Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Twenty-Something No More

Yesterday was a big birthday.  I haven't been one of those people who freaks out at the idea of turning 30, but it did sort of surprise me every time I said it aloud as it approached.  So, when the day finally came, I was more or less prepared, and I feel more or less the same at 30 as I did when I was 29.  BUT, I had a splendid birthday, and I have Julie to thank the most for it!

From the earliest moments of waking up, Julie sprinkled little surprises throughout the day.  There was a mysterious box under the covers when I came back from using the loo, and when I opened it, I was excited to discover this! 
I have named it Jeeves.
It's been on my wishlist for quite a while, but I was totally not expecting it.  It has GPS and tracks your distance, time, calories burned and pace.  I let it charge, then took it for a trial run and it worked perfectly!  (Though I admit I was a little vexed when those everlasting Provo traffic lights interfered with my time and pace.)  I remember once when I used Amber's for a race and I thought the clock was my pace the entire time, and I kept wondering WHY in the world it kept going up!  Ha ha haaa.  Anyway, that was a great surprise.

Then a couple other surprises popped up here and there during the morning and evening, in my clothes drawer when I went to get dressed, in the fridge as I started to make our lunches, and on the Wii games when I went to put in Donkey Kong, and by the end of the day, I had the entire Prydain Chronicles series, which I was SO excited about.  I haven't read them in years, and since I just finished reading a pretty weak book series, I'm looking forward to starting some actual award-winning, time-tested quality literature.
We did have to spend the day at work, where I received a nice big bag of beef jerky from Mom and Dad (I promise I'll share, Wife!) but I was really amazed and delightfully overwhelmed at the total onslaught of birthday wishes on Facebook.  I love a Facebook birthday party and just kept laughing as email notifications kept popping up.  I think by end of day I had like 100+ messages on there.  I felt so loved!  Family and friends alike were so thoughtful.  (And here I thought everyone on Facebook thought I was a snarky pill, which they still might, but at least they were nice to me on my birthday!)  Special mention to Elise for creating this beautiful work of art:
After work we walked to Brick Oven for some amazing food (it's been quite a while since we ate there, and I still love it so, even though they insist on continually raising the prices, and even though they have rotated the photo of me as Harry Potter out of the photo display case in the lobby), and we sat in the Nostalgia Booth, and I was treated with their birthday pie, and didn't even have to suffer the indignity of being sung to!  Score.
I ordered the special!  It was a good decision.
Julie upgraded to the salad bar.  She also made the right decision.

Behold the magical floating pie!
Still, we decided we had to have some birthday cake, so we made one, and it was chocolate, and it had peppermint granules in it, and it was delicious.  We spent the rest of the night watching Survivor and America's Next Top Model with Leland, who brought me a humongous bag of peanut M&M's.
This is me with the cake.  I'm turning 7!
This is me thinking about what to wish for.
This is me after I blew out the candles.
Finally, there was another delightful surprise from Julie:
A beard trimmer!
At last, I don't have to try to trim with scissors and end up with a patchy and still scraggly beard!  I'll look so groomed and nicely-bearded and it won't grow too long and go into my mouth and interfere with my food (gross, I know) or be too itchy.  I guess I better keep the beard for good now!

In recent years I haven't been one to make a huge deal of my birthdays, but I do say that Julie has made my last few birthdays so memorable and exciting.  She tries so hard to surprise and delight me on my day of birth, and I hereby vow to do likewise when hers comes rolling around in May.  She said "happy birthday!" to me many times throughout the day, just because this is the only day you can.  And to top it all off, Celine Dion even sang "Happy Birthday" to me on the TV.  But it's not over yet!  We have big plans for Saturday...  Stay tuned.  And now it's St. Patrick's Day.  Somehow it always seems to fall the day after my birthday.  (Ha ha haaa.)

