Friday, May 29, 2009

Hints of Something Else

Those of you who know me, know I am not a religious person, but I do like to think there is something bigger than me out there. Ever since my dad passed away I have seen hints of that something bigger. There are times when I simply know he is still with me. This was one of those times.
Things have been pretty hectic lately. School has been stressful, and Jason and I are trying to plan a wedding and find a home. The other day I was at the Sugarhouse Petco picking up some food and such for the kids, when I decided to stop by Old Navy. I walked in and saw a table full of t-shirts with different fish designs and started sifting through. My dad was crazy about fish, especially seahorses. I had a hard time finding anything in my size and was about to walk away when I felt a shirt fall on my foot. I reached down to pick it up and found a large seahorse design sitting there in my size. Slightly startled, I grabbed it and headed for the dressing room. At that moment the words "Just go back to the places where we used to go, and I'll be there" rang out on the intercom. Of course it was just one of the many 80s songs programmed in to Old Navy's music that day, but it still got to me.
Long-story-short, I bought the shirt and maybe it'll replace that seahorse tattoo I was planning on. Maybe.......

Friday, May 22, 2009

Old but fun

This video is from a couple semesters ago. My Math 1050 teacher, Cindy Soderstrom, was a lot of fun. She constantly had great ideas on how to make math fun and easy to relate to. We did a lot of problems that had to do with cows so Cindy brought this little guy to class one day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Catching up IIII: The Utah Real Estate Challenge

When Spring semester started, one of my marketing teachers told our class about a competition sponsored by the University of Utah called the Utah Real Estate Challenge. The competition entailed developing some type of real estate proposal in Utah. The prize money was $20,000. He said if we entered this contest he would give us points that could be used to supplement other assignments in the class. He went around the class and asked if we thought we wanted to enter the competition or simply go along the regular track. It was an easy choice for me; The possibility of $20,000 or $0.........No question!

My team mates and I chose to propose the restoration of one of Salt Lake City's beautiful historic buildings. We selected the Crandall Building because of its history, its location, and mainly because our marketing teacher knew the owner. It was exciting to learn about the extensive history of the building and Salt Lake City as well. I, as I'm sure my team mates did, became very attached to this building and its very gracious owner Mr. Robert Crandall.

When we got to the finals we were ecstatic. It was a big deal for students in their 1st year at a community college to do so well against U of U and BYU students; many of whom were graduate students. Six teams advanced to the finals and those who did not win were still given $2,000. We worked hard and in the end, unofficially placed 2nd (we were told by one of the competition organizers that this was so). Winning certainly would have been nice, but I wouldn't trade the experience for all the world. I met many amazing people along the way. I would like to say a special thank you to our teacher Jeff Morrow. I would also like to thank Bob Moore and Vasilios Priskos.

Early Photos of the Crandall Building

These intricate carvings can be found everyone on the building
The Crandall Building in 2009 with City Creek development in the background

City Creek Promises to bring much attention to this area

Catching up III: I'm Getting Married

One of the hardest things about losing my dad was realizing he wouldn't be there to walk me down the aisle if I ever got married again. Gaining the closeness we had in his later years made it important for him to be a part of that. After my first botched effort at marriage, I also hoped that the man I might spend the rest of my life with would have the class and respect to ask my father first. When losing my father became a real concern, I realized this would likely never happen. Jason and I had talked about getting married someday but never to any serious degree. I spent many nights crying while my dad was in the hospital, thinking about all the things in my life that I so badly wanted to share with him.

In January, Jason had a waitress at Settebello deliver a black envelope to me on one of our date nights. Inside was a letter stating that I was to be ready at 6:00pm, on Feb 13th, wearing a black dress, and to bring my skeleton key (an antique key Jason gave me a week into our relationship with a very long story itself). Friday the 13th came with eager anticipation. Jason had made such big deal of it that I couldn’t help but guess at what the evening might be like. Mom I went shopping for a new black dress and she lent me her pearls for the evening. Thursday night Jason and I were settling in when he noticed an odd puffiness to Stigma’s ear. I called the vet who said it was an ear hematoma and that we could wait till morning but she’d have to have surgery. So early the next morning I took poor Stig to the hospital. Jason was a nervous wreck the whole day. I thought surely he’d want to cancel our date. Stigma is his life. She got through the surgery fine but had a tight bandage on her little ear.

