Sunday, December 21, 2008

"And in the end, having my freedom, boast of nothing else..."

Let me tell you of a tale . . . a wonderful tale.  It regards a certain day in my personal history I'm sure will be made into a national holiday.  It is the day I finished my last undergraduate university final EVER.  Ahh yes . . . a wonderful tale.

It began not unlike any other day.  I got up, ate some cereal, then did some last-minute studying.  Somewhere in there, Jake (who is also having a similar day, though he'll have more semesters of school and thus - more finals) and I managed to play around with Brooklyn a bit:  

But play time did have to end eventually, and I had to get going to school for my last final.  It was a scheduled test, to take place in the basement of the Clyde Building at 11:00 AM.  Now, on a normal day, it takes me just over an hour to get onto campus using the bus system . . . but this (as I previously mentioned) was no ordinary day.  We had some 6-8 inches of snow dumped on us that day, and I knew it would be tough making that 12 mile trek from Pleasant Grove to Provo.  I decided to leave a tad early, and got to the bus stop at 8:30, giving myself well over two hours to navigate the public transportation system to my destination.

 So at the bus stop I waited . . . and I waited . . . and I waited.  

 After 45 minutes of waiting I called UTA's customer service line to inquire as to the whereabouts of the bus, which was at this point 40 minutes late.  I was promised that the bus was enroute, and "just around the corner" from my location.  In fact, the lady on the phone said she was suprised that I "couldn't see it right now, it should be so close!" 

Well, with such a promise, I waited yet another 20 minutes before I realized that I was in serious trouble.  At that point I shook the near inch of snow that had accumulated on my shoulders, backpack, head, and shoes and jogged the few blocks back to my house.  I had no other choice . . . I had to drive myself.  Naomi was planning on using the car that day (since I had planned to take the bus) but unfortunately her plans had to be postponed, as my schedule was deemed a higher priority at the time.  It's not every day you have your last final ever.

 The drive itself (which normally takes 20 minutes) took me the next hour to make as I battled icy roads, 20 feet visibility, and dumb students from Southern California who don't know what snow is, let alone how to drive in it. 

 I parked at Jennie's house, ate some of Lydia's home-made fudge (Thanks Lydia!) and trekked up to campus, arriving at the appointed room with literally 90 seconds to spare. 

 The test itself (the ending of which gives this day its notoriety) lasted just a smidge over 4 hours, and was probably the most intense of my college career.  It was the final for my Hydrology class, and consisted of 100 multiple choice questions followed by an open book, 12 question monster.

 I did finish it though, but was so focused on the exam for the entire 4 hours that I did not realize a) how hungry I was, b) how thirsty I was, and c) how much I had to pee.

 After I took care of the aforementioned problems, I walked on back to Jennie’s house to grab the car (feeling so free I walked atop the snow like Legolas).  It took me just under an hour to finally get home, at which point I got to shovel the driveway to the view of a beautiful Sunset.  Have you ever noticed that the best sunsets occur just after storms . . . and final exams?!

 That night we had a little party with myself, Naomi, Jennie and Jake.  We vegged, watched a few episodes of The Office, then Jake, Jennie and I enjoyed a nice game of Risk, in the which Jake handily and decidedly defeated us. (Seriously, who rolls that many sixes?!) 

 All in all, it was a fabulous day, and I’m glad the finals have ceased.

 But don’t anyone tell Craig we played Risk that night . . . he was still taking a final, so we couldn’t invite him.  He might be a little miffed.  Oh . . . probably better not tell Nikki either, she got married the next day so we couldn’t exactly invite her either (she’s been bugging me for ever to play some Risk!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Strange Addictions...

Most boys (and men) that I know have a tendency to get addicted to video games. As soon as they set eyes on one, their brains seem to liquefy and leak out of their ears. They can't hear you, understand you, and won't acknowledge you until they have sufficiently beat the next level or conquered the game. I thought I had a pretty good grip on the importance of video games in a man's life until I saw this:

As I was walking toward the basement door last week, I passed the bathroom and noticed that my three nephews were sitting there in the dark. I had to do a double take before I realized what was going on. Joseph had needed to go to the bathroom but didn't want to miss seeing Mason beat the next level. So, out of common courtesy, Mason and David moved into the bathroom with Joseph so he could watch while taking care of his "other" business at the same time! Life never ceases to surprise me! :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Seriously... why do we even HAVE pinky toes?!

