Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

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Apr '07

San Diego and Beyond

Last week I tripped off to San Diego for a conference. I went a couple days early so I’d have time to see the city, since I’d never been there before.

San Diego is a nice place to visit. I spent the first half of the week in the downtown area, and the last half on Coronado Island (that’s where the conference was held). Here’s an overview of my adventures.

Here’s the city, viewed from Coronado Island (which isn’t actually an island).

San Diego skyline
San Diego Skyline

Monday and Tuesday night I stayed at the Embassy Suites downtown. The lobby was nifty. It felt tropical with the foliage and goldfish ponds. And they served a sweet free breakfast there every morning. Biggest and best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. This view is taken from the sixth floor, where my room was.

Embassy Suites lobby. See the goldfish?

Monday night I walked about six blocks to the famous Gaslamp District. It used to be pretty seedy, but about 15 years ago the city fixed it up, and now it’s a hub for dining and shopping. I had a sundae at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream Shop (where I also bought my husband a Mint Bliss chocolate bar). Then I headed over to Horton Plaza, an outdoor shopping plaza.

Horton Plaza
Horton Plaza

I bought a couple things from Gap Maternity on clearance. The Gap in Orem is always totally picked over for clearance maternity clothes. Not so in San Diego. There were tons of cute things on sale.

Tuesday I took a cab to the “World Famous San Diego Zoo,” where I spent about a half day.

Here’s Jabba the Hippo, who was hanging out on a rock underwater and, despite him not doing a whole heckuva lot, was pretty interesting to watch.

Jabba the Hippo
Jabba the Hippo

The highlight was the polar bears. You can watch them swim in their pool through a glass partition. One of the bears was super playful, and splashed around near the glass wall so I got an up-close look at him.

Playful polar bear 1

Playful polar bear 2

Playful polar bear 3

Playful polar bear 4
Checking out one of the kids

Playful polar bear 5
Trying to eat one of the kids?

Non-playful polar bear
The other polar bear just sat on a rock and lazily munched on his carrot.

‘Course, some aspects of the zoo weren’t so cute. Like this bucket I passed near an aviary, which holds a meal for some of the animals.

yucky food
Do you see the dead baby mice?

After getting a nice and unintentional sunburn I left the zoo and walked through Balboa Park, which the zoo is part of. I liked walking through the Spanish Village, an area where local artisans work and sell their paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and so forth.

Spanish Village
Spanish Village in Balboa Park

Finally I headed back to the hotel to relax. That night I walked across the street to Seaport Village, a little shopping and dining community along the bay.

Seaport Village
Seaport Village with pedi-cab

I bought a CD of piano music by Giovanni (apparently a local artist) and a cookie from Cookies by the Bay. After traveling alone for a day I found myself way more talkative than usual, and made good friends with the clerk who sold me the CD, the man in the information booth, and a family whose boy had skinned his knee to whom I gave a couple Band-aids from my purse.

The weather in San Diego is gorgeous, but it was even better the three days I spent on Coronado Island, just because I was on the beach and the air smells salty and fresh and clean. I checked into the Marriott Coronado Island Resort (which BYU paid for, thanks very much) and enjoyed my posh room.

Posh room
Posh room with the best, most fluffy bed and pillows around.

However, this sign on the inside of the closet door did worry me momentarily:


Wednesday afternoon I spent walking around Coronado near the famous Hotel Del Coronado.

Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado

It was built in the 1880’s, I think. The beach was, of course, a highlight of my visit.

Coronado Beach, looking towards Point Loma

It was lovely to walk along it, feeling the sea breeze and enjoying the warm sun. I got a sandwich from the Hotel Del’s bakery and ice cream from the Moo Time Creamery. The sandwich was 9 dollars, and the ice cream–a “mini moo” with one mix-in and one topping–was 7 dollars! Thank goodness for per diem.

I lusted after some Birkenstocks at the Coronado Birkenstock shop, then sensibly returned to my hotel and lay by the pool with a book.

relaxing by pool

It was so nice because the lounge chairs were padded and comfy, and you could hear the waves hitting the bay shore behind the hotel. It was very close to paradise.

