Happy New Year everyone! As we conclude 2011 and begin 2012, I wanted to share some of the blessings our family has received over the past year.
In January, I decided it was time to get in shape for good. Over the course of the year, I trained for an ran my first marathon (the Utah Valley Marathon in June), participated in the Wasatch Back Ragnar relay race (one week after the marathon) and completed P90X (technically I still have a couple of weeks left). I went on several hikes and golfed a number of times. I’ve found that while I am not passionate about sports like most people, I am passionate about being active and enjoying the outdoors. During my marathon training and hikes, I discovered multiple trails and interesting paths. Over the last three months, my dog Buddy and I have been joined by my neighbor, Bob Freeze, as a jogging companion. I enjoy his company a lot as he’s a better conversationalist than Buddy.
I achieved the goal of losing 40 pounds of fat this year and have been working diligently to maintain that weight loss. And while exercise is an important part, cutting out/down on food that makes me fat (you know, the stuff that tastes good) is essential. My brothers Aaron and Nate and I made a pact to keep it off or pay severe penalties. Each Friday morning for the past year, we’ve reported our weigh, body fat percentage and waist measurement. It’s been a great system to keep us from going back. Collectively, we’ve lost 150 pounds and we’re determined not to find them again.
My work at US Bank continues to go well. In April, I will have been there for four years as a business banking officer. It’s a challenging, rewarding job that I both love and hate. As a business development guy (read: salesman), I am constantly having to court new business clients. When I get them to move their relationship to US Bank and/or do a building loan or line of credit for them, it feels great. When I get rejected or when I can’t get the bank’s credit analysts to approve a loan, it feels terrible. It’s all part of the job, I guess and I try to balance the highs with the lows.
In March, I was called to serve as the ward clerk of the newly formed Traverse Mountain 9th Ward with Bishop Robert Phelps. It’s been a great blessing for me to be able to serve in that capacity and I’ve learned a lot. And while I’m not as passionate about paperwork and statistical reports as I am about teaching, leading and working with the youth (as I’ve done for many years), I am enjoying learning this side of church administration. It has been a blessing to watch a new ward form and a new bishopric grow together in unity and love.
I’ve been blessed to be able to continue my pursuit of the arts. My acapella group, BLEND, gave 16 performances throughout the year and we’ve distributed a few hundred of our CDs, which we released last year. If you’d like to listen to any of the nine tracks, visit www.blendsingers.com.
Early in the year, I auditioned for Lehi Arts Council’s production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” and landed the role of Jack. We performed the show in a little theater in downtown Lehi during the last week in April. I loved being a part of this show and really enjoyed working with my fellow actors. The part was difficult as I had to memorize nearly 30 minutes of just my dialogue. If you’re interested in watching a couple of minutes from the closing scene to hear my British accent, I’ve posted a clip on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnseib5jFxo. You can also read more about it on my blog. Just scroll down for pictures and video.
My family is doing great. Robin and I agreed that it was time for her to pursue a second degree in addition to her English degree from BYU. So she began studying Interior Design at LDS Business College. It has created some challenges with scheduling, but with James in pre-school now and the older kids all in school all day, we felt like now is the right time. She’ll be going part time for the next few years with classes in downtown Salt Lake 2 or 3 days/evenings per week. She’s really enjoying the subject matter and looks forward to being able to channel her passion for beautifying things in a profitable way. She’s extremely artistic and talented, and I know she’ll do great! She also was recently called as a counselor in the primary presidency and that has created new opportunities for her to grow and to serve.
My oldest son Parley turned 12 in May and was ordained a deacon. He’s only two inches shorter than me now (he’s already passed up Robin) and his voice has changed. He’s dealing with middle school challenges like girls and acne, and he’s loving this new era of his life. He enjoys karate (he’s testing for his yellow belt this week), band and drama. He’s improved a lot in the piano this year and plans to start composing music.
Brianna (10) is now in 5th grade and always seems to busy herself with some art project or other. She’s more quiet and reserved than our other children and always seems to be reading a Harry Potter book, playing a computer game or drawing a picture. Brianna recently began taking ballroom dance classes offered at Traverse Mountain Elementary, and it has been fun to watch her progress socially and artistically.
Lily (7) continues to be our fireball with lots of energy and passio. She is very sociable, very curious, very enthusiastic and often exasperating. She loves to write stories and enjoys playing with her brother James, who is our brown-eyed caboose that we all just adore. He is constantly saying the cutest things. He’s had to adjust in some ways to Robin’s school schedule and being shuffled around from pre-school to babysitters, but for the most part he’s done well.
As a family, we’re now fully settled into our new house. It’s hard to believe we’ve been here for 18 months now. We’re slowly making improvements to the house to make it more like a home. Robin sewed curtains for two of our rooms (the rest are still bare) and painted one room a cheerful shade of yellow. We upgraded the furniture in our great room with the purchase of a large entertainment center and some new sofas. We also worked hard on the landscaping around our house by re-doing our rock wall, installing a stone staircase to more easily access the upper level and planting nearly 40 shrubs and a few trees. Little by little, our house on the hill feels more like home. We love the neighborhood and have made many great new friends here.
Finally, we took our first out-of-state vacation in three years just last week. On the day after Christmas, we drove to Palm Springs and enjoyed 70 degree weather. After a couple of days, we drove to Long Beach to play on the beach and visit the Aquarium of the Pacific and the Queen Mary. We ended the trip with a visit to Hollywood and a stop in Las Vegas. We drove 1,750 miles (25-30 hours) over five days, but we had a great time.
We feel extremely blessed by our Heavenly Father at this time of year. We’ve had our share of challenges too, but we try to focus on the positive and remember what’s most important. We count ourselves blessed to have so many friends and family members that support us. We love you and wish you a very happy and prosperous 2012.