Sunday, December 28, 2008

May Be a Hundred Different Things

The phone rang and my dad picked it up. It was my brother in-law, Art. He was looking for my sister as he hadn't been able to get ahold of her. 

"Let me ask April," I hear my dad say. "Do you know what your sister was up to tonight?"

"Well, she was making the kids pancakes for dinner and then she was going to put them to bed early and probably do some laundry while watching A Very Brady Christmas," I told him.

"She wasn't going anywhere," my dad told Art.

The difference between men and women....

It's in the details!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Like a Perfect Scene from a Movie Screen

I try to live my life like a movie if at all possible. Some might think this is unrealistic. But I think it's a romantic way to liven up most any situation. And I often think, "this will make a very funny/dramatic/magical/scary/romantic/heart-wrenching scene to the movie of my life."

So imagine my delight when I found myself stuck on the BW parkway in the worst traffic jam on my way to the airport. Sure, at first I was a little nervous that I would miss my 5:15 flight. And I chided myself for getting caught up at work and not leaving earlier. But when the clock hit 4:30 and I still wasn't moving, my mind turned to "movie mode"and sitting there I went through, in detail, how I would miraculously make my flight.

First, I'd start honking in order to move through the traffic. When that proved useless, I'd take it to the shoulder, speeding past all the cars, off-roading if I had to, finding a little shortcut to take me right to the terminal. I'd forgo the long-term parking lot as that would take too much time, instead driving straight to the "departing flight zone." Nearly in tears I'd explain to the kind old man at the desk how I couldn't miss one of my best friends wedding. Lucky for me he's the kind of employee who believes cusomter service to be the most important part of his job. He worked for Southwest for 30 years and in that time never had a customer miss a flight. He'd take it personally upon himself to help me make my flight and he'd enlist the help of all his buddies so that in a matter of moments the whole Southwest team is cheering me on. One guy would take my car and park it safely in long-term parking. My kind buddy would escort me to the front of the security line, explain my plight to the TSA and they wouldn't even make me take off my shoes. The woman at the front would call the gate and tell them to hold the plane. Then I'd run full-speed down through the terminal, giving a final wave to my helpful crew. I'd laugh at the irony of my gate being the furtherst away, but I'd make it in the nick of time. The whole plane would cheer when I made it onboard. And I would be one lucky woman.

Do you want to know how my movie scene actually played out? After some banging on the steering wheel and a few hundred, "come on, come on, come on, come on," traffic finally let up. I sped very fast (sorry dad) and booked it to long-term parking where I then rushed with my heavy bags to catch the shuttle. Then I nervously jumped up and down waiting for the bus driver to let me off the shuttle and rudely cut everyone in line at the curb-side check-in. The woman at curb-side did not rally around me to assist, but she was quite dramatic in her response:

"M,am, it is way too late. I can't even check you in out here. You have to go inside."

I ran inside, thankful for no line and asked the woman at the desk if she thought I could make it. She didn't rush to my aid either.

"You're flight leaves in 10 minutes. There is no way you are going to make it. " Apparently she didn't realize who I was.

"Can I try?" I asked her.

"Sure, you can try."

And that's when I started running. I ran to security and begged my way to the front of the line (thank you again kind folks). I still had to take off my shoes, and I didn't even bother to put them back on as I ran to the gate, down the escalator and wait....A3??? That wasn't as long of a run as I had anticipated. No one cheered at my arrival. In fact, there were still lines of people waiting to board.

It didn't work out exactly as planned, but I still made my flight. There was a brief moment of panic when the flight attendant announced our departure for St. Louis and I thought in my haste I had accidentally boarded the wrong plane. I started to imagine the scene it would cause to have to bring the plane back, while all the passengers moaned and groaned.

"Where is this plane going?" I asked the man next to me.

"St. Louis."

I gave him a look of horror before he assured me that the plane would then head to Salt Lake. We laughed and laughed at my confusion. I think I'll give him a part in my movie.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Little Man

Remember when I saw this little nugget enter the world?

We've bonded. He loves me!

No Fear, No Fences, No Reins

* While reviewing some of my past posts that I never published, I found this which was written while still living at the Flanders house. I never finished writing it, but upon reading it felt it was an accurate description of my current mood.

I woke up this morning around 4 am for my routine bathroom break. I love looking at my clock and realizing I still have a couple of hours to sleep. Except this morning I couldn't fall back asleep as normal, which was quite frustrating. It was too noisy.

