Monday, September 20, 2010


After 6 weeks of up and down emotions and finagling with the bank, we finally got our condo but a week before we were leaving for China. Our plans of fixing it up and living in it during the summer didn't happen. We were able to paint but that was quite the ordeal as it was. We couldn't decide on a paint color. We ended up with about 12 different splotches of color before we decided on one.

Since it's on the third floor we have a great view from our balcony and master bedroom. We can actually see our friend Chris's house. It's the farthest one on the left. Time to get binoculars and start spying...hahaha. Chris is a great friend that we will enjoy living by when we are in Utah.
The red wall was already painted that way when we bought the condo, so we decided to just leave it for now. It goes well with our decor so it'll be fine.
This is how it ended up looking when we left. The furniture all stayed with the place since it was a BYU approved rental. Gavin's sister Marci and her son Riley moved in just before we left. She has already started redecorating the place by putting in new flooring, toilets, water heater, appliances, and removing the furniture. It's going to look entirely different when we get back there next summer. Marci plans to stay for a few years so she wants it fit her style which is totally fine with us.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Texas Bound

On July 3 we put Jonny on a plane to Harlingen, TX all alone. It was a very difficult day for me because I knew how hard it was for Jonny to leave. I cried the entire night before he left and had random outbursts of tears all day on Saturday. We had sent him to Marine Military Camp for a month with the hopes that he would come back a more responsible person. He left with just the clothes he had on and his backpack with few personal hygiene items. No cell phone, no ipod, no computer...nothing.

I was a little nervous about him flying alone but with his experience traveling abroad, I knew he would be fine. Gavin took him to the airport early Saturday morning for his 7:00 flight out. I didn't go because I didn't want to be crying the whole time so I hugged him goodbye at the house. At 1:00 in the afternoon my cell phone rang and it was Jonny calling to say he made it. I tried not to cry and be positive. I asked what he was doing and he said they were about to cut his hair. I heard someone in the background yell "Say Goodbye and hang up". Which Jonny did immediately. Of course I started crying again. My little boy was hundreds of miles away and I wouldn't get to see or talk to him for a month.

On July 28, Gavin and I flew to Texas to get our boy...or should we say or boy who became a man.
We flew into Harlingen, Texas a day early. They had a field event on Friday night for the parents to attend so during the day Gavin and I had time to explore. We drove out to South Padre Island to the beach. The beaches went on forever. It was very hot with the water as warm as a bathtub. We took a few pictures. Swam a little in the water and that was enough. Not much else you could really do.
After spending time at the beach we were determined to find a good Mexican Restaurant. When we were back in our hotel in Harlingen we saw an add for a place called "The Blue Donkey" (something like that). We easily found the place and headed in. It was some of the best Mexican Food that we had had for a long time.

I ordered fish tacos and with my large Diet Coke with lots of ice...I was in heaven.
On our way back to Harlingen we passed this crazy looking place. Not sure exactly what it was but it had the crazy sculptures all around the outside. I'm thinking it was some type of gift shop all decorated crazy to capture peoples attention to stop. We stopped but only to get pictures, not to go inside.

Our Military Boy

Friday night we were able to go to the Marine Military Academy to finally see our boy. The field events took place on the football field. Parents filled the stands and around the fence watching for their boy. I stood near the entrance to the field because the platoons were marching onto the field in formation. I was looking for Jonny so that I could signal Gavin who was standing a few yards away with the camera. All the boys were dressed the same with shaved heads so it was very difficult to find him. A platoon marched in and I saw Jonny. He was only a few yards away from me but he couldn't look at us. They had to march in with their eyes forward. I kept saying "There he is and pointing" but Gavin didn't see him at all. We missed the photo opportunity because Gavin didn't recognize him. We found out later that they were told that if they looked to the side at their parents or the people they would have to do extra work.

Our first real look at Jonny was when they announced for the 100 yd dash runners to come forward for the race. Jonny was the fastest in his platoon so he was chosen to race against the other platoons. We couldn't believe how grown up he looked and it had only been a month.
Jonny took second in the race.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

After the events the parents were able to spend about an hour with their boys. The graduation was in the morning but they allowed the parents time to tour the facilities with their sons. The boys had to stay with their platoons on the field until their parents found them. When I walked to his platoon Jonny came running out with the biggest smile and gave me a big hug. I was afraid he would be too embarrassed to give me my big hugs, but he wasn't at all. He was one happy boy to see us.

