Feb 1, 2017

The Hope of the Youth

Lately I have had to learn how to do nothing. After being extremely busy the last few years, constantly needing to do something for school, I have nothing much to do. I love being home for the kids. I love that's when it's raining I can pick them up from school, I love that I can focus on their homework without worrying about my own, I love that I can focus on their activities. I love that they are my world again. During the day, when they are at school, I have time to do really whatever I want. Figuring out what that is each day is fun. A challenge but a fun challenge. Yesterday I downloaded an app to learn French and brush up on my Spanish. It's been fun.

Kira- Kira auctioned for the Placer County Youth Orchestra. There are 3 different levels of the orchestra and she made the top orchestra, the symphony orchestra! Her orchestra is made up of high school kids and some junior high kids. She is so happy to be doing something with her cello again since for some reason they don't have an orchestra at her school. This week the youth sang in Sacrament meeting. It was a beautiful song that combined As Sisters in Zion and the Armies of Helaman (Watch the official EFY version here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-13tk2uPUo0). The Spirit was very strong for me. I loved seeing my daughter up there, knowing she is a young woman, no longer a child. I'm grateful for the hope and strength of the youth that gives me hope for the future. I hate politics and try to avoid them, its been hard to do lately. They have got me so down worrying about the future and what it means for my children and my future grandchildren. Listening to the youth sing in Sacrament Meeting, calmed my troubled heart and brought me peace. The world is in good hands.
This was a practice before church began. 

Josh- Josh is busy with scouts and school. Josh is worked on a reverse engineering STEM project at school, him and two friends took a part an X-Box controller to figure out what each part does. Josh decided he loves projects like this, he also loved his computer programming class earlier in the school year. We need to find another one for him.
Josh exploring the parts of an X-Box controller

Lou- Lou is working as hard as ever. He enjoys his work a lot. So if you have any mortgage needs in California or Utah, make sure to give him a call. He can help you get into a house or refinance your current mortgage :) I am glad he is so happy at work.  He also is busy with his church calling. He teaches youth Sunday school. He loves it and the kids love him. I have had several women come up to me in RS and tell me how much their son or daughter loves Lou as a teacher.

Jan 26, 2017

Bodega Bay

This past weekend we took a day trip to Bodega Bay. Lou and the kids went there when I was still in Boise. Lou said, Diana we have to go, you'll love it so much that you'll want to move there. Lou was right. It's a small beach town that reminds us of Portwenn (the town on the show Doc Martin).
The drive to Bodega Bay is beautiful the whole way, driving through fields, wine country, small towns, and then the coast. All so beautiful. It was raining so everything was very green. A two hour drive out of Boise or Utah is usually dry, desert, some beauty but a lot of nothing,  it was nice to have beautiful scenery the whole drive. When we arrived in Bodega Bay we went to a small crab stand. We ordered, clam chowder, crab cakes, a crab sandwich, and a loaf of sour dough bread. Everything was delicious.
A pic of the crab stand where we had lunch.
After lunch we walked on a dock around the bay. Water always makes me happy. I told Lou while we were standing on the dock, I don't think I could be happier than at this moment.
Boats on the bay

This seal became our little friend

Our Family
After walking around the bay, we went to the ocean. My heart is happy that we can drive to the ocean in just a few hours from our home. Someday hopefully, we'll be able to walk to the beach. There was no sand to walk the beach because of how big the waves were. Lou and the kids went just a few months earlier and at that time they could walk the beach. So we watched the waves from above and enjoyed hiking along a trail near the water.

We had such a beautiful day together. We are looking to make these Saturday Adventures a regular thing. There are so many places to go near us that we really need to take advantage and begin to explore this area!

Dec 27, 2016

Christmas Time

It's been quite awhile since I have typed in this little corner of the word. I want to get back into writing. I know I write this introductory paragraph every time I write a post now, I do however have a goal in mind, about writing. I enjoy writing, I have more time now, and while Instagram is fun its not the same.

Merry Christmas from the Allens
Two days after Christmas and its 53° we spent Christmas at home which is now Roseville, California.  The kids are out playing basketball in the beautiful sunshiny weather. They have 2.5 weeks off from school this year. They don't go back until January 10th! The time will fly by quickly, but I will savor every moment.

