Monday, August 31, 2009

Which one are you?

There are those in this world who are dog people and then there are those in this world who are cat people. I am definitely one of the cat people. In fact, my whole family is made up of cat people. Binghams have had cats since the beginning of time- it's pretty much a requirement. I'm pretty sure that it all started with my great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Erastus Bingham who had a tabby named Parley P. Catt that went west with him on the Mormon trail. As a kid, my dad had a cat named Linus that they would dress in a Santa suit at Christmastime. As a young girl my mom had a cat named Calico that slept on her television every night and licked her neck in the morning to wake her up. Then as newlyweds my parents had two cats, Paco and Bones, who met an unfortunate end with a semi-truck and were buried near their basement apartment... And every single year to this very day my mom has received a cat calendar for Christmas from my dad. (Yet another reason why my parents were made for each other.) Furthermore, when we moved to Lakeland in 1987, we brought our cat, Slippers, with us from Miami. And then Slippers begat Baby White Feet and Baby White Feet begat Abbey and Abbey begat Zoraster and- okay, there was no Zoraster. But we always had cats and they were always having kittens. It's just who we are. And why are we cat people, you may ask? Because cats are awesome. And by "awesome" I mean "aloof, independent and condescending." No offense against dogs, but come on, do I really want a pet that I have to walk, play with, clean up after and feed? Seriously, who wants to make that kind of committment?

Case in point: My cat, Yoshi, is the perfect non-pet. She spends 80% of the day in someone else's yard, she vanishes for days on end, only to come home and squint at me like I'm the world's greatest disappointment of an owner and best of all she pretty much feeds herself. It's not that I don't try to feed her, but honestly, I have given up on feeding this animal. Every single day she comes to the garage door, does a dance on my feet- waiting for some sort of food- she then anxiously follows me to the food bowl, waits for the cracking open of the can, allows me to put the wet food in the bowl, and then sniffs it once and gives me the "So when are you gonna give me something edible?" face. Always a critic! Honestly, does she work for the paper?

Therefore, I have pretty much just stopped feeding her and left her to use those primal hunting skills she was born with. And they must be working because there is a constant parade of vermin remains around our yard. Dead lizards, frogs, snakes, baby squirrel, birds- I have seen it all. However, my spider senses are telling me that her giant cat gut is not really from hunting her prey but rather hanging out in the yard on the corner where some little kids confessed to me that they "feed her ham and have named her Blackie." You see?! Only a cat would be moonlighting on you! Dogs? Much too loyal for that charade. But as a cat owner I have learned that loyalty is overrated anyway...

And now just a few cat pictures from our past:
Cindy holding our brand new kitten, Yoshi

Cindy holding one of Yoshi's kittens

Yoshi and litter number 2

Cindy holding the last of the kittens from litter number 2. This kitten later ran away and we have now confirmed that it lives at the house kitty-corner to us and has had a litter of its own. Do'h!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I haven't forgotten

Just in case you were wondering, I am still working on my 30 Experiences for my 30th year. I have stalled out for a few weeks because of 'vacation' (i.e. laziness) and also because when my computer died last month, my master list of ideas of experiences died with it. So I have been trying to reconstruct the list for the past two weeks. On the one hand, I forgot many of the things I was going to do, but on the other hand I thought of some even better experiences to have. So stay tuned! I have two in the pipeline at this very moment and one more will fall this coming week. Hint: It is not "be in a beauty pageant", "be fingerprinted by police during a traffic stop" or "make a large hanging mosaic out of colored popcorn kernels." I have already done all three of those :) (Really? YES.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

You might be a Bingham if....

