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Monthly Archives: April 2008

FrontRunner Fiasco

On Monday night, we decided to teach our children the virtues of mass transit for Family Night. So we loaded everyone up in the old minivan and drove to downtown Salt Lake City. After an interesting dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe (where the kids had no idea who the featured musicians were and the kids mac and cheese meals were $6.50 each, ouch), we went to the Salt Lake Intermodal Hub to catch a ride on the new commuter rail train, FrontRunner, which opened last weekend. I have to admit that part of my motivation was the FREE rides that UTA offered during the first few days of its “grand opening.” The other part of my motivation was the fact that my kids REALLY wanted to ride on the train. So off we went.

The Salt Lake station was packed and we knew that even if we were able to get on the train, we would have no place to sit. So we decided to drive up to the next station in Woods Cross. By the time we got there, the sun had gone down. Then we had a hard time actually getting to the station’s address coordinates. Once we did find it, we parked and ran over to the platform and jumped on the train. It was still very crowded and we made our way to the top level of the double decker train. A nice family let us use two of their seats for our family of six and so Robin and I ended up with two kids on our laps each.

The train was so smooth and quiet that I didn’t even know we had left the station at first. Very cool. And it got going pretty fast, as evidenced by the fact that we were passing cars on I-15 which was right next to us. The only problem was that it was pretty dark so we couldn’t really see anything out the window. Plus it was so crowded and noisy that it wasn’t a particularly pleasant ride. As soon as we arrived at the Layton station, we crossed the platform and boarded the train back to Woods Cross. That train was even more crowded and so we had to sit on the stairs.

It will be interesting to see the continued expansion of mass transit along the Wasatch Front. I think FrontRunner is a great step in that direction as was TRAX. And as the price of gas continues to rise, along with concerns about carbon emissions, hopefully we can change our driving culture to include more efficient mass transit solutions as well.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2008 in Family

 

Southern Utah Trip – Part II

I know you’ve been dying to know what happened on the rest of our trip, so here goes. After spending Sunday and Monday traveling to and enjoying St. George, we loaded up the kids and headed into Zion National Park. We first stopped and watched the IMAX movie called “Zion Canyon – Treasure of the Gods” which was pretty impressive, although it featured a Native American ghost spirit that kind of scared the kids. We rode the shuttle around the park (they don’t let you drive your car in there) and enjoyed lunch at the lodge, along with a 2.5 mile hike to the Emerald Pools (we made it to all three pools). The afternoon got a little chilly, and so we headed back to St. George so the kids could do some more swimming. Robin cooked us up some delicious T-bone steaks for dinner.

The next morning we cleaned and packed up the condo and left for another fun-filled day. We first went back to Zion and enjoyed a very flat hike along the Virgin River at the Temple of Sinawava, which is the last shuttle stop and the gateway to the Zion Narrows, which I hope to hike someday. We also visited Weeping Rock and the Court of the Patriarchs before loading everyone back in the car for a drive through the Zion tunnel along the Mt. Carmel highway. Two hours later, we were watching a video on the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitors’ Center and buying the kids post cards at the gift shop (a very inexpensive souvenir, I recommend it!)

We looked at a couple viewpoints before heading back to Ruby’s Inn where were were staying. We ate dinner in their diner and then got all ready to go swimming, but the pool was closed for cleaning, much to the dismay of the children. So we watched some silly movie on the Disney channel before going to bed. The next morning we got up and visited Bryce Canyon in record time. You see, Bryce is about 9,000 feet above sea level at its highest point, and so it is MUCH colder than its neighbors. We drove to the end of the road and planned to see all the lookouts coming back. The guide said we could plan to spend 15 minutes at each location. Well it was 20 degrees and the wind was blowing like an icy hurricane, so we spent about 15 seconds at each overlook. We didn’t even turn off the car. We’d jump out, run to the lookout spot, ooh and aah, and then run back to the warmth of the van. The kids loved it and at some point I’ll put some video up about our adventures there.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2008 in Trips

 

Southern Utah Trip – Part 1

So I was about to blog about my first week at the bank, but then I realized that I haven’t really written anything about our vacation to Southern Utah last week. So for now, suffice it to say that my first week at the bank was great and I learned A LOT. I think I’m really going to enjoy this job and will learn a ton about the world of banking and the world of business. More on that later.

As for our vacation, it should actually be called a “trip” not a vacation. A vacation is where you get away from so many of life’s frustrations (i.e. children), and a trip is where life’s frustrations are strapped into the back seats of your car, constantly whining, crying, complaining or needing to stop to use the restroom! During our trip, we put 900+ miles on our aging minivan, and although the trip wasn’t perfect, we had a great time together. Here’s a quick recap of the first two days…

Sunday, April 6
We loaded the kids up in the car and pulled away from our house just as General Conference was beginning. Our plan was to travel to St. George (four hours away) while our kids were restrained in their seat belts so they couldn’t get out of listening to conference. It worked pretty well. We had to stop in Nephi for a potty break and then continued on for another hour to historic Cove Fort, which was about five minutes off of I-15 and about 2 hours 15 minutes from our home in Riverton. We ate sandwiches for lunch there before watching a short movie on the history of the fort (built by President Hinckley’s grandfather) and then going on a tour with a senior missionary, Sister Jones. After the tour, Sister Jones asked us for a referral and then took this picture of our family in front of the fort.

