Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Number One Son


Keiler turns fifteen today (Dec. 26th)! Happy birthday! That's him, standing with his namesake outside the hunting and fishing museum in Munich. Rowdy thought that he was just making up that name, but it turns out that "keiler" means "warthog" in German.

Of the three kids, Keiler is the most like me. Funny how that happened without me having anything to do with bringing him into the world and not even knowing him until 2005. He, like me, is the second-born, so I think that's why I feel like we're similar and I can understand him. He definitely wants to stand out and not follow in his sister's footsteps. Fortunately, that doesn't include being a wild child.

He's a very intelligent young man, with dreams of becoming an electrical or mechanical engineer. Someday, he'll design something really impressive that we'll all use. We like to encourage his mechanical skills and buy him things like build-your-own-robot kits and computer programs. He's a reader and a thinker, not an extrovert at all.

Usually, he's pretty shy and not ready to start charming the ladies. However, he's been watching his dad and picking up tips that will help him in his future relationships. For instance, Keiler almost always opens the car door for me, because he's seen Rowdy do it. He's very good about asking me if he can carry something for me or if I need help in the kitchen or when I am trying to get things together for Primary on Sunday. (I hope that he does the same things for his mom, Julie.)

Keiler and Jordan are doing different tasks around the house to earn money for EFY. We decided to add some things to demonstrate their spiritual fitness, as well as their ability to work. Keiler recited several scriptures from memory, as well as some Articles of Faith. These were not "Jesus wept," or "and my father dwelt in a tent". We discussed the meaning of the scriptures, and he had some really good insights. He will be a good missionary, and he's already a good Aaronic Priesthood holder.

It's great to watch Keiler grow into such a fine young man. I'm proud and honored to have him in my life, and I love him very much.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

We Love Sea World, Too!



It's not just Luke who loves Sea World (check out We're SWELL!)--the Briccos love it, too.
One of the nice things about living in Sandy Lameo is that you can purchase a year-round pass for the same price as a single-admission ticket and be sure to make it worth your while.
My favorite part was the dolphin encounter. I love dolphins, and it was so fun to be able to pet one and feed him. I'm definitely signing up to do the more intense encounter, when you can put on the wetsuit and get in the water with the dolphins and their trainers.
The only time I've been very close to a dolphin in the wild was in Costa Rica on our honeymoon. Rowdy saw dolphins swimming along beside me as I was surfing. Since I was concentrating on not falling, I missed it. It would've made a cool picture.
(That's me on the far right. I had 10 inches cut off my hair last Wednesday.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

O Tannenbaum







We discovered that we had very few Christmas ornaments, particularly ones that were "ours" as opposed to "mine". We have tried to buy ornaments as we have traveled--a camel in Morocco, glass ornaments in Italy, etc. The other night, we made a trip to Crate and Barrel and got some very cute ornaments. Our favorites are the bristly squirrel and rabbit, the bark bear and the penguin.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Weapon of Mass Distraction



Rowdy discovered the website http://dangerouslyfun.com/. As you may imagine, it is not for everyone.

This is my very first time on stilts! It's much easier than I thought, but of course I was only 1.5 feet off of the ground. It will be tricker at 3'.

Another cool thing Rowdy made from a design on dangerouslyfun was a ping pong ball gun. Oh, the fun a boy can have with a cardboard tube, duct tape, an exacto knife, hairspray, a pingpong ball and a pietzo lighter. And how much more fun can a man have with PVC pipe, a flint for a lantern, hairspray and a pingpong ball?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

More Deliciousness Chez Bricault


Today, we had salmon with a dijon mustard sauce and pasta with sauteed vegetables; to drink, grapefruit juice mixed with ginger ale.
Salmon with Mustard Sauce
2 salmon filets
olive oil
lemon pepper seasoning
1/2 tbs butter
1/4 c. chicken broth, divided
1 tsp. dijon mustard
Brush olive oil on both sides of the filets. On medium-high heat, brown the fish on one side (about 3-4 minutes). Turn the fish and sprinkle on the seasoning. Cover and cook on medium heat for 2 minutes. Uncover and add 1/8 c. broth and the butter. Cook uncovered until the sauce is reduced and the fish is translucent (about 4-6 minutes for frozen fish and 2 minutes for fresh). Remove the fish and add the rest of the broth to the pan to deglaze, then whisk in the mustard. Serve over the fish.
Sauteed Vegetables and Pasta
I sauteed chinese eggplant, yellow pepper, zucchini and green onion in olive oil with some fresh-ground pepper, a little lemon pepper and some sea salt. Once the pasta was cooked and drained (I used penne), I added that to the vegetables and cooked it together over medium heat. To finish it, I added some chopped fresh tomato and some parmesan cheese.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mmmmm

It's always after I've finished a great meal that I realize I should have taken a picture of it to post.

Here's what we had for dinner today:

Baked breaded pork chops--pork chops dipped in a mixture of egg, milk, seasoned salt and pepper, then dredged in panko and baked at 450 degrees for about 45 minutes.

Baked yams

Green salad with tomatoes

Fresh green beans sauteed with bacon, yellow onion and mushrooms

I love that it looked beautiful and colorful as well as tasted delicious.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gratitude

One of the perks to being in the Primary is preparing Sharing Times. The theme for November is "My Faith in Jesus Christ Blesses My Life. I am Thankful for My Blessings". It's been a great reminder to me, after being so mopey earlier in the month, to count my blessings. Actually, the process of counting those blessings was part of the "therapy" I used to get over the little crummy patch I felt I was in and on with my life.

From the November issue of Friend magazine:

From “Give Thanks in All Things,” Ensign, May 2003, 95–97.

What should I be thankful for in my life?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shares some of his thoughts on this subject.
• We have so much for which to give thanks. First and foremost, we are thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ.
• We give thanks for the revealed truths that provide a standard against which to measure all things.
• We give thanks for commandments. They are directions away from pitfalls, and they are invitations to blessings.
• We should even give thanks for our afflictions because they turn our hearts to God and give us opportunities to prepare for what God would have us become.
• Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Yay for Wonderful Sisters!

My last posting now looks overwrought to me. You know, it's not like my house burnt down or my husband left me or I was diagnosed with a horrible disease. Things that really were getting me down were really just me not performing to expectations and a run of things not turning out well. Overall, I have been experiencing a big loss of confidence in myself, which is starting to turn around. Thank goodness! I hate feeling like I totally suck.

I'm a lot tougher on myself than anyone else is on me, so when I make a mistake I totally beat myself up. There's a definite vein of drama queen running through me, sad to say.

Anyway, this is all part of life.

