Saturday, March 27, 2010

Day Two California: Hollywood Baby!

The second day was beautiful just like the first, sunshine and warm temperatures. We decided we wanted to go into the city and took the 1 hour drive into Hollywood. I tell ya, they're not kidding when they say California has crazy drivers and lots and lots of traffic!!! After spending what seemed like hours (maybe it was??) stuck on I-5 then off to 101 and our exit Hollywood Blvd, we drove into Hollywood and Aaron was completely amazed at the Hollywood sign up on the mountain. He said "Momma, it's just like in the movies, it's REAL!!!!" Well, I'm not so sure how much of Hollywood is "REAL" but it certainly was interesting!! We found a place to park (not cheap) and walked around until we found Grauman's Chinese Theatre. I  have ALWAYS wanted to come here and see the hand and foot imprints of my favorite stars.I was hoping Michael Jackson's was there, but it wasn't :(
I did take a pic with the imprints made by my favorite actor-JOHN TRAVOLTA!!
We took pictures with Darth Vader and Princess Lea who promplty informed me that they posed for "tips" and to not be "stingy". Wha???? So $15 later, Aaron took several pics with them and Darth insisted he wanted "Mom" to take a pic with him??? So I posed too :) 

We saw Marilyn Monroe, Woody, Shrek, "Michael Jackson with the obligatory umbrella", Jason from Friday the 13th (this guy chased me!!EEEEEK!)and we took pics with the VERY lifelike wax statue of Wolverine!! I could almost feel his muscles next to me ((sigh)) That guy is truly handsome, well I guess you have to be to be a MOVIESTAR.

                                                                    Grauman's Chinese Theater
Soooo after all this walking around and posing, etc, we worked up an appetite. I initially wanted to wait until we got to CHINATOWN to eat some authentic meals, but the kids groaned and said they wanted pizza???
Luckily there was a hole in the wall pizza joint and we ate there. It wasn't bad and the kids were now in a better mood. In my family there are two things that tick us off: lack of sleep and an empty belly!! (for the guys it's mostly an empty belly, for me and Ellison -lack of sleep, don't ask my husband about it there are some REALLY horrible stories about me and insomnia)
Soooooo after buying a few souvenirs and my trying to convince the guys that we REALLY needed to take a 4 hour bus tours into the hills and see all the celebrities homes (they weren't buying it, so I decided I need to come back to LA by MYSELF! so I can go see the celebrity homes AND visit MJ's kids in Encino!! ;)) we headed to Chinatown!!

In Chinatown we shopped in a supermarket and I picked up a few packages of rice noodles so we can replicate some Pho back home. We walked to the Buddhist Temple and were in awe of it beauty and serenity. I want my children to be exposed to many different cultures and beliefs. I want them to know and learn that just because others think or act differently from us they are just like us: humans and children of God.
Things got a bit iffy when our car was acting a little strange. I think it was all those mountains and winding roads. We thought we may need some transmission work done b/c it was acting so sluggish but after we put in some transmission fluid it was a lot better (note to self: check fluids before hitting the road, DOH!)
We enjoyed looking at the different shops in Chinatown and headed back to the hotel. It was a good day.
                                                     The front of the Buddhist Temple
Pretty Lanterns in a shop
What a great time! Next stop ~~~Roswell, NM!!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our Hotel in Orange California

I've had several people ask where we stayed while visiting Cali and here is the link to the hotel
Best Western Meridian Inn and Suites. I highly recommend this for families as they are suites and they are nicely appointed and best of all they are AFFORDABLE!! Ok, people I am not getting paid to endorse them on my blog but I really, really enjoyed my stay here. It's close to Disney (even though we didn't go) and close to all the major freeways and shopping is nearby too. Plus you get a complimentary HOT breakfast (not just stale pastries but eggs, sausage, freshly made waffles, cereals, etc.)

Here are some pics of the room we stayed in from their website:

Virtual tour of hotel
They also have a nice little fitness center and pool with hot tub. We booked thru expedia and since our vacation involved us staying at different cities along the way there and back we got some REALLY sweet deals like $50 off at the BW Meridian Inn and Suites, $50 off in Albuquerque, and $50 off in Roswell.
I hand't used Expedia in a LOOOONG time but after this little jaunt, we'll be using them more often for all those perks. In fact I just booked a business trip to Portland thru them too!!
Check out their website I think you'll have a good time. And don't forget to eat right next door at Pepito's Mexican Food. Affordable and Yummy!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

