Monday, August 31, 2009

Brothers are the BEST!!!

Over the past 10 days I have had the absolute JOY of having my little brother Matt here to visit. Matt is one of my very best friends. He cares so much about me and my family and he is always interested in what is going on in our lives. He is one of my favorite people to talk to and he is absolutely hilarious! He had me laughing the whole time he was here. I love my brother.
Now before I get into the fun adventures we had while he was here I have to tell you a little story about the trouble he went through to get here. Because Matt is a poor college student he decided to fly out here using buddy passes from my Aunt Lori who works for Jet Blue(Thanks Aunt Lori for the buddy passes I really appreciated the visitor and I know it would not have been possible with out you), but Jet Blue doesn't have any direct or connecting flights from Vegas to Chicago so Matt had to stay the night in Long Beach. Matt figured that this wouldn't be a big deal and he would just sleep in the airport. Well much to Matt's horror he discovered that the Long Beach Airport kicks people out and closes for the night. So my poor brother, who I mentioned earlier is a poor college student and has no money, was left to wander the streets on Long Beach for the night until he happened upon a lovely golf course were he decided to sleep for the night. That is right , the boy SLEPT on a golf course like a homeless person. He must really love me to go through all of that just to get out here to visit :).
Matt flew into Chicago, which is a few hours from where we live, but it worked out perfectly because Matt served his mission in Chicago. On the day he flew in we tried to visit a family from his mission but they had moved , sad, and we went to Matt's favorite pizza place from his mission, Giordano's. This pizza was delicious and unlike anything I have ever had before!

The first few days that Matt was here we didn't do too much but it was just fun having him around. The Saturday after he arrived we took the kids to the mall to try out the mall jump. The kids had a good time once they figured out that it wasn't scary.

Here is a picture of Matt and the kids dressed for church. The kids loved having Matt here. He is such a great uncle and he spent a lot of time playing with them and reading to them.While we had Matt here we decided it would be fun to take a trip to Silver Beach. Landon and Tori were so excited to get to go back to the beach one last time this summer, they love it there. We choose the perfect day to go. The weather was great and school is back in session out here so it wasn't too crowded.
My favorite part of Matt's visit here was....
our day trip to Chicago!! Last Thursday Matt, Landon, Tori, and I (Ella stayed home with Daddy) took the train to Chicago. First of all Landon and Tori were so excited to ride the train, they thought it was the coolest thing ever. And they got to ride free so that was an extra bonus or us.
I was so glad that I had Matt with us when we got to the city. I would have been completely overwhelmed without him there to show me around. I have never been to a big city like Chicago, sure I grew up in Vegas, but it is so different.

Matt being our tour guide.
The first thing we did when we got to Chicago was go to Millennium Park.
Millennium Park has a lot of cool sculptures and fountains in it. Our favorite was "the bean"
The kids had a blast looking at their reflection in the side of "the bean" and Tori kept saying "Look it's a giant bean! But we can't eat it."Our reflection in the bean.

Matt and Tori under the bean.

After we visited Millennium Park the kids made it clear that it was lunch time. Here are some pictures of us waiting for our food.Our whole trip from start to finish was about 16 hours long and we spent more then half of that time walking. I really liked walking through the city and seeing all the buildings but I think my favorite part of our walk was walking past Lake Michigan. I didn't realize that lake bordered the city so closely. We spent a good portion of our time, while we were in Chicago, at Lincoln Park Zoo. Lincoln Park Zoo is awesome. It had way more animals then our local zoo and the kids loved it!! And you want to know the best part? It is free!!
Above are some of the animals we saw while at the Zoo. My favorite was the Giraffe. The kids loved the monkeys and Matt's favorite were the Puffins (not pictured but they are these super cool sea birds that can fly and swim under water).Here is Landon checking out the Zebras. We picked a great day to go to the Zoo. It was rainy and overcast and therefore not crowded at all!

This picture cracks me up. Landon was pretending to be a monkey.Matt and Tori checking out the Lions.Landon watching the polar bear eat a fish.
I was surprised that one of the kids favorite animals to look at were the fish. They were so excited to see the fish and they kept talking about the mommy, daddy and baby fish they saw.
Matt and Tori enjoying the Zoo.
After we were done at the Zoo we headed back to the train station and got dinner. We then took the train home. It was a long day and we were all very tired by the end of it but we all had a blast, and I would definitely do it again!
We really had a great time while Matt was here and I was so sad yesterday when I had to take him to the airport. Thanks, Matt so much for coming to visit, we miss you already!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School (kinda)

Jared has been going to school since before we were married. He starts his 3rd year of graduate school this month, and I couldn't be more proud, but that is not what this post is about. On Monday this handsome man started his 5th year of Seminary *Photo courtesy of Landon*

Last month we found out that Jared was being called to be the new Seminary teacher for our ward. Honestly I can't think of a better person for the job. If any of you attended LVHS around when I did (give or take a few years) and you had the pleasure of taking my mother-in-law's seminary class, you know that Jared comes from the best Seminary teaching genes. I know it will be a lot of early mornings, moody teenagers, and hours of preparation each week but I think Jared is up for the challenge and I think those kids are pretty lucky to have him as their teacher.

