13 years!

A few weeks ago Jen and I celebrated our 13th anniversary. As any good husband would, I took the day off from work and …. wait, it was a federal holiday? Oh, yeah, that’s right. Thank you, Christopher Columbus.

As I look back on the day, it sure felt like we did things I wanted to do. Jen continually says that spending time with me is the treat, not necessarily doing anything special. So, really, it’s her fault we went hiking, had lunch with my mother, and attended a Jazz game.

We decided to hike the Y in Provo. Neither of us had done it since we were in college many years ago. It was a nice steep hike and Austin, our hiking companion, did fairly way about 3/4 the way up. Then he tripped and he was physically and mentally done. We carried him the rest of the way.

Anyway, it’s been a great 13 years. We’ve had so much fun together and we’ve got a love that will last forever. I’ve grateful to have found this great woman!

Austin thought running this trail would be fun. He quickly though otherwise.

Austin thought running this trail would be fun. He quickly thought otherwise.

On the way down

On the way down

A "selfie" with two other people

A “selfie” with two other people

Panorama overlooking Provo and Utah Lake

Panorama overlooking Provo and Utah Lake

Fall Break

Our visit to the Ranch last weekend was monumental. It was Fall Break for the kids so we took 4 advantage of our time off and spent four days down in Wayne County. We had a special treat this time because my folks, my brother Ammon, and my 17-year-old nephew came as well. It was fun to show my family the red rocks and why we like going down there so much. It was difficult going back to work today.

My mom wrote and shared pictures from her perspective here. I’m going to dump a bunch of photos below.

Life isn’t slowing down

First of all, I have to say “I called it.” Jen and I went to Lagoon without any kids for the first time all year. While we were at Lagoon, both of us were glued to the MLB gamecast of the Giants – Nationals game 2 of the NLDS. We watched the gamecast as we waited in line between rides. Just before we got on the White Roller Coaster at Lagoon, the game was in the top of the 18th inning. We climbed into the roller coaster, I put my phone in my pocket, and said to Jen, “Brandon Belt is going to hit a home run while we’re on this ride.”

We had a fun ride and as soon as we got off, Jen pulled her phone out to read a text message she got from her sister, Katie, that said, “BELT HOMERED!” I couldn’t believe it. I yelped like a little girl I was so excited. The Giants squeaked through the bottom of the 18th and the game was over. It was totally my fault the Giants won that game. I willed Brandon Belt into that home run.

I love this time of year. We’ve had such a great August, September, and now October. We’ve had plenty of rain, some warm weather, and only a few dips into the 40s at night to remind us that winter is coming. Our tomatoes have done crazy good this year and we’ve bottled around 2 dozen jars of tomatoes. We went to Snowbasin Ski Resort yesterday and went on a hike in the trees … the Aspens have already peaked, the Maples are done, and the Oaks just seem to turn brown and drop, so I’m not sure we’re going to really partake of any foliage beauty.

On the Wheeler Peak trail at Snowbasin Ski Resort

On the Wheeler Peak trail at Snowbasin Ski Resort

Today is also my brother, Ammon, celebrates his birthday. He was born 19 years ago and we’ve enjoyed having him as part of our family for as long as we have.

I replace the brakes on my Honda this week. I’ve known for a while they were on their last legs, but I’ve allowed other things to get in the way of logic. I got a quote from Les Schwab for a replacement job ($359) but wasn’t keen on dishing that out. That price included a caliper rebuild, and I didn’t think I needed that. I went to O’Reilly Auto Parts on Thursday night, spent $100 on rotors and pads, and spent an hour and fifteen minutes doing the job myself.

Old on left, new on right.

Old on left, new on right.

Finally, I was asked to relinquish my duties as a Sunday School teacher and take on the duties of Scoutmaster for our local troop. Here’s to round 2 for me!

The blessing of neighbors

Ideally, I live here. No, not necessarily in humid and buggy Tennessee (although I’d be close to my sister for at least three years while they are in school). But that kind of property, with some barns, a great farmhouse, and with enough land to let my dog(s) roam free.

In reality, I live in the house represented by the orange star in the graphic below. It’s typical suburbia, although with more room to breath than our last neighborhood, where we could just about hear our neighbors brush their teeth.

The house with the yellow star largely keeps to themselves. They are very nice people, but we don’t see them much (their kids are grown and in college now).

The house with the blue star has been vacant for about 9 months now. The renters moved out and the owners gutted the thing and cut down the jungle that was previously called the backyard. They also removed the fence separating our property from theirs. That’s been a blessing and a curse. The kids can now easily visit friends who live on the street behind us without climbing fences or walking around. It also provides much easier access to the mountain, which is directly up Harvey Rd. Unfortunately, that house now has a sale pending, so we may have to change our behavior. In addition, they may want to put up a fence and will probably ask me to pay for half of it. No thanks.

The house with the green star has been largely empty for 18 months while the owners were on an LDS mission in Indiana. My kids have been playing in their backyard, swinging on their rope swing, I’ve been parking my truck on his driveway, and I’ve been borrowing his tools. Well, they returned today.