There's gold in them hills!! On the road to Cali

Bright and early on Monday, we set out to LA, the city of angels. It was a long drive from Albuquerque, made even longer because it had snowed that night before. We were a little dismayed but we found ourselves enjoying all the beautiful scenery. Once we entered Flagstaff the snow disappeared and all we saw was sunny skies above.
We didn't get to Anaheim until late that night but we were pleasantly surprised at our hotel. The Best Western in Orange was great. I got a great deal through Expedia and we got a suite!! The room was all decked out with 2 flat screen tvs, a heated pool, jacuzzi, free hot breakfast, gym, the works! Josh declared it his home away from home.
We spent the night deciding what we'd do the next day and we decided to go whale watching at Newport Beach.
The next morning, Tuesday, we woke to hear on the news that there had been an earthquake just a few hours before!! We didn't even feel a thing we were so tired!!
So we set out to get breakfast and it was so beautiful sitting outside on the patio and eating. After the drive into Newport Beach we walked around and found the marina and paid for our boat ride.
We had some time to kill so we got some NY style pizza with slices that took up two paper plates (oh my!)
We then headed towards the boat and slathered ourselves with sunblock.
The boat ride was smooth and I enjoyed the beautiful scenery and we were told Nicolas Cage's house was up on those hills (well the one the IRS hasn't repossessed yet, YIKES). It was as 2 1/2 hour tour (insert Gilligan's Island theme song here ;))
and we saw a baby whale and plenty of dolphins. The kind you don't see at Sea World.
It was very relaxing to just watch nature unfold before our eyes, bright blue skies, sea lions snoozing on a bouy, the white foam of the ocean waves, and the sea gulls flying over head.
I didn't want it to end! But after the boat ride, we walked back to the beach where Ellison and Sergio picked sea shells and did their customary sand sculptures (a crowd was gathering overhead looking at their handiwork) while Josh and Aaron played in the sand and I.....just laid there and soaked up the sun :)
Cute cat on the boardwalk
The water was too cold to swim in but that night we swam in the warm pool back at the hotel. What a day!! What will tomorrow bring? Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

First Stop Albuquerque

Our first stop was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Driving in was beautiful. It was fun to hear the kids ooohhhs and ahhhhs with all the mountains surrounding us. We stayed in a little hotel near Old Town. I really wanted the kids to see some local artists. As luck would have it, we walked into a little gallery where a local Native American artist was hard at work. His name is Danny Ramirez and he showed us around his gallery and told us a little bit about his work. Sergio started talking to him and it turns out that he knows Sergio's art teacher Amado Pena!! It was nice to have a real working artist talk to my kids about following your dreams and how you can make a living with your art.

He was so kind as to give us one of his litho prints and autographed it to our family!

Here's some pics of his gallery and the art work he gave us:


We did some shopping in the little shops, looked at some cool jewelry and just enjoyed the beautiful day. Then we went for a drive to look at all the cool New Mexico architecture!

We also had lunch at the famous Doghouse. This was featured on the Food Network's Dives, Diners, and Drive inns program and we were not disappointed.

It started to snow so we had dinner at the mall, walked around a bit then headed back to the hotel where we snuggled up and watched tv. It was nice to be all together in one room. We played cards and laughed....a lot!

Next stop California!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Break 2010

For this year's Spring Break we decided to take a road trip out to California. Along the way we wanted to stop and see some other cities. I will break up our trip into three blog posts:
1st stop Albuquerque, NM
2nd stop Orange/Newport Beach CA
3rd stop Roswell, NM

It was a long drive but breaking it up into these stops gave us time to rest and enjoy these cities.
The kids all had a great time looking at the snow capped mountains as we drove into and out of New Mexico. We had fun shopping at local/native american shops in Albuquerque, taking pictures with street performers in Hollywood and learning all about the "Roswell Incident" in Roswell.
It is a trip I highly recommend. We got great rates at all our hotels using Expedia.
We can't wait for our next adventure.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Kitchen Table Redo

I know I have these posted somewhere in my blog last year but I figured I need to keep these labeled correctly so I can quickly access them when I need them.

This is a project I started but the hubster (the carpenter/artist/painter, etc.) extraordinaire finished!!

Thank goodness for him and his trusty paint sprayer otherwise it would have taken me twice as long to paint this gem!

We got this late 70's solid wood dinette set from a lady who was moving- FREE!! That's the best kind huh?
For a few months I had been thinking of either painting it white or restaining it and I just couldn't make up my mind.                                       BEFORE

                         { solid and ugly-notice the pleather seats}

So after much mulling around, I decided I wanted it black with the chairs in some type of snazzy green fabric. I didn't want the fabric all to match so off to Joann's Fabric we went. I told hubby, who again, has EXTREMELY good taste for a man(thanks to being raised with SEVEN sisters), my desires and off he went in search of snazzy, cheap fabric!! And Viola!! He found it! I can't remember how many yards we bought but we had a little left over.
I bought some black paint in semi gloss and he used his spray gun to paint them. Then he added a coat of polyacrylic to the table top.This is the result. Aren't they soo chic?? I love them and we get compliments all the time. I think we spent about $60 on the whole project!

