Sunday, November 16, 2014

Volleyball 2014

 It was that time of year again, Volleyball season.  This year was an exciting year in our home with Jonny playing Varsity, Nicole JV, Gavin coaching the JV girls, and I'm coaching the MS girls.  I love watching my kids play.  I guess you can say I live vicariously through them.

The JV girls took 3rd in the SAIKAC U16 tournament.  That was sad because they really were good enough to take 1st but just couldn't get it together at the right moments.  My DEMS girls team were invited to play in the U16 tournament and we went with no expectations and actually did much better then we thought.  We got 8th which is good for a group of 13 and 14 years olds playing against much older teams.  I decided that I like coaching when there aren't any expectations because you always come out better then expected.  It was fun to watch my MS girls improve throughout the tournament. The U14 tournament is in a few weeks which will be a little nerve racking but I'm excited for that.

Nicole played setter on the JV team this year and was a starter most of the time.  That's pretty good for a freshman.  Gavin coached the girls and I helped him as much as I could.  Many of the girls on the team were my girls from MS who I've coached for the past three years, so it was fun to be a part of it again and see their improvements.

The following week after the JV tournament was the Varsity tournament.  It was here at our school so I got to watch Jonny play his final VB games of High School.  Jonny played setter and did an outstanding job.  He received many compliments from the refs on his setting abilities.  They were an awesome team but faced the JV team in the finals.  The boys JV team really played well and were a good match for the Varsity.  Unfortunately, the Varsity took 2nd.  It was sad, but they played an awesome game.

The JV girls also played in the Varsity tournament and took 2nd.  The DHS Varsity girls took 1st.
It was two weekends packed with good volleyball.

Nicole practicing her spike.

Gavin and the JV girls

Nicole at the net

Nicole setting

Tip by Nicole

Add caption

Block by Jonny

Jonny tipping

Jonny his puffed cheeks

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Our Awesome Summer!

Why or why did our summer have to end?  It was an awesome summer filled with many fun activities with family and friends.  Now it's over and we are back in the sand box for another school year.  Here are just a taste of why we love going home to Utah every year.

We left Dammam on June 27 for our long journey home.  We had a layover in Jeddah for about 3 hours and then again in Paris for 4 hours.  It's always a long trip, but oh so worth it.

Nicole Sleeping in Paris

Gavin is always creative in finding a sleeping spot.  
Our new Cadi!
 We finally arrived in Salt Lake City about 30 hours after leaving our home in Saudi Arabia and were picked up by Chris Burton in our new Cadillac Escalade.  Well not brand new, but new enough.  We had found this 2008 for sale online and had Chris go check it out and buy it for us.  We felt like rock stars.

Our Utah essentials
 We stopped for fill up the car and of course had to get a few of our Utah favorites...Diet Mt. Dew, Spitz sunflower seeds, and beef Jerky.  We also had a shock when we saw the bill for filling up the car...$99.00  OUCH!  It actually didn't fill it up but the pump stopped at $99.00 because our bank wouldn't allow more than that to be charged at one time for gas.  This would cover about 3 months of our gas bill in Saudi where it is about $0.45 per gallon for 91 Octane.  Welcome to the US.

Taco Bell !!!!!
It has been our tradition for the past 6 years to always stop at Taco Bell on our way home from the airport.  When we lived in China, this is what we craved the entire year because they didn't have good Mexican food there.  Saudi does have Mexican food, they even have a Taco Bell, but it never tastes as good as it does back in the United States.
Bacon anyone?

Bacon is one thing that we really miss in Saudi.  Actually, any pork is greatly missed.  I guess another tradition we have started is to have bacon the next morning.  We had 2 pounds of bacon and ate it all.  YUM!

We only were in Utah for a few days until we headed on our first road trip for the summer up to Oregon for Gavin's 30 year high school reunion.  We took a few days to get there and stopped in San Francisco.  It's been a few years since we have been here and wanted to show the kids where it all started for our family.
Golden Gate Bridge
Camping in Petaluma
We decided to do a little camping on our way to Oregon.  We camped for a few nights in Petaluma, California at the KOA which was only about 30 minutes north of San Francisco.  It was pretty awesome.  Even though we were close to the city, we felt like we were out in the woods.

We left early in the morning to go explore the city.  It has changed quite a bit since we were last here, in that it was a little more crowded.  Yes, it's always been a touristy spot to be around the wharf, ride the cable cars, and go to Alcatraz, but we didn't remember it being that bad.  We wanted to take the kids to Alcatraz but found out that you had to book the tickets way in advance.  The last time we did this, we just walked up to a place and booked it on the spot.  Oh well.  We found plenty of other things to do while we were there.
These steps were like piano keys and played notes as you walked on them.

Alcatraz in the back ground.

 Gavin and my first date over 25 years ago was to Fisherman's Wharf.  This was literally where it all started. time.

