Monday, April 28, 2008


Oh my, today was gorgeous! It was a roll-your-windows-down kind of day and we did and loved it! I don't think I have that seasonal depression per se, but I do think that the weather tends to affect me more than I would like it to. I was amazed at how much energy I had and how much I managed to get done.

After I got home from work, Chris mowed the lawn for the first time this season, while I gave the rose bushes a very much needed pruning. I loved wearing my floppy straw hat and smelling the grass and thinking in that philosophical way I always do when I'm working outside. At 75° with clear blue skies and our still snow-capped mountains in the background, I remembered why I actually do like living here.

Last week was busy and eventful, as our weeks tend to be around here. I was trying to decide whether to break up the photographical moments into different posts, or just give you one long run down. I know, if I had been keeping up the way I used to, this wouldn't be a problem. And, who knows, maybe the weather will improve my blogging frequency? If not, which do you prefer: long, or broken up?

Anyway, Tuesday was Tom's first soccer game of this season. It's amazing to see how much he has improved since last year-- he'll actually get in the crowd and kick the ball! The coach's kid is really good (he scored 7 goals in the last game, just to give you an idea), and there are a couple of other pretty aggressive players on Tom's team, so they've "won" (we're not supposed to keep score) every game so far. This is a nice change from last year, when we were excited the few games we weren't shut out! Gordon can't wait to play and we have a feeling he'll be pretty good. In the meantime, we get to try to keep him off the field-- treats work pretty well.

The most exciting event of last week was on Wednesday, when Thomas and his first grade class performed "The Secret of Friendship", the opera they wrote and produced together and have been working on all year. The Utah Festival Opera Company has a really fantastic children's opera program, where they work with the students and teachers to not only produce the opera, but also work the story and characters into the normal curriculum. The opera is written entirely by the students-- they come up with the storyline and characters and even sing lines into a tape recorder that is then put into the same key and formed into a continuous song by one of the opera people. It's really an impressive program and Thomas has just loved being a part of it.

The performance was only 9 minutes long, but oh! Possibly the most adorable thing I've ever seen. Thomas was fantastic, of course-- the best magician out there!

The story is about some dragons who don't know how to be friendly, so they steal a prince and princess away while they're playing. The magicians track them down, but are unsuccessful in their attempts to free the prisoners, and all are finally saved by some very clever animals. The king and queen then teach the dragons the secret of friendship: "It's not friendly to kidnap/ First you smile/ Then you clap/ (Clapping)/ Say your name/ Play the game" Makes sense, right?

My mom and Chris's parents were all able to attend, and it turned out to be a wonderful evening.

I am not the kind of person who enjoys listening to kid's music. Although I have grown accustomed to The Wiggles, I refuse to buy one of those CDs that has kids singing nursery rhymes or whatever. You know what I mean, and no offense if you've given into that whole thing. I am not ready to let my kids listen to mainstream pop music (and may never be), so I get really excited when I can find adult-friendly kids music. They Might Be Giants put together a group of songs about the ABCs a little while ago ("Here Come the ABCs"-- check it out!), which we love, so we were thrilled to get their latest "Here Come the 123s". My boys LOVE the CD and I definitely recommend it to cool people, mom and not mom alike.

Here are Tom and G-Man, getting their jam on to "Infinity", from this CD...

Other kid music that won't cause insanity: "In Harmony" (a Sesame Street CD-- Doobie Brothers!), "Dave Digs Disney" (Dave Brubeck), and "Primary Colors" (Inside Out).

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Quick, easy, fun... Tag!

Here's a quick tag from my cute friend Shannon!

Here’s what you do:
a)pick up the nearest book
b)turn to page 123
c)find the fifth sentence
d)post the fifth sentence
e)tag 5 (or more) people: Marilyn, Kim, Christy, Holly, Ashley, Caitlan and anyone else who wants to ;)

"Sometime that afternoon I saw the first specimen of what would become a dear, reliable friend of mine."

From Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (a must read, by the way... speaking of which, I owe you some book reviews, don't I?)

Where's your spot?

A few days ago, Chris called me from work to tell me about a fun website that helps you determine where your ideal living location is. The site asks a series of questions, then comes up with 20 Spots where, based on your criteria, you would be most happy.

My #1: Olympia, WA

Chris's #1: Ogden, UT

We both laughed over Chris's #1-- he really is one of the most content and happy people in the world, and the fact that the computer practically put him in his current home town is just funny. By the way, Ogden (which is just 45 minutes from Logan, but Logan really is much cooler), was my #5, so I'm not that far off the mark.

So, where's your spot? Visit Find Your Spot to find out-- then come and tell me!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Winners All Around

Back in December, my cute friend Christy convinced me to register for the Salt Lake Half Marathon, and I, in turn, convinced my family members to do the same. I trained pretty well during January and most of February, but "morning" (read: all day long) sickness set in and I allowed myself to give up. Well, the big race was on Saturday, so Chris and I took the boys to the Gateway in Salt Lake to cheer on the people who actually ran. I have to admit, I felt really emotional watching those runners complete their race, partly because I wondered if I had given up a little too easily and wished I was out there, too, but also because seeing people cross a finish line is just plain inspiring. The coolest moment (aside from cheering on our friends and family) was seeing the three marathon finishers booking it to the finish line. They finished in just over 2 hours and 20 minutes-- that is INSANE! And it was so cool to see-- again, I was all choked up. Next year, I'll be there!

