Monday, June 29, 2009

27 students, 6 advisers, 1 black bear, 2 charging bison, and 3 sleepless nights

Last weekend we had our annual BYUSA officer retreat. We took all the officers for the upcoming year up to Yellowstone for some training and fun. I am very impressed with this year's group...they are so amazing and ready to serve. They seriously inspire me and I am so grateful to be able to work with such wonderful students. We had a blast at Yellowstone.

The scenery was absolutely gorgeous. I loved the pine trees and rivers and canyons and meadows. Seriously so beautiful. We accidently took a wrong turn and went way out of the way of where we were supposed to be (oops!) but we had so much fun!

We saw some bison up on a hill so we got out of the van and started taking pictures. All of a sudden, the buffalo turned and started running down the hill straight at us! It was all I could do to run back to the van and jump inside. Some of the students were around the corner making snow angels so I was praying they wouldn't come back while the buffalo was mad! Luckily we all make it back in the van before any damage was done. It was kinda scary though!

I decided to dress up as a junior ranger!

We had this photo scavenger hunt we were supposed to do while in Yellowstone. We got creative with our photos! So fun! Just so no one thinks my job is all play, we taught several leadership principles throughout the trip and at all the Yellowstone stops.

The last time I went to Yellowstone, I was grumbling the whole way because I was 14 and absolutely did not want to go there for our family vacation. I even made up a poem about how much I didn't like it.

This time I loved it! And I want to go back with Matt. I wish we could have spent more time there because it was so great.

But it was a very long drive and we spent a very long time in the vans. The BYU vans have this little device in them that talks to you if you are speeding or not wearing your seatbelt or something. It was going crazy! "Speeding violation. Speeding violation." Even though I was not speeding. I figured out how to muffle the voice with my sweatshirt. :)

There was a coyote that kept weaving across the road. It was acting like it was drunk.

And of course we saw the geysers and the hot pots.

Even though we were driving a lot, it was so beautiful. And there was such a variety of landscapes.

We saw a black bear! They really do exist! It was like 100 yards off the road. So cool.

And there were some buffalo running up the road. So funny.

This was one of my favorite spots...Artist Point. Absolutely amazing.

And of course we had to see Old Faithful.

I did have to go to my online class part of the day. My students told me I should just tell my teacher that the bear ate my laptop. So when I saw this shirt in the gift shop I about died! So funny!

Anyway, it was so great. We also met up with the student leaders at BYU-Idaho and did lots of trainings for the students and stayed in this Mafia cabin that had secret rooms. The whole bookshelf swinging out of the wall thing. It was kinda creepy. I am beat though...those kids sure did wear me out!

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Ruth's Chris Experience & Other Birthday Festivities

For my birthday, I decided I wanted to go to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. I have always wanted to go there but I never can justify spending that much money on food. But I decided that my last birthday as a 20-something was worth it. So off to Park City we went. I have been intrigued with Ruth's Chris because I have heard that they have the most amazing steak ever. And they have an ad that makes my mouth water every time I see it.

Anyway, I was a little worried that I would be disappointed with it since I had built it up so much in my head. But was SO GOOD! I was thoroughly impressed. The bread that they started us off with was to die for and the butter came on a plate with a little doily on it. The starter salad was even had roasted parmasan cheese on top. Yummy!

They have this special way of cooking the steak that they only season it with salt and pepper. They cook it in some special oven at a certain temperature to seal in the juices. Then they bring it out to your table on a 500 degree plate so that it stays warm while you eat it. You can seriously hear it coming to your table. And they drench the whole thing in butter so the butter is sizzling on the plate for like 10 minutes after you get it. I know, not the most healthy thing on the planet, but it was my birthday.

This picture does not do it justice. But you can see the pool of butter. And yes, I dipped every bite around in that sizzling butter. Then you get the side dishes. Everything is a la carte. So we tried some sauteed mushrooms (excellent), some mashed potatoes also drenched in butter(yummy!), and some green beans (they were crunchy=not so great).
Anyway, it was seriously amazing. Here I am taking my first bite.

I was not disappointed one bit. It was fabulous. And for your birthday, you get to pick a real dessert off the menu for free. I decided to try the caramalized banana cream pie. Mmmm...

It was pretty expensive, but it was a lot of fun. And besides, eating a Ruth's Chris steak was on my list of things to do before I die. And it was a great way to kick off my last year in my 20s.
The morning of my birthday, I decided to get up early and go to the new Draper Temple. I highly reccommend going to the temple on your was so great. I just really felt so grateful for my life and all the blessings and opportunities my Heavenly Father has given me.

At work, my students decorated my door and got me some cake and some yummy eclairs. It was fun because one of the students has the same birthday as me so we celebrated together all day. My mom and siblings came down and took me to lunch too.

Since the Ruth's Chris thing was so expensive, that was my main present but Matt got me a few other things like some lotion stuff, a book, and a shirt. And the best part was that he called our old Primary kids (the ones we actually like) and had them make me birthday cards. It was so cute. One of the little girls even dressed up in her Snow White dress to give it to me. I just thought that was so sweet and thoughtful of Matt to do that. And I loved it.

On Saturday night we were supposed to have a birthday BBQ with friends and family and then go to an outdoor concert and fireworks. It POURED all day so it kinda put a damper (ha ha!) on that plan. We ended up moving the BBQ inside and just grilled on our deck and made the homemade frozen yogurt in the sink.

