Sunday, March 29, 2009

ACHE Conference - Chicago

This past week Desirae had to go it alone from Sunday afternoon until late Wednesday night since I was in Chicago for an ACHE Conference. I had a great time catching up with some USC classmates and attending a variety of classes about healthcare. One of the more important things that I did was go out to dinner with the Chief Executive and VP of Operations at Scripps Memorial Hospital, La Jolla.  I've applied for a permanent position there (my fellowship is only for a year and it's over at the end of June). We ate a great restaurant called Hugos. It shares a kitchen with the famous Gibson's in the Rush Street section of town.  I had a great meal and was able to get to know my future boss better ;)
This is the lovely view from my room in the Blackstone, A Renaissance Hotel (Marriott) which was located across the street from the Hilton, Chicago.
I think that it's been newly remodeled since it had nice granite counter tops and an decent sized LCD TV.

This is a picture of part of the Lobby in the Chicago Hilton where the conference was hosted.  It was very lavish.  My preceptor and boss, Chris Van Gorder, is the chairman elect so he was staying in one of the suites.  He invited all of us from Scripps to come up to his room for drinks and to chat one evening.  His room was huge!  I think it was a quarter of the hotel floor.  He was told that many dignitaries had stayed in that room over the years.  Some notable names included Bill Clinton and Tony Blair.  

During one of my breaks between classes, I went down to the exhibit area where several schools with MHA programs were represented.  Since I knew that Eric had applied to UAB and VCU, I decided to visit their booths and ask them some questions about their programs.  In speaking with them I mentioned that my younger brother had applied and I was pleasantly surprised to find that a student from each school had interviewed Eric.  The guy from UAB seemed really excited about Eric so I thought that was a good sign.  Come to find out that was definitely the case since Eric got a call on Friday with the great news that he has been accepted to UAB's MHA program. (Congratulations, Eric!)  

On Tuesday night, Kim's family came into the big city and we all went out to eat at the food court in the mall.  Afterwards we went to the American Girl doll shop (one of only two in the nation) and a few other stores before going on a car tour of the city.  We went by Wrigley Field and Sears Tower.  Despite the limited time it was great to see all of the Fowlers.  If I had been better about planning things, I would have taken a class on Thursday morning and flown back to San Diego on Thursday night so I could have spent more time with the Fowlers.  (There's always next year).

Overall, I think it was a great conference and I look forward to meeting up with Eric one of these years.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Stephen and I got zoo passes last summer, so I decided to use them again because Brooklyn is an animal lover, I have a double stroller that I need to get some use out of, and I could use the exercise (mostly the last one)!  (Speaking of working out, Brooklyn's got a cute booty!  I don't know where she gets it from!  Maybe it's just the stretch pants that make it look cute...)
First stop:  the camels.
Next up: the bears.  They're the official animal of the state of California.  So cute!
The giraffe.  I love how easy they are to see, those long necks come in handy strictly for public-viewing purposes!   
Last but not least, the armored-looking rhinos.  Did you know that the extra folds of skin increase the surface area and and provide built-in shade?  Me neither, until I read it in the Zoonooz magazine that comes in the mail as a benefit of our membership.  Their skin is also sensitive to insect bites and sunburn, so wallowing in the mud part of their healthy beauty regimen! 
I would have taken more pictures if my camera's battery didn't die on me!  It was fun quizzing Brooklyn on the way out, trying to see how many of the animals we saw that she remembered.  Here are a few of the things we saw:  bears, birds, camels, cats, elephants, flamingos, giraffes, kangaroos/wallabies, koalas, lions, monkeys, pigs.  Next time we'll have to make it to the polar bears, giant pandas, gorillas, reptiles, tigers, zebras, and the children's zoo, which includes a "petting paddock".  We also learned overhearing one of the tour buses, that koalas sleep about 20 hours every day!  We also saw the cutest little family of monkeys.  The mom and dad were holding the baby because it wasn't strong enough to swing from the branches alone.  I definitely think we'll have to go back soon.  The Wild Animal Park, different location, same pass, has a cool butterfly exhibit next month that we'll have to check out.  Hopefully we'll get some cool pic's there!  After going there, I totally feel like watching Madagascar!  I love the part when one of the animals, the giraffe, I think, is convinced that they've been relocated to the San Diego zoo. 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Beach House, Part 1