4 am seems like an odd time for the house to be noisy, but if you think about it, the quieter things are, the more actual noise is apparent. House noises never used to bother me much. But the older I get, the more fearful I am about monsters under the bed or hiding in the laundry room. Except my monsters usually take the form of scary men.

This morning I heard someone walking around upstairs and in my sleepy state I convinced myself that it had to be a "monster." Who else would be up and about walking around. It should have been very easy for me to hop out of bed, go upstairs and realize that no one was there, or find one of my roommates up for an early morning bathroom break like myself. But instead I just laid there in fear, thankful that my room is in the bottom far corner of the house, convinced that the cops would be on there way before he realized my room even existed. And I prayed that he wouldn't find my roommates either.

It wasn't long before I had worked myself into a frenzy, and each additional noise was evidence that the "monster" was still there. I heard the laundry room open and quickly hid under my covers for that meant he had found his way to the basement.

Even as I write this, I know it sounds very silly. But darkness and a half night's sleep often trump logic. And recent experiences have shown that sometimes your worst fear really is possible.

Fear is a debilitating thing. People hide behind it, use it as an excuse and if they aren't careful, spend their whole life in submission to what they fear most. I used to think I wasn't one of those people. But lately, I've been a lot more content to hide under my covers and hope that the monster doesn't come get me, rather than just getting up and destroying the monster myself. Fear is paralyzing.

I go through cycles of fear, most often around periods of great change in my life. About a year and a half ago, I was about to move, a move that brought nothing but positive things into my life, but prior to I could not see these positive things, I simply saw fear. One of my dear friends came over and amidst our conversation he taught me a great lesson he had learned about fear. Sometimes the adversary uses fear in our life to keep us from things that will bring the greatest good in our lives. It's a tool of discouragement, it keeps us from reaching our potential, it tries to stop us from developing greatness. I was blessed to learn this lesson at that time and it helped me take the leap I so desperately wanted to make.

Now, on the brink of more change, I find the same fear and I struggle to remember the lesson I once thought I had learned. And I can't seem to believe that things will work out, even though experience has proved it to me time and again. I've never been good at closing doors and looking for that window. Once when I was a lot younger, I shared a room with my oldest sister. And then a physical wall was put up and the rooms were alone and separate. I couldn't sleep I was so torn about my new surroundings. 

It's very easy to only see the walls and to qualify them as limiting. The hard part comes in learning to see past the things we fear are holding us back and to not focus on the walls we fear are keeping us from what we want. I made a goal when I turned 26 that I no longer wanted to live my life this way. I would move forward and not be held back. 

No fear, another mantra. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

A few more Mormon misconceptions.

I was laughing with my brother over the question I received at work.

Turns out, he's had a few funny encounters himself.

Here are two of my favorites:

Friend #1: Chad, I didn't know you drove a car.
Chad: Yeah, my horse and buggy are in the shop.

Friend #2: Do you guys believe in Thanksgiving?
Chad: No, we have nothing to be thankful for.

That Chad, always a jokester.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wrapped Around Her Finger

I wear a ring on my right-hand ring finger. I've worn it for 10 years. It used to be on my left-hand ring finger, but at the airport on my way to attend BYU for the very first time, my wise older sister advised me to switch it to my right-hand. "You wouldn't want people to get the wrong idea." So, I did. And it's been on my right-hand ever since.

It's a blue star sapphire and it once belonged to mom. She gave it to me when I was a young teenager. I wore it every so often, but it didn't become a permanent fixture on my hand until I was 16. I was visiting Utah for the first time, there to see a friend, see my sister (& her new fiance) and attend the ever popular EFY. I was gone for an entire month, which was the longest I had ever been away from home, ever. Those who know me should not be surprised when I say that I was extremely homesick.

One day I pulled out the ring - classic, simple and beautiful, just like my mother. I put it on and each time I looked at my hand, I was reminded of her and I was comforted. I have worn it ever since. I've come to love this ring. I love the hidden star that shines clearly in bright light. I love the simplistic setting of the stone. I love the rich blue color that never fades. I love that it reminds me of my mother.

So, imagine my horror when the other night I lost this ring which has become so dear to me. We were playing a game, a somewhat silly game, where the knocking of my ring on the table was an interference. So, I took it off and stuck it in my pocket. Right before I was about to leave, I reached in my pocket to find that the ring was no longer there. I searched every pocket on my person...three times. I searched the floor, and then frantically enlisted others for their help. I was almost in tears as our search proved futile. But, I wouldn't stop looking. And finally, Victoria saved the day when she found it hiding behind the stand-up poster of Steve Young. I was very happy.