On Christmas Eve we went to my sister's Sandi's house and spent time with her and her family. It was fun. We played games and had dinner. While we were driving home we dropped off some gifts for people in our ward. The kids decided to do a secret Santa, we had so much fun, I think we will do it every year. My heart beat fast when the kids and Lou ran to their door and quickly ran back to the car in order to not be spotted. When we first lived in our house in Provo, we had a family do the 12 days of Christmas for us. The family dropped off gifts and notes for 12 days in a row. I'll never forget that kindness, it made us feel welcomed and loved. We wanted someone else to feel the same.  Later that night, Lou and I sat by the fire listening to Christmas music. The Christmas spirit was strong. My heart couldn't have been any more at peace.
Lou reading one of our favorite Christmas Eve books "I Believe in Santa" 

Christmas morning was beautiful, there was no waking up super early, there was no rush to the tree. We woke up at 7 for church. We went to Sacrament meeting where we enjoyed a beautiful program of music and spoken word. After church we came home, we made a breakfast of pancakes and bacon. We leisurely ate while the presents remained under the tree. The kids did not complain, I think they enjoyed savoring the beautiful morning as much as Lou and I did. When it was time to open the presents there was such a peaceful feeling, I think because we had time to fully appreciate Christmas morning and what it is all about.  Later in the day we enjoyed a visit from Lou's good friend. We also talked with family on phone and FaceTime. The rest of the day was spent enjoying our new gifts and enjoying each other.
Josh and cousin Kyler making brownies

The move to Roseville, has not been easy for me. I spent the first 4 months in Boise finishing my student teaching. It was hard having my family starting a new life and me being left behind. I am glad I finished my degree but it was one of the hardest things I have had to do, being separated from my family. I am grateful that this past week has been so special, so full of the spirit of what life is all about that I am slowly being able to adapt to our move. I am going to enjoy our time in our little apartment before we buy a house. I will enjoy being so close near each other. The kids are getting older and who knows for how long they will be happy to spend so much time with mom and dad. It will be nice to have that forced time together in our little place.

Josh matched our stockings this year! 

2016 was a crazy year (once again) for our family. Changing jobs, selling our home, changing states, trip to Disneyland, trip to San Fransisco, finishing school. I am excited to see what 2017 will bring, hopefully I will share some of it on this blog  😊

Kira reading like always.

Apr 25, 2016

Why We Went to Chicago: Lou and Diana's Fun Adventure

We have been home for two weeks now. Two weeks of the real world, after the most lovely vacation. Lou and I did something we never do. We went on a trip, just the two of us. No kids, no visiting family, just the two of us, in a beautiful city. How did we decide on Chicago, in April? Well here is our story.

About seven or so months ago, Lou and I saw that our favorite singer David Gilmour (lead singer/guitar player of Pink Floyd) was doing a North American tour. We decided that since he is getting older, only tours maybe every ten years, and since seeing him live has been on both of our bucket lists, we just had to act. Gilmour was only playing in four cities in his North America part of his tour. Los Angeles, Toronto, New York, and Chicago. I thought let's get tickets for one of his Los Angeles concerts, its closest to Boise, we could drive, it would be easy. Lou on the other hand said no I don't want to go California, we have been lots. If we are going to do this, let's really do this. Let's go to Chicago. We can visit your mission and see David Gilmour. So we did it. We bought tickets about a month later, so there was no backing out, no making excuses for why we couldn't go. We waited for over six months for our trip and our concert. I had a countdown on my phone. When Lou was traveling a lot to open their Washington store, or was in Twin Falls, I would send him an update of how many days left. We started out with 164 days when we actually starting counting down. It was so fun to see it get smaller and smaller. And then one day it was down to 1!

Our kind friends offered to watch Kira and Josh for us. How blessed we are to have friends like Lori and David, who we trust like family, and are so nice to even offer to watch the kids. We dropped the kids off to school early on a Tuesday (April 5) morning, and we were off. We chose to fly out of Salt Lake, instead of Boise, because we were able to save a lot of money. We drove the 4 1/2 or so hours to the airport. We got there in plenty of time for our flight. There was practically no line to go through security, we had no bags to check, so we were able to get checked in quickly. We shared some Cafe Rio before the flight and before we knew it, it was time to board. Crazy because our trips are always crazy. The people behind us brought a dog on the flight. I am highly allergic, we talked to the flight attendant, they moved us to the other side of our row and they moved the dog people a few rows back. Other than the dog, our flight was very uneventful, Lou slept, I talked a little to the lady sitting next to us, and read on my phone. We arrived in Chicago about 5:30. Just flying in, I felt like I was coming home. I felt some feelings I hadn't felt since my mission! We decided to take uber to our hotel. Our hotel was near the Magnificent Mile. We opted to be right in the city, so that we could walk everywhere (and we did!). Our uber driver was super nice, him and Lou had fun talking about outdoorsy stuff. It took about 40 minutes but we finally arrived to our hotel.