Actually, there are a million phrases that could complete this sentence; You might be a Bingham have never posed seriously for a picture in your life, you can quote the entire movie "Pee-wee's Big Adventure", or you would spontaneously burst into flames if you had to order fish in a restaurant...those are a few of my personal favorites) but another one I realized is If you park two cars in your garage. My parents have always parked both cars inside the garage since I was a kid. And that was even when we had big cars, like giant sedans and a minivan- I didn't realize until I got older what a feat that truly is! Jacob and I haven't always done this. It wasn't until about 2 years ago when the tire on our Honda got slashed one night that we got motivated to never leave a car out in the driveway all night again. And I can honestly say that since then we haven't! Anyway, after the pinata affair and realizing how disgusting a place my garage was becoming, I did go out and clean it. How do we get so much "stuff" anyway? 4 bikes?, bags and bags of soccer balls, tubs and tubs of holiday decorations, piles of DJ equipment, tools (oh, the tools!), random furniture, shoes, brooms, yard care stuff (which doesn't even include the stuff in the backyard shed!),shop vacs, soccer nets, coolers, our hurricane generator, gas cans, paint cans, food storage- Oh, my sweet Mammy! So much stuff! At least after I cleaned it up it looks like organized chaos instead of the aftermath of nuclear fallout. I was so proud I had to get it on film. Which seems an odd thing to do, but in the words of Pee-Wee, "Why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer!" Which, in the case of my clean garage, is so so true.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Go Wildcats!

It's official: Cindy is now a Kindergartener! She started yesterday at South McKeel Academy. I'm not gonna lie, the past few weeks leading up to the first day of school, Cindy was not very excited. She kept telling me that she really didn't want to go and that she was scared. But I was hopeful that if I could just get her to go the first day she would like it enough to go back. On Sunday she was still acting very nervous and worried. However, Jacob and I stayed positive and gave her all the pep talk and advice we could muster. Then that night Jacob gave blessings to both Cindy and me, and that must have been exactly what was needed because as the day dawned on Monday Cindy turned into a totally different child. She was totally fine eating breakfast, she got dressed in her uniform without complaint, she even said she "kinda liked" it.

Then, to make the morning even more awesome, we got a sweet parking spot at the school, got into the cafeteria to meet up with her teacher, who she actually talked to, and her friend Hope was waiting there, saving her a seat. No way! It was the perfect morning. I couldn't believe it.

AND, I didn't even shed a single tear :) Which is a real shame because they gave all us Kindergarten parents these totally cute towels.

Well, it didn't go totally unused. This is me thinking about having to go wait in the car line again tomorrow.....

Anyway, Cindy had a good day. She told me that it was "the longest day ever!" But she likes her teacher, she got to color, she saved me an oreo from her lunch, and she did not eat her PB&J sandwich- I KNEW IT!!!!!!!!

But it looks like she'll be going back :)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Cindy was desperately trying to decide on a movie to watch the other night. She was completely torn between Barbie Thumbelina and Barbie Rapunzel. Her reason for being torn (in her own words): "Ugghhh, it's just so hard to decide, because I really like long hair, but I also love wings!" If only my choices were that hard. Long hair won out in the end. Sorry wings, maybe next time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Como se dice Pin-YAAH-TAAH?

Many moons ago I decided that Cindy and I should make a pinata. The reason being that Cindy has always been obsessed with them. She sees them in funny videos on TV, she saw one in Napoleon Dynamite, then of course there is that obnoxious Verizon Wireless commercial where TONS of candy comes forever pouring out of that broken donkey. (She loves that commercial- I am sure she even dreams about it at night) Plus, she has never actually had the chance to hit one. Ever. So we decided to correct this massive injustice. Therefore, I reached back into my cranial file of "things I vaguely remember how to do" and remembered that I learned how to make pinatas when I was a young teen. In fact, for the ward Christmas party in the Lakeland Chapel cultural hall in 1990-something, I made a three-tiered snowman that was INDESTRUCTIBLE- I seriously put about ten layers of glue and paper on it and that thing needed a cherry bomb to be taken down. But the object of letting every ward member have a whack at it was accomplished, thank you very much. Anyway, it only took 4 months, but hey, you can't be too careful when making and destroying a fish pinata. So here are the highlights of our whacking fiesta:

This was from when we started to make the pinata. All you need is a balloon, some flour and water for the glue, and strips of newspaper. And a deep abiding love for the pinata you are making.

