Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Deep in the heart of Texas!

I guess it's time I catch up on some older happenings and posts.  A few weeks ago I had the great chance to fly to Austin, Texas with my dad, brother Carson, and brother-in-law Dan to go see BYU play the Texas Longhorns.  Ever since the teams announced the game last year, my brother and I had planned to surprise my dad with tickets to the game.  As a combined birthday and father's day gift Carson would cover the plane ticket for my dad and I would cover the hotel for all of us.  The challenge was keeping it a secret from my dad.  His birthday is at the end of May so we figured we could wait until then to surprise him.  Unfortunately for us, my dad didn't know of our plans and also really wanted to go to the game and seemed to pester us pretty often about trying to go to the game.  We had to lie to him about how we were too busy and couldn't make it that weekend.  It was all I could do to keep from telling him.  Each time he asked and got a negative reply he seemed so sad and dejected that we couldn't make it happen.  Well, on the morning of May 24th I called to wish my dad a happy birthday.  During our conversation I asked him, "So what are you doing September 9th-11th?"  He wasn't suspecting a thing and replied as cool as could be, "nothing that I know of, why?"  I then finally released my anticipation and said, "Well you're going to Austin, Texas now!!!"  He could hardly believe that Carson and I had made it happen and was so excited.
Now the waiting game really began.  The whole summer we were looking forward to our boys trip to Austin.  I got us hooked up with two rooms at the Aloft hotel in Austin.  It is a really cool hotel that has a very contemporary decor.  Carson and my dad had one room and Dan and I the other.

We flew into Austin Friday mid-day, and fortunately for us all 3 of our flights landed in Austin within 3 minutes of each other.  We picked up the rental car, went to our hotel to drop off our bags and then set out to see Austin.  Dan grew up in southeast Texas, so he served as our tour guide for the trip.  I was very impressed with Austin.  It was much cooler than I expected.  It has some really beautiful architecture in downtown Austin and some very lively neighborhoods surrounding the stadium and campus of University of Texas.

We went down to the stadium the day before the game to do some recon work.  When we walked up to it, all the gates were locked up and there was no access to the field.  We were fortunate enough to run into the director of field management.  He was nice enough to open up a gate and take us out on the field to get an incredible field level view of the stadium.  His friendliness seemed to be quite ubiquitous among all Texans that we met.
Here is a photo of me standing next to the statue of Longhorn great Earl Campbell.

This is where the Texas mascot, Bevo, is kept during the game.  What a cool mascot.  It's too bad BYU doesn't keep a live cougar on the field at all times.  Kind of like a Ricky Bobby type of pet.  Yeah, I'd be all for that.  For those that are wondering, according to legend, Bevo got his name in a very cool way.  That screen in the background is huge, and having it in high def makes it easy to see from anywhere in that monstrous stadium.  Seeing the stadium before game time really got me pumped for game day.

After our brief tour of downtown Austin, we went back to the hotel and got ready for some dinner, Texas style.  Dan suggested that we go to the award winning BBQ joint the Salt Lick.  Oh man!  That place was a little bit of heaven.  The moment you walk into the place the smell almost knocks you off your feet.  The saliva instantly began to flow and my stomach began to grumble.  What a fantastic aroma!  Texans definitely know how to barbeque right.  They have inspired me.

Some sausage, brisket, chicken, and ribs.  It was so unbelievably tasty, I actually wished I was a big fat man so that I could just keep eating and eating.  Unfortunately for me at 165 pounds, there isn't nearly enough stomach room to really relish an opportunity like that.  I was stuffed for the next day from that one meal.  I'm drooling now remembering it.

After dinner, as we were leaving the parking lot an armadillo ran in front of our car.  Carson and I jumped out of the car to run it down and get a picture.  I was really wanting to see an armadillo while we were down there, and lo and behold one presented itself.  Unfortunately this is the best photo I got of it in the dark.  But, for the record, I can run faster than an armadillo.  So, if ever I am starving and I see an armadillo, I guess I will survive.  I ran ahead of it to get a good photo, but that dang thing wouldn't stop and ran straight for me.  What a cool sight.

The next day we drove down to San Antonio and met up with my dad's cousin that he hasn't seen in years.  After breakfast with her, we went to downtown San Antonio.  Again, another great city that exceeded my expectations.  You guys are probably thinking my expectations were quite low, but no!  I always heard that these two cities were great, but I was really impressed.  Our first stop in San Antonio was the Alamo.  "Can you say Adobe?"  (Anyone remember what movie that's from?)
Dan was a great tour guide for us as he drew upon his state history lessons that he learned in school as a young Texan.  It's easy to see why Texans have so much state pride and patriotism when you visit the Alamo and learn of the courage and valor of the Texans in the face of obvious defeat.  

After our trip to San Antonio we returned to the hotel to get ready for the game.  For those that don't know Dan, he was quite the football player back in his day.  He was a really good kicker (I guess we can consider them football players) that was recruited by schools like Ohio State.  After his mission he played for the University of Utah, so this picture is pretty funny to have him in a BYU shirt, but hey, he's a great sport.

