Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enjoying the Spoils of Christmas

Darren left for Serbia on the 27th after spending nine weeks at the MTC.  We spent the day anticipating Darren's phone call and were somewhat disappointed as a busy travel day at the airport resulted in our only being able to talk to him for 15 minutes.  He was excited to finally leave for Serbia.  We received an e-mail from him the next day confirming that he had arrived (see the post at http://www.serbiamission.blogspot.com/).

After the call, the girls left to get pedicures and Tyson and I went to the gun range to try out my Christmas present.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Updates on Darren

We created a new blog to provide updates Elder Novakovich's.  The blogsite is http://www.serbiamission.blogspot.com/ and a link titled "Serving in Serbia" in now included on our list of blogs.

He is doing well and in his most recent letter he commented on a conversation by a couple of elders comparing the MTC to prison.  One Elder replied that the difference with prison is that you get to watch TV.  Darren seems to be enjoying his prison sentence so far.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Weekend in Dixie

Would you rather sit at your desk for three days continuing to make sure that the debits equal the credits or golf 54 holes of golf in mid-70s weather in St. George, Utah?  That was the question I faced once again and for the fourth straight year decided that golf sounded more enjoyable.  We enjoyed three fantastic days of golf, playing Thursday at the new Sand Hollow Golf Resort and Friday and Saturday at Sun Brook Golf course. We were one of 43 teams playing in the Dixie Celebrity Classic held annually the first week in November.  The first day was a special sponsors round and didn't count towards your overall score.  We played Friday and Saturday and posted a score of 25 under par, which put us in a tie for 19th place.  The winning team finished at 39 under and was led by Jay Don Blake who played on the PGA tour and now golfs on the Champions Tour.  Our celebrity was Cory Snyder who played collegiate baseball at BYU and followed that up with nine years in the majors playing for Cleveland, Toronto, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


What a wonderful experience the last two days have been.  Yesterday we met as a family for Darren's setting appart as a missionary in the Slovenia / Croatia Mission.  As a father, it was humbling to join in and place my hands upon Darren's head as our Stake President set Darren appart and promised some wonderful blessings to Darren.  We are confident he will be a wonderful missionary as he has been a wonderful son and brother.  We were able to share this spiritual experience as a family.  It was particularly touching to see Camryn's love for her brother as she shed tears during the prayer, knowing that she would not have her big brother with her for the next two years.

 We shared a last meal in Provo at California Pizza Kitchen.

We arrived 10 minutes early for our 1 pm scheduled drop off time and all agreed that the Lord wouldn't get him until that time exactly.  The temple grounds were full of missionaries already in the MTC and newly arriving missionaries and families waiting for their appointed times and saying their final goodbyes.  I think it was comforting to Darren to see all of the other young missionaries with their familes, ready to transition from their typical teenage lives to dedicated servie.  While a lot of tears were shed, we know that Darren will grow through his service and our family will be blessed.  With the Lord blessing us with such a wonderful son, it is ony appropriate that we return him to the Lord on loan for this period of time.

As we pulled curbside, Elder Novakovich was met by three smiling missionaries who welcomed him and helped him unload his bags.  We were able to give our final hugs, give our Elder some letters that had been prepared and say goodbye.  One of the smiling missionaries noticed that Tyson was in the back seat crying and asked if he wanted to give Darren a hug.  Tyson hadn't shown any emotion this whole week, but as we unloaded the car, he cryed and cryed.  He loves his big brother and will miss him.

Pre-Mission Family Time

We took the family to our first Real Salt Lake Soccer (hard to call it "Futbol" in the fall) match a few weeks ago.  A couple of things struck me as we entered the stadium.  First of all, what a beautiful facility they've built.  Second, there two goals sitting on each goal line.  I thought, what a great idea.  If the goalie has to defend two goals, there should be more scoring and associated excitement.  I was disappointed when after warm up, they took one from each end off the field.  The result was as you might expect, a 0-0 tie until the 66th minute.  Other than this mild disappointment, we really enjoyed ourselves (mainly because we didn't have to run up and down the field like the players).   RSL went on to win the match 2-0.  

We were amazed and entertained by the enthusiasm of the fans, particularly the Latin American fans who threw confetti in the air, played their drums (the entire match) and cussed the players in the their native language.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Powell Time

It has been over a year since our last visit to Lake Powell. Even the kids, who are normally ambivalent to boating trips, we're extremely exited to go. For the first time, all four of them were anxious to try wake boarding which was music to Kristi's ears. It kills her that for so many years, she was the only one interested in wake boarding or water skiing.

This afternoon, all four of them strapped the board to their feet and Darren, Taylor and Camryn were all able to get up and stay up. We'll get Tyson out of the water tomorrow! We spent a big part of the day exploring canyons around Dangling Rope. One of our favorites is Cathedral Canyon which has some great rock formations and narrow passageways to explore. As usual, the weather has been great this week and we've been able to enjoy good water. We started boating on Tuesday and will hit the lake each day through Friday. Our good friends, Bart and Kyleen Plante and their kids came with us and are pictured in several of the pictures.

Yuba Lake

A couple of weeks ago we took the family and a couple of Darren's friends boating to Yuba Lake. We don't go there often (perhaps it is the perpetual wind) but wanted to go somewhere other than Jordanelle. Other than the windy conditions, we had a good time wake boarding and tubing. We tried out a new tube - pictured. The kids loved it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cruise Withdrawal

Everyone in the family has cruise post-partum. How we miss the carefree days at see - food everywhere, stateroom attendants making your bed, Pina Colada drinks a mere swipe of your sea pass away. Instead we are back at work, slaving over a hot stove, cleaning toilets and all that life offers on a daily basis.