Once it's dry, the balloon is popped and and that little whole is where you load in all your (and I quote from Cindy)"candy, treats and and messages." She was a little scared when we popped the balloon- she was expecting a loud sound, but no sound really came out, just as I told her.

I am still in shock she wanted to make the fish pink- who would have guessed? On goes the tissue paper and glue!

Purple eyes? This is a Princess fish!

Actually, it kinda looks like a creepy-eyed Easter egg

We attached some fins and a tail, to dispel the egg look-a-like factor

Cindy's only rules for me were: "No blindfolds and just only me can hit it." Oh brother. I only obliged her on the first rule. She was just too excited about this.

I should have reinforced the part where we hung the string on it. It didn't take long before it was on the floor.

But after some clever Mom ingenuity I had it back up, and Luke was ready with Uncle Brian's drumstick to give the "pih-tah-tah" a few more wallops. These were some good times for Luke.

Finally it broke, spilling all the goodies on the floor- which got consumed in such quantities at about 5pm that it turned out to be dinner, so lucky me, I didn't really have to make anything. Another piece of advice for that parenting book I'm writing...

As we made the pinata, Cindy kept saying it looked like a shower hat. (I think she has been watching way too many Pink Panther classic cartoons where the wives all wear slippers, housecoats and those shower hats that are pink and fuzzy) But once Luke put it on for a hat- I had to agree, it kinda does look like that.

But actually, what I really learned from this experience is that my garage looks like a bomb went off in it. Sakes alive, man! I have got to clean that out. Truly. Hopefully that will be the next thing I blog about....

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A New Favorite Place

Yesterday my good friend Karin invited me and the kids to go with her family over to a new community waterpark that just opened up in Haines City. (Officially called Lake Eva Park Aquatics Center). Most of my friends have been to it already. But not me, due completely to my infinite laziness. So when Karin invited me it was just the motivation I needed to get out and see it for myself. Here are a few lame pictures I took, I am mostly posting about this so I can add the video I took of Luke doing his fountain dance. He was completely in his own world and it cracked me up. Thanks Salisbury family for a fun day! Looking forward to doing it again :)

He is so silly!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A rite of passage

So the summer is basically over. Jacob went back to work yesterday morning, which means that Cindy officially reports to her first day of Kindergarten at South McKeel Academy in a mere 6 days. I get a little stressed out when I come to terms with the fact that she is now old enough for public school, but, I was recently reminded that now that I have a school-age child, I get to start doing all those totally awesome parent things! You know, like answer every why not? question that Cindy has with the phrase "Because it's a school night!" (I actually plan to use that reason for pretty much anything Cindy asks me from now on.) The other thing I get to start doing is messing with the office staff at her school. See, when I was a kid I went to Highland City Elementary. And anytime that my parents had to write a check to the school (for things like lunches, field trips, etc.) my dad would always make the check out to "Highland Kitty Elementary", "Really Scary Elementary", or "Rye Bread's Shifty Elementary" and things such as this. Of course, I, being totally afraid of pretty much any official adult in the world thought that my dad would get in big trouble for such hi jinx, but nothing actually ever happened. Furthermore, when I got to be in High School, the jocularity continued. Whenever any of us kids had to be picked up and signed out of school, there was always that official sign out sheet where your parent had to sign and give the reason why you were leaving. This was like pitching a 3 mph softball to a major leaguer. As you can guess my dad loved to think up very creative reasons for our absences. My favorites would have to include, "having specialized brain surgery", "attending orientation for Clown College", "accepting the Nobel Peace Prize" and "preparing for tomorrow's space walk". I asked my Dad one time why he felt he had to do that, and besides the obvious, "Because I can" (DUH!), he said, "It's none of the school's business why I sign you out, I'm your father. I win." After that explanation I never really cared what he wrote anymore. Even to this day when any of us kids or my Dad visits my mom at the dentist office where she works, we always "sign in" on her appointment sheet. (Appointment or not, of course) Mom rolls her eyes when she sees us pick up that pencil, but, come on, who doesn't get a kick out of seeing that Marie Antoinette, Felix the Cat or Regis Philbin are there to get their teeth cleaned, huh? You just can't give a Bingham a fill-in-the blank form and expect them to be serious. Proven fact.