We checked into our room, it was pretty, very European looking. After checking in, we rested for just a bit while we decided where to eat. Eating was one of our favorite things we did while in Chicago. Getting recommendations from friends who use to live in Chicago, we had a list of places to check out. Our first night we went out to Lou Malnati's pizza. I don't know if it was because we were starving, tired from traveling, or what, but they had the best Caesar salad. The pizza was good too, but man was that a good salad.  After dinner we walked and walked and walked.  We love Chicago, there is so much to see, and the buildings are so beautiful.  We walked for hours. It was raining but our walk was lovely.  We loved walking, and talking, just enjoying each other.

The next morning, we relaxed, planned out our day and then began to walk again.  We walked and walked again.

 We ate lunch at a place called the Big Bowl. We shared Thai Hot Pepper Chicken Noodles. It was delicious. We walked along State Street. The kids gave us a challenge (like on Relative Race) to find a bakery and take a picture of us eating a dessert. We found this cute bakery. I got a truffle, Lou got a croissant, and we both enjoyed hot chocolate.

After our dessert we walked some more. (our trip was a lot of walking and eating). We walked along Lake Michigan and to Navy Pier. We then decided it was time to get close to the Auditorium Theater, where our concert was. We found a burger place, Epic Burger, a few blocks from the Theater to have dinner. I had the best strawberry shake there. So so good. I had to take a picture of it and send it it to the kids, it was that good. Finally it was time for our concert. We walked to the theater, we saw a crowd already there. After a short wait, we were allowed to go into the theater. Auditorium Theater is beautiful.

The atmosphere was incredible, there was excitement in the air. It was hard to believe we were actually there, waiting to hear David Gilmour. I loved just taking it all in. The background noises were really cool, they had birds chirping, talking, and other noises from their albums. The people behind us in our little box, were pretty chatty. Talking with them, helped pass the time. Then boom, the lights went out and the concert began. We were close enough that we could see David and his band members. We hardly paid attention to the screen, because we were so enthralled just watching David sing and play his guitar. Wow, was it a good concert. It was a 3 hour concert, he played for 2 1/2 hours. I can't even describe how perfect it was. My favorite songis High Hopes by Pink Floyd. Never in my life, did I ever imagine that I would hear my favorite singer, singing my favorite song, live. He did numbers from his new album and a lot of Pink Floyd. It was a great setlist. Lou and I hardly talked, even during the short intermission, we were just so mesmerized by it all.

After the concert, we walked back to our hotel, on cloud nine. We couldn't stop talking about the different songs, the lights, the lasers, and seeing everything live!

The next day, we wasted no time sleeping in, we walked to rent a car.  We rent a car to go out to my areas. In my mission, I was lucky enough to only be in two areas. My second area, is the area that I consider "my area". We went to that area first, as it is only less than 20 minutes from the city.  The first thing we did was visit the church in the area. We walked around the outside. I went to the door where we always entered. I tried opening it, and it was open! Luckily missionaries were waiting for a new member. We talked with the elders, and then walked around the church. I walked into the chapel, and sat down at the piano I played the piano for the different wards/branches that I served in. Putting my fingers on the keys brought back a flood of memories. I loved remembering things that I had forgotten.

We then drove out to my apartment in the area, Portillo's for lunch and apartments and parks where I met some of my favorite people. We also went to the mission office. It was fun to talk to the office missionaries and the mission president's wife.

We went to my first area, I couldn't remember where I lived or the name but it was fun to drive around where I had knocked doors, met people etc.

On our way back to the city, we went to a great Mexican restaurant on 26th street. I heard about 26th street a lot from the Elders in my mission, it was fun to finally see it. The restaurant was called Nuevo Leon. The food was so good, so authentic. We got sopes. They also brought us chips and salsa, meatballs and potatoes, and dessert all for free. Our waitress didn't speak any English, it was fun talking Spanish in a setting like that again.

