Thursday, June 25, 2009

Good Times, Ya'll. Good Times.

Summerfest this year was awesome,  $2 for 2 hours of crafts, I'll take it!  The kids were enjoying themselves the entire time and Ty and I got to take a gander at the booths while the kids played in the art yard.  I love this city. 

More lessons, this time on her own.  I'm starting to get a little worried that this may not be just a passing fancy and I'm not sure that I can fit a horse in our 3rd floor apartment.

Are kids supposed to be this happy?  =)
Thanks Kali (and Kobe) for such a great time, we'll see you in a 6 days, 20 hours, and 54 minutes.  Yes, Syd does keep a running countdown. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Although I'm not anywhere close to as well read as Mary, I'm taking a cue from her (who in turn had inspiration from her sister-in-law) and posting a book list.  Not necessarily my top ten, but ten good ones of recent memory... wait... have I even read ten books in my life?  

I admit I've never been much of a reader; I wish I was.  I love it after the fact, when all the information has been mulled through, but the the actual act I confess I'm not very good at.  Shanell reads at least double or triple the speed I do - and that's not hyperbole.  She blasts through the average novel in a couple days; I take a month or two.  Maybe she can post a book list next.  Even Sydney reads faster than I do - she's almost done with the first Fablehaven.

I read a lot of material besides novels, such as gradeschool-level coffee table books, art books and magazines, some short historical essays and such, but I'll keep this list in the novel territory.

1.  Dune, by Frank Herbert.  I LOVE this book and am currently reading it again.  Political intrigue, ecology, philosophy, religion, war, it's a story of the meteoric rise of a messianic figure set in a distant future of planetary feudalism.

2.  Shogun, by James Clavell.  A blast to read even for me, it's very loosely based on the rise of the Tokugawa government in Japan and the English captain caught up in the struggle.  Plenty of Samurai awesomeness.

3.  The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkien.    The bible of the Lord of the Rings world, brimming with tens of thousands of years of history.  One of my favorite books, but be warned - it reads like an instruction manual.

4.  The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis.  Clever and crafty - and an easy read.  The book is letters from a tempting devil to his nephew with advice on how to subtly turn his human subject to their side.  It gets you thinking about your own actions.

5.  Man's Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl.  A MUST read.  Frankl was a Dachau survivor and describes some of his experiences there, and the basis for logotherapy - that even in a person's most debased moments of survival, there is still choice, and therefore happiness.

6.  Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury.  A novel about censorship and self-awareness.   Written in the 50's, it's just as relevant today.  Just imagine a world where people spend most of their day on mind-numbing monitors, small talking with "family" (sound familiar?), and where no one reads books - instead Shakespeare is only available in a very short synopsis (Wikipedia, anyone?)

7.  2001, A Space Oddessy, by Arthur C. Clark.  A quick read.  If you've seen the movie, the book provides a little more explanation, and better insight into the psychology of HAL.

8.  Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood.  A very disturbing book, not for the feint of heart.  A post-apocalyptic story about the morality of genetics and the flashback of a survivor who watches over the genetically concocted race that replaces humanity.

9.  The Battle that Stopped Rome, by Peter Wells.  The recounting of the battle in the Teutoberg forest in Germany - Rome's biggest loss.  The author takes a little liberty in accepting certain historical assumptions in favor of a better narrative - which I like.

10.  Ulysses, by James Joyce.  Okay, so I haven't read this book - I put it on here to sound smart.  But yesterday was Bloomsday, and I own a copy, so good enough, right?  I heard this is a bear to read anyhow.

How about Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond.  Not finished with it yet, but it's good so far.  It examines the ultimate factors in why western Europeans were the ones to dominate the world - that is, why they came to have guns, germs, and steel.

I should mention Call of Cthulu, by H. P. Lovecraft.  A short story about an ancient cosmic demon who awakens to reclaim dominion over the earth.  I read it and had trouble sleeping that night.

Anyway, there it is.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Grappling, Rappelling, and Happling (Anniversary)

That title kind of works, right?

So, it looks like I'll be posting a lot more in the time to come - since Shanell is taking up the academic banner -  so I better get used to it.

Royce has been doing jiu-jitsu here for a few weeks and he LOVES it.  It's a little expensive for only one day a week but watching how excited he gets when he puts on his gi is worth it.  Shanell went with him last week and took a few pics:

Now I need to start training again - I can't allow him to be able to beat me up when he gets older.

Uncle Nate was kind enough to take the kids rock climbing - an event they've been asking us about for a long time.  Royce scurried up really well, but on the way back down he scared us with a slight mishap involving the adjacent rock face and his head - always wear a helmet, folks!

Right after, Sydney calculated the risk of sharing the same fate:

She found the courage and went up with no incident.  Nice job, Syd!

And finally, this weekend Shanell and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary.  Just one more year and we can get divorced!  We stayed at the Anniversary Inn by the U of U.  It was a blast, but I have to say, the one here is much nicer.  Here we are at Sampan, one of our old standbys:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sydney and Riding Lessons

My Baby Girl loves to ride horses!  She has been wanting to do more of it for a while, so we were so glad to hear of a great girl right here in town who offers lessons for a super reasonable rate (if anyone else is interested I'll gladly give you her info- she is amazing).  Syd literally smiled the whole hour- it was so fulfilling for me to get to see her so happy and at ease.  We can't wait till it is time to go back again!

Tonka, Syd, Aurianna.  Good friends can be bought with a bag of carrots. 
Feeding Aurianna some well deserved carrots. 
Learning to ride and shift her weight.   Later she got to hold the reins and direct the horses all by herself. 
There was never an awkward moment, Syd just stepped up and engaged. 
She would say "Walk along, Tonka.  Good Boy!"    


(Okay, school has been out for about a week and a half, but what the heck.  These are pics that represent good times and I'm posting 'em.)  Per tradition, our kids had a "schools out" party again this year, but this time we kept it quite a bit smaller.  They had pizza and a movie in pj's and it got crazy, let me just tell ya.  I don't know how I get talked into this every year, but I guess it is now an official tradition.     
"Red Rover, Red Rover, send EVERYONE right over!!!"
Another example of "Be careful what you ask for!"
We missed Aunt Trishie-Poo and were excited to see her!
Berth, I think you are the only good pic taker here. 
On the way out it was raining and pouring and the old man was definitely snoring.  It didn't help that I had to go out to the car during this monsoon to grab forgotten items.
Well, here is to you Mr. 2008- 2009 school year, we will see you next year. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Up in 3D

We are huge fans of Pixar and couldn't wait to see this movie.  We paid a couple of bucks more to see it in 3D and I gotta say I don't think it was worth it.  Don't get me wrong, the movie was FANTASTIC, it just didn't really seem like 3D.  It was more like 2 1/2 D.  Nothing popped out at you or seemed to invade your space, it all just stayed up front where the screen is anyway.  It is definitely worth seeing, just go the cheaper route and don't do 3D.