So Cindy, gear up for a great year of school! And I can't wait to write the check for your first week of school lunch- I think, I'll make it out to "Orange Peel Academy"- no wait, maybe "Legs of Steel Academy" or maybe "Rod and Reel Academy"....or how about.......

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Truth about Triathlon

I finished the series! This morning I did my third triathlon in three months and it was, well, terrible :) I guess I should clarify; overall, I did well. I had a drama-free swim, a solid bike ride that didn't feel so long (and I made it up the hill at the end with my best technique yet), but compared to my previous performances, it was pretty pathetic. However, considering that I was on vacation for almost 4 weeks leading up to the race, it was a miracle I was able to even finish. My triathlete sister-in-law said to me that usually the middle race is the peak because the first one is practice, the second one you feel motivated to improve on and the third you just do to get it over with. My feelings exactly! So I came in 8th place today, with a total time of 1:10:06- almost my time for the first one. My run time was the worst it has ever been, but I think I had about 3 hours of sleep last night and I really was dragging like never before. I am proud of myself for finishing all three, it definitely was tough. And major props to my friend and tri partner, Davina, who came in 3rd for her age group. She is an amazing athlete. And thanks to a bike malfunction we got to start the bike part together and it was way more fun to have a partner on the ride. Of course, then she got off the bike and I had to eat her dust on the run, but for the bike part at least, it was nice :)

So if you are considering doing triathlon or think to yourself, "I could never do that" I have to tell you, Yes you can- and here is why:
1. If you think that people who do triathlon are out of your league, you are right- sort of. Meaning, the true triathlon elites race in their own "elite" division. So for the most part, you aren't racing against future olympians. You are divided into age groups that are made up of of people pretty much like you. And you would be surprised at how many people say "This is my first triathlon" when you talk to them. There is a novice or first-time division usually as well.
2. You don't have to be skinny or look like you are "in shape". Swimming, biking and running is much more about cardio than muscle. Case in point: At the triathlon today there were a bunch of those beefcake gym rats- you know, the guys who are tan, ripped and oozing with muscles? And do you know how many of those people I saw walking the run? TONS of them. So don't be intimidated by all the super fit athletes- appearance means nothing. If you have conditioned yourself to run, you are golden- no matter what you weigh.
3. All the fancy gear, outfits and attitude is nothing to be intimidated by. Again, some of those people that have the most expensive bikes, the nicest tri suits and the expensive gizmos come in last. Work with whatever you have.
4. Ultimately, triathlon is about competing with yourself, and no one else. Most everyone there was not focused on winning a medal at all, they only wanted to see if they improved their time. So don't compare yourself to anyone else and their time. It's really only about YOU.

So that is my two cents on triathlon. I love it. It's challenging, it's good for your health, and who doesn't love saying, "Yeah, I do triathlons." I am taking some time off to focus on weight training for a little while, but maybe by October I will feel ready for another dose of three sport goodness.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A few early Christmas gift ideas

I was on the other day and as I was perusing all the different online deals and coupons that people were posting, I saw that one of the posts was for something called a "toilet kitty" that was ONLY $9.95! ('Cause most toilet kitties will set you back at least $30, so this is a flippin' steal!) I tried as hard as I could not to click on the link, but come on, that is like asking me to only eat three bowls of cereal at breakfast. Impossible! So within 5 seconds I was transported to a website called Collections, Etc. You know, these are those all purpose gift/home decor/collectible sites that sell some okay knickey knacks, as well as horrible, awful, (and hilarious) tacky junk. The best place to find the worst of what they sell is always the clearance section. So here are a few gifts that you could own. Or give to your worst enemy- which seems much more appropriate.

First up: The deer telephone

This is just hideous! (Unless you own one, in which case I love it)Actually, this website had just about every "telephone" you could imagine. Not just the deer one, but bear phones, indian phones, porcelain doll phones, and southwestern adobe clay pot telephones. If you need an ugly phone, your search is over, my friend.

