Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What do Korea, Guitar Hero, and salmon have in common?

No, I'm not making a list of Laurel's favorite things. That would obviously also include feet! ;)

Sunday, July 27, we traveled to Orem for Caleb’s missionary farewell (Caleb is Frances' brother). Caleb was asked to speak on “friendship” from the “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. He did a great job. He entered the Missionary Training Center today to prepare to go to Korea. (Thanks, Laurel, for your email to Caleb with cultural tips. He is now a little better prepared.)

After attending all of the church meetings with the Andersons (the kids from our family visiting Primary almost doubled the size of the Primary!), we went to the Andersons' for a great meal and fun visiting. Ryan, of course, spent a lot of his time playing Guitar Hero.
While we were there, we also enjoyed looking at pictures of Kay and Caleb and Pete’s recent trip to Alaska. Our “thanks for watching” prize was about six POUNDS of Alaskan salmon! Yea! I’m set for a couple of weeks!

Good luck, Caleb! We know you’ll be great!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Country, Rock & Roll, and the Tabernacle Choir

On Saturday, July 26, we had the opportunity to attend the Pioneer Day Commemoration Concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, with the Osmond Family as special guests.

Before the concert began, we talked with the sister missionaries sitting in front of us. As we visited with them, we were excited to learn that one was from Mongolia, and the other was from Tonga. Interestingly, Frances’ grandparents served as mission presidents in Mongolia, and then served a mission in Tonga. The sister from Mongolia knew the Clarks, and was baptized while they were serving there! The sister from Tonga loved visiting with Ryan! In the course of their discussion, she learned that he was baptized at Temple Beach in Laie (she attended BYU-Hawaii and was thrilled to learn he was baptized there); she asked him if he liked football, and he told her that he liked football, but LOVED rugby; he told her that he knew the haka, and she just about went crazy! She kept saying, “He’s an Island boy!” She told him several times that he needed to move to the Islands to be an Island boy. (Please…don’t encourage him!). He also just happened to be wearing a cute Hawaiian shirt! We had a lot of fun visiting with them and getting to know them.

Just before the concert began, Lloyd Newell welcomed President and Sister Eyring, who were sitting on the front row, right down from us. He also welcomed “members of the Quorum of the Twelve,” although he didn’t introduce any by name.

We have attended numerous events in the Conference Center. We have attended several concerts in the Conference Center. This was unlike anything we have attended there.

The program started with the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra performing a couple of my favorite pioneer heritage songs: “They, the Builders of the Nation” and “Faith in Every Footstep.” Then the Osmonds were introduced. This is where we wondered if we were still in the Conference Center. An electric guitar started playing, and spotlights started shining and circling around on the Choir. We commented that it was probably the first time that either of those things had happened in the Conference Center!

I have to mention here that we were pretty big Osmond fans growing up. My dad worked for the publishing company that did all of the Osmonds’ media printing. So we had Osmond books, paper dolls, trading cards, posters, and just about anything else you can imagine. You also have to know that the TV-watching was very limited at our house. We were NEVER allowed to watch “Three’s Company,” or similar shows of that time period. We were, however, always able to watch “Donnie and Marie” (you know…wholesome Mormon entertainment). :) The past few years, Ryan has also become quite the Donny fan via “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

So, back to the concert. The Osmond brothers did several of their hits – “Down by the Lazy River,” “One Bad Apple,” and “He Ain’t Heavy,” with their old videos on screens behind and to the side of the Choir.

The Osmonds then took a break while the Choir did some of their Americana songs. (Melissa, tell Justin that we enjoyed all of his solos! We noticed at least three or four!)

The Osmonds came back out and started with “Yo Yo,” which Ryan declared was his favorite of the evening. Donny and Marie then did a medley of their hits. Please, no one yell at me, but I thought that the Choir singing “She’s a little bit country” and “He’s a little bit rock and roll” was kind of cheesy. Sorry. It seemed to be a big hit with most of the rest of the audience.

I was touched by two musical numbers – the first one was “Whenever You’re In Trouble.” Donny told the story of when one of his sons was on his mission. His son sent him a text message when Donny was in the middle of a recording session, but he took the time to answer, and they sent a few messages back and forth. His son then said that he was ok – he just needed to know that his dad was there. Donny wrote the song following that experience.

The second number that was touching to me was “Through the Years.” While the family sang, video clips ran on the screens behind of the family performing through the years. It started with a clip of the boys doing an audition with Walt Disney, followed by clips from the Andy Williams show. There were several photos and videos of their parents and older brothers. The whole Osmond family was in tears, and many in the audience were, as well.

