Monday, June 11, 2018

It's June! Already!

This year has been a whirlwind of a year so far - first with school and one of the more exhausting semesters I've had in my time as a student - then with about five weeks of travel related weekends - from the wedding in California, our anniversary, and then our time in Peru. It's been great. And while there is another wedding this weekend (Thomas and Casey!), that's pretty much it until the first week of August as far as extra busy-ness is concerned. Yay. That's about six weeks of "normal" that I'll be very happy to have. It's easy to just look forward to the big stuff and sort of dread the inbetween, but that inbetween is what makes it possible for us to do those bigger things - not just financially and logistically, but mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

But, unsurprisingly, I'm still planning out what I can get done in that time! 

In the meantime, stay tuned for some Peru posts in the near future! I'll probably do them as daily posts from the trip. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

Pharah - One Year!

Yesterday (5/6/18) was the one year anniversary of our adoption of Pharah! She was an unplanned adoption, and it wasn't Peaches' best day (car ride, shots, and a new friend all in one day). But she was so little, and so cute, and so pathetic! And Peaches didn't immediately hiss at her (though there was much hissing later to come).

She was so little!

Brandon wasn't sure at first, and with good reason as cats aren't always happier with other cat companions. But it seems very clear to us that it was ultimately a very good decision. For us, for Pharah, and for Peaches. We're all happier because we have little energetic Pharah in our lives.

She (and Peaches) love the caves we make in the blankets. 

Do we have to clean up more puke because of Pharah will eat her food more quickly than her body can process it? Yes.

She likes being close to us! Maybe too close...

Do we have to clean out a synergistic amount of fecal matter because of Pharah? Yes. (Seriously, one cat plus another cat equals far more than two cats worth of poo.)

Are our mornings now plagued with the mews and purrs of a little motor trying to understand why, when we're clearly awake and on our phones, our first priority wasn't to get up and distribute a small amount of wet food? Yes, yes we do.

She also likes to be close to Peaches. 

Do we now facilitate as roadways in the bed to the window? Yes - though Pharah is much lighter than Peaches, so this one's not so bad. And seeing Brandon try and sit bolt upright on multiple occasions when Pharah has jumped down on the pillow covering the top of his face/head made it totally worth it.

She has a "spot" on the couch that is mostly hers. 

Does Peaches have her own shadow? Yes. Pharah loves Peaches so much. She'll follow us around when we're up and about, but she also loves to do whatever Peaches is doing.

She likes to be the center of attention. 

Does Peaches often get tackled (unsolicited and unwanted) by Pharah? Yes.

Does Peaches still own the bed? Yes - though she will share it once and awhile with Pharah (though not really with us - we share it with her and not the other way around).

Does Peaches have to share access to the garage, litter box, water in the tub, food, toys, etc? Yes.

She does not like the harness. 

Does Peaches still rule the outside world? Pretty much. Pharah will make belly crawl excursions out into the wild, but as soon as you even look at her, she'll race back into the garage, if not all the way up the stairs to the house. If Peaches comes across Pharah outside, it is one of the few times when Peaches seems legitimately pleased to see Pharah.


Does Peaches even like Pharah at all?! Yes! They'll frequently sit close to one another - whether on the carpet or on the bed. And there are lots of baths - typically mostly with Peaches bathing Pharah. Pharah aggressively seeks out these baths from Peaches, although Peaches will sometime pin her down if she doesn't feel adequately finished. Does this often devolve into the laziest squabbles/play-fighting? It sure dies.

Her "spot". 

Is Pharah a crazy leaping squirrel? It sure seems like it.

Constantly curious. 

Does Pharah wiggle her little bum when she's about to pounce? Yep. Does she make the cutest little chatter when she spots new prey (mostly bugs/the red dot)? Yep!

Peaches Cuddles.

Does she want to play ALL the time? Yep!

Hidden under the covers. 

Is she the best roller that there ever was? We're pretty sure she is.

Playing! Fighting!


Is she a sun baby? Definitely.

These little fluff balls are completely wonderful. They've made our lives so great. We love them so much. And while we miss them while we're gone, it makes us so much happier to know they have each other. And while they definitely keep each other company, they're still pretty excited to see us when we come home. :)

Always in the windows. 

Train Through The Mountains

I finally feel like I have a little bit of room in my brain for something besides school and work! And that is such a good feeling. 

To celebrate, I finished off my second class final Thursday night by going home, finishing packing up, Ubering to the train station, (waiting a little longer than planned for the train to arrive - about 90 minutes late, putting it's arrival closer to 1:00 AM), and then taking the night train West. 