Look closely...

Just in case you forgot how to lay down at night, consult this pillow. The funny part to me is not the DUH factor, but rather the place on the man's face that is drooling. Because all you guys are just the same- clueless, drooling, cavemen. (Ironically, I thought that sleeping would fit into the category of "things so easy a cavemen could do" so why does he need this pillow case?)

I need this for my next party: The Dog Watermelon stand

The idea of this gift is okay, it is just the fact that the "dog" part looks like some sort of angry mutated grizzly wolf who has no business carrying fruit on its back. Instead it should carry, I don't know, the bloody remains of a deer carcus it just ate, maybe?

I HAVE to have this
This has got be the UGLIEST and most bizarre "gift" I have seen in a while. I am not even sure what it is supposed to be! Statue? Paperweight? Idol? They even have names- Mary and Moe and according to the description they are "sure to attract plenty of attention when you display them on a shelf or tabletop." That is one way to put it, alright! All I can say is, "Now that's a gift!"

Okay, I can't leave you hanging....I give you: The Toilet Kitty

And I officially have nothing more to say.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vacation 2009- Part 2

Vacation has officially made me slow. It is taking me forever to get things done now. But finally, I have completed the next chapter of our trip. Hurrah!

So after we had all that time in Southern Utah, we made the trek up to Salt Lake where we would spend another week with family and friends. We actually stayed the week in Park City, so after checking in on Saturday afternoon, we walked right outside to the infamous Alpine Slide. We kinda sorta described it to Cindy but we knew that too many details might cause her to freak out and refuse to go, so pretty much we just told her where to stand and hold on tight. Anyway, I think the scariest part for her ended up being the ski lift ride to the top of the mountain! (Also a little scary for me and Jacob when a very calm Luke all of a sudden decided he wanted to get up and sit in my lap during the ride.)

Cindy was a trooper and made it up the lift just fine

Luke rode with Dad, Cindy came with me

Ready to rock and roll!!

Both the kids did great coming down the mountain on the slide. Cindy did a fake scream the whole way- I think she was expecting to be scared but soon realized it was actually super-fun and just enjoyed herself. We went swimming later that night and basically just hung out and relaxed.

The next morning was church at Great Grandma Henrie's family ward. Cindy would not go to Primary alone, so I had two hours with her and her cousin Meg- who was completely content to be in there. We then did a picnic lunch at a park near where we used to live in Midvale and then headed down to Temple Square to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Cindy in front of the organ at the Tabernacle

Another picture by Cindy

That evening we had a huge sloppy joe dinner with all the aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. at Great Grandma Henrie's house. And of course you can't be all together without some good games of cards. Linnley fit right in :)

Monday was a very casual, laid-back day. I was heading to Provo in the afternoon to see my former BYU roomies, so that morning we decided to take Luke and Cindy over to the carousel at the resort. Luke had a good time on his stationary horse (what a wild man!)

After that I saw something that made me so excited- they had pony rides! I thought Cindy's little cup of joy would overflow at this realization. She kept saying how bad she wanted to ride a pony and how unfair it was that Dad and I got to ride horses, but not her. So this was her moment! And she totally chickened out. She flat out refused to ride one. She just kept saying they were "too big". Bummer. She did want to pet the pony and I guess that was good enough.

We also went down to the hotel market and got some ice cream (lunch). This is Luke's version of a goatee. Life is good when you are on vacation. (and with Grandma- double score!)

So when I was at BYU my sophomore year I had 5 roommates in our 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment. It was a tight squeeze, but I ended up with the coolest roommates ever. One was my roomie, Jen, from freshman year but the rest were all new. I know from talking to other people that you don't always get the best roommates when you leave the selection up to fate, but they are all awesome. Anyway, 4 of the 6 of us met at Bombay House in Provo for a reunion. And Indian food is good! Their garlic bread (naan??) stuff was great and my chicken coconut kermit was delicious. So two thumbs up on the food! And seeing everyone again, of course, was great. Fun to catch up and visit. Our waiter could do more than just pour water, he took a pretty good picture:

Krista, Kaylee, Jen and Me. Park Plaza 1999 RULES!!!