I'm sure that there's a good reason for having pinky toes.  A student of biology may be able to tell me something about how they help you keep your balance with a stiff wind at your side.  It's possible they have a good purpose.  But for me, all they seem to do is get hurt and cause me pain!

I still remember the day, back in October, over two years ago.  After my swimming workout in my PE class, I hopped out of the pool and headed to the shower.  It was in the shower when I noticed massive amounts of blood coming out of my foot.  Turns out I had sliced my right pinky toe from the toe nail all the way back into th
e foot.  I won't say anything about the caliber of the lifeguards at the pool, who wrapped it in gauze then told me to go walk to the health center.  I made the mile and a half hike (very slowly) and got some 15 stitches in my toe.  I won't say anything about the caliber of the health center employees, who when taking out those stitches a week or so later, accidentally left some in my toe!

Anyway, If you thought BYU PE classes were done attacking my poor defenseless toes, you'd be as wrong as I was.  With a mere 1 1/2 weeks left of classes ever in my undergraduate college experience, another PE class, this time gymnastics, took its final shot at injuring me, this time attacking my left pinky toe.  

After performing my vault for the instructor for my final, as I'm stepping off the pad, the sticky pad reaches up and grabs my left pinky toe, curling it under my foot as I stepped down - breaking it as easily as a boy scout steps on a branch to break firewood.  I didn't realize how much damage was done, as a pain took a while to settle in.  I managed to finish my other routines for the final test (a tumbling routine on the floor, and the high-bar as well) finish my school day, run to catch the bus home, then referee a laser-tag game with Craig later that night.  It wasn't until I got home and took off my sock did the thought entire my mind "something's not right here..." This is the sight that greeted me:

So yes, BYU got its final shot at me mere weeks before I graduate and move on! Oh did I mention I'm graduating! heck yeah! A dumb broken toe's not going to stop me! Bring it on PE! What else you got?! I've got eight more toes you haven't touched yet!

Friday, November 28, 2008

November According to Naomi...

A lot has happened this November that I haven't had the chance to blog about. So... I thought I would try to get it all into one blog to save some time! Here is November according to me: Brooklyn saw snow for the first time that she can remember. It didn't stick, but she enjoyed it while it lasted!
I voted in the 2008 elections and it was the first time that I ever actually studied everything out and knew what I was voting for. Hooray for ME!
I turned 26 and got to go on an awesome shopping spree with my cousin Jennie! Also, Kevin framed my diploma and spoiled me all day. He even cooked me dinner!

Brooklyn and I went to the mall with my sisters Rachel and Sarah and their kids!

It was the first time Brooklyn ever got to play in an arcade! She really liked it especially when Mason and Maile were around to play too.

Brooklyn snuggled me for an hour when she got sick...this has never happened fact, it is unheard of for Brooklyn to even allow her body to be in contact with another person from the front! I liked it. :)
Jennie turned 26 and we partied and stayed up till all hours of the night! Woohoo! We love you Jennie!
Lots of visitors came into town for Thanksgiving. Brooklyn's favorites were her cousins Noa and Brinley who are 6 and 7 months younger than her. She also loved playing with Mason even though he wasn't technically visiting.
My sisters and I went out on several "sister dates" since we were all in town. It was nice to see each other and have our husbands babysit for a while!

We had an Uda Family Reunion where we were finally able to set the grave markers for my grandparents! (Thanks to Uncle Kelton and his mad skills!)

We had the biggest Thanksgiving spread in the history of Thanksgiving. It included the regular stuff as well as lau lau, lomi salmon, opihi...etc. and some apple pies that I made from scratch!
We started out Thanksgiving with a BANG by doing a 2 mile Turkey trot! It was my first official race and I did pretty good. I was 9th overall out of 80 runners and finished 7th for the women!

Becca and Taber brought the house down though coming in 5th for Becca and 2nd for Taber! ( He was beat by a 6o year old guy.) Kevin came in 3rd for men but that was because he was running with me and then going back and forth to take pictures of everyone else. Sarah and Noa also ran it and she came in 12th for the women which is totally awesome for her especially since she had a baby 3 months ago!!!
Anyway, its been a super awesome month with more to come! Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Backpacking with a Baby!