Life is really rough when you live a few blocks from a San Diego beach.  This we know because we "house-sat" for one of Stephen's coworkers last week who lives in Ocean Beach.  This cozy abode is a few blocks away from the sandy ocean, and a 5-minute drive from each of the following:  Sea World, the zoo, "old town," downtown, the airport, a sports arena, and at least 3 major shopping malls, to name a few things.  It is also near the wonderful Mission Bay and just next to Coronado Island, famous for the resort-style Hotel Del Coronado.  Did I mention that Stephen and I stayed in San Diego on our honeymoon?  It's a cool place to sight see or just relax.  
On Saturday morning, Stephen decided to walk to the beach with Brooklyn since he hadn't seen it yet and he wanted to know just how close it really was.  (Brooklyn and I had already cruised down earlier in the week on a short stroller ride)  Here's a summary of their hour or hour and a half adventure:

#1 (Above) Depart from house with sand-toy wagon.
#2 Arrive at beach.
#3 Ditch shoes, roll up pants, and build a sand castle.
#4  Romp around in the sand.

Beach House, part 2

#5  Destroy castle.
#6  Chase birds.  
#7  Return home with stickers on eyes and tell mom all about our trip!

I don't know why people think they need a vacation when they live here!  Unless of course, they can afford it.  In the meantime, our family will stick with the "stay-cation" of house-sitting unless someone in the family decides to get married or something... 

First Pet

Our BIG b-day gift for Brooklyn this year was supposed to be a fish, but because we got all caught up Disneylanding and house-sitting last week, the big birthday gift was postponed.  The fish finally made it home (from Stephen's work, where it has been living previously, with one of his co-workers) a week after her Brooklyn's big day.  We are actually the adoptive family because if there was a humane society for fish, it just might have ended up there.  Probably not, it was very well taken care of, but the owner was just done with it, I guess!  That's where we come into the picture...
It was probably better that we spread out the birthday fun, because this little beta fish has been a HUGE hit in our home.  I think Brooklyn is the happiest first time-pet owner I've ever seen!  Just look at that face!
Notice in the picture how there are 2 containers.  That's because Stephen decided to clean out the fish's home and transport the fish to our house in a less crowded container.  The fish bowl has some cool scenery stuff and a "hollow log", etc.  After scrubbing down the tank, Stephen decides to spoon out the fish to replace it in its home.  I was pretty nervous about this.  I had to leave the room and hold my breath. My fears were not assuaged by the things I heard next.  "Uh-oh! Dang it!  He went down the drain!"  No! No! No!  Worst case scenario!  Get her all jazzed about the fish and kill it before we even enjoy it!  Then, "Wait! He made it!  Come here, Oh... Oh!"
Me from the other room, "What's going on in there?!"
No response.
Long pause.
"Got it!"
Huge sighs of relief.  The fish litterally flipped out of the bowl, the spoon, and into the kitchen sink.  It disappeared.  There was another bowl in the sink, a big silver mixing bowl from dinner that was dirty but soaking up some dishwater.  I think this was partially covering the drain.  Needless to say, the fish disappeared, but finally was caught by Stephen who then RINSED him off in RUNNING tap water!  Wow.  What a trip!  Stephen and I both just stared at each other, our eyes huge with amazement.  We sounded like a broken record, I'm sure, "I can't believe he made it!"

Rewind.  Stephen,"Brooklyn, what should we name our new fish?" 
Hesitation... We knew this name choice would be very telling.  I thought Brooklyn would choose the name of a favorite friend or cousin.  We were both surprised by her response.
Now I'm wondering if she just happened to notice some of these on the counter and was distractedly asking for one, but at any rate, the name stuck.
After some discussion later, we believe the name may have come from the similarity between the eyes of the fish and the eyes of Sesame Street's Cookie Monster.  Both are big bug-eyed creatures, but then again, so is Ian.
Here are some of the observations Brooklyn made about Cookie the first few minutes after he first settled (safely - whew!) into his cleaned home:
"Fish don't talk"
"Is that his bed?"
"Move around, Cookie!"
"He's smelling around."
"He stopped moving!"
"He's too vizzy..." (translation, vizzy= tired, like when I'm too busy to help Brooklyn, she translates that to me being tired.)
"I'm not happy about this!" (After being put into time-out on the stairs when she disobeyed us by feeding Cookie)

Besides a fun pet, Cookie makes a great catch for discipline tactics!  All we have to do is threaten to take the fish out of Brooklyn's room for her to immediately turn off the water works at bedtime or naptime!  Brooklyn likes to think that she and Ian and Cookie all sleep together in the same room.  Sometimes we bring Cookie (and the bowl) onto the kitchen table to hang out with us during the day while Ian is napping.  
One thing for sure, so far this fish has been one tough Cookie!