CONGRATULATIONS! You have now made it to the wedding portion of the blog!!! I told you perseverence always pays off...

So Wednesday, July 29th was the big day. That morning we started with a wedding breakfast at the Joseph Smith Memorial building. KaRyn flew in from LA to be there too. Food was fantastic. Pancakes, bacon (Cindy's favorite), parfaits, danish, hot chocolate, eggs benedict- all so good.

We took some pictures of all the kids. Robert just can't be serious sometimes. Gosh, that is soo annoying! ;)

If you are wondering about this picture, I told the four of them to do a High School Musical picture where they all jump in the air in a different pose and we would take the photo. I thought, "There is absolutely no way they will agree to do this", but they did it! I don't know why! I didn't time my picture just right, but you kinda get the idea of the silliness that was going on.

This is Linnley! Nathan met her at school (University of Utah) and she is adorable. They look perfect together. :)

After eating a hearty breakfast we made our way over to the Temple for the sealing. Afterwards the kids were all waiting outside and were ready to take some pictures. Cindy and cousin Kate by the temple doors

Here they come!

Welcome to the Family, Linnley!

Cindy totally loves Linnley, and she loved her even more when she saw that bouquet she was holding. Cindy was obsessed with it. Linnley was very sweet and patient with her.

Linnley is wearing the dress her mother and both her sisters wore when they all got married. So pretty.

Good thing for Luke that cousin Kallen played wiffle ball with him and that Aunt Teresa had Starburst. He was in heaven!

As we were leaving the temple, I wanted to take a picture of Cindy in front of it. She was smiling for the 1...2... and on 3 she made this face. Punk.

Time for the reception! We got ready at Great Grandma's house and then headed over to the reception hall. This was the first time Luke had ever worn a tie in his life, so it did not help that he had to get dressed right after waking up from a late nap. He was simply enduring his outfit for the first couple hours. Awh, but he is a total stud, right? Nathan used to work for Heritage Gardens reception center in Sandy, UT so they had the reception there and he got a sweet discount. Excellent! It was a gorgeous place. Great big hall, elegant stairs, koi pond, trickling waterfall outside, it was beautiful. I got to finally wear my bridesmaid dress. Linnley did great picking it out and, wonder of wonders, I will definitely wear it again! She even made all of the bridesmaids earrings to wear too- and I admit, these were the biggest earrings I have worn to date in my life (you know what a fashionista I am) but they were very fun and looked really pretty. Jacob gave them two big thumbs up too. So here are the reception highlights:

The best our family has all looked in a long time :)

Sorry Linnley and Brooke (and future Mrs. Sean), but it is a great source of pride for me knowing I married the cutest of the Sweeney boys ;)

Cindy would periodically steal the bouquet from Linnley during the evening. Linnley was too nice to say no. If Cindy could have married these flowers, she would have.

Luke just wanted to be outside at the little pond and throw things in the water. Naturally.

The chocolate brownies and cream puffs were a pretty good lure to get him to come inside from time to time

All of the girls!

Cindy again with the bouquet. That face says it all- "Michelle, I am in charge of the bouquet, and if you even think you are getting these you are sadly mistaken, sister..."

Cindy after the bouquet, yet again! This was actually just before Linnley was going to throw it. Cindy was just convinced it would be hers. (Why not?) I, of course, knew that she being only barely 4 ft. tall would have absolutely no chance. So I came out and announced to my cousin Chase- "Watch this, Cindy will be crying in less than 2 seconds" AND SURE ENOUGH- when she did not catch the bouquet it was VERY, VERY, sad indeed.

