Sunday, February 27, 2011

SKIING!!

Before this past week, I had never been skiing before. Yes, you read that right....{gasp}! Despite the fact that I have lived in Utah my whole life (minus those first 4 years I breathed air as a Texan) I had never once taken advantage of "The Greatest Snow On Earth." And that was okay. I didn't feel deprived of some super special Utahn right or anything. Sure, it looked fun. I had all sorts of odds and end boyfriends who swore they'd be the first to get me up on the mountain and I was all sorts of game. But it never happened. Let's face it. Skiing is a very expensive date. When I was 19 I married Bryan...he, himself an avid skiier and snowboarder. But he more or less gave it up cold turkey when we got married. Because life happened. College and work and bills. And then kids and mortgages and just...life. And once again, that was okay.

Fast forward a bunch of years. We now live in an area where having a season ski pass is the norm. Where the 4th graders at the elementary school go skiing as a field trip. Where the jr. high arranges discount ski days regularly. Julianne and Brandon both have learned to ski and have gone repeat times with friends. But now...well, being an older, responsible adult, I have learned the value of precaution and skiing just didn't appeal to me. Oh fine...who am I kidding. My fear now stemmed from worries that my older, less flexible body would be a lot more likely to come home with broken bones acquired on the slopes! Still, when my friends Gary and Hannah offered up a free ski pass along with encouragement and promises of personal lessons, the idea appealed to me. For a lot of reasons, but mostly so I didn't have to admit to living in Utah almost my entire life without learning how to ski anymore.
Heather and me having just rented our gear.

The proposed day arrived. Bryan, though invited, declined on the basis of work projects so the happy group consisted of Gary, Hannah, Jason and Heather (other good friends) and me...the one and lowly newbie. I had butterflies in my stomach but I was excited. I mean, really, how hard could it be? Brandon, my 9 year old, was giving me skiing tips that morning. Surely if he and Julianne could pick it up in one day and come home raving, then I could do it too, right?

We stopped at the ski rental at the bottom of the hill to outfit both Heather and me. Along with skis, boots and poles...a helmet. Not required for skiing but strongly recommended...especially for a beginner like me. Bryan was surprised when he saw pictures later. "Hard helmets?" he asked. "Yep. 99.9% of the people on the hill were wearing them." How things have changed since he was last on the slopes. And how grateful I was for that hard helmet later. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Jason and Gary immediately took off for higher elevations seeking black diamond runs. The three of us girls headed straight for the bunny hill where Heather and Hannah planned to show me the ropes and get me feeling confident. Wow. Snow is slippery!! And yes, I know that is the whole point. But, still! I got pointers on snowplow/pizza slice vs. parallel skis. ("And whatever you do...don't let your tips cross!") I got pointers on how to turn, how to stop, how to get up once you've fallen. That last lesson came as I fell getting off the ski lift. Yep. Just getting off the darn lift! And although I'm told that everyone falls getting off the lift at least once, I felt pretty silly. But then, even more silly when I realized that I couldn't get back up! Advice and tips galore, I still could not figure it out. Heather even got down on the ground to show me....and it looked do-able enough. But nope. Still didn't happen. In the 6 over all times I crashed/fell, I had to have someone help me up every single time!! Sheesh. But once again, I'm rushing my story.

My plan was to become "Queen of the Bunny Hill"....with magnanimous thoughts of sending the others off to enjoy tougher stuff while I happily, safely and (eventually) confidently spent my time swooshing down with the beginners. But that was not to be. After Hannah and Heather deemed me sufficiently ready, they put me on the lift and then sent me down a slightly steeper hill. Still a "green" run...but that's where I got my first crash. Got going too fast and lost control. It didn't hurt. Wasn't even really humiliating. But it crushed my confidence. I was relieved when they said it was time to meet the guys for lunch. We got on the first lift. And then a second...which was much longer than the first. My nerves were building as I realized however high we went, that's how far I was going to have to ski back down again. I'm afraid I gave rather nasty looks to Hannah and Heather when they then put me on a THIRD lift. Lunch was at a restaurant at the freaking summit of the mountain!! Gary smiled and congratulated me when we walked in. I think I told him that I didn't like him very much anymore. He laughed. My appetite failed me and I only ate half of my very expensive hotdog and fries.
Lunch at the summit! Me, Heather, Jason, Gary and Hannah.

