Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Bryan and I tried out iFLY today.  "Flying" in a vertical wind tunnel....it's supposed to give you the feeling of skydiving.  After a quick class instructing us in form and hand signals, they outfitted us with a helmet, goggles, earplugs and a coverall sort of flight suit.  The flying pose was slightly reminiscent of Superman...belly down and hands outstretched.  But that's where the similarities ended.  With an (inverted) arched back, legs bent slightly, and chin pointing up, the sleek lines of Superman were nowhere to be found.  But fly we did.  

Bryan was better at it than I was.  More relaxed somehow, than I, he was able to fly pretty much on his own without too much help from the instructor.  It took a lot more effort for me to hold my form in the intense wind which meant the instructor had to be a lot more hands on with me.  The last half of our second individual sessions, the instructor grabbed a hand and a leg and then spun us in circles up and down the tall wind tunnel.  Bryan being the first one of our group, it took him by surprise.  My turn next, despite knowing what was coming I still couldn't stop the whoop of delight.  Good heavens, what a feeling!

Brandon and Lilian came with us.  Though Lilian was hugely entertained watching the group before ours fly in that tunnel, when she saw us suiting up and realized our intentions, her smile quickly faded.  A look of immense worry clouded her face, despite Brandon's assurances and our thumbs up from inside the waiting chamber.  By the time Bryan stepped into the wind tunnel, Lilian was in tears and hiding under the chair, so concerned for our safety was she.  But seeing Bryan's smiles through the window and watching him come out unscathed made her feel better...to the point that eventually she started giving us those thumbs up signals back.

Brandon was rewarded for his double duty as photographer and babysitter with a couple of climbs up iROCK next door....     

Monday, January 30, 2012


"The boys sound like cows from Switzerland up in the Alps!" 

(Said Hade, Andres' mom from Belgium...who was responding to the constant clinking sound from the copious medals our boys earned at the meet this past Saturday.)

 Just smile, wave and say "moo," boys.....

This is Brandon's second meet in a row where he has taken 1st place all around....but who's counting?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

It's done!! Mostly....

So...the last man cave update in November left us at insulation for the walls, preliminary floor finishing and hardi-plank on the exterior.

Next up was plywood.  Over the entire building...walls AND ceiling.  It was a big job...that ceiling is very high and I think making cut-outs for the numerous canned lights was hard.  Glad it wasn't me doing it!   

In the midst the plywood process there came a day where Bryan was able to pull together a posse of men to take a small chunk of their Saturday morning and move the vault door. 

It's enormous, this door.  800 pounds.  It was not easy the first time, when we first brought it home to install in our basement storage room.  So the thought of moving it up the basement stairs, through the backyard and then down into the man cave was daunting.  But it had to be done.
 Next up was sheet rock.  But in order to get that done, we had to call out the company that installed the gas a few months ago to get the heat officially on and running.  It's one thing to slap up plywood in the December cold but mudding and taping sheet rock was another story....one that ended with my gas bill going up noticeably but predictably in price.  Still, it's certainly nice to be cozy in there. 

Trim was next.  Along the floor and around the windows and doors.  
And then with the heat on and the mudding and taping done, the painters made an appearance.  Bryan chose the same paint color for the interior walls and ceiling that we have throughout our house.  A nice neutral color.  While the painters were here they also painted the door a dark brown that matches the soffit and the stairs made from dark brown trex decking.  Oh!  Stairs!  That's new from our last update as well.  Our contractor showed up one warmish, sunny day and whipped those out in a couple of hours.  (Railing to come in the spring.) 

Sheetrock was not installed along the bottom 5-6 cement underground feet of the building because Bryan decided he wanted carpet there.  Deciding that this was something he could handle on his own rather than pay for the labor...he picked out and picked up the carpet himself, bought the glue and tools, and then with the help of his brother Kevin, installed that carpet on the walls and the landing right inside the door.  

Once all the messy stuff was done, the electrician who had run wires and set things up months ago, was called back to officially install the lights and outlets.  With winter bringing on dark early in the evenings a lot of work had been done with shop lights on extension cords running through the back yard and up to the house.  So to be able to flip a switch?  I felt like exclaiming "Let there be LIGHT!!"

