Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quick trip to Charm City, aka Baltimore

I had the opportunity to fly to Maryland over the weekend to perform in a dance production called StepDance.
I taught clogging at an Irish dance studio called Teelin while living in Baltimore. This is the 4th time they have flown me back to either teach or perform with them. I was able to do both this trip. I performed in a number I taught years ago and also taught workshops for a few hours another day. I forget how much I loved/love clogging until I'm back in my shoes and on stage.
I flew out Friday morning, got my rental car and settled into my hotel for a little bit. Then I met up with the director and owner of the studio to review the dance and make sure I was prepared.
Saturday morning I drove down the capitol beltway and went to the castle in the sky. The Washington DC temple looks just like the picture below. It's like the city of OZ as you round the corner and there's the beautiful white castle/temple rising from the ground.
 The flowers are always beautiful around any temple, but spring was definitely in the air back east.
 These gorgeous pink blossoms dotted the grounds.
One of my cousins lives in Arlington, VA and we were able to meet up for some lunch. He was such a gentleman and even paid. Thanks Jason!

 After lunch I drove back to my hotel to gather my things for the upcoming show. I shared a dressing room with 3 other women who were also guest artists. We had fun getting acquainted throughout the day. We practiced a whole bunch, tried to do a run through on stage and finally at 7:30 the show began. My number was in the second act, so I really did a lot of waiting around. But I got to spend time with this cute girl, Kelly. She is the first clogger I taught at Teelin. We did a duet together and have kept in touch throughout the years. We both have red hair and she's an awesome dancer. She was only 12 when I first began teaching her and now she's 21. Time flies by.
 This is Maureen. She owns the Teelin School of Irish Dance. I cut and edit almost all her music and she is the brilliant mind behind the productions she puts on. I've been blessed to know her and be a part of her team. If only I had some Irish dance skills, we'd be a great duo.
 After the production there was a cast party where I was offered wine and beer multiple times and met other people from my past. I got back to my hotel after midnight. Sunday morning I had to wake up early to make it to 9:00 church an hour away. I attended the ward we moved from up in Hampstead. After mingling with some friends I went to visit my friend Cathy and her family. Her due date was that day, but no baby girl has shown herself yet. She flew out to visit me last August and I was happy to go see her - although sad I didn't get to meet baby girl. Next time!
 After visiting with friends I drove down to the dance studio to teach 3 workshops. Here's a little example of what I was doing. 

After workshops I was invited to dinner at one of my dancers homes. They fed me a delicious dinner and we talked for hours. This is Abby. She is one of my Irish Cloggers as well. All but one of my dancers are in or will be beginning college this fall. Abby's Mom spoiled me rotten. They live out in Glenelg on a few acres of beautiful countryside.
 I had a fabulous time although I can't wait to go back someday with my family. Cody had a dental conference in Arizona that he attended the same week and we just couldn't afford a $500 plane ticket for one of our kids to tag along. Aubrey would have loved all the dancing and attention. I flew home Monday afternoon. Thanks to my Mom and Cerola for helping with the kids again while I was gone. We couldn't do much without them.

Put Me In The Zoo

I decided to try something new this year and buy a zoo membership to the Hogle Zoo. I purchased the pass and headed down on April 1st, a rare Monday off of school, with the kids. I met up with my good friend, Maquel and her kids. I went with Tucker and his kindergarten class last year on a field trip and the week after we went, they opened the new Rocky Shores exhibit. The kids had fun watching the polar bears and other animals play and swim around.
 I bought a punch card to use on the carousel. A favorite for the kiddos.