We did not go to the concert and fireworks because of the rain. (The fireworks were cancelled anyway, but the concert was still going on even in the rain.) It was still fun though, but I really wish it hadn't rained all day.
Caron gave me two pina coladas! One for each hand! I love it!
Then on Sunday we had a birthday/Father's Day celebration with my family. My sisters gave me some really great gifts. Laurie made me some lasanga that I can put in the freezer and pop in the oven for an easy dinner and Allison cleaned my house! And I got a cute outfit from my mom.

Here's to my last year in my 20s. Yikes! And thanks to all who participated in the birthday festivities. I love you guys!

Happy Father's Day

Just a quick Happy Father's Day to some of the great fathers in my life.

1. My Dad. He is great! He has taught me to be responsible (most of the time!), how to work, about the gospel and how to have a testimony. He is a great example of what a good dad and husband should be. He tries to be fair and is a good provider for our family. I love how he treats my mom and how patient he has learned to be with us.

2. Matt's Dad. Also great! I'm grateful that he has taught Matt how to be a hard worker and be responsible for his decisions. He is an example to me of living the gospel.

3. Matt. Even though he is not a dad yet, I know he will be a great one. He is so great with his nephew and also with the Primary kids. They love him. He is so playful and fun with them. I know he will be a fun dad and also teach our kids so much.

I love you guys!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Freezing at the beach

Our vacation to Seaside, Oregon was so fun! It was just really nice to not have a schedule and to relax and do fun stuff. It was cold but we still had a lot of fun. When we first got there I noticed that Seaside was the spot that was the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail. I thought this was funny because just a week before I was at the beginning of that trail in Kentucky. There was even a similar statue.

We of course had to visit the Seaside Acquarium. It was pretty small, but they had a spot where you could feed seals. That was fun. And acquariums are just fun. We learned that an octupus changes colors when it's mad and when it's sleeping. We even saw the octupus do that!

Allison wasn't so sure about touching the anenemes. Or the sea cucumber.

Seaside was a really cute town. They had a lot of fun little shops. Half of them were candy stores. We found a cool hat store and we had to try on all the funny hats.

They also had a store called the Man Store. Matt loved it! They even had a whole bacon section. Matt wanted the bacon mints. Seriously, who thinks of these things?

The sunsets at the beach were very pretty. And the mornings too. One morning we got up early and went for a run on the beach. It was beautiful! And I found 4 whole sand dollars and even some ones that were still alive.

We headed down the coast one day to the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

We loved the cheese samples and the ice cream! Yum!

We got this great idea to bring our bikes and ride back from the cheese factory back to Seaside. It was a total of 47 miles up the Pacific Coast Highway. It was SO FUN! I loved it. It was tough though. Lots of climbing hills going through mountainous passes. We climbed a total of 2600 feet. On our bikes. It was just really neat riding through the mountains and by the ocean. I really liked it a lot.

Another day we headed to check out some tide pools. That was a lot of fun too. We saw lots of starfish, anenemes, and a few crabs.

This crab was covered in barnacles! I guess it thought it would be good camoflauge.

We went on a couple of hikes. I really loved the thick forests. We even found some wild raspberries that we tried. They were pretty tasty.

Scott, Allison, Nathan and John went surfing one of the days. They rented full body wetsuits, gloves and booties so they wouldn't be cold. The water was freezing! I even brought my wetsuit and went swimming but it was still cold. But lots of fun.

One night we decided to make a campfire on the beach and cook tinfoil dinners and make smores. I loved that! I have never had a campfire on the beach and it was so cool.

We played chubby bunny with the leftover marshmallows!

One of the days we went into Portland. I wasn't too impressed with that city. Maybe if I knew what there was to do there it would be better, but we couldn't really find much. We did go to the temple and that was cool.

We went to this really weird Peace Sanctuary place. It was really strange.

We did find some cool botanical gardens that overlooked Portland. We also found a museum that had an exhibit on National Geographics best photos. I really wanted to see that, but it was closed. That would have been really cool!

It was just so beautiful there.

I loved driving down the coast and seeing all the cliffs with the waves crashing up on them. So cool!

We stopped at some sea lion caves. Here I am trying to be a sea lion. And Matt is wondering what he has gotten himself into. :)

More cool scenery.

While we were driving along, I saw this huge waterfall through the trees. We decided to stop and take a look. It was massive!

On the way home, my dad decided we needed to go to Crater Lake. It was very out of the way. But when we got there, we met this awesome hippie guy. We named him Patchy. He was so hilarious. We got out of the car about the same time as he did, just to hear him exclaim, "It's Crater Lake, Man. We're heeeeere!" Really, you had to be there, but it was so funny. After that whenever we got somewhere we would say stuff like, "It's Utah, Man. We're heeeeere!"

Just trust me. It was funny. Crater Lake was pretty cool. It's this volcano that erupted and collapsed and formed a lake, but you can still see the peak of the volcano because it's an island in the middle of the lake. It was extremely cold there...there was still a lot of snow on the ground. It was very quiet and peaceful and beautiful.

Anyway, it was a really fun trip. Minus the one flat bike tire, the one flat car tire, and the speeding ticket. Oh how I love vacations!