Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Snowflake 3.0

This weekend was time for the third annual Snowflake, AZ trip. It is a very welcomed escape from the valley heat. We are glad the Baers could make it with us again this year!

The agenda...
Wake up really early. Drive 3 hours. Avoid overheating the car. See the beautiful, Snowflake temple on top of the plateau as you drive over the hill.

We did a temple session which is perfect because the Mesa temple is closed.

After the temple, we had lunch at none other than the Skillet. For the past two years, we pretty much could pick any seat in the house at the Skillet, but Saturday was quite the different story! See the crowd we had to fight to get our sweet table? (That's why the bottom three are blurry.)

Lesson learned last year, the hamburgers are good!

Up next was the golf course. It's such a fun course. And this is coming from the non-golfer. I did take some fun swings though. Look at me keeping my eye on the ball.

Maybe one day I'll be a golfer...

Everyone else did great though...

Good form, sweetheart!

With colors like these, who wouldn't have jumping pictures?
Sorry for the tank top showing...

Best Picture of the Day...

I enjoyed my Big Bikkie imitation. Then we enjoyed the ride home. It was great being with friends and taking in the view!

Dear Snowflake,
See you next year!
Love, The Shields

Monday, July 25, 2011

Sad, sad day...

So yesterday was free spay/neuter day and so we took our puppy there. Michael found out that they don't do that many so he woke up at 3:30 AM to take her there and there were people already there! He dropped her off and came home around 7:30 AM. Then we got ready for church. (Sorry for the blurry pic)

Our puppy didn't get home until 9:00 PM. There were complications and she ended up having to go into two more surgeries. I was there from 2:30-4:30 and watched all the other dogs walk on out of the clinic. Except ours. Michael stayed until she was finally able to go home. Even then, she couldn't walk.

The vet didn't think she would make it out of the second surgery but after the third, her vitals were looking better. It was a VERY long day. And a VERY, VERY long night thanks to her pain and the HUGE monsoon storm.

Fortunately, she was able to sit up this morning and waited for Michael to wake up so that she could go to the bathroom. She is walking, eating, taking her meds, and even wagging her tail sometimes. So we hope she is permanently getting better. Poor girl!

I'm telling you, it's amazing how close these crazy pooches are to us. It felt like my own baby was having all these surgeries. It was a sad day!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Foreboding, isn't it?

Not only are the weather reports reporting 112 degrees with 20% humidity foreboding, but so is seeing this coming your way...

This, my friends, is a haboob. Yep that's what a giant wall of dust and crazy wind is called. You can tell how dusty it is from the haziness of the pictures. It's our second one this season. Our last one...

...made some national headlines. That's pretty sweet, but clean up/dusting afterward is not my favorite.

Sunshine on one side...

and this from the other direction...

Monsoon season 2011 is definitely here!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Summer Reading Lists

What kind of teacher would I be if I didn't do some reading during my summer vacation? Luckily, I have had some phenomenal reads...

Including refalling in love with this classic...

"Pride & Prejudice" is definitely timeless. I can read (and watch the BBC version) again and again and I still anxiously wait for Darcy & Elizabeth and Bingley & Jane to fall in love. Not to mention Austen's clever wit that makes everything still connectable to our time.

I also read...

This book had an intriguing plot, however I was disappointed with the "worldly" things that were unnecessarily thrown into the book. That's why I usually only read kids books. I'll bet the movie is good though since it won't be as detailed as the book.

Next came one of my new favorites...

I CANNOT wait for this movie to come out. I had heard about this book awhile ago, but because of my anti-adult literature mind, I didn't start it until now. And just like many characters in the book, I did not know what I was missing! It is such a good book. I absolutely LOVED, loved it. In case you didn't catch that, there are TWO Loved(s). Unlike the rest of these books, I didn't read, "The Help" on my kindle because I was hesitant to buy it, but I'm probably going to purchase it just so I can read it again and again! (Thanks for letting me borrow it, Jenni!)