 A rare look at the peacock with it's feathers spread.
 Ugly turkey.
 Baby giraffe. Nothing compared to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, but still fun for the kids.
 Budding photographer. Carries his camera everywhere.
 It was a very nice day at the zoo. A little cool and we got a thunderstorm after we left. But, there weren't very many people and the kids had fun. Looks like we'll be attending the zoo frequently over the next year. Let us know if you want to join in the fun.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Lucky Ones

 The lyrics in this song by Kerli really hit home for me. Even more so after watching the video and seeing the husband and wife, where the husband kisses the bald head of the wife (starting at 3:09 and going to 3:50).  It reminds me of the many blessings that Lisa and I have been given and of the storm that we have weathered over the past year.  Here are the lyrics that I loved:

"We are the lucky ones
Oh whatever comes
We are the lucky ones

And when your world is crumbling down
I can make it better
When you're lost, need to be found
I will look for-e-ever

Just keep me close, there is no storm
That we can not weather
However high, however low
I will face for-e-ever

For you"

Here is the video:

I feel closer to Lisa than ever before after what we have gone through.  It's been a crazy, wild, stressful, exhausting ride.  But she is still here and has been given a fighting chance, and for that I am super grateful.  I consider ourselves the lucky ones.

Lisa 15 months ago:

Monday, April 8, 2013

Multiply and Replenish the Earth

The title of this blog post aptly describes a phrase that kept going through my head this past week while we were on spring break.  We went to Moab for spring break with 6 other families.  It was a ton of fun, and we all got quite the chuckle out of seeing so many kids run around.  In total there were 22 kids between the 7 families that went.  That's a ton of kids in one place.  It was pure heaven for the kids getting dirty, climbing on rocks, rolling in dirt, catching lizards, eating dirt, exploring, wearing dirt, riding bikes, digging in dirt, eating marshmallows, oh, and did I mention how much they loved playing in the dirt?  I will have more photos of that in a bit.

Lisa decided earlier that she wanted to take the trailer down to Moab on Tuesday and let the kids play since they were out of school.  The plan was for her to caravan down on Tuesday with the other Calderwood's in our neighborhood, and then I would meet up with them Wednesday night after work.  We spent the previous Saturday driving around town so she could get a feel for towing the trailer.  We even went to the school parking lot for her to practice backing up the trailer.  She performed like a champ.  Tuesday morning arrived and this is the photo I took of her pulling away.  It was raining in Midway and snowing in Park City, but she was headed to warmer weather.

Lisa arrived in Moab with no problems, and I was jealously stuck at home.  She and Corey Calderwood were able to secure enough campsites in the Sand Flats area for all the friends that were coming down the next day.  It ended up being the ideal location for all the families and the bundles of kids.  We were off the main road, so the kids could run around without fear of the cars.  There were hills, caves, trees, lizards, sand and more to keep the kids entertained for hours.  Here is a view of our campsite that she staked out for us.

And Corey's campsite just below ours.

We had awesome views of the La Sal mountains to the east of us.

The boys didn't waste any time jumping in the sand and playing with their sand toys.

The trailer worked great (except for the first night when the heat went out on Lisa).

Lisa went into Arches with the other Calderwoods on Wednesday.  The kids always enjoy a quick run through Arches National Park.

Tucker and Cody.

Poor Cole went to bed that night with what appears to be pink eye.  His eyes got all goopy and sealed shut.  He improved as the week went along was a happy camper.

I was able to hitch a ride down with the Ashursts on Wednesday night after work.  It was great to finally arrive.  Thursday morning I tried to fix the heater situation.  After a few hours of tinkering around and trying to discover the problem, I found that it was as simple as a bad battery.  I went into Moab and bought a new one and the heater worked great every night after that.  We only needed the heater at night because it would get up to the upper 70's during the day, but would drop down into the 40's at night. 
Lisa putting our stove to use making some delicious bacon.

Tucker only cared about one thing while we were down there: lizards.  He wanted to catch lizards so badly.  He and Sterling were constantly looking and hunting for more.

He even packed away his little fish aquarium on his own in preparation for their lizards.

We didn't do as many hard core activities this time around because the kids were so happy just hanging around the campsite playing with all the other kids.


That afternoon I took Lisa and our friend Jessica for a bike ride on the Slick Rock trail practice loop. It is under 3 miles, but still really fun.  It was Lisa's first time on a mountain bike since her tumor surgery last year.  She was excited to hit the trails again.

