Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Gateway Fountain

One of the things we have been wanting to do this summer is visit the Gateway Mall in SLC with Lena. Yes, shopping would be nice, but we really wanted to go because of the fountain in the main plaza. They call it the Olympic Legacy Plaza and the mall was a part of the urban redevelopment that SLC did for the Winter Games in 2002. The fountain is particularly cool because not only is it in the shape of a snowflake to commemorate the Games but it is also at ground level so kids (and kids at heart) can play in it. We figured that it would be a fun thing for Lena to do, especially with how warm it has been up here, and also since there is nothing remotely like it (to my knowledge) in Utah County. Oh yeah, and it's free.

On the flip side, we really needed a reason to head up to Salt Lake, especially with gas prices the way they are, and yesterday we came up with the perfect excuse. Evan and I decided that we were long overdue for a date night and needed to go out for a good meal. We also decided that Provo was lame and we didn't want to eat at any of the restaurants it had to offer. We actually both independently came up with the same restaurant, which just so happened to be located at the Gateway Mall. We were planing on finding a babysitter, but we both decided that the experience of having Lena crash our long-looked-forward-to meal was far outweighed by the possibility of seeing her have fun in that fountain. So we packed ourselves up in the car, armed with cameras and extra clothes and headed north.

And I am so glad we did.

The meal was good... sadly, we didn't finish our food, which was more a combination of the fact that Lena had had enough and I don't have enough room to eat bowl of cereal let alone a full 3 courses. Lena actually did really well. Usually her limit is a maximum of 30 minutes sitting at the table, but we were there for a good hour and a half before we left the restaurant giving us just enough light to head over to the fountain and let Lena get rid of her excess energy.

I guess I could talk about it, but I think pictures are better.

Needless to say, she had a lot of fun. And she got very wet. She loved being around other kids, even though she was by far the youngest and smallest there, and she ran around like a maniac for the most part. It was really cute. And the best part... she was out cold before we even left the parking lot!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

What A Summer!!

For those of you who we may not have checked in with recently, and even for those of you who we have touched bases with recently, I would like to make one thing very clear. If you asked me how I was doing, or the prolific, "Whatcha been up to?", depending on how well I know you, I would say, "fine", and then field the questions back your way so that I could avoid actually talking about it, or I would scream "AHHHHHHH" and then say fine and be less aggressive in fielding the questions back your way. I will leave it to everyone's interpretive facilities to determine where they might fall on the spectrum.

This has been and will be a summer I will never forget. For more reasons than one. For starters, I changed jobs, committed to a major, (2 of them, actually,) and as a good friend puts it, I am starting to see choices I make really rule out other possibilities. I was fortunate enough to go to New Zealand(!!!!) and spend time with my family that I either haven't met or haven't really spent as much time as I would like with. Needless to say, between the great food by my Mother-in-law, the fun with my family, and the great surf, I felt like a (rather large) kid in a candy store...

Called Raglan, by the way, and the little spec on the peak of the breaking wave over my left shoulder, a surfer... Thanks again to Uncle Terry and the boys for spoiling me and taking me there! Also, disclaimer on the food. Not really Mum's, but as close an approximation to the daily grandeur as I could find in the first three pages of Google Image results.

Were I at a slightly different juncture in my life, and a little richer, I would seriously consider setting up camp there for a while. But, like my wise friend once said... the choices we make now are starting to affect some of our possibilities down the road. For me that means that my second kid will be born! For him, among other things, that he wants to have his first!

Which brings me to my second humongous event of the summer... I'm going to be a daddy!!! Again!!! As you can see on the ticker on the right side of your screen, there are about 34... 33... 32... days left, and it is going way too quickly. If I wasn't ready for Alena to come prancing (see her in the Olympic Fountain above) into our lives, I am definitely less ready for Baby Boy. To complicate things, I get to worry long-distance about how my sweet wife is doing and attempt to make a last-minute dash to get there in time for the birth, while hoping that Oliver's timing doesn't make me miss my final.

Third herculean feat of the summer - remodeling five 950 sq. ft. apartments in 3 weeks, while taking finals, and hoping that my little boy and precious Hannah both make it, healthily, through the month of August. Also, that Lena doesn't kill one or both of them out of jealousy over lost attention.

