Thursday, January 31, 2013

Honor Choir

Rebekah had the opportunity to sing in the state Honor Choir this past weekend. With kids from close to 40 different high schools across the state participating, it was an enormous group. At Rebekah's school, for those opting to participate in this extra choir, early morning rehearsals started before Christmas. Then Saturday morning rehearsals with schools in the region. Then, the day before the concert, an all day long rehearsal (we're talking 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM) at Murray High with EVERYONE.

The concert itself was held at Abravanel Hall, downtown Salt Lake. The women sang six numbers. Then the men, six numbers. And then two big finale numbers together. It was amazing! Such great variety in the music...but even better, such great talent! When the two choirs combined, the wasn't enough room for all the kids up on the stage so they had to use the balcony closest to the stage as an overflow...which actually ended up being a neat hear the sound coming from not only in front of you but also above.

Were you able to pick Rebekah out in the picture above? Hint...she's wearing a maroon colored dress. And much to her delight, she is NOT on the first row, but the second. We are short, front row people. So to have grown enough to be tall enough to be a second row person...well, this is big stuff!
Here's a close up in case you still can't find her...

 During the men's performance and while singing the finale numbers, Rebekah was up in the balcony...

She had such a great time and is already talking about doing it again next year.
And lunch and shopping at City Creek after the concert was over? I'm guessing that was a nice bonus...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ripley's Believe it or Not

When traveling with an 11-year old boy, stops at places like Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum or the ISS (International Spy Store) are going to happen. The ISS was a bit of disappointment, I believe. But the museum...well, that was cool. If not slightly creepy at times.

Can I just say...the whole walking across a bridge through a spinning room (and no, it wasn't spinning as fast as the picture makes it look) made me nauseous. Even just looking into the tunnel made me want to fall over. But I was determined. So I grabbed hold of the railing and walked across as quickly as I could...even still, I was walking decidedly lopsided by the time I got to the end. Bryan and Brandon handled it better...Brandon went through it twice.

Another thing that messed with my brain... the mirror maze. I could not get a handle on what was real and what was a reflection. I seriously just had to closely follow Brandon around. (I fully admit that I panicked slightly when the stinker tried to lose me...)
Trying to focus in on Brandon...but can you see Bryan and me in the mirrors behind (but really in front)? I wish I could've got better pics because the maze was amazing. But between the ever constant changing lighting and the fact that Brandon was really not in the mood to hold still for pics...well, you get the idea at least.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fisherman's Wharf

Fisherman's Wharf has changed. Or maybe my memories of the place have dulled with age. It has after all, been a good 13 years since I was last there. But the place seems to have become very commercialized. The charm is still there, but you kind of have to look for it. It was easier to find in the light of a quiet Monday morning than late Sunday night with the natives loud and boisterous over the 49ers win (and therefore entrance into the Superbowl).

San Francisco is one of my very favorite cities...because although it is a unique city in and of itself, it's also full of sentimental memories for me. My grandparents lived in Concord, CA...maybe 45 minutes out. We visited the grandparents every single summer. And though the majority of our vacation was spent in and around Concord, we always took one day to drive into town and explore the city.

After Brandon's gymnastics meet on Sunday we headed from Palo Alto and the Stanford campus back through San Francisco and right down the Embarcadero to our hotel across the street from Fisherman's Wharf. With no school on Monday due to Martin Luther King Jr. Day we arranged a late Monday flight home so we had some time to play.

Some pics of our adventures...

Hey sisters of you remember when Papa took us to Tarantino's for lunch? I think the only reason I remember it is because I wrote about it in my journal. But here it is!

Oh, Boudins. Y-U-M! We had breakfast here. Sourdough bread french toast and waffles. Oh my.

We were trying to take a GPS guided scenic route to Golden Gate Park. But lost in the awe of finding myself at the base of the iconic Golden Gate navigator I neglected to give Bryan enough heads up and we missed our quick turn off and ended up going across. Which didn't bother me much because strangely enough, I've never been over it! The Bay Bridge, yes...plenty of times, but not the majestic Golden Gate. So our scenic route turned even more scenic than planned. We pulled off into an overlook and took some pics. (New bucket list item: ride a bike over the Golden Gate Bridge.) Our mistake was a bit took us $6.00 in toll to get back over.

We spent quite a bit of time Monday morning in the bowels of a WWII ship, the S.S. Jeremiah O'Brien, which is docked at Pier 45 at the Wharf. Okay, I knew Brandon would get a kick out of it and that I'd find it interesting. But wow, I had no idea how utterly fascinating it would be. The history geek in me came out full force. I can't count how many times I turned to Bryan and said, "This is SO cool!" And although I don't think he was at all bored with our tour, more than anything else, I think his enjoyment came from watching how giddy I was. But beyond the history aspect of it all, I also felt extremely close to my grandfather. Papa was a sailor during WWII...was stationed on the USS Savo Island, an aircraft carrier. Being down in the guts of that ship...he was heavily on my mind, as more than at any other time I felt like I finally could grasp a little bit of what it must have been like.