We never finished posting pictures from the final port stop on our cruise - Puerto Vallarta. On this stop we had an organized excursion - swimming with dolphins. What a great experience this turned out to be. After learning about the dolphins we were able to get in the pool and swim and interact with a couple of dolphins - Apollo and Sinbad. The coolest activity was the push and pull where the dolphins propelled you across the pool on boogie board and them pulled you across the pool while you held onto their fins.
After the dolphin swim we went to the downtown area and did some shopping. We definitely liked this stop the most.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Darren Receives His Mission Call

Darren received his mission call today to serve in the Slovenia / Croatia Mission. Turns out a neighbor of Hilary and one of Kristi's friends from her ward growing up has a son who just received a call to the same mission. We learned from her that there are three countries in his mission where missionaries are assigned: Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia. The sixty or so missionaries in his mission learn one of three languages; Darren will learn Serbian. He will most likely serve his entire mission in Serbia. Good news, 20% of the world raspberries are grown in Serbia.

Monday, June 21, 2010

More Fun

Following are some miscellanious pictures of the fun we had.


In Mazatlan we decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the relative solitude from everyone departing for shore excursions. We played basketball, golfed (Darren's nine hole score of 21 was the family record for the week), soaked up some sun and ate. Food was never far away. We loved the formal meals in the dining hall each evening and the soft serve ice cream pool side. The dining hall meals were plated, full course meals selected from a menu fantastic menu. We discovered that everyone likes escargot and Tyson likes fancy food. During the day we kept the Pina Colada guy in business and did our best to help dispose of all of the food left at the buffet. The evening entertainment was amazing - comedians, musicians, ice skating show, etc.

Cabo Wabo

The first port of call was Cabo San Lucas. I think that means hot and humid in Spanish. This was our first introduction to pushing, annoying locals trying to sell their services or crappy products. The city doesn't have a dock for the boat so it tenders in the bay and boats ferry you to shore. The ship doesn't drop anchor, but has a GPS based system that keeps it within 3 meters of its desired location. From the pier we took a water taxi over to Nikki Beach which is where many of the ocean front resorts are located. The kids had fun playing in the waves which were strong enough to knock Camryn over and drag her into the surf. Tyson thought it was funny, Camryn didn't. We crashed one of the resort pools when the heat got the better of us.
We took this picture from our balcony of a bunch of dolphins which followed us into port.

All Aboard

With the wait finally over, we boarded the Mariner of the Seas on Sunday and started our cruise down to the Mexican Riviera. Having never been on a cruise, we were all amazed at how big this $650 million ship really was. At the time she made her maiden voyage in 2003, the Mariner was the largest cruise ship in the world. In addition to the 3,500 passengers, 1,200 employees work on the ship. The crew members come from all over the world and work on the ship non-stop for up to eight months and then get a two month break. I've never experienced such friendly, customer focused service. From the state room attendants to the dining room Waite staff, everyone was professional, friendly and anxious to help you have a great vacation.
Some of the amazing on-ship facilities included:
  • A rock climbing wall
  • Work out facilities and spa
  • Multiple pools and Jacuzzis
  • Basketball court
  • 1,400 person capacity theater
  • Casino
  • Night clubs
  • Kids zones, game rooms, etc.
  • Library
  • Ice skating rink and arena
  • Shopping plaza on the promenade deck
  • Minature Golf
  • Jogging track

There was never a shortage of something to do.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let the Fun Begin

Here's to hoping that the actual fun this week will live up to all of the pre-trip hype and discussion. The kids have been looking forward to this since December when we decided that we needed a last family vacation before Darren departs on his mission this year.

Darren met with the stake president and the papers were completed last Sunday. The waiting for his call now begins. In the meantime, hello Mexico. Hopefully for Darren, he won't come home to hello Boise, Idaho.

We flew in to Long Beach on Saturday morning and spent the day with Patricia, Herman, Eric, Joanie and John. We spent the afternoon playing basketball, barbecuing and getting caught up.

While I'm generally a Delta loyalist due to their frequent flier program, I must say that the Jet Blue flight was more comfortable and the service was much better.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Trolley Ride

Kristi came with me on my trip to San Francisco this week. We decided to make a short weekend out of a training trip. We arrived in the early afternoon and after checking into our hotel walked down California street through Chinatown and Little Italy and finally over to the Piers. I took Kristi to Scoma's which is one of my favorite restaurants. After dinner we took a trolley car back to the hotel on Nob Hill.

The trip in from the airport into downtown San Francisco is a relatively short 20 minute cab ride. It can seem extremely long if the Pakistani cab driver hasn't taken a shower since arriving in the USA 25 years ago. It was so bad I had to open the window and ask where he kept the air sickness bags. Seriously, there should be minimum hygiene laws for driving a cab.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

San Francisco Here I Come

Work brought me to San Francisco this week and I was able to catch a Giants game on Monday night. The investment bank we were meeting on Tuesday hosted a group from Control4 - the seats were fantastic (10 rows up between home plate and the home team dugout). The Phillies starting pitcher was Roy Halladay who didn't live up to his best arm in the majors status. The Giants hit him hard and often and won the game 5-1.

Ryan Howard from the Phillies signed a 5 year $125 mm contract extension earlier in the day and celebrated it by going 0-4. You'd expect at least a single from a guy whose now making $150,000 per game.