When we'd originally made plans to travel out to California for my cousin Carley's wedding, I'd first looked at flights that left Thursday evening. But with that final scheduled for that evening, there really wasn't anything late enough. Then, in passing someone mentioned the idea of taking the train. And when I looked into it, the timing was perfect. Would it take longer (and cost about the same) than just hoping on a flight Friday morning? Yes. But would it be a new adventure? Totally!

When the train finally did arrive, we got on and our small sleeper cabin (literally a bunk bed with a door - no extra room) was already set up for us. Before we headed to bed, the car attendant told us and then reiterated at least twice that breakfast was at 6:30 AM, and that it was much better to get up early as that rest of the trip would pass quickly, and that once she made up our beds into seats in the morning, she didn't recommend going back to bed. All of this information at almost 1:00 AM. 

If we'd been less tired and thought it through a bit more, we would have asked her what the range for breakfast was. We'd both have slept a little longer. But as it was, I woke up to the beautiful sunrise and then around 6:30 AM (7:30 AM by our biological clocks), headed to breakfast with Brandon. Only later did we realize that breakfast started at 6:30 AM, but went until almost 10:00 AM. So we had breakfast and came back to our room and ended up sleeping (somewhat less comfortably than when our beds were made) off and on until closer to lunch time. 

That would be our only real complaint for the duration of the train, though (aside from it unavoidable arriving a little late). Generally, it was wonderful. We were able to sleep, play games, watch movies, look out the window, and walk around as much or as little as we wanted to, with the door shut for privacy or the door open for a little more air flow. When we went to breakfast/lunch, we were always seated with someone else and had lovely short conversations (first with an elderly gentleman on business and then a man closer to our age who was headed to Sacramento for a game). And the food was decently good, if not incredible. We even had a stow away who'd hoped on the train at some point during the trip and jumped off close to when we arrived in Sacramento (bringing the train to an abrupt stop before we proceeded). 

Sunrise on the train. 

The trains pass so closely to one another!

Generally a beautiful forested/mountainous view.
We arrive in Sacramento around 3:00 PM and quickly caught Uber to the airport where we got a rental car and headed for Santa Rosa (about a two hour drive). As we got closer to Santa Rosa, to avoid traffic we ended up taking the road through the Sonoma Valley - and I'm pretty sure we caught it at the greenest and most beautiful time of the year. It was stunning, even with the clear and large fire damage from November. This damage was evident pretty much everywhere we went, but it really did little to lessen the beauty.

Around 6:30 PM we arrived at Steve and Brielle's home in Santa Rosa to have dinner with them. When we'd realized that our AirBnB was in Santa Rosa and made the connection to that being where Steve and Brielle lived, we immediately made plans to at least have dinner with them that evening before we spent the rest of our time there with family. It was a lovely dinner with excellent company.

From there we drove straight up to Triple S Ranch, near Calistoga, where Carley and family were hosting a rehearsal BBQ. It's a property in the middle of the mountains/hills there and is even more removed from much of the bustle of the area than the Sonoma and Napa valleys. And it's incredibly beautiful - not only the grounds and scenery, but the buildings.

So many hugs! It was so good to see much of my extended family - many of whom I rarely get to see as we're all spread out across the country. The BBQ was delicious and would have been even better if we hadn't just had another delicious meal. We stayed until it was late and then headed back down into Santa Rosa to the comfortable AirBnB that my parents had rented. It was a very unassuming home from the outside, but quite comfortable and roomy inside. And a hot tub outside! We slept very well there.

In the morning Carina and I went for about a three mile walk following the little river/creek trail close to where we stayed. Very beautiful morning, chilly enough for a jacket. When we got back to the house everyone else was starting to get up and we all got ready and headed over to the Spinster Sisters for breakfast. It was delicious! I had some sort of Granola Waffle while Brandon got a yummy Eggs Benedict. And some very mild buy good hot chocolate. All of the food was lovely. Really, a theme throughout or quick visit was that everything was unassumingly beautiful, from the food to the view, to the company.



After breakfast we headed back to the house and played games for a little while before heading back to Triple S Ranch.

Decor in our home - pretty much spot on. 
It was lovely weather, neither too hot nor too cool, but with a slight breeze (occasionally gusty). We did have a little while during dinner that the sun just wouldn't drop in the sky, but other than that, it was very nice. 