In very exciting news, my sister Karen is arriving today for a Thanksgiving visit! My sisters are the funnest people to hang out with. (Dayna, this means you need to come and see us soon.) All morning, I've been atwitter, knowing that two of my most favorite people ever, Rowdy and Kiki, will be there when I get home today. I wish that I didn't have to work today and Friday. Yay for wonderful sisters!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Getting Clobbered

You know how sometimes you find yourself going through a patch where it seems like you're just getting clobbered by life? I have felt like that the last few weeks. Someone told me once that those periods are usually indicative that you've reached a new level of experience and ability in your life, and it's sometimes painful.

One thing that has helped me through is this scripture from the Book of Mormon:

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. (Ether 12:27)

I have faith that these weakness that have been pointed out to me, sometimes rudely, will become strengths. It's sucky, though, to have to get beat up like this.

Service Project

This morning, Rowdy and I went with a group of about 75 people from our stake to help clean up two yards that were burned out by Jamul (that's ha-mool for you non-SDans). Luckily for these homeowners, their homes were not damaged, but there were acres of charred land around them.

The whole thing took only about three hours, with everyone working together. Pres. McWhorter of the stake presidency said that one of the homeowners called the newpaper and said, "They said that they were going to bring a couple of people out to help, but they brought an army!" She was very impressed.

I wish that I had gotten some pictures of us. We were totally grubby from the soot. It was good, hard work though, and it felt good to help out.

In other news, Rowdy is now employed as a radiation specialist at UCSD! It sounds like it's going to be good experience.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Worst.Trip.Ever

For my latest jaunt across country, I decided to fly in Economy, or as I like to call it, steerage. The reasons for this seemed reasonable at the time:

1) A ridiculous amount of money was extracted from me for the privilege of being grilled for an hour and a half on my chosen profession, so it seemed prudent not to pull out the stops as far as travel was concerned. Round-trip to Louisville, KY, was only $200, after all. You can’t beat those prices.
2) I recently flew not just across the country but all the way to Europe in steerage and survived. Somehow, I don’t think that the kids would have been too understanding if Rowdy and I had been sitting (more like lying down in our nice, convertible chairs) in First or even Business class while they contorted in the back of the plane. And no way would I have bought five First Class tickets!!
3) Sometimes First Class is barely more than a larger seat and only one seat companion. It hardly seemed worth it.

But now, sitting here in a cramped seat, having paid $7 for a small salad consisting of a “grilled” chicken breast, five pecans, six mandarin orange sections and some green-leaf lettuce, I am reconsidering the validity of my prior arguments for frugality.

So, maybe I wouldn’t be getting a hot fudge sundae in First Class on a domestic flight, but I’d be able to curl up in my seat. The overweight, elderly female in the seat in front of me wouldn’t cause me momentary concern that her seat back would, at any minute, be in my lap. The knees of the tall gentleman behind me wouldn’t be in my back. I wouldn’t have to stand in line with seven other people who were also waiting to use the bathroom.

And, as this was a business trip, I would have been able to write this off! Argh. Rowdy and I will just have to fly Business class when we go to Hawaii in January. The money we save on our condo will pay for it. (Thanks, Terry!)

UPDATE: I wrote this on the plane to kill time. Right before the plane landed, I knew there was something very, very wrong going on inside of me. I just made it to the bathroom in time to be majorly sick. Majorly. Rowdy's at a motorcycle course until tomorrow, so I had to take a shuttle home. I missed my scheduled shuttle because I had to go back into the airport and be sick again. Thank goodness I made it home without getting sick in the van.

Anyway, whine whine boo hoo poor me, but the point is that I have food poisoning. From that $7 salad on the plane!!! Arrrrggghhhhh!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

My First Tagging

Thanks to Silly Witch for magically tagging me! The rules are to post 6 items about yourself (habits, traits, deep dark secrets, etc.) on your blog, then tag 6 more people to do the same.

1) I'm watching Bargain Hunt, having eaten my typical breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a glass of water. Peanut butter is one of nature's perfect foods, in my opinion.

2) Have you ever heard of CrossFit? Rowdy gave me a series of sessions with one of their trainers for my birthday. It's hard work, but so fun. My arms are starting to look more-defined again. I have to work harder to get back the six-pack I had from working out with a trainer in NYC. But I know it's possible! (see www.crossfitsocal.com)

3) If I could develop any talent, I would like to be more musical. I pretty-much wasted the piano lessons I had as a child--never practiced, never learned to play with two hands. Oh well. I suppose if I had the time I could take lessons now.

4) I really like it when I am well-groomed--toenails painted, waxable areas waxed, etc., but I am so lackadasical about setting up appointments for things.

5) Though I've never been much on cruising, the idea of taking a cruise to Antarctica has really grabbed my fancy. Maybe in 2009??

6) My favorite thing to eat when I'm sick is spaghetti with a thickly-meaty sauce.

And now I'm tagging RowdyMatt, Stephanie O. (don't think I haven't noticed you haven't posted for over a month), Janette (though I'm still waiting to read her list of 10 Most Snoggable Fictional Characters), Jen N., Kiki, and Steph H. (to encourage her to start a blog).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Thirteen Things About Max on His 13th Birthday


video


1) I doubt that any other kid in his class has Knight as a middle name.


2) Claim to fame: Coolest Kid in the Seventh Grade


3) Max is the first kid in the world ever to call me "Mom".


4) He loves the ladies!


5) Of all the kids, he looks the most like Rowdy and has his dad's outgoing nature.


6) He really, really wanted to shoot one of our neighborhood rabbits with his airsoft gun, but I wouldn't let him.


7) Max can reach around his head and touch his ear.




8) Need to request the check at the end of a meal in Italy? Max is your man.


9) He and his friends are going to form a band, with Max as the lead singer.


10) If you ever invite Max to dinner, make sure you serve tortellini.


11) We sometimes call him "Hammy", after the character in "Over the Hedge".


12) He has considered careers in the military or law enforcement, as well as professional basketball and sports law.


13) Max buys gum at Target at least once a week. He introduced me to 5 gum, which has terrific mint and cinnamon flavors.

Bonus:

Max is such a joy to have as a son! I love him bunches.

Monday, October 22, 2007

San Diego's Fall Colors...


are flame, charcoal and smoke.

It's pretty surreal to think that 300,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in San Diego County. Yesterday, there were 70+ people from Poway, 30 miles north of here, staying at our meetinghouse. Rowdy is the ward's Emergency Preparedness Specialist and I'm the Primary President, so we went up there to check things out. People brought their pets, including a rabbit and at least one horse. Good thing our building has two ballfields out back.

Things are smoky here in our area, but there is very little danger of our neighborhood going up in flames.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Two New Things and a Correction



A new addition to our home gym.



A 100 lb. pumpkin from Bates Nut Farm in Escondido.


Correction: My brothers- and sisters-in-law didn't really want to go to Hawaii
with us, they just wanted the same great deal that Rowdy and I got on a condo for the week.