And are you getting a eyeful of that gorgeous floor?  Just this past week they cleaned up all cardboard and plastic coverings that had been protecting the floor and did a final finish.  Pretty, no?

There are things still left to do.  The exterior will get stacked rock and railings up the stairs and around the porch and we need to pick out the coach lamps.  And eventually there will be some kind of garage type rolling or accordion door on that wide closet-type room that you can see.  But in the meantime, for all intents and purposes the man cave is done!  Bryan excitedly started moving in his weight equipment last night.  Gymnastics mats and power tools will make their way in soon as well.  Which means, realistically, that I think my husband may go MIA for awhile as he spends all his free time in the awesomeness that his his man cave.  Luckily it won't be too hard to find him...    

Friday, January 27, 2012

Favorite Photo Friday: Being silly with Rebekah and friends

These are recent pictures...January 2012, in fact....just a few weeks ago.  Normally I use older pictures for Favorite Photo Friday...photos with a story behind them.  This is just the opposite.  I don't know where they were, what they were doing there or why they took these pictures.  I don't even recognize all the faces.  But Rebekah sure looks pretty.  And I couldn't help but giggle.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A preview of "Beauty and the Beast"

Rebekah and Julianne performed in "Beauty and the Beast" this past weekend with a local community theatre group.  Julianne played a can-can kicking enchanted napkin and Rebekah played a villager who gets her tushy literally kicked by an enchanted plate later on in the mob scene.
More pictures to come later when we get the official disk...but here is a preview from some sneaky pics my sister took.  

 Rebekah is the one in the floppy hat behind Belle.

  Julianne is in the colorful skirt just behind and to the left of "Chip."

 After the show and backstage silliness.
"Oh Mom.  Why didn't you TELL ME that my hat looked weird!"

Lilian was enthralled with the whole show and was the best little audience member you ever saw (blessedly) other than her frequent and excited whispered comments.  And getting to meet "Belle" out in the lobby after the show was a definite highlight.

Look at my two beautiful little actresses! 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Tell me why teenagers (specifically Rebekah in this case) can't seem to close drawers or hang up towels?  I'd really like to know.  Because I'm baffled as to why this is so difficult...truly I am.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Rebekah is driving!

A trip to the Drivers License Division of the DMV today resulted in a passing grade on their computerized written drivers test. The reward?  Rebekah's learners permit.

This was her second try, actually.  She hadn't expected the test to be so detailed.  Do you know how many feet to stop before a railroad crossing?  Or exactly how many feet you have to be able to see in both directions before you make a u-turn?  Or when to turn on your headlights in regards to visibility footage?    Do you, do you?  Me either.  I would've failed the test also.

So...this, along with her enrollment in Drivers Ed. this semester at school, has me freaking out just a little bit.  Oh, I like the idea of her being able to drive.  Not having to drive her to school or to various friends houses on the weekend, not to mention sending her off on errands for me, does have it's appeal.  It's the thought of TEACHING her to drive that kind of worries me.  Not to mention, in what vehicle?  Our choices at this point are Bryan's little stick shift, cherry-red-cop-magnet sports car, or my monster Ford truck...in which I'm worried she'll cause an accident just trying to park the huge thing!

Regardless of what she ends up driving, practice she must.  Requirements for an official drivers license include not only passing Drivers Ed and being 16 year of age but also having a learners permit for at least 6 months and 40 hours of driving time with a parent.

Wish us luck!    

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1st Place!

First gymnastics meet of the season, seven medals.

Floor-- 1st place
Pommel Horse-- 1st place
Rings-- 1st place
Vault-- 3rd place
Parallel Bars-- 3rd place
High Bar-- 3rd place

All Around-- 1st place!!!

Actually, he tied for 1st place.  Usually when a tie takes place with two gymnasts having the same all around score, they then look at who had the most 1st place wins in individual events to determine who gets the top billing.  (Or so I've heard....)  Before they started announcing the awards, all of us parents from the gym who were sitting up in the stand together, started figuring out all around scores.  (Camilla had an app on her phone for it.  A gymnastics meet tracker.  Seriously.)  We realized that Brandon and his teammate Andres had the exact same all around score.  And it was high so we were pretty sure that they would most likely tie for 1st...with one of them taking 2nd, but which one would be which?  We listened carefully to the individual events announcements...where it turned out that out of 6 events, they each took 1st place in 3 of them!  So when it came right down to it, everything equaled out so perfectly that they awarded both boys 1st place with no one in 2nd.  Brandon and Andres were thrilled to share the 1st place All Around award.

