Monday, January 31, 2011

New Years

New Years this year was in Santa Barbara - I think this will be even more of a center of gathering for our family now that the Nelsons are there. Love it!

This picture demonstrates that we can pretty much be happy doing almost anything. Here we are watching the boys do skateboard funny.

I loved watching and playing with Patches - pictured only in the tail.

Justin was riding around with Henry - so cute! We made sure to play tennis every day. We of course never had enough courts so we played a little game that we called "Poor unfortunate souls". We were obsessed with it so we played it pretty much every day.

Later that day we had some great beach time. Mel came up with Veda so she hung with us for new years which was great.

During beach time Sammy Jr. asked Sam Hirt to make a maze on the beach. It was so cute to see him run around in it. Sam Hirt is such a great dad. Katherine and I each took a turn at it too which was really great.

At one point Kim started teaching an impromptu hip hop dance class on the beach which was marvelous. Kim is the best!

This is Daren's new years party outfit....crazy!!!
All kinds of crazy things happened pre midnight on new years eve. Me and the girls did our booty pass, we played I've never and mafia and just before midnight a sweet dance party broke out....our favorite!

So we danced in the new year and it was marvelous! I feel like 2011 is going to be really great!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

LA MSA Super Fun Weekend

Today Rosie, Mel, Kate and I all headed up to LA for a mid singles activity. In the morning they had a service project where we helped with some tree planting, which was marvelous not only because we were serving but it was also a beautiful day!

Then we headed into Beverly Hills to a super posh mall called the Grove. We spent most of our time in the farmers market part of the mall getting lunch and checking out all kinds of crazy little shops.
We all got something a little different and shared around. Very tasty.

My favorite thing about this mall was just the atmosphere. They had crooners singing old jazz songs playing and there were beautiful flowers and a pond and the buildings themselves made me feel like we were somewhere in Europe.

After we were done at the mall we headed to a friends house to get ready for the evening events.

They had put together this really amazing 1940's style gala. It was held in a chapel in LA that was build in the 30's, so it had a cultural hall that was really beautiful with exposed beams and the chapel had great stained glass windows. Really great building.

As we came in everyone got dance cards. I wasn't sure if people would get into those, but they did and it was great. They had a wonderful jazz band and everyone danced and had a wonderful time!
Rosie made sure her dance card was full and had a great time being spun around the dance floor just like the rest of us. I decided after doing some swing dancing that I LOVE IT! I used to do country swing all the time during college and I am now determined to get back into it.

These are two of our San Diego friends - Micah and Mitch that came up for the occasion. It was really fun to hang with old friends and meet some new people as well. I was really a wonderful night all around.

After the dance we headed over to Moises' house and all four of us crammed into his bed for the night. Jordan is staying with him right now as well, so it was fun to see him. It was a super fun Saturday!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Heading Home

Check out that water! It was very hard to leave

It pretty much took all day to get home. Daren had the idea that we should play a game of tic tac toe. I was "0's" and Daren was unicorns.....weird. But then he decided that his strategy was to go always to the left of my play - didn't work out as planned for him I guess....hehe

We spent most of the day in the airport - we got very creative on ways to charge our phones. It was great to get back home. What a wonderful vacation!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Montego Bay

Today we went to church in this little tiny branch in Negril. There was another couple there from Canada and us and this was the whole branch. It was a very nice meeting but pretty hard to understand. As I sat there I was thinking that these are truly faithful saints! In the US we have these huge wards that are really well organized and full of people that are our friends. It is much easier to be a faithful member here. I was very impressed with them.

After church we had another spiritual experience..... We drove back to Montego bay and paid $5 to go to this private beach. I don't think I will ever get bored of this.

More of my favorite beach activities today - mostly reading and napping. Thankfully it was a little cloudy, when the sun did pop out it was scorching!

We walked down the beach to the next hotel over and they had a heated pool that we swam around in for a bit.

When we scuba dived last our guide caught a puffer fish - so Daren gave it a try. Totally worked!

And then....just like on any good beach day, we did jumping pictures.

Another really amazing sunset....just as stunning as the others.

We had talked about going to see Tangled, so we hit up the movie theater on the way back to our hostel and watched it in 3D - loved it! Even though it was my third time seeing it.

We had also tapped out on Jamaican food, so we went all American....excellent!

We stopped at the gas station and got ice cream cones - what a great night! This is the hostel we stayed at when we first got here, not comfortable really, but cheap.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This morning we got up and drove just outside of the city to see fern gully. It used to be a river bed that dried up but had cut this deep green gully. Really amazing.

After that we drove to Negril on the other end of the north coast. It took a few hours since the max speed limit on the island is 50mph. We found a place in Negril to go scuba diving. We saw a lot of really amazing things. First of all we saw several lion fish which are really poisonous, so we kept our distance. We also saw several things that I have never seen before, even on tv. We saw this skinny crab with really long arm and a triangle body and a fish that looked a lot like a puffer fish but when it swam it had these long front fins that fanned out in this bright purple fans. So amazing!

The water was really clear as well, so it was very interesting to look around and be in a totally different world. Very beautiful.

After scuba diving we drove a little further down the cove to a really famous place called Ricks Cafe. It's this really great outdoor restaurant/bar with cliff diving and live music right on the cliffs so it is said to have the best sunsets on the island. Daren got some good cliff dives in.

The food there was really expensive so we went across the street to a little stand for some really great dinner....much more authentic as well.

Then back to Rick's for a truly stunning sunset! I never get bored of watching the sunset.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ocho Rios

Today we drove up the coast to Ocho Rios and climbed the Falls at Dunn river. It is this river that runs right into the ocean that has a lot of limestone deposits in it so the rocks are really to climb on. So great!

There were some little caves in the rock....

A Jamaican guy took our camera and followed us from bottom to top and showed us the way. So we got a lot of cool pictures.

It was kind of funny because at this point the guy with the camera said "Kiss" - and we were like....ewww....we're siblings! Kind of funny going on a trip with your brother to a popular honeymoon location.

We made it all the way to the top. It wasn't too far of a climb at all so we went to the bottom and hiked up again.

We asked around town for a really cheap hotel and ended up here. Sweet! It was $50 and we had this amazing view two double beds and cable!

We went out front of the hotel and did a little snorkeling and saw some great starfish. We spent the rest of the night relaxing and watching some tv. We made up a scrabble game and watched some pretty funny cartoons and caught part of Freedom Writers. Great day!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beach Day

Today we went to the best beach in Jamaica - Doctors Cove. You can see that Daren is already having a good time.
This was about all that happened today - sleep, read, swim, repeat - perfect!

Out in the water they had a couple of those water trampolines, so we tried those out too.... pretty tough to stay upright.

We stayed until the beach was pretty much empty and watched a really amazing sunset.

Perfect beach day!

After the beach we went back to the supermarket from last night because they had a cafe there that we saw lots of Jamacians eating at. Turned out to be a very authentic experience. Daren had something with mutton - they don't cut the meat off the bones here, they just chop it all up with bones and all....ich! They also eay "rice and peas" with every meal, which it turns out is rice with kidney beans. Not too bad at all.