Where I've Been in the US/World



create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.


create your own visited countries map
or vertaling Duits Nederlands

Full disclosure: I have not been to all of Canada or all of Russia. I've been to Montreal and Kaliningrad (that little outpost of Russia between Poland and Lithuania).

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Vacation Stories

I haven't finished my account of our September vacation.

The day before we left Venice for Salt Lake, Rowdy received a voicemail from his mom, Lezlie, saying that her mom (Granny) was just diagnosed with a brain tumor. Lezlie needed Rowdy to drive up to Klamath Falls with her the day after we arrived home so that they could see Granny and basically say their goodbyes. The way we understood it, Granny had a giloblastoma multiforme tumor, which is the most horrible of all adult brain tumors. She was given a 2-month prognosis at worst, maybe 14 months at best.

So, first thing the morning after we arrived back in Salt Lake (at 10pm), Rowdy and Lezlie jumped in the car and headed to Oregon. Terry (my father-in-law) and I didn't see much of each other, because I was off galivanting with some of my wonderful Salt Lake/Bountiful-based friends as well as visiting my grandma Bright, Aunt NaConna and Uncle Ben. NaConna gave me several family histories and photos, which has helped me flesh out my family group sheets. We definitely had some valiant pioneer ancestors that survived crossing the plains, dealt with the crickets, made friends with their native neighbors, and settled new lands.

The kids had to make up for some lost time at school, so I didn't really go see them again until Wednesday. While we were waiting for the boys to come home from school, I had a very nice talk with Greg, the kids' stepdad. Greg and Julie are wonderful people, and I know that it's a huge blessing to have a good relationship with them.

Jordan was babysitting, but the boys were able to come up with me to Grandpa and Grandma's for dinner. I had the best time just hanging out with Keiler and Max. Our trip really went a long way towards my knowing them better and our being comfortable together. We did homework together and made sure that dinner was ready when Lezlie and Rowdy walked in the door from their long trip home.

Granny had her tumor resected the day before (which makes me think it wasn't really GBM, but I don't know what the pathology showed) and was doing surprisingly well, well-enough to be discharged from the hospital the day after her surgery (or two days later). You may say, "Oh! It's a miracle! Isn't it wonderful?" but I'm not really sure what to think right now. It remains to be seen.

Rowdy, Lezlie and I went up to Snowbird on Friday. They had already gotten a bit of snow, so we were able to have a little snowball fight as we hiked. Years and years ago, I was offered a job at the Cliff Lodge as an aerobics instructor, a job I didn't take because I did not have a car with reliable brakes. I think that was the last time I had been to Snowbird. They have great mountain biking trails, and the view up there is beautiful. It made Rowdy and I re-think our lack of fondness for Salt Lake. There are so many fun, outdoorsy things to do there in such beautiful surroundings. But then we go back into the overgrown Valley and it's back to "Ugh". Ugh was certainly reinforced the next day, as it snowed as we were driving to the airport. I do miss the food at La Dolce Vita in Provo. If you are ever in Provo, I highly recommend making a special effort to eat there. Their food is just as delicious today as it was the first time I ate there in 1984.

La Dolce Vita. Go there. I insist. Take my car.

We are happy to be home again, happy to be back in our own little bed, happy to have had a fun trip with the kids and time with friends and family in Utah. Our next vacation will be to Hawaii in January. Poor Max! When I said, "We're going to Hawaii in January," he thought that "we" meant the five of us. Uh. Sorry. No. Rowdy's brothers and sisters also thought that "we" mean "and all of Rowdy's brothers and sisters". Again, no. Sorry. Just me and Rowdy, celebrating the one year anniversary of our sealing.

Not the answer I ever expected to hear!


"Where are you, Dear?"
"I'm in the bedroom, wearing your bra and cleaning my gun."

Monday, October 8, 2007

Jordan Marie


Jordan is the person I wish I had been at 16--she's an excellent, hard-working student; she has a strong testimony and a mature-for-her-age knowledge of the gospel; she plays both acoustic and electric guitar; she surfs; she's virtuous and lovely and "of good report".

Today our little girl is Sweet 16. Now, I didn't know Jordan when she was a little girl; we met when she was 13. But she has grown and changed over the past two years. I hear that she had a bunch of dark hair when she was born. We have cute pictures all over our house of her and her two darling little brothers. She has always been a "little mother" to them. Her dad says, "She's willing to try new things, but she never abandons something that's 'core' to her." She likes to write. She wants to be a teacher. She's been a little nervous about taking her driving test, but I'm sure she did great on it today. She totally denies that any boys have been waiting for this day so they can ask her out. That's fine. She'll get plenty of interest in due time. High school boys will be intimidated by a beautiful, intelligent girl that can surf and play the guitar.

That's our Jo/Gordo/Gordon. We love her so! Please don't think that her brothers are one whit behind her, because they're amazing in their own ways. I'll tell you about them on their birthdays.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Briccolympics

Rowdy has a knack for making anything and anywhere an arena for physical competition. How far can you go jumping on one leg? Can you jump from this rock to that one? How many pullups can you do?

On our way out to Murano, "the glassmaking island", we saw a large park with a conveniently-located vaporetto stop. It was right next to a naval training academy, so the park had parcourse stations scattered throughout for the sailors-in-training to work out on. (I know this because we had to share the equipment with them. I can do better pushups than one of the guys we saw. How do you say "Pansy" in Italian?.)

There were pullup bars, places to do crunches, monkey bars, and even a couple of recumbent bikes. Even better were the playgrounds--no "nanny state" regulations there! There was a climbing wall, a zip line, a 10-foot-tall rope net to climb over, and some fun-looking swings that unfortunately were occupied.

Did we get looks from the Venetians? Sure! Did we care? No! Man, I wish we had a zip line in our local park.

Friday, September 28, 2007

I Will Always Find You


We arrived in Venice by train, just before sunset. The water buses (vaporetti) to Venice proper depart from a dock just in front of the station exit. We purchased our tickets and then walked onto a floating platform for the boat to San Marco, along with several other travelers with large suitcases.


The #4 express vaporetto to San Marco arrived, and Rowdy and Jordan pushed to the front of the line. The boys and I stayed back, because I didn't want to be one of those people who can't queue. R and J boarded the boat, the mate closed the gate, and off they went without us. As I waved goodbye, I could see Rowdy's stunned face and gesture of "why aren't you on this boat???"


Keiler and Max were a little bit concerned, but we were able to get onto the next vaporetto within about ten minutes. Our boat, however, was not an express. We were on the leisurely tour of the industrial part of Venice, the Guidecca, and the Accademia, with a lovely view of the sunset. I told the boys that I was not going to let their dad get away with it if he decided to be mad at us for not getting on the boat. After all, I was the one who had been to Venice before; I was the one with the hotel name, address and directions.