My twenties were filled with a lot of highs and lows, but mostly highs, and things especially started looking up during the mid to later part of the decade.  I finally served a mission, Harry Potter came full circle, I experienced LOST in its entirety, and I discovered pho.  Now that I've actually crossed the big birthday line, I feel a-okay.  I have an awesome wife, a killer family, a great job, I'm in the best shape of my life, and my faith is strong.  I think I'm going to be just fine with being 30.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Shamrock Shuffle 2011

And just a few weeks after our most recent race, we had another one!  Last Saturday, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Brenda, Jake (his first!), Julie and I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 5K in Smithfield, just north of Logan.  We were sorry Amber and Cami weren't able to join us as planned.  This one has a sort of significance for me and Julie, since we ran it together two years ago when we were still dating long-distance, the day after she flew into town, so this is our third year running it.  It's a very inexpensive race (of course even cheaper if you wear green!--Who cares if they don't match?), but we always have a good time doing it.  The course is great, fairly level after the first quarter mile or so, and since it's basically a big square loop around field lands, you can see the finish line pretty much the entire time (which can be a good thing OR a bad thing).  It was also MUCH less cold than either of the previous years.
Here you can see I have captured Julie actually setting foot across the finish line.

I placed 2nd in my age group (looking forward to a time coming very shortly when I'll suddenly be the youngest in a new division...) at 21:26, and Mom, Dad and Grandma also placed.
I opted to show this picture rather than the one Julie took of me walking away from her when I was scratching my bum.  Don't you like my man-capris?
Julie was THIS CLOSE to the top ten in her age group!  I thought this was a great accomplishment worth sharing.
Then, in an unprecedented feat, every single one of us won something in the raffle.  Every single one!  It was so amazing I even had to reiterate and bold that sentence.  So, between us all, we had a few passes to the local bowling alley and roller skating rink, root beer with a t-shirt to the local gym attached, Sprite with two festive green mugs and a butterfly kite.  It was epic, I tell you.

A fun time was had by all.  We had a delicious dinner the night before, courtesy of Grandma and Mom, and it's always great to visit Grandma.   Hopefully next year those interested will be able to join in the fun!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Disney Dream Portraits

A few years ago I posted a bunch of photos taken by Annie Leibovitz of celebrities as Disney characters as part of Disney's Year of a Million Dreams promotion, and recently a few more have surfaced.  A couple of these I think are kind of inspired, and a couple I think are kind of a stretch, but I wanted to post them regardless.  I think it's a really cool idea, and I'm glad to see they've released a few more.
Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens as Phillip and Aurora
Alec Baldwin as the Magic Mirror and Olivia Wilde as the Evil Queen
Jeff Bridges as the Prince and Penelope Cruz as Belle
Queen Latifah as Ursula
The first one seems to have been released prior to the following three, and I kind of wish they had used some more established and long-lasting actors for it, but oh well.  That kiss is so awkward, and she's not even sleeping.  Alec Baldwin is kind of, I don't know, ridiculous or something, but Olivia Wilde is perfect as the Evil Queen.  I like Penelope Cruz as Belle, but Jeff Bridges looks entirely too Photoshopped to match (nice work slimming down that belly).  I was surprised and impressed to discover that for Queen Latifah's shoot, they actually built a squid apparatus for her to sit in for the photos, complete with all six legs--it seems obvious it would be completely digitally-created, but not so!  (See here -- scroll down to the behind-the-scenes photos.)  Also, is it of note to anyone else that two of the features actors in this new set starred in TRON: Legacy?  Interesting.  I guess that's what you call synergy.

