Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November 11th

Monday, November 2, 2009

Arizona Gothic

So Kohler picks up the hot-dog fork and says… Hey lets make a picture like that one painting. We could have worked a little harder at copying. We were working from memory.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

AZ Camping – Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument

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One Friday afternoon after work I packed the kids into the car and we drove off into the desert. We love camping. I grew up in Western Washington. I don’t remember many camping trips in Washington when there wasn’t rain. Camping in Arizona is a different story.

It was late afternoon when we arrived. It was still well over 100 degrees. There was one thing that would make it so that I would enjoy myself no matter how hot it got. I got an e-mail from the Department of Homeland Security on our way out of town. The e-mail said that the Department of Homeland Security approved our application for a fiancé visa and they were going to send it to the National Visa Center for further processing. YAY!

We choose a campground that was away from the National Park facilities. We setup the camp. It was Kohler’s job to take fotos as we pitched the tent.

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One good thing about the heat was that it appeared that we were the only ones brave enough or stupid enough to be out there camping. We had the campsite all to ourselves. Kohler took full advantage of this. He was as loud as he could possibly be.

We went on a hike. It was only supposed to be a couple of miles so I wore my Brazilian flip-flops. There was a dried up cactus on the ground. I kicked it. The spikes went all the way through my flip-flops. I spent the rest of the night pulling spikes out of my foot and my flip-flop.

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The cactus were really sharp as Dylan demonstrated for us.

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It was still fun though. There was an old abandoned ranch-house and coral. It was great to explore.

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The kids freaked themselves out a little bit with ghosts and spiders and snakes. I’m pretty certain we did not see any of those things.

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We hurried back to the campsite and I started dinner. There are few things that taste as good as meat cooked over hardwood charcoal.

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Dinner was good. The sunset was awe inspiring. The kids settled in to their tent. We played a game together. Dylan played us a part of a song from his Zune, and we guessed the name. I did okay, even with the new stuff.

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Every once in awhile I would sneak away to take fotos.

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The next day we explored Tombstone, AZ. The kids really enjoyed it. That night we watched the movie. Kohler couldn’t believe that we were just there! It was exciting for him.

It was a great weekend spent with the kids. I loved the fotos I got. I loved the games that we played and the memories that we made. The best part was that we were one step closer to getting our visa.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kohler’s Annual Birthday Trip

In our family Kohler has the unique distinction of having a birthday in the middle of summer vacation, right before the 4th of July Holiday. For the past two years I have taken the kids to the national park of Kohler’s choice as part of his Birthday present. Last year we went to Mt. Rushmore. This year Kohler decided to go to the Grand Canyon.

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The canyon is amazing. As you walk up to the edge you suddenly see how gianormous the canyon is. You suddenly feel small and insignificant. There are places that you can stand at the edge of this enormous canyon where you can see the curvature of the Earth. You get an impression of just how big the world is. It is almost unfathomable.

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At first you do not feel safe standing at the edge. In many places the drop to the next step is not as far as it appears when you are further from the edge. Dylan and Kohler saw this right away. Sierra did not get close enough to the edge to see this until later. She could not understand why Dylan and Kohler were jumping around all over the place so close to the edge.  It took her hours to get enough courage to walk up and peek over. Even when the drop is not so far you still get the feeling of vertigo when you look up and out over the expansive canyon.

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Sunset was the greatest. The canyon lit with a dizzying array of colors, tints, and hues. We were rained on. We were haled on. It was well worth the wait.

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Kohler did NOT like it when the rain made it so his hair lost it’s fluff.

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Sunset  was when Sierra finally got brave enough to go to the edge.

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I LOVE the colors that come out at sunset. Skin tones are much more rich.

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Even I looked okay with the canyon behind me.

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Bothers and sister goofed off together as always

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We explored.

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The park's architecture was impressive.

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Thanks Kohler! It was another fantastic summer vacation.

Hmmmm. Where will you choose next year?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rich in Beauty

I love to visit Alto do Mandu. This is the area where my fiancé lives.


Alto do Mandu is built on a hill and from this view you can acres of palm trees and heavens of blue skies with fluffy clouds. I love these steps that bring you right up to the house that my fiancé lives in. The walls are covered in moss alive with scurries of geckos.  Sunsets from this vantage are breathtaking.

Alto do Mandu may not be the most wealthy neighborhood in Recife but it’s beauty is priceless.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

DanBings for Breakfast

Lately I’ve been paying Sierra to scan old fotos of my mission etc…

Some of the fotos that really brought back a bunch of memories were from my first area in HuaLien County. We went to the same place for breakfast every morning. It was my first exposure to Chinese breakfasts. I had never considered Chinese food for breakfast before, and I was reluctant to try it my first morning in Taiwan. It was AMAZING! One of the things I liked most mornings were DanBing and DoJiang cold. Dan Bing translates as egg cookie. DoJiang is simply soymilk. I missed soymilk so much when I got back to the United States that I made it myself from scratch several times. I’m so grateful that I can walk into any grocery store now and find it. The plain stuff is almost the same as what we drank in Taiwan.