When you are the one taking the photos you don't get a lot of pictures of yourself.  So while I was waiting for Lisa, I took this self portrait of myself.  Yup.  I'm handsome.

That night I cooked up some dutch oven chicken and potatoes for a bunch of us.  I must say, they turned out delicious.  It was a lot of work running the four dutch ovens at once, but it was worth it.  Everyone who ate it seemed to enjoy it.

After dinner, we did s'mores.  The kids devoured them.  They were in heaven.

We would put the kids on the bunk beds and double them up some nights out of convenience.  They are still small enough that we can stick two to a bed.  It's always satisfying to see your kids be kind to each other and express their affection.  Especially Cole, who has a tendency to be kind of grumpy.

On Friday We headed down to the Needles overlook with Jaron, Angie and Winston.  The views at Island in the Sky are probably better, but it was still cool to be perched on those cliffs looking down on everything.

We took Sterling along with us. We had an extra seat available since Aubrey wanted to ride with Winston in Jaron's truck.  Sterling and Tucker were funny together.  When they weren't looking for lizards, they were playing games, like balance on the rocks that bordered the trail.

I couldn't stop thinking about climbing up and over this roof that was right by the lookout.  Maybe back in the day when I was in climbing shape.

More happy kids.

Unfortunately I set a bad example to the kids when I went out on this ledge to get some awesome photos.  Jaron jumped out there too.  We enjoyed the heights and took some killer photos of each other.

Back at the trailer playing some games.  That's my Dew, not the kids', in case you were wondering.

Jaron turned 32 on Thursday, so Angie made him some delicious brownies to celebrate his birthday and Aubrey's on Saturday.  We counted out 32 candles for him.

We sang happy birthday to the two of them and then let them blow out the candles.

As I mentioned, Aubrey turned 6 on Saturday.  She received the rest of her gifts as she woke up that morning.  I can't believe she is 6 years old now.  She was so excited to spend her birthday in Moab.

After breakfast we took the kids rock climbing at Wall Street.

Aubrey and Tucker did awesome this year.  They are fearless now and can really scale up the rocks quickly.  It's cool to see their progress.

Jaron backed his truck up to mine and we created somewhat of a play pen for the kids.

Joe and his family came down a little later and set up a second rope.  We had kids climbing all over the rocks.
That afternoon we decided to take the kids on a short bike ride, 3.5 miles.  Part of Aubrey's birthday present was a new bike.  It was a cool site to see all those kids in single file line.

I didn't take my camera with me, but Jaron took this cool photo at the end of our ride.  From left to right: Jessica, Winter, Winston, Joe, Aubrey, Sterling, Ginger, Cody, Tucker.

That night we roasted more marshmallows.  We were treated to an awesome sunset.

Jessica likes big fires, so we had the kids pile the wood high.  I think she was happy.

Sunday morning we packed up and headed home.  On the way home we headed into Canyonlands National Park, the northern portion of Island in the Sky.  We took a little hike with the kids out to Mesa arch.  Great scenery, and an easy hike for even Blake.

 The views through the arch are pretty awesome.  We really like the photo from some photographers where they capture the sun rising over the La Sal's through the arch.

I climbed up on top with Tucker and Aubrey.  They thought that was so cool.


On the way out Lisa took this photo of Aubrey's footprint.  Her shoes left little star designs in the sand that Lisa really liked.

After Mesa arch, we went to the Grand View lookout.  You can see the Colorado river in the distance in this photo.

 Then we went to the Green River overlook.  That is the Green River in this photo.  In the middle of the park the two rivers join.  Then it's a wild ride through cataract canyon until you arrive at Lake Powell.  We are so lucky to live so near this amazing terrain and scenery.

  Unfortunately on the way home the awning tore right off the trailer as we were going up Price Canyon.  That sucks badly, but what can we do?  I had to pull over and remove the remaining posts that were flapping around.  Boooo! 
Other than that it was a great spring break that I'm sure the kids will remember for years to come.