Four Months

Ian loves being entertained by his big sister.  It's sometimes hard to keep her out of these monthly photo shoots, though.  She will gets right up in his face and mimic whatever goofy thing I say.  

Stuff he enjoys doing, besides watching his sister: going on stroller walks, chillin' in the baby pouch as I walk around the park or outdoor mall by our apartment, "talking" to people, laughing when being tickled or playing peek-a-boo, sucking on his fingers, kicking his legs out, and watching his appendages move because he is figuring out that they are attached and he can somewhat manipulate them.

Brooklyn recently reported to us, "You call him Sweetie Pie, I call him Buddy Boy, and Dad calls him Ian."  I love how Brooklyn is also his spokesperson.  She will totally interrupt her own prayer to verbalize what she supposes he is thinking.  For example, (prayer begins) "Ian says, 'huh? I wanna say the prayer Brookie!' No Ian, I'm saying the prayer" (prayer continues).  She also "translates" his cries for me, often animatedly.   "He says, 'Mommy, I want milk!' " or "He's just tired."  

My attempts to civilize him have all been in vain.  Only his fingers and burp rags or receiving blankets make sufficient chew toys.  Brightly colored, store-bought, child-proof chew toys have been met with looks of "no thanks, not interested." Well, at least his own appendages are always handy!  He also likes watching Curious George sometimes in the morning with Brookie or a few scenes of an "action" movie with Dad in the evenings after work!

We'll see what his official height and weight stats are tomorrow when we go in for his 4-month check-up, but my guess is that he's about 15 pounds and, maybe 25 or 26 inches, really I have no clue, so we'll see!  I can't say the kid doesn't eat well! 

Friday, March 13, 2009

3 Months, Nearly a Month Ago!

We are happy to report that these irresistible smiles are not hard to come by...
The picture below was on the actual 3 month date, but after taking this one "serious" shot, the camera turned off because it was out of battery!  One little girl has asked, "Does he blink?"  Yes, but his big eyes are so OPEN all of the time!  He looks like he's permanently surprised or shocked, unless he's smiling or laughing. We prefer the happy over the serious face.

Peanut Butter Lickers

This one's for you, Grammy!
I just can't believe how sneaky little Miss Brooklyn has become these days!  Her catch phrases are basically elusions of the truth.  Let me give you some examples:

#1Me: Brooklyn, are you touching your brother?
Her: Nope!...Not anymore!
#2Me: Brooklyn, what are you doing?
Her:  I dunno...
#3Me: Brooklyn, did you get your socks and shoes on?Her:  Almost...
#4Me: (As she's getting onto the toilet) Are your panties dry?
Her: Just a little bit wet.

Even worse, she has lied one occasion.  I am trying to make a HUGE deal about how aweful this is because it is a total pet peave of mine, especially when adults do this (LIE).  I get super upset when I know another adult is LYING to my face - Aaargh!
Another thing she does is SNEAK things that she knows are wrong.  She always does this when I am in the other room either feeding the baby or getting dressed, taking a shower, cleaning the kitchen, you get the idea.  So here are some of her sneaky moves, punishable by time-outs and with-holding of freshly baked desserts, and of course a stern, 10-second lecture.  I should preface this by saying this week we are house/DOG-sitting for one of Stephen's co-workers.  They have a nice house in Ocean Beach, and LOTS of toys for their two young children, one of which is close to Brooklyn's age.
#1 Getting into the art supplies and painting her face, arms, and some carpet RED.
#2 Writing on the AQUA DOODLE (a water-only, reusable kid-friendly canvas) with black and brown markers.  She was trying to lay on it and outline her body like I've done with her outside using side-walk chalk. Of course, these dark hues made it onto her off-white sweater.
#3 Eating a brownie bite that was on the counter, saved for after dinner because when they were fresh out of the oven, she was still busted for using the paint.
#4 This relates to #1, but it's a separate sneaky offense, so it deserves it's own space: Changing her red-painted clothes for a clean pair so as to try and HIDE the evidence!
#5 Asking to putting herself in time-out and apologizing profusely as penitence for an offense from which she desired forgiveness only in hopes of earning herself a brownie bite.  (Can you tell many of these insidious maneuvers all happened within the same hour?)
#6 When such treats are revoked from her, she predictably attempts to persuade me to "put some in a little baggie to save for later."  In the case of the brownie bites, she selected three separate small tupperware containers to put them in, one for Daddy later, one for me, and one for her.  Then, when the little sister of Brooklyn's friend started crawling toward her, Brooklyn said, "No, Lily, don't eat my brownies," as Brooklyn was rubbing the top of one brownie with her fingers.  As soon as I snatched the brownies out of her own hands, Brooklyn immediately licks the flavored fingers like an excited dog.  It's a good thing she's not yet arrived at the "age of accountability."  I'm already dreading her teenage years if this behavior is a foreshadow of things to come.
#7 Lastly, the case for which the post earned it's title and picture - creating herself a peanut-butter licker WITHOUT my permission. .  . thank you grammy, for passing along the gene that inspired you to create this special treat.  So I took the treat away from her and put her down for a nap.  Guess what did I do later on to relieve myself of the stress she caused me? I ate most of it for her.