 We went quite a few levels down...we were truly in the very bowels of the ship. Our guide seemed jazzed by our excitement and took us down lower and showed us things that I think most people don't get to see. Did I mention how completely fascinating it was???

Interestingly enough, the interiors of the SS Jeremiah 0'Brien's boiler room were used in making the Titanic movie.
 Brandon was rather enamored of all the guns on top of the ship....anyone surprised?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Beach deprived

If you have to travel for gymnastics meets...might as well turn them into mini-vacations, yes? Luckily for us, there was no school on Monday so we were able to stay an extra day and play in and around San Francisco.

I think this boy is a little bit beach-deprived. He was downright giddy when we pulled up to Half Moon Bay...

It was a little chilly. We are talking about San Francisco in January, after all. But the 64 degrees and slight breeze that felt downright cold to the natives, felt almost balmy to us...seeing as Utah has been experiencing the coldest winter in over 20 years....we're talking frozen pipes and negative temps and all of that. I stripped off my socks and shoes and then rolled up my pants, so anxious was I to feel sand under and between my toes. Brandon was even more adventurous and pulled out his swim trunks. We hadn't even brought a towel but that didn't deter him. I guess if you are an 11 year old boy and live in a land-locked state...a little bit of chilly water is worth the dip in the ocean.

Half Moon Bay was the first place we stopped after stepping off the airplane...even before checking into our hotel. And because to Brandon the beach is such a novelty...playing in the waves ended up being the very last thing we did before heading to the airport to fly home a few days later. This time at the base of Golden Gate Park. (Just a thought....Golden Gate Park. The west coast version of New York City's Central Park?)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Stanford Open 2013

Brandon's been looking forward to this meet at Stanford University for a long time. Being a level 6 gymnast this season meant he was finally old enough/experienced enough to go.

Saturday evening, a few hours after we flew into town, we watched the NCAA mens gymnastics meet being held as part of the same event and in the same building. Three of the level 10 gymnasts from our gym did well enough in their own meet Friday afternoon to qualify to compete in the Saturday night NCAA session. So not only was it phenomenal to watch these college teams compete, but we had homeboys to root for as well.

Brandon competed the next morning. Time for some math....humor me. There were 94 boys from all over the country competing in level 6 (probably about double what we are used to competing against in local meets). Those boys were divided into 3 age divisions. Brandon's was the biggest with 42 kids and he tied for 5th, officially taking 6th place All Around. Looking at the scores of the boys in the other age divisions...there was 1 boy with a higher AA score in the older age division and 4 higher in the younger....which means 10 kids all together. So Brandon had a higher AA score than 84 other kids in this big national meet! Hot dang!

I took a ridiculous amount of pictures. I won't subject you to them all...but here's a few of my favorites:
Brandon will likely not be pleased that I posted this picture....understandably he doesn't like to show moments where he is not at his tip top peak performance. But I think it's a really interesting picture and was kind of amazed that I caught it. While Bryan took video with my phone, I took rapid shots with my camera. I was zoomed in tight and was more or less watching the whole routine from the view finder. So when Brandon inexplicably and uncharacteristically fell out of his handstand on rings, it made me jump. I couldn't see the whole scene...just him suddenly dropping out of center focus in my view....and I had a moment of panic, thinking he was falling to the floor rather than just hanging. The kid rallied. Coach Adam said Brandon did exactly what he would've told him to do, only he did it on his own. He swung back up into his handstand so he could get credit for the skill and then finished the routine.

Getting all chalked up in prep for high bar...while watching teammate and best friend Andres competing his routine.
Proper gymnast good sport etiquette....shaking hands with the competitor on either side of you on the podium. Here Brandon and Andres are laughing about shaking hands with each other...seeing as they are teammates. These two are the same level, same age division so they compete against each other as well as with each other for team awards. They are similar in skill so depending on the meet and event, sometimes Andres gets a higher score, sometimes Brandon. Usually Brandon edges ahead slightly by the time they hit All Around. But how fun that the two can be such good friends, root for each other and be sincerely happy at a good score...despite the fact that they are competitors for the same awards.

After the meet was over we took the level 6 boys to see this cool display in a courtyard on campus near the building they had been competing in. With cameras at the ready and parents still in shutterbug mode, an impromptu photo shoot occurred....

What a good looking group of gymnasts.