Tuesday, December 9

Times a Ticking...

So it comes down to the last couple weeks before Jared leaves--cue hallelujah chorus-- which means its about time that we get some good quality family togetherness in. What better way to do that, then to pack the Yukon full of passengers and drive westward approximately 12 hours. That's right, we went to Disneyland.

This trip, some unusual things happened to us...some lucky things, and they have changed my life forever in some very valuable lessons that I will share with you today. Go ahead, keep on reading.

You see, my dad, bless his heart, couldn't get that lead out of his foot if he tried, and because of this genetic condition, he was pulled over. The officer came around to the side of the car and said, "Sir, I clocked you going *** in a ***." (I blotted the speeds out to protect the individuals involved, but lets just say, there is a reason we made the 12 hour journey in only 10.) My dad humbly apologized to the officer, and the man moved on to his next question. "Where are you guys going?"

And the award-winning answer is right here. "Disneyland" my dad said, as he sort of sunk his head and put on that puppy-dog pout. Immediately the officer said " You're going to Disneyland? Well I'm not going to give you a ticket!" And just let us drive off, didn't ask for a license, insurance, or anything.

Lesson one: When in trouble, just claim to be headed for the happiest place on earth. It sure works.

When we finally arrived at our hotel which was within perfect walking distance, slept for a few hours, and began the day bright and early with our special entry passes--which allowed us into the park an hour before it opened.

First thing we did was bolt straight for Space Mountain, at which we found no line, and we were able to ride 3 times in a row without waiting longer than 5 minutes. Awesome. After that the morning temperature started to rise, so we did what anybody would do with the oncoming heat: we hit up splash mountain. We were actually able to ride it 4 times without even getting out of our log!! It really was great. It's after Splash that my second lesson kicks in. Jared (for some reason) decided that he wanted to ride the Winnie the Pooh ride. There was no line, of course, so we just walked on. I actually enjoyed the ride more than I thought, since it is one I have never been on. After we got off though, there were nice people with big smiles waving mickey ears at us saying words like "Congratulations!" and "You've Won!!" and then proceeded to slap Mickey Mouse ears on all of us. These are ears that you can't buy, so everywhere we went workers were congratulating us on winning. It was great.

We found some similar ears in the shops, running around $14/pair. Times that by eight, your looking at over $100 worth of free merchandise.

Lesson two: ride little kids rides, you'll get free stuff.

Honestly, just look at the happiness.

See page above:
1) Teacups. Mom and I don't do teacups (when we do, lunch follows...if you follow) So we had a teacup challenge between the 6 players that are not affected by circular motion. Jared, Siera and Jake were in one; and Dad, Joe, and Josh in the other. See Jared's face in this picture as he watches Jake try and spin the cup by himself.
2) Again, Dad's face is priceless. Joe and Josh sit back while he wins the spinning competition. Wonderful. What champs!
3) Splash mountain: Josh rode that log like a rodeo all star! (and came out looking like a drowned gopher)
4) Check this boy out. They should warn people about this sort of thing.
5) This is the classic Jared picture face. This is what happens when no one "makes him smile"

Page Two:
1) Grizzly rapids, one of those rides we hit when the clouds came in and the temperature dropped. For some reason, people weren't eager to get soaked, which made the wait time next to nothing and allowed us multiple rides. We love getting wet!
2) Jared is known for pulling faces on roller coasters that no human can make naturally. This is but just one example.
3) Check out the decorations!
4) This is how Josh "ran" to the theme park. Yes, he is awesome.
5) The best quartet I have ever heard! These guys were world-class, and we caught them just as they were finishing up.

some of the characters we met

This bottom left picture was great. Joe (Jared's friend and portable family photographer) was going to take the picture for us with Mickey. And before the picture, Mickey demanded that Joe get in the picture. But there was a problem, we were short one pair of ears. So Mickey, in his chipper and lively fashion, proceeded to find the most innocent bystander possible--a little girl about 4 years old, and snatched the mickey ears off her head and gave them to Joe for the picture. This poor girl didn't know what hit her, I would compare the look on her face to one that a child forms the second after you break the news that her dog is dead. It was heartbreaking. And Joe, thinking that this should be a family picture, politely ducked down. You can see him there just behind Josh...with his stolen ears.
Lesson three: Mickey steels from children. The Parade:
1) Not that you can see behind him, but it's Santa himself back there. Josh was more excited than Elf when he said "SANTA!!! take my picture, take my picture!" So, I took his picture. and Santa didn't come clear in any of them. Sorry buddy.
2) If I could have a pet, it would be one of these snowmen. They are so cute!

