February 28, 2013

Tubing and Tubbing

We went tubing with the Mc family at Soldier Hollow last Friday. It was a beautiful day and twice as warm as it was when Chloe and I went with the Student Alumni group back in January (this meant it was a balmy 30°). 

Katie, Mary Ann and Rob

Liam, Will, and Maddie

Best buds, Sebi and Tomas

And of course, Joss
One thing I love about tubing at Soldier Hill is the tow line to the top. It's almost as good as the ride down the hill and more my speed.

The hills were a bit icy and slick. Rob didn't get the message that you were supposed to dig in and drag your feet once you passed these pylons near the bottom of the hill. He's the first person I've ever seen  make through almost all four rows of that plastic barrier stuff put there to prevent you from going over the cliff and dying a most horrible death. For a while, they wouldn't allow any groups to go down together due to the conditions. However, they finally let pairs tube down together. Katie and I went down once together. I wanted to get a picture, but Katie wouldn't have any of that.

Turn around! Honest, you look cute!
These are the best photos I got of any of the kids going down.
Liam's on the left, and Will is on the right.

Tomas and Sebi liked going down together best.
After a couple hours of tubing, we went to the "cabin" for a pasta bar which was followed by swimming and the hot tub.
The reason this photo looks so strange is because of bad indoor lighting and the fact that my lens kept fogging up.
Katie, the boys and I stayed the night at the cabin which was very nice because we were exhausted after a very long week.

Tubing and Tubbing was a blast, and I think it might need to become a yearly traditions with the Mc family just like the Gingerbread House Extravaganza.

February 20, 2013

Photography Assignment #2

We didn't have class last week due to Valentine's Day, so I've actually had two weeks to get this assignment done. And of course, I just finished it right before the submission deadline.

This week, we were to do a long exposure photo and one using a very fast shutter speed. One of the reasons, I think I might have put off the assignment for so long was that I didn't really feel like I knew what I was doing. In our last class, the teacher was not very prepared and class started late. He was also very easily sidetracked. To cover all he needed to, he ended up cramming a lot of material into the final fifteen minutes of class. It was very technical and math was involved. I left the class confused and a little ticked off. However, I spent some time reading and watching tutorials online and reading a book from the library. I sort of figured things out (except for the math part).

Here are my long exposure shots. Once again, Tomas was a great sport and came along as my assistant.

This is the long exposure photo I submitted.

This is one of those factory-things down on Geneva Road. It was so cold and windy down there, we didn't stay long.
This photo was a very close second to the one above.

I love the interesting coloring that came out in this photo—the purple haze in the sky and the green on the building. The squiggly lines were created by Tomas running around with a flashlight. 

Here are a few other long exposure shots I did.

A statue outside the Courthouse
The lines were created when a semi drove by.
This was actually a mistake. A fire truck and ambulance were approaching, and I thought I could get a good photo. However, I decided I didn't have time to set up the shot, so Tomas and I decided to leave that location. What I didn't know was that I pressed the camera button as we packed up. Cool accident.
Fast shutter speeds are great for sports. I thought I'd try and get some shots at my nephew's basketball game. But, Helga (the GPS voice on my phone) got us completely lost and we missed the game. Since it was windy and freezing cold outside, I decided to try a shot I've seen done a lot—splashes. Tomas helped by dropping the bouncy ball into the bowl of milk. He really liked that, but we ended up with milk all over us and everywhere. I took a lot of photos and ended up with two I liked. I want to try this again once we've covered flash lighting in class. I'm sure it will help tons.

This is the photo I submitted. 

It looks like a comet to me.
The comet impacted.

February 10, 2013

Some Liam Time

Getting Chloe off on her mission has taken most of our time and attention recently. And then, we spent a lot time with Tomas helping him with the Science Fair and Pinewood Derby. Poor Liam has sort of been on his own for the last little while. I decided it was time for a father-son outing.

I decided to make it a surprise, but I didn't have a plan of what we'd do. I was thinking about it as I rode the elevator at work. I ended up being in the right place at the right time. Just as I was getting off of the elevator, a woman from another department asked me if I would like tickets to Saturday's BYU basketball game against University of San Francisco in the president's section. Problem solved!

I first took Liam to his favorite restaurant, Five Guys. During our meal, he caught me up on all the super hero movies to come out in recent years. I have seen only a couple, and I had only just seen "The Avengers." I'm amazed at how he knows and can remember so much.