We got in the car a little after 2:00 and were ready to listen to the Sunday afternoon session of conference, but the reception in the area was poor and we really couldn’t hear anything. Parley was happy about that since he dreads having to listen to conference. I was disappointed that we couldn’t listen to it, although we were able to pick up President Monson’s closing talk while were were approaching the town of Hurricane. (A few days later I downloaded all the sessions and saved them onto my iPod. We got to listen to the closing session on our drive home, which was very nice.)

We arrived in St. George at about 4:30 and drove to our condo immediately. We stayed in a beautiful two-bedroom condo at the WorldMark resort in St. George. The weather was great, the grass was green and there were leaves on the trees. Parley thought we had left the telestial world and had moved into the terrestrial at least! He kept saying “I love St. George!”

That evening we took a look at the pool, but refrained from swimming in order to better keep the Sabbath day holy. The kids were VERY anxious to get into the water, especially since the pool had a little waterfall. But instead we ate a spaghetti dinner prepared in our condo and just relaxed that evening. Two of my favorite “Mormon” movies were playing on TV, so we enjoyed watching parts of them: “The Other Side of Heaven” and “The Best Two Years.” It seemed to be a good way to end our Sabbath.

Monday, April 7
The next morning we were among the very first to get into the pool, and the kids LOVED it. We swam for a long time and then played air hockey and ping pong in the resort’s rec room. (Ping pong isn’t any fun when your opponent can’t return the ball more than once or twice in a volley — I was chasing the ping pong ball the whole time…)

After lunch, we took the kids to visit the St. George temple, the Visitors’ Center and the sculpture exhibit that I blogged about in an earlier post. It was fun to go there, but the kids got a little tired and so we took them to the Wildlife Museum near the St. George Convention Center, which they seemed to enjoy a lot.

We had dinner at the Cracker Barrel that night and then headed back to the condo for, you guessed it, more swimming! It was a lot of fun. I’ll save my description of our trips to Zion and Bryce Canyon for another post. Stay tuned…

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2008 in Trips

 

Shaving My Beard

Each year, I have this strange desire to grow a beard. I think perhaps it stems from a desire to prove my manliness since I’m not really into moster trucks, hunting or WWF wrestling! It also perhaps relates to my experience playing Tevye in “Fiddler on the Roof” at Hillcrest High School back in 1991. The “papas” were all told to grow beards if they could. As the 17-year-old lead in the play, I was unable to grow a beard, even though several my fellow actors were able to do so. And so each night of the show, I would come in a few hours early and endure an uncomfortable 45-minutes of getting a beard glued onto my chin, piece by piece, so it would look as real as possible. Robyn Mousley, one of the directors, would use this ammonia-smelling latex material that was really gross. The fake beard was itchy and hot, and I did not like it. Oh, if I could only grow my own beard, I thought!

After scene four (the bar scene where Tevye and Lazar Wolf drink “To Life”), my mustache would start to come off because it was soaking wet from the fake vodka (water) I drank in that scene, so I would have to quickly glue it back on with spirit gum! It would dry fairly quickly and get all crusty, just in time for me to go back onto the stage for a conversation with Tzietel and Motel the tailor about their plans for marriage. Talk about having a stiff upper lip!

Anyway, growing a beard has become an annual tradition for me. And I figured that my last week at my old job followed by a week of vacation before beginning my new job at the bank would be the perfect time to grow it. I’ve never before grown a FULL beard for two weeks, and I have to say that it looked pretty good. Robin says she liked it better than the smaller “Van Dyke”-style beard I have grown in years past.

My kids thought it would be fun for me to make a video of myself shaving and then speed it up and set it to music! So for your entertainment purposes, I have included the 1-minute video here. Enjoy!

 
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Posted by on April 16, 2008 in Silly Stuff

 

Reflections of Christ

On Monday, we visited the St. George Temple and spend some time at its Visitors’ Center. They have a display there called “The Healing Power of Christ” which includes about a dozen statues depicting various aspects of the Savior’s life and ministry. We took the tour and listened to our French-Canadian guide tell us about each sculpture. (Our kids would have been happy if it had taken 1/3 of the time, especially since they had a hard time understanding our guide’s accent.) Anyway, the sculptor, Angela Johnson, was a professional opera singer who decided to try her hand at sculpture 10 years ago. Without any lessons, she bought some clay and started using her newfound gift. The resulting artwork is quite beautiful. Click here to see a few examples of her work.