D'ers some happy people!

So we were standing around, waiting for one of us to get out of the bathroom when this lady comes up to us and says "Hi, I'm Katie, and I'm with the year of a million dreams team, you guys look lost. So I am going to take you to whatever ride you're looking for!"
The blank stare on all of our faces must have just confirmed to her that we were indeed, lost. (even though we weren't...I don't think...)
We asked her to take us to the new Finding Nemo submarine ride--which had a 2 hour line that had not dwindled all day long. We got to talking, and she told us something very important. They have people on lookout there for Disney-goers that look lost, they call them Bogies, and they radio them into someone like Katie, and she picks them up and takes them to a ride. So that's exactly what she did for us, and not only did she just take us to the ride, she took us in the exit, straight to the front of the line! It was a dream come true!

Lesson four: Look like a Bogie.

Us with Katie, as she was skipping us to the front of the line

This is what my house will look like at christmas...someday.

So the trip went well, lots of fun, lots of magic, not a lot of sleep, and mostly smiles! I do believe that this is the most magical place on earth!!

Thursday, November 6

One quick word...

In light of the recent election, I thought that my friend Sarah had some very well-written words concerning the outcome. I encourage all of you to read her post here and if you want a good read, check out the rest of her blog as well! This post is definitely not to be missed.

Also, I thought I too would like to the two candidates speeches and encourage everyone who (somehow) hasn't heard them, to take a minute and listen to both McCain's speech, and our president-elect, Barack Obama. If (by chance) you don't have time for that speech, I thought this was a good, shorter alternative.

one fine day...there was a war.

This was one of those days. One of those days that you wake up and can immediately tell that it's going to be a good one. The snow came down in flurries and there was aready 4 inches on the ground when I woke up. Yes, 4 glorious inches. I spent the morning doing what hard-working college kids do: Homework. Then busted out my gloves and hat to head out into the magical weather. I was home alone, with mom gone and none of the kids to play with, I was feeling a little lonely. In fact, I probably would have gone completely insane had it not been for Jack (my dog) keeping me company. Anybody watching me would have probably opted to check me into the looney bin, because after all, isn't that what you do to people who carry on full conversations with themselves and their "dog", when they are the ones on both sides of the conversation? Yeah. Good thing I was alone. Jack and I decided to build a snowman. I think the neighbors passing were thinking..."is that??? no.... Nicole? alone? making a... well I can't tell what that is". It's true. My snow "man" looked more like a snow "thing".

My trusty, well spoken partner.

Alas, not withstanding the strange glares and the near collisions I caused, my final product was something beautiful.

Yes. My name is Nicole. I am 20 years old. And when I am home alone...I make snowmen up to par with a first grader. And ya know what? I am Proud!

Part of the reason I made the snow-thing in the first place was because nobody would be home to greet the kids as they came from school. So I hired this guy to do the job, and he did it most cheerfully. And then, in some tragic twist of fate, he was caught in the cross-fire of a pretty nasty little snow fight. When I came home from work I found my friend in bits across the lawn, and his mishapen head resting in the flowerbed, blueberry eyes still intact. I was heart broken. I had to find the culprit, and my gut told me where to go to get the confession. Josh.

I did the only thing I to do in this situation... take a hostage.

Sometimes...revenge is so sweet....
(especially when revenge is capable of baking a delicious assortment of cakes and pastries, sure to sooth any broken heart)

Yes, I kidnapped the doughboy and made a list of demands. The note goes as follows:

Dear Josh,

If you want your precious Doughboy back in one piece (a courtasy not hitherto given to my snowman) you must meet the following terms:

1- submit to be my working slave for one hour.
2- massage my feet for 20 minutes (or to my complete satisfaction. outside of the hour above)
3- Take me to see High School Musical 3....and pay. Also, I want wingers, and popcorn.

If these terms are not met by 6:34PM on November the 12th, your precious doughboy will be decapitated, and dropped from the 3rd floor of 1800-Contacts to his death.

Now if anything happens to doughboy, remember, it's not my fault! I will update you when the 12th draws nearer....

Until then, the doughboy won't see the light of day!

Monday, October 20

What can I say...