All too soon we were back outside strapping on our skis again. Gary sent Hannah and Heather ahead while he and Jason took their turn babysitting me. Calling out encouragement and tips, Jason skied ahead of me, Gary behind me...kind of clearing my path from other skiers, picking me up when I fell. (Which I did...3 times). We made it 1/3 of the way down the mountain to the ski lift...(you know, that THIRD one that we went up?) and to my dismay, they decided we needed to climb on and go back to the summit AGAIN! What?? Gary spent the entire lift time reassuring me, encouraging me, telling me how great I was doing, how well I made turns for a beginner....that this time I'd do great, that he'd be behind me the whole way down and to just let go and enjoy. (I was thankful for the encouragement, and wanted to tell him to just shut up, equally in turns...) :)
Hannah and me getting ready to ski down from the summit, the second time.

So once again I found myself staring down that big hill. I took a deep breath, found some inner courage and went. S-L-O-W-L-Y. I felt like I should have one of those Slow/Caution triangle signs on my back....I was a model of perfect snowplow/pizza slice form! Back and forth...huge turns back and forth down the mountain. And pretty soon something clicked inside of me. All of the sudden it all started feeling natural and right. The swooshing sound of my skis cutting through the snow sounded so cool. The sun was shining, I wasn't cold, the snow was perfect...and I was having FUN! I was doing it! S-L-O-W-L-Y but surely I made it down that mountain. The whole way down. And I didn't fall once! I was exhilarated when we reached the bottom. Our time spent, we made our way back to the rental shop to return the gear. I cheerfully babbled about my experiences to the rental guy, who knew that it was my first time and seemed good naturedly happy that I'd made it through unscathed. (How much do those boots weigh, anway? I felt like I was walking on air when I took them off!)
Look at that perfect "snowplow" form!

Tiredness, sore muscles, and bruised shins (from leaning into the overly tight boots for so many hours) all set in later that evening. But it was a happy sort of tired and sore. Okay, I know that people go skiing every day....that it's not that big of a deal. But for me...my exit out of the "never been skiing" club was a momentous occasion. I feel like I should have a swag t-shirt or a sticker for the back of my car or something! :) I'm guessing that I will go skiing again some day. Hopefully what I learned my first time will stick with me. Maybe I'll even be able to figure out how to get up when I fall! But all in all, this first experience skiing was a great one. And I credit that to Gary, Hannah, Jason and Heather who took the time to patiently teach me, who didn't take offense at my frustration and who didn't laugh TOO hard at me when I biffed it....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: London

London. November 1999.
My sister Melissa is in Europe this week. A business trip, yes...but any excuse to spend time in Nice, France and Milan, Italy...well, that sounds pretty awesome in my book. (My sister Katie is at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas this week and between the two of them I have some pretty intense vacation envy.) Melissa has been sending somewhat regular updates to her blog with fabulous pictures and stories, all of which have me drooling. So my picture choice for today's Favorite Photo Friday is ME in Europe (London, obviously), albeit 11 and 1/2 years ago.

When Bryan told me he had a business trip scheduled for London (as opposed to the normal places like San Jose and Chicago) I didn't waste a breath before immediately begging to come along. And although it was a huge step out of my comfort zone, I learned the Metro lines and stops ("Please mind the gap between the train and the platform...") and navigated my way around London entirely by myself while Bryan was teaching class. Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards, also Kensington Palace and Princess Diana's dress collection. Notting Hill, the Tower Bridge and the very impressive Westminster Cathedral. Big Ben where I got teased about being from "the Colonies" and Harrods were I didn't buy a thing because everything was ridiculously expensive. And of course the Tower of London where I saw the crown jewels and hung out with the Yeomen Warders or "Beefeaters." (See above picture.) In the evenings Bryan and I wandered around Leicester Square and other such places for dinner and nightlife. On our last morning there we even got the chance to do a session at the *London Temple.

*A conversation later that day at the airport....
Airport security agent: "Have you left your baggage anywhere unattended?"
Us: "No. Oh shoot! Yes, actually!"
Airport security agent: (warily...) "Where?"
Us: "At the Mormon temple."
Airport security agent: "Oh. The Mormon Temple? Well that's not a problem then."
Us: :)

Well, I guess my memories will have to suffice in my raging case of vacation envy. Either that or I need to start looking into a vacation of my own. I'm thinking an Alaskan cruise sounds nice.....

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A good luck quirk?

Brandon had a meet on Saturday. And without going into much detail...seeing as so many of my posts are gymnastics related lately...I'll just say he received some of his best scores of the season, he earned some medals as well as ribbons (he LOVES medals), his team took 1st place and Grandma and Grandpa came to watch. It was a great day.

But what I really wanted to point out was this: Do you see it? (You may have to click on the picture to make it bigger.)

