Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wii Birthday and Thanksgiving

Well, it was my birthday. And because Cary and I are so close in age, we are actually both the same age now for the next couple of months.

Susie bought the new Nintendo Wii for my birthday. I was told to act surprised. :) I do the finances and I saw the bill on the credit card about 3 weeks before the big day. Our solution to this is to have Becca buy it, and Susie just writes a check later.

As you can see, Simon liked playing with it too.

The Daniels came down from Utah for Cari and Nate's wedding...and to hang out with all of us during Thanksgiving.

For several days, Sam had the pool warmed up and everyone had their time in it. Here's Jordan mid-air doing a forward flip. Kind of looks like he's sitting in a chair.

This is Spencer doing a back-flip off the diving board. This shot looks like a frame from a Spider man movie dodging weapons.

Grace and Ben are here helping out with the dinner rolls. They helped Susan and Denise butter them before going into the pan.

Yes, you are correct, we had a deep fried turkey. We had a traditional turkey and breast as well. The deep fried turkey tasted good.

Nate actually started off the oil by making some tasty chicken wings as an appetizer. He actually fried the turkey neck as well. He said he and his dad would go around stealing necks to eat. He said it's like turkey-jerky.

Here's the thanksgiving lay-out. With the living room furniture moved out for the wedding, Susan decided to have thanksgiving served there too. Sam and I probably went thru 20 different configurations of tables before we settled on this one. We probably could have written a manual on how to maximize table space.

Of course, Turkey had its affect on everyone. I was a bit too noisy to catch Tay sleeping. Here's Drew sleeping with the pies in the background.

We made so many pies we were practically giving them away as door prizes.

Tay and nearly everyone else went to see the ASU vs. USC game. Here's Tay all ready to see the game better from his seat.

Susie and I stayed with Simon. We ended up staying up with Spencer and Jordan. We played a couple of rounds of Settlers of Catan. Susie won both times representing Team Ning.
We played again Friday night and Susie won again, making a 3 game winning streak.

It was really fun hanging out with all the family. Simon enjoyed seeing his cousins and being handled by everyone. He really was a champ. He did get a bit sick but we all had fun anyway.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Nate and Cari Owen

Well, congratulations to Nate and Cari. Their wedding was yesterday and it was a lot of fun. It was a purposely small crowd, although it's pretty tough to keep a small wedding party in a Mormon environment. As is the tradition amongst the Robinson weddings, the ceremony was held in the afternoon. This left us able to get nails, hair and make-up done with plenty of time in the morning.

This also left enough time for me to spend some time playing with Grace and Ben.
Here they are being silly in their wedding clothing in the trampoline. I watched them play and play and play.

Here's Simon sitting with Doug Owen, (Nate's father). Do you like his outfit? It's a pinstripe vest and pants with a body-suit button-up white shirt. He was stealing the show that night.

Here's Davis being a ham. He was watching an episode of Clifford, the big red dog for the 3-4th time since I got there.
With all the wedding stuff going on, unfortunately the Rails couldn't stay very long, and we didn't get much time to play with David and Noah. It was fun the time we did have.
Here's Susie with Grandma Robinson ("842"). In her usual fashion, she came, saw everyone, and then shortly after the ceremony, she quietly ducked out of the party.

Funny picture of Simon. You can clearly see his two teeth he's got. He still keeps us up at night because his new teeth hurt. He's eating up a storm and we don't know how to get enough calories in him so he can sleep again thru the night. We're not putting in some orajel on his gums at night to relieve the pain.

Here's Simon again showing off his smile. He loves the mirror, and he loves the camera. Really just a big flirt.

During the wedding, Nate and Cari walked out onto the back deck covered in rose petals. After the ceremony, Grace and all the other kids had a lot of fun grabbing the biggest pile they could make, and throwing it up in the air.

This picture was actually taken before the ceremony. But I really liked it. They posed on the balcony.
We wish them all the best.
If asked, I already had the perfect advise for them as a new married couple:
- Never underestimate the power of hormones.

New York and Phoenix

Well, the long awaited family trip to NYC and Phoenix took a little turn. About 4 months ago, the original idea was for the family to go out to NYC for a week while I stayed at Sheraton for work. Afterwards, we were going to fly out to Phoenix for Thanksgiving; Susie had intended to go to her 10 year high school reunion the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

So, first of all, my trip to NYC got cut short and then was extended to include to work with a company out in Long Island. This was a big discouraging for Susie since my hotel in Manhattan would only last until Wednesday mid-afternoon.

Then, Susie's sister, Cari, decided to choose November 17th as her wedding day. Susie felt that her week off would be best spent helping Cari get ready. So below are some of the pictures that I took with the family on Friday before the wedding.

Grace and Ben Cason enjoying the swings out in the front. Quite frankly, I'm her favorite Uncle, really!!

The pool was heated up to 80 degrees and Simon thought it was like a big bath. He loves taking baths and he loves being out in the pool.