We arrived and had some cool drinks and then headed down to the big tree under which Carley and Ryan would be married. This tree, aside from being incredible to look at, was the perfect canopy and sun shade. Carley and Ryan had a lovely ceremony. When it was over, we headed back to the house/outer buildings and had more drinks and delicious small edibles until dinner time.

We like to take photos! 

Picture courtesy of my mom!

Dinner was yummy - though I don't think I ever felt not full through the rest of the evening - despite a good amount of dancing and jumping up and down.

The too sunny moment - we took turns with my sunglasses. 

Our only picture with Carley, the bride. She was radiant! 
The fires were so close, but didn't quite reach this property. 

A beautiful tree to be married under! 
And in the evening after we'd wrapped up dancing, we headed back to the house for a few more games and then off to bed! And then early departures in the morning as everyone headed to their respective airports. The drive back was equally beautiful to the drive there and we were sad to say our goodbyes, but (as always) excited to see our fluffy beasts.

Kyle didn't get a picture with me when he stopped at our home in SLC, so we made up for it in Santa Rosa!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

2018: Notes to Self - 2

Note to Self: No more hibernating in the winter. I know it is cold. I know all you want to do is curl up under the covers or by the fire. I'm not saying you have to go running - or even that you have to do anything outside where it is cold. But, seriously, yoga a few times a week would be a good idea. Keep the muscles long so that when running season starts, you don't hate yourself for being lazy for months.

Friday, February 2, 2018

2018: Notes to Self - 1

Note to self: Attempt to have only one late late evening class a week. Last fall, you had two classes, but they met back to back on Mondays. So, while that made for very long Mondays (work from 7-4, class from 4-10), it was only once a week. This semester, you have the same number of classes/credits, but more contact hours. The result is three days where you're at work by 9:00 AM, and don't get home until about 10:00 PM. And even though you're getting in later to work, and even though you have an hour between work and class, that late late return home will kill you slowly. Not just on the days that you have class that late, but in trying to squeeze recuperation time into the limited time you have available on other evenings of the week and the weekend. Even though you really enjoy both of these classes, unless you can sort your schedule out to better balance two within one week, one at a time might be a better idea.

Related note to self: As seen from the previous semester and the beginning of this new semester, even when taking classes for fun, you will not have the time or energy you expect to have for reading. Plan accordingly.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2018! Resolutions!

Hey! It's January 2nd! 2018!

Given that the last few months have been essentially empty of posts, I'd say a day late isn't too bad. As usual, I've made goals for the 2018 year, most of which I'll post here.

But first! How did 2017 go?

Well, these were my 2017 goals:

1.) Go to the gym once a week. We have a fairly pricey climbing gym membership that we used fairly well throughout the year, but really slowed down with in the last few months. I'd like to try and go climbing at least once a week and try harder to use our free-friend days. Well, this one is hard to say. I'd guess I got close to this, but I honestly stopped keeping track. I may have finally learned at least a temporary lesson to avoid daily, weekly, or monthly goals, looking instead at specific end goals.
2.) I'd like to try and go running (even just a mile) at least once a week. Definite nope. Rough at the beginning, rough at the end, but incredibly consistent in the middle when training for my half marathons. 
3.) 30 burpees as least once a week! I think that is more realistic than pushups every day. Another nope. I hate burpees. 
4.) Cook at home at least once a week (a planned meal). This is pretty much the same as last year, but I'm going to keep it as a goal. I'm thinking one intentional meal (not mac n' cheese - which is a far too easy fallback option for us - too easy and delicious!). Ehh, close(ish) on this one. Did well at the start and through the middle, with some missing pieces there near the last quarter. Weeks where we literally never had any idea what we were going to have for dinner because we were both too exhausted to meal plan. 
5.) Read 52 books this year. I'm (secretly) hoping for a much higher outcome, but I'm going to aim a little lower this year. That's approximately one a week - should be very doable. Done and done. Somewhere around 75 for the year. Not particularly noteworthy, but not bad either. 
6.) Sew one new article of clothing. I like sewing. I want to sew better. Perhaps I need to take a sewing class... Full win on this one. Not only did I sew multiple new projects, but I took two sewing related classes! So excited to make progress on long term goals like this!
7.) Go dancing at least four times. I know this sounds pathetic, but we utterly failed at it last year and that makes me sad. I'm sad to say that we failed on this one. I think we went...once? It just hasn't been a priority. 
8.) One slot canyon. We missed it this year, but I still really want to do it. Didn't do this one - again! We'll eventually get around to it...but they're not going anywhere, so I'm not too worried. 
9. ) I'm going to aim for two solid half marathons this year. Three!
10.) One new mountain! (I love having this goal every year.) We climbed some mountains we'd climbed before, but no new ones this year. 
11.) No impulse sugar purchases. Or, in other words, only buy treats for specific purposes where they will be consumed by multiple persons. Also, perhaps consider the idea of trying to buy foods that are in the single digits as far as dietary sugar per serving is concerned. Yeah. I'm pretty sure I'd forgotten entirely about this one. 