All in all, I can't begin to describe the amount that I have learned over the past 6 months - year though, and am very happy. Anyone who has a child, more kids than one, has ever gotten married, or just waited for something big before, may be able to understand a little bit of the anxious excitement that I feel right now. Much more than Christmas, or a birthday... a new little one to attempt to teach and to play with and to love!

But even more, the feeling after a long bout with a great boss, a rough semester at school, and a round in life's school of hard knocks, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and its actually quite close. I am excited for the rest of this summer.

Did I mention that the desert where I have chosen to go to school is hotter than Hades right now....?

"How are you doing, Evan?" Just freaking great.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Buttermilk Farm

When we were in New Zealand we determined that it would be a good thing for Lena to go and see some sheep. After all, what better place than NZ to see sheep, right? Sheep outnumber people there 10:1 (special thanks to the hard working people in the NZ government statistics department for clearing that up... don't they have something better to do??)

Lena had previously only had one encounter with livestock when she was no more than a few months old at the Del Mar Fair. Nevertheless, she thoroughly enjoyed herself, and I am sure that if she had have known how to say "Oh wow! WOW!" back then she would have.

So, we decided the time was ripe once more to give the livestock another go. And it was also a nice excuse for Lena to spend some time with her Dad before he left to go back to Provo.

I found a place in Auckland called Buttermilk Farm with pretty good reviews, so we decided to head out there. It was rather an odd place to have a petting and butterfly farm (it was literally right next to the airport) but it seemed to be doing pretty well, and even though it was close to closing time by the time we got there, there were still plenty of people around.

At the Fair we had seen pregnant goats and sheep, and if memory serves me correctly, there was a cow there too. At Buttermilk Farm we saw an assortment of birds (ducks, chickens, little baby chicks that had just hatched... oh and some nasty geese), pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs, 4 week old kittens, goats, brand new kids, sheep (obviously), and some strange looking thing apparently called a Chinese chicken or something which had adopted a normal chick that got abandoned by its mother... kind of weird, but cool too I guess.

As we hoped, Lena had a blast. Lots of pointing and "Oh Wow!"'s and lots of pretending to be braver than she really was when it came to petting some of the bigger animals.

She loved chasing the ducks and chickens around the barn, and couldn't understand why they didn't seem to want to give her a hug when she ran at them. The farmer on duty was pretty relaxed about everything, and let us pull out some of the smaller animals like rabbits from their pens so Lena could play with them (I am pretty sure that would never happen in the States). However, Lena got pretty bored with the rabbits after about 10 seconds... not enough fun. Which was just as well for the poor rabbit we were holding who looked as though he was about to have a coronary.

One of the coolest things about the farm was that 7 days before we got there 4 baby kids were born. Lena loved them, I think probably because they were about the right size to be fun but she was still big enough to feel safe around them. They were supposed to be in a pen that they couldn't get out of, but one of them had a rather adventurous streak and, being so small, had figured out a way to slip out of the pen through the gaps. He would just not stay put, and was determined to see everything and explore the world. Needless to say, he and Lena got on very well.

But, the highlight of the trip, at least for me, Evan, and Grandpa P, was the attack of the geese. Sadly, I didn't manage to get footage of it or even a picture, but it was hilarious! While we were walking away from the main area of the farm to look at some sheep (and some dwarf cows, I think) we caught the interest of two geese. I wouldn't trust a goose as far as I could kick it, much less two geese that looked as though they hadn't had they fair share of people chasing for the day. They trailed behind us at a reasonable distance, but always just close enough to remind us that they were there.

Meanwhile, Evan was busy recounting to me stories of being chased by geese in his childhood, and Lena was wandering off to find more sheep. I guess in that time she either discovered the geese and thought that they were just big ducks that wouldn't run away from her if she tried to hug them, or the geese had been maliciously following us in the hopes that the smallest in our number would break from the pack so they could assert their dominance (I think it was the latter). Before I could do anything I had turned around to see Lena standing there with her hand outstretched whilst two fully-grown geese flapped and ran at her and pecked at her chest, knocking her over before she even had time to react or cry. I had a heart stopping moment where I imagined my daughter being mauled to death by fowl at a petting farm, which quickly turned comical as I thought of the irony and also as I realized that, despite the fact that she had been knocked over and was certainly not enjoying the goose hugs, she was just fine, not hurt, and that the geese were very afraid of my rather much larger and scarier husband. The geese and Lena both learned their lessons, and the rest of us cried fowl play (ha ha!) and had a good long laugh Lena's expense.