4.27.2010

California Dreamin'...




Ok! I finally have a few minutes to record all of the exciting things that Chris and I did while we were in California! It was one of the best trips I have ever been on and I want to remember every detail forever.

Saturday:
We landed in California and rented our car on Friday night, so when we awakened on Saturday morning we were ready to hit the ground running. We started our day by going on a FATNTASTIC 3 hour tour of San Francisco with a company called Mr. Toad's. It was a 6 person tour in an old-time car, and because it wasn't one of those big tour bus tours, our tour guide was able to take us up and down all of the hills and through all of the beautiful, very different neighborhoods. We got out in Chinatown and learned how to make fortune cookies and we also got out at the Golden Gate Bridge. We saw the Full House house and the Mrs. Doubtfire house, and we learned all about the history of the city as we drove around. We also could not have asked for more beautiful weather- it was 75 degrees and sunny the entire day!

After our tour was over, we set off to explore by foot. Piers line the water at the edge of the city, and each pier has a personality of its own. We walked through Fisherman's Wharf and saw the sealions sunbathing:). Then we grabbed a quick lunch and set off for Alcatraz. We took a ferry over to the island and then a 2 hour audio tour of the prison once we arrived. We learned a lot about the history of the prison and its former inmates. Big time criminals who misbehaved in other prisons, like Al Capone, were sent to Alcatraz, and I can see why. It must have been torture to be locked in a 6 by 4 ft. cell, look out the window and see the gorgeous blue water and the San Francisco skyline. A few men even escaped by digging a hole through their jail cell wall with spoons, and they have never been found. Some people think they died soon after diving into the water, and some think they made it all the way to South America on the raft they made out of rain jackets.

That night we stayed in San Rafael, about 30 minutes north of SF, so we'd be closer to Napa Valley the next day. We ate at an awesome Puerto Rican restaurant with picnic table seating. We literally sat at a long picnic table and had dinner/ talked with everyone sitting around us. One lady even tried to convince us to go to a nude hot springs in Sonoma.
It would be such a nice thing for you to experience together!

Mm hmm, yes! We'll try to fit it in our schedule...

Sunday:
On our second day I crossed off # 3 on my Life List- to explore Napa Valley! We started our day with a private tasting and tour of Artesa Winery. Artesa is built into the side of a mountain and the view from the entrance is absolutely breathtaking. Our tour guide Dan took us all over the property, taught us everything we had ever wanted to know about wine (which is a lot), and had even set up tastings for us along the way. We got to walk into the vineyards and see the caves where they store the barrels of wine. We drank wine there and talked to Dan for 3 hours. If he had offered us a bed I would have spent the night.

From there we went to a great Italian restaurant and had lunch outside in the sunshine, and then we drove to Quixote Winery! Quixote is a spanish style winery that looks like something out of Alice in Wonderland. It is lopsided and colorful and out of place, making it all the more interesting. We spent hours there exploring, talking, and of course, tasting WINE!

After that we drove to Sonoma Valley and walked around the town near our hotel. Then we went to dinner and devoured rolls and rolls of sushi!

Monday:
First thing Monday morning we were scheduled to take a hot air balloon ride, but it was cancelled due to early morning fog. So instead we headed to the beautiful Benziger Winery. Benziger is a family owned winery and the only biodynamic one in the area. The vineyards are surrounded by lush gardens and organic vegetables, and they make their wines without the use of any pesticides.

We took a private tour of the property, complete with a tasting of their Estate wines in the underground cave, and even got to try a wine from its barrel! Here again we learned all about the wine making process, and why different wines come out tasting differently. Did you know that they "toast" (read: burn) the inside of the oak barrels to various degrees to add flavor depending on what kind of wine will ferment inside?

Next up was Imagery Winery, the sister winery of Benziger. Our friend "Bull" who worked there literally let us taste every wine they sell, and needless to say we were there for a few hours. This winery had some of Chris' favorites. We discovered a port wine we loved so much that we bought a bottle. When we had gotten our fill (if that's possible), we sat outside and had a picnic overlooking Sonoma Valley.

From there we made a quick stop at Gloria Ferrer Winery, which specializes in sparkling wine. I figured we had to taste a little bubbly while we were making the rounds, and so we shared a glass of it on their patio before hitting the road.