The lone Sea Lion

Normally there are tons of Sea Lions lying around the bay, but there was only one today.  We read that they all go down south this time of year to breed and the older ones stay behind.  I guess they were all young and ready to go because we only saw one the entire time.

Can't come to the Wharf and not have clam chowder in a bread bowl.

Enjoying our clam chowder and corn dogs with the sea gulls.

Kids at Ghirardelli's Chocolate store.

Hair time

We had to wait about an hour to ride the cable car.  We always have to ride the cable cars when we come because this was where I realized that Gavin was the one for me.  He took me on a date here 25 years ago.  It was at night and was pretty cold so he put his arm around me to keep me warm and I thought "this is a perfect fit"  I fit perfectly under his arm.  I knew that he was the one for me.

Perfect fit!

Nicole on the cable car

Lombardi Street
 We had to go down the ever famous Lombardi Street.  It was a tight fit in our Escalade but we made it.

We only rode the cable car to the top of the hill and then walked back down near Lombardi Street towards our car.

Love the view

 As we were walking down we found this tree near Lombardi Street with these wild parrots.  There were probably about 20 birds in this tree and they would fly together from tree to tree.

Lombardi Street from the bottom

Vika and her new friend

We did a little souvenir shopping and found this cute friendly dog in one of the shops.  

Nicole and her new friend.

It was pretty cold at the bridge.
After spending a few days in San Francisco we continued north and drove along Hwy 101 towards Oregon.  That was one long drive and a little scary at times.  Not sure we will do that again.  After a day of driving, we finally arrived in Eureka where we planned to stay at the KOA for one night.  While we were there we met a family traveling around the West Coast who started in Salt Lake City.  Of course the conversation started because their 14 year old son was playing basketball at the KOA which led to a friendly game of Bball.  We always seem to find basketball in our travels.

Nicole even got into the game.

Vika was a little bored while the game was going on but found fun playing at the play ground.

The next morning we packed up and drove up towards Oregon where our next stop was Grants Pass.  On the way we came across Elk Campground where a huge pack of Elk hang out.  We had to stop to get pictures.  They all were jumping over this fence when we first stopped.

The male Elk just being lazy.

Paul Bunyon
Of course we had to stop to see the large Paul Bunyon and Blue.

Almost to Oregon....

We stopped to admire the amazing large Redwoods.

Yes that's Vika...she looks tiny.

Those tiny people are the kids.

Leave it to boys to find a toy in nature.
While we were walking through the trees Jonny found a tree limb that he used as a vault.  This provided us with some fun for a few minutes.

We stopped at South Fork in Oregon for Gavin to reminisce about his youth when he used to jump off of this bridge into the river.  Yes, off of the bridge.  He was contemplating doing it again but thankfully decided not to.  This seems to be the hang out place to come and drink and be crazy because we watched several young guys do crazy tricks on the rope.

We got to Grants Pass where we rented a small home in town.  After a night of sleep we were up and off the next morning for a rafting trip down the Rogue River with several of Gavin's class mates from his graduating class.  I didn't intend on getting in the water but my loving husband "accidentally" pushed the raft as I was trying to step in and I was knocked into the water.  It was soooooooo cold, I lost my breath for minute and couldn't get up so my hero husband rescued me.  I think he did that on purpose so that he could look good as he rescued me.

Made a little snack stop on the river.

Gavin and Jeff Barber

We were lucky enough to give a fireside on our adventures in Saudi and travels to the Valley of Lemuel and Oman while we were in Oregon.  One of Gavin's good friends from Cave Junction is now the bishop in a Medford ward so we were invited to give a fireside.  It was fun meeting Gavin's friends from his past and we made lots of new friends.

Dinner in Cave Junction with the Illinois Valley graduating class of 1984.
After our adventures in California and Oregon we returned to Utah for our remaining time.  The highlight was Rachel's return from her mission.  We flew Rachel's best friend from China out to Utah to be there when she came home.  Blair lives in Las Vegas now so it wasn't too far for her to travel but it was fun to have her with is.  She is like our second daughter and we love having her a part of our family.
Jazz Scrimmage Game
Rachel returned from the St. Petersburg Russia mission on July 11.  There happened to be a Jazz Scrimmage game on the same evening so what better way to wait for her flight than at a basketball game.
Love those Jazz

Rachel and the other 7 sisters who came home with her from Russia.
Rachel came home with seven other sisters from her mission.  This was one of the first groups of sisters to return home since the change of age to 19.  KSL was at the airport to do a mini documentary on these sisters that aired in between conference in October.  The interviewed all the sisters the next day and were at the airport.

Oma and Opa drove out from Arkansas to be at the airport and to spend time with us in Utah.  Ranell, Mike and Keith were all there as well.  Keith came rode is motorcycle out from Arkansas to spend time riding with Ranell and Mike.  The Busath's were also there to greet Rachel.  It was an exciting time to share with them all.

Our little girl is home.

Rachel couldn't resist trying to give Blair a Book of Mormon.