Am I Just Cranky, or...

Is it really kind of mean to completely ignore a pair of bright blue, three-year old eyes begging you for a little ride on the swings?  
I was at the park this morning, and I got a little irritated by these two moms who kept ignoring Brooklyn. I was feeding the baby using my handy-dandy nursing cover-up at a park bench nearby, so I was unable to help her out myself.  She even asked them, "can you push me?" but was totally ignored.  The two girls and their moms then moved over to the tire swing, a three-seater.  Again, Brooklyn stared and watched.  I felt so bad!  Mind you, Brooklyn had just TICKED me OFF a mere moment before this incident, but suddenly I was her greatest advocate.  
After a few minutes, one mom walks over toward me where her stroller was parked.  Brooklyn followed the woman, hoping still to gain her attention.  As she followed her, the other lady back at the tire swing said to her friend, jokingly, "Look, you have a shadow!"  
Clearly, it was not as though either of the women has simply not noticed Brooklyn.  Finally trying to muster all the self-control I could, I said, "I think she wanted to get on the swing with the girls."
To which the woman replied "Oh, I would have put her on, but I have to keep my hands free to watch this one." She was referring to the 18-month old running around in the sand totally content by herself.
It wasn't as big of an insult as I am making it out to be, I am sure.  I easily could have pushed my child after feeding the baby.  However, by that time we were both done with the park.
Later that afternoon we visited another park and I pushed Brooklyn on the swings along with another little girl who we had just befriended.  I felt better. 
Now onto a more positive post!  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thank You, Grandma Grace, for the...

Party Hats!  No party is complete without them!  What a hit!  I guess you still have the touch, after all those years!  You were right, I'm sure no website on the internet could demonstrate how to create something quite this cool!
So this was one of many birthday celebrations for Brooklyn's third birthday.  The actual day was the 9th of March, a Monday this year.  These photos are from a celebration we had the Friday night before at my mom's house.  The kids had a blast!  Thanks for the awesome "Mad Hatter" cake, Mom.  And Grandma, you know the kids loved your hat creations!

Aunt Pip, we loved the awesome treasure hunt.  Pure joy.
Grandma Grace, thanks for the other fun birthday traditions, in addition to the treasure hunt, like "Button, Button, Who's Got the Button?" and of course, thank you to Megan Tanner for "Don't Eat Pete."  Unfortunately, the game board didn't make it, but it was on the agenda and will definitely be played during our next visit!

Some of Brooklyn's AWESOME gifts included: sand toys, cute beach T and flip-flops, the Tinkerbell movie, a puzzle and matching book, and the Fancy Nancy game.

3 Cheers for the 3 Mouseketeers!

"I'm Free!" She'll tell you when asked her age.
I admit I'm not a huge amusement park fan, but when my mom said she wanted to take Brooklyn to Disneyland on Brooklyn's 3rd birthday, how could I possibly say no?  Then when we thought about it more, if I was going to drive Brooklyn an hour or more to Anaheim, I might as well get into the park too.  So, if I'm buying myself a ticket, wouldn't it be worth it to spend the extra $50 or so to get a season pass?  This is is why Disney is still in business my friends.  Did I mention that a ticket is magically free on your birthday?  Our story doesn't end here... Stephen called me up the morning of the trip and says "I think I'm going to take the day off."
To which I replied, "Don't you have stuff to do today, though?"
To which he replied, "Nothing I can't miss."
Fast forward to 11:15 A.M. we are parked in section 5 of Donald Duck and riding the tram to "the happiest place on earth."  So much for a low-budget birthday and a "free admission" on your birthday. (Did I mention that since she's now three, she's no longer free on every other day, so Brooklyn got a pass too.
She better be smiling!  (I know, I'm totally frugal and still slightly unconvinced that this was the right course of action.) In case you are wondering, STEPHEN insisted on buying the princess hat with mouse ears!  Secretly I think he may have been equally excited about this adventure with Brooklyn.  I wanted to surprise her, and he kept wanting to spill the beans.  I knew he was excited when he was getting all anxious in the parking structure with comments like, "Hurry up people! What's taking so long? The attendants are all escorting us to a row of spaces that we just pull in, one after another."
Caden, Caleb, Calvin, and Carol all have passes too.  They met us there along with my mom.  Calvin worked, however.  Good job, Calvin!  I'm glad someone takes his job seriously!  Just kidding! 