Thursday and Friday morning were consumed by the conference (the actual reason I was in San Diego), which was generally very good. Thursday night I walked down the boardwalk with my coworker and got the only picture of me from the whole trip.

Coronado Bridge

That’s Coronado Bridge in the background. The black shirt is slimming, but it’s also maternity, as is the skirt, since none of my regular clothes fit properly anymore.

San Diego and Coronado were fun to visit. I got to do and see pretty much everything on my list for the five days I was there. I’ll go back again someday, but next time I’m taking my husband and kids, and we’re going to for sure hit Sea World.

Apr '07

The Big U

On Friday John and I went to the doctor’s for a 16-week gender ultrasound. The only other time we’ve seen the little one was at 8 weeks 5 days, when the baby appeared to be the equivalent of a gummi bear.

This time the baby was like a real person. Not just any person, but a little baby boy person. It was pretty obvious, and I recognized the little man parts before the technician pointed them out to us. It’s a good thing the baby is blissfully unaware of all the attention given this weekend to the parts of his anatomy that he’ll later come to believe are his “private parts.” We’ll have to keep confidential the fact that we’ve passed around pictures of him in the womb with an arrow pointing to his boy parts to dozens of people already, and it’s only been two days since we found out.

Apr '07

The News

In case anyone we know might actually read this blog on occasion, you should know that we’re having a baby. In October. And I’m about 3 1/2 months along.

I actually mentioned this on the blog a long while ago…but now that it’s starting to consume our lives more fully, and undoubtedly more blog posts will sprout from it, I thought I might as well make the news official.

We’re having a baby.


Maternity Clothes

I’m now 15 weeks pregnant. Amazing. But real. And the realness is proven by my constant struggle to find pants or skirts in my closet that fit comfortably anymore.

So today I faced the beast: I went shopping for maternity clothes. I needed at least one pair of pants that I could wear without having to leave the button unbuttoned and the zip unzipped.

It turns out that either very few people in the world wear maternity clothes (which I doubt) or very few retailers care enough about the women needing maternity clothes to stock a good variety of them (which seems to be the truth). I went to three different stores today. I had the best luck at my first stop, JCPenney. Initially I thought their selection was meager, but it was actually great compared to the other two stores I visited.

Here are my gripes so far about maternity clothes shopping.

1. Huge tent-like T-shirts with sayings like “Baby on Board” and “Preggo” should be banned. Along with maternity pants with the huge panels in front and zero attractiveness. Are we supposed to look like unfashionable bloated whales while pregnant? I mean, we feel like bloated whales. But dang it, we can be fashionable bloated whales!!!

2. Why must stores always stock maternity clothes right beside the plus-size section? I already feel fatter than normal. By having the two sections side-by-side my subconscious assumes that the two sections are related, that maternity = plus size. JCPenney’s setup made it even worse. They lined their sections up like this: Petites, Maternity, Plus Size. I used to be petite, now I’m maternity, and next I’ll be . . . ?

I’ll probably have more gripes as I shop around more. But, on the positive side, I came away from JCPenney, which was having an awesome sale today, with a pair of capris (50% off), black yoga pants (clearance, $5), and another pair of black pants (clearance, $8). I admit, when I tried on my first pair of maternity pants I was highly doubtful, and even a little frightened, of how they would look and feel.

But you know, they are actually pretty okay! And swapping out the capris that I wore shopping (my normal ones, with the button unbuttoned and the zipper unzipped) for my new maternity capris with the elastic waist was Such. A. Relief.

Ahhhh. My belly is happy now.

Apr '07

Cruise Report

I was cleaning out my My Documents folder on my laptop today and rediscovered a journal I had kept during our cruise in January to the Caribbean. I had super good intentions when I started the journal at the cruise’s commencement, but alas, I only have entries for about half the cruise.

Here it is:


Sunday, January 14, 2007
Depart from Ft. Lauderdale, FL enroute to Freeport, Bahamas.