Our boat finally docked at San Marco, but not the same San Marco stop where Rowdy and Jordan disembarked. The boys were nervous, and pleaded with me to "just call Dad and find out where they are." Unfortunately, my cell phone had no service whatsoever in Europe. (What a rip! Rowdy's did, and we have the same service and the same type of phone. But I digress....)


I said to the boys, "You guys are lucky you have a smart mom," and proceeded to show them that we could go to the map and see that boat #4 had a San Marco stop just a short walk away, and I was sure that we would find them there. As we walked along the canal, I told them that they were also lucky to have a mom and dad who had faith. I knew that Heavenly Father wouldn't let us get lost, that I had a husband who would have actually listened the million times I said that we needed to stop in San Marco, and who was an Eagle Scout who knew to stay in one place when he was lost.


As we approached the "other" San Marco stop, we heard Rowdy yell, "Max!" Rowdy walked up to us with a big smile, Jordan in tow. He said, "I told Jordan that the first rule of being lost is that you stay put. You don't go wandering around." Then he turned to the kids and said, "Your mom and I--we have a thing between us. We will always find each other."


And with that, we headed as a family to our hotel.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Notable Quotables From Our Trip

"The expenseeviest....Take a look."--see prior post.

"Three bucks for a Three Musketeers bar? That's a dollar a Musketeer!!"--Keiler expresses his outrage at the ridiculous gouging of coach passengers on American Airlines domestic flights.

"This is a crazy place! The sink is lower than the toilet!"--Max's reaction the first time he saw a bidet.

"Fuenf?!?!?!" said our waiter at the Olympic Village, his eyes goggling. "Ja. Eins, zwei, drei, vier, fuenf," said I as I pointed to each member of our family, assuring him that, yes, all five of us wanted hot chocolate with our lunch. (Sorry to the purists, but I don't know how to make umlauts.)

"The Bridge of Sighs...(heave deep sigh)."--Not only did we see the outside of the Bridge of Sighs (sighhh!), we walked through it on the way to the dungeon of the Doge's Palace.

"I dunno. I put my stuff down and she started talkin' all Europe to me. So I gave her my money, and she gave me back twenty Euro-cents." --Max's first experience with shopping in Munich went well. However, it took him almost a week to realize that you didn't have to say "Euro-cents", you could just say "cents".

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Spanning the Globe

We just got back from a terrific week in Europe with the kids. Three days in Munich, a day train ride through the Alps, then three days in Venice, with layovers in London and Paris. Everything went very well, and we have tons of stories to tell.

The Highlights:

1) Jordan loved just being able to walk around Munich and take in the sights. She was able to use her German skills to buy things and find her way around.
2) Keiler says that his favorite part was taking boats everywhere in Venice. He'd love someday to be able to live somewhere where that was his primary means of transport. He also did very well with his first-year German. He successfully negotiated commerce and room-key-getting.
3) Max loved to be able to ask for the bill after meals in Italian. He especially loved this because Rowdy snuck him enough money or a credit card to be able to put down when the bill arrived, much to the amazement and amusement of our waitstaff.
4) Rowdy and I loved introducing the kids to two beautiful cities, spending time with them and each other and having things go so well. My favorite part was taking the train through the Alps. I don't think that there are more beautiful places in the world than the Alpine regions.

We arrived to find Munich in the final stages of preparation for Oktoberfest. I tried on trachten or traditional Bavarian dress that was available in all the stores. Jordan and the guys couldn't be persuaded to do the same, sadly. Our first night, we had dinner at the famous Hofbrauhaus. Definitely a fun experience, even though we were drinking Sprite rather than bier.

One of the things I really wanted to show the kids was the Deutsches Museum, which is a large science and technology museum. I remembered it from my last visit 15 years ago as a totally fascinating place. Well...I guess it was still pretty neat, but not as neat as I remembered it. Isn't that always the way?

We picked up some rolls, bretzen, cheese and salami at the Viktualenmarkt and some sodas at the grocery store, then walked over to the Englischer Garten for a nice picnic. It was a beautiful, sunny day, warm for this time of year, and the Munchners were enjoying the outdoors. I guess when you live in a northern climate, you want to expose as much skin as possible to the sun whenever you can, because there were several nude sunbathers along our path. Avert your eyes, children!!

Christina, Manahi and Samuel, friends of mine from NYC, are living in Munich until March. We had dinner with them our second night, which was very convivial. Samuel was born after I left New York, so it was my first meeting with him. He is as beautiful, intelligent and charming as I had expected him to be. Samuel seemed to fall in love with Jordan. Sorry, Sweetie! She's 15 years older than you!!

Our second day in Munich was our only bad-weather day. We thought about going to Salzburg on the train, but had a bit of a slow start with jet lag trying to overtake us. The hop-on-hop-off tour bus was a great way to see the city instead. We went out to the Olympic Stadium complex and had lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top of the tower there. Apparently, it is quite unusual for their diners to order hot chocolate to go with their lunches on cold, rainy days, because the waiter acted like we had asked for five cups of bile or something. Once he got over his heart attack, he served us delicious cups of hot milk with the chocolate sauce on the side. It was perfect for the chocolate-adverse Rowdy. I wished that I could stick my tongue into the little chocolate pitcher and lick it clean.

One of the bus tour guides gave us our "jumbo/large" catchphrase for the trip. As we drove down the Maxmilianstrasse, she said, "This is the most expenseeviest street in Munich. Take a look." So everything thereafter was "the most expenseeviest" (which wasn't hard to do, given that the dollar had fallen to 1.40 vs the euro).

And speaking of the Maximilianstrasse, Max was delighted to find that every other memorial or street in Munich seemed to be named after him. Too bad they spelled it wrong. Didn't they know that it's supposed to be spelled "Maximillian"?? It just goes to show that it's Maximillian's world, and we're all just livin' in it.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rootin' Tootin'



This was only my third time shooting. The holes in the orange square are mine--nine out of ten shots. I feel pretty good about that!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rise and Shout!


After a few years of neglect, I am trying to renew my enthusiasm for BYU sports. Back in the day, I had season football tickets and went to basketball games fairly often. Once I left Utah and attended the University of South Carolina, my investment in the Cougars diminished considerably.

The Cougs beat AZ today in decisive fashion, which was a much better way to get my Cougar Spirit back than the drubbing the basketball team took when we watched them play SDSU earlier this year.

Having been away, I have a few observations:

1) I much prefer the "new" Cougar Blue. It's much prettier than that royal blue version from years past.

2) Coach Edwards will always be the One True Coach.

3) What the heck have they done to Cosmo? What's up with his little slits for eyes?

4) Interesting how I can still sing the entire fight song after all these years.

5) I could really go for a big chocolate chip cookie and scoop of mint chip ice cream from Heap's.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

fun times and not so fun times

Rowdy and I did a mountain bike ride in the Laguna Mountains last Saturday. For me, the best part was being able to negotiate the various rock gardens there confidently, without falling down once. It seems like every mtb ride ends up in me gaining a new scar, but maybe I've gotten past that.