I wear a ring that reminds me of my mother because every day I try to be like her. I don't know if she knows that. I don't think I've ever told her the story of why I first put her ring on so many years ago as a shy and unsure 16 year old, feeling scared and alone. The past 10 years I've had many similar moments, and each time it's my mother who helps me through. And though it's a simple piece of jewelry, it paints a beautiful image in my mind of the wonderful woman who has shaped my life, and the kind of woman I want to be.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A true Mormon mis-"conception."

Today at work a client asked me the following question:

"So, how do Mormons believe that babies are conceived?"

I'm sure I gave a confused look as I explained that Mormons believe that babies are conceived exactly the way babies are conceived. Then to make sure he understood, but without being too graphic, I added, "Physically there is only one way. We know that just like the rest of the world."

"Oh, okay."

He walked away content.

I walked away giggling. Really?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Li La Li (Pshhh) Li La Li Li Li La Li

Step 1: Fight for the song book
Step 2: Pick the perfect song
Step 3: Belt it out
Step 4: Add a few dance moves
Step 5: Repeat

I had a great birthday party this year ... a karaoke party, an "April-oke" party as my dear friends dubbed it. Kristy and Brittany were kind enough to host it at their Georgetown crib and it was a really great party. There was a good showing of friends and a fair amount of karaoke going on. They sang HB to me, I made a perfect wish and blew out the candle on my personal cheesecake (which I didn't eat due to goal #2 on the 26 things to do this year). I was then urged to karaoke the next song on cue, which happened to be "Takin' Care of Business," but I happen to hardly know that song, so it was not my finest hour. After the main party died down, we kept rockin' into the night...literally we didn't stop til 2 am. I'm talking show tunes, S&G and kick lines to New York, NY. It was absolutely a riot and I had a blast!

A big thanks to everyone who came and especially B & K for throwing such a fab affair!

Monday, November 3, 2008

This is How We Do It

I had the most fun this year with our Halloween costumes. Perhaps you remember our Christmas greeting from last year. Pure inspiration and one week of intense paper mache-ing and a Halloween miracle took place. We debuted our costumes at the annual barn dance. I danced the night away as best I could with no arms in a big, giant ball. I had myself a Halloween to remember.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

October...but you go on

I love October. It is my favorite month. And sadly, it is now over. But it was just as good as it always is. That's why I love October.

I also love Halloween, at least most things about Halloween. I don't like haunted houses with people running after me with chain saws or 7 foot gorillas ready to pounce. You gotta wonder about people who CHOOSE to work there.

But here are the things I do love about Halloween, October, and the beginning of Fall.

picking apples
crisp air
football season
homemade cider
festive parties
colorful leaves

I got a headstart on celebrations at the Brick House halloween party. I used to live at the Brick House for a year and half when I first moved to DC. I loved that house so it was fun to be there remembering exact memories.

The party was fantastic. Emme and I dressed up in her old tu-tus from when she was 14. I never was a dancer, though secretly I always did want to prance around in those little outfits. The Brick House is a perfect setting and was decorated with spider webs in all the right places. They even had a photographer doing photo shoots of everyone's costume. It quickly turned into a dance party and since I love to shake it, I spent the rest of the night on the dance floor. I even played DJ for a bit (Africa and Buddy Holly...too classic to pass up).

Here are the photo highlights:

At the gas station - of all the rotten times for the credit card machine to say "see attendant." Lucky for me, he loved the tu-tu. 
My favorite stop light
The amazing hosts at the Brick House.
The photo shoot
Shakin' it
Emme is a real dancer. I am a fake dancer.

This might be my favorite picture of all time. So much for looking tough.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

The other day I was going through my "trash" on my computer to permanently delete some items. I found some hilarious pictures of my two little sisters, Becca and Abbie. It seems they were using photobooth and tried to hide the evidence in the trash. Caught!!! Red-handed! It definitely brightened my day to find their goofy pictures. I love you Beck and Abbikins!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Next Thing on My List

The votes are in. They have been counted and recounted.

And the winning list is "26 things to do while I'm 26." And to my darling sister Abbie....someday I will tell you 26 things you don't know about me. 

