Sunday, August 31, 2008

Who Can Turn Down a Chance to Laugh?

For the past three years, our family has attended Laughin' Night, part of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. (James Christensen designed the logo which you may have seen.) This year, I decided to go to the entire three-day event. I couldn't go Thursday night because of pack meeting, but I went without my family Friday (the kids were in school so I didn't feel too guilty), then with Ellie and one of her friends Friday night to My Favorite Stories. Ian, Mags and Ellie went with me all day Saturday, then John and Griffin joined us for closing night, better known as Laughin' Night. One of the storytellers, Rex Ellis, had Griffin laughing harder than we've seen in a long time. It was worth it just for that. My kids just loved Kevin Kling, Carmen Deedy, Antonio Rocha (a mime, no less!), and Bill Harley. This is such a great event and we're so lucky to have it in our backyard at Mt. Timpanogos Park just at the start of Provo Canyon. It gives my kids a chance to "unplug" from the computer, songs, video games, etc., until they get home and listen to their CDs.

We were very fortunate this year to be given a sponsor pass from a friend of mine which allowed us to sit up close to the stage. We were just far enough to be able to see without me having to spend the night looking up (which would have killed my neck). It was so crowded this year that even arriving 10 minutes after the gate opened wouldn't have left any chairs and we would have had to sit on the grass.

Next year is the 20th anniversary, so Bill and Carmen are coming back along with Bill Lepp, the world's greatest liar.

After Rex Ellis, Griffin just kind of curled up and fell asleep

Ellie and Carmen Deedy (really one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen)

Who is This Guy?

It's high school football season! I always look on this with fondness, reflecting on my own high school days as the football trainer, spending every Friday night on the field and the bus with the team, sometimes celebrating a win, or soaking in the deathly quiet of the bus ride home from a loss.

Now that Ian is part of the student council, he's one of the Bruin Crazies. Just a few months ago, he would never do anything to make himself stand out in a crowd. Now I can hardly reign him in.

Maggie getting into the spirit as well.

Griffin Turns Into a Wolf

At our monthly pack meeting, Griffin received a handful of awards, but the most important was his wolf! He didn't really want to be bothered with that whole thing, but wanted to play on the swingset and trampoline in the backyard of our committee chair. (Who wouldn't?)

The First Field Trip of the Year

Less than a week into school and I was already on a walking field trip with the fifth grade to the Central Utah Water Conservancy. It's this little "park" for lack of a better word that's probably a mile from our house. I've always driven past it and wanted to stop in, so this was my chance. The whole idea behind this project is to illustrate how you can still landscape beautifully while choosing plants and flowers that use less water. I was intrigued since I seem to choose flowers for the front of my house that can't handle the extreme afternoon heat and have to replace them every year. Now was my chance to figure out what I could use!

So we walked the three fifth-grade classes from the school, across the busy street, and through these gardens while some local BYU or UVU students taught them about how to use our desert resources wisely.

McKenzie Hone, Miranda Call, and Ellie

The Annual Ward Extravaganza

Each year, our ward has a big party at the local park around the end of August. This year's theme was a western one. (Last year it was a luau, incomplete without a roast pig, though.) It gives us an opportunity to have fun, dress up, act silly, and for the youth to learn new dances and performances. The owner of the company I work for was kind enough to give me a gift card to a local spa for going "above and beyond." I scheduled my appointment for the same day and figured I'd go show off my new look at the ward party. (I know that's a risky thing to do, but I knew I was in good hands at Remedez.) I'm really happy with the result, but I don't have a very good picture of it for you. They took some family pix at the extravaganza, but really only Ellie, Maggie and Ian look good in it. I've included it for your amusement.

Anyway, back to the party. There was a horse for the kids to ride, games, inflatables, entertainment, and great food. I'm sure it's a ton of work for our activities committee, but it's something the kids look forward to every year.

Griffin and Ellie both get to ride Smoke

The advantage to having it at the local park

Ellie's turn to dance

Maggie and the young women doing a variation on "Rhythm" from Girls Camp

Ian and the young men do a western-themed stomp

Pat and Malcolm (his hat may look really tall, but it's Sr. Merryweather's arm behind him)

Maggie wins the race down the inflatable slide

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Happy Reunion

I had the chance to visit with a friend from back home, Sarah Downing. We were in the Reading Stake together and then at BYU together for a year. We married the same year and went our separate ways. Every few years, we've had the opportunity to visit, usually when she gets the chance to come to Education Week at the Y. I saw her last five years ago when she came out with a friend. This time, she had undergone an amazing transformation and had lost over 100 pounds! She looks amazing! We enjoyed a treat at Cold Stone (where she had the willpower to get the fat and sugar free sweet cream with fruit), some time at my house to chat, and then out for Thai food for some more chatting and catching up. As this trip was a needed break for her, it was a refresher for me as well.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

90 Day Post-Op

I had my next post-op visit today. I was thinking today was the last one, but there's another one around Thanksgiving. He showed me the x-rays (not the one pictured) and I could see where the bone has begun to form where it was taken out. I was joking with Maggie that I should have said to people when I was tired, "Leave me alone! I'm growing bone here!"