Blair and Rachel together again.
Of course we had to walk Provo Canyon as much as we could this summer.  We didn't get to go as much as we would have liked but it was still as beautiful as ever.

Jonny, Blair, Rachel, Darby, and Vika

Provo Temple
One of the first things Rachel wanted to do was go to the temple.  We tried to go as much as we could.  Rachel went at least once a week.

Love being in Utah with my family and friends.
We always like going out to Ranell and Mike's because they always have fun toys and things for us to do.  Deegan was trying to teach Vika how to drive the ATV.  He was such a patient little helper.

Deegan and Vika

Opa playing Barbies with Sy.

Awe...look at all that PORK and meat....Thanks Mike for all the yummy smoked meat!

Just chillin' at Ranell and Mike's

Can't be with Oma and Opa without playing "May I"  This is always our go to game when we are together as a family.

Love, Love, LOVE Utah.  Cedar Breaks near Cedar City.
Nicole went to EFY in Cedar City so when we went to pick her up we camped a few nights near Cedar Breaks.  I never knew this was so close to Cedar City and it was so beautiful.

Our camp at Cedar Breaks

Gavin bought a small pellet gun to do some target shooting while we camped.  It was like watching a boy with his toy.
The ever famous foil dinner...can't go camping without having this.

Vika found a nice little hiding place near our camp.

Our friendly Squirrel.


Fun with the gun...

James Bond????

Nicole trying her shot.

Rachel taking a try

Love being with my Rachel...

Rachel and her Bond style shot...

Vika found lots of furry friends to try to feed.

Utah always has lots for us to do.  I decided this year to do as much as we could and I was so happy to find that the Orem Scera Theatre were putting on Les Miserables.  We went with Oma and had a great time.  Love this show and the talent was awesome.

Another fun evening was Gavin taking me to a Journey concert.  We rode the motorcycle to the outdoor venue for a night of music.  Gavin isn't a big fan of Journey, in fact he despises them, but he loves me so much that he endured it all for me.
Waiting for the concert to start.

We spent a few hours at the Bean Museum at BYU.

Kids at the Bean Museum

Father Daughter time..

This was one of Vika's favorites...a butterfly made of butterflies.

Crazy Nicole letting a bear lick her?

Cooper/Post Family picnic in Orem with lots of family I didn't even know but had a great time.

Vika and Deegan climbed WAY up this tree...

Gavin's new toy.
After Gavin bought his motorcycle, we went on quite a few fun rides with Ranell and Mike.  Utah is so gorgeous, especially on the back of a motorcycle.

Mt. Nebo

Mt. Nebo ride

This is one thing we love about Utah...lots of choices at Mavericks
Costco is amazing...don't realize how much you miss until you can't do it.
Gavin also bought a little cross bow to play with.

Jonny trying the cross bow.

At the Owlz game in Orem.

After the Owlz game they let the little kids run the bases...Vika is out there somewhere

Fun times eating hotdogs at the baseball game.

What a gorgeous view while watching a game.

Rachel made us Borsche soup from Russia one night.

I had to give in and go to a MMA fight in Ogden with Gavin and the kids since he was so loving and took me to Journey.  It actually was a fun evening with motorcycle tricks and fighting...the best thing was just being outside enjoying all Utah has to give.

Waiting for the fights.

The fight is about to begin.

On Pioneer day they had a temple to temple race from Provo temple to the Provo City temple that is being constructed.  There were thousands of people here to run.  Vika ran the entire 5K...good job!

Jonny, Rachel, Darby, and Vika at the start of the Temple to Temple Run

Niki, Rachel, and Vika at the end of the run.

Every year Gavin hikes up to Mt. Timp and each time he writes this on the tower at the top.

Looking down from the top.

Rachel and Gavin hiked with Chris and Rebecca this year.

Another one or our rides.

Always fun to ride with Ranell and Mike

Ranell took this shot...wonder why she put her finger over Gavin's face?
More beauty in Utah...Provo falls.

Provo falls on one of our rides.
Rachel taught us how to "slam".  This is something all the missionaries did in Russia.  They would suck hot peppermint tea through these chocolate covered cookies (oreos would probably work).  It was so good.

Vika slamming

Jonny slamming

These are the cookies she brought from Russia for us to slam with.

We went to see Fiddler on the Roof up at Sundance this year.  It was so fun with an amazing view of the mountains.

At Fiddler on the Roof

Last night with our Utah friends, the Gustafsons and the Burtons.

Jonny at the end of his driving test for his license.

He finally got his license.

We had a small mission reunion with some of our old gang from the Oregon Portland Mission.  Fun seeing old friends.

Rick Hansen and Gavin

Saw these signs on one of our rides.

We are going to miss this in Saudi.

Utah will always be our home.  Every year it gets harder and harder to leave and go back to Saudi...can you blame us?  Utah is awesome...good friends, family, adventures, motorcycles, good food and lots of Diet Mt. Dew.  Miss you Utah but we will be back next year!