I didn't at first. It wasn't until later that day when I was looking through all the many pictures I took that I noticed it. Brandon's tongue. In every single shot I have of him racing down towards the vault, his tongue is out! I never realized that he did that when he ran. Funny enough, I'm not sure he did either until I pointed it out! I wonder if he does it in P.E. at school or if it's just a gymnastics thing...like a good luck quirk so he can stick his landing or something....

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

An admission

There was a little bit of Spring in my kitchen today. After a trip to the local nursery, Lilian and I potted a fern for the living room, a cactus garden for the computer room/library and a rosemary plant for the kitchen. The smell of the soil and the plants, pulling out my garden gloves and tools, dirt down my shirt and in my eyes....ahh, Spring.Oh. Wait. Wasn't my last post about loving Winter?
Yes, yes it was.
Hmm....
Okay, fine. I admit it. As much as I love winter, there is a part of me that is getting excited for Spring. There! I said it. Happy?
(My dad is gloating right now...)


Oh, and by the way? I don't really love getting dirt down my shirt and in my eyes. Don't know why that always happens.
And also, I named the fern Harvey. Just in case you were interested.

Have I mentioned recently how much I LOVE this place??

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Snow-fairies in action

The Snow Fairy by Claude McKay

Throughout the afternoon I watched them there,
Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky,
Whirling fantastic in the misty air,
Contending fierce for space supremacy.
And they flew down a mightier force at night,
As though in heaven there was revolt and riot,
And they, frail things had taken panic flight
Down to the calm earth seeking peace and quiet.
I went to bed and rose at early dawn
To see them huddled together in a heap,
Each merged into the other upon the lawn,
Worn out by the sharp struggle, fast asleep.
The sun shone brightly on them half the day,
By night they stealthily had stol'n away.

I like this poem. Interesting to think of snow not so much as a weather pattern but as individual little flakes...or in this case, flakes personified into fairies. I like snow. I really, really like snow. And winter. So much more so than summer. And this winter has been wimpy, in my opinion. Yes, I know that there are many in this state that would beg to differ. Many who have seen storm after storm dumping 6 inches, 10 inches, 15 inches and more. But Mother Nature has been much more mild where I live. Each storm that rolls through tends to drop a token 2 inches so as to save it's main dumping for points south. This displeases me. Irrationally so. And so although the 50 degree weather earlier this week did feel nice, this dramatic windblown, snowy reminder that we are indeed still in winter has been much welcomed by me.

(We got 3.5 inches last night. How sad is it that this storm is probably our biggest all winter long?)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's a human-sized hamster ball!

In honor of Family Home Evening...no, Valentines Day...err...really, just a way to keep the kids entertained, Bryan and I decided to unveil our newest Costco find:Umm...is it just me or does Bryan look like he's that grape guy in one of those Fruit of the Loom commercials? :)And although it feels a little like being in one of those hamster balls...it's been tons of silly fun for the whole family.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines Day

If my memory serves correctly (it usually does) and my math is right (that's up for debate) this is the 20th Valentines Day that Bryan and I have spent as a couple. Granted, the first 2 were while he was on his mission. But the cards and cute little gifts melted my heart all the same, despite the fact that I had to receive them through the mail instead of in person.

We went to lunch this afternoon while the older kids were in school and Lilian was at playgroup. After 17 years of marriage and 4 kids....ANY alone time constitutes romance in my book. After eating at Paradise Bakery we did a little grocery shopping. Costco was doing a brisk business...the place was swarming with guys holding bouquets of flowers. Made me smile. I make it hard for Bryan to buy me flowers seeing as I tend to buy them for myself fairly regularly throughout the year. His plans today, however, did include his own trip to Costco to join those flower buying hordes of men. "A happy wife equals a happy life".... so stated the quote on the board in Elders Quorum yesterday afternoon, he tells me. :) So since we were there together, he let me pick out my own flowers. How cool is that?

For years we have celebrated Valentines Day more as a family holiday. Long ago Bryan and I decided that trying to get a babysitter and also a table at a decent restaurant on the big day was next to impossible. So we have a fancy dinner at home...kids and all. Fancy china, fancy meal, fancy dessert. And a great meal it was...roast, potatoes, carrots and broccoli. Even red velvet cake for dessert. (Don't be too impressed...the cake was from Costco.) But the kids have now finally gone to sleep. Looks like it's time to take the celebration down the hall to the back bedroom...
Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: Excited About Driving...

This girl has been anxious to drive since she was two years old. Much to her excitement (and my trepidation) she only has about a year more to wait. Heaven help us!

