Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another Reason Utah is Amazing

Our friends (of The Team variety) put on this event the night before the Holy War.  It was for charity and for fun.  3975 people showed up and they broke the world record for largest dodgeball game. 

How awesome are our friends?  Check out their company here.

Too bad the Cougs couldn’t catch balls so well on game night.  We’re still mourning that one over here.

Here’s what they did with some of the 750 leftover balls.

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That’s right, a ball pit in the CEO’s office.

Dave, Ben, (and families) we sure miss you guys.  We hope you never grow up.

P.S.  This is just disgusting.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Space Between

Between the Codycoma and the family reFLUion we spent some quality time with my family in Utah.

This is how we got there.  Without Harley.  Remember that one magical time it was the other way around?

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This is what we did.DSC_0085DSC_0090 DSC_0095  DSC_0175

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This is the cousin just Max’s age.  They get along so well.DSC_0115 DSC_0116 DSC_0149

Except when they don’t.  Which is usually Max and his hair obsession's fault.DSC_0279

These are (some of) the people we saw and loved.DSC_0126 DSC_0155 DSC_0177 DSC_0138 DSC_0298 DSC_0426 DSC_0439DSC_0330-1 DSC_0420 DSC_0414 This was Anderson’s last time seeing kid’s best friend, Skeeter.  Skeeter died last week.  Oh we loved that dog.

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This is the wedding I was lucky enough to attend.  I always miss the family weddings.  I was thrilled to be in town for my cousin Mary Jane’s.  Sadly Harley was battling the Terrible Awful Flu and missed it.

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This is me and Anderson tearing up the dance floor.  Also known as doing our favorite City of Joseph dance move.

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And this is me and my Mooze.  His cuteness overwhelms me these days.  But not that particular day as he was TROUBLE at that wedding.

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This is the view from my parents’ backyard. 

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I fell in love with Utah all over again on this trip.  It may be because I probably won’t go back for a long time, and I felt the finality.  Utah must have known because she showed me her best side.  The mountains were so majestic and so right there.  In the backyard.  So accessible!  The sky was SO blue.  I don’t remember it being that blue before.  Parts of Utah were really green too.  When did the state get that colorful?  The best part was being able to sit outside and breathe in the fresh, cool mountain air without choking in humidity and getting attacked by bugs.  Evenings outdoors, meals on the deck and playing in the backyard could not be more pleasant.  As I mentioned in the last post, Harley and I had the opportunity to drive around Provo for three hours in the middle of the night.  All we did, besides promise Max the world if he would just go the freak to sleep, was talk about how awesome P-town is and how great our memories are.  We fantasized about visiting Utah someday – in secret – and doing everything we love with zero obligations or timelines.  We’d eat at all our favorite restaurants:  Cafe Rio, Cucina Toscana, The Pie, L&T Wrap, Burgers Supreme, Market Street Grill, Rumbi, Ottavios, Silver Fork.  I’d shop at all those niche Mormon places:  Shabby Apple, Mod Bod, Down East, Tai Pan Trading, the Costco that sells pictures of the temple.  The places that, ironically, I don’t have in the shopping mecca of DC.  We recognized all the sweet spots that make Utah so fabulous:  Park City, Sundance, Lake Powell, Moab, Big Cottonwood Canyon (specifically Brighton), Provo Canyon, Zions, Cedar City… BYU!  We agreed we’d spend an entire day (not just the few hours we’re usually able to squeeze in) reacquainting ourselves with BYU and Provo.  It’s changed so much.  We’d ski.  And hike.  And visit new temples.  Anyway.  We just love Utah.  We love it independently of all our loved ones living there, which of course we can’t ignore, which just makes us love it more.  Not that Utah doesn’t have its downsides.  And we’re happy in Maryland.  But we just really appreciated Utah for what it is this time around.

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Finally, these are the new tricks Anderson mastered.  I love Anderson’s logic at the end of the first video.

And that, my friends, is me all caught up on my summer travels. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Family ReFLUnion

For the first time in nine years my mother-in-law’s extended family reunited last month.  30 people under two roofs for seven days in Springville, Utah (a last minute location change from campgrounds in Sun Valley, Idaho).  It was supposed to be a week full of stuff like this:

DSC_0244Instead, it was a week dominated by this:
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Everybody got sick.  When I say everybody I mean EVERYbody.  When we made the above chart five people were still going strong, but by the end the Terrible Awful Flu (which turned out to be the Norovirus) beat EVERYBODY.  Except 10 year old Deacon.  We don’t know how he did it, and we all covet his immune system.  This Terrible Awful was just that.  I’ll spare you the disgusting details, but tell you all the crippling ones.  This thing was so highly contagious and moved so quickly, 90% of the family was down by Thursday.  The other 10% consisted of those who’d already had it and were on the up swing and Deacon, The Immortal One.  Harley’s grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary party, complete with a magician and balloon artist, had to be cancelled.

DSC_0412The cake that never got eaten.