For Kevin's Birthday (October 27, 2008) we decided to go backpacking up the street from my parent's house. So, when Kevin got home from school on Friday the 24th, we packed up our bags and headed up the street to the mouth of the canyon! It was one of the craziest and most fun things we have ever done together! The hike was only about a mile and a half up the canyon but with Brooklyn, my bedding, and all of Brooklyn's things on my back, and the tent and food on Kevin's, we were hauling quite a bit of weight up a very steep hill! After a while, Brooklyn even started mimicking my breathing pattern, which was both embarrassing and funny!
When we left the house in the first place, it was already dark, the time we got to our campsite, Brooklyn was a little angry with us for keeping her up late in the cold! We parked as quickly as possible and thus, ended up smack-dab in the middle of a game trail! We found that out in the middle of the night when all the elk came strolling through our campsite to get some grub!
Brooklyn didn't sleep the best because she had to squeeze into Kevin's sleeping bag to stay warm. She has never slept with us before and is appalled at the idea of cuddling, so it was a bit torturous for her. Nevertheless, when we woke up in the morning she was the happiest baby in the world! She ate several leaves, licked some rocks and laughed at the waterfalls. We are lucky to have a baby born to be in the outdoors. She LOVED it!

On the hike down we took extra time to take pictures since the hike up was pitch black. Here is a picture of one of the bridges we crossed on our hike. As you can see, it was a VERY cold night!

Last but not least, the birthday boy was the one in charge of the camera, so naturally, we have about 100 pictures of him making faces while he was hiking behind me. I couldn't figure out what he was giggling about until we got home and looked at the pictures together. What a nut! Oh well...we're glad he was born and super glad that he has lived this long!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween Humbug!

I have to admit...I don't really like fact...I might even hate it! But there is a reason for it. When I was a month short of turning 10, I went trick-or-treating with my siblings. We had almost made it all the way around the block when we came to an old widow's home on the corner. She had us in a line and was dropping candy into our bags one at a time. My older sister Becca was right in front of me. I was so excited when I saw the candy drop into her bag and realized it was my turn. But, lo-and-behold, as soon as I stepped to the door the old woman said, "No way honey, you are way to old to be trick-or-treating! Run on home now." OH MAN! I was so crushed. I thought she was the most evil person on earth and vowed never to trick-or-treat again...and I haven't.

Now in her defense, I was a rather large and juicy 10 year old. I was probably 2 or 3 inches taller than Becca and nearly double her weight! Looking back, I can see many reasons why that lady thought it best not to aid my growth with any more candy, but at the time it was quite a blow to the old self esteem.

So, there is a point to the story. Although I was devastated by that lady and have faithfully hated Halloween for the last 16 years, I have found a new reason to like the day of the dead. BROOKLYN! As I dressed her up this year and got ready to take her to the trunk-or-treat (alternative to showing up at creepy stranger's houses) I couldn't help but get caught up in all the buzz. She couldn't eat any candy (even though she did) and she didn't understand what was going on, but she sure had fun! And that of course, made me have fun as well. Here are some pictures of Brooklyn's first Halloween!
As you can see, her nose is crooked and her whiskers are a bit skiwompus because she strongly opposed being drawn on, but to me she still makes a darn cute kitty!
Here is Brooklyn with cousins Joseph, Mason, David, and Maile.

Brooklyn really loved her candy bag even though there was nothing in it.

A closer look at the costumes. Top left: China doll. Bottom left: Kitty. Middle: Missionary Companions. Top Right: Escaped Prisoner. Bottom Right: Gay Missionary Companions.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Vote YES on proposition 26.2!

