Monterey Bay Aquariumby Angie

19 Jan 2008
6:01 pm

Monterey Bay Aquarium

Yesterday was amazing! Since Jim and Justin had the day off (they’re both on a 9/80 schedule at work, so they get every other Friday off), we spent the day with the Bradleys at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It’s a long drive – about two hours each way – but it was quite a treat to make the trip together. First, we watched a diver feeding fish in a kelp forest and learned about making seafood choices that are friendly to the environment. We saw two giant octopuses, huge crabs, jellyfish, sea otters, sting rays, different kinds of birds, snakes, frogs, and – of course – amazing varieties of fish! They have some fun “Touch Pools” where kids (and grown-ups!) can actually reach in and safely poke around at kelp, sea urchins, abalone, starfish, and more. Maddie was patient and peaceful in her stroller the entire time, and attracted lots of admiration from passers-by. Emily was just a whirlwind of interest and energy all day. Thank goodness for the kids’ play areas! The slide was, apparently, Emily’s favorite.

When we were all sufficiently exhausted, we headed over to the wharf and had dinner at the Old Fisherman’s Grotto, which won over the other options with the promise of deep-fried cheesecake. For the first time in my life, I had fresh steamed crab. It tasted good, but I really couldn’t get over having to crack open the stiff, spiky legs and scooping the meat out from the crevices inside. The fact that Jim demonstrated tugging the remaining tendons to make the leg joints move and claw pinch didn’t help my appetite for the dish. We also had delicious deep-fried asparagus hearts, which were so good that Jim and I looked at each other in delight and – of course – said, “What a great idea! We should make these at home!” The meal ended with the aforementioned deep-fried cheesecake with strawberry sauce, and a scoop of birthday ice cream for Kristyn.

P.S. Rebecca won the contest for identifying the source of our tag line – check back tomorrow to see her prize!

Here Comes Santa Claus!by Angie

19 Dec 2007
10:12 pm

Jim and I made jam this week so we could take jars of it to our friends for Christmas. Today, I got them all decorated and super cute so that tonight we could deliver them. When we pulled up at the Coolbears’ house, we saw Brother & Sister Coolbear and their daughter Kayla, along with another girl her age, walking down the sidewalk! We pulled up and told them we had come to bring them a Christmas treat, and they invited us to join them in caroling to another family in the ward who lives across the street. We parked the car, climbed out, gave them their jam, and followed them to the Allens’ house. They told us to sing “Jingle Bells” and then just the first line of “Here comes Santa Claus.” Well, we rang the doorbell, and when Sister Allen answered, we all sang a slightly out of tune but enthusiastic rendition of “Jingle Bells.” Then, as instructed, we sang the first line of “Here Comes Santa Claus”…and Santa himself came running up the walk from behind us!

We were all invited inside, where Santa made himself at home in a big chair, and asked, “Is there a ‘Carter’ in this house?” and then asked for each family member by name, at which point they would go sit on his knee and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. Santa would check his list and give them a little gift. After both Sister and Brother Allen had taken a turn, Santa then said, “Is there an ‘Angela’ in this house?” I looked around, thinking there was a daughter I had missed…but after a beat, I realized that everyone was looking at me!

So, yes, I got to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what I wanted for Christmas, and so did Jim. We said we wanted to fly to Utah and visit our families and see my cousin get married, and he said he could arrange that.  That Santa is pretty amazing – now we’re at home, packing for the trip to Utah we asked for!  :)

A New Friend for Jaquieby Angie

28 Nov 2007
10:11 am

Now that we’re home, I wanted to post a follow-up on my previous cat-sitting dilemma. Actually, there was a great lesson learned from it: Relief Society Presidents know everything. It’s true – I told our ward Relief Society President my strange problem, and immediately she responded, “Kayla Coolbear. She’s your girl.”

And she was! Kayla is a college student who lives with her parents, in our ward. I met her before we left and tried to introduce her to Jaquie, but she ran under the bed and hid (Jaquie did, not Kayla). I apologized, but Kayla told me that she also has a very shy cat, so she completely understood the reaction, and didn’t mind taking some time to gain Jaquie’s trust. She was wonderful!

When we arrived home late Sunday night, Jaquie was very pleased to see us, but she wasn’t totally wild all night or the next day, like she was the last time we left town. I really think it went well, and I’m glad Jaquie has a new friend.

Airport Securityby Angie

26 Nov 2007
3:11 pm

So, last night, we were standing in the security line at the airport, getting ready to head home from Portland. I left my shoes and purse with Jim and stepped out of line to inform one of the security personnel that I have a pacemaker (which means they don’t let me through the metal detectors – they have to pat me down instead). The man I spoke with said to stand to the side for a minute and a woman would be with me shortly to screen me.

I happened to be standing near a thin, elderly woman, when the female attendant came over. The security woman walked straight up to this older lady and said kindly, “I’m here to pat you down because of your pacemaker.” The poor lady looked positively alarmed and stammered, “I-I don’t have any pacemaker!” I felt so bad for her! I jumped in and showed the woman my pacemaker card: she looked very surprised, but the harassed-looking older lady was immensely relieved. Jim and I had a good laugh about it as we headed to our gate.

That was the most eventful moment of our trip home, except perhaps our first few minutes back with Jaquie, which were filled with much joy and purring. It was a wonderful vacation, but it’s also good to be home.

Portlandby Angie

22 Nov 2007
7:11 pm

Here we are in Portland, visiting Joseph & Kelly (Jim’s brother and sister-in-law) for Thanksgiving. It’s a big Hoffman family gathering, since Jim’s parents and brother, Jon, are all here to celebrate with us. Jim and I left at about 7am, and were met at the Portland Airport by Jon and Roger, who had just flown in from Utah as well. Here at Joseph and Kelly’s house, we spent the afternoon cooking, chatting, and taking turns with the little boys (Isaac and baby Eli). As Kelly and I were making dinner, we sent the men out to gather firewood, so this evening we could enjoy a fire in their old-fashioned wood-burning stove.

Dinner was… Jambalaya! Ok, I’m teasing. Well, we did have jambalaya for dinner, but that’s because we’re going to have our traditional Thanksgiving feast (read: “turkey”) tomorrow, when we’ll have the whole day together to prepare it. Now that we’ve eaten and cleaned up dinner, Jim and Jon are working on our cozy fire.

Despite our delayed feast, I’d like to end my Thanksgiving Day post with some of my most precious blessings: I am so grateful for my wonderful husband, my amazing family (on both sides!), and for the gospel that has blessed every day of my life. We’ve been so blessed, in this new phase of our lives, to have a job and a fair amount of security, and a wonderful ward and new friends to help us along.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Autumnby Angie

17 Nov 2007
6:11 pm

When I was little, my mom wrote a song called “Days, Months, and Seasons.” I remember thinking that it was pretty silly of her to say in the lyrics that Winter starts in December, since where I lived (which, to a kid, is the whole world) we often had snow on the ground by Halloween. Well, here in California, I have discovered that November really is part of Fall! The trees are slowly changing colors, and the perfect weather makes it feel like just the first tinglings of Autumn.

We visited the Oakland Temple today, and it is a beautiful drive. For the last few miles, you drive on CA 13, which is a little 2-lane highway that diverts off I-580. Much of it is uphill as you drive north, and both sides of the freeway are covered with dense trees and thick foliage. Off to the left (to the West) there are a few breaks in the trees, and once in a while and you can catch glimpses of the Bay. Up at the temple, there is a gorgeous vista overlooking the Bay and San Francisco on the far side.

I love it here!