P.S. Landon starts preschool again on September 14th so look for another back to school post then :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gen Con (Alternatively, I am a dork)

So this last week I had an amazing opportunity to go down to Indy for Gen Con. One of my former mission companions (Hemmert) lives down in Indianopolis, where Gen Con is held, and invited me to come down for it. Well, I've actually wanted to go for a few years now, and KT gave me the go ahead so I went down on Wednesday and didn't come home until Saturday afternoon. And the trip down there is only about three hours, so even the drive wasn't that bad, but I digress.

So the first day of Gen Con there was a serious problem. They had double charged me for registration and for tickets. Which meant I had no money. (Admittedly there are all sorts of things to do for free, but there are a larger number of things that require money to go to.) So I waited in line for a few hours on Wednesday and was told to come back the next day to talk about it. Well, rather than push it I said OK and went out and had fun that day. Played a few games, demoed some stuff, and a few other odds and ends. Nothing big really.

Then on Friday I spent 3 or 4 hours talking to people / waiting in various lines to talk to people to get the situation resolved. Well, finally they give me 60 dollars, (Which they said they would remove at a later date [And haven't removed as of yet. So maybe they just gave me $60?] ) Comped all my events, (Which worked out to about $116 dollars worth of events that I chose to attend. And wouldn't have attended otherwise.) and said they would remove the double charge. Honestly, it took a lot of waiting, but I feel that in the end it was worth it. Actually, while I don't appreciate the double charge and the overdraft fees associated with it, I feel that they really made it up to me and so I have no bitter feelings associated with it. In fact I feel it really worked out in my favor at the end.

Anyway, onto what went on at Gen Con. So the first day Hemmert and Surge (Hemmert's friend) participated in a two-headed Ogre WOW TCG event. (If you know what that means, great. If you don't honestly you probably won't care really.) Unfortunately they lost, but in my opinion they made a darn good showing winning about half of their matches. Which is pretty impressive considering the fact that the other people who were in the tournament were, in theory, some of the best of the best. So winning at all is fairly impressive.

I dinked around and demoed a game called "Dragon Dice". What is dragon dice, you ask? Honestly, I can't really explain it. Its a boardlike game that involves lots of dice. I played a couple of matches against a guy, who lost badly both times we played. The dice were not in his favor at all. And so, when I asked for his picture afterwards, he wanted his picture taken flipping off a die. (Which the dice probably deserved after the way they treated him.) Here is that picture (Not for the young or faint of heart.):
*Photo removed by Kerstin who does not think it is appropriate for a family blog*

Also, as an aside here, the camera I brought was running pretty low on batteries and, consequently, required a great deal of stillness for an extended period of time before taking the picture. A stillness that apparently I struggle to maintain, so you'll see a great deal of blurriness in the pics that I've taken. Some of the pictures (Most of the good quality ones) I have stolen from Hemmert. Yoink.

Anyway, then on Friday and Saturday I spent alot of my time playing WOW TCG, (Which I'd never played before, but I found it extremely addictive. Fun game. Also I got lots of product playing it, which just added to the awesomeness.) and WOW minis (Which was also fun, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the TCG). On friday night we played a game called Small World, which I must say was quite fun. Its sort of a funny game of Risk and . . . . something else. It played significantly faster than Risk too, which was nice. Lots of fun. I also played a game called "Word on the Street" made by the same people who designed "Apples to Apples" and it was a hoot. For anyone just looking for a good clean board game that would be loads of fun to play with guests and what not, this is the game to get. I am sorely tempted to buy it myself. (Also, just FYI, its not a dorky game. Its a normal style board game.)

However, while all of this gaming and what not was a blast (Was it ever!), it wasn't necessarily the best part. No, some of my favorite parts of the convention were the people dressed up in costumes. (Cosplay I think its called?) There was all sorts of people dressed as all sorts of things. And, rather than simply have me telling you about it, Imma post some pics so that you can admire (or not) some of these with me.

First we are going to start with some random Final Fantasy characters. I was attempting to find, and take pictures, of all the FF7 cast. Unfortunately my camera ran out of room and the batteries completely died on me, but so it goes. I did get a fair number of FF characters though.