That night, we pretty much just relaxed, we got dessert from the Shake Shack. TBH, it was the only disappointing food that we had. I just got a shake and it wasn't that great. Oh well.

The next day, we walked and walked again. We kind of stuck to the area around our hotel.  We went to a vertical mall (Water Tower's Place). It had so many cool stores. We had a lot of fun walking around it and window shopping. We walked to a place called Rockit for lunch. It was again, so delicious. The service was even better than the food. After lunch we went to Eataly, a fun store with Italian food, restaurants etc. Then we went back to the Water Tower's place, and Disney Store and got souvenirs for the kids. We dropped the souvenirs off at the hotel, ate dinner at Cantina Laredo, then walked to Millennium Park.

 It was then time to get an uber and get to the United Center for Gilmour's other concert.  We did a ride share, it turns out the guy we shared the ride with was also going to the concert. He flew in from Dallas by himself for the concert. He was a young kid only 20. He was fun to talk to. We got to the United Center. It was weird, thinking of all the Jazz/Bulls games I watched on TV over the years at the United Center. The disappointing losses in the Finals. But I decided to not focus on the losses, but think of the concert instead. The atmosphere was so different than the Auditorium Theater. The Auditorium Theater held maybe 3K people. The United Center had over 20 thousand people. It was pretty cool to see the differences between a small "intimate" setting compared to a sports arena. The concert was very cool. He added a song to the setlist without taking one away, so that was awesome. Again its hard to put into words just how amazing the concert was. We didn't want it to end, it was so good.

After the concert, it took a bit to get a ride with Uber but it was fun just waiting around the arena, listening to everyone talk about the concert, and fill the excitement.

The next day, it was time to go home. It was so very hard to leave Chicago. I didn't want to leave. This was the perfect trip. I loved going back to my mission, I loved going to the concerts, and I especially loved being with Louis. We decided that we need to go on a trip, once a year. Maybe not this big every year, but something, once a year.

Mar 13, 2016

So Much Happiness with My Family on My Birthday

Let's pretend that I have blogged in the last year. Life has been so crazy busy that it has been hard to have the time to blog. But I have been reading our blog the last few days, I love reading about what our family was doing when the kids were younger. I know I will really regret not having blogged this past year. I have been good about writing in my journal, so there is some record but that is not the same.

Last weekend was my birthday. I feel so spoiled every year by Lou and the kids, this year was no exception. On Saturday, Kira had an orchestra rehearsal, so Lou took her so I could have the morning to myself. I had a nice long workout, which is my favorite thing to do in the morning. I slowly got ready and enjoyed the quiet. When Lou and the kids got home we went to The Village and met our friends, Lori and David, for lunch. Before lunch we walked around a cute stationary store. It was raining outside and there was the cutest heart umbrella, so Lou bought it for me. We ate at the Yardhouse for lunch. The food was so good but the company was even better. After a leisurely lunch we said goodbye to our friends and then went to Barnes and Noble. Josh had gotten Kira a Pop Hermione for Valentine's Day. When she opened it she noticed the wand was broken, so we exchanged it. When we got home it was present time! Lou was so nice and surprised me with an Apple Watch. It's not something I have ever really wanted but now that I have it, I can't picture my life without it. It's so nice for when I am in the classroom and can't have my phone on me. I love that it tracks my exercise and movement. I love not feeling like I always need my phone right near me. I get calls and texts and most of my apps as long as my phone is in range. I also got a beautiful skirt and some workout clothes. My parents, sisters, and friends also made me feel so loved with gifts, calls, and texts. That night Kira had an Honors Orchestra concert. She did so well. It was the perfect way to celebrate my birthday.

This semester has been so busy but I have enjoyed it a lot. I am doing my professional year internship in a 3rd grade class. I am there 3 days a week. I have two classes at Boise State one day a week. Needless to say its the busiest I have been in a very long time. I love the class I am doing my internship in, 3rd graders are so cute. My mentor teacher is great. I am excited for this semester to end however, and enjoy the nice summer break! I really have a hard time being this busy. I don't feel like I have enough time for Lou and the kids.

Here's to hoping I blog more than once this year!