And then the day was made even sweeter when the team won 1st place as well....all the boys did phenomenally well.
Best. Day. Ever. according to Brandon.
Next meet....the Blackjack Meet in Las Vegas. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Live Deliberately

My last post has become the 3rd highest viewed post since I started this blog back in 2008.  I wasn't really sure why, at first.
A fluke?
Bad weather outside equals more on-line time?
It'd been almost a week since my last post and you all missed me?  (HA!)

But then I realized what it must be.  The title.  My post is titled "A ridiculously long time in coming..."
Tell the truth...you all thought I was making some big announcement, didn't you?

To clear the record, clean the slate, etc...

I am NOT pregnant.
We are NOT moving.
We are STILL happily married.
Rebekah is NOT legally licensed to drive.
The man cave is still NOT done.
I have NOT lost 10 pounds.  (darn)
Etc, etc, etc.

Sorry if I unearthed your inner gossip.  No big news here.

In all actuality I feel like I'm in a rut.  I'm busy, certainly.  In fact, for the past few days I've had so much going on that I've felt like I've been living in the land of crazy!  But somehow despite that, I feel like I'm in a rut.  I get up and do the same things day after day.  I don't wake up excited about my to-do list.  I don't even make a to-do list.  And though I have a desire to change this pattern, I'm having a hard time making myself do it.  A self-defeating, spiraling cycle.

Maybe it's a bad case of January-itis.  Though normally I really like January.
Maybe I'm missing performing....I've taken the last few months off from voice lessons.
Maybe I need more sleep.  (probably)
Maybe I spend way too much time each morning sitting in front of my computer checking emails, commenting on FB, reading blogs, writing blogs and just surfing the internet in general.

Realistically, I think I'm not using my time well.  I feel like I'm letting life just happen to me and then reacting to it, rather than living deliberately.  Which makes me, well...kind of depressed.  So then, feeling bad, I sit around.  And let life happen to me some more.  Which then makes me more depressed.  You see the cycle here?  I go to bed each night feeling like I didn't really do anything with my day...knowing full well that it is my own fault. 

I have a good, full life.  And I am happy.  I am blessed with good and sweet children, a beautiful home and a husband who not only loves me but supports me in my hobbies...singing and choirs, running and biking, etc.  I have interesting and varied friends from all phases of my life that I still frequently get together with.  My live is GOOD.  So why do I feel this way?

Honestly, I hesitate to say any of this.  I'm pretty sure that it is just winter blues or something equally silly.  Chances are good that I will feel much better next week.  But in the meantime...maybe I should look at making some changes in my daily life.  Changes wrapped around living deliberately, looking at each day as a gift and using my time more productively and wisely.

Some thoughts from Elder Ian S. Arderm's talk in General Conference that really jumped out at me last October:  
*With the demands made of us, we must learn to prioritize our choices to match our goals or risk being exposed to the winds of procrastination and being blown from one time-wasting activity to another.

*I know our greatest happiness comes as we tune in to the Lord and to those things which bring a lasting reward, rather than mindlessly tuning in to countless hours of status updates, Internet farming, and catapulting angry birds at concrete walls. I urge each of us to take those things which rob us of precious time and determine to be their master, rather than allowing them through their addictive nature to be the master of us.

I decided back in December that my New Years resolution/Word of the Year should be Live Deliberately.  Last year it was Essential.  The year before that it was Balance.  And as I thought more about it I realized that basically they all mean the same thing.  Balancing my time and activities, doing the Essential things first, Living Deliberately so I'm not just reacting to whatever life throws at me...    Each year's word may have a slightly different spin but obviously I still haven't got this concept right.  This is something I struggle with and need continued work on.

So I'm hoping as I make some changes in how I live my daily life, I can pull myself out of this self-defeating little rut that I find myself frequently inhabiting.  Wish me luck that I can Live Deliberately this year!   