I still can't lift more than 25 pounds, but I'm allowed to start singing again. He said that I shouldn't plan on any solos as it typically takes a while for a singing voice to come back and that most people are okay with that. It may be that my singing voice will have permanently changed; I guess everyone around me will find out on Sunday when I get to sing in Sacrament Meeting again. Maybe some of them will hope that I hadn't been given the go-ahead.

I asked him if there's anything I shouldn't be doing, and he said, "Well, I wouldn't paint a room or anything like that." Oops! I informed him that I'd already done that, and he asked me if it hurt. I assured him that I was fine, as verified by my x-rays. So hopefully by November, I'll be free and clear.

This whole experience really has been miraculous. So many people have helped through my recovery and I'm truly grateful for everything.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...part 2

Yes, today was the day moms wait for all over the valley. The kids were up and ready to go bright and early. Unfortunately for the little ones, they're school day doesn't start until 9:15 and they're not supposed to be there any earlier than 9 (unless they go for breakfast and then they can be there at 8:45), so to keep them from climbing the walls, we decided to go run some errands. I was in the office by 9:15 and was able to work until 12:45 uninterruped by any phone calls of, "Mom, Griffin just spilled his bowl of cereal on your bed," "Mom, there's a spider downstairs," "Mom, can all my friends come over to play while you're gone," etc. Everyone noticed the spring in my step and the song in my voice. The house was still clean when I got home and there were NO dishes in the sink. Ian got home at 1:30 (Monday is early-out day in the school district) and yelled, "I'm going to love this year!" Maggie was thrilled with friends that were in her classes, although she has already declared that one of her teachers is certifiable. Griffin and Ellie also had a great first day which is always good news. I do have to say that Ellie has probably the best teacher in the school, so this year should be spectacular. Griffin's resource teacher, Miss Becera, already has him scheduled in, so no repeat of last year when we had to repeat the testing so he could qualify for assistance. But he said he has some of his best friends in his class and that Miss Shumway was so awesome.

Ian, 12th grade, Mountain View High School

Maggie, 10th grade, Mountain View High School

Ellie, 5th grade, Westmore Elementary
Griffin, 3rd grade, Westmore Elementary

The only sad face in the house

I love this day!

Friday, August 15, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...part 1

Today is the day our school district welcomes the new 7th graders to junior high and the 10th graders to high school. Since Maggie is a sophomore, and Ian is in student council, two of the four kids are at school today! (I feel like I need to give an acceptance speech like, "I'd like to thank the school district for giving me the opportunity to have a few minutes of peace and quiet; my house is grateful for the few minutes of order it might enjoy. . ."). It's just a half day for them with an assembly, tour of the school, and barbecue. Ian's been gone most of the week getting all these things set up and ready for today.

I can't believe that I have a graduating senior this year. He has worked so hard to be a part of student council, and when he lost both elections and then was appointed, it made his, well, life! I also reflect, though, on when Pat was a senior and I was a sophomore and I felt he was far too protective. I find myself hoping that Ian will be the same with Mags, although she has a much better head on her shoulders than I did at her age.

In case you were wondering, there are only 72 hours left until the other two go!

Lots of Laughin' with the Asplunds

Last night, we rushed through the Westmore Elementary's Back to School night in record time (10 minutes!) so we could go see Brian Regan at Thanksgiving Point. For those of you not familiar with him, he's a clean comedian that is quoted non-stop by our family. In fact, our trip to Italy was almost an homage to him as we laughed through the lost luggage routine, the airline routine, etc. I highly recommend that you check him out.