We went to the official BYU tailgate party at a local church house.  It was impressive to pull up and see hundreds of people dressed in BYU attire.  The food, of course, was more delicious barbeque.  Mmmmm, I'm getting hungry again.

We quickly ate our food and went to the stadium to take in the pre-game festivities.  As we wandered the grounds we could hear some of the Texas alumni tail gate parties with their B-list country singers playing to the fans.  So cool.  We went into the stadium and watched some of the Cougars warming up.

 Our seats were located in the north west corner, almost at the top.  Surprisingly, the seats were still good for being at the top of a 100,000+ capacity stadium.  The BYU attendance for the game set the 9th largest attendance record at just under 101,000 people.  That's a lot of people in once place.  We were surrounded by Texas fans, and not one disparaging word towards us was heard the entire evening.  They were such gracious hosts and were so friendly with us.  They have nothing but respect from me, and to be honest, I'm going to cheer a bit louder for the Longhorns to win anytime they are playing someone not BYU.  One of the best moments at the game is when the fans on one side yell, "TEXAS!" and the other side replies with, "FIGHT!"  And they repeat it over and over again about a dozen times.  100,000 screaming fans provides quite the electric atmosphere.

 At half time I met up with our good friend Mike Dyer, who lives in East Texas now.  That lucky punk got front tickets.  So jealous! It was a miracle he even found me because our cell phones couldn't get through once half time hit, so I was so happy to get the chance to talk with him and catch up.

 In the end BYU lost by one point.  It was sad that BYU lost the game (I blame the coaches for not making half-time adjustments).  But oh well, I had an absolute blast that weekend in Austin, Texas with the boys.  I've told Lisa that if BYU goes back to Austin in the future we will go down as a family, take the kids to Sea World and enjoy all that Austin has to offer.  Thank you Texas for a great time!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The big 30!

Lisa turned 30 yesterday!  To celebrate we got a babysitter and went to Ruth's Chris steak house in Park City for dinner Friday night.  The food was tasty, but definitely overpriced.  We probably won't be going back there anytime soon, but it was fun to say we've been there.  After dinner we went to the outlets and let her do some shopping.  I think she enjoyed some of the outfits she got at Banana Republic and enjoyed window shopping at some of the other shops.
The big present for Lisa's birthday this year was a road bike.  She has been wanting one for a couple of years because of the beautiful valley we live in, but we never got around to it. About two months ago my dad had an opportunity to get a road bike for an amazing deal, so my parents pitched in on it and we bought her an awesome road bike.  Happy birthday to her!  It's an Orbea.  It needed some fixing up to make it rideable, so I tapped into my skills from my college days as a bike mechanic and got it all spiffed up for her.  She bought herself some sweet clipless shoes and biking clothes (photos to come soon) with some of the money she has made from all of her Etsy sales.  Here she is posing with her new present.

The bike is insanely light.  Wait, I mean, she is super strong to be able to hold that bike like that!

On Saturday we went to Tucker and Aubrey's soccer game in the morning.  They annihilated the other team.  They beat the other team something like 12 to 1.  Tucker scored 9 goals and Aubrey 1.  Well, kind of 2, one was an own goal that she likes to count as her second goal.  Its fun to watch the two of them play on the same team.
After the soccer game, Lisa's mom came up and watched the kids for us for the afternoon.  I took her back up to Park City to do a little shopping at the outlets, we picked up her turtle pie birthday (ice cream) cake from Cold Stone, and then we went to ride the mid-mountain loop trail.  If any of you are turtle pie fans, don't bother with Cold Stone.  Stick with Baskin Robbins, we were very disappointed with it.  Anyway, we took it back to my office and stored it in the freezer while we went on our ride.
We have been planning on riding this trail for sometime, so we have been getting in shape for it throughout the summer. It is a 24 mile loop with some serious elevation gain, over 3000 feet.  So Lisa and I have been riding a couple of times a week up at Dutch Hollow trails here in Midway throughout the summer.  I don't think we could have picked a better day for our ride.  The weather was perfect and the fall colors were so bright and brilliant.
If you want to see a map of our ride, you can go here.  We started at my office parking lot and rode up to the trail head.  We cut a couple of miles off the trail by taking the Armstrong trail instead of Spiro.  We REALLY liked the Armstrong trail.  You don't realize that you have climbed 2000 vertical feet because of how steady and smooth the trail is.  Here is a shot of Lisa with Park City ski hill in the background.

Once we got to the top of Armstrong trail we continued on the mid-mountain trail.  We had some awesome views of Park City from up there.  Again, the weather couldn't have been more beautiful.  All the maples were bright red and orange, and the aspens were just starting to turn yellow.