After pic~~notice the non-matching fabric :D

Someone's trash turned into our family's treasure!

What treasures will you find today?

Linking up to
Inspired by Charm

Domestically Speaking

Hey I think I live with this kid!

Lately I've been passing time by reading this:
I had originally bought this book for Aaron since we have to work on his reading "fluency". He was diagnosed with a reading disability by the doctors at Scottish Rite Hospital. That place is just phenomenal and the staff there is great. They recommended that Aaron read more and gave us all types of materials and ideas on how to get him to read more fluently. So anyways, I was at the place I hate the most-Walmart-and happened to walk by the display of books. The cover and yellow color immediately caught my eye. I opened up the book and flipped through some pages and found myself laughing hysterically out loud right there in the store. The greeter just gave me a blank stare. I decided to buy this book for Aaron.

When I brought it home, Josh immediately took it from the bag and exclaimed "YESS!! This is the next one in the series!" So apparently these are popular books. Josh said this guy has a whole series of them. So all three of us, Josh, Aaron and I, took turns reading out loud and laughing with this book. Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a series written by Jeff Kinney.

You can check out his site here

I can relate so much to his books both as a former 12 year old and now as a mom!

Aaron loves them! We finished reading it so I got the next one ~~

We are reading it now. Aaaand I just found out they made a movie and it's coming out this month. We're definitely going to see it. Although I don't have high expectations for a movie made from book and they'll probably ruin it...but we're gonna see it nonetheless.

If you haven't joined the Wimpy Kid camp..I suggest you do so. Ask your kids, maybe they're already members. :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Working from home Alpine Access

Lately I've been getting a lot of questions on the name of the company I used to work for when I worked from home. The company's name is Alpine Access and it's essentially a place that big companies such as Office Depot, 1-800-Flowers, and others contract with to do their phone service, such as customer service, order taking, etc. These are INBOUND calls, they call you, no telemarketing.
I was on the Office Depot National Desk center. This is for BIG time customers, like Fortune 500 companies that use OD as their office supplier. It was a great company. Don't expect to get paid more than $9 per hour and you have to meet their technical requirements, such as a land line phone, specific headset (which I found on ebay), high speed internet, not SATELLITE, a pc that meets their specs and a VERY quiet environment. You have to go through some rigourous paid training and just to get hired you have to undergo a background check including criminal and credit check. You also have to have a voice audition. After all this then you are trained on how to log in and post your available hours, how to clock in from your computer, etc.
It is very detailed and specific. You treat it as a real job, because it is. You are then considered an employee and they do direct deposit into your bank account. This is great for moms, students, handicapped people who want to work and get some extra cash or supplement their income. I found the invironment warm and friendly. Again I only worked for the Office Depot National Desk and I have heard some grumblings from other programs but then again when isn't someone grumbling??? Anyways, I recommend that company if you're looking for something from home with no distractions (if they hear background noise they WILL fire you as the managers are online listening in to your phone conversations and taping you)
You also have to be quick about answering questions, putting the orders in and hanging up within a set amout of time. You have to be very adept at using Excel, and other programs.
The only reason I quit is because I was offered a very good government job.
Oh, almost forgot, when someone calls in sick, etc. there are good opportunities for you to pick up some extra hours and even some overtime. The usual weekly hours vary from 20-40 hours per week. Good luck on your search!


Last night was Family Night or as we LDS people refer to it-Family Home Evening. We are instructed to have one night a week, specifically Monday, in which we read our scriptures, teach a lesson, play a game or do something together as a family. We sometimes do this on Sundays but I have to get back into the groove and do it Mondays again. We used to do this "religiously" (no pun intended) when I first joined the LDS church 6 1/2 years ago, but as life happens we've been slacking off. Well I decided it's time to get back into the game. Literally. So after cooking a yummy alfredo pasta dinner, I took the kids into the study to read from the book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. This year we decided to read the Book of Mormon backwards since we always start it and never get to finish it!! Our mission is to read it from cover to cover all this year.

After reading a few chapters we went into the dining room to play with our new game:

This is such a fun game that kids of all ages, well 6+ according to the box, can play!! It's sort of like "Where's Waldo" but with dice and an hourglass!
We played for about an hour and Aaron didn't want to quit. He wants to play again tonight. I am always looking for fun new games and activities we can do as a family. Sometimes for family night, if the day is nice, we go out for a walk after reading our scriptures, or a family bike ride. We used to go to the lake and take all our bikes and ride around the lake. It was so nice. I say "used to" b/c ever since Aaron got too heavy for Sergio to lug him around in his bike trailer we've stopped. We are planning on getting Aaron onto his own bike sans training wheels so we can start up our lake rides again.
It's fun to have family night. Not only do we invite the Spirit into our home but we have fun bonding too :)
What are your ideas for family night? Post them in a comment or email or post a link please.


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