Since scanning those fotos I have been craving DanBings. To my surprise my kids love them. Kohler was afraid to try them last weekend. Today he asked for them! I was happy to oblige his wish this morning.

Here is how I made them.

#1 You start with green onions and you chop them up finely.

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#2  You beat 2 eggs. I use egg beaters. They are better for you and you don’t have to beat them. Then stir in the chopped onions. To make it authentic add some white pepper. (some people don’t like white pepper. I LOVE IT!)

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#3 I use two frying pans this makes it much easier. Heat them both up on the stove with a little oil or a spray of PAM.  You can use spring roll wraps or the raw tortillas from Costco. Lightly fry one side of the wrap.

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#4 In the other pan pour the egg-onion mixture.

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#5 Place the wrap fried side down on top of the cooking egg mixture.

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#6 When the egg starts to firm up flip both the egg and the wrap into the other pan.

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#7 When the wrap starts to brown fold it in thirds.

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#8 Cut it into bite sized strips.

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#9 Dress it with chili paste and soy sauce.

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#10 Finally watch your kids gobble them up. Sorry Kohl, I should have taken another foto, your eyes are a little funny in this foto. But you CAN tell that you enjoy it.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Alto do Mandu

A few of the days that I was in Brazil in February Cynthia had to work. This was a good opportunity to work on my Portuguese with these two ladies, Cynthia’s Mom, and Grandma.

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They are two of the most fun ladies I know.  This day I talked them into going for a walk with me around Cynthia’s neighborhood, Alto do Mandu. This is a beautiful part of the city. The neighborhood is built on a pretty tall hill that Cynthia’s family lives at the top of.  The family has lived there for generations and many of her cousins live close by. Evenings spent in Alto do Mandu are often enjoyed out side talking to the neighbors. It is a very fun place to live.

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Mom and Grandma love to laugh. My Portuguese is not very good at all but they are still a joy to be around. They truly know how to have a good time. They KNOW how to have joy.

We walked down the hill, around the hill and then back up the hill on the other side.

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We only stopped for a rest once. That break was filled with laughter also.

When we got back Mom and Grandma waived their arms in the air and yelled:  ‘Chegamos, chegamos!’ ‘We’re back, We’re back!’

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This was another treasured memory from my trip to Brazil.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I like food. If someone calls it food, I will probably put it in my mouth. In any part of the world my favorite food is street food. In China there are some street foods that I would steer away from. There are still many that I like. My favorite above all is the stuff that is barbequed over hot charcoal. I love being in a place overseas and smell that sizzling meat over wood smoke smell. My mouth will water immediately.

In India a couple of years ago I went to a Muslim section in Delhi. I walked hundreds of yards through this alley that was filled with people that appeared to step out of the past. The alley was packed with humanity. No one was in western dress. It was all ankle length robes and beards. There were beggars in the muck. I was greeted with strange stares. It seemed that their eyes were saying… 'I wasn’t expecting an American here.' I was driven. I was driven by that meat and charcoal smell. Finally I found it. Grilled skewers of lamb meat and onions were my reward. It had been covered in garlic and fiery curry style spices. It was heaven in my mouth.

It was hot and humid my last Saturday in Brazil. Cynthia had to work half a day. It was difficult to be away from her after the amazing weekend and start of the week that we had alone together in Porto de Galinhas. I was grateful for the time that we were going to have together. Cynthia’s Sister drove me to her work to pick her up.

The first news was not good. Cynthia had lost her position in the company. It was really still a new job. She was only just at the end of her three month probation period. I felt that perhaps the company had just used Cynthia in a dishonest way to cover for an administrative assistant that was out on maternity leave. When this other employee came back to work, they told Cynthia that she was no longer needed.

This was very difficult to swallow. Cynthia really amazed me. She expressed her feelings about it. What amazed me was her faith in Heavenly Father’s hand in her life. She was able to look at her situation with an eternal perspective, and honestly say; “Heavenly Father has something else in store for me, and I will be okay.”

We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon and the evening. We spent the afternoon on the temple grounds talking and taking pictures. We talked about future possibilities. A real blessing to me was to be able to be there while the love of my life suffered this set back. I never feel so helpless than when my love is suffering and there is little I can do because of the 7500 miles that separate us.


We ended the day at one of those amazing street vendors selling ‘spitinho’. This is the Brazilian version of barbequed meat on the street. It was amazing. I have been trying to replicate the end result ever since. My favorite part is this garlic sauce that they put on it with crunchy flavored manioc crust on top called ‘farofa’.

