Monday, June 27, 2011

Teacher Gifts & Hello Summer!

The kids FINALLY finished up their school year on June 17th..really late. It was a great school year, I got in lots of volunteer time, and all three kids thrived. With all the travel, visits and moving stuff, I didn't have time to get much of a teacher gift put together for these great ladies. So I grabbed a couple bags of Hershey Hugs, put them in some long craft baggies, and topped them with a flip-over tag with a cute school themed sticker on top. I used the bus stickers for the school bus drivers and for Josh's teachers and specialists and the pencil stickers for the big kids' teachers. I like the way they turned out and they were quick and inexpensive. I also used this printable template to make a set of thank you cards for the teachers from me. I rounded the corners, added envelopes and tied it all with red baker's twine.

Tony and I were both able to attend the school award assembly and the kids both were recognized for their hard work this year...Anna was Student of the Month for her class and was recognized for her Advanced Reading scores. Sam was named PE student of the year for all the 4th graders and was one of the top 10 kids in the entire school for Advanced Reading points. We are so proud of them and their hard work.

It seems like there is always one little girl that Anna really bonds with each year. Lucky for us, Bronwen lived right around the corner from us and even after the girls spent all day together, they had a playdate once a week after school as well. We'll miss you, Bronwen!

And just an FYI, Bath & Body Works had a bunch of their classic scents on sale for $3 and so I bought some of their antibacterial hand soap in Fresh Market Apple scent for next year...if you're looking for an easy idea to stash away for teacher gifts...check it out!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

San Fran--Last Day

I'm playing a little catch-up here and need to post my last photos from our San Francisco trip before I can post some more recent things. So bear with me for the sake of our family blog book.

Our last day in San Francisco, we slept in late, had Starbucks for breakfast in the rain, checked out of the hotel, and headed north. Our first stop was on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a surreal moment for me...after my parents returned from a trip to San Francisco when I was little, they showed me a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and it stuck with me so powerfully that I painted a picture of it in 3rd grade that won best in school. Really. The bridge was under construction, so there are cranes in pretty much every picture, but I loved seeing it. (And although I loved that there was no toll to cross the Bridge away from San Francisco, I couldn't believe it when we had to pay $6 to cross back over! What the...?) After the stop at the Golden Gate, we continued north to Muir Woods. Someone had mentioned to Tony how beautiful the area was. It was pretty. And wet. And a long way to drive to look at trees. But it was fun to be together and a wonderful way to unwind before our drive back to San Jose and the flight home to Spokane.

The End.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Pretty Much the Weirdest Day EVER

This morning, I had my last appointment at Spa Paradiso before our move. I headed downtown to the gorgeous Davenport Hotel...the spa is in the basement. Just as I hit downtown, the traffic turned crazy, there were pedestrians all over the place, and I couldn't find a parking spot anywhere. And then I remembered. It is Hoopfest weekend when they set up 3 on 3 basketball courts all over downtown Spokane and the 200,000 people hanging out there to play and watch the games turns it into pure.mayhem. Of course, this all comes to me the second my front right tire blows and I start driving on my rim. Did I mention that there was no place to park? Anywhere? So I illegally parked as out of the way as I could and ran the two blocks to the Davenport and asked the valets to let me park my car there...I was going to the spa so I didn't feel like too much of a smuck (like some weirdo there for Hoopfest looking for a great parking space). They told me that I could park and they would hold the car there until Tony could come and change the tire. So I ran back to my illegally parked car and very slowly and carefully drove the 2 blocks to the Davenport's valet. And during that 2 block drive, there were at least 10 guys gesturing wildly that I had a flat tire. Like the WHOMP! WHOMP! didn't give it away. Geesh. I called Tony and told him where the car was so he could come rescue me (on his birthday, no less) and I make my spa appointment. But this is where it gets really weird. When I came out of the hotel, Tony and Sam were just finishing up the tire. As we were standing there, this guy walks up and starts talking to us, telling Sam how cool it was that his dad was teaching him how to change a tire and we started chatting. Tony looks up at me and says, "You know you're talking to somebody famous, don't you?" And totally "celebrity suave" me turns to the guy and asks, "Who are you?" Seriously Amber? The guy just laughed and said, Oh, I'm nobody, really."