This is Auron from FFX. When I asked this guy if I could take his pic, he immediately fell into this pose, and did it just like Auron from the game did. It was a very exciting moment for me.

And here we have Tifa, from FF7. I saw lots and lots of Tifas over my stay, and I think she was the best. Of course, my memory kinda sucks and this is the only picture of any Tifas I have . . . . so I could just be making that up. But I think I'm right.

And here we have a blurry Yuna from . . . I think this one is from FFX2. I know she was in FFX and FFX2, but she dressed differently in both of them. And honestly I don't like her in either, but in the interest of getting all the FF characters I saw, I took this picture. I believe that I chose poorly.

And that is all of the FF characters I have pics of. Yes, I saw many more, but camera problems prevented me from taking pics of them. I saw Cloud, Sephiroth, Aerith (Aeris?), and a few more, but this is what I have of them. But that isn't the end of the pictures.

Here we have . . . . . some character. Honestly I have no idea what game he is from. However, to me he looks like one of the guys on Command and Conquer, so in my mind he is C&C guy. But the real reason for this picture is that this guy looked pretty cool.

And here are some guys that need no introduction. Who you gonna' call? These guys. Their backpacks even lit up and made the little sound. No streams though.

And here's another guy that (I feel) should require no introduction. A man who was as well known in his day as Superman. Truly an American hero. (And has cooler stories than say, Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill.) So yes, if you don't know who he is you should be ashamed. Very ashamed.

And while we're dealing with Superheroes, we may as well hit this guy, Thor. Yeah, I know what you're saying, "Isn't Thor a Norse god?" And you'd be right. He is. He is also a superhero in the . . . marvel universe I think. Maybe DC, but I think it's marvel.

And here we have Emma Frost. OK, so this lady looks almost nothing like Emma, but whatever. I have the pic and we're sorta dealing with Super heroes. Its alright if you don't know who she is, she's really nobody important in my estimation. (Emma that is. I'm sure the lady dressed as her is very important to someone.)

And on the topic of people its OK to not know who they are, I present Harley Quinn. Basically the Joker's sidekick. She has an awesome backstory and is a pretty cool character. But she's a sidekick so it really doesn't matter. (Why care about Robin when there is Batman, really?)

And here we have Sora, from Kingdom Hearts. (An awesome game in case you were wondering.) In the game Sora is a boy. The person dressed as Sora is a girl. But the costume was awesome so it worked. She'd done a good job on it really.

And here we have the Clampets. Jed on the right and . . . . I think that's his sister on the left. Been awhile since I watched that show though so I could be wrong.

And here we have a clone trooper. I feel that he looked a lot like Boba Fett, but I was assured that he was, in fact, a clone trooper. So here is a clone trooper.

And this is Link, from any number of Zelda games. Alright, what made this guy so awesome (Aside from the Link costume, which is worth a lot of awesome points.) was the fact that his sword fit into his shield. I know many of you who follow my wife's posts are probably saying, "Yeah, so what? Who cares?" Those of you who have played Ocarina of Time will remember that Link's sword fits into his shield. Its the little things that get me all excited.

And next up we have Saruman and one of the Riders. I've never seen the movies, but I've read the books and, sure, this could be how they looked. Why not?

Then we have these guys. I honestly don't know what game they are from, but the soldier on the left and the zombie in the middle were pretty cool so I wanted a pic. They informed me that the guy on the right is part of the ensemble too, so that's why he is there. I don't know what he is . . . a reporter? An angsty dude in a leather jacket during a zombie apocalypse? I don't really know.

But not everyone was dressed as something dorky, some just made me laugh. These guys were dressed as the Yip Yip guys from Sesame Street. I don't know what their real titles were, but they were the aliens who just stood around and said "Yip Yip Yip" a lot.

And here we have Captain Jack Sparrow. His costume was incredibly accurate. Honestly it was almost uncanny the way he pulled it off. Most impressive.

And here we have two completely different genres. On the right we have Snake, from any number of his games. On the left, we have random Steam Punk guy. As an aside, I have decided that my favorite type of outfit is Steam Punk. Most of the people who dressed up in Steam, looked pretty cool, whereas many other people who dressed up just made me laugh.

And for the last, and possibly least, pic here is Malificent, from Sleeping Beauty. And Kingdom Hearts. But mostly Kingdom Hearts. It was actually a pretty cool costume, but its malificent, and so there really aren't that many cool points that you can get from it.

Anyway, I would really like to say thanks to Hemmert and his wife for putting up with me for the week, it was a blast. (And, in hindsight, I should have gotten a picture of us together. But I didn't. So it goes.)

Lets hear it for Gen Con!!! Woot woot.