Saturday, June 25, 2011

In a house with girls

Life is never boring.

Aeryn strikes a pose.

Then Ellie follows suit.
And the games are just beginning!
The girls went to a neighbor's birthday party today. It was a fairy/princess/prince/knight party and they came home with crowns and goodies from a pinata.
Jim clearly needed in on the goofy kid action. He is a big kid at heart after all.
Ellie was so excited to show their treats from the party. The girls were really cooperative and voluntarily traded so they each got what they wanted. This was perhaps the best negotiating day they have ever had together.
"The laughter of girls is, and ever was, among the delightful sounds of the Earth."
Thomas DeQuincey
Everytime I think my life was great before, I'm amazed at how there just isn't room in my heart to hold all the giggles I get now.

Wedding Information

We are getting married!!!!!

Saturday, July 9th will find us inside the Oquirrh Mountain Temple for our marriage and sealing. If you are planning to attend the temple ceremony, please be at the temple at 9:30. For driving directions, go here.

For more information about LDS temple marriages, please visit

Open House
The weekend of our marriage we are not having a reception. A week and a half later, Tuesday July 19th, we are having an Open House at the home of Michelle's parents. It will go from 6:30 to 8:30p.m. and will be outdoors. The home is in a cul-de-sac on a hill and parking is limited. As such, please consider your footwear for possibly walking uphill and standing in grass. If you need driving directions, please email Michelle. In the case of inclement weather, a nearby alternate location will be used and posted here.

Please do not feel obligated to present us with a gift. As a second marriage, we were hesitant to register but at the urging of some of our dear friends we decided to. If you are interested, you may find items we could use here:

Post-wedding Information
Not long after we are married, we will be moving and preparing for Jim to begin a PhD program. If you need contact info for us after August, please email us.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by. We are excited to begin our new life together and to seeing any of you who are able to attend our marriage. We love you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mini-moon: The final chapter

My Jimmer is awesome. My Jimmer loves to be outside. My Jimmer graduated high school in Utah - and yet he'd never seen Delicate Arch in person. Can you believe that? I mean, he's seen it on license plates. Ball caps? Check. All manner of unusual tourist paraphernalia in airport gift shops? Check. In person? Nope. So, the final stop on our little excursion was Arches National Park.

Seriously. Whose child is this? She's such a ham.

We camped in town (I may have told you this already) because the campground in Arches fills up within about 0.134 seconds after a vacancy appears. After our gallivanting around Canyonlands, we headed on the hike to Delicate. It's not a terribly difficult hike though the park labels it as "strenuous." The most difficult part about it is hiking across slickrock in the blazing sun. We solved that problem and hiked it at twilight. (But on a serious note: belive the park rangers and take lots of water. Just sayin'. You'll want it.)

Purrrrrr-fect. The walk is 1.5 miles each way and has a recommended travel time of 2-3 hours round trip. Sounds peachy, except we were hiking with a child and that always brings with it surprises. This day just happened to bring with it happy surprises. I had prepped Aeryn for the journey telling her that she'd need to help Jim get to the top and that since she'd already done this hike before we already know that she can do it - it's easy. She must have believed my brainwashing because at random times along the trail she'd say "Keep it up Jim! You can do it!" So cute, and he would have been able to hear her had we not been 15-20 feet behind him on the trail.
The little spot is the moon. I confess I altered this pic to make it lighter. Don't hate.

Even then, we made it to the top in a whopping 35 minutes (or something like that) which was killer fantastic. The sun was setting and it was hard to get good pictures but it was totally worth it. It is so beautiful up there. And yes, early June is much, much better than Labor Day weekend to visit Moab. Just in case that needs to be said.
This pic is honest and raw - I didn't lighten it at all because I love the colors in the background.

I love this pic, even though it's a different angle than typically seen and even though it's totally dark, and even though we look like we're about to fall out of the side of the picture. A nice gentleman at the top took this pic for us and was determined to get a decent one even though lighting was not on our side. It's schnazzy to see the other people in the image blurred from moving while the shutter was open. I just like it. Do I really have to explain why?

The flash made it so we can be seen, but not much else. There really is an arch back there. I promise.