Susie loves taking Simon in the pool. He had a mild ear infection for which he's taking antiobiotics. So he couldn't get his head in the water. It's actually pretty funny to watch him go under. Susie wanted me to point out that Simon's left eyebrow goes up higher than his right. She claims that's the "Robinson Mark"... more specifically, she said that look reminds her of her father Sam.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cities & Knights Victor

For those that are in the know, about 40 minutes ago, I, Kelvin, won Cities and Knights for the first time in the year 2007.

The first place loser was Jared Peterson with 12 points. And pulling up the rear was David Parker with 8 points.

For those that were keeping track, we've played quite a bit this year (almost weekly) and taught a lot of people and showed them how to win. Before this day, the last time I won a game was in Mallorca, Spain, playing against Jared and Kelli Salter just before Christmas.

I would like to thank Jared and David, who recognized I was winning, and put up a huge fight to make sure I wouldn't win it by a landslide. For about the last 6 rounds, no one would trade with me, and they did all that they could to thwart what was to be my day. At least, it was not won uncontested.

All Hail Lord Kelvin of Catan...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

San Francisco Wave Organ

So today we did a family walk out to the San Francisco Wave Organ. If you walk out from the exploratorium to the beach and take Baker out to the ocean, there's a little finger of land that stretched out into the ocean. There are a bunch of pipes that play different notes as the waves hit along them so they change at different water levels.

I actually used the timer on my camera for the first time and took this one. We'll need to do this more often, or else, only Susie and Simon end up in the photos.

Jared Salter would like this shot because we were able to get the sailboat in the background. Yes, that's also Alcatraz island in the back.

Simon with the Golden Gate Bridge in the back.

My two favorite people.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Ward Halloween Party

As you can see, we had a theme with our costumes. Simon was a shark, Susie was a mermaid, and Kelvin was a surfer (the surf board didn't quite get finished before it was thrown away). The ward Halloween party was excellent. We had on the menu:
- Brains, with eyeballs served in a blood sauce (spaghetti and meatballs in a meat sauce)
- Bread with Vampire Repellent (garlic bread)
- Battered, deep-fried fingers on a stick (corn dogs)

A little over 200 people attended and we had all sorts of games. A spook alley was constructed with the help of the youth. The Bishop had his spider room which was good for the little kids. Thomas Glenn was the "mad scientist" in the spook alley. He had to tone it down a bit after a couple of kids. This section lasted only from 5:30 to 6:00pm. We had a scavenger hunt for the kids which involved them looking for certain characters in the cultural hall and getting a sticker from them. If they got all the stickers, we would give them a bag of candy in the end (everyone got a bag regardless). There was a "toy-walk" and a pumpkin pie eating contest.

Honestly, this was our first Sunset Ward Halloween party, and we liked it. We'll have to dress Simon back-up in his shark outfit again to take more pictures.

Simon has Teeth

As of October 29th, Simon woke up with a tooth on the lower jaw, front left. On the 31st, the one next to it came out also.

This explains why he's been sleeping so poorly, and feeling a little warm. As you can tell, he's now learned to stick-out his tongue. Since this occured for the first time, the morning his tooth showed up, we think the two are related.
The latest theory is that he likes to feel the tooth under his tongue, so he's really not sticking his tongue out, but just rather, feeling his tooth with his tongue.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Farmer John's Pumpkin Patch, HMB

Every year we go to Farmer John's Pumpkin Patch in Half-Moon Bay. No one else really has a pumpkin patch; they all buy their pumpkins and lay them around. Farmer John actually grows them out in the field and you can go out and pick them off the vine.

This, of course, was Simon's first trip to the pumpkin patch and he had a lot of fun.

Jared and Becca were there along with the Tanners. Here's Jared taking our catch from the vines back to the front lot.

Simon picking out pumpkins with Susie. He's wearing socks his Grandma Ning made for him.

Simon's first kiss is with a pumpkin

Gap Casting Call

So, we've decided to test how cute our baby boy is. We have entered these pictures into the Gap Casting Call competition which you can read about here.

Here are the pictures submitted.

If Simon wins the first round of judging, then he'll be up for public voting. At which point, we will let everyone interested in voting for him know so that we can get some extra help. :)

We think he's the cutest.

The Ning's Eastern European Vacation

So, it’s been awhile, but it took us…I mean Simon, a little while to actually get adjusted back to the right time zone. Otherwise, he’s been a real trooper thru all the places that we took him. We had an incredible trip visiting 4 countries in 14 days.

Day 1-3: Budapest, Hungary
We arrived on Sunday. It was interesting in Budapest. The taxi driver was INSANE!! It was almost as if he was trying to impress us by how fast he could drive. We met the Salters just in time to watch them go to church. Jared had to give a talk and Kelli had to teach a class lesson. It gave us enough time to set-up a blow-up bed in their living room and crash for several hours. Kelli was nice enough to make us a roast for dinner and that was our first day.
The next day we went with Kelli (Jared was at work) to the market. It looks like a train station but it was a planned building for this type of commerce. We also walked down one of their fancy shopping streets.
On Tuesday, we went across the Danube and checked out Castle Hill. There really wasn’t a big castle up there, but there were some ruins of some and a long history of Castles being built there. Simon enjoyed the view.
Day 4-8: Istanbul, Turkey
Kelli found this cool hotel in Istanbul. It was so small, the ride from the airport, which comes with the hotel, didn’t know how to get there. It was at the bottom of one of the hills (Istanbul is founded on 7 hills, like Rome). Unfortunately, to get to all of the sites, we pretty much needed to get up to the top of the hill to get to anywhere. After the first day, it got easier and easier.This was the entrance to the Topkapi Palace. This was the home of the Ottoman Sultans from 1465 to 1853. The Grand Sultan would hang the remains of those executed for not conforming to his views at this entrance.