In all it was a long, bumpy trail that was a ton of fun.  Lisa did great, especially because it was the first big trail she has ever done on a mountain bike.  I don't know about her, but I was hobbling around like a cripple for the rest of the night because of how sore I was.  It wasn't even the cardio aspect of the ride that got to me, it was the jarring, pounding ride on my hardtail that beat me up.  It's rides like that when I really, really wish I had a full suspension.  After our ride we drove back home and met up with Lisa's mom and the kids.  We went to Tarahumara for dinner.  After dinner we all loaded up the kids and went with Susan in the truck.  We drove the loop up Snake Creek, over to Cascade Springs and back home to really enjoy all the fall colors around us.  It was a beautiful drive around dusk, and I think we have convinced Susan that we live in the most beautiful place in the world.  If any of you are looking for a cool drive to take in the fall colors, I highly recommend taking the one we did.  It is so gorgeous up there right now and should be for another couple of weeks.
Hopefully it was a memorable 30th birthday for Lisa.  The kids and I are very grateful for her and appreciate all she does for us.  Happy birthday babe!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tucker's 6th Birthday

Tucker turned 6 years old yesterday. It was fun to remember all that happened 6 years ago. I was working, experienced some contractions at work. When I got home, Cody and I decided we'd hit up one more movie before I had the baby (Just Like Heaven), my contractions got worse, they were 5 minutes apart,  we checked in at the hospital at 10:30, I experience horrible back labor, the lab screwed up on my blood work and delayed my epidural an extra hour, I finally received it and Tucker came out after 4 am the next morning. (This side note is so minor but I think it's cool that Tucker's birthday was on a Saturday this year because he was born on a Saturday.) 
Anyway, Tucker begged me for a friend party again this year and I gave in. Luckily Cody was around to help, the little boys took naps and my Mom took Aubrey shopping so that she wouldn't "bug" the boys. Tucker has been into bugs lately, so we had a bug themed party.  It started out with some wrestling.
 Then we jumped right into opening presents. (I am not one to do things in a traditional order. )
 Every gift was perfect for Tucker. Seriously. All of them were things that he loves and would pick out himself.

 After presents we went on a bug hunt in the front yard. Cody hid some plastic glow in the dark bugs in the bushes.
 Then we played pin the spider on the web and unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of that. It was hilarious though. We blindfolded the boys and spun them around. One of the little guys was so turned around he stuck his spider on the wrong wall! Good times! 
Next we had a water balloon toss as teams. One boy had to come late so Cody and I stepped in to be partners. We pretty much rocked it with our little partner.

 Then we let them go crazy with a water balloon fight to use up the rest of the balloons. I should have made it a game for them to pick up the balloon pieces - oh well, that can be tomorrow's project for the kids. I bet I can recruit the neighbors too.

 After they were all wet we came inside for some Oreo Dirt Cake and ice cream.

 It amazes me how quickly the boys go through all my plans and games. They ended up playing with the new toys and making up games for at least the last 30 minutes of the party. And then after that they stayed around for a couple extra hours. I'm glad they all had fun and Tucker had a great birthday!
 These were my attempts at a group shot with all the boys smiling in my direction. It's just not happening with 8 boys.
 I finally told them to act like a bug and they got creative!
 One present that Tucker REALLY wanted was a remote control tarantula. Who knew they even made those? We found one at Kmart and were able to use the Kmart birthday cash to purchase it. Too bad Cole has already broken a leg off the thing. At least it can still creep and crawl.
 Tucker opened up family presents throughout the day. Here he is sitting in his new bean bag chair from the Foster's and he's opening a present I'm sure he didn't think I would ever buy him. He's been staring at it on Amazon for over a year. It goes with his animal scanopedia - they are a set of 6 scan dinosaurs. I think he pretty much has everything covered in the whole animal/dinosaur/bug department.

Happy Birthday Tuck! We love you!


Tucker and Aubrey are both playing soccer this season. We have them on the same team and they are loving it. Fall soccer is so much nicer than spring. We had quite a few cancelled games in the spring due to rain and the weather has been perfect so far. They are on a team full of pairs of siblings. 6 kids, 3 sets of siblings and Aubrey is the only girl. Aubrey actually scored 2 goals her first game and Tucker scored at least 5. Tucker is 49 and Aubrey is 63 in case you weren't sure. Their jersey's are awesome because they are reversible. They play in black one game and yellow another game.

 Are the midgets cute? Aubrey's shirt is the length of some of her dresses. She'd probably wear it as a dress if I let her.

 These pictures are from Saturday's game which also happened to be Tucker's birthday. He scored the first goal of the game - we call it the birthday goal.  The next sequence of pictures shows Aubrey's technique. First she's gotta pose for a picture.

 They really are so fun to watch. Cole wants to play so badly and unfortunately for him he's still gonna have to wait a couple years. You have to be 4 to play.
 Tucker has improved tremendously from spring season. He can aim the ball and get it where he wants it.

 Not quite sure what this move is, but I'm sure it ended up with a wicked kick!