Monday, August 22, 2011


Last night Ian and I went to the Brandi Carlile concert at Red Butte Gardens. This was our second time seeing her at Red Butte and she didn't disappoint. She is a very engaging and energetic performer. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you're not listening to Brandi Carlile, you should be.

The most incredible moment of the night came during the last song of the encore, "Hallelujah" (written by Leonard Cohen), when a rather large shooting star streaked across the sky. The audience did a collective gasp and then cheered. A former student of mine recently died of cancer and the thought that immediately popped into my head was "maybe that was Jaden". I didn't expect spiritual experience at an outdoor concert, but I guess the idea isn't too unusual- it definitely makes the night more memorable.

Enjoy a few more photos I took at the show:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back To School

I'm heading back to my other life as a middle school teacher in just a few days, so I thought I'd take a few minutes to reflect on my summer with Aven. Since two-year-old kids have such a bad reputation for being difficult I thought I'd list my top ten favorite things about spending the summer with a two-year-old:

1. Hearing her use new words every single day. I'm always amazed at how fast she picks up new language. I really must stop listening to The Lonely Island when she's in the car with me.

2. Her enthusiasm for absolutely EVERYTHING. There aren't very many things I can think of that don't fascinate her.

3. Listening to her pretend phone conversations is one of the best parts of the day "Hiyo. Hi. How you? Oh good." Need I say more?

4. The simplest things keep her busy and entertained. She'll play with rocks and water in the backyard for an hour at a time while I relax on the patio.

5. She goes to bed early and sleeps in EVERYDAY. Ian and I get some down time in the evening and I get to sleep until eight o' clock every morning- not too shabby.

6. She has become a sound aficionado. She can correctly identify almost any sound she hears from a distance: trains, helicopters, lawn mowers, garbage trucks. It amazes me for some reason.

7. She is a huge Stephen Colbert fan. I got into a rather bad habit of watching The Colbert Report on Hulu during breakfast and now she puts in a request for him every morning. As we watch she laughs hysterically and exclaims "Colbert funny!"

8. For once I'm actually the one to see her demonstrate a new skill first. I love my job and have no qualms about her going to daycare, but it does sting just a little when her daycare teacher tells me about the amazing thing she did or said for the first time.

9. Hugs all day long. I am seriously going to miss the constant onslaught of toddler love. I have the feeling I'm going to develop a hug deficiency.

10. I get a two hour break every afternoon during nap time. As a teacher I get a 25 minute lunch. In the words of Liz Lemon: blerg!

Below are a couple pictures from our last week of full-time summer fun:

Swimming at Payton's house. She keeps saying "I go wimmin at my Payton's house?"

Comparing herself to an Orangutan at the zoo.

It's been an awesome summer with my sweet little girl. I'm lucky that I get to have a job I love and still be a stay-at-home mom some of the time.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Monster Weed Removal

When we had our new house inspected before we bought it the first thing the inspector said to me before even introducing himself was "That tree has to come down. I won't let you buy this house if removing that tree isn't part of the deal." The tree in question was a Chinese Elm (otherwise known as a really big weed) on the south side of our house and was literally right up against the house:

To say that the tree was encroaching on the foundation is the understatement of the year. The view from that basement window was nothing but tree trunk:

We got several bids for removing the tree and the lowest by far was Discount Tree (I highly recommend them!). Our neighbor, Sunny, a nice elderly man who lives alone was so excited that we were having the tree removed that he offered to pay half the cost. Apparently he and the previous owner fought bitterly over having the tree removed and Sunny ended up spending $1000.00 to have the branches hanging over his house removed. The crew leader from Discount Tree was obviously nervous about working in such a tight space and asked me several times if I was absolutely sure I wanted the whole tree removed. Despite his reservations he got in there and got it done and did a great job. Here they are four hours into the job:

After about seven hours of work all they had was trunk. Since the space was so tight they couldn't just cut it from the bottom for fear of it falling the wrong way and damaging one of the houses, so they had to take that trunk down in one and a half to two foot slices, which you can see in the back of the trunk in this photo:

The only damage done was this big tire trench through the tender young grass I planted a couple weeks ago in a bare spot in my front lawn. The day after I seeded the area I realized that it would probably get ruined during tree removal. Hind sight is 20/20- oh well.

Since they couldn't grind the stump they had to poison it. So I guess we have a souvenir:

So much better! If you need any tree work definitely give Discount Tree call- they got this enormous job plus trimming another large tree in the backyard done in nine hours and they did a great job cleaning up. That's one big thing marked off the to-do list!

Friday, August 12, 2011


This is Teddy:

Teddy is Aven's favorite stuffed toy. Teddy is also going bald because Aven likes to pull his fur out with her teeth. This is the only toy she does this to. When I asked her pediatrician about this he said "kids at this age are a lot like puppies- they like chewing on things". We've rolled out a "kisses not bites" campaign but all that does is get her to kiss him after biting him. Poor Teddy. Hopefully he doesn't lose all his hair before Aven is out of this stage.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Embracing the Wild and Crazy

This is our new backyard:

It's huge- at least three times bigger than our old backyard. It's also completely out of control. There are no less than 10 junk trees, double fencing for no reason whatsoever, random dirt patches, and plenty of evidence of weird do-it-yourself projects from years past that were obviously done with left over materials. When we first moved in I couldn't spend five minutes in the backyard without feeling the crushing weight of work awaiting me in this yard. I have a vision for how I want it to look and it's taken me a couple weeks to come to terms with the fact that my vision of the backyard is going to be years in the making. For now I've decided to enjoy it for what it is:

A place where Aven will happily play on her own for up to an hour and a half while I relax on the patio. If you have kids you know that being able to sit and relax while your kids play for an extended period of time is a miracle directly from heaven.

It's also a place to play with friends. Our old house and yard were so small that we never really invited friends over to play. We've been here two weeks and Aven has already had friends over twice!

And the cherry on top is that Grace loves this yard and that makes me feel happy. There is all sorts of sniffing and exploring to do and (bonus!) there are chipmunks living in the trees which is the dog equivalent of an x-box 360- hours of non-stop entertainment.

I just need to remind myself to take a deep breath and love and enjoy what is right in front of me.