The next morning, I received an email from my cousin Kim, strong suggesting that I check out a fine art photography exhibit called “Reflections of Christ,” a very unusual way to depict the Savior’s life through photographs. The production team organized these photo shoots and used models of the various individuals, including the man who often portrays Christ during the Easter Pageant on the grounds on the Mesa, Arizona temple. I believe the photos and video are on display at the Visitors’ Center there as well. You can view the images in a five-minute video by clicking here. It’s definitely worth the time. You can also visit their website at http://www.reflectionsofchrist.org/.

Those who know me, know that I love the gospel and I love the fine arts. So both of these exhibits were meaningful to me. I love to see the Savior depicted in paintings and music (if it’s done well) and so it is nice to see him depicted in other mediums too. I enjoy seeing images of the Savior displaying a wide range of emotions as in the case of the photograph depicting his joy after being baptized by John in the River Jordan.

In most artwork, his expression is very serious, sometimes even stern. Other times he appears emotionless. I subscribe to the belief that God is NOT without “body, parts or passions” and so he does feel emotions righteously. Christ feels joy and expresses it on his face. He laughs. He feels disappointment when we choose not to follow him. He feels sadness for our suffering. He feels content when we serve one another. The most enduring emotion He feels, of course, is love for each of us. And that love is the emotion I most enjoy seeing depicted in artwork on him.

The scriptures teach us that all things testify of Christ, and I’m grateful for good artwork that bears witness of his divinity. It’s nice to have these kinds of testimonies available to share.

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2008 in Spirituality

 

Thomas S. Monson, New LDS Church President

Yesterday, 13 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in more than 170 countries, had the opportunity to sustain a new Church president. Thomas S. Monson, his conselors in the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were presented to us for symbolic vote in a solemn assembly. When it was my turn to stand as a holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood in the Church, I did so by myself in my living room while watching the meeting on TV. I then sustained the new leaders as prophets, seers and revelators.

Since President Hinckley’s death, I have had a hard time imagining anyone else as the president of the Church. I have been trying to get a personal witness that President Monson is the Lord’s chosen leader for the Latter-day Saints at this time. That witness, given by the power of the Holy Ghost, came to me yesterday as I stood in my pajamas in my living room and quietly raised by hand in a sustaining vote of President Monson. I am extremely grateful for the assurance I received that his is indeed the person whom the Lord has chosen to lead us at this time. Tears filled my eyes during that sacred moment, and I knew that President Monson has been called as the prophet.

Now, that may sound strange to those not of our faith. But nevertheless, it is my testimony that God has restored the fulness of the gospel in our day. In 1820, God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to a young farmboy named Joseph Smith to clarify His true nature and to restore the principles and ordinances of the gospel to the earth, along with priesthood power which had been lost over the previous centuries since the death of Christ’s original apostles. From Joseph Smith down to Thomas S. Monson, there has been an unbroken line of authority. I am grateful for inspired leaders who can help us know God’s will for us today. Their counsel, along with the precious truths found in the Old and New Testaments and modern scriptures like the Book of Mormon, serves as an invalauble resource to guide my path back to God.

Ultimately, I am most grateful for their unwavering testimony of the risen Lord Jesus Christ, which is at the core of all I believe. The life, teachings, example and incomprehensible sacrifice of the Savior is at the very center of Mormonism — everything else is but an appendage to it, according to Joseph Smith. I have an undeniable conviction that Jesus Christ’s atonement has the power to save mankind. It is a gift given freely by Him, our acceptance of which is demonstrated by our willingness to follow Him and keep his commandments. These truths have shaped my life, they have made me want to be a better person, husband, father and friend. God be praised for His matchless gift of his son Jesus Christ!

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2008 in Spirituality

 

Wanna Buy a House?

Well we did it. We put our house in Riverton up for sale on Monday. We met with our agent (a good friend of mine from high school) and went over all the paperwork. Then he walked out and put a “For Sale” sign out in front of our home. That was weird. It really sank in at that time. Later that afternoon, it showed up on the MLS. You can see it by going to http://www.utahrealestate.com/785729. And we’ve already had a couple of showings…

On Tuesday, our ward’s primary president emailed me to ask if it was an April Fool’s joke. Indeed, it is not. We’re really are planning to do this. We’ve been thinking about it for a couple of years now and decided that once our fourth child was old enough to sit in a highchair, we will have officially outgrown our kitchen area, and consequently, our home. We’ve been in this Riverton home for nearly eight years now, and we have loved it. We’ve made significant improvements to the home and have grown in MANY ways while living here. But it’s now time for us to move on to a home with more room and a different floorplan.

I have to admit, the whole process of selling our house and buying a new one is, at once, exciting and frustrating. And we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface. In the coming weeks I’m sure both Robin and I will blog about our adventures in real estate. I just hope we can find something we really like without spending more than we can afford.

Note: one big positive so far has been how clean we’ve kept the house in order to be ready to show it on short notice. I’m hoping we’ll just get into the habit of keepinig it clean and clutter-free so that we can always enjoy it!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2008 in Uncategorized