Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nights of Literature

Note, when I wrote this a couple of days ago, I had no idea that I'd post it today, nor that last night would be the epitome of this post.  Scott and I discussed the influence of Shakespeare, Lord Byron, and Shelley on Pushkin during the wee hours of 1-5 am, when I wasn't crashing.  He has his own sleep schedule, and it was amazing to be a part of the dialogue!  

Each couple has its own preferred ways of spending the nights (and days) of their lives together.  For us, it's often surrounded by and based on literature.

Scott had to read The Sun Also Rises for a bibliography class and chose to get a head start on it.  That lead to about a week's worth of nightly (and afternoon and morning...whenever best) discussions about Spain, the Spanish language, various aspects of the relationship between France and Spain, and more.  It was delightful!

A love of both of ours is the British Romantic poets and their works.  Scott has a book from the local library about Lord Byron and Shelley.  It has sparked more interesting discussions and tid bits of trivia than I could have imagined! 

Yes, for some this might be odd, but for us, it's life.  We both love that we can learn from each other and not have to pay for some class to teach us what we are learning.  I love that he is doing his Master's in a field that I had considered, but have no desire to formally study right now.  He, in turn, loves that I willingly contribute to our discussions and share other ideas that support his literary and future career growth.

Ah, so that's how you'll often find us...hanging out on the couch or in bed discussing some various points of literature, googling words we don't know, and randomly sharing tid bits of wow-ness that we find intriguing.

A great and blessed life we live!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Sounds of Ogden (F-16s vs. Emergency Vehicles)

Hill Air Force Base is about 10 miles south of here.  F-16s take off and land routinely from Hill.  Our house is in the flight pattern.  The constant swooshing and other hard-to-describe sounds of F-16s and other planes fill our ears.  Sometimes they cause us to scan our eyes for the planes.


I am so thrilled to be on the AFB flight path as opposed to the Route 1 emergency vehicle path that we were when we lived in Virginia.  I totally respect what emergency peeps do, their vehicles, etc., but we were confined.  As in, we had one entry and one exit point to and from our place.  It was a bit confining to say the least. 

Here we have lots of ins and outs of our place (well, at least two direct ones- left and right or north and south), which I suppose helps to make the sounds and overall experience of life here more freeing.

I also suspect it's less worrisome hearing F-16s as opposed to emergency vehicles.  Yet, to all who do what they do....thank you!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Scott's Races (aka Thrifty Utah Racing)

As many of you know, Scott loves to race and we are on a healthy budget.  However, many races tend to be quite expensive for the distance, and not even Ironman expensive.  $35 for a 5k is steep for us, or maybe just my perspective.  I totally understand the desire to compete, but at $11/mile, I'd rather just test myself on different routes. 

Fortunately, this area is filled with timely races that are very affordable.  We're talking "very affordable" to the tune of 3 races for $45, plus a few others (some that have entry fees and some that don't).

Here's a look at Scott's past and upcoming races...aka Thrifty Utah Racing. 

Peach Days 10K - September 8th and $20 (Yes, he could have opted out of the shirt and saved $5, but that's less laundry on a regular basis for us...and it's a true Utah deal...aka souvenir?)

Run for the Fund of It 5K - September 22nd and $15 (The race is at Weber State and supports the funding of scholarships.  It also includes a shirt and breakfast.)

City Creek Bike Sprint - October 6th and $25 (This is a race that he really, really wants to do.  It supports amazing people, and will be a good bike test/experience for him.  "I'd rather ride that than the Dirty Dozen," he has said in the past, so this is a good hill experience.)

Weber State Turkey Tri - November 10th and free? (He's looking forward to this, and while we are not 100% positive about the free cost, it appears so.)

Turkey Trot - November 17th and $5 (This is a race put on by the Golden Spike Running Club in Brigham City.  They have a great series of races that are very reasonably priced!)

So if you add up all of these, plus the Strides of Healing 5K ($10 student discount), it adds up to... $75 for 6 races.  There might be another race added at the end of October (Spooktacular- end of October and a 5K) which might bring the total to about $90 and 7 races. 

Yes, I'd say this works out well for all of us!  Scott maintains the balance of school-home-training and our budget is supported by the super people holding fabulous races at reasonable costs (with some kind unexpecteds- like the student discount at the Hopice for Utah 5K)!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cirque du Susanna

About two weeks ago I said to Scott, "it's Cirque du Susanna" time.  He smiled.  It became something we thought we'd keep to ourselves, an intimate connection with our wee daughter who resides in her own special place.  Yet, it crept out a few times, in celebration of her wonder and our awe of her.

So, as only a father (a very sonnetic father) can write...