So after plenty of gentle ribbing to complete a post about MY marathon experience, I managed to find a night where I can't do any homework (I accidentally left it at school . . . I have NO idea what I'm going to do to finish it, but hey, I'm enjoying the moment!). 
Before I begin, I should state that given a choice between Naomi's and my experience . . . I would take mine ANY day.  Not only did she have to deal with getting Brooklyn up super-early, but she had to ride in a car while Liz was driving! (that's a life-pass-before-your-eyes moment if I ever knew one! hehehe Liz you crack me up!) 
So my version of the story began at 3:30 AM Saturday morning, a morning not unlike any other Saturday morning, except for one tiny thing . . . insanity was in the air.  Jennie and I walked from my grandparent's condo in St. 
George, right next to the LDS temple, to the finish line of the race, where we boarded the bus that would take us to the start line.  Now, and incentive to board the first bus of the morning (4:00AM) is that you're given priority status in the massage line after the race, and one wicked-cool smiley sticker on your tag.  Did I mention the cool sticker?! Oh yeah, it was sure worth it to get on that %#^$% 4 AM bus! 
At the starting line, we settled down for the 2 1/2 hr wait until the start of the race.  I was actually pretty cool!  They had literally about 100 bonfires going on the side of the road to help keep you warm while you waited (we were grateful; it is COLD in the desert at night).  This was also the time that it started raining, and it didn't stop until well after the race. 
I was completely in awe at just how many people there were! I think a good metric of how many people there are in a race is how many porta-potties can be found lining the road at the start-line.  I couldn't count them, I'll leave it at that! 
Well the race started out great, and I loved it!  Now the rain has its pros and its cons during a long race like this.  
Pro: It helps cool you off while running so you don't over-heat
Cons: After running for over 3 hrs with wet feet, it turns your poor abused feet into soggy raisins! This actually caused problems for quite a few people.  Luckily, I didn't realize how sore it made my feet until after the race. 
So for the first 21 miles, I did great! I kept up a very even 8 min/mile pace, while kept me right at my goal of finishing the race in 3 hrs 30 min.  It was actually very enjoyable.  It's fun to chat with other runners and get to know people.  There's plenty of people who run "for a cause" and advertise their cause with pictures on the t-shirts and such.  It's fun to talk to these people and find out their stories. 
Well, the fun ended at mile 21.  There was a conversation that went on between my right leg and my left leg that went something like this: 
Right leg: Alright buddy, I've had just about enough of this, what do you say we end this?!
 Left leg: Yup, I'm with you! 3 hours of this torture is enough for me, let's get back at this schmuck!
 Right leg: Right! Al right, I've got a plan, and the count of three we'll both sieze up and lock all the muscles we've got in these legs! 
Left leg: Hehehe I like it, that's a great plan! This is going to be awesome! 
Right leg: okay, this is it! on 3, 1....2.....3! 
And of course, at this moment, every single muscle in both of my legs completely seized and locked at the knees and the ankles.  I sure this was humorous to people who saw it, as I looked a little like the Young Forrest Gump trying to run.  To me though, it was PAINFUL! I've actually never experienced pain quite like that before; it's not something I can describe.  It was the hardest thing in world to have my brain convince my legs to actually keep going.  I had to stop and unclench my legs several times by stretching them out, but I did end up making it.  The law of diminishing returns definitely applies, as that last 100 yards into the finish line was the longest 100 yards of my life! 
But I did cross the finish line, just 10 minutes shy of my goal, which is not too bad I'd say!  It was awesome, painful, extremely worth it and I'm going to do it again the next chance I get!

Naomi's Version of the St. George Marathon

Well, this has been a long time coming but its better late than never! On October 4th, Kevin and his cousin Jennie ran the St. George Marathon! That's right...the whole thing! Kevin will have to put his version of the race on here eventually because I didn't run it and don't know what it was like. However, Brooklyn and I had our own plans that day so I will update you on our adventures in St. George.
But before I begin, I will tell you what I do know. Kevin finished the race in the pouring rain with the time of 3:41:02! That's pretty awesome if you were wondering. Jennie finished somewhere around 5 hours and 15 minutes but I don't know the exact time. She also finished in the pouring rain and managed to run across the finish line with a ridiculous smile on her face as if she did that kind of stuff everyday! Way to go guys. You are the kind of "buff" that I have no desire to ever be...but still think is cool!Now for the rest of us. While Kevin and Jennie were starting their race, Sarah, Liz, Brooklyn and I were driving to the start of our "race". WE participated in the Mayor's Walk which was only 2.1 miles but still a good workout for us! It was pretty awesome. We dragged Brooklyn out of bed early (which was payback for all the mornings she wakes me up at 6am) and made it to the start line (thanks to Liz's crazy navigational skills) just on time to start walking. We walk/jogged the course which enabled us to finish in the top 100 out of 2,000 walkers even though we started dead last! That felt good even though 33 minutes is a horrible time to finish 2.1 miles. Anyway...long story short, it was inspiring and fun and now I have the courage to try a real race. I am signed up to run the "Beat the New Year 5K" on December 31st and am pretty pumped! Wish me luck!