For the last two numbers, the two older brothers, Verl and Tom, joined their younger siblings on stage. (For those who may not know, they are both deaf.) The younger seven siblings took turns paying tributes to their older brothers. Then Verl and Tom signed while their siblings sang the last two songs. That was also very touching. This concert was the final performance in the worldwide “50th Anniversary Tour.” It was also the final performance for some of the brothers. That obviously made it even more poignant for them as they performed.
The final number was the Choir and Osmond family singing “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” another pioneer favorite. It was a fun performance, with both light and funny moments as well as touching and sentimental ones. I was glad we were able to attend.

(Photos by Tom Smart)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Celebrations of Heritage

This week, we took advantage of several opportunities to attend cultural celebrations around us.

On Monday, July 21, we went to the Cultural Celebration Center for the World Stage Concert. They are held every Monday night during the summer, and are a lot of fun. We were introduced to them by Kristin, Abby, and Blair (who works at the CCC). This week’s was Irish music and dance. Unfortunately, it was held inside due to rain earlier in the day. But Ryan and Abby still had fun playing on the quilt on the floor. We enjoyed the dancing, the music, the corned beef and cabbage dinner, and exploring the animal statues outside. (Parents, don’t panic…Blair assured us that the artist designed them to be “interactive.”) We’re looking forward to Monday night’s Hawaiian concert AND FOOD!!!

Wednesday, July 23, was the annual Bountiful Handcart Days celebration. Ryan had the opportunity to walk in the parade with the other youth from our area. Papa was great to walk with some of the kids while we moms and grandmas enjoyed the parade from the sidelines. (Kim and Kristina, we’re proud of you for braving the 100-degree heat!)
After the parade, we enjoyed dinner at Costa Vida and the Handcart Days fireworks.

Thursday, July 24 (Pioneer Day), we watched the Days of ’47 parade on TV in the morning and then went to the Bountiful Park in the afternoon and evening for the festivities there. We met up with some friends there, and the boys had fun on the bouncy toys... sawing and branding logs...

and riding ponies. They were about five feet away from being on the 5:00 news while they were sawing! One of the news reporters was doing a story on the Bountiful Handcart Days. The camera panned over to the kids right in front of Ryan! He was a little bit disappointed that he missed that brush with fame. But keep your eyes open for the TV advertisement for the “This is the Place Heritage Park.” Ryan is on that commercial!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

WGU Academic Meetings and Graduation

You all know that this is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Although it consists of 10-to-12-hour work days, and then several additional hours of “mandatory” socializing afterward, it is always so great to see my good friends!

Speaking of "mandatory" socializing...the BBQ, dunking machine, plaza-wide karaoke and bouncey toys on the Gallivan Plaza were a lot of fun. Thanks to Blake and Cindy for some additional entertainment! (Notice that I DIDN'T post the pictures of anyone falling out of the bouncey toy!) ;)

For those of you who may not know, most WGU employees think I am a Southern girl. Apparently since I spend all of my time with Scarlette (formerly Georgia, now Alabama), Debra (Georgia), Cindy (formerly Alabama, now Mississippi) and Blake (Alabama), it is just assumed that I live in the South. In fact, co-workers often ask where I live in the South! My grandfather was born and raised in Alabama, so the REAL Southern girls have dubbed me an “honorary Southern girl.” (Scarlette & Blake – I’m seriously considering a trip there to find my “roots”! I’ll keep you posted.) It was great to have the “fab five” back together. Cindy left us for a while, thinking she could go back to the elementary classroom without missing us. She was wrong! It’s great to have her back! It’s always fun to be with y’all! I miss you already!!!
Celina also surprised us with a visit! You KNOW we miss you, too! Thanks for your continued friendship and your sweet emails. They always come at the perfect time! Jenn, thanks for bringing baby Jared all the way from Waxahachie! It was so fun to see him!
Sydney and Jamie, thanks for the blog exchange! See, you’ve already been added to the list! Sydney…Ryan and I will let you know when we’re ready for our “National Treasure” trip!

And to all of my other good friends not mentioned here by name, you know I love you, too!

The graduation exercises were inspiring, as usual. Tracie, I wish you could have been there! I hope you watched the exercises on the internet, and I especially hope that you stood when Sal asked all of the candidates to stand. I thought about you, and hoped you were standing at home.