Cirque du Susanna

With all of my love to my sonnetic man and our daughter. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Ogden Botanical Gardens

You've read about it before.  We love it there.  The Ogden River Parkway runs behind it.  It has great parking, open bathrooms, plenty of bar-be-que space, and more.  Oh, and it's only one mile from our place on the same street- just due north.

Here's a look from our Sunday mid-day journey there (which explains some of the photo quality...light was an issue.  We're working on resolving that in near future.).

Monday, August 20, 2012

Strides for Healing 5k (Hospice for Utah)

Saturday Scott ran the Strides for Healing 5k which was a fundraiser for Hospice for Utah.  I offered to volunteer when we picked up the packet on Friday at the conviently-located-to-us Ogden office, but was told that all of the staff members would be working.  As a result, they did not need any other volunteers.

There are no words for how well organized and thoughtful the entire race was, but I'll try to highlight it without pictures.  (Sorry...the camera was left at home, so the photos will remain within.)

  • Amazing location.  Jensen Nature Park is absolutely beautiful, easy to get to, has great facilities, and offers simple pleasures (like a creek with an otter, many covered pavilions, clean bathrooms, and more).
  • Tons of meaningful kids activities.  There was a moon bounce, face painting, cotton candy, snow cones, a ring toss with 2 liter bottles of soda, a bean bag toss (usually occupied by the adults), and a football toss.  All of this was free.
  • Phenomenal staff/volunteers.  The entire hospice team was working plus sponsors (who, according to the announcement at the start, were business partners in large part).  Everyone was friendly, offering help and water to everyone.
  • Snow cone machine.  Seriously brilliant when it's 92 degrees at 6 pm.  I hadn't had one in a good 15 plus years, and certainly enjoyed my half cherry cone.  Scott enjoyed his post race.
  • White technical race shirts.  Again, pure brilliance if you ask me.  White shirts for this area is smart!  They were really cute, too, with the race info. on the front and sponsors on the back.  They're something you look forward to showcasing.
  • Official timing at the end.  Simple, sweet, and no chips.
  • Water stations at the 1 and 2 mile marks.  Scott was very pleased with this.
  • Engine/caboose staff members for the kids race.  There was a kids 1k race.  The race started with a staff member leading the way, followed by the kids, and then a staff member brought up the rear.  We didn't see how the race ended, but really appreciated this thoughtfulness.
  • Great sponsors.  Um...we've been stalling on purchasing a new Road ID for Scott and Road ID was a sponsor.  They're offering free shipping on any product.  Any bit of savings helps! 
  • Student discount.  The race was $10 for students, and that included graduate students, too! 
  • More, more, and more.
The only "con" or concern Scott had was the placement and nature of the luminaries, which were glass.  He kicked one and one was kicked by someone else, leading for there to be glass on the trail.  He felt confident this would be noticed and adjusted for next year.

Oh, and this was the first year for the race.  Scott and I look forward to returning next year. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Saturday Thoughts...

Scott and I have had some interesting conversations and great map time over the last few days.  There has been a lot of prayer time mixed in with that, too, and we're just living right now and enjoying every bit of life.

Do you really want to do your PhD overseas? (me)

What is the value of an overseas PhD in the USA? (Scott)

Would you like to celebrate "big" in some meaningful way after you do your Masters and after you complete your PhD? (me)

What do you think about the celebrations?  Should it be something I've done before or something new? (Scott to me)

How do you feel about visiting Oregon? (me)

Crater Lake is in the central part or Oregon? (Scott)

Have you ever driven the 101? (me)

What do you think of U of U? (me)

We have not much a clue of what will happen, so here are the above questions with our current answers. 

Do you really want to do your PhD overseas? (me)

General Scott answer- maybe.  He's going to look at other options here, more specifically in Utah, as he'll have in-state residency for his second year of the Master's and why go through all of what Utah requires for that to be a reality for just a year?  Plus, we like it here!

What is the value of an overseas PhD in the USA? (Scott)

In chatting with a former professor's son, who is double PhD himself, Scott learned that overseas PhDs are sometimes seen differently than USA-earned PhDs.  There's more on which to research and pray.  Oh, and there's more future chats with professors to happen, too.

Would you like to celebrate "big" in some meaningful way after you do your Masters and after you complete your PhD? (me)

In short, yes, he would! 

What do you think about the celebrations? Should it be something I've done before or something new? (Scott to me)

I think that they should be what makes him happy and are meaningful, financially sound (smart), and he needs to decide if it's going to be a solo, Wendy-Scott, or Wendy-Scott-klds celebration.  I also suggested that the things he was interested in, but that he's done before (going to a concert, going to the beach, going to a restaurant) could be tweaked for a "new" version.  The other variable is the concert.  Who or what group/band will be in town (or within acceptable travel) when he completes his Masters?