Monday, March 7, 2011

No Snow 5K 2011

Last weekend we did Habitat for Humanity's No Snow Indoor 5K.  The course is completely indoors, and runs through the halls of UVU.  We ran it last year with a couple of friends, and decided to go again.  It was a little more expensive this year (still only $10), and the t-shirts were almost exactly the same (slightly different color of text, but otherwise identical... weird), but they still offered the free pancake breakfast after.  The turnout was better than last year, but there were still only a few dozen participants.  They offer two courses, one with stairs and one without.  We decided since we did the stairs route last year, we would try the other one this time, which, thanks to construction on campus, meant we did twelve laps around the student center courtyard (otherwise it would be three or four longer laps).  It was kind of difficult to keep track of all those laps, but we managed.  Like last year, the organization was really casual and relaxed--no number bibs, lax registration, no placement awards or ribbons of any kind--but at least the timers at the finish line (read: girls holding stopwatches next to pylons) were a little more on the ball, and I didn't rely on the volunteers directing the course to tell me how many times to go around, thus avoiding last year's extra lap.  For some reason, they still started the prize drawing before everyone was finished, and even then they were kind of arbitrarily handed out.
Waiting for the prizes, none of which we won this year.
I came in second overall (about 21:15), and Julie came in soon after.  It was a much easier course this time, without all those stairs, though a little monotonous as far as the scenery.  Hopefully next year there won't be construction blocking the more interesting course.  Still, an organized run is a great way to spend a Saturday morning and start a weekend.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Valentine's Day Extended

How about a more appropriate Valentine's Day blog post?

I was determined to make Valentine's Day last all week (especially since we celebrated our 18-month anniversary the following day), and I like to think I kept Julie on her toes with a little surprise or two each day.  But the big excitement happened on Friday afternoon when we took off work a little early, packed up the car with snacks and cheeses and warm clothes and headed up to Park City for the long weekend.

We stayed at The Homestead in Midway, and took advantage of their 125th Birthday Bed & Breakfast package, which included a lot of great perks.  On Friday night we went to an awesome local Mexican restaurant that featured an impressive salsa bar (our favorites were the mango salsa and the cilantro cream salsa), then went back to our room and watched movies and ate so much candy.

On Saturday we woke up to beautiful falling snow which lasted for the better part of two days.  We enjoyed our included breakfast at the on-site restaurant (that is one ginormous slab of chicken fried steak, let me tell you), and then braved the snowstorm and low-visibility roads to Park City to do a little shopping.  Anyone who knows me knows well that I'm not a huge fan of shopping, but I do love to occasionally go with The Wife and shop a little (I have certainly bought more clothes for myself nowadays than I ever have before).  We found some awesome deals and headed back down to our place, glad that the weather had calmed down a little by then.

In the afternoon we enjoyed the included rental of showshoes and hiked around the resort grounds for a while.  Neither of us had been snowshoeing before, so we were pretty excited, and it was just fine exercise too!
In the evening we had an appointment to swim in the crater, a natural warm spring inside a crater at the resort.  There were a lot of scuba divers and a few swimmers, and it was pretty cool.  I didn't quite get why people would want to scuba dive in such small and uninhabited waters, but I guess it's good for training and practice for when you want to visit more adventurous areas.  We ran into a friend (and her husband) from Julie's undergrad days at BYU, and really enjoyed swimming about in the warm water.  Incidentally, we missed the resort pool and hot tub, but felt like we participated in the better option anyway.
This was in the dressing room.  I laughed so hard.
That night we didn't feel like going out and finding foods, so we ordered some great fish & chips and Szechuan noodles from room service, a first for us both, and watched more movies.

On Sunday we were determined to do as little as possible, and it was still snowing pretty steadily, so we decided to stay in all day.  We did some reading, some writing, and watched a lot of "I Used to Be Fat," "My Strange Addiction," "600-Pound Mom," "The Man Who Lost His Face" and other such enjoyable and enlightening programs.  It was so nice to have nothing really pressing to do, and so much time to not have to do it.  We also continued our ongoing and increasing battle with some local ants throughout the day, and managed to largely triumph.

Monday morning we had another great final breakfast at Fanny's Grill.
What lovely eggs benedict, Wife!

Then we packed up and headed home, but not without stopping at the local awesome Ice Castle.  It was small, but pretty inexpensive, and it was super cool.
They had convenient ski poles available for our use.

So that was that.  We spent the rest of Presidents' Day relaxing at home and getting ready for the regularly scheduled workweek, but it was so great to have such a nice long weekend to celebrate love and anniversary and vacation!  Surpreeze(s), Wife!