Any moment I spend with Cynthia is a treasured memory. This tender afternoon and evening was tinged with sadness. It reset our perspectives. It allowed us to test our faith in Heavenly Father’s hand in our lives. This memory will stand out in my life as the cream of a treasured moments. I am so grateful that I could be with my honeysinha on that day.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Mermaid and Me

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This experience was so much fun! I just HAVE to share it. Cynthia and I spent a few days in this very small beach town over Carnaval by ourselves.  The first day we were there we didn't bring the snorkel stuff because we wanted to take fotos and we were afraid that if we went swimming together and left our stuff at the beach, our stuff would get stolen. This was a pretty good bet. The beach was CROWDED for Carnaval.

On Monday I convinced Cynthia to only take stuff that we didn't mind to get stolen so that we could go snorkeling. I am pretty sure Cynthia didn't quite see what was going to be so wonderful. I have seen some cool things snorkeling before. I was excited to see what these reefs at Porto de Galinhas had to offer.  We went out soon after we got to the beach that morning.  Cynthia was a little bit apprehensive at first. I don't think she trusted herself as a swimmer.

Soon she got the hang of it. It turned out she did great. The fish were spectacular.

There were many fish and all kinds of spectacular colors. Bright yellows. Bright blues. There some red fish, and some brightly colored orange and cream striped fish.   sometimes we would be swimming along and suddenly there would be schools of thousands of fish right below us as far as we could see. It was unbelievable.

As long as I was holding her hand or had my hand on her back Cynthia was willing to keep going. 

When she started seeing the fish she got more excited that I did. It became incredibly fun to watch. If I saw a fish I would quickly look at Cynthia to see if she saw it also. I would hear her squeal with glee... and she would point. She would get so excited it became more fun for me to watch her that it was for me to watch the fish.

We swam until we feared we were getting sun-burned.  there was a part of the reef way off in the distance where many boats were. I thought it would be fun to swim out there and see the fish out there.  But it was very very far. I think Cynthia was nervous about swimming out so far away from the beach. But she really enjoyed snorkeling and she really enjoyed the fish. I was proud of her.

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The next day we went snorkeling again. This time Cynthia was much more brave. We swam out to those boats that Cynthia is pointing at and we swam back. IT WAS FANTASTIC.  We even swam past the firemen on the wave-runners telling other swimmers to go back because they were not swimming very well. 

Snorkeling will be something we certainly do again.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Porto de Galinhas

I've been in Arizona for almost a month now. So far I'm really enjoying it. Sierra was here last week. For her Birthday present I bought her a plane ticket and we spent the weekend together.

On Friday we went camping out in the desert with the two Lignell families. It was fantastic. I love the desert at night. Even though the moon was bright you could still see the stars way better than from the city. You could see the splash of the milky-way through the middle of the sky. That spiral arm of the galaxy that are distant members of.


It was fun to go camping in January. the fun part was that it felt like a Northwest Washington summer.

We went swimming every day she was here. It was sunny and warm.

I was sad to see her leave. I'm so glad she and her brothers will be back this weekend. It gives me something great to look forward to in a time that may otherwise be yucky.

It's been raining the past couple of days here in AZ. It hasn't been warm either. I'm glad to know that it can rain, but it makes me even more excited for the other thing I have to look forward to. The week after next I'm leave for carnaval vacation in Brazil with my fiancé.

We are going to spend some time in Porto de Galinhas. This has become one of my favorite spots in the world. Porto de Galinhas has beautiful beaches, sun, warm surf, and the town is just a little out of the way beach town. It will be a fantastic place for a vacation.

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I hope to have many more vacations in this spot or spots similar to this.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama... What Would Reagan Do?

Yesterday was great occasion. For obvious reasons it was a proud day to be an American. I didn't vote for Obama, but he is my President. I will support him. I will also speak out against his policies when I believe that they are flawed. His inaugural speech scared me.

I was annoyed when Obama said that we are in the worst economic disaster since the great depression. This isn't true. By any measure Ronald Reagan inherited a much worse economic situation from Jimmy Carter than Obama is moving into.

Prime Interest Rate20.5%3.3%
People in Poverty14%12%
Dow Jones9518000
Median Income (Todays dollars)42,00050,000
Maximum Tax Rate70%35%

Reagan pulled us out of that economic crisis and he ended the cold war. Obama's motto should be: "What Would Reagen Do?"

What scares me is that Obama’s policies are much like Carter’s or FDR's policies. Please remember that if it wasn't for World War II and FDR's promise to keep the United States out of the war that he would not have been re-elected because of his economic policies.

Things are going to get much worse.

The financial markets are reflecting that Obama's ideas are flawed. After the inaugural speech the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 332 points. This IS the worst inauguration speech drop of the Dow Jones in history.

The proposed economic stimulus package will cost more than;

Both of the Iraq wars

The Vietnam War

Korean War

World War II

All of the NASA projects

The Savings and Loan bail out

The Louisiana Purchase

And the entire cost of the New Deal

It will cost more than those things combined, and adjusted for inflation.

The United States will borrow more this year than in the previous two hundred years combined.

This is not what Reagan would do. Please Obama, ask yourself... What would Reagan do?