How do you feel about visiting Oregon? (me)

Scott's a-okay with it.

Crater Lake is in the central part of Oregon? (Scott)

It's south central Oregon.

Have you ever driven the 101? (me)

Yes, he has.  He's fine with re-driving parts of it, too.

What do you think of U of U? (me)

There are some very attractive aspects of U of U for both of us.  They have some different PhD options for Scott and their continuing education programs are quite extensive!  Plus, it's reasonably close (Salt Lake City- okay, this is close) and if we chose to move from Ogden, there are housing options between SLC and Ogden were we to choose to transition that way.

That's where we are now.  We'll see where God and life take us.  For those curious, it was my trip after my Master's that lead me to fall in love with Utah.  I firmly believe in celebrating the "big" stuff in a smart way. 

For me, it meant driving across the country solo to visit national parks of which I'd dreamt.  For Scott, it appears that swimming in Crater Lake and hanging out in the surrounding area is his. 

One step at a time!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Ogden Pioneer Days Horses ("Trail to Pioneer Days" exhibit)

When Scott and I first arrived in Ogden, on 4 July 2012, we drove up Washington Blvd. to get to a Wal Mart for supplies.  I was in awe of the brightly painted horses on the street, and texted his sister to ask if they had always been there.  She didn't remember them. 

The horses became a key point in my conversations with others about how cool this town is.  We later learned that they were for the 75th Pioneer Days celebrations, are also located on 25th Street, and are part of the biggest public art project in Utah. 


The Hooster
Indian Summer
Horse of Healing
Hopefully I'll have more photos soon.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Anything is Possible

Scott and I had our regular Susanna apointment with the great people at Circle of Life Women's Center this morning.  I love these people.  They are organized, efficient, and smooth running with a lot of care and attention to warmth and detail.  As a bonus, they are very close to where we live which makes life quite easy!

That's just a little prelude to what I figured I'd share for today, though I had something else planned... so continuing...

Anything is Possible!

This is what our little girl has taught us! She continues to amaze me at her health, her strength, her funny moments, and her crazy-wonderful movements!

I've dreamt of being a Mom my entire life, but had a hard time (at times) with parts of the early pregnancy (so much for not wanting to share too much as I noted in last week's Cravings post...).  There was just a lot going on, and a lot that needed to be prayed on...which it was.

At the end of the doctor's visit, where we heard and saw her again (COL's procedure is an ultrasound a visit and they record them on DVD for you and probably for them to have for growth sake, too), the good doctor offered me a hand up.  I looked at him like he was crazy, but in a respectful way.

I noted to him that I was still able to hold a plank for 1 minute and do wall sits for 1 minute at a time.  He said, "I can't do that."  True, but there's other things he can do that I can't do.

My point... anything is possible! 

Sure I'm not putting in the runs I'd like to, nor hiking as much, but I can hold my planks and my flexibility is coming back thanks to more regular yoga!  I can enjoy the time I have with my husband and I can cherish that he has another interview today (me too!)!  I can make food that I wasn't sure if Scott would like yesterday, but the longer I left it out, the fewer that remained! I can get a solid night's sleep even when I thought it to be a challenge!  I can find deals that save us a bundle and allow us to continue to live as we need and want! 

Anything is possible!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Settling In

After many weeks of travel, it feels as if we are settling in to this area.  The first few days here were a blur of unpacking, crushing boxes, joint discussions about what needed to be done, where things needed to be, and figuring out how to put together IKEA furniture without directions.  Oh, plus sleeping on the floor until our new bed arrived. 

The next week or so we weren't here, yet when we returned we were impressed with how much we accomplished in about 4 days of work.

The following few weeks were another blur of drives to/from the Salt Lake area so Daniel could visit his cousin, his cousin could visit Daniel, we could take Daniel to the Salt Lake airport, we could pick up a bed for the kid in Eagle Mountain, and more.

It seemed as if we were living at places like Target, Wal-Mart, Smith's, etc. purchasing small things that we needed, restocking our place, or researching things we might need vs. want.

That has all come to an end.  (It appears, thankfully!)

We have a simple routine now, which changes daily based on our reality.  We know the roads.  We know the short cuts, we have preferred options, and not everything is new as in "wow! let's stop and look at it!" new. 

We're still exploring, but we're relaxing, too.  We're starting to make plans for the future.  You know, the future beyond the unpacking, beyond moving boxes to the basement, beyond the when-that-IKEA-bed-gets-done future. 

It's absolutely enjoyable.  It's wonderful to wake up, enjoy the hardwood floors in the kitchen and living room, and lazily punch in the code to the basement to do laundry.  It's delightful to wander the streets of Ogden wondering where life will bring us and to stop for a cup of coffee (for Scott) at some new or revisited place. 