Tony asked him for his autograph for Sam and I start to really freak out. Turns out, it was Nate Robinson who played for the Knicks, the Celtics, and now for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Perhaps his stature threw me for a loop...he is only 5'8"...I'm taller than he is! He is also the only guy in NBA history to win 3 slam dunk contests. The guy has like a 44" vertical. So I went home with a new tire, my legs newly waxed, and an autograph from a guy I didn't even recognize. Pretty much the weirdest day. Ever.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Packing Horror Story

Yesterday was the farewell and award ceremony for members of the Wing that were moving on to other assignments and PCSing. Following the ceremony, there was a really nice little luncheon that was intimate enough that we could mingle and talk with the rest of the legal office and members of the Wing leadership. Since both Tony's boss and Tony are leaving, everybody was sharing their packing horror lady had her garbage can packed completely full of kitchen garbage, one lady had her checkbook packed (back in the day when you had to have a checkbook to pay for anything), one lady had a roast packed in her crockpot by the movers. Lovely. But I didn't have much to add to the conversation. So I committed the cardinal sin of moving. I said, "We've been lucky...we have always had pretty good moves." And WHAM! Karma gave me a nice kick in the pants.

The packers packed my cellphone today. Lucky for me, Anna was near enough to the box it was in it to hear it ringing.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Here We Go Again...

Last night was the last night in our house. Tonight we are in temporary housing and the packers come tomorrow. Tony took the kids to put them to bed and the house is quiet, the last of the laundry drying and the last load of dishes in the dishwasher. It's exciting and scary. But after this past year, I am ready for this kind of scary. Jumping into the unknown. And hoping to land in a warm, happy, and friendly spot.

I'll be checking in on the road...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Tale of Lefty

Last July my parents came for a quick visit to Spokane before my dad got too sick to travel. My dad (and Tony) both loved Northern Washington and I think my dad would have chosen to retire up near Colville, Washington. While he was here, he took a trip to visit Colville one more time and say goodbye to the friends he had made during years of hunting there. He also had a bear he had shot on a previous trip that was a little unique. My dad was up in a tree stand and saw a bear limp into view. My dad was afraid it had been wounded so he shot it on his tag. When they got close enough to check it out, they saw that the bear had gotten his paw caught in a trap when he was younger, he was able to pull free, and the stump had healed enough that he could get around on it. Hence the name "Lefty". Lefty was being wall-mounted and my dad wanted to check on its progress and take it home with him to Alaska. Well, the taxidermist in Colville was moving slow and the bear wasn't quite ready, but he promised to meet my parents at a parking lot near the airport and bring the bear in time for their flight. But when he showed up, the bear wasn't packaged...just laying in the back of his truck. My dad wasn't happy. So the bear came home, temporarily, to our house. We checked all over to see how much it would cost to ship Lefty to my dad in Alaska. Come to find out, it would be cheaper to BUY A DAMN AIRLINE SEAT for Lefty than to ship him to Alaska. As my dad got sicker and sicker, it was the one little joke my mom and I were able to share. I had Lefty, but I didn't want Lefty. My mom didn't have Lefty and she didn't want Lefty either. "Possession is nine tenths of the law" she kept saying. And as much as I really didn't like Lefty, I got a little sentimental about him. After my dad passed away, Lefty became a reminder of the last time I saw my dad. Although I'd rant about how much I didn't like Lefty, I maybe liked him just a little bit.

So now we are getting ready to move next week. Lefty is heavy. Lefty is big. And I didn't really have a place to mount him ON A WALL in my new house, so we decided to find a new home for him. We learned you can't sell him at a garage sale (although one guy tried to buy it out of our garage) or sell it on Craig's has to be gifted. So Tony did a bunch of paperwork, and we gifted Lefty to the base. He is a local bear, after all. So he has been sitting on a credenza in the legal office for the last week waiting for a plaque to be finished...that was my one stipulation about gifting Lefty. I wanted to have my dad's name on him somehow. Late this morning, Tony brought the plaque by the house so I could see it. I love it. And after all this, I love Lefty. I will kinda miss having him around to pretend to aggravate me.

But he will be loved here.

I think my dad would be proud.