Next came this sea breeze...

"Turtle in Paradise" is written by one of my all time favorite authors. There are not many literary works that have made me fall in love as much as Holm's "Boston Jane" trilogy. SO GREAT! Although "Turtle in Paradise" didn't have a love story, it was still a breath of fresh air from the Florida Keys. I started and finished while I was waiting for my car to be fixed. The back window wasn't rolling up and in the az heat- that no work. So it was definitely delightful to take a trip to the beach with the Conches while I was waiting.

Today I read...

"We're lucky some people are so full of goodness."

My wonderful, librarian mother told me to read "Turtle" and she has been asking me daily if I had finished "Because of Mr. Terupt." Today, I could tell her that I had. It was a quick read, but boy was I bawling! This one will definitely pull the heart strings of any teacher or anyone who has had a good teacher or anyone who has seen the genuine innocence of a child. It definitely helped me get my teacher engines going again. Just a few more weeks...

Have you read any of these? What's next? I need some suggestions....please.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Food, glorious food...

So I really don't like going grocery shopping. I just don't. Sadly, neither does Michael. That means we get pretty resourceful when it's meal time and we don't have milk, eggs, bread, chicken, fresh produce, canned veggies...anything. Michael and I had crackers for breakfast yesterday! Haha! Lame! I guess that's one plus about us not having kids yet. Otherwise we'd be border line negligent parents. No worries, we've promised each other to go grocery shopping tomorrow. or Saturday. Maybe Monday. We'll see.
This lack of desire to grocery shop has made me remember our lives at the beginning of the summer where we had an endless supply of food at our finger tips or just a room service call away. All inclusive. Seriously. Cruise ships are the dream. And I really mean it when I say food brings people together. We were on a ship that promoted freestyle dining so we could go to dinner whenever we wanted. We enjoyed going to the sit down restaurants with all 6 of us.

Michael enjoyed eating at the buffet and then going to our 3 course dinner AND THEN ordering room service!!! Seriously. I had NO idea my husband could handle that much food. THREE Dinners! Yowzers.

I enjoyed being able to have hot chocolate on brisk, rainy days.

We had two days at sea over our trip, which was nice to be able to sit, relax, eat, read, etc. We also had beautiful weather. This was my view... nice crowd eh?

Of course, the towel animals are the cherry on top...

Guess how old my husband is? He hearts shuffleboard!

We had so much fun!

And we enjoyed riding off into the sunset!

Now we have been back for over a month, we need to go grocery shopping and my contract time starts again in two weeks...BUMMER! Talk about a reality check...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mom! Look what I drew!

My little neighbor boy who is 5 said, "Sister Shields, may I do this dot to dot."
(He really calls me Sister Shields and he really says may I. He's super refined.)
I said, "Of course you can!"
(It's the back of an old Better Homes and Garden Magazine.)
He did a great job and his counting was superb.

But when he said, "Mom! Look what I drew!" We realized why that magazine would have a dot to dot on the back. It was an ad, of course. An ad that might be a little too spicy for a 5 yr. old.

As it didn't phase him at all, you could tell he only has brothers!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Nynashamn [ni-na-saw-mmmn]

Our last port of call was in Nynashamn, Sweden! It was an hour outside of Stockholm, so we were debating to take the bus excursion from the ship, but Michael & I ended up deciding not to. We wanted to see the little town of Nynashamn. We had to take the little boats to shore...

such pretty places!

When we got there, we realized it was a Swedish holiday so NOTHING was opened, however, there was a train going into Stockholm. So we thought- why not? Better yet, since the ticket office wasn't opened yet, the train conductor just said we could get on! Sweet! Free ticket into the city an hour away!

So we got into the city and quickly tried to piece together what we wanted to see. We found a museum by the sea that had quite the history. A giant ship was created to symbolize power in every single way possible. In 1628, the Vasa started it's maiden voyage and 1300 meters later, it sank. Just off of Stockholm's shores is where it stayed until 1961. Then the ship was pulled up, restored and a museum was built surrounding it right on the water. In 1990, the museum was finally opened and on June 2, 2011 we got to enjoy it!