And this is the point in the trip when we see ME hiking in flip flops. Though he is usually the flip-flop clad member of our little clan, he did not hike in them once. As many members of my family can attest, I more often than not wear flip flops on hikes in Moab (over the 20+ years we've been going there) and then find myself in a pickle slipping down the loose sand covered slickrock. In that we can look at me as the example of what not to do.

I'm so excited to get to spend the rest of my life doing this. BTW- the fiery furnace is behind us and I really really really really really like that hike. Take the guided tour so you don't get lost and parched in the desert sun, but seriously, take that hike.

Group shot at the base of balanced rock, though you can't see the balanced rock because it's far above our heads and cut out of the image. And so we end our vacation memoirs with this lesson learned: If we are ever asked to take a picture of people on vacation, hold the camera so they get themselves as well as the cool feature they were there to see. 

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Engagement Pictures

Last Saturday, bright and early (read: sunrise) we headed to downtown Provo to have some engagement pictures done. One of my friends and his wife do photography so I booked some time with them via facebook messages and we got 'r dun. Initially, we were supposed to do pictures Thursday evening but there were 45 mph winds that clearly made that a bad idea. It all worked out for the best. Thursday I was a little stressed. By Saturday we'd received the letter and it was crazy easy to relax and have fun with being schmoozy and in love. Here's a peek:

(All images copyright Bee Images)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Red Velvet

For my birthday, I was a little spoiled. Seriously, people are so kind it is overwhelming at times. A few of my former/current students threw me a birthday party. My birthday happened to be the last day of school and so the day before they recruited the help of the teacher next door to me to usher me out with a pretty lame excuse. When I got back to class, there was birthday banner, Krispy Kreme donuts, and ice cream sundae fixins. I cried. Seriously.

These kids have been awesome. I had them all last year as freshmen in their required science class and then half of them took electives from me this year. Every morning they'd come set up the room for me and share the dating drama of them, their friends, and everyone on So You Think You Can Dance.

As awesome as it was, it can't quite top the life I'm living now. Cute little Ellie girl picked out the red velvet cupcake mix from Sprinkles for my birthday and last night we baked them.

Cupcake mixes + little girls = Happy messes

It was a blast. Mixes are great for the attention span of little people, and they are perfect for alternating jobs between kids. Though I suppose I can do that from scratch too, sometimes I'm too much of a baking control freak. It's true. These were so tasty though, it's been all I could do to not eat them all gone for breakfast today.

Aer-bear got the beater this time. Surprisingly, there was no battle! Jellie-bellie wanted the spatula and Aeryn loves the beaters so I just estimated the same amount of batter on each and let them at it.

She was sooo funny here! Every time I tried to take a picture Ellie would tip her head farther back and hold the spatula in front of it so I couldn't see her. And yes, this is just the tip of the iceburg as far as red-stained skin goes. One spatula of this and you will not need to wear lipstick for a week!!

The girls were crazy excited to eat these. They struggled to be patient until were done but they did it.

Here they are pointing to the one they want to eat first. I told them that they could have one big one or two little ones and not surprisingly, they both chose two little ones. Ellie wanted a blueberry on hers with the sprinkles. After we survived the wait, they devoured the chosen cupcakes and headed straight to the bathroom where they compared their red tongues. My previous life has nothing on this. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mini-moon: Canyonlands

From Black Canyon, we headed to Moab, UT. It's a great place to kill two national park stones with one bird... uh, or something like that.

Canyonlands did not have a helper post, so we got to position the camera on top of the car, set the timer, and hope for the best. You know that drill, don't you? Jim was trying to line up the camera just right while Aeryn and I were goofing off - so we ended up with a collection of random pictures of she and I doing ridiculous things. Fab-u-lous.

For right now the height difference is pretty evenly distributed. Jim is 12 inches taller than me, Aeryn is 12 inches shorter than me, it allllllll works out swell. I even think we could superimpose Ellie and that she would be roughly 12 inches shorter than Aeryn. Can we freeze the children at their current sizes? If they keep growing it will affect the perfect height variability balance.

We visited the Island in the Sky portion of Canyonlands. We'll have to go back one day to see the Needles area. This is the side that is typically seen in photos and is the product of the roaring Colorado river. Speaking of, have you seen it lately? The thing has flooded it's banks almost everywhere the length of I-70 that follows it. Like many feet above normal. Trees appeared to have no trunks and just be branches resting atop the water. Craziness.