Rowdy couldn't figure out why his bike was so much dustier than mine at the end of the ride...until I reminded him that he was eating my dust the whole time! Hahahahah!!! Gee, like that's going to happen ever again.


My victory was diminished by the realization a few days later that Rowd was brewing an illness that would result in our spending a total of 12 hours in the ER on Tuesday. Scary. He was doing just fine on Tuesday morning when he accompanied me on my morning bike ride to work. By 9am, he had a fever of 100.5, which progressed to 102.8 within about 2 hours. Fortunately, I was only working 1/2 day, so I could bring him down to the ER.


You know, it's very hard as a physician not to fall into the "satisfaction of search" mode. Sometimes, you have a patient that has a particular illness, or you have a preconceived notion about what you should find on their physical exam or imagin studies, and you're blinded to any other outcome. Such was our problem yesterday.


Because Rowdy has Crohn's, the general consensus was that the fever must have been Crohn's-related. A certain amount of lab work, a CT and a chest x-ray were obtained; seven hours later, there were five different opinions as to what was going on. A couple of people wanted to admit Rowd just for observation, but we were willing to convince them that he would be much more comfortable and better cared-for if he just stayed home.


It certainly was frustrating to have to be the wife and not the MD and not say, "You know, dudes, I noticed that you're not ordering blood cultures. Dontcha think that would be a good idea??" And I also ticked off some bossy nurse in the ER who didn't think that I should look at Rowdy's chest x-ray without asking "his doctor's permission" first. What tha??? Lady, I'm a radiologist at this hospital and the patient's my husband. I don't need anyone's permission!! Oh, and I could really rant about how the triage nurse asked if I was Rowdy's mom.


So, we went home for a total of four hours until Rowdy spiked a fever again at midnight. Part of the deal was that we'd go back to the ER again if that happened, and I'm glad we made that decision. Fortunately, we ended up with an ER doc who will get VIP treatment from me for a year because of his reasonable approach to Rowdy's symptoms. "You mean you had a fever of unknown origin and they didn't order blood cultures??" He gave Rowdy a dose of CefTRIaxONE (yeah, that's really the way it's spelled), some Motrin, and let him come home at 4am.


This morning, Rowdy was feeling tired and achy, but he'd been fever-free for four hours, so he'd definitely turned a corner. I called in sick to be able to get some sleep and make sure R was okay. We spent most of the day sleeping and trying to get back to some semblance of normal.


Here's a couple of pictures of us having fun on bikes...Geez, I look fat and stumpy in my picture. Great. I needed that.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Victory!!

Max, our youngest, visited us for a week recently. He's not really a water kid, so he resisted his dad's attempts to get him to the beach all week long. We finally got him there on Saturday, just hours before he was supposed to return home.

At first, he didn't really want to go in the water at all. Rowdy shamed/coaxed him into the water initially while I took the boogie board out for a few rides. Max tried to convince us that it was totally fun to be in the water up to his ankles, but we weren't buying it. I decided to try to get him a little more comfortable in the water and have more fun at the beach.

First, we just body surfed in the white water. Nothing too exciting, but it did give Max an inkling that maybe, just maybe, the ocean wasn't out to kill him. After about fifteen minutes, he realized that the boogie board probably would actually be fun to try. He boarded while I body surfed. We caught two or three really awesome waves, and that totally hooked him. Before we knew it, Max was going "outside" by himself and having a wonderful time.

I think it was the first time in my short "mothering" career when I really felt like I had taught one of my children something new and broadened his outlook. I've probably taught them other things, but this was easily quantified.

Too bad we didn't bring the camera with us that day, but to be honest, neither Rowdy nor I believed that Max would be persuaded to get out and do anything except sit on the beach and pout. I wish we had recorded our huge smiles as we slid along with the waves, and I wish we had a picture of how Max's borrowed swim trunks (he was 100% against us buying him a swimsuit during our school-clothes shopping expedition) filled up with air while he boarded. He looked like he had water wings on his bootie.

As we were driving him to the airport, we asked him what his favorite part of the weekend was. His answer was "definitely boogie boarding!" He now wants to go every time he visits us. We we count this as a parental victory. We take them whenever and however we can get them.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Recipe for Success


Success in making a delicious grilled pizza, that is!

Total time: 25 minutes + 1 hour rising

COMBINE:

3 c all-purpose flour
1 envelope quick-rise yeast (2 1/4 t)
1 T. sugar
1 T. kosher salt

ADD; PROCESS:

1 c warm water (120-130F)
2 T. olive oil

Combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a food processor; pulse to mix. (I just mixed them by hand.)

Add water and oil; process mixture for 2-3 minutes, or until dough forms into a ball. If the dough does not adhere, add more water, 1 T at a time until a ball forms. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Prepare sauces and toppings for pizzas while dough is rising.

Heat the grill to medium. When dough has risen sufficiently, divide it into four equal portions. Roll out the dough into roughly a 10-12" shape (it doesn't have to be a perfect circle or rectangle). Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil. Place the oiled surface on the grill and cook for 5 minutes, until the crust is browned and somewhat bubbly. Brush the exposed surface with olive oil and turn the crust. Heat the new side until it is also browned and bubbly. Place the toppings on the crust and cook until the cheese is melted. Carefully remove from grill onto a baking sheet or pizza pan. Serve with a nice green salad. We also had an Italian grapefruit soda that was the perfect complement.

Buon appetito!!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mighty Tasty!


Mmmmm...pizza baked on the barbecue. It was something I've wanted to try for ages and finally made last night. It was so good!!!

Growth



Things are growing here in Sandy Lameo. For the first time, I have tomatoes ripening. I ate the first one last night--yum! And the tea olive plant I planted is flowering. Tea olive is my favorite scent. It's kind of peachy. One of my favorite memories of Charleston is walking past a house down on the Battery that has a huge tea olive bush. You could smell it for blocks.

Keiler spent last week with us. He had grown so much, both physically and emotionally, since last summer. He was much more responsible and cooperative, much more self-motivated than before. He's almost as tall as Rowdy now and getting taller than his sister (much to his delight). He's getting more adventurous, too.






He learned to love boogie boarding, which was surprising. Our boys don't really like the ocean too much. We also took him sea kayaking at La Jolla Shores. It was totally fun. The leopard sharks are hanging out in the cove now, and there were sea lions sunning themselves. Keiler also went to his first MLB game, put together our new bbq, learned how to grill, made a robot arm (that was really cool!), and went 90 mph with Rowdy on the motorcycle without freaking out. One of the best "firsts" for Keiler was going to the temple where Rowdy baptized and confirmed him for his great-grandpa Rookstool.