Who would have ever thought that being home would bring so much excitement every week? I didn't. When I was in England I tried to do something every week, because my time there was so limited. This has been a principle I have been trying to apply in my life at home, and it's not that my time is limited per say, but its all about living the moment, and trying to make the most out of every day. So in between my 15 credit hours of school and 35 hours a week at work, I am finding time to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year. Before I go any further, let me just spill the news that has had me squealing since day one. Jared got his mission call. I have never been good at waiting for things, and I am pretty sure I topped Jared on the anxiety charts every time we checked the mail. If I hadn't been at work when the call finally came (on a Saturday) I probably would have steamed the letter open and attempted a re-seal before anyone else had even realized it was here.

Argentina, here he comes! (I call Jared's iPod)
Speaking of people going places, my friend Maria recently took of to the other side of the world, a place that is 14 hours ahead of us, and almost as exciting as tomorrowland--China. We attended the Italian festival in Salt Lake before she took off, and it was so exciting, we just ended up taking pictures in front of old brick buildings and graffiti.

And speaking of Salt Lake City and going places (I am trying to keep a structure here...) Heidi and I have decided that every Tuesday is not just a Tuesday, but a SUPER TUESDAY. This means that we do something super--the definition of which being rather loose. Most of the activities on this day include things that I have never done before. And I know what your thinking...you mean there are actually enough things to do in Utah, that you haven't done them all in your, what is it now, 13 years of living there? And the answer is no. Surprising? Not really. You just have to know where to look!

I have never been to the Great Salt Lake.
Nope, never. So off we went just in time for the sunset, and it was so great that my camera battery died, so pictures are limited. This was honestly, the most incredible place I have ever seen a sunset. Ever.

We Went up the canyon as soon as it snowed.
Some people don't look forward to the snow the same way I do. I just love it! In fact, when there isn't enough on the ground at my house, I go searching for more. And that's what we did, and snow we did find!
Some super tuesdays are camera-less.
And only now did I realize that some of our more recent adventures have not involved a camera, but that doesn't mean they weren't amazing!

Today I went hiking with my dad and my brother.

If anybody is sick of pictures of trees and leaves...just scroll

And this is the tree that greets me from my window every morning.
He's a happy tree.
I think Siera loves the fall (almost) as much as I do!

And finally, wrapping things up. I can't believe I am old enough to have friends home from missions. We have had 2 homecomings in 2 weeks, and my friend Siri's farewell, and it doesn't stop there. They are just going to keep rolling in for the next 8 or so months. It's so fun to have these homecomings and farwells (for the girls!) where I get to see my high school friends again. And I think it's true what they say about your high school friends being your friends for life, because even though it's been so long since we have seen each other...its almost like nothing has changed. I just love it.

It's been crazy, but I hope it never slows down!

Wednesday, October 8

Hello Fall

I have been just dying to go to Park City and do the Alpine Slide ever since I have been home, and yesterday, I finally dragged some friends up there with me. My dad was even so generous as to let us take the convertible, and it was wind-in-the-face good the whole ride up there. Fall is my favorite season, what with the slightly cooler temperatures and the changing leaves. Mix that with a little alpine slide, friends, art galleries, Arbys, and star gazing and you have the perfect day in your pocket.
On the lift

After finishing up with the slide and the art galleries on main street, we grabbed some dinner at Arby's and waited for the sun to go down before heading back to the car. We drove up Gardman's pass, which goes all through the mountains, to get to the top and go star gazing. Before we sat back and relaxed though, we noticed that the snow wasn't too far away from us, so we hiked a little ways up the mountain to get to it! First snow of the season!
Now here we are star-gazing. It was so perfect up on top of the mountain, and the convertible's open top made things very convenient for watching the stars!

Monday, September 15

God Bless America...and everyone else too!

Every year, in commemoration of September 11, 2001, the field behind the Target Superstore is covered in Red, White, and Blue. This is--no kidding-- on of my favorite events of the year. They have 2 separate fields, one field housing a flag for everyone lost on 9/11, and the adjoining field supporting a flag for every soldier fallen in the war we are currently fighting. It is an incredible sight. It always inspires me with such patriotism and appreciation. My heart aches for the families who have lost loved ones, and yet is full of gratitude for the sacrifice they have all made. It gives me a chance to silently and reverently reflect, and then learn from what I hear rising from the silence. Because this is one of my (many, many) favorite things, my camera worked overtime. I think that the pictures speak about what it was like better than anything else, so maybe you can kind of feel like you were there too. It really was amazing.

the ribbons tied on the flags for our soldiers

Some people laid flowers at the flags of the utah soldiers

they had a little "exhibit" type thing that talked about what a blessing it was for people to come here, and the experiences documented of those immigrants who saw the Statue of Liberty for the first time.

It was very good.