Aeryn is getting pretty good at taking pictures. She took this one and it didn't have to be straightened or anything.

She took this one too. I may be biased, but I think it's utterly fantastic. Could be partly 'cause I really love that guy in it with me and so I can't help but smile.

This one she didn't take, but I'm guessing you figured as much.

At Upheaval Dome, which no one can really figure out how it's formed. We propped the camera up on a fencepost to get this picture, and then some guy came and offered to take one for us. He made a huge deal over setting up the picture just right, telling us where to stand, to take off our sunglasses and so forth. Then when we looked at the picture and the upheaval dome was nowhere to be seen. Fun-ny.

Ah, Finally a miscellany shot at Canyonlands. The cacti were all blooming and it was beautiful.

Mesa Arch. She took this one too. My little budding photographer. After this we headed back to town to grab dinner at a local brewery which had AMAZING homemade cream soda, hang out at camp for a bit, and just relax. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Mini-moon; You guessed it, there's MORE!!!

In case I haven't made the theme clear, on this little excursion we hit 5 National Parks.; a great beginning to our goal of visiting them all. #3 of the Journey was perhaps Jim's favorite, though we both agree that they are so dissimilar that it is nearly impossible to compare them. After picking up the bug and our few hours in Vail, we headed to Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Here's the requisite group shot. Buglet was with us from this point on; she and all her stuff :) Her dad's step-grandma (is that even a real relationship title?) gave her a numbered collectible ceramic doll that we got to juggle between pillows for our remaining journey. That was quite an adventure and quite educational. I have vowed to never ever purchase a doll like that for a little girl or to encourage anyone else to do so.

Our first view of the canyon. Jim was totally enamored with this park. It is stunning in person, and our pictures do not do it justice at all. The sun was high and bright and the days were beautiful.

This moment was fantastic. Jim was teaching Aeryn about the process of stream erosion creating canyons and I felt very proud. Since my teaching qualifications are primarily middle school, it is unlikely that I'll get to teach Geology again unless I do a Master's in Geology (which Jim is gently encouraging me to do). I'll miss that class and all the crazy kids I've had in there.

And then I look at that circa 1982 jazzercize style tank top with weird overshirt thing that Aeryn is wearing and I'm too distracted to worry about it anymore.

Another view of the canyon.

To keep Aeryn motivated to press forward, Jim let her wear his Garmin watch and she became our official distance tracker. It was awesome. She loved seeing how far we went and then we'd keep track of how far we had left to go when we were headed back. Really, I don't know how successfully we would've completed all the little walks we did.

Silk worms!!

It's funny to realize how many group shots we have from this stop. Someone (me, again) forgot the charger to the camera battery and somewhere along, oh, day 1 about 15 minutes in we realized that the battery power was pretty darn low. As the trip progressed we got a little more confident that we had enough power to get the pictures we really wanted and took a little more liberty to get group shots and other photographic miscellany.

The rangers do an Astronomy program in the campground ampitheater that we planned on attending, until evening brought in thick clouds and the sky was not visible. Instead we stayed in our tent, convinced Aeryn we were not going to be killed by a bear, and watched Despicable Me on Jim's computer.

The scale just doesn't show here. It's so much larger than it looks. Really, how do those National Geographic photographers take such remarkable photos????

Why the concern over bears, you may have wondered. Well, the camp host came around to make sure everyone knew to be responsible campers (i.e. don't sleep with a steak under your pillow) so as to limit the appeal to wildlife. Only in this case it was especially important because the campground has a resident bear that would wander around. Fortunately he has so far been seen to be afraid of people and would run away if he sees them, but I'm fairly certain that all it would take was one wayward s'more to convince him that 20,000 Calorie diets are easier to meet with people food than all the tiny little berries they were previously scavenging. 

The camp hosts taught Aeryn what to do if she saw the bear, but it freaked her out more than anything. So, even now 10 days later, she still randomly tells me how to respond to a wild bear. 

There is a road to the bottom of the Canyon that we drove the morning we left. It was early morning and the sun was clearly not high enough to illuminate the base of the canyon. We took a quick picture and then Jim and Aeryn waited patiently while I pestered a nearby USGS worker about what he was doing (setting sensors to measure stream discharge.).  We headed back up the canyon road, said farewell to the raging Gunnison river, and ventured to our next destination.