Keiler brought me a book he thought I might like. It's Stoneheart, by Charlie Fisher. It's about a boy who discovers that the city of London has many layers and becomes involved in a conflict between good and evil amidst the statues that are all over the town. It's fairly inventive; I quite enjoyed it. He managed to get his dad to buy the newest Harry Potter book, a fact that he lorded over Jordan. He didn't let any spoilers slip, which was much-appreciated.

So, that's it. That's what's been growing at the Bricco house!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Girrrrrl Power!!


Venus Williams winning Wimbledon this year was great for at least two reasons: 1) she was ranked #31 going in and probably no one but Venus expected her to win and 2) she was paid the same for her win as Roger Federer was paid for his.

I wouldn't identify myself as a rabid feminist, but I do appreciate seeing progress in equalizing male/female roles in the workforce.

There are prominent women in my field, to be sure, but it is a male-dominated specialty. Every once in awhile, we look around our IR suite and realize that we have an all-female crew. Cynthia, who has been a tech in our department for many years remembers a time when she was the only woman working IR cases. As it is, I am the only female interventionalist in my group, and we only have two female techs.

So today, we commemorated an "all girl crew" with a group photo. L-->R: Socorro (nurse extraordinaire), Amber (eager rad tech student), Cynthia (the queen of PR juju), me and Kim (super new mommy).

Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Little Wistful, but So Grateful for What I Have

Sometimes, when things are slow here at work, I check out my friends' blogs, and then my friends' friends' blogs. Some of the friends' friends' are women that I am acquainted with through our old NYC ward but never had the opportunity to be come good friends with, some are total strangers. I am so impressed by people's creativity and the sometimes touching, sometimes funny but always insightful glimpses into their lives.

Most of these women (and the two men who are good friends of my sister's) are young parents. I have to admit that there are times when I read their blogs and reflect on the decisions I made that took me to very different places in my life, with no chance to go back and take another road.

The cure for the slight case of the blues that follows is always to count my many blessings, because I have been abundantly recompensated for whatever I have missed out on in life due to my choices or the choices other people have made that have affected my life.

Some of the things I have been thinking I'm thankful for are:

1) A handsome, intelligent, fun, loving (and fun-loving) husband--he makes coming home for lunch an event and going back to work very difficult!

2) Three terrific stepchildren--Jordan and Keiler are coming to visit tomorrow. Jordo is going on a camping trip on Monday, but we get Keiler for the whole week. I'm so glad to have the chance to spend time with him. He's such a great kid, and he's at a very tricky point in his life. It looks like he's making some good decisions and good habits. I want to know more about what he's thinking, what he's planning, and what is motivating him. Teenagers don't give as many sweet soundbites and cute pictures as little ones, but I am sure that I will post some pictures of our adventures next week.

3) Mom, Dad, DeeDee and Kiki--they're all doing well right now, and I love that they are my my friends as well as my family. And I have to add my Bricco parents and siblings--they are just as wonderful as my parents and sisters.

4) A comfy house--still loving the new sofa and missing Olivia, who is visiting her family in Acupulco this month.

5) So many great friends doing interesting things--for instance, Steph is just starting the third annual Sovietsk Internat service trip (yes, there is a better name for that). Cristy is combining being mother of 6, waterskiing, being charge nurse at a busy ER, and building a new house. AmyJo is just going, going, going--camping, running the Lexington Mothers' Club, to the water park in Charleston, you name it.

6) The Primary and how reasonably-well it's running--I was able to attend the Activity Days girls' pool party yesterday during my lunch hour. They are so sweet, and my Activity Days leader is a gem.

7) The temple--after approximately nine months as a receptionist at the San Diego Temple, I was set apart as an ordinance worker last Tuesday night! It is so wonderful be in the temple every Tuesday and interact with the other workers and the patrons. The matron, Sister Sorenson, and her assistants, Sister Farner and Sister Zollinger, are three of my role models.

8) Family History--I have the spirit of Elijah right now, no doubt about it!

9) A very rewarding and enjoyable job--Not everyone can say that about their employment, but I just love what I do and where I do it.

10) Fitness--I love that I'm 42 but I can still run and jump and do pushups and swim and mountain bike and...pretty much whatever I want to do, except do flips. It makes me too dizzy these days to even do somersaults.

Of course there's more, but that was enough to make me feel much, much better.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Thankful




The 4th of July is a great time to count blessings. We live in a wonderful, free country. We can worship as we please. We can speak our minds without fear of retribution. Most people have access to education, clean water, food and shelter.


I'm so grateful for all of the above, and many more things. Of course, the thing I'm most grateful for on this particular 4th is the safe return of my sweetheart.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Diane the Tenacious


Thank goodness I'm too easily-distracted to really get addicted to things, but I do have my little obsessions from time to time. My latest is Ancestry.com, the site where you can research your family history, create a pedigree chart, and then download it to your computer on a GEDCOM file, ready for further research.




Family history has always been interesting to me. I like history in general, but it's much more fun to know the human side of it. Genealogy research on my mother's side has been fairly extensive, more recently thanks to my cousin Susanne's husband, Neil. On my father's side, however, things have not been painstakingly recorded, and for the longest time I only knew about five generations back on the Dahlstrom side and two or three on the Chaffee side.




Between finishing fellowship and starting work in San Diego in 2005, I took a little trip to Sweden and Denmark to do some on-site research. I was spurred on by those faith-promoting stories that are published in The Ensign telling of people who travel great distances to find their ancestors and just happen to run into the one person who has the key to the archives, or who is a distant cousin. I really thought that would happen, but I was thwarted at almost every turn. Not that it wasn't really cool to see the towns these people came from and revel in the beauty that is Sweden in the summer, but I was really bummed. I tried to get some information from the main Family History library here in San Diego a couple of years ago, but that was also practically fruitless.




Working at the temple for the last six months inspired me to go back to work on my genealogy. That, and the feeling that if maybe I focused my work on my more immediate ancestors, things would fall into place. About two months ago, I finally sat down at my computer and tried Ancestry.com. It is free for the first three days, then you have to sign up for either a month or a year subscription. I admit to using all three of my email addresses for free trials at first, but I finally broke down and bought a month's subscription.




Within about fifteen minutes of being on that site, I had made contact with a distant Dahlstrom cousin, Carma Russell. She sent me pictures of my Swedish pioneer ancestors, family group sheets and a family history that explains how we really ended up being Dahlstroms, not Carlsons or Barnecos.




The best thing about Ancestry.com is that you put in your pedigree chart information, then the site searches its entire database for any matches. From that, you can extend your pedigree chart further, without having to do more than double-check to see if that's really your ancestor and the dates and places make sense. Last week, Rowdy's Aunt Jeanne sent me a package of Rookstool genealogy. I entered it into Ancestry, and discovered that Rowdy is a descendant of Pocahontas. Who knew?