Rebekah. April 1998

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thirteen


Thirteen years ago today Julianne was born. We had hoped her arrival would coincide with my father's birthday...a big one for him, turning 50 and all...but apparently she wanted her own birthday and kept me laboring for a good 21 or so hours before making her entrance at 7:43 AM on the 10th. 7 lbs 5 oz of sweetness.

And while keeping a great deal of that sweetness throughout these past 13 years, added to the mix is humor and wit, wisdom and smarts, drama, stubborness and sarcasm, fashion sense, talent, spirtuality, generosity, and friendliness....all of which make up the amazing and wonderful girl that is our Julianne Dlora. Happy Birthday sweet girl!
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Waking Up in Vegas

I had Katy Perry's "Waking Up in Vegas" in my head all weekend. And not that we ourselves were gambling, getting drunk or eloping....although we did see a lot of that going on...we were there for Brandon's Black Jack gymnastics meet. Still, the song persisted.

"Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That's what you get for waking up in Vegas.
Get up and shake the glitter off your clothes now
That's what you get for waking up in Vegas."

I don't know why.

(Dinner at Cheescake Factory in Caesars Palace)


Brandon and I flew in Friday afternoon. Bryan met us at the airport having driven down a few days earlier for a rifle class at Front Sight in Pahrump. (The man lived out of the truck for 4 days. Literally. Slept on a foam pad and a sleeping bag in the back of the covered truck. Bought groceries and kept them in his cooler. Warmed up burritos in the classroom microwaves, charged his cell phone during lectures. Didn't take a shower for a few days but claims that when you're in the middle of the dessert on an outdoor shooting range...who cares? It's just like camping! Well...not my cup of tea but I'm glad he had fun. All the same, I'm pretty sure he was immensely thankful for the shower and soft bed at the Hilton when he arrived in Vegas Thursday night.)

Brandon had never been to Las Vegas before. We gave him a little bit of a heads up before we left....you know, that there are tons of great and neat and cool things about Vegas....but also a lot of things that aren't so great, neat and cool. And that if he saw a billboard or ad, he should just turn his head and ignore it. He reacted well. Marveling at the lights and sights..because truly, Las Vegas is pretty unique. But also ignoring the crap, even though I had no doubt he noticed it. And honestly, we were so busy with gymnastics that we had little time to truly take in much of the strip...much to my chagrin. (I'd hoped for some more shopping and sightseeing. Oh well. Another time.)

(Brandon was gaga-faced walking through the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace but this fountain full of mythological gods and creatures especially caught his attention seeing as we are right in the middle of the "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series.)


Las Vegas or no, gymnastics was the reason for the trip. We were up and at the sports center bright and 7:30 AM early for Brandon's warm up and competition. Sitting on those hard, metal bleachers for a good 4 hours or so was not overly comfortable but what fun we had watching Brandon! This was a BIG meet. Teams from all over the country were there. Brandon didn't place in any event, but just the thrill of being there was enough for him. He came running up to me when the whole thing was over, to give me a big hug. I asked him, "So...was that kind of fun?" "Kind of??" he asked incredulously. "It was AWESOME!" I'm glad.(Getting stretched by Coach Gabe before his turn on pommel horse. That's cousin Davis standing in front of the pommel waiting for the judge's high sign to begin his routine.)

(Look at those pointed toes!)

(Getting feed back from Coach Adam after his floor routine.)

(Johnny, Brandon and Davis at lunch at California Pizza Kitchen after the meet. Gabe and Adam also joined us and there was a whole lot of silly hilarity going on. Release of competition pressure, maybe?)

Later that night we came back for the Winter Cup. A competition for the big boys....for the college teams, etc. These are the guys that will compete for the honor of being on the Olympic team in London 2012. In fact, Jonathan Horton, from the 2008 team, was there! Because of a broken thumb he couldn't compete. But he did sign autographs. Brandon was desperate to get an autograph but we didn't have a pen or anything for him to sign. Not one to give up easily, Brandon found some one with a marker and had Jonathan sign his SWAG Black Jack shirt that he had received after the meet earlier and was wearing. (He refuses to wear the shirt now. Is concerned the multiple trips through the laundry might make the autograph fade. He insisted I hang the shirt up on his bedroom wall....) The Winter Cup was AMAZING. I can't count how many times my jaw dropped open in amazement at the things these gymnasts can do. WOW...for lack of a better word.

(Brandon and Davis watching the Winter Cup. How awesome for these boys to see what they have to look forward to if they keep up the hard work.)


(Completely zonked out at PF Chang's after a long, busy day. Heck, it was midnight before we left the restaurant. I had a half a mind to join Brandon in his nap on the bench.)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Umm...ouch?