The Terrible Awful didn’t just ruin an anniversary party.  It was so destructive it ended the entire reunion two days early, changed departure plans, caused people to miss flights and sent one cousin to Urgent Care.  Guess who brought the Terrible Awful to the party?  We did.  How terrible awful do we feel?

Anderson got it first, the week before, while I was in Cody.  My poor mom had to clean it up out of her brand new car, then off my aunt's couch.  Max caught it five days later.  I was throwing up 48 hours after that.  I’ll go ahead and tell you now that when I get the stomach flu I get a bit dramatic.  Like, lying half-naked on the bathroom floor asking my mom if I’m going to die, kind of dramatic.  Her response, by the way: “Yeah, but not tonight.”  It probably has something to do with the fact (that I’m a drama queen) that I’ve only thrown up twice since 1990.  That’s right, two times in 21 years.  Both times have been in the last two years, and both times I have been away from home and without Harley.  He has yet to see this most extreme and highly sexy show in my repertoire.  Maybe we should keep it that way.  Anyway, we thought the Terrible Awful was over, except for those few lucky duck cousins and sisters on my side of the family who fell victim after me, but then Harley arrived in Utah, somehow caught it and unknowingly brought it to the reunion where it reared its dirty little head on day 2.  Relatives of all ages were not impressed with Harley, you know the guy who’s supposed to be studying virology and immunology.

DSC_0187 Poor Dalen got sick around 3:00AM.  Harley had to clean it up.  Guess that’s our punishment.

Other than living on top of each other (and some of us had never met) while feeling like death and hugging toilets, it was great!  I’m being serious.  We had some wonderful, healthy moments.

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 Jan Hellewell (Harley’s grandma) with her sister Bonnie Kay and two daughters, Lynda and Debby.  These ladies crack each other up and it’s fun to watch.

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We spent a morning at BYU.  (Side note, the Bean Life Science Museum is awesome for kids!)  We ate at the Cougareat, which is always a highlight for me because not only do I get to indulge in all my favorite BYU treats (hello L&T wraps, chocolate covered cinnamon bears and Rice Krispie treats the size of my head), but I get to reminisce the glory days.  And we always run into someone we know.  This time just as I was saying to my brother-in-law, “It’s official.  I’m too old.  This will be the time we won’t run into anyone,” I see two girls waving at me.  Well, sweet mother of Abraham Lincoln!  It was Jen & Tami from my freshman ward.

DSC_0221 Maybe you can see it on my face, but this wasn’t just any run-in.  This run-in had can’t-believe-this crazy all over it.  Tami and I have kept in touch over the years (we actually know each other from our City of Joseph Pageant days in Nauvoo Illinois, long before freshman year), but I hadn’t seen her for, what, six years?  She had been living in Ohio and was about to move to Maryland, of all places.  In fact, she and her family had stayed at my house in Gaithersburg the week before while house hunting!  I was already west so sadly, I missed her.  I had no idea she was headed to Utah next.  She and Jen were driving back from southern Utah after a reunion with their freshman floor girlfriends, kind of like the ones I have.  That day was not our family reunion’s originally scheduled BYU day, but there we were and there they were.  All just dropping in for Cougar grub at the same time on the same day.  I don’t see Tami in my own house in MD, but I run into her on BYU campus in UT.  Makes sense.

My favorite activity of the family reunion was our Scenic Lift Ride at Sundance.  I forget what a gem Sundance is.  It had been too long since I’d been there without snow on the ground and wow, it’s just beautiful.  The whole family piled on a dozen ski lifts and enjoyed the most peaceful, lovely view of the backside of Timp.

IMG_0340  IMG_0343 IMG_0336Anderson riding with Grandma & Jeddie. You can’t see it but Jeddie was pumping him full of Mountain Dew. He turned back mid-ride and shouted to us, “Mom, I’m drinking Mountain Dew! Is Jeddie busted?” When we told him yes, he said, “Ah man. Sorry Jeddie, you’re busted.” Then he kicked it back again.

It’s a good thing I didn’t really comprehend what we were doing until we were 50+ feet in the air with a measly metal bar and gaping spaces separating Max from my lap and Max from the rocky mountain.  Normally Max would have been a squirm worm giving me a killer workout trying to wrestle him to safety.  Instead, he was very docile and sat perfectly still.  This was thanks to exhaustion after the all-nighter he’d pulled.  Seriously, the kid went down at 5:30am.  At one point, to avoid waking up the whole house, we threw him in the car and drove around Provo for three hours begging him to fall asleep, which he never did.  We’d never pulled that parenting trick.  Good to know it doesn’t work.

IMG_0349Oh sweet Max.  His sleep shenanigans were in full force every night that week.  Maybe Jeddie spiked his sippy cup…

Despite sickness, very little sleep and a good dose of drama no family reunion would be complete without, we really did have a good time.  It’s all props to the peeps.  The Hellewells just keep it moving, keep ‘em laughing and keep it low-key.  It’s like the HELLEWELL family motto is:  “Hell!  Oh well.” 

The more I think about it, my true favorite activity was the late nights spent talking (and crying) with Katie (SIL) and Debby (MIL).  I love those women.

I love them all.

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