In other words...

We've come a long ways from this...

Dinner 2 days after we moved in: Olive Garden leftovers.
Yet, we still drink Gatorade often and Scott still loves his Philly Marathon shirt!

We still occasionally enjoy one of these (with Scott eating the majority and me just eating a tasting...)...

Great Harvest cinnamon rolls for Daniel's last summer morning breakfast.
We thoroughly look forward to spending more time in the mountains...

Hike number 1- looking at Ben Lomond
I'll admit to missing a place called Pittsburgh, and am reminded of it by buildings like this...

Eccles Community Art Center
Doesn't it look like the Frick Art Museum??!!

We are just as happy, if not happier than this...

Middle Inlet Beach, Pineview Reservoir...
taken while the cousins skipped rocks!
So here's to more adventures and more "settling in."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Knowing Oneself

Scott is running a 5k on Saturday, a fundraiser for Hospice for Utah.  The race organizers offer a special entry fee for students ($10) which fits nicely into our budget.  The run starts at 7 pm in tribute to "those who have lit the way."

I asked Scott if they needed volunteers, and he said he didn't know. 

I prayed if I should volunteer with the organization, as I had completed hospice training last year in Virginia, but something told me "no."

It's a challenging time to not volunteer for something that personal, as I deeply loved my experiences at Life with Cancer, part of the INOVA organization.  Yet, I must trust the prayers and responses. 

Scott and I drove to the race start/finish at Jensen Nature Park on Sunday evening, and it was a simple, gorgeous drive.  There's a running trail through the park, and I can only imagine how gorgeous it will be at dusk with all of the runners.

More to come on this.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Look Back- Packing Day

We started the packing process months before 29 June 2012, the day we picked up the UHaul and auto transport from the Woodbridge UHaul (note: they are some of the nicest people around).  By February we pretty much "knew" we would be moving, though it didn't become official until around May.  The time allowed us to continue to review what we needed, what we wanted, what we could donate, etc.  Afterall, the way we met and merged lives happened quickly, very quickly which meant a lot of "stuff" was in our place.

Fast forwarding.

We started the morning off at Dunkin' Donuts by Lowe's and Taste of Tandoor on Minnieville Road before heading to UHaul.  The plan was to be there, waiting, at 0630.  We arrived shortly before 0700 and there was a line already, which wasn't too surprising, as it was the end of the month and a Friday.

By 0750 we were home and the UHaul was ready to be loaded.  We were scheduled to pick up the Mormonaires (Mormon missionaries) near 1000, which left us 2 hours to make a dent in the loading process. 

We had prayed for cool, temperate weather, but were blessed with extreme heat and humidity.  As a result, we loaded furniture smoothly and smartly.  We took frequent breaks.  We made time to communicate with each other, as to avoid heat-induced personality flare ups.  Perhaps the best moment was when Scott said to me, "I understand that 'please and thank you' are a part of everything you say or request.  If you don't say them, I know they are there.  Just be you."  Aw..

With that mentality and focus, we accomplished a lot in 2 (plus) hours (we were a bit late getting to the Mormonaries).  We had all of the major furniture in and stacked as we had thought best, and were working on some minor stuff.  Success.

Scott went to pick up the 2 Elders and I decided I needed to rest (afterall, if Scott wasn't lifting stuff, neither was I, I thought).  Let me note here that the only pieces of advice and caution I was given about moving when 20-ish weeks pregnant were: don't walk on ladders, be smart, and listen to your body.  They were shared by our favorite NP at our OB who had moved late in both of her pregnancies thanks to the Army and her husband. 

Scott and the Mormonaries were back by 1045.  Thankfully we had a team assembled of 3 Navy Brats and 1 Airforce Brat, and all understood what moving and loading day meant.  The AF brat was a tall kid, and the first day we'd met him.  Basically, he was looking for a good work out, and in between hauling boxes, he'd do crunches and ab work if he was left to sit around.  Perfect! 

Fast forwarding again. 

Our goal was to everything loaded and everyone home by 1400.  Fail.  We had the truck loaded by 1330 and had everyone home by 1445.  There were times when we had to make decisions on "keep" or "no keep" and it was a challenge a few times.  We had a 14 foot truck, and I knew it would not all fit. 

Scott reassured me it would.  I trusted him.  He believed in his ability to "tetris" it, and to his credit, he did an amazing job.  Still, some tough decisions were made on the keep-not keep list.  He did all he could, and I (to my credit) avoided control freak mode and stayed in the apartment once the Mormonaries were there.  I kept myself as cool as possible, and sent the men out a few times when I needed supplies (and for them to get Gatorade- why didn't we think of that before?). 