So, not the most successful of years as far as these goals were concerned, but not terrible, either. It was a good year. Not overly eventful, but good. Our lives are simple, but we have everything we need and have ambition for exciting new things to come.

On to 2018! Several of the first goals are alternate versions of military PT requirements, but I think that they're pretty good indicators of overall fitness, so I'm going to give them a try.

1.) Try and improve running pace to 7:00 to 7:20 minute mile for 1.5 to 2.0 miles.
2.) 47 pushups in 60 seconds.
3.) 75 situps in 60 seconds.
4.) 5 pullups (from dead hangs and with good form).
5.) Run one half marathon aiming for a PR of 1:40 (that's a 7:38 pace...we'll see).
6.) Learn to safely lead climb outside. We've done some of the training for this, but we're still not fully comfortable. But this is a priority to me, as it is a skill that will vastly widen what options we have available to us.
7.) Climb one new mountain (aiming for the top of Huayna Picchu above Machu Picchu!).
8.) Get to Level 3 in Aerial Silks and Aerial Hammock.
9.) Read at least 52 books.
10.) Create at least one article of clothing from my own design.
11.) Complete between two and six additional sewing classes.

They're short and sweet, but all highly measurable. No daily or even weekly goals. No food related goals. And while there are some less formed goals that are closer to those things in my head, I think the things that are listed above are all more realistic and more likely to happen. We'll see how it goes!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Richard Ervin McCloud

Otherwise known as Dick or Pop!

I wouldn't say that I knew Pop very well, though we were able to visit him many times over the years since I first met Brandon. Fortunately, our proximity to where they lived was never very far, so any excuse for us to be in St. George to see Shauna, Duane, and Angie was also an excuse to see Theola and Dick.

I was particularly touched that they were able to make the effort to journey not only up to our wedding in Logan, but also to Alabama to celebrate with us there. We'll miss Pop. We love him.

His obituary from Serenity Funeral Homes:
Ivins, Utah – Richard Ervin (Dick) McCloud, age 88, passed away on September 5, 2017 in the Southern Utah Veteran’s Home of complications from a stroke and pneumonia. He was born March 11, 1929 in Bingham, Utah to Sarah Luella Ottesen and Henry Ervin McCloud who preceded him in death in 2000 and 1932 respectively. 
Dick grew up in Spanish Fork and Salt Lake City, Utah, when life was simpler. His father was a diesel mechanic and was killed in an accident on the job when he was three, so he relied on family as he grew up. He spent a lot of time with cousins after chores were done. He married Theola Butler (from Cardston, Alberta, Canada) on October 16, 1951, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Cardston, Alberta, Canada Temple. He served In the United States Navy as a communications specialist and was very proud of his service. He was a neon sign electrician for a number of years and worked his way up in civil service at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana. He retired as the superintendent over all maintenance on the base. He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he and Theola served a mission in the Mexico City Temple. They also served in the St. George, Utah, Temple. After retirement, they spent seven years working as campground hosts/area managers for the forest service. He loved the beauties of nature and was an avid fisherman and hunter. He and his sweetheart enjoyed the fun and friendship of square dancing for more than 20 years.  
Dick is survived by his wife Theola, and two daughters: Shauna (Duane) Woodmansee and Tanya (BJ) Johnston, six grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. 
The family will be forever grateful to the Southern Utah Veteran’s Home and Zion’s Way Home Health & Hospice for their tenderness and kindness during the last weeks of his life. 
Services will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 in the LDS Heritage Chapel, 290 E 1060 S, Ivins, Utah. A visitation will be held at 12:00 Noon and a Celebration of Life will begin at 1:00 PM. Dick will be interred in the Ivins City Cemetery with full military honors.  
Online obituary can be viewed at where memories and photos can be shared. 
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Disabled American Veterans at
Shauna and Tanya put together a wonderful funeral service where many memories and stories were shared, followed by an excellent tribute graveside service. It was personal and lovely. I'm so glad we could be there.