The winners of the day: Jake, Cait, Ann-Michelle and Mom, who all completed their first half marathons! Congrats to them!

After the race, we met Grammuh at Hire's Big H for a yummy lunch, then went up to Rice Eccles Stadium for the Red and White Game. We only stayed for the first half, as we have two punky brewsters who are not as interested in Utah football as their dad, but we still had a great time. The team looks pretty good-- and hey, the Utes won!

Friday, April 18, 2008


It almost seems hard to believe that just a few days ago, Chris and I were sitting on the balcony of our bed & breakfast, La Estancia, in Panama City, eating delicious fresh fruit and watching the bounty of colorful birds flit and flutter around a sleepy sloth perched in the trees. We've been back since late Monday night, and already my sun rash has almost disappeared, and the slightly dizzy feeling of being on a boat is gone completely. We came home to a busy "real life" week, and now that the taxes, the opera costume, the grocery shopping, and the laundry are done, and the sick kid is feeling better, so I can finally sit down to blog! Thanks for your patience... :)

Oh, and I know none of you are rude enough to comment on my chubbiness or au natural face (I know, not my best look) and hair, but I am just vain enough to excuse myself on these items. I am PREGNANT, therefore, I am allowed to have rollie-pollie-ollie-ness, and there was no way I was doing the whole make-up and hair thing. So, before you think, "my gosh, she looks bad," just remember those items. And if you think I look cute anyway, feel free to compliment. Again with the vanity.

We had such a wonderful trip! My grandparents, Nonny and Bob, were such kind and generous hosts-- we thoroughly enjoyed our taste of their sailing life, and, as always, my grandmother's incredible cooking! Thank you again, Nonny and Bob, for a most incredible vacation!

So, onto the recap of our trip:

On Sunday night (4/6), we flew from SLC to Houston, where we stayed the night at the EconoLodge. I convinced Chris to stay there instead of at a different, higher-quality hotel, because "it's only one night" and my cheapskate-ism was in control. Let me just say that this was a horrible decision, and I have learned my lesson. Luckily, as I said, it was only one night. Anyway, the next morning, we caught another plane from Houston to Panama City, then from the Intl Airport in Panama City, we took a taxi to the regional airport where we caught another, much smaller plane that took us to Bocas Del Toro. It was such a great moment to see Nonny and Bob at the airport-- our long journey was finally over!

Here we are, exhausted and hungry, in a taxi (van), heading to "The Pirate", a restaurant on the water where the dinghy was docked.

We took the little sport boat (dinghy) from the dock over to the marina-- the only way to get from the town to the marina is by boat-- and were welcomed with this sight: Carricklee, my grandparents's lovely boat.

We spent the night at the marina, then toured around the marina the next morning. As Chris mentioned in our little travel journal, you know you're in paradise when a trip to the bathroom results in the sighting of several birds, a tree snake, and an iguana. Here are Chris and Bob, checking out the sights.

After a small bit of "provisioning" in town, we set off for our first destination: Baia Grande. It was so relaxing to be on the water with that warm breeze. Just lovely.

Baia Grande is a beautiful anchorage, and as luck would have it, we were the only boat there. We snorkeled in some gorgeous, crystal clear water, then spent the evening just relaxing on the boat. The anchorage is just off shore from the small village of Baia Grande, and we had some local people row out to visit us. The next morning, we enjoyed watching the children of the village row (or be rowed by a parent) across the bay to school-- this beats the bus any day!

We left Baia Grande and motored over to another anchorage at Starfish Beach. The beach was beautiful, albeit more popular than our previous spot (there were six boats at the anchorage by the end of the night), and it certainly lived up to its name. We went over to the beach for a nice walk and some lunch at the local restaurant, and we loved seeing all of the neat sea life and hearing the howler monkeys calling to each other from deeper in the forest. There were huge starfish everywhere-- Bob was brave enough to pick one up!

Chris found this cool shell-- unfortunately, it still had an inhabitant, so we didn't bring it home.

Nonny and Bob on Starfish Beach

Chris and me-- the water was so warm!-- with Caricklee in the background

We snorkeled again, this time closer to the mainland. The visibility was not as good as at Baia Grande, but we still managed to see a lot of beautiful fish and coral. The water was incredibly warm, almost hot, in fact. We really love swimming around with our snorkel gear, and the swells gave us a little more exercise.

That night, we witnessed the phenomenon of phospherescence-- that green glowing stuff in the ocean. We could see a bunch of little fish swimming around the boat, and sometimes they would flash bright green. Bob stuck a long pole into the water and sure enough, the tracks he left glowed in the dark. So cool.