We arrived on our ship, the Carnival Liberty, at about 1:00 today. The weather in Ft. Lauderdale was sprinkly, but warm. About 75 degrees and cloudy. Fortunately the lines were short to get on the ship, and we got on in about 45 minutes with Josh and Hannah and their baby Logan, and Hannah’s parents, Brian and Charlotte, and Hannah’s brother Hyrum.

leaving Ft. Lauderdale
(Josh and his baby Logan as we’re leaving Ft. Lauderdale. That’s Ft. Lauderdale’s gorgeous beach.)

Right away we went to the Lido deck where a buffet was available. I had fresh fruit and roast beef on a baguette for lunch while John had chicken and a slice of really yummy chocolate pie. We ate with Josh and Hannah and Logan. Afterward John and I set out to find our cabin, room 8305 on the Verandah deck.

We booked a balcony room, which is nice because we can stand or sit out there and watch our ship’s progress, enjoy the starry night, or scope out the port we’re at.

our room

Tonight it was fun to stand out there and see, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, five (five!) other cruise ships traveling in the distance right along with us. I guess they’re on their way to the Bahamas or some other nearby island, too. They were beautiful! Like lit Christmas trees glowing in the darkest of night.

other cruise ships

After finding our room John and I walked through the ship, trying to get our bearings on where things are. The Liberty is large, about 11 decks that hold about 2500 guests (plus 1000+ crew!).

Liberty lobby

One of the highlights of the night was dinner in the Silver Dining Room at 5:45. We’re seated at the same table as Josh, Hannah, the Weights, and Sara and Brandon (Hannah’s sister and bro-in-law). We could really feel the rocking motion of the ship, but as dinner went on we got more used to it. The dining room is beautiful. Elegant. And the dinner was superb. We all ordered appetizers or salad (or both) and the main dish at the same time. Then later they brought out the dessert menu. I had iceberg wedge salad with bleu cheese and bacon for the starter and spring lamb Dijonaisse for the main entrée. It came with potatoes and carrots and broccoli, and I thought every bite was succulent. I truly enjoyed the meal. Afterwards I ordered the chocolate melting cake, which apparently is a specialty that’s offered every night. I guess they’re supposed to be mostly cooked with pudding in the middle, but ours were like brownie batter—all soft. Even so, it was good and I enjoyed it.

Dinner took a full two hours. So at 8:30 or so, upon John’s suggestion, we changed into swimsuits, grabbed a towel, and went up to enjoy a hot tub on the Lido Deck. Ah man, it was so very nice and relaxing to sit in that tub. It was a nice bubbly tub, and not too many people either. The wide-screen TV on the deck was showing the movie Finding Nemo, which we watched while we soaked. We probably stayed there for at least a half hour. A couple in the tub with us were on the cruise by themselves; they had left their kids at home. They said that they had told their kids that the cruise ship would have nothing interesting for them, so they were better off not coming (wink wink). They said that their kids would be so jealous to learn their parents watched Finding Nemo while soaking in a hot tub. I guess their kids are nuts about hot tubs.

my favorite hot tub
My favorite hot tub, on the Lido Deck.

Giant TV on Lido Deck.

Finally we came back to the room, showered, unpacked, and got ready for bed. It’s been a nice day, and a good start to the trip. I hardly notice the ship’s motion anymore. Tomorrow: The Bahamas!


Monday, January 15, 2007
Freeport, Bahamas

I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning, just as our ship was pulling into the Freeport dock. I stood on our balcony, watching as the ship approached the dock, then as three workers grabbed a rope from the ship and tied it around a cement pillar to keep the ship stable.

John and I made our way down to level 0 in the ship by around 8:15 a.m. On Sunday night we had tried to book the biking excursion for Freeport through Carnival, but it was sold out. We were pretty bummed, and went ahead and booked a kayaking excursion for Grand Cayman on Wednesday so we could count on having something to do then.