I've thought a lot about this list today as there are many things that I hope to accomplish. Some things I can't define completely at this time. Some can be accomplished by fulfilling a skill. Others may require more than just this year to master. Some things I was hesitant to put on the list, as if I was saving it for some special reason, the same way I'd save a new outfit, waiting to unveil it at just the right event. But sometimes in saving things, I miss out. So, I came up with a list that includes things I've wanted to do, things I want to continue to do and things that will challenge me in every way. I think Toby Keith said it best: "Why put off for tomorrow, what I could get done today."

1. visit somewhere new, outside the United States
2. get back to my college weight (and maintain it)
3. buy a digital SLR camera
4. get those glasses/contacts the eye dr. said I needed
5. run a marathon
6. read my scriptures every day 
7. watch the 6 hour version of Pride and Prejudice
8. plant my own herbs
9. take a dance class
10. learn how to use photoshop
11. visit Nashville (perhaps while doing number 5)
12. get married
13. continue my education
14. learn and perfect one challenging piano piece
15. give away a Book of Mormon
16. try out for American Idol (just once)
17. learn to make homemade ravioli
18. give up resetting my alarm in the morning
19. see a need, fill it, repeat
20. start the personal history of my mom and dad 
21. learn italian (at least start)
22. give up wasting time
23. go parasailing
24. hug and kiss more often
25. sacrifice 
26. live my life 

Yes, it's gonna be a good year after all.

Sixteen (+10) Candles Make a Lovely Light

I'm turning 26 tomorrow.

In celebration, I was going to do a special blog post, but I started writing and the list ideas overflowed so that I couldn't decide which list to make.

The choice is now up to you.

On my birthday, I will post a list, comprising of 26 items. What would you like the list to... well, list.

26 things you don't know about me
26 things I want to do while I'm 26
26 things I've learned in 26 years
26 reasons I've enjoyed being 25
26 reasons I hate getting older
26.......fill in the blank!

So, time for a vote, since it is voting season. Let me know which list you want to see.

And for a little Tuesday treat, here's a quick "Cartwheel experiment" update. Things were going pretty well. I even included some of my co-workers and clients, which has resulted in a few inter-office cartwheel contests. Life was good. Then I sprained my ankle last week playing tennis. Honestly, it was the first time I've ever sprained my ankle. I may have thought in the past that I had sprained my ankle, but now I know those were mere twists. Suffice it to say that the "cartwheel a day" has been suspended while my left ankle returns to a normal size. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to bringing back "The Sprain," a dance made popular by Lisa Turtle and Screech, at this year's Halloween barn dance. You won't want to miss it.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Broken, Yet Moving Still

It's amazing the power that music has in my life and the powerful memories and feelings that flood into my life from one simple melody. Sometimes it creates energy, helping me finish an 8 mile race. Other times is brings the spirit, helping me worship with conviction. It makes me laugh and cry. Every song a memory, every playlist a connected event, every lyric capturing how I felt, how I feel, what I hope to one day...

The other night I was with some good friends. We had a fun cook out, then we sat around the patio sharing parts of ourselves, answering questions - how dorky were you as a child? what's your favorite birthday memory? what movie makes you cry? what's your theme song? what song makes your heart hurt?

Tonight in the process of organizing my itunes music (maybe the question should be how dorky am I now?) I came across a song I hadn't heard since it was first introduced to me...and it made my heart hurt, really hurt. I'm still listening to it, like perhaps overplaying it will make it just another song, disconnecting it from the memory that is bringing the pain. It's a happy moment, maybe one of the best, and perhaps that's why it hurts.

It's hard to know that certain moments will never be the same. It's aches to remember moments where I was at my best, where I was who I wanted to be and wonder if I'll ever be there again. Will I be awakened and alive the way I was at that moment? Will I feel such certainty? Will it finally be right? 

I hope in that moment a new song will be playing.

And the difference will be I won't have to replay it alone.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Baby Love, my Baby Love

Life doesn't get much cuter than this, folks. Here's baby Jack, on his blessing day, looking so handsome. He's growing fast, but still little enough that he likes to snuggle up close and not wiggle around. I love that.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Runnin' runnin' and runnin' runnin'

This weekend was the annual Akron Marathon in the great city of Akron, OH. This was my second year to participate in the event. Last year I ran my very first half-marathon with my sister Nikki. This year, we both joined a relay team and ran the 12k anchor leg.

It was a fun day. It started out perfect with homemade whole wheat pumpkin pancakes by my wonderful mom. Then we met a very friendly fellow on the shuttle to our starting point. Then we stood in a 2 mile long line for the bathroom. The weather was very nice for a 7.6 mile run, with only a mild chill in the air. The worst part of the race was waiting for my team member to come through so I could start. There was no way to tell when she would come so my nerves were getting the best of me. Plus my muscles were getting cold which added to my anxiousness. They were calling out numbers over the speaker, but the numbers were coming so fast, it was hard to tell if my number was one of them. Thankfully, I noticed her right away.