The next morning, right before breakfast, we spotted a pod of dolphins feeding around the bay. I love seeing these big mammals in their natural environment-- I find it quite awe-inspiring. The bay provides the perfect feeding ground for them-- it is shallow enough to prevent any major predators, and is a haven for the kinds of fish they like to eat.

Then, it started to rain. And rain, and rain. It was still so warm, though, and neither Chris nor I are bothered by the rain (I think Chris prefers it, actually), and we had fun just hanging out and playing cards. I beat everyone at Hearts, by the way. :) Chris went swimming in the ocean and the rain-- he likes to be nice and cool. I thought it was kind of funny that he kept sticking his head out of the cockpit to get some more fresh water on his face.

Despite the rain, we decided to take the dinghy up into a little estuary for our "jungle ride"-- and the rain actually made it feel quite authentic. We saw what had to be thousands of little crabs (and a few big ones) hiding and crawling among the mangrove roots, and heard parrots squawking at each other just out of sight. We also saw a darling little kingfisher who let us get very close before flying away. The rain prevented us from bringing out camera, so sorry, no pictures.

As if offering an apology for the rainy day, the sky gave us an amazing sunset that night. Pictures don't do it justice.

The next day, we left Starfish and went to a place called Crawl Cay. There is a very shallow reef all around this part of the archipelago, so boats have to "crawl" very carefully to get into the anchorage. Before we hit the shallow part, though, Chris got to practice his hand at the helm-- what a pro.

Also during our trip to Crawl Cay, Nonny made some incredible parmesan herb bread. Delicious!! This bread dipped in balsamic vinegar and oil... mmm, it doesn't get any better!

We snorkeled in two places at Crawl Cay, and both were amazing. We saw some huge tropical fish and coral that had almost every color of the rainbow. This was probably our best snorkeling day. Later that night, we heard the dolphins again, and when we saw them the next morning, I tried to take a few pictures. I managed to miss the best shots, of course, but at least here's proof:

On our last day in Bocas, we went back to the marina and into town for some souvenir shopping. One of the most famous souvenirs in Panama are the molas, intricate sewn designs made by the natives.

One of our favorite little shops, where we bought some organic chocolate, was "Super Gourmet"-- and we couldn't leave without a picture.

We spent the night at the marina, then left early for the airport to fly to Panama City. Our Panama City pictures are still with Nonny and Bob, so I'll post those as soon as they send us a disc. We had some beautiful views of the islands as we flew over them in our tiny (23 passengers!) plane, and Nonny took a bunch of pictures. I'm excited to see them!

Panama City was really fun. The taxi drivers were fun-- everyone really uses their horns very freely there. And driving... well, let's just say that I'm glad I was a passenger and not a driver!

We ate at a Peruvian restaurant for lunch, then went to the Panama Canal. The canal is really amazing and it was fun to watch some huge cargo ships, called "Panamax", go through the locks. Our bed and breakfast was perfect-- clean, quaint, and in the beautiful canal district. We were within walking distance of a nature reserve, so we took a short walk before dinner and saw lots of birds and some interesting insects. An interesting tidbit-- Panama has more than 1000 species of birds, which is more than the US and Canada combined. The hotel staff had some bird feeders set up in the trees outside the balconies, so it was really fun to watch them so close. Later that evening, we enjoyed a delicious Italian meal in downtown Panama City, then spent the night at the bed and breakfast.

Finally, on Monday morning, we said a sad good-bye to Nonny and Bob and headed back to Salt Lake City, via Houston. Being on or waiting for a plane for 10+ hours each way did give me time to finish two novels, so I'll post some book reviews soon.

We had such a wonderful vacation! We were happy to see our cute boys (who had a blast at Grammuh's-- see her blog for details), but I definitely could have stayed in Panama a while longer. It's a great place and I'm incredibly grateful to have grandparents who let us visit them in such exotic places. Who else can say "I'm going to visit my Grandma", and go somewhere like this?!

Saturday, April 05, 2008


I can't believe it-- after more than a year of talking about it, Chris and I are actually headed down to Panama tomorrow! We're really excited and promise to bring back all sorts of pictures for your viewing pleasure. In the meantime, here's Eddie Van Halen et al, in celebration of our trip:

We'll be back on the 15th and I'll update the blog then!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


What do you get when you let your computer-savvy six-year-old play with the new computer without constant supervision?

Actually, about 150 new pictures and videos of himself. Here are some of the best ones...

No Foolin'-- Today is Jacob's Birthday!

I can still remember the day, 22 years ago, while sitting in my first grade classroom, when my dad walked in and told me that I had a new baby brother. Since it was April Fool's Day, and since my parents had already proven their skill at producing female offspring by having three of us, I didn't believe him at all. But, he wasn't lying, and my little brother is definitely not a girl! Jake had to put up with a lot growing up as the only boy with five sisters, but I think he turned out really great. He's intelligent, fun, and a person I look up to. Chris and I were able to take him to the MTC more than two years ago when he was leaving for his mission to Russia. It was a great experience for me, not just to say good-bye to my brother, but to see how much he had grown and prepared himself for that moment. He's a class act and I just adore him. Oh, and ladies, he's single and prefers brunettes... ;)