Monday, June 13, 2011

San Fran--Fisherman's Wharf

I'm a little behind on blogging (I have so much to catch up on) but I've been way too busy watching the entire first season of Glee. Hey, a woman must have priorities. Our movers come a week from tomorrow, so most nights I eat my weight in chocolate (see below), cry for a while and then I feel better. You just never feel 100% prepared for a move.

After our trip to Alcatraz, we landed back at Pier 33 and walked our way down to Pier 39 where all the good stuff is. It was pretty busy (Memorial Day) but we found a little outdoor seafood cafe that was delish. After lunch (and the best people watching EVER), we walked around the back side of the Pier and saw the sea lions of Pier 39. Really cool!

After our Pier 39 adventure, we walked and walked and finally found Amber's Mecca. Ghirardelli Square!! Heaven. I browsed around the little shops flinging things at Tony to hold and having a ball! The treasure of the day was a little tin of a Powell-Hyde trolley car filled with chocolate squares. Tony was just happy with the little sample square they were handing out at the door. What a guy!

After Ghirardelli Square, we walked straight uphill (a LONG way), and finally made it to the top of Lombard Street which is contested to be the "Crookedest Street" in the world. You should have seen the crazy line of cars that was waiting to drive down Lombard Street! We were content just to walk down the side street and take a picture from the bottom. It was a gorgeous day and everybody had their plants and flowering trees in bloom.

After Lombard Street, we walked back down to the Powell-Hyde cable car tournaround (very cool) and rode the cable car all the way back to our hotel in Union Square. I don't remember much after that...I think I passed out and Tony showed up about an hour later with dinner. It was an awesome day...for our one full day in San Francisco, we sure packed a ton of stuff in!

One more day to go...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

San Fran--Alcatraz

I'm really not sure how to start with this post. Ever since I was a little girl and read all the books about Alcatraz I could get my hands on, an actual trip there seemed pretty unbelievable. But Monday morning at 9:30, we were on a ferry to "The Rock".

I took this photo from the ferry. It is the burned down warden's home, the lighthouse and building 64 which was used a barracks.

After a brief orientation film, they brought us through the shower room to get our self-guided tour tapes. We kept waiting for Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage and all the SEAL guys to pop out of the shower floor. Obviously, not the shower room they used in filming The Rock.

The bottom two tiers on one cell block. The whole place just feels eerie.

Inside one of the standard cells. Tony could raise his arms and touch both of the outside walls of the cell. So tiny.

Tony in one of the cells on D Block...solitary.

This was the actual menu posted on the day they transferred the last prisoners off of Alcatraz.

Despite it's notorious reputation and haggard appearance, there were moments like this that we would come around the corner and see something truly beautiful.

Tony and I on the ferry back to the pier. What a fun way to start our only full day in San Francisco!

More to come...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

San Fran-MOMA & Chinatown

The morning after Wicked, Tony and I caught a 6:00 a.m. flight to SAN FRANCISCO! Joan kindly agreed to stay with the kids after the show so Tony and I could have a small getaway before the big move. We flew into San Jose, got our rental and drove into San Fran. We got checked into our hotel just a few blocks from Union Square and then set out on an adventure! We walked over the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and checked out their permanent collection and also toured the newly opened Stein Collection which shows some of the collection of Gertrude Stein and her family and the impact they had on Expressionism in Europe. Tony was a good sport. He even got to the point where he recognized some the artists and could clearly state if he liked a piece or not. That, my friends, is progress. Here are some of my very faves from the day:

Paul Klee, Heldenmutter

Pablo Picasso, Les Femmes d'Alger

Rothko, No. 14

After the MOMA, we walked back to our hotel and then on to Chinatown for a Chinese dinner. Oh.My.Gosh. Nothing like authentic Chinese food in a tiny, cramped, hole in the wall. I even got a little authentic Chinese food on my favorite grey jacket. But with my tummy full of yummy food, well, I didn't mind so much.

More to come!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Wowsa! I have a lot to blog about over the next few days...I had a pretty rockin' weekend! It started with a visit from my mom, my sister Megan, my sister-in-law Lena, and Joan coming into town to see Wicked! I also decided to take Anna for the first time. So after the perfunctory pictures before we left for the show and a shot of all our crazy cute red shoes (Anna's sparkle ones were the biggest hit) we headed downtown for a fun dinner followed by the play. We had so much fun and it was especially magical to see Anna experience it for the first time...

Definitely a night to remember!