Dad had to explain to her that life would go on despite the loss. Cindy seemed to get over it okay. Her mood brightened considerably when I gave her the idea to ask Santa for a bouquet for Christmas. I can almost bet she will get it! She didn't give up completely however, because later that night she asked me if we could "Go ask the girl who caught the bouquet to give it her instead." She is nothing if not persistent:)

I found some black dresses for the little girls on eBay- hard to find black flower girl dresses at a decent price, but these were perfect. Only thing was they were sleeveless, so I bought some material, brought a sleeve pattern to Utah with me and my sister-in-law Brooke, got the sleeves cut out and basted while we were there. We both hand sewed them on the day before the wedding. Not bad, huh? Brooke's looked way better than mine but thank you Brooke (and your Mom) for getting those cut out! You were a life saver! Oh and Brooke made the headbands and bows too. So cute!

Dancing and cake! Cindy couldn't wait for them to cut the cake. It was delicious cake too- banana one layer and snickerdoodle the other- awesome!
Linnley and Nathan took off for their honeymoon, and after hanging out and enjoying the company for a few hours we headed back to Park City. I did have to get one more picture of us before the night was over. What a fun day :)

Thursday we just hung out at the hotel- swam, watched TV, ate, lounged. It was perfect.

I need to take this moment to officially declare that Marriott has made the perfect bed. If I could have any bed in the whole world, it would be this exact bed:

Admittedly, I DO own the Marriott mattress- we bought it through Karl 2 years ago and it is the best mattress on the planet. But at the resort you get the amazing pillow top mattress pad, super soft sheets, eleventy twelve amazing pillows and it is a California king sized bed, so you feel like you are sleeping in the middle of the ocean (surrounded by tiny little seahorses...) It is soooo fantastc. This totally makes my list of greatest inventions of all-time.

So throughout our time in Salt Lake we visited a bunch of friends we had from when we lived there 4 years ago and it was awesome to see them all. They were so kind and hospitable. But I, being a total doofus, did not take pictures of any this (what was I thinking?!?!) so you just have to take my word for it. So.....

Thank you Charles and Allison (and baby Jason) for showing us the workshop, the widget makers, the plum pie and the dinner that the kids could not get enough of.

Thank you Leo and Annette (and Dante and Daphne) for letting us play on your swing set, showing us your house, sharing your freakishly delicious homemade pizza and making us feel welcome.

Thank you Dan Caffee for occupying Jacob for a few hours to get his Maryland fix. This allowed me to visit Saunders Brothers Construction, my old work, and vist with Rich and Celeste.

Thank you Rich and Celeste for hanging out and making me laugh so much, just like before. I miss you guys, I wish business was better for you ;)

Thank You Meredith and Thomas (and Hannah and Ainsley) for playing dress up, letting us take a load off and catching us up on what you have been up to.

Thank You Steve for showing us around Studio 600 in Salt Lake. You did it. I would never have believed it.

Thank You Russ for taking a break from your grueling job of running the Kareoke Bar and catching us up on all of your adventures. You have a good little gig going with that job, and hey, this could help you turn pro one day with the singing. No, really....

We checked out of the hotel Friday morning. Great Grandma Henrie graciously put us up that night so we could rest up for our puny 9 hour drive to Albuquerque the next morning.
Luke LOVED the stairs there. He and Cindy went up and down about a zillion times. And the rope swing in the backyard, which I did not take a picture of (I am very disappointed in myself sometimes...)
Saying goodbye to Great Grandma and Great Grandpa Henrie Saturday morning (after eating a ton of her amazing waffles- Mmmmmm)

So we were headed home! It was a nice leisurely drive down through Price/Moab, Utah. Best story I have about this trip was when we stopped at a large gas station in Moab to use the bathroom and buy ice. We came out after finishing our business and I was with Luke, who saw the giant decorative rocks outside the front door, proceeded to pick one up and chuck it right into the glass front door of the store. That was embarrassing. Seriously, I was mortified. Thank goodness nothing really happened.

And Luke really enjoyed sleeping under a blanket in the car. It was a little hot in the sun so I would try to take the blanket off, but he would get so mad that we would just leave him. Whatever makes you happy, dude.

After a nice relaxing night in Albuquerque (and meeting another fellow Mormon lady in the hotel) we got ready for another small day of driving back to Ada, OK. Only 9 hours but we did lose an hour along the way. We still took some breaks though...