We hugged, talked and started walking around when we thought he would probably want to talk to Rachel, Nicole, and Vika. They were back in Utah and were anxious to hear from him so he made his first call back in a month back to the girls in Utah.

My military boy with his shaved head.

Marine Military Academy is adjacent to a large memorial of Iwo Jima. The soldier in the front of the memorial was from this area and is buried here behind the memorial.

Jonny walked us around the school and showed us all the different obstacle courses that they did. This one was part of the leadership course where they had different things to accomplish as a group.
As we walked around Jonny explained all the cool stuff they got to do. He said that he was the only one in his platoon that could climb the ropes to the top. All those thousands of dollars spent on gymnastics I guess paid off here.

Again, his gymnastics training helped him with upper body strength to be able to do this part of the course with no problem at all.

Our little boy isn't so little anymore. He had grown at least an inch in height and was one ripped boy or young man.
This is part of the mud course. Jonny said this was the funnest course because they were able to get wet. It is really hot and humid in this part of Texas, so I totally can understand why they enjoyed this part of the course.
This is the uniform all the boys had to wear for their PT (Personal Training) and workouts. They only had two choices, this and their camo gear. We had to say goodbye for the night but knew that the next time we saw Jonny, we could take him home.
The next morning all the parents were seated to watch the parade of boys in front of the Iwo Jima monument. There were about 400 boys here all dressed in camo uniforms, marching in formation with their platoons.
This is Jonny's platoon but we were too far away to be able to spot which one was him.
The platoons all marched by the stands as they exited the field. Jonny is in the third row from the back closest to us. He is right behind the tall kid. Again they couldn't look at us as they marched by. Jonny took this very serious, as did most of the boys.
After the parade at the monument, we all headed over to the barracks for the official graduation ceremony. Each boy received a certificate of completion. Their name was called and they had to walk in formation to their Platoon Leader where they saluted as they received their certificate. Very military like.
Jonny was part of the E Troop. This was taken outside of his barracks which were very bare. They only had a bed, desk and closet. They shared a bathroom with another room. Each room had two boys in it who had to be together 24/7. This was a great experience for him where he learned team work, responsibility, and lots of discipline. He really left us as a boy and came back a man.

After the ceremony we had about a 4 hour drive to San Antonio where we were flying out to Salt Lake City. All the flights out of Harlingen were booked for that day and we really wanted to get back home so we drove the four hours. Jonny chose to stay in his camo uniform the entire day for the flight home. He looked so handsome in his uniform and was very proud to be wearing it.
After leaving the school, we made a stop at the convenient store where the only thing Jonny wanted was a large Diet Mountain Dew. Of course he got the biggest one they had because it had been a month since he had one. Soda was a privilege at the camp which they only had a few times.
We got to San Antonio and had a few hours before we had to be at the airport. We drove over to the Alamo but decided to just drive by. Even though it was a part of history, it didn't mean much to us. Gavin and Jonny were more interested in going by the Alamo Dome where the Spurs play. As we got closer to the Alamo Dome, we noticed there were crowds of people walking toward the dome. Something was going on and we wanted to know what. We stopped and asked some people who were headed that way. They said that there was an open practice for the Dallas Cowboys. They use the Alamo Dome as their practice field during the summer. Of course Jonny and Gavin wanted to stop so we did.

We were able to see Tony Romo practice a little. We were a little far from where he was practicing but our zoom camera was able to get this shot.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Family times

Back to our Summer in Utah.....

Oma and Opa were in Provo for about a week so we were able to spend time with them. We took them up to Sundance to enjoy the scenery. With Opa's bad knee we didn't hike around but were able to walk the path along the river through the resort.
Vika of course always has to pose. She if our "Top Model" and when the camera points her way she quickly gets into her modeling mode.
We were able to get together with some family members we haven't seen in awhile. My cousin Brandon, Jim and his kids, and Bart with his family; joined us for dinner at Chuck O Rama. Ranell was down in Salt Lake for a workshop and was able to meet us along with Lars, Lauren, and Colton. What started as a small dinner with Ranell, turned into a group of 20+. It was fun to catch up on everyone's lives and just sit around and talk.