We got there at about 7 in the evening, enjoyed the scenery (the Waterfall Ampitheater [the above picture is taken from behind the waterfall after they turned the water off] through the Children's Discovery Gardens [the second picture with Griffin and Ellie]) for a while as they held off the opening for all the traffic that was still stuck on the highway, then were entertained by his opening act, Kermet Apio. After maybe 20 minutes or so, he finished his very funny set and brought on the headline act, Brian. I don't know that I've ever heard Ian laugh so much. Our favorite part was when he got off track and had to do a huge end run to get back to where he was so he could finish with the punch line. He kept laughing at himself which, with the sold out crowd (he sold out 5 shows in record time!), only made it funnier. Griffin struggled because about halfway through he all of a sudden worried that the dogs would be dog-napped and that we had to go home immediately to make sure they were safe. That kind of ruined the night for him as he couldn't let go of the thought, and wouldn't let any of us not worry either. So when Brian came out for his encore, he was less than thrilled as it would delay our arrival at home even longer! (We let him be the first one through the door at home so he could see for himself that all was well.)

It was a great evening and we were home by 10:30, in time to see the last two rotations of the gymnastics all-around. Way to go, ladies coming in gold and silver. It was a great competition! We missed Michael Phelps, but didn't doubt that he would win another medal (and break another world record).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wake Up!

As the coverage went late on NBC last night so they could finish the coverage of the men's team gymnastics, I fould myself barely holding on for the Germans on the last apparatus. But alas, I was able to hold my eyes open long enough to see them win bronze, something that was completely unexpected with the absence of the Hamm brothers. Way to go, guys!
I must admit, the girls and I were selfishly concerned that we might miss some of the coverage tonight due to a Relief Society "bring your daughters" activity where we ate, visited, and put together several hundred humanitarian kits. Fortunately, it timed out to all of our advantages in that it was in between television coverage and felt good to do some service.

It's almost ho-hum to say that Michael Phelps won another couple gold medals, setting new world records, and only has less than an hour to rest before he swims for another in tonight's coverage. He even looked a bit disappointed in his performance in the 200m butterfly as he was declared the winner and owner of a new world record, just taking his swim cap and goggles off and placing them on the side of the pool, not even cracking a smile.

The next big coverage for the evening is the women's team gymnastics competition. I probably shouldn't have taken my melatonin already since there's still two hours to go! You go girls!

Other winners from the US include: G. Miles winning the silver in Equestrian and Glenn Eller winning gold in Men's Double Trap Shooting. And then there are all the swimmers, too many names to list.

As I feel my eyelids growing heavy, I think of one of the famous posters of the 70's:

Hang in there baby!
Only 12 days to go!

Monday, August 11, 2008


Every two years, thanks to NBC, I get no sleep for nearly two weeks. With the amazing 24-hour coverage that's provided on six channels as well as online, I become a slave to the athletes and games going on in Beijing. And this year we upgraded one of our DVRs to receive HD service, so not only are the competitions fantastic, but so is our TV picture!

Last night, we gathered around the TV to watch the women's gymnastics and Michael Phelps go for his second gold in the 4x100 freestyle relay. As John and I knelt together upstairs in our evening prayer, we could hear the kids (with the addition of some neighborhood teenagers who learned of our technology upgrade) screaming and cheering throughout the race. (We had paused our TiVo so we wouldn't miss anything.) As we re-started the coverage and watched unbelievably as Jason Lezak caught up to the French team, winning the race and blowing the world record out of the water, I mentioned to John that I thought Maggie had a crush on Michael Phelps. He responded, "Heck, who doesn't? I think I have one as well!" (Really, looking at the picture, he has muscles I didn't even know existed in a human body.)

Way to go to the US Women's Fencing team, sweeping the podium in sabre. Congratulations to Corey Cogdale who won bronze for the USA in the women's trap shooting. And for all those swimmers who have medaled, to quote Dory from Finding Nemo, "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

What a Way to Celebrate Your Birthday!

A few weeks ago we received in the mail a clever invitation from my nephew, Chris Griesemer, for a combination birthday and olympic celebration. Being a lucky boy born on 8/8/80, he got to celebrate his 28th birthday with the rest of the world through the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. So he invited some family and friends over to celebrate with him. This was no ordinary party, but was complete with activities for all ages and sizes!
Ellie with Dallin, Chris and Andrea's 2 year old son.

Getting ready for a little healthy competition

Talking to his mom (my sister, Kim) who's in Quito, Ecuador

Some of us gathered inside once the ceremonies started and were amazed by the "creative portion" as Bob Costas said of the Opening Ceremonies. Once it was time for the parade of nations, Andrea thought it was the best time to do the cake and presents!
Blowing out the candles in one blow

I think we should get one of these so the girls can duke out their battles
Either Ellie was too small for the suit, or the suit was too big for her

In case you didn't notice, there was blue icing on the cake

Ellie said it was the best party she's ever been to. Thanks to Andrea and her family for the delicious food and wonderful company!