Here's the outside of it, you can see the masts sticking up in the back.

Here's the ship in all her glory
It is an amazing story and a really intriguing museum since the ship is soooo old and the museum is soooo new. It's amazing what the restoration process was.

We spent the rest of the morning seeing the city and getting a lunch from street vendors.

Have I mentioned how much I love cities on the water? Good thing we live in Arizona!

We then took the train ride back to Nynashamn (and barely made the one we wanted by one minute-phew!- this may or may not have involved some running through the station.) When we got back Nynashamn looked completely different. It was no longer a ghost town! It was a delightful, nautical town! (And their visitor's center had free internet! -cherry on top!)

It was a great day with beautiful weather! It was a calming, last stop for our cruise.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What the Helsinki!?

After St. Petersburg, we had two more cities to stop at. They were nice because we didn't have any tours, we just walked and enjoyed the cities by the sea. We are pretty spoiled because after the elaborate Russia, everything seemed a lot more 'plain' and redundant. How lame is that? Here we are in Europe and we're saying there's no gold in here or there's another mural. Haha!
Luckily, Helsinki is a beautiful city and the Finnish people are super nice. We got into the city and thought we had gotten onto the wrong train...
Gotham City anyone?
I think this was their inspiration.

Then, we took a ferry to an old fortress that is now this sweet little town. It was very quaint and a beautiful day to walk around. It kind of reminded me of Antelope Island, minus the stinky brine shrimp and all the gnats.

After the fortress, we walked around the beautiful city seeing the cathedrals and cobble stoned streets. We are in Europe after all...

Now that we are back in the desert, I sure do miss seeing green trees,
ancient cathedrals and the pretty seascapes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Rumors of St. Petersburg

Day two of St. Petersburg was just as jammed pack as day one. We started with the Hermitage!

The Hermitage was formerly the winter palace of the imperial family (aka Anastasia) but it is now a museum that competes with the Louvre on how many pieces of art each has. They said that is you were to see every piece of art in the Hermitage for one minute, from opening to closing you would need 11 years! I doubt I could give every piece a minute but that's pretty insane.
I loved it!

After the museum, we saw a few more cathedrals.

Including the cathedral that has the tombs of all the imperial families including Anastasia's (pictured above.) I still LOVE the cartoon "Anastasia" and all the songs were stuck in my head the entire time we were there. However, the film is far far from what actually happened. I guess it was Anastasia's sister and brother who were missing and so they just found their remains and will bury them with the family as well. It's just an interesting mystery.

That afternoon, we went on nice boat ride around the city.

When we got off the boat we had a real Russian lunch with a bunch of other tour groups. A man in our group was very happy to find out that all six of us don't drink so that he could get our beers that came with the meal. Good thing he wasn't our driver!

After lunch, we went to the Tsar's cousin's palace. That's right- even the long, lost cousin got a sweet palace. The size of it was nothing compared to the Imperial Family's palaces, but it did have a theatre room. (compliments of google image)

It was a beautiful palace, but so are they all. This one also had some crazy history to go with it. There was a certain 'medicine man' that's influence over the Tsarista had the family worried so this cousin invited the medicine man over to his palace's basement for lunch that had been poisoned. But the poisoned lunch did not kill Rasputin so the cousin shot him. He went to get guards to help and when they got back, Rasputin was not there! He was running away so they gunned him down again and wrapped him in a rug and threw his body into the freezing river.
When they found his body and gave him an autopsy, there was water in his lungs! He died from drowning! Not the poison or the gun shots, but drowning. Seriously creepy stuff. Because of all this history, they have a diorama set up in the basement to tell the history. And we got to see it all!

It was completely surreal to actually be in Russia and see how unbelievable and different it is. But it was a beautiful two days and I loved my babushka scarf that husband bought for me using all that Russian speaking of his!