While the weather was not what we prayed for, we received exactly what we needed.  We had brilliant teamwork, understanding by all, laughter, stories, and good pizza at the end.  More than anything, we trusted each other and that lead a long ways. 

Scott and I felt pretty solid by the time we delivered the Mormonaries home.  We had a bit more "little" packing to do the next day and some Jeep stuff, but we were okay. 

We enjoyed a Friday night dinner with Daniel and some amazing conversation before returning home to that "little bit" of packing that remained, and more air conditioning of course.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Echoes of Friends

Living in a new place, it would be easy to feel as if everything were different, fresh, isolated, etc.  Yet, Ogden and the Wasatch share so much with people in my life.

Here's a glimpse of what feels to me as pieces of home and heart. 

For better or worse, Anne-Marie is more than an Ironman finisher, an amazing cyclist, or the female winner at the 2011 Dirty Dozen to me.  Perhaps it's because she's noted that she feels free on the trails and her joy of mountain biking caught her off guard.

Whatever it may be, whenever I see a mountain bike race poster around here, or tracks on the trails, I think of this very talented and humble woman who will be participating in the 2014 Race Across America.  If anyone out there can think of a way to help her, including just prayers, please do so.  She's not asked me to write about this, but I did.  Feel free to read more here.   


When Scott and I took Daniel and his cousin to the Clark Planetarium, all I could think of was "Susan!" and how she'd be finding ways to bring her science students to it, so they could learn and integrate the concepts.  I knew she'd be thrilled at the no entry fee cost, too, as she works make everything readily accesible to all of her students.

She's a phenomenal teacher whose passion for science oozes, and clearly caught my brain at every turn and exhibit when we hung with the boys.

My Grandmother and Aunt Ellen

My grandmother's garden has always been a place of peace and beauty for me.  Ever after a move within town to a new home, her garden (often supported by my Aunt Ellen) is pure wow!  It's not as big, yet it's just as wondrous. 

The first time I went to the Ogden Botanical Gardens, I thought, "I wish Grandma and Aunt Ellen were here to enjoy this."  There's such a simplicity and a true caring to the layout and the structure.  There's love there, which is what I always felt in my Grandma's garden.  Miss you Grandma!

There are other echoes of friends, too.  Perhaps I'll revisit this in the future, after learning more about this area and myself.

Thank you for reading!

The Can Man

The other afternoon, while waiting in the Jeep for Scott, I heard a familiar sound: soda cans being crushed on concrete.  I simultaneously looked at our neighbor to the south crushing cans while remembering my neighbor in Pittsburgh who crushed cans with a sledge hammer.

*ding* or *flash*

On clicked something in my brain.  I noted the observation and memory to Scott and asked if we should donate our cans to our neighbor.  He liked the idea.

On Friday we were out scouting KSL freebies when we returned home for a bit.  Scott walked over to the neighbor, who was sitting out, while I went inside to get the cans.  We greeted the neighbor and I spoke with him in Spanish, asking if he wanted the cans.

His face lit up like my moment of insight, and he said that he'd be happy to have them.

The blue recycling bin will be a bit lighter thanks to our neighbor receiving the cans.  Our hearts will be will be more light-filled in sharing them with him, too.

PS A shameless plug for those in the area, Smith's has soda on sale for 12 cans for $2 with the Smith's card.  It's the generic kind, but it works when you need something that doesn't cost $1 or so.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Crazy Craving? Maybe Not!

I don't really want to talk about every detail of our daughter's journey to Earth (aka pregnancy), but in thinking of what to share for today about life here, at the base of the amazing mountains, this little bit popped into my mind. 

Call it a compromise for those of you who might be curious (a bit) about this sweet soul who is currently sharing a body with this blessed woman who is writing now.

In the beginning of her time within, it was all about fruits, vegs, and calcium.  The more fruits and vegs I could eat, the happier I felt, the happier I sensed SHE was.  Calcium was a huge key, too, and eating pudding was a regular delight.  Ice cream doesn't work for me, but yogurt does, so yogurt was (and continues to be) a great source of joy for this she-one.

Lately though, gummies have been calling out to me.  "Eat me!  Eat me!  Eat me, please! I'll make the kid happy which makes you happy!," in some tone that only I can hear.

So what's a Wendy to do?  Deny her sweet daughter within the gummies she wants?  Go out and buy fruit snacks that she ate in the past, but never really hit the spot (too many preservatives, too small, too something or somethings not right)? 

Nope, I turned to the gummies we have on hand... Clif Shot Bloks!  Scott loves them, and we have a good stash from when they were on sale at REI for his training.  They are all natural and the citrus ones taste great for this girl (or these girls)! 