WGU was featured in a couple of TV and newspaper stories. On Friday night, KSL introduced Kimberly Lillywhite, a student who had done her student teaching while battling cancer.
My mom was Kimberly’s clinical supervisor during her time in the classroom. Kimberly was also one of the student speakers at graduation, and did a great job. Saturday night, KSL did a story on WGU and the graduation exercises. That was also fun to see! Over the weekend, the Salt Lake Tribune also had an article on WGU and the graduation exercises. It was great to see such positive coverage all weekend.

Ryan had a fun week hanging out with Rara and Papa. Among other activities, they enjoyed the Days of ’47 Rodeo, although he was appalled at the treatment of the calves during the calf roping. Future PETA member, maybe?

It ended up to be a fun week for all of us!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm Famous!

Imagine my surprise when I found out that my blog was a link on the Yellowstone Online Newspaper!!!

Go to the right hand side to the "Opinion Pieces" column. Mine is "7/14/08 Yellowstone National Park (by Melanie)."

No, I didn't submit it or have anything to do with it ending up there. I assume that they have people that probably Google Yellowstone constantly and then add their blogs to the list. Interesting!

Back Home…Kind Of

We had an enjoyable trip home from Island Park and Yellowstone. Our first stop was in Rexburg to see the new temple.
We also spent a little bit of time in Idaho Falls. Our family lived in Idaho Falls when I was little, so we had fun going on a “this is your life” tour around the city. We also enjoyed walking along the greenbelt by the river and taking pictures of Idaho Falls temple.
We returned home from our trip just in time to run out of the house again for a couple of fun get-togethers! Saturday morning, the Jensen family (Aunt Jean and cousins Lisa, Deb, and Susan) hosted a shower for Frances and the babies. Even though it was a warm day, the Jensen’s yard was beautiful and shady.
We enjoyed a yummy lunch…

Quilted baby quilts…
Painted decorations for the nursery…
Did embroidery on burp cloths…
Had fun visiting with each other…
And watched Frances open all of her fun gifts.
As soon as we got home from the shower, Ryan and I joined Laurel (in town visiting from northern California, after recently returning to the U.S. from Korea) and Kristin and Abby for an afternoon of visiting and eating. It’s always so much fun to be with you two! Even when we go a while without seeing each other, it’s like we picked up where we left off. (Keeping up with each other on blogs helps!) We have been through so much together over the years. You know I love you and appreciate your friendship! And it’s fun that our kids enjoy each others’ company now!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yellowstone National Park

We had a WONDERFUL time in Yellowstone! It had been quite a while since we had been there, so we all enjoyed remembering so many of the awesome things there.

We had been told to watch for a bald eagle’s nest just a few miles after entering the park. We all kept watching for it, but hadn’t seen it in the time period we expected. Just as we were wondering if we had missed it, we encountered a traffic jam along the road. As we got closer and directed our view the direction of all of the pointed lenses, we saw the eagle’s nest. We passed it on our way both in and out of the park every day, but here are some of our best pictures…
A trip to Yellowstone isn’t complete without buffalo sightings. We saw buffalo all around the park during our visit. Again, here are some of my favorites…
We apparently missed seeing a bear by about 3 minutes. On the road out of Mammoth Hot Springs, cars were pulled over on both sides of the road on a very narrow stretch of road. We rolled down our window and asked people what the excitement was about. They said there was a bear just off the road in some trees! We had commented that on our prior trips to Yellowstone, bears were more abundantly seen, yet we hadn’t seen one this trip. By the time we found a wider point of the road to pull off and had walked back to the area of the sighting, the crowd reported that the bear had retreated further into the woods. Bummer!

We did see our share of elk, too. Elk aren’t quite as exciting to us, since we have elk heads in our homes and sheds, and deer in our backyard on a daily basis. (I returned home to a mangled and mowed down garden, by the way.) But these sights were cool…
We loved the walk to Artist’s Point overlooking the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and Lower Falls…
We enjoyed the walks around the geysers and hot springs (the first picture being Ryan’s favorite…no…second favorite geyser, Spasm Geyser)…
And we marveled at some of the other beautiful views and scenery…
Of course, Ryan’s favorite part of Yellowstone (and, thus, his favorite geyser) was Old Faithful, now on 92 minute intervals…
As most of you know, Ryan is a Junior Ranger in several of the State Parks and National Parks around the country. We had a lot of fun doing the activities in the Yellowstone Junior Ranger booklet, and having “Yellowstone Junior Ranger” added to Ryan’s list of life accomplishments…
We LOVED our time in Yellowstone, and hope that the amount of time between this trip and our next trip is considerably shorter than from our last visit to this one. It is a beautiful area, and we hope to be back soon.