Stigma with her bandaged ear

That night I was ready at 6:00pm, waiting for him to walk in the door and take me to dinner. At 6:05 there was a knock at the door. I thought to myself “How cute. He’s being formal.” I opened the door to a man in a suit who said “Ma’am, your limo is here.” Jason was not in the limo. My heart pounding and mind racing I figured Jason would be waiting somewhere at a restaurant. The limo drove in circles for a moment. I thought he was trying to keep me from guessing where we were going. I found out later he was just lost but it added to the whole experience.
After a moment the driver stopped at the Masonic Temple (Jason’s a Mason and the temple here is amazing!) and said he would wait for me. I walked in and our friend Chris gave me an envelope and said inside was my pass. Another friend, Rick, took me upstairs to the “Gothic Room”, which is my favorite. I was told to knock once and a voice from inside said “Enter.” I walked in to see two more of our friends, Robert and Michael, standing behind a podium in the dimly lit room, wearing tuxes. An antique box with a heart shaped lock sat on the podium. Robert asked for the pass and my key and matched my key up to an outline on black paper, then gave me a smaller key in exchange that opened the box. Inside was a green paper heart with directions to our next location, Liberty Park, and another pass.

The SLC Masonic Temple

We arrived at the North East corner(the significance of the ne corner is that all buildings are started at the ne corner) where our friend Tony was waiting with a heart shaped box. Inside the box was a card with instructions to go to the Castle Creek Inn, ask the front desk for a package, and walk up to the room matching the keys in the package. The whole time I was in the limo I was so anxious that I couldn’t speak and my hands were shaking. I walked into the CCI and asked for the package. The woman handed me a box of Ethel M’s Chocolates (we fell in love with these in Vegas) and the room key. I walked up the stairs and placed one of the two keys in the door, my hands still shaking. It wouldn’t turn. I quickly pulled the key out and used the other which worked. Jason was inside on one knee surrounded by 80 or so little candles. He held out an elaborately decorated frog box(how cool) and told me to lift the nose. Inside was a ring and he asked “Will you marry me?” I said “Of course” and then he pointed to a camera that had been taping the whole event.

The Castle Creek Inn at night

Our room, the Romeo and Juliet Suite

The view from our room

We then took the limo to Tuscany (one of my favorite Italian restaurants), where dinner was fabulous and we had and amazing chocolate, hazelnut tart for dessert.

One of the dining rooms at Tuscany

When we returned to the Castle Creek Inn, he told me an amazing story. When my father was home on hospice care a few days before he passed away, Jason had called my mother and asked if he could come up to Park City and talk to my parents. My dad was very weak and not able to speak much at this point. Jason told them how he had been wanting to talk to them for a while, but just hadn’t been able to find the right time to do it. He told them that he wanted to ask them for their permission to marry me. With the very little strength he had, my father stated “nothing would make me happier.” I of course burst into tears hearing this. Dad loved Jason and that meant the world to me. Mom wrote down the whole story also and gave it to me for Valentines Day. It was fun hearing Jason tell his version and then seeing mom’s.

Jason trying to make me laugh as I told my family the story of our evening

We’ve been together for over two years now. I can’t picture my life without him. I’m so excited to spend the rest of my life with him!

Catching up II: My Dad

It’s taken me a while to be able to write a few words about my father. I guess I just didn’t want to have to actually accept that he’s gone. As the days go by it becomes more and more obvious though he’s not just back in the bedroom sleeping late again. There are moments when I come across something I’d want to share with him and I think “I need to show this to dad” or “I need to take dad here” and then it hits me I can’t. Even though these moments are hard I feel lucky to have them. As many of you know my history with my father is not entirely rosy. We spent years at odds and there were times in my life when I probably wouldn’t have wanted to share anything with him. I am in glad in the later years that we were able to form a strong bond and enjoy each other’s company. We spent many afternoons watching funny movies and enjoying take out from one of our favorite restaurants. Setting up his little aquarium together was a lot of fun and his excitement when I found Bronwyn, his feline companion, made me very happy.

My father passed away December 17th, 2008 in his home, surrounded by Matt & John, my mother, and myself. We were sad my third brother Mark could not be there.