Perhaps the craving isn't so surprising, as it's hotter than I-don't-know what here.  I'm sweating non stop as I'm "incubating a little person" (Scott's words), and this may just be my body's way of replacing what it needs to help our wee one continue to be as healthy as she is.

My many thanks to the Clif Bar company for making this amazing product!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Tour of Utah 2012- Volunteering

We learned about the Tour of Utah pretty soon after we arrived in Ogden.  There were billboards on I-15 about it, and within a week or so, these sign post flags were up and about on Washington Blvd. in Ogden.

I asked Scott about spectating, and he seemed uninterested, so I didn't push it on him.  On Sunday I was looking at the website and saw a "volunteer" link, so I filled it out.  I had no idea if they'd need volunteers, as orientation was the previous Tuesday.  I basically wrote it off until Monday at 745 pm when I checked e-mail and said to Scott, "well, I guess I'm volunteering tomorrow" as I had received a detailed e-mail about where to check in, a waiver, a volunteer handbook, etc.

Tuesday (7 August 2012) morning I was up early to shower and walk to the MTC Learning Park at 1750 Monroe Blvd. in Ogden.  I suppose I was a bit early, as at 0615, no one was there.  I texed Scott to let him know where I was and I set about enjoying myself

The MTC Learning Park is the same location as the Ogden Botanical Gardens, and is absolutely beautiful!  It has a huge parking lot and access to the Ogden River Parkway.

With the winds fiercely blowing and no race personnel showing up, I texted Scott who offered to come and get me.  We sat in the Jeep, watched the sunrise over the Wasatch, waited, and waited.  We drove near 25th and Washington, but saw no signs, so we headed back to the Botantical Gardens.  About 20 minutes later, the people from GOAL Foundation arrived, and all was well.

The volunteering assignment was simple.  I was a course marshall at Orchard and 25th which meant once the cops went by, indicating the start of the race, no cars were allowed to turn onto 25th Street.  I stood in the intersection with my vest and flag, and motioned to one car to turn around.  That was it.

My assignment lasted all of 5 minutes.  Though with lead up and wake up time, it was close to 5 hours and 15 minutes.

The entire day was a huge success and I learned a lot.  At one point, while waiting at Orchard and 25th, I texted Scott and encouraged him to come visit me (I was bored a bit, but thought he would enjoy the experience more).  He said maybe, so I texted him back and asked him if he could spring me for a head call (if anything will get him to come, it's helping his pregnant wife!).  We left the duty for 5 minutes, drove 4 blocks back home, completed missions, picked up a chair and soda for Scott, and returned.

Scott and I shared the duty before the race, soaking it in, and just enjoying time together.  We talked later about how and why I volunteer and what it means to me, and his hesitance.  It was a very profound chat, and by the end of the duty, he said he'd volunteer with me for any GOAL event I wanted.  I responded, "Oh good.  You're already signed up to help me at XTERRA USA Triathlon and Trail Running Championships in September."  He smiled.

I'd like to stress the extreme organization of this event.  The Tour of Utah is very well handled from everything that I was able to see and experience.  The organizers have put forth much thought to improve it year after year, and Scott and I considered heading out to the Miller Motorsports Park today to watch the team time trials, but we didn't want to be in the heat for 3-4 hours. 

We don't know where life will bring us next year, but we'd both love to volunteer again.  Next August, we'll have an 8 month old who might make her Tour of Utah volunteering debut, or spectating one.  We'll see where leads, and we are thankful for the experience that we had this year!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Beehive Cheese

Scott and I visited Beehive Cheese last week.  We learned about it from the nifty trading-card-esque marketing tool we found at Ground for Coffee when we were there last week, too. 

Beehive Cheese is less than 6 miles from our place, just down 89 with a turn around (it's on the east side of 89).  The factory store is homey and the customer service rocks!  They have a Discount Bin with irregularly cut cheese pieces that is 25% off the regular price.

Being the frugal folks that we are, Scott opted for one piece of discount Promontory cheese.

The following sonnet resulted.  Ah yes, there's cheese love and inspiration in our home!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Our Home

We love our home!  This place was "made" for us so to speak.  It is still being finished by our (often-mentioned) amazing landlord, yet it works for us.

When we arrived, two hours early, everything was not yet completed.  As a result, we have been able to customize our place a bit, which has been very helpful. 

We'll discuss the perks of this place at the end of the beautiful photo series you're about to see.