Spurred on by that discovery, I went to work on an ancestor of mine on my dad's side, Amanda Alexander. I have tried to follow her line several times, but last Sunday, things finally opened up. I was able to follow her line back to the Plantagenets and beyond. I'm a descendant of (among other people) Fulk the Rude, Pepin the Short, Marc Antony, Aminhotep, some random Turkish woman, and several concubines as well as Ruth and Boaz, David and Bathsheba, Jacob and Rachel (and Leah), Isaac and Rebecca, Abraham and Sarah!! Once you hit royalty, whichever side of the blanket your ancestor was born on, you can follow the line back in perpetuity. And I mean that literally, because yesterday I followed that line back to Adam and Eve.




Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my entire life, I have always had an intellectual understanding that all of the human race is related, that I am a literal descendant of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that Jesus Christ atoned for everyone who ever lived. I knew that temple work was important to seal families together. But I didn't really have as strong a testimony of all those things as I do now, from the seemingly cheesy process of doing genealogy by clicking a computer key.




Now the kings, queens, emperors, pharoahs, blacksmiths, serving girls, farmers and Coca-Cola bottling plant owners that I come from are real to me. Reading the scriptures means even more to me. Temple work has become an even greater priority. I'm even more grateful for the lineage I come from and more aware of how important every single person ever born is to our Heavenly Father. The scripture reference of "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to their fathers" makes much more sense now, because my heart has been turned.




Fulk the Rude...hmmm...wonder what he did that made people mention his rudeness specifically?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

And Thaaats a Soooonnng ooooof Teeeennnnn!

Note to Karen: there is a scary part at the end. Go hide behind the green Barcalounger.

I have been able to set up an actual countdown clock (such as it is), obviating the need for further Sesame Street counting posts. Too bad, really. Not being a computery person, I don't know how to resize the clock to fit the sidebar, but it seems more logical to me to have it over there, rather than as a post that will be pushed down the page with successive posts.

So, there you have it. Ten days to go!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

On the Twelfth Day to Rowdy...!

Less than two weeks left!

Rowdy hasn't been able to post for a few days because of satellite problems (the main problem being that his boss didn't pay the satellite bill). He's starting to feel better mentally knowing he only has five days until he leaves Iraq, but physically he's had some problems. He's exhausted and has had some GI issues that he doesn't feel are related to Crohn's--maybe it's an amoeba. We don't know for sure. Nothing will stand between him and coming home, though.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Continuing the Countdown!



If I were very clever, I would figure out a way to post a countdown clock with the days/hours/minutes/seconds until Rowdy gets home. Instead, please join me in enjoying the incomparable counting stylings of Sesame Street.

Daddy (and Mommy) Dear I Love You So!




About three weeks ago, my parents came for a short but very enjoyable visit. We went to Coronado (which was a first for all of us), ate good food, did some nice shopping and shot the breeze. I have been doing a lot of family history work lately, which prompted my parents to tell stories about themselves and our extended family. Some of the stories I'd already heard, but it was still nice to hear them again. I think this put Dad in a nostalgic mood, because a few days ago, he wrote this biography for his high school class memory book:

High School Memories


My best memories are of the great friendships, the sports, the student government and how everything seemed hilariously funny. I’ve never laughed as hard as I did in those days.

I had the great good fortune to be assigned to Miss Hanson’s geometry class my sophomore year. After the first grading period when I received a well-earned “D”, Miss Hanson pulled me aside after class and told me to either do better or she would remove me from her class. The thought of the humiliation of being kicked out of her class got my attention. At that moment, she taught me a great lesson…that if I focused on the task at hand, I could do well. Vivian Hanson was simply the best teacher I ever had, at any level. I owe her a great deal.



The last 50 years


The years immediately after high school consisted of dropping in and out of college (wasting my parents’ money), military service, of living with my parents, of working in the family business, and of merrily accumulating the wages of a misspent youth.

In October, 1960, my life changed. I met Noreen Bright (PHS ’58). We were married the following March. With the change in marital status came a renewed focus. I received a BS (education) from ISU and two years later, an MS (Mathematics) from the University of Oregon.

Professionally, I worked in the computer software industry until my retirement in 2000. There’s not much to report of my professional life since I’ve never felt defined by what I did for a living. The only job that had any importance to me was that of a parent.

Noreen and I have three daughters, all wonderful, gifted, and decent human beings:

Dayna, a cancer survivor and computer software contractor, lives in Austin, Texas;

Diane, who after completing her fellowship in Interventional Radiology at Cornell Medical School in New York City, is practicing her specialty at Kaiser Hospital in San Diego, California;

Karen, who lives in Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., is a senior copywriter for the advertising company, Organic, in mid-town Manhattan.


In 1991, Noreen and I became empty-nesters. We took a fateful trip to Oslo, Norway and upon return to Boise, we loaded up the necessities in a U-Haul, sold the remainder at a yard sale, and began our great adventure by moving (without jobs) to the hill country of Texas.

So…here we are, a couple of transplanted spuds, our roots now deep in the soil of that wonderful, wild, dynamic, funky, diverse, musical, whacky and weird city of Austin, Texas…living happily forever after.


My dad, Basil, grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, the only child of Reed and Irene Dahlstrom. His childhood sounds pretty idyllic. My dad pretty much could go and do whatever he wanted, so he and his friends had quite the rollicking time in that little town.

Noreen, my mom, grew up in Preston, Idaho (of Napolean Dynamite fame) and Pocatello. She and Dad met at a batchelor party (!). No, it wasn't my dad's party, and she didn't jump out of the cake. It was pretty much love at first sight. One of the things my dad said when they were here was that Mom was the first girl he'd been out with that wasn't superficial. She really talked to him about things. And she was good-looking to boot!

I love my parents so much. To paraphrase a Primary song: I'm very glad that he's my dad (and she's my mom); and I know (they) love me too!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

How Clean Is Your House?

As of last Monday, I am an employer. Silvio the Gardener doesn't count. Silvio comes once a week and does our yard along with several others in our neighborhood. But I finally have a housekeeper. Oh, sure, she cleans at least two other homes in my neighborhood. But unlike Silvio, Olivia actually comes into my home and sees my dark secrets.


Housekeeping is not my forte by a long shot. I don't think that I'm dirty, I'm just cluttery. And when I clean, I'm not really detail-oriented. I just don't have the attention span. When Rowdy is home, he keeps the house pretty clean, but both of us have better things to do with out time.


As much as I love having things so beautifully clean, I have to say that I felt a little uncomfortable being someone's employer. I'm not at all interested in supervising anyone. And then there's the whole squeamishness about, I don't know, about being someone with a housekeeper and a gardener. It's weird to have people "doing" thing for me. The staff at work do things for me all the time, and even after two years of that, it's still a little disconcerting.


Olivia has been cleaning my friend Renee's house for about ten years. Renee had nothing but good things to say about her, and their house always looks great, so I decided to just go for it and hire her for twice a month.