One of the courtyards build for the Harem, which means forbidden…meaning forbidden for others to see.

From this vantage point, during Ramadan, the Sultan would wait for the sunset.
The Grand Bazaar. I didn’t think it was going to be this nice. I don't think anyone really thought we would spend more than half a day there. We spun around there looking at great antiques and handcrafts. We haggled our way thru and spent several a little bit of time there each day looking for better deals on specific items.

It was nice having the Salter's there. Jared is ruthless when it comes to haggling. We also were able to get group deals when we were both looking for similar items.

The Egyptian Bazaar had a lot of great spices there. Oddly enough, it was a lot harder to haggle on prices there.

The Hagia Sophia was the largest enclosed building in the world for nearly 1000 yrs. It’s the 3rd largest dome currently. Originally constructed in 537 as a Christian Cathedral until 1453 when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks and it was converted to a mosque.

It's hard to portray the imensity of the edifice. We tried to imagine what types of ancient Christian services could have been held here with such a large building.
The architecture was ornate, and very detailed. The amount of work involved to put this together was amazing to imagine. The age of the building also amazed us because of how well preserved and maintained it is. Simon enjoyed all of it.

The Blue Mosque is located across the street. We were all immediately identified as Americans, and a Turkish Rug salesman helped us beat the lines into the Mosque and guilted us into walking over to his shop to get a hard Sales Pitch. The only good thing about that was that he walked us by the remains of the horse stables of what used to be the Hippodrome of Istanbul.

Halfway thru the trip to Istanbul, we found ourselves doing laundry in our bathroom. I thought this picture pretty much portrayed how it was traveling with a 5 mo old baby. We used purified water to clean out all of our bottles as well.

Beneath the city was carved out a giant fresh water Cistern. When it was re-discovered, it was drained and became a great relic to the engineering history.

On our last day, we took a taxi further down the Bosporus River to city of Ortakoy. There was a hand craft market there. We took a quick family portrait at the port among the fisherman.

Day 9: Recovery in Hungary
We came back to Hungary for a day. Basically it was to do laundry. Oddly enough, the Salter's building was going under some gas-pipeline upgrades during the exact time period that we were visiting. So, in the meantime, their hot water was not available. One of Jared's good friends, 2 stops away, was going to be on vacation in Germany. We were able to stay there a night and do laundry. Everyone eventually went there to get hot showers.

Day 10-11: Vienna, Austria
We had a couple of days to spare so we took a train ride north to Vienna. We were constantly amazed that in a 3 hour journey, you can find yourself in such a different place. Vienna was one of most favorite spots during this trip. There were a lot of reasons why we liked it: the H&M store was like the US Banana Republic, the city was clean, and the place felt like it was frozen in time from the Renaissance.

We stayed at the Marriott in downtown (great hotel) and started off to the Schonbrunn Palace. We didn’t do any tours of the inside, but we did walk the grounds and do the maze. Simon enjoyed the view from the back of the property overlooking the palace and the city. Before heading back to Budapest on the train, we made a quick stop to the Hofmann Palace as well. We definitely need to come back to this place.

Simon enjoys a bit of CNN in the morning

The train ride home was fun for Simon. He enjoyed looking out the window and smiling at the border patrol as they came into the cabin.

Day 12: Pecs, Hungary
We decided to spend this day trying to save a little bit of money and buy some leather bags from their factory in Pecs. Our final destination was western Slovenia and we thought we had this plan down pat. Roads ran slowly and the store had the bags that we wanted but they were at the same price as the ones in Budapest. Jared did some haggling and finally got a hold of the owner of the factory and had them sell us a couple of bags at wholesale prices using Jared’s personal business name.

After a very long drive, we ended up in the beautiful lake resort town of Bled, located in the north west corner of Slovenia. Looking back, we probably should have checked a bit on the weather and dressed warmer. We all could have had another layer.

Lake Bled is famous for its cliff-hanging castle overlooking a small island with a church on it. It was rainy but we toured the castle and took a boat ride out to the island. I insisted on having one of the locals row us out on a traditional boat to the island. That was great until on the way back, it took twice as long because of the headwind and the rain which was dumping down on us. Others on the boat lent us their umbrellas to cover the kids.

Day 15: Heading Home
It was a great trip…great to see the Salters and to see so much of Europe. Simon slept most of the way which made it tough to get him adjusted to the time zone shift again, but it was more pleasant for everyone else on the flight.