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A ridiculously long time in coming...

I've FINALLY updated my family pictures on the wall in the front hallway.  Though I'd updated the two frames of kid pics to include Lilian, the official family portrait up there was still the one taken back in 2005 or something.  Brandon was 4 years old.  Lilian wasn't even a twinkle in our eye yet.  I wasn't yet a brunette!  (Funny side note: my visiting teacher came over one day, took a look at the blonde me and joked, "So...Bryan's first wife?"  Not many people in this neighborhood know that I'm originally a blonde.)  So yes, needless to say, a new family portrait was way overdue.

But then after FINALLY arranging to get our family portraits taken (Jon Woodbury Photography.  Trust me, he's amazing!) it took me another year and a half to get them printed and hung.  You've seen the pictures....because I've used them for so many things in the past 18 months, including the header at the top of this blog.  But indecisiveness (as well as laziness) played a big part in my procrastination.  The original dilemma...which of the fabulous plethora of pictures should I pick?  And then...should I just pick one and blow it up huge?  Or a collage of many?  One big and a few small or all the same size?  Canvas or not?  New frames or keep the sizes to fit in the old?  Yeah...I made it way more hard than it needed to be.  Finally I made it my number one priority last week and MADE A DECISION!  A trip to Costco, a trip to Michaels for frames, and then tons of help from Bryan (who was, in all honesty, more than willing to help because it meant he got to play with his new laser level) we got those beauties hung.  I couldn't be more pleased with the result.

And as long as I'm showing off house decor, I might as well point out my new(ish) runner.  Pretty, yes?  I think it warms up the hallway nicely.  (In looks as well as bare feet in the winter.)  Originally I bought the runner (from IKEA) for the hallway coming in from the front door.  But then for kicks one day I moved it to this section of the wood flooring leading to the kitchen and I liked that too!  So off I ran to IKEA for another identical one.  (If you look closely, you can see the other runner leading to the front door in the above picture.)  Next up:  Hopefully curtains for the living room windows.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Favorite Photo Friday: Unhappy Brandon

August 2007

Buying a house is a pretty big deal.  Because realistically, it's more than just buying a house.  Especially when you are looking for a place to settle for the long haul.  The neighborhood, the community, the schools....but mostly, will this house be a home?  Throughout the decision making process, I made a lot of spur of the moment drives that ended with me in the idling car, staring up at the under construction house and trying to imagine ourselves in it.  Was this to be our future home...or not?  (It was.)
Six year old Brandon was less than thrilled about this particular spur of the moment drive.  Mostly about the fact that I made him come with me when he would've much preferred to be doing something else entirely.  And judging from the look on his face...he wasn't shy about making sure his displeasure was known.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Loving history

 I just read a novel called "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova.  It was a conflicting read for me.  I didn't want to read it and at the same time, I couldn't put it down.  The plot was utterly fascinating...and completely creepy.  The title thrilled me...and yet the subject matter (vampires generally, Dracula specifically) frightened me.  History and horror...all in the same book.  One thing that I was not at all conflicted about, the writing was absolutely phenomenal.  The details, details, details.  Oh, the descriptive details!  Each country visited was described in all its senses...colors and tastes and smells.  The culture, the people, the panoramic views...and most importantly, to me anyhow, the history of it all.  Elizabeth Kostova brought it to life for me and I was in heaven.

The book revolves around academia, the main characters being historians and anthropologists.  Professors and students.  A lot of descriptions of studying, researching and writing thesis papers.  Libraries and archives...detailed descriptions of incredibly old and incredibly valuable books and papers.  (Even Dracula himself, quite the intellectual, loved books so much that he had a super-secret, underground library that he prized highly...enough to brutally kidnap one of our main historian heroes to make him the official librarian of his collection.)  And maybe this makes me seem dusty, old and boring myself...depending on how you view history...but I reveled in it.  Though it has been nearly 15 years since I graduated with that history degree from the University of Utah, I was reminded and buoyed once again in the knowledge that I chose the right path of study.  This book made me want to be in college again, made me want to study and research and write papers again.  (Crazy as that sounds, right?)  It also made me want to read about ancient history and cultures more thoroughly.  My historical study tended to be more recent.  American history was a particular fascination for me and let's face it, America is an infant in comparison to other countries, peoples, cultures, empires.  Bryan once called my historical interests morbid, and rightly so...because other than American history, I tended to gravitate towards studying wars and shipwrecks.  (I was a Titanic buff long before the movie came out and it became popular to be so.)  My final 20 page research paper was on the French Revolution (Madame Guillotine was rather morbid as well).  So though I have a smattering of knowledge about the Ottoman Empire and Byzantium...it's only rudimentary.  I'd like to change that. 