The house looked absolutely gorgeous when I got home yesterday. The slipcover on the sofa was completely straight. All of the carpets were vacuumed. There was no dust anywhere. The bathrooms gleamed. But this is my favorite part.






The stovetop was so disgusting from everyday use. There was burnt-on stuff on the burners that I could never get off, try as I might. All she used was some Easy-Off, and they look like new.

I'm so happy about it that I haven't cooked a thing for a week.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Grooo-grooo-groooviest

During my daily reading of defamer.com, I came across this link to the opening credits of Lidsville. Something about those Kroft Saturday morning shows from my childhood really delights me. I'm transported back to our living room in Eugene, Oregon, lying on the floor, wearing a Danskin top and pants, maybe eating leftovers from our traditional Friday night pizza...ahhh, those were the days!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Viva! Las Vegas

Note: Check out Karen's blog, i could do better, for a more entertaining rundown and great pictures on flick'r.

People talk about how much fun Las Vegas is, and I never really understood the draw. I don't drink, I'm not a nightowl, I don't gamble. How much fun could I possibly have there?



The opportunity arose to go to a neuroradiology conference in Vegas. Our original plan was for Rowdy and I to drive to the meeting from San Diego, spend a few nights at the Wynn, then continue on to Moab, where we would celebrate Rowdy's birthday by mountain biking and 4-wheeling with Rowdy's sister Tory, her husband Tyler, and their cute little baby girl Bradlee.



Of course, the situation changed when Rowdy left on his adventure. There was no point in me spending time alone in Las Vegas, so I sent out a general invitation to friends, encouraging them to join me. Sharon Soutter agreed to visit from Wednesday to Friday, and my sister Karen and MIL Lezlie were going to arrive Friday and leave on Sunday. Unfortunately, Lezlie has a severe flare-up of her ongoing back problems and couldn't come. Not only was she sore, but she was sorely missed!



On Wednesday night, Sharon picked me up at the airport, and we made our way to the Wynn, site of the conference and my home until Saturday. The Wynn is quite a place. To me, it seemed like it was decorated by Willy Wonka's factory designer. Las Vegas seems to be all about color and noise.












The conference was very good. I was actually excited to come back to work and read head and neck studies, which can be a bane. During our first morning break, I walked onto the terrace overlooking the pools. That's when it first occurred to me that it might be quite pleasant to visit Las Vegas and just sit by a nice pool in the sun, do a little shopping, then go out to a nice dinner and a show.



Sharon wandered around the Strip while I was in conference. On Thursday night, we went to Circo at the Bellagio for dinner. It was quite tasty. Then we made our way to the Venetian, where we saw Blue Man Group. Very entertaining! Sharon and I visited Venice in 1999, so it was funny to visit the ersatz Venice together.





On Friday, Karen arrived and Sharon went back to Utah. We had tickets to see Spamalot that night. I had wanted to see that show when I was in New York, but even going to the same gym as its stars didn't get me a ticket. It was very fun, and well-worth the expense. Dinner was at The Buffet at the Wynn. Yum! My friend, Tim, gave me a big list of very fancy places to eat in Las Vegas, but frankly, I'm not much of a fancy-restaurant kind of girl. I was very happy with the mildly-fancy places I ate while in LV.



I cut out of the conference a little early on Saturday so Karen and I could lay by the pool before checkout. It was quite relaxing and pleasant. Karen had the great idea to visit the Liberace Museum on Saturday afternoon. Talk about campy!!! It was hilarious! It was almost impossible to keep a straight face--uh--yeah. Lee would have understood.



Instead of paying the non-conference price for a room at the Wynn for Saturday night, I took the chance on getting a reservation through Hotwire. Bad idea. We ended up at the Planet Hollywood, until recently known as the Aladdin. It was supposed to be a four-star hotel, but...ugh. I had no need to pumice my heels after spending the night on the sandpaper they called sheets. And their pool was considerably less-swanky than the Wynn's. The only good point was that we could see the dancing waters at the Bellagio from our room. But overall, I don't recommend it. We took off to Henderson for dinner at Settebello. It's only one of 12 restaurants outside of Italy authorized to make pizza the real Neapolitan way. Heaven!!!! There is a second Settebello in Salt Lake somewhere. If you live in Salt Lake or are planning a trip there soon, check it out. It was highly recommended by Sharon, and it was well-worth the trip out to Henderson.



Monday, May 21, 2007

Watch This Space!

I've been very busy the past couple of weeks, including a trip to Vegas last week to attend a conference. I will post pictures and a story this week!

And Happy Birthday Rowdy!!! 35 today!! Yay!

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Ultimate Career

I was reading Maren's blog today, and came across a wonderful quote from C.S. Lewis: The home is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to support the ultimate career."

As you may know, Rowdy is in Iraq, working as a radiation safety officer. The point of him taking that job was to further his career prospects. It seemed like a good idea at the time--taking his nuclear medicine knowledge in a new direction, getting work and life experience, having adventures, making a packet of (mostly) non-taxable income. But the reality of it is that he's miserable. It's disorganized, his boss doesn't seem to know how to teach him the ropes, it's dirty, and there are obvious hazards (see Ultra Rowdy for pictures of the aftermath of a RPG attack). And mostly, he really, really misses home. Home, thankfully, equals me. My husband misses me. And I miss him.


Normally, Rowdy looks like this:


Well, he doesn't usually have a rubber lizard hanging out of his mouth, but he's usually very smiley. All of his pictures from Iraq look like this:




very grim, his brow furrowed, and in this one, he's holding a piece of shrapnel. I hate seeing my sweetheart like this.

So, I am happy to report that Rowdy is working out the 90-day probation period and then coming home. We both really feel that this job was something he needed to do, or he wouldn't have gone in the first place. Hopefully, he will have gained whatever experience or performed whatever tasks he was sent over there to gain or perform.



There were some things that I expected to do while I was here on my own that won't get done in the next two months and one week. Without the extra income, I don't feel justified in buying myself a drum set, for one thing. That will have to wait. The thing I really wanted to do is lose ten pounds. But I've only lost one in the last two weeks--don't say that I've gained muscle, because that really isn't happening. Oh well. Maybe I'll have lost five pounds by the time he comes home. I'll be happy with that.

So, when Rowdy gets back, he'll need to figure out what he is going to do for work, but he has definitely learned over the last month that home is indeed the ultimate career.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Bats in my attic

I have mentioned my addiction to BBCA's Cash in the Attic. A couple of weeks ago, I happened on the US version. Yuck! I much prefer the measured tones of the British auctioneers compared to the whooping and hollering of the American ones. And then there's the total crap that the US contestants have in their attics. The couple on the episode I watched had a bunch of beanie babies and Happy Meal toys.

The UK contestants always seem to have Clarice Cliff pottery. I had never heard of this stuff, but apparently it was all the rage in England in the 20's-40's. Some of it is attractive....


My Rad Life!