Craziest Thunderstorm Ever!!!!

I'm still trying to update our blog from this summer but I had to post about the crazy thunderstorm we had the other night. I was trying not to blog things until I was all caught up so that things could be kept in some type of order but that might mean that I don't get things posted.

Anyway, a few days ago we had our Open House at school and I was walking home at about 8:30 at night. It was so hot a muggy that it really seemed creepy. The air was so thick and still. I was thinking how strange that was and it felt really gloomy like something bad was about to happen. I came home and just wanted to go to bed after a long day at school followed by a VB game then the Open House at night.

I went to bed pretty early thinking I could get a good nights sleep. About 11:00 I heard some rumbling in the distance and in my half awaken sleep, thought how strange it sounded. It wasn't sporadic bursts of thunder, it was more like a constant rumbling of a freight train headed our way. I drifted in and out of sleep as I heard the rumbling get louder and louder. I finally awoke around midnight as the blasts approached us. The sky was lit like fireworks bursting in the sky. Gavin counted about 10 per second which calculated to 60 flashes per minute. It was like being in a dance club with a strobe light. Add the thunder to those 60 or so lightening strikes and you end up with an amazing combination of booms and bangs. The thunder was indescribable. It wasn't a boom of thunder with breaks in between, it was one huge blast that wouldn't stop.

I usually love thunder storms but this felt different. It was like doom was headed our way. The blasts were like bombs going off right over our head. The freight train had hit in a huge way. I was literally scared at times with the windows and walls shaking with the blasts of thunder. It wasn't the pleasant rolling thunder sound, it was the sound of war. I felt like we were right in the middle of a bombing raid. I tried to think of ways that I could explain it, but words just can't. It was like being in the middle of the grand finale of a fireworks show but 100 times the noise and intensity. The rain was coming down in sheets. The wind blew the rain against our window which sounded like popcorn popping. The whole experience was terrifying yet amazing.

The intensity of the storm lasted for about 20 minutes then it slowly moved on to find some other fearful soul. I layed awake for about an hour after thinking of how this would be a great descriptive story for my Writing I class. I tried to think of different ways to describe the events using figurative language. It was such an amazing, fearful event that I felt it needed to be recorded.

Last night we had an encore but not quite as intense. Right now I can hear thunder in the distance with flashes of light in the sky. The freight train is on it's way again. We will see what it has to bring tonight.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alpine Loop

Our favorite thing to do in Utah was to hike. There are so many different hikes you can do and every one of them is absolutely beautiful. This hike was up on Alpine Loop. We used to come up here all the time when we lived in Orem, even when there was snow.
Every place you looked was just breath taking. We love the mountains and enjoy being out in nature. The only bad part of the hike were all the flies. There are a lot of people that ride their horses on this trail which of course brings the flies. These were pretty nasty flies that liked to bite but as long as we kept moving we were fine.

Pioneer Day Race

July 24, 2010

Rachel had set a goal to run in the Pioneer Day 10K race. She takes after her father in that she enjoys running. Gavin and Rachel started training by running for an hour every morning. The race started at Timpview High early Saturday morning on July 24.
Rachel was anxious for the race to start as she was surrounded by hundreds of other people.

race cont.

While we waited for the race to end, Vika and Nikki enjoyed the bouncy play center. Leave it to Utah to create a very family friendly environment with lots of things to do for the entire family.

We caught up with Rachel and Gavin to take a picture while they ran. Gavin stayed with Rachel the entire time to give support. This was about a mile from the finish line.
They both finished at 54 minutes. Rachel's goal was to finish under and hour which she easily did. Next time she said she wants to make it under 50 minutes. They both acted like it was no big deal.

Way to go Rachel. You achieved your goal and did it with a smile. We were so proud of you.

It's the women who make you look so good.

Gavin one day kept saying how "good" he looked so it became a running joke in our house that he looked so good because of the women that surrounded him. We were what was making him look good so we had to take a picture to prove it.