Monday, October 20, 2008

All Great Things Come to an End!

Well, I will be leaving Minnesota tomorrow morning and heading back to my wonderful husband in Utah! So...I thought before I go I should post everything else we have done since Wednesday.
On Thursday we went to the park about a mile from Becca's house and played on the playground, in the leaves, and on the beach! It was so much fun to see the girls enjoying themselves out in nature. I think Brooklyn ate around 3 or 4 leaves before we left.
On Friday we went to the General Mills Headquarters to see where Taber works. It was AWESOME! Basically he works in a giant mall. You never have to leave for anything! You want food, exercise, shopping, banking, gas, car repair, a good hair cut or pedicure...YOU GOT IT! Its all there! Pretty cool Taber!

On Saturday morning Becca and I went to her ward's SUPER SATURDAY! We made "I Spy" Bags and designer baby wipe cases. Then we had an amazing lunch followed by berry-filled chocolate cups. Mmmmmm...chocolate!
That evening we went back to the Mall of American with Taber and Teya. Teya had fun riding the rides and trick-or-treating and Brooklyn enjoyed the chance to be as loud as she wanted without her mom scolding her. After the rides we ate at Rainforest Cafe again and it was TASTY! Thanks Becca and Taber!
Sunday was our "relaxing" day so nothing to report there, but today (Monday) we went to the Mall of America again and checked out their indoor aquarium. The girls all loved the different fish but were especially happy when we got to "Mr. Ray" and the "Finding Nemo" fish tank!
Here are a few pictures of Dori, Nemo, and the gang. We even got a picture of Crush!
Before we headed out the door, Teya and Brooklyn got to pet some stingrays. They were slimy and stinky but the girls thought it was the greatest thing on earth! We sure have had a wonderful time with the Riggs and will be very sad to go home without them. :( But that's OK. They will be back in Utah for Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brooklyn in the woods

So Naomi made sure to chew me out that I haven't posted pictures from some the adventures we've had lately (before she took off and left for Minnesota . . . seriously, what's in Minnesota?!).

Much to my delight, it turns out that our little gir
l quite enjoys being outdoors, and loves it when we take her to parks, up the canyon etc.   We had a ch
ance to take her up the canyon directly above the home 
in Pleasant Grove.  Here's some fun pictures:

It's always great fun!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tourism at its BEST!

Well, Becca and I have been very busy since I arrived in Minnesota, so I am just barely able to give you an idea of what we have been up to! Here goes!

On Monday when our dad was still here, we all went to The Mall of America together. It was SO huge! There was an indoor amusement park right in the middle of the mall. Brooklyn was too small to ride on anything but she was just happy to be in her stroller so it was okay. After we checked out the amusement park we posed with a storm trooper made entirely of Lego's and then we ate at The Rainforest Cafe. We were seated right next to a huge saltwater aquarium and Brooklyn loved watching all the fishes! It was a very fun trip.
On Tuesday we ventured out to the Community Center and let the girls go crazy on the indoor playground. It was like a glorified McDonald's. They even had an area just for crawling babies and Brooklyn loved it! She was all over the place. I couldn't believe how mobile she really is when she has free reign of a space.
This is one of my favorite pictures that we took at the Community Center. Brooklyn is obsessed with Brinley and when she saw her on the other side of the mesh she pulled herself up and tried to touch her. It was so cute!

On Wednesday we went to the Children's Museum in St. Paul. It was amazing! All of the exhibits could be touched and played with by the children. They also had an animal exploration area for toddlers where Brooklyn got to crawl all over everything she saw.
Her favorite part of the animal area was the turtle mirror. She was laughing her head off at herself and all the other mothers were getting a kick out of her. She also liked the ropes, which she unsuccessfully tried to scale all by herself. She nearly gave me a heart attack!
But the Best part of the Children's Museum, by far, was the water exhibit. It had bubble machines and boat races, lots of tubes and water fountains, and a whole lot of weird gadgets. Brooklyn and her little friend Noah who are 3 days apart in age liked the water fountains the best. They splashed around forever in here.
Anyway, that is all I have for now but just so you all know, we are having a BLAST! Even though we desperately miss Kevin! Catch you later with more from our MN adventure!