So the longest line we waited in was that of the Disney Princess Photo shoot.  I should post some pictures of Brooklyn in line and compare them with her subdude look in these ones.  I know she was convinced they were all the REAL DEAL.  (She also posed with Mulan and Snow White.)
All-in-all, we had a good time.  I think the best part was the bugs life section of California Adventure because the lines were short, and the rides were the perfect entertainment level for the pre-K audience that we had.  
Here's the goof troop with their fearless leader. 

I was just glad the park had a "baby station" at the end of Main Street where moms could nurse their babies and change diapers away from the regular public bathrooms and various attractions.  I also scored a cute pin at this place for Ian that says "First Visit."

Disneyland,  we'll be back!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Big C!

Don't be deceived by the horns, this kid is not only cute, but was and continues to be my favorite brother for endless reasons.  Because we are celebrating his birthday this month, I'll share a few things about him that make him special.  
#1. He always kept my sister and me in line, especially when the parents were not around.  He was the ultimate rule-reminder and enforcer.  I think if teaching doesn't work out for him, he may consider a career in law-enforcement!

#2 He coached me along with certain sports skills like throwing a baseball, shooting and dribbling a basketball, and how to defend a basket.  (Can you tell what he favorite sport is?) Some of this coaching came out of the need for a worthy opponent(which I never was).   
#3.  He was always a good friend.  Because we are pretty close in age, we did a lot of things together like drive to seminary, attend stake dances, and go out on "group dates," sometimes with each other's friends!  We always confided in each other too.

#4. He was my Dad's pride and joy and probably his source of sanity at times in a house full of three girls.  Calvin was my dad's privileged companion to many Laker, Dodger, and UCLA games as well as the annual L.A. auto show.  Calvin had his own reading material in our house, including several Calvin and Hobbs comic books, Boys' Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and of course, the Sports section of the LA Times. 
#4 It seems like both of us lucked out in getting more friends because we had each other.  This was sort of a problem in Jr. High and High School.  I sometimes suspected that girls wanted to be my friend because they thought I had a cute brother.  On the flip side of that, I got to know about some top secret stuff that he and his friends did at Scout Camp or Fathers and Sons outings.
#5. He showed me responsibility and the value of money.  One of his first jobs included mowing the lawn for Mrs. Hall down the street.  He's carefully stash away the small envelope of bills that she sent home with him each week.

#6 He taught me that the best gifts were thoughtful and home-made.  My most memorable birthday gifts came from him.  They included: letting me use his room for a sleep-over for my 10th birthday party. (My friends and I had a hay day taking pictures posing in various accesories we found in his room - a coon-skin cap, a leather whip, and various retro baseball caps.) Another favorite birthday gift from him was a birthday song that he composed for me and sang with my then-boyfriend at a BYU singles ward talent show.  Talk about guts!
#7 He gave me one of my favorite nicknames.  (If you don't know it, you'll have to ask him.)

#8 He is Brooklyn's favorite McKendrick uncle because he can always get her to laugh her irresistable cute laugh from lots and lots of tickling!  He also reads her stories with plenty of animation. 
#9 He is just plain hilarious when he imitates people in the stories he tells.  The retold event always holds a higher entertainment value than the incident itself.  Maybe he should extend his services at Northview High and become the drama teacher as well.  I'm sure Evelyn could give him some pointers!  
#10 He is an inspirational basketball coach who has been known to take his team members to the movies or just lends out his "lucky" shoes to a player in need.  

Basically I'm so lucky for all the ways my life has been influenced by him and sometimes I am so jealous that my sister-in-law scored the coolest husband ever! (Right next to my own man, of course!)

Sleeping with my Favorite Boys

I couldn't resist.  This is a typical late-night or early-morning scene in our bedroom.  Can you guess who's missing from this sandwich of Badgers?