The first mile was rough, I think because I was so nervous and my legs felt shaky. The beginning of a long race is mentally tough for me, to remind myself not to think of how many miles I have to go and to just enjoy the run. I stuck by my motto: "slow and steady finishes the race." I was able to run the whole thing and didn't even stop during the water stations...just hurriedly tilted the cup towards my mouth hoping to get a good enough drink. I love that all of the neighbors sit outside to cheer on the runners. The course was a little different than the 1/2 marathon course and I actually liked it a lot better. We got to run through the grounds of Stan Hywett Hall. There's also a great downhill stretch with about 2 miles left where you run into downtown Akron past many of the shops and restaurants. It was then that I understood what "runner's high" meant. But, to assure my humility, the last mile kicked my bum. Still, nothing beats running into a stadium full of people shouting your name. Okay, so maybe it was only my family screaming my name, but it still felt good and I'm really glad they came to support me. In an effort to keep up with my "cartwheel experiment," I told my family I would try to cartwheel down the homestretch, but when the time came I could not follow through due to shaky ankles and a desire to not fall flat on my face. Maybe next time...

Other highlights include: Getting my Michelob Ultra with my beer ticket after the race. I ran just as hard as everyone so I though I should cash in on the goods. I wasn't actually going to drink it, maybe just marinate some brats in it or something...but my mom threw it away. Our matching orange shirts - combined with my black shorts and bright green shoes, I looked like I was dressed for Halloween. The neighborhood folks passing out cut up apples to the runners...gotta love those friendly neighbors. Having my ipod for the whole race, even though technically you are not supposed to use them. But technically, it helps me! More pumpkin pancakes after the race. Having my whole family (minus a few key members) with me after the race.

It was a good run. A good run indeed.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

You Can Do It (Put Your Back into It)

I was incredibly glued to the Olympics this year, especially the women's gymnastics. Like most, it has been one of my favorite events. One night, after hours of sitting in front of the TV watching gymnastics, we got inspired that we could actually do some of those moves. So out to the hallway we went to fulfill our secret gymnastic desires. My floor routine consisted of a simple cartwheel, followed by the more advanced round-off. We were having a great time, until Sutton's jeans ripped. Oops! Perhaps we should have changed into our red, white and blue velvet body suits before we started.

This got me to thinking - at 25 it is still relatively easy to do a cartwheel, though it had been years since I had last attempted and I know my form was not as graceful as it was when I was 8. And then I thought, how sad if one day I wake up and I can no longer do a cartwheel. What is it that causes our bodies to not be able to do things we once could? Part of it is our bodies grow old and they deteriorate and aren't as strong as they once were. But, if we keep working our muscles and stay active, we can slow down this process right?

So, I submit to you April's Cartwheel experiment. My hypothesis is this: If I do a cartwheel every day of my life, then I will always be able to do a cartwheel. I will be an 80 year cartwheeling woman. Obviously, this is a very longitudinal study and the actual results will not be conclusive for another 55 years. But, I'm going to test it out. If you want to join me, please do. If you want to share in your findings - is it getting easier, is your form improving, are you doing it every day, have you cartwheeled anywhere exotic - please do! Take pictures and share!

As for me, I will be cartwheeling through life from now on. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

You Shouldn't Kiss Me Like This

What do you like least about this kiss?

1. The excess saliva around her mouth
2. The single tear
3. The way her eyes go cross as she looks from his eyes to his mouth
4. The number of times she kisses the air before actually making contact with his lips

5. All of thee above

Didn't I tell you...worst kiss EVER!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Some Beach, Somwhere....

We spent the weekend at the beach for Labor Day. In one word, it was lovely. And sunny. And hilarious. Okay, that was three words, but it's really hard to sum up a fantastic weekend in just one word.

Friday night we were anticipating rain, but Heather willed it away, and by mid-morning Saturday, the sun was shining brightly over Ocean City and we were basking away, one last effort for a golden glow before the end of the summer. I spent a good amount of time swimming in the ocean to cool off, even though the waves were wild.

