as a hunting and fishing guide. It's also very impressive that John killed most of these animals with his bow. Just to give you a feel for the room, here are some pictures from our guest bed. John thought it was pretty funny that I made Calvin leave a rather bright night light on for me.

The first picture is of the Elk that was staring at us from the foot of the bed. (That's also a great picture of John in the background when he was younger. Looks just like Calvin's pictures from high school.) The second picture is of the bear that was above our heads, and the third picture is of the Caribou that was just to the right of Calvin. - Yes, that is Calvin picking the Caribou's nose as we were laying in bed. It needed to be cleaned. :)

One of the things Oregon is most known for is its beautiful coast. Here's my favorite picture I've taken of it to date. I took this from the front seat of John's RV as we were driving back to his house in Elkton. It turned out to be a great shot considering we were driving as I took it!

Also, a big thanks to Mikey and Tia for taking a night out away from the kids to spend time with us. We really love seeing you guys.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rocky Mountian High with Sunshine on my Shoulders

Calvin and I went on a 10 day vacation from the 6th through the 16th and we had so much fun! 10 days is a long time to be gone, and it felt great!

The first 3 days we spent in Denver visiting 2 of my aunts and their husbands (my dad's twin sister Diane, and their baby sister Denise plus Jack and Bill)

They greeted us at the airport with a sign, and immediately fed us and took us to downtown Denver to see 16th Street Mall. It was a lovely place. Plus there was a bar on the 37th floor of this fancy hotel we went to for a couple of drinks, dip your own strawberries, and a panoramic view of downtown Denver.

Uncle Jack was trying to persuade us just to hung out there... :)

View from the bar.

Sunday we had a wonderful breakfast at my Aunt Diane's house. Believe it or not, her kitchen was stocked with the EXACT same things we keep in ours! Then we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. I picked a couple of day hike trails I wanted to go on there. The first was .6 miles to Alberta Falls and then that trail fed into a 2.5 mile hike to Mills Lake. Aunt Diane came with us the entire way! And we were pretty proud of Aunt Denise and Uncle Bill making it to Alberta Falls. Uncle Jack hiked to both Alberta falls and Bear Lake which is pretty dang impressive given his asthma and the altitude.

Monday we headed to Garden of the Gods which is the beautiful park with giant red rock formations. Although it never rains in Denver, it did decide to rain on us that day in Colorado Springs. The sides of the road flooded with a torrent of bright red water all over the park and in the downtown area too. It was still beautiful to see the huge red rocks, I'm just glad that I was vetoed on the horseback riding idea. The family saved me on that one.

They got creative when they named this one "Balanced Rock"

Because it never rains, we didn't have umbrellas. This was us hiding from the rain in the trees.

After lunch we visited the Air Force Academy campus and then headed back to Aunt Denise and Uncle Bill's house for Mongolian hot pot. This is sort of like fondue in that you cook your own meat in broth at the table; however at the end of the meal Uncle Bill threw in all these yummy vegetables and noodles to create a delicious soup. There were 5 dipping sauces and rice to accompany the meal, but I do have to say that the soup at the end was my favorite part.

On our return to the airport we got a little tour of the schools and homes my cousin Travis grew up in. It was some good story telling time too. After we checked our bags we hung out for a little while before going through security. Talk of planning a family reunion came back up again, and I really think Aunt Denise will be the one to get us all together. My vote is for Williamsburg, VA!

Thank you Aunt Diane, Uncle Jack, Aunt Denise, and Uncle Bill for a wonderful trip. You all treated us so well, and we are so glad that we were able to spend time with you and see where you live. I look forward to coming back again.

More on the second part of the trip to Oregon later...