Then, just in case we hadn't squeezed enough into our trip, on our way back to the airport we drove to Muir Woods National Park so I could touch a Red Wood tree. As soon as we got there I walked up to the park ranger and said "Hi! We're from Virginia and we only have 3o minutes. Where can we find a Red Wood?" He literally laughed and made a motion with his arm as if to say 'uhh...look around!'

We ended up taking a mile walk through the forest, and hopped the fence quite a few times to touch the trees because I couldn't contain my delight. The trees were massive and beautiful and it was such a peaceful place to explore.

We left Muir Woods and went straight to the airport, dropped off our rental car and headed to our gate. We left California at 10:30 pm, arrived in Virginia at 6:30 am, showered, and believe it or not, went straight to work without sleeping!

It was a whirlwind, adventurous vacation FULL of new experiences, and I couldn't have asked for a better birthday present. It started off the big 2-7 with a lot of love and laughter. Thank you, CH!

4.23.2010

And That Makes 3...

So my classroom started out this school year with one new fish and one new hermit crab. One week later we had named our fish Bill and the hermit crab was dead. I don't know what it is about hermit crabs- I can not keep them alive. I had one when I was younger who drowned itself in its water shell, and another one who crawled out of its shell and collapsed. It was traumatizing.

I realized our class hermit crab was dead after listening to my students say "Ummm... the hermit crab is in the same place as it was yesterday" for 3 days straight. I know this is wrong, but for a few days after that I picked up its shell while my students weren't in the room and moved it from place to place. Hey- You try telling 25 8 year olds that their pet is dead. I already went through it last year with Bob the fish and it wasn't pretty. And furthermore, who the hell goes to the pet store and buys the ONE hermit crab that is on its last leg?! I had the right to pretend that I got my money's worth for a few days.

After breaking the sad news, I of course told them that I would immediately go out and buy a new hermit crab for our classroom. 7 months later the empty cage still sits, full of sand and a fake, fluorescent tree, waiting for an inhabitant. And every few weeks one of them will ask me "Soooo when do you think you'll get around to buying us that hermit crab?" A few months ago one of my students even brought in a fake hermit crab to sit in the cage. Pathetic.

So anyway, last week at school my friend Robin told us that they are currently selling water frogs at Hallmark and offered to buy a few for my teammates and me. I had looked into land frogs before, but the idea of feeding them crickets everyday had made me nauseous. But since these are water frogs, they don't eat crickets! And because they live in water, there's no chance of them drowning. This seemed like something I could handle.

My students were beside themselves. These 2 frogs trump the lame hermit crab idea any day of the week. We brainstormed name possibilities and voted on them (because we're a democracy and by that I mean I am actually the dictator) and some of the choices they came up with were Slick, Kermit, Cuddles, and Dusty. But of all the names they came up with, the majority of the votes went to none other than Six Pack and Michael Jackson.

Yes, oddly enough I'm serious. Tied with Michael Jackson was actually Lil' Wayne, but I made the executive decision not to name our frog after a rapper who is in jail right now for gun possession. They also decided that Michael Jackson will be the lighter colored frog because "the real Michael Jackson was pale." Weeellll...

When I fed the frogs on Friday, I was more than alarmed to see that Michael Jackson was either a. trying to eat Six Pack or b. trying to get a little Six Pack (if you know what I'm sayinggg). I attached a video of it so you can see what I mean- It's so shocking! And I'm already growing attached to the little guys so it totally freaked me out! So help me if I walk in tomorrow and one of them is dead, I am calling off all future pet purchasing endeavors in my classroom. Wish me luck!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBNbVshkF-c

4.22.2010

San Francisco & Napa Valley!

4.16.10-4.19.10 Nights 24-26 I just got back from an incredible weekend in California! I am so excited to write all about everything we did (as soon as I catch up on sleep!) Until then, here's our trip in pictures!

4.12.2010

27th Birthday Bananza!!!!!





So I turned the big 2-7 this past Wednesday, and if I could bottle up the love I felt all week and sell it, I'd be a millionaire:).

The festivities began at midnight on April 7th (I couldn't wait another second!) when Chris gave me his present- a trip this coming weekend to San Francisco and Napa Valley! To say that I am EXCITED is an understatement. I must have screamed for 5 minutes straight. I have wanted to go to San Francisco since high school, and going to Napa Valley is one of the things on my life list, so he did a realllllly good job with this gift. The funny thing was that the first card he gave me said that he was taking me to Richmond for the weekend. After I used all of my best "excited" acting skills, he gave me another card that had the details of my actual present. Now, I love Richmond as much as the next gal, but I have to admit I was a little more excited over California.