When we got off the boat this morning we were surprised to see very cloudy skies and feel rain on our shoulders. I had even worn a tank top over my swim suit because I expected nicer weather. Oh, well. At least we weren’t so disappointed about missing the biking. We met up with Josh and Logan and Charlotte, and after standing around a while outside the boat, trying to figure out what to do (the ship docks at a very industrial port where there’s nothing to do within walking distance) we took a taxi ($5 per person each way) to Port Lucaya where there’s some shopping and to Lucaya beach. Cars drive on the left side of the road, because the Bahamas was a British principality. Drivers were crazy! Thankfully we were okay.

It sprinkled and then it rained and then it poured! We walked around the flea-market type shops while it sprinkled/rained. The native merchants try to get your attention to pull you into your booth by talking to you and calling you things like, “Hey sexy lady with the blue bag, come try this on!” They used the word “sexy” a lot. A lot. I bought a necklace for $9 (which John thought was a rip-off but I don’t feel too bad about it. Some of the other necklaces at other vendors were $16).

When we thought it was drying up we walked over to the beach, and then it poured. Nonetheless, John and I ran from overhang to overhang until we found the beach. If I came all the way to the Bahamas, even if it was hurricaning, by gosh I was going to at least see the beach. So we saw it, got soaked, and ran back to shelter.

Bahamas rain
Us near the beach in Freeport. Yes, it’s positively pouring behind us.

Finally, around 10:30 a.m., the rain gave up and the sun came out. Suddenly it was a beautiful beach day. Josh put Logan in a swim diaper and I rolled up my pants and John and I frolicked on the beautiful beach for an hour. The sand wasn’t white, but it was very fine, which made it nice and soft against the feet. Really nice. The water was a little cold upon first contact, but it warmed up fast once you were in it.

Us on beach in Bahamas sunny
After the sun came out. Ahhhhhhh.

We went back to the shops and Josh bought a necklace from the same place I got mine for Hannah. It was black and white with pretty stones on it. It’s a little fancy looking, but Hannah wore it that night to formal night, and the next night with casual clothes, and it looks good on her. Josh spent a long time picking out a conch shell. I helped him pick out both the necklace and the shell, and he got both for $20. It was fun hanging out with him and spending time with my brother like that.

shopping in Freeport
My brother Josh and Logan shopping in Freeport in the rain.

After we finished up at the beach and the shops we took the taxi back to the port and got back on board. That night we went to a dance revue by the Liberty dancers, which was pretty good, although I thought it was cheesy at first but improved as it went on. Many thongs.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007
At Sea

John and I didn’t do a whole lot today. I felt a bit sea sick at night, and I was abnormally tired, so I was more than happy to get to bed early, soon after dinner.

Dinner, by the way, was served in the Silver Dining room every night at 5:45. We have two personal waiters who know our names and remember our preferences (like they always put out a glass of milk for me because I wanted it my first night). We can order whatever we want, as much as we want. I usually order a starter like a soup or salad and then an entrée, followed by desert. The starters have always been good. The entrees have been mixed. I loved the lamb the first night, but haven’t been as impressed since. The best dessert is the warm chocolate melting cake, which is served with vanilla ice cream. It’s like a chocolate volcano, with cake on the outside and pudding on the inside. Yum. Josh ordered it every single night without fail. And the waiters know to bring him two bowls of ice cream instead of just one.

We sat in the hot tub again tonight. It’s very relaxing.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

This was my favorite port, by far. We docked around 8 a.m. off the shore of Grand Cayman, which is the largest of the Cayman Islands, south of Cuba. This is a British principality, too, with a leader designated by Britain. (So cars drive on the left side here, too!) This is a tender port, so we had to get in line for the tender boat to take us to shore. It took about ½ hour, and we were finally on the island by about 9:30. The ocean at this island is beautiful. For the first hour John and I just walked along a road near the shore to see what was there. We walked through a glass-blowing studio, and I used the restroom at a Burger King.

Then it was time to meet up with our group for the tour we had signed up for: kayaking and snorkeling in the ocean. I was a little apprehensive about this, since my last kayaking experience in the rapids of Colorado River near Moab last July were pretty frustrating and so not fun. But let me just say that this experience, kayaking the blue waters of Grand Cayman, were totally different. Oh man it was so much fun. So beautiful.