So we’ve had a pretty quiet last year in terms of neighbors and now we’re going to have to adjust our lives back to the idea of “oh yeah, we live in a neighborhood and can’t just do whatever we want.” Sigh.  Where’s that 750 acres again?

Our neighborhood

Our neighborhood

What’s Happening?

We have two girls playing rec league soccer. Lauren is a natural and has played two games and scored two goals. Neither Jen nor I have a soccer bone (or muscle) in our bodies, so it’s remarkable that my girls can play without tripping over their own feet. Leah continues to improve at softball and is having a great time, although it’s taking a bunch of our time!

Abby observing the action

Abby observing the action

Abby in action

Abby in action

Running

Immediately after scoring her first goal

Immediately after scoring her first goal

On her way to score a goal

On her way to score a goal

I ran in a fundraising 5K race for the Huntsman Cancer Institute on Saturday. One of my co-workers has a wife who is battling thyroid cancer and he built a team of co-workers. It was fun to run in a race environment, although I don’t necessarily like the pounding that road running causes, particularly on a gimpy foot. I’m limping a bit today.

The entire Utah men’s basketball team ran in the race as well as former Utah Valley University and Utah Jazz player Ronnie Price. He was quite quick and ditched me early on. Despite what this picture portrays, he’s taller than me and quite built. He was very friendly and I enjoyed the few minutes I had chatting with him.

Me and Ronnie Price after the race

Me and Ronnie Price after the race

Our neighborhood holds informal “cookie walks” every quarter or so. People bake cookies or snacks and we all meet in the middle of the neighborhood and exchange goodies. Jen made pumpkin bread with cream cheese frosting (which is essentially a can of pumpkin filling with an entire bag of sugar, with cream cheese and more sugar to top it off). Abby and Lauren felt pretty special to have intercepted the mixer beaters after Jen made the frosting and before they got tossed into the sink. Since we only have two beaters but four kids, they both hid in the corner and licked as fast as they could. It was funny to see them stick themselves in the corner.

Licking the beaters

Licking the beaters

Glen Canyon — 200 feet above the bottom

For you geographically inclined, the title should indicate to you that we visited Lake Powell! Jen and I haven’t been there for over 10 years, which was a crazy thought for my wife since she frequented the lake as a kid and teenager. I’ve now been three times, all under the influence of Jen. Typically, I’d have no interest because I don’t water ski or wakeboard, nor do I like 100+ heat with no shade.

We strategically chose the week after Labor Day to avoid some crowds, get cooler weather, yet still have great water. We succeeded on all accounts. We were only on the water two days (Friday and Saturday) but bookended our trip by spending the night at the Ranch in Bicknell to split up the driving and to relax a bit.

We used the Bullfrog as our launching point both days but largely played in Halls Crossing Bay. We had such a great time swimming, jumping off 15-foot cliffs into 190-foot deep water, riding tubes, boogie boards, and skiing. Jen and her dad both slalom ski (I drive the boat in those cases), and my girls were fairly successful getting up on skis for the first time. I am lucky to have in-laws who 1) own a ski boat and 2) are very generous in allowing us to use it as long as it’s not already being used.

By the way, we made the drive from the Bullfrog Marina to Bicknell on Saturday night. We left the lake just before sundown and were treated by one of the more gorgeous drives I’ve ever taken. The 50 miles from Bullfrog to Hanksville was stunning with the setting sun, mixed clouds, dramatic mountains, and red rock.

 

 

Always Busy

August ends today and it’s been a fantastic month. I should qualify that: the weather. We’ve had a lot of rain (over 2 inches) and very mild temperatures (average max of 82; average low of 60). I’ve been in love with this month. One week of school is in the books. The kids seem to be generally happy. Not thrilled, but not crying about it. Jen is having Lagoon withdrawals. Jen used the emptier house this week to paint the playroom in the basement. Guess it’s time to finally start thinking about that room. It’s only been two years.

Leah (4th), Abby (6th), and Lauren (2nd) in very colorful outfits for the first day of school.

Leah (4th), Abby (6th), and Lauren (2nd) in very colorful outfits for the first day of school.

Yesterday was a pretty productive day. I largely finished the cold storage partition. We made a room that is about 10 feet long and 8 feet wide. Yesterday I hung sheetrock, a door, and insulated the wall. This picture was taken from inside the partition and does not show the insulated wall, but you get the picture. We’ll add some shelves here and store some long-term food storage. I also replaced our dishwasher (inspired by Rural Ways) and was amazed at how quickly it went. Within about 45 minutes the old one was in the garage and the new one was in and running through a cycle. I also replaced headlights on two of our vehicles who had orphan lights.

The door is hung, drywall hung, and things insulated. Progress

The door is hung, drywall hung, and things insulated. Progress

Sunday mornings are pretty relaxed around here and the kids love to use me as a punching / kicking / scratching / tickling bag. It amazes me how much they like to “wrestle.”

The kids love nothing more than when I'm on the floor with them so they can beat on me.

The kids love nothing more than when I’m on the floor with them so they can beat on me.