The front of the house.  This is really unit 1.
This view faces east.
The side of the house.  Our place is entered via the steps on the left. 
The steps in the center lead to the separate basement areas. 
The steps on the right is unit 1. 
This view faces south.
This is unit 3 which is entirely separate from units 1 and 2.
Our landlord anticipates having this unit move-in ready within 6-12 months. 
Our back yard.  This is nearly 1/4 acre and already has fruit trees planted (apple, pear, peach, etc.)
It also has raspberry bushes, strawberries, lots of wild sage, and what I believe is a weeping willow.
This view faces west.
Our off-street parking.  Each unit has 2 spaces and there will eventually be pained lines.
What we love about where we live extends beyond the following points:
  • our neighbors are really sweet people.
  • there are no noisy children above us, and no noisy neighbors next to us.
  • we can walk to nearly anywhere we like.
  • there are safe sidewalks on every street.
  • we are close to the university, close to parks, close to the Ogden Farmers Market, etc.
  • we live in a neighborhood, not an apartment city.
  • our landlord is a kind, talented, and caring man.
  • it's just the right size.
  • the kitchen is beautifully set up, and our landlord maximized every space possible.
  • the bathroom is easy to clean.
  • we have permission to plant a garden in the yard if we like.
  • we look out at the mountains when we sit on our steps (just turn your head a smidge to the left).
  • there are no emergency vehicles sounding 5-15 times a day or night (leading towards Potomac Hospital or an accident scene).
  • the main branch of the Weber County Library system is a few blocks away.
  • we're close to I-15 and 89.
  • we feel safe here.
  • there are a ton of bike routes within a block.
  • it's close to Pineview Reservoir.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Weber State Writing Center Tutor

This man is now employed by Weber State University as a Writing Center tutor.

He was so impressive at his first interview, that the director of the Writing Center suggested that he interview at the Davis campus Writing Center and made the contact for him there. 

What I see in the photo is a man very happy with the opportunities life is presenting to him, while having a major breakthrough of career and focus (one that doesn't end on the side of the road, being life flight to INOVA, etc.).

What I also see is the man who edits these posts for grammar, syntax, spelling, etc.  Yes, I'm grateful to have him in my life.

Ceiling Dreaming

With the heat wave that is permeating the country and showing no sign of ceasing, I had an idea...what if we asked our great landlord if he'd let us install this beauty in our living room?
We've already spent the cost of this on two oscilating fans from Target, and it would allow us to cool off our living room/dining room/kitchen area without loosing any "coolness" of the current fans in other rooms.

Scott is optimistic about our landlord's response, and we're just waiting for him to come by today (he's here nearly every day working on something and making sure all is well).

Dreams deserve thanks, so thank you Mom and Dad for the yeah-it's-still-in-there memory of your installing ceiling fans in every room in the Highfield house.  Thank you, too, to Home Depot for a better priced fan with the Energy Star seal.

We'll keep you updated if dreams become reality!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Frugal Finds

We started off the morning with a plan to visit the Ogden Valley Farmers Market, and spotted the BMC team heading up 25th Street in prepration for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.  We made a mental note to possibly check out Stage 1 which will be held in Ogden next week and continued on our way.  However shortly after we turned up Canyon Road (12th Street), our speed dropped from 40 mph to 10 mph.  We saw flashing lights from a support vehicle with BMC riders in front.  Knowing that it would be a long and chancey ride following them on windy roads with blind curves, we opted to turn around and head to Smith's for a few sale items.

Leaving Smith's we discussed our options for the morning: working at the library, garage sale hunting, organizing the home, etc.  Scott was set on garage sale hunting north of Harrison, and off we went.

We scouted sales along Tyler and passed up a few sales that didn't look promising for what we needed.  We agreed that we possibly needed a bar stool or two, a desk chair for Scott, chair pads for enjoying our meals outside, and kid toys. 

Here's what we found and what we paid.  We met some wonderful people along the way, including someone for Scott to do an open water swim with tomorrow! 
$5 for 2
They are perfect for outdoor meals on concrete steps!

This was much cheaper than all of the other "new" options we've seen!
It was originally $2, but I only had 1 $1 bill and the man said, "I'll take $1 for it."

40 cents for both
The woman told me to give her a dime, but I felt it was too little. 
We anticipate lots of learning and laughter with these!

So for $11.40 we met all of our wish list items.  It was far more enjoyable than being patient drivers following a team of pro cyclists on narrow roads!

Friday, August 3, 2012

An International Lunch of Thanks

Scott and I met with a woman for lunch today who enhanced our lives while living in Virginia and probably saved us more stress than we know.  Her name is Bobbie and she's a realtor in Ogden area for Coldwell Banker.  She is at the epicenter of helping us to avoid a very all-too-unfortunately-common occurrence: renting/leasing/housing scams. 