It has been a long hard road. Dad had been sick for many years. First colon cancer, then heart surgery and for the last few years with symptoms that left every one of his many doctors at a total loss for any sort of explanation as to the cause. He even attended the Mayo Clinic without success. Regardless of the pain he felt, he just kept pushing through and I suppose I had almost come to believe he would never leave us.

It was during my weekly visits that I started to notice something new. After a while, dad didn't eat much of the food I would bring up for our hang out sessions. He said his stomach hurt too much. We both have always had stomach problems so other than quickly mentioning it to my mom, I didn't give it much thought.

On Monday, December 1st, my mom called to tell me that she had taken dad to the emergency room for a stomach ache the night before. He said it felt like his stomach was exploding. I told a few people that day that I was so used to getting that call that I didn’t really worry much about it anymore. I added that one of these days it was going to be serious and I wouldn’t take it as such until it was too late.

A few days after dad was admitted to the hospital, test results showed he had stage four pancreatic cancer. Doctors said he would have six months at most. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How unfair that someone could completely survive the hell of one cancer only to years later be diagnosed with an entirely new one?! I tried my best to push through finals week with this on my brain. My teachers were very supportive and I wouldn’t have been able to do as well as I had if they had not been there for me.

By the time I got to the hospital to see him he could barely speak. He slept most of the time but would intermittently open his eyes and smile. Sometimes he would look at me and start talking as if everything were suddenly fine but a few words into the sentence he would form an expression as if someone had shocked him and his words would trail away. His lips would still move but there was no sound. Then he would be asleep again. Mom put him on the phone once when I was at home and he tried to speak, but I could barely understand him. The only thing that came out clear was the words “When I’m gone.” I stopped him and said “Dad please don’t say that. We’re going to have lots of time together.” Now I wish I knew what he was going to say. I was just convinced that we had more time, that this would be another one of those scary times that he’d push through. After that night he would smile when I came into the room and mumble “I love you” when I left, but we never had a real conversation again.

There were a few moments that we will always talk about fondly that I’d like to mention here. My dad wasn’t able to eat or drink on his own in the final days so we would take turns giving him water through a syringe. One such time my brother John was giving him some water but apparently too slowly and dad suddenly reached up, grabbed john’s shirt, yanked him down and yelled out “WATER.” Another time my mom was giving him water the same way and he kept mumbling something that sounded like “fear.” She asked him if he was saying fear and he mustered all the strength in his body to utter the words “Bottle of beer.” After that we alternated syringes full of water with syringes of good beer. My favorite story though was one night when mom and dad were alone and she decided, on the advice of a family member, to tell him about how much he meant to her and such. After a moment he said “Slow down.” She laughed and said “I wish I had your sense of humor.” He replied, “That would be nice.”

These combined with a lifetime of fond, and some not so fond, memories of dad will always stay with us. They are what made him who he was.

Catching up I: Annual Disneyland trip 2008

Time has really gotten away from me this semester. A lot has happened in the last 6 months! With finals over and finally a moment to spare, I figured I would take the time to catch up.

In 2006, Lauren, Alanna, and I started the annual fall Disneyland trip. In 2008, I brought Jason along (for a surprise birthday present) and his friend Erik met up with us for one day as well. Lauren had her new little addition, Malcolm, and Lauren's mom, Nadine, came.

No matter how old I get Disneyland still seems magical, especially at night. The first year we had dinner in the Blue Bayou (the restaurant in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride). We got to sit right by the water. Way cool.

Alanna, Nadine, Lauren, Malcolm, me, Jason, & Erik

I waited outside with Malcolm while the crew went on this ride. Yes I know I am a huge wuss

Jason and I in California Adventure

Little Malcolm and me. He was so fun!

Sleepy Jason

I love Hibiscus and this was one of the prettiest I've seen

We took a day to check out other parts of L.A. We drove through Hollywood and then down to Santa Monica pier so Jason could get his ocean fix.

Alanna under the pier

Jason and Alanna playing on the beach

The way home was a little odd. They told us to get to our plane we had to go down this creepy, long, hallway that was completely deserted. It felt like something out of a horror film.

A sign in the hallway

Jason wondering if it would ever end