There were only 12 in our group. A bus took us around to the south side of the island where we met our tour guide Andrew, a black man with an accent that sounded Jamacian. He had bare feet. We slathered on a little more sunscreen and then hopped in our kayaks. Grand Cayman is a coral reef, and there is a large area of shallow water that’s only 1 ½ to 8 feet deep. Then, once you get past a certain point the depth drops drastically to about 6.000 feet. You can tell where that is because you can see the waves crashing there, far in the distance. We started off kayaking near the shore in water about two feet deep. My one major regret is that we forget to bring our water camera, so sadly we have no pix to remember the water or kayaking by. But the water was gorgeous—blue, crystal clear, and warm. You could see straight down to the ocean floor wherever you were. And it was the gorgeous blue color you see on postcards.

Andrew had us stop at two spots along the shore where he told us about Red Mangroves, a protected plant that survives on salt water, and the jellyfish. We kayaked into a little water cove where you could see little green shaggy things the size of the palm of your hand on the water floor, and those were jellyfish. He said they were Cassiopeia Jelly Fish, which have a very mild sting. He held one up for us and let us hold it if we wanted to. So I held it in my hand. It was cool! Kind of slimy; it left a slime on my hand I had to rinse off in the water afterward. It doesn’t sting your palm but it does your wrist. It feels like hot sauce.

Then we kayaked out to a platform about a half mile (?) out into the ocean, still in the shallow parts. The water there was probably about 5 feet deep. We got off our boats and put on snorkel gear. This was my first experience snorkeling, so I was a little nervous. But I wore a snorkel vest (like a life jacket but smaller) and it was actually a lot of fun! Part of the funness was definitely due to the beautiful water. You just stick your head under water and instantly you can see ahead, below, to the sides—everywhere. It’s crystal clear. We saw black spindly sea urchins (don’t step on those!), lots of conch shells, and a coral reef where tons of fish hung out. There were beautiful colorful tropical fish (bright blues and yellows with black stripes), huge, huge fish, and smaller grey fish. It was pretty amazing. And the blue water was perfectly warm. Nice and pleasant and perfect. John helped me by letting me hold onto him a little so I felt more secure in the deeper water. It really was amazing!

When we finished snorkeling we climbed back onto the platform and dried out. Bryan and Hyrum (Hannah’s dad and brother) were on this tour with us, and they were pretty adventuresome snorkelers! They went almost all the way out to the rocks marking the break between the shallow water and super deep. Sitting there on the platform was really like sitting inside a postcard. The sun was shining. The water was that bright tropical blue you always wish you could see in person. And there we were! Honestly, I so wish we had our water camera!!!

When it was time to kayak back to the shore we took our time because it was so lovely to be out on the ocean. It was a warm, perfect, slightly breezy day. We really, really enjoyed our time there.

us after kayaking Grand Cayman
Us after kayaking. So relaxing and fun.

After we were shuttled back to the main city area we walked around and shopped with Bryan and Hyrum a little. Cruise ports typically specialize in jewelry, alcohol, and touristy souvenirs, and this port was no exception. I just bought postcards (which I mailed the next day to some family and friends) and was lucky enough to buy 2 small jars of homegrown and homemade mango jelly, which I plan to give to Tara and Jonathan and the Deans (who are taking care of Kyra while we’re gone). The jelly was really good! They were $5/jar.

It was almost sad to get back on board, because I liked being on this island so much. I would actually consider flying back there someday for a week. Andrew, our tour guide, said he’s lived there for three years and really loves it. He said it’s as nice as you might guess. The only downside is that because everything has to be imported, everything costs more. Milk and bread are around $10. Gas is about $5/gallon. Etc.

But we had to get back on board by 4, so we did. John and I both got more sun than we meant to because our sunblock apparently washed off. I ended up with a nice tan on my arms, back and legs. But it was the only tan I got all week. John got burned on his arms.

We were exhausted and ready for dinner by the time we got back on board. We barely had time to shower before dinner, and boy were we hungry for it.