Later that day, we checked into our condo to find that it was perfect. It was on the top floor, a block from the beach with lots of natural light. We played numerous rounds of Catch Phrase while we waited for all 13 of us to de-sand and shower. There were only 2 showers, so you can imagine how long we were playing. But, I haven't laughed that hard in that game, ever! "It's a full moon. You're a grown boy who turns into a feral animal..." I'm not laughing as hard right now, but trust me it was funny! And a big shout out to Micah who assisted me in my time(s) of need. No, we weren't cheating. He was just being a good friend.

Watching the sunset from our balcony

Once we had our fill of Skittles and Peanut M&Ms, we headed out on the town for some delectable seafood - crabs, of course. YUM! Jon and I opted to split the dozen crabs and I'm glad we did...I could have never finished them all on my own. Maria, master crab opener, showed me the tricks of the crab mallet, and we felt like little scavengers as we pounded, cracked and peeled out that delectable meat! Another big shout out to Steph for pulling my hair back when my hands were crab covered, and allowing me to more effectively dive into that seafood goodness.

Beach Goers (minus E-rock...I don't know how he missed this)

Crab Feast

The rest of the evening went as follows: watching the worst movie kiss, actually the worst kiss of all time in Jane Austen's Pesuasion. Watch it for a hearty laugh and then do the exact opposite when you actually kiss someone. Contemplating whether to wake up Stephanie peacefully sleeping on the couch to get us some laffy taffy. I finally retrieved the bucket and luckily Steph woke up in time to enjoy some taffy thats laffy! A little pillow talk then off to dreamland.

Entertaining Pillow Talk

Sunday we took a leisurely drive to church. It was beautiful weather and we listened to Christmas music on the way home while making plans to dance with someone we love to "Christmas Time is Here" under the Christmas lights with the lingering scent of pine. Doesn't that sound delightful? We had a nice discussion on relationships and learned more about what not to do when kissing.

We crowded in the kitchen after church and it felt much like every Sunday at home - reaching for the nearest snack and then trading with the person next to you until you've all consumed unknown amounts of skittles, sun chips, popcorn, peanut m&m's, bagels and frozen fruit cups. We walked to the beach and I tried to nap on the sand, but it was a bit hard as the wind kept blowing up my Sunday best, not to mention it was HOT! So, we stood with our feet in the water instead.

Notice anything funny about this?

We prepared a delicious Sunday dinner together and it felt much like we lived in a musical, the musical being Mamma Mia! I like that I have friends who burst out into song, and I like that everyone joins in. Our tacos and rice were so good and a nice change to the loads of sugar I had been consuming.

After dinner entertainment consisted of NERTZ, lots and lots of rounds of NERTZ. Turns out this card game brings out hidden sides of everyone. Actual quotes include"I'll put out" and "What the eff?" We'll leave those as anonymous to protect the innocent. Let's just say Maria and I developed a nice system that put us hundreds of points above our competition. And for that I give a big shout out to Maria.

NERTZ champions!

We went to Seacrets that evening to watch some fireworks, then took an enchanting stroll on the beach. The tide was very high so we rolled up our pants, kicked off our flops (which almost got swept away during a cartwheel contest) and strolled along. It was so relaxing.

Back at the condo we munched some more - leftover tacos, cereal and chocolate chip cookies. We sat around and tried to play the sign game, but it didn't work out too well as certain players were sending out multiple signs. We opted for Catch Phrase and perhaps the best answer was given as I was trying to describe "Red China." Heather chimed in with "Beijing Pink." Close enough! Steph treated me to a massage and we giggled into the night. Or laughed hysterically. It was real fun.

Monday, our last day of fun in the sun was spent appropriately at the beach. The waves were vicious, stronger than I've ever experienced. But I couldn't resist them and though I was getting thrashed, I kept going back for more. More than a few times I was knocked over and was twisted in multiple directions under the water. The water is very powerful. I took a long "laying out" break. Some played bocce, some read, some stayed in the was a very relaxed day. Nikki treated us to fresh made grilled cheese and the best milkshake. A tasty shout out to Nikki for the best beach lunch ever (I think Maria helped). I spent some more time in the waves, but was too nervous to try boogie boarding. The waves were too crazy and then the lifeguard told us we were going to get swept by the rip tide. It was definitely time to head in for the day.

Showered and clean we all headed out around 5:00. One quick stop at The Candy Kitchen which is almost like Candyland in real life and we were on the road. It was definitely a much needed vacation and a final shout out to Nikki, Brittany, Kristy, Claire, Heather, Micah, Mark, Joseph, Jon, Stephanie, Maria, Zach, Andrew and Eric. Thanks for a great weekend!