This is what gymnasts call a "rip." They are very common...this is nowhere close to the first one Brandon's had. But unfortunately he has his big Blackjack Meet in Las Vegas on Saturday. Normally, when getting a rip, gymnasts clean it up, wrap it up, and then get back to work. In this case, because he does have this big meet Brandon's been babying his hand slightly. On the advice of his coach, he skipped working on high bar yesterday. And we've got a cleaning, medicating and wrapping routine down. We're hoping, hoping that we can get the thing mostly healed before Saturday. But if not, he'll compete through the pain. It's all part of life as a gymnast.

These, right here, are some awesomely talented, hard working, and strong boys! (Have you seen the kinds of muscles gymnasts get?? Dang!) Brandon is the last boy standing on the right.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Brrrrr.....

Rebekah: "Mom, are you going to drive me to the bus stop?"
Me: "Yeah. It's only 3 degrees outside."
Rebekah: "It's 3 degrees??! Good thing I'm wearing this warm sweatshirt!"
Me: (Looking at her incredulously....because she's wearing the sweatshirt AS A COAT and has a short sleeved shirt on underneath.) "Rebekah, if there's ever a day for a big, puffy coat today would be it."
Rebekah: "Nah...this sweatshirt is warmer than my coat."
Me: "Uh-huh....yeah, right."

Maybe a reminder of the "Ugly American" lecture is in order...

It's ridiculously cold outside. I was shocked at how bitter that wind felt. According to the news the 60 mph gusts we had here in our town yesterday took the record for craziest wind in the state. Which made our temps feel like -16. Not to worry, this doesn't dampen my enthusiasm for winter. It just means warmer clothes and lots of hot chocolate! All the same, I am looking forward to the mid-60's that are forecast for Las Vegas this weekend....

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy February!

Happy February all! I decorated for Valentines a few days ago. Do you like my Valentine tree? Bought last year on a Pottery Barn sale, it's supposed to be an Easter tree. And I fully intend to use it as such come April. But I think it can easily do double duty with hearts in February. (I can't take credit for the idea though. I totally copied my friend Mylissa.)

I stayed up late reading "The Lightning Thief" to Brandon. Well, actually...it wasn't all that late, but I was tired. I shouldn't have let Brandon convince me to read that "one more chapter, please Mom!" I soon found my head nodding and my eyelids drooping. And kept catching myself reading words that weren't actually on the page. (I'm sure this confused Brandon...time and time again, asking him "What did I just say? Oh. Sorry. It really says this...." And eventually I must've fallen asleep on the couch because I woke up around 11:30, all the kids having put themselves to bed after turning off the lights and covering me with a blanket. I really need to stand firm and not let Brandon talk me into reading more than I've originally promised. It's just so hard to say no when he starts rubbing my back and playing with my hair....
One quote from the book that I do remember...you know, before I started nodding off. It's when Percy and his friends are down in the Underworld looking for Hades. And Percy is describing the scene: "To the left, spirits flanked by security ghouls were marched down a rocky path toward the Fields of Punishment.....Even from far away, I could see people being chased by hellhounds, burned at the stake, forced to run naked through cactus patches or listen to opera music."
hahahahahahaha....breath.....opera music!....hahahahahaha!! :)
Maybe I should double check with Bryan to make sure that listening to opera music isn't a form of punishment for him....seeing as I sing opera music frequently....

Because I promised Julianne that I would drive her to Taylor's house at 6:30 this morning (she and her friends frequently like to get ready for school together, swapping clothes and doing each other's hair and all that) I couldn't go to the gym. I talked myself into running on the treadmill. I was fifteen minutes into my run before Rebekah came in and begged for a ride to the bus stop. Knowing that it was only 12 degrees outside, I consented. I threw on a big trench coat over my shorts and tank top for the quick car ride around the corner and down the street. (And laughed when I realized how silly I must look...) I resumed my workout with a speed walk on a steep incline. But 15 minutes into that I realized that it was time for Brandon to wake up. Sigh. I got him moving and made him breakfast. By the time he was out the door, Lilian was up. She did not want me to get back on the treadmill. "Too loud!" she said. So after turning on "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," I did some pilates and some sit-ups on the floor next to her before deciding that maybe I could declare this piecemeal workout complete. Sheesh. Talk about multi-tasking. Maybe tomorrow will go more smoothly? I'm hoping to win the "mind over mattress" battle and get myself to the gym to do some spinning. We'll see.


My Paperwhites are blooming on my kitchen table. Aren't they pretty?