I tell you what, though....I doubt I'll do much research into Dracula.  He was a real person, you realize?  Vlad Tepes, Prince of Wallachia.  You've heard of Vlad the Impaler, yes?  Dubbed thus for his propensity to impale people on spikes, among other such horrific methods for killing.  The name Dracula comes from being the son of Vlad II, Dracul....who was a member of The Order of the Dragon.  The vampire stuff was all myth, Bram Stoker's classic novel, and Hollywood.  However, in this novel "The Historian" the main characters discover that in fact, the undead/vampire myth was actually not a myth at all.  And whenever any of these historians tried to research Dracula in an attempt to find his tomb...awful, horrible and creepy things started happening.  It was so unsettling (1st class chicken, me...remember?) that I actually started worrying about the fact that by reading the book, now I KNEW too much information.  Seriously, I had to keep reminding myself that THIS IS A NOVEL!  All the same, I think I'll leave that historical figure and his subsequent fame and myth alone for awhile until I can sleep again.... 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sitting room update:

Remember when last January I turned Lilian's old-room-turned-empty-extra-room into my own little "mom-cave" sitting room?  (See here.)  Though that marked the initial transformation, a lot of things remained undone....details that have the past few months been slowly but surely making their way into that room.  Details that I think make the room look very obviously "Sarah."  And after my most recent Christmas purchase I'm going to officially call the room complete.  

 A view from the door.  Can you pick out any of my new additions or my Christmas purchase yet?

Facing the opposite direction towards the hallway...

 That table in the corner is new...mission style, matching the bookshelf and side table.  I needed something to hold all the gadgets...you know, the DVD player, the Directv box, the remotes, etc.

 Bryan's parents found this sign on a garage sale adventure with my children while Bryan and I were in NYC.  They thought it was appropriate, paid a whopping $2 for it and presented it to me with big smiles when we arrived home a few days later.  Appropriate, absolutely.  I immediately hung it on the wall above the craft closet.

It took me a little while to decide what to put in these little box shelves on the wall.  It may change down the road but for now I've got an hourglass with green sand, a little aztec-ish vase that I bought at a pottery factory in college while I was on a singing tour in southern Utah.  And then my little ceramic owl that I bought in the dollar section of Target.  (Obsessed with owls.  That would be me.)

 I found this pillow on my first ever trip to Home Goods.  Bikes!!  Couldn't resist....

 This owl canvas from Pier 1 is now hanging on the wall just inside the door.  Yes.  More owls.  Obsessed.  I told you.

My lime green foot-rest/box to hide stuff in is from Target.  Right now it has my very favorite of all blankets...my black and white Mickey blanket...inside it.  And realistically, Mickey is usually out on the couch because he gets snuggled with pretty much daily.

And last, but certainly not least...my brand new Christmas chair!  My Dad kept telling me that as awesome as my new sitting room was, I still needed a chair in front of the window.  I agreed with him.  And although this might not be what he was imagining (my guess is he was thinking more reclining-easy-chair) I LOVE this!!  Look at those buttons!  And the metal stand!  And the leather (okay...faux)!  It's so comfy...I just conform into its shape when I sit in it.

Now my biggest problem is that my children all think the room is so awesome (deservedly) that they prefer to watch TV there rather than downstairs on the big screen.  "It's not cozy down there, Mom!"  Sigh.
I'm now in the process of "cozifying" the room downstairs so I can officially kick them out of my sitting room and they will stop complaining. 
Remember this?
It's part of a larger travel theme I've got going on in that room.  It's all very close to being done, but I'm waiting to get rid of the exercise equipment in the room (treadmill, rowing machine, stall bars) which are all going out to Bryan's "man cave" in the very near future.