Back when we knew we'd be moving to Ogden, we began looking for places to live.  Scott found one on Craigs List and sent the ad to his mom and me.  His mom did some research and found the same place on the MLS listings.  Interesting (red flag 1) we thought.  We prayed and moved forward with the communications with the "owner" of the building but something didn't feel right to me (red flag 2).  Scott put his skills into play, checked a few things, spoke with the "owner" on the phone, and sure enough found out that the "owner" was in a different country than the e-mails Scott had received (red flag 3).

During this 24-48 hour period, Scott called Bobbie, the listing agent for the house (found thanks to his mom's finding the MLS post).  She listened and told us that the "owner" was not really the owner, but the real owner was a man in the military along with his wife.  Scott completed all of the internet fraud reports that he could, as Bobbie (whom we had just met via phone) told us about a friend of hers that was renovating a duplex.  There was an apartment available.

Bobbie put in a good word for us with her friend upon hearing our story, our goals, and other aspects of our lives.  She was instrumental in helping us to not be scammed and in finding a place to stay. 

The "place" her friend was renovating is amazing.  It's our favorite place (as compared to the other place we lived along with many other places to come for sure).  The home/apartment is warm, it's beautiful, it faces the Wasatch mountains, it's in a prime location that is very diverse; and, we are thrilled with it.  It's super affordable and it just fits us.  Our landlord (Bobbie's friend) is a wonderful man.  We could not be more grateful.

So today we met for lunch, which Bobbie suggested back when we were in Virginia communicating via e-mail.  We started off at Tona and then moved on to dessert at Pampas Bakery.  Tona was amazing!  I had the bento box while Scott and Bobbie split many different varieties of sushi.  Not wanting lunch to end, I asked Bobbie if she knew of Pampas.  She didn't. 

I explained where it was and what was there, and she was excited to go.  We enjoyed a sample of the owner's favorite factura (sweet bread with vanilla custard) while waiting for the chocolate alfajores to be completed.  Bobbie loved them as much as we did when we tried them yesterday (yes, we visited 2 days after we went there on Wednesday- we just saved the alfajores 'til Thursday to eat).

If you are ever in this area, please check out either one or both.  Tona has phenomenal reviews, and the three of us give Pampas at least four stars with an extra sparkle for the owner's excellent customer service and great personality.

Wendy and the Wasatch

Self portraits are oh-so attractive, but sometimes that's what you get when you refuse the help of your husband (because you are stubborn and want to prove that you can do it!). 

That self portrait was taken on 27 July 2012, our first Wastach Mountains hike up from the 29th Street trail head (more on that in a future post). 

It's just the start of many posts about life in the Wasatch by a woman named Wendy. 

Tour de Park City

Before we left Virginia, Scott and I researched cycling races for him.  We found the Tour de Park City on the Utah Cycling Association website and decided it was a great fit for both of us.  The timing if it was after a month of travel with about two weeks of being stationary in Ogden, it was relatively close, and the cost was reasonable.

A few days before the event, Scott received an e-mail from the race director indicating that they needed more volunteers.  He forwarded it to me, and thought it might help to keep me from being "bored."  Plus, he knew my love of volunteering.

We set out at 0635 with our first stop being Einstein Bagels on Harrison (bagel for Scott and chocolate milk for me).  Our route was very simple (89-84-80-other local roads), but finding the start/finish proved a bit tricky.  We followed some Gran Fondo (150 mile) riders for a few minutes before realizing we weren't in the right spot, so I stopped and asked a policeman who was  directing traffic on 248 for help.

By 0815 the Medio Fondo (50 mile riders) were off, and by 1130 Scott had returned to finish in the Top 10.  I helped with a variety of minor tasks primarily related to the finishers medals. 

Here's a summary of the Pros and Cons of the race.

  • the area was gorgeous
  • the uphill climbs were awesome, and Scott passed many riders
  • there were plenty of port-a-potties (though maybe not enough at the start for 700 riders?)
  • the finishers medal is gorgeous
  • the altitude (6655' at the start/finish) was easy to adjust
  • the drive was smooth and beautiful (even heading east with the sun in our eyes with road construction)
  • upon finishing, a racer who appeared to be in his teens, shared with a close-by adult a roadkill report (this was the first time I've ever heard one at the end of any race!)
  • Scott forgot his bottles in the car and there were no bottles on the course (just cups of water and Red Bull)
  • the downhill roads were rough on the bike (rumble strips, etc.)
  • the course was poorly marked
  • various points outlined on the website did not happen (nor exist) in real life
So while we enjoyed the morning and the race's close proximity, we have opted out of it for next year and all other events put on by Team Exclerator.  While it might be harsh, we both have raced and volunteered enough to know what kinds of races and events we enjoy, would repeat, etc. 

We are grateful for the experience and look forward to the next on-the-calendar cycling event, the City Creek Bike Sprint which benefits The Road Home.