Pudding in Texas

Luke was happy to be free!

Outside the best rest stop ever (in TX) No, did not see a snake.

I am now going to publicly apologize to Rocket (our car). Before the trip Rocket had been acting up and I had not been too kind to him- you know, talking about him behind his back, wishing he would die, hoping for a fender bender- unkind things. I was a little apprehensive about taking him across the country too. I hoped he would make it, but you never know. However, to our delight, he was AWESOME. Not one problem. Okay, just the tire patch in Lehi at Big-O tires, but that was it! Amazing. I couldn't be more proud! Sniffle, sniffle ;)

Since we stayed only hours in Ada on the trip out, we promised to stay a while on the way home. So we got into Ada about 6pm on Sunday evening and headed to Jacob's grandparents. They are very kind and generous and fed us a yummy dinner. And after that we went to see some beavers. Really! Jacob's uncle Shane has some land he is developing in Ada and there is a small pond on it. And there are beavers there- so... when in Rome.... And we did see the beaver! Cindy used her binoculars and felt like she had accomplished something that night.

We stayed this time with Karl's brother and sister-in-law, Kurt and Lori, who also live right there in town. And since Kurt is Karl's identical twin brother, Luke was so excited to see....."Grandpa!!!!!" (this is what he exclaimed when he saw him and jumped into his arms)

Not actual Grandpa, but Uncle Kurt. Luke didn't know the difference and that was fine with everyone!

Aunt Dianne is one of Cindy's mostest favorite people. Not sure about the thumb sucking. Again, she is just out to spite me....

We learned on this trip that Luke is addicted to blueberries. I think he single handedly ate a quart by himself. All he could do at Nadine and Rufus' house was say, "Grandpa , I need some more blueberries!" and Rufus was so tickled by it that he could never refuse. So here is Luke enjoying some of his berries.

We got to go to a place in Ada called Wintersmith Park. It is a nice public park with walking paths, lake, ducks, etc. and they also have a small train that runs through the park. Here is Jacob and Cindy on the train. As you can see, Jacob is almost ready to graduate from Jessica Sweeney's School for Goofy Face Making. Not bad!

Okay, so when we went to the park we were going to feed the ducks. They warned us that they can be a little "agressive." They weren't whistlin' dixie, pal. Yikes, the hissing geese were a little creepy!

Cindy loved that Lori brought her dog, Holly to fend off the ferocious fowl

Jacob geniously suggested that we throw the bread into the water and subdue our attackers

We all went out to eat at Polo's Mexican restaurant in Ada. The food was great, but making Jacob wear a sombrero for his "birthday" was even better! Feliz Cumpleanos, Jacobo!

If there is costume jewelry in a house, Cindy will find it. She is like those drug-sniffing dogs. Here she is modeling what she found in Great Grandma Nadine's nightstand. How glamorous she is!

What? Luke doesn't get a turn? Handsome little devil indeed!

We reluctantly left Ada the next day. Jacob and I have decided that we can't figure out why everyone was so nice to us there. They all know we have no money, right? We aren't famous or glamorous or anything, but they treated us like movie stars. Seriously, his family is some of the nicest, kindest people we have ever met. It was great to be with them :)

The drive to Tallahassee was BRUTAL- sooo long already and then lose another hour as well. It was about 1am by the time we made it back to my brother's house. Unfortunately the kids had been sleeping for 3 hours by the time we got there and they woke up full of energy! while Jacob and I were dead on our feet. It is a miracle we didn't kill them that night. But we all eventually got to bed and slept in nice and late :)

Misty got us some breakfast and humored us while watching a slide show of our travels the next morning. And Addie and Luke had time for tea!

But we were anxious to get home so we said goodbye and in 4 hours we were home. Motivated? Maybe.

So that was our vacation! I can't believe we did all that, it was a marathon to be sure. But the only way to sum it up is to simply say: And they all lived happily ever after. (I live with a princess, cut me some slack! :)