The next morning I woke up to find that Chris had continued the Robinson tradition of hanging birthday signs up around the house. This started my day off perfectly, because this is a very serious thing in my family- you just do not start your birthday without signs. My favorite one that Chris made said Over the... and then had a big picture of a hill. Clever. I also ate a spoonful of black eyed peas, but that's a different story that belongs with my OCD blog post.

When I got to work and turned the corner to my classroom, I saw the biggest, most obnoxiously HUGE and FANTASTIC birthday sign hanging outside my classroom door. It was so big that it made me laugh out loud. Then, upon entering my classroom, I saw that the "birthday fairies", my mom and my teammate Jane, have decorated my entire classroom with streamers, flower, signs, and balloons, and my teammate Susan had brought me breakfast. I literally couldn't believe it. I thought my heart might explode with appreciation and it wasn't even 9 am.

When the bell rang, my students started filing in with a gifts, flowers, and homemade cards, and once again I thought my heart might explode. One of my students, an 8 year old, had even gotten everyone in the class to sign a "class card". I know some adults who can't manage that!

My mom came and met me for a birthday lunch, I had cake and ice cream with my students, and all day long people came in my classroom to wish me a happy birthday. To top it all off, that night Chris took me out for an incredible birthday dinner in DC, and I of course stayed up until midnight to see my birthday out (another tradition of mine).

This past Saturday, the celebration continued all day at a vineyard, where we listened to live music, had a picnic, played football, and relaxed in the sunshine. As most of you know, I am a spring time junkie. So an entire day outside with beautiful weather was my dream come true.

On Saturday night I had people over for the final birthday hoorah, and it was wonderful to have so many people that I care about all in one place. I really will never forget the feeling I had when I listened and watched as a whole room full of people I love sang Happy Birthday to me. It was a striking, vivid feeling of just how lucky I am, and I will carry it with me all year long,

Here's to another 27+ years of feeling happiness just like that. :)

Here is the video I made of birthday pictures! http://animoto.com/play/FIolo6Ga2vc6N2a0tRQgNQ?utm_source=project_complete_email&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=project_complete_email&utm_content=main

PS. I want to give a quick shout out to the Big Mama, whose thoughtfulness is one of the main reasons I feel so loved on my birthday and every other day of the year.

4.04.2010

Cherry Blossom Festival!


I love D.C.! I love living here, I love exploring here, and I love having so many wonderful things to do right at my fingertips. As part of our Easter festivities, Jason and I went to the Cherry Blossom Festival today and everything looked absolutely beautiful. We walked around the Tidal Basin with Kenzie for over 2 hours and talked under the canopy of Cherry Blossom trees.

As most of you know, Jason and I spend the majority of our time together making up rhyming songs, singing our conversations, and playing games that only the 2 of us find amusing. Today's game was to see who could swap back and forth faster between saying 'Cherry Blossoms' and 'Chelly Brossoms'. We literally walked around in between thousands of people while doing this. Cherry Blossoms, Chelly Brossoms, Cherry Blossoms, Chelly Brossoms. Needless to say, a. people probably thought we were strange and b. we spent the afternoon in our own little world, laughing hysterically as usual :).

4.03.2010

A Little Piece of Heaven...


Key West, FL
3.27.10-4.3.10 Nights 17-23

That's correct, I am 26 years old, I just returned from Spring Break, and I am happy as a little clam about it. I mean- if my students get a break, I should too, right? :) Thank goodness I chose a career that can accommodate my travel schedule!

My mom, my brother, my friend Sabrina, my Aunt Tricia (whom I call Pat, as in PATricia) and I spent the last week in Key West, which we know so well now it's like our home away from home. This is our 3rd annual Spring Break together and the 4th time in a year and a half that I have gone to Key West. I absolutely love it there and each time I go I discover more hidden treasures.

This time around we did what we always do: eat, lay out, eat, laugh, read, lay out, explore, and eat. The 5 of us make wonderful travel companions and we had an absolute B.L.A.S.T.

I also want to point out that I believe this trip puts me ahead of Mr. Guthrie for nights not spent at home in 2010. I'm just saying.

Here is the video I made of our trip! FYI, the quality of the pictures are much better when you don't watch it in 'full screen'.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6Fj1r5uABY
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