At Five Guys, Liam proves he's a growing teenage boy and completely eats me under the table.

After dinner, we went to the Marriott Center. This is the first time I've sat in the new section with the larger and comfier seats. The last time I had the opportunity to attend a game in the president's section, President Samuelson wasn't there. For the tradition where the crowd yells "Whoosh Cecil!" after our team makes a free throw and President Samuelson gives the thumbs up back, there was someone who held up a big cardboard head of President Samuelson. This time, he was there, and here is a photo of him giving the thumbs up.

Whoosh Cecil!
At half time, BYU was up by a bunch of points. It looked like it was going to be an easy win. Some of our friends even decided to leave early. We, of course, always stay to the end and decided to enjoy a CougarTail* for dessert.

No, I did not eat the entire thing myself. We shared.
Unfortunately, BYU really struggled in the second half and actually blew their huge lead. The Cougars lost 99 to 87. San Francisco had this one guy who kept knocking back three pointers and our team just had nothing to answer with.

In front of us sat several general authorities, all Seventies. I recognized all of them but can only remember the names of a few.

Oh well... Even with the loss, Liam and I still had a great time hanging out together. We're going to have to do this more often. With the new age requirements for missionaries, Liam will be gone in just over three years, and I know it goes by fast.

*A CougarTail is an 18" long maple bar doughnut that is only served at BYU football and basketball games. However this year for the BYU Food Drive which the Student Alumni sponsors, BYU Dining Services created the world's longest CougarTail. Pieces were sold and all the money went to the food drive. We raised about $3,400. I just realized I never mentioned it on the blog and wanted to share these two photos.

I enjoyed a piece of the world's longest CougarTail with Cosmo.

Provo Mayor Curtis stopped by to congratulate the students on their efforts to fight hunger in our community.

And here I am with local TV personality, Big Budah, who came to cover the event for Fox13. 

February 07, 2013

Photography Assignment #1

I began a photography class last week (Thanks Oma and Opa for the Christmas money which paid for said class.) I've done all my photography learning from websites, books, and trial-and-error. I thought I would try a class with an instructor who gave specific assignments. Also, there are a few technical things I think I would grasp easier if I were talking with a live person.

I decided to share my assignments here. For tonight's class, I was supposed to submit two photos in black and white with unique lighting. I decided to try my luck at the cemetery. I love cemeteries and figured there would be something interesting there to photograph.

Here are the two photos I submitted:

The sun was setting so the light was coming from the side. I love how the background is blurry and the part in the trees looks like smoke coming from the stone urn.

I chose this photo because of the angle of the long afternoon shadows cast by the pioneer tombstones and the pattern repetition.
 Here are some photos that didn't make the cut, but I still liked. Be sure to click on them to see them full size.

Tomas followed me around and was my photographer's assistant. He told me he wanted a hat, so I thought that could be his reward for being such a great little helper. Tomas chose a fedora. And, it was only $3. I decided to take a few black and whites of Tomas sporting his latest fashion accessory.

He's rockin' that hat.

February 06, 2013

Adios, Y'all!

And she's outta here!

Chloe was set apart as a missionary last night by President Wilson.

This morning, Chloe decided she wanted to have all-you-can-eat french toast at Kneaders for her last meal. After breakfast, we went back to the house where Katie helped Chloe with her last minute packing.

Chloe's check in time at the Missionary Training Center was 1 p.m. Today saw a record number of missionaries entering the MTC. I've heard it was between seven and eight hundred. 

The whole experience has dramatically changed since I went into the MTC 28 years ago. Back then, families came in with the missionaries for a presentation. I remember the MTC president spoke, and they showed a movie. After the movie, the missionaries were asked to go through doors one side of the room and  the families were asked to exit through doors on the opposite side. I remember there was a lot of weeping and wailing. Nowadays, it's like ripping off a bandaid—you basically drive up, shove the missionary out, and leave. 

I know I've written about this before, but when we brought Chloe to nursery at church for the first time, she ran right in and never looked back. And, that is how it has always been—first day of school, college, everything. Today was no different. She barely remembered to hug us goodbye. She's a woman on a mission, literally.

Liam videotaped the entire experience from the moment we entered the MTC property. We were in and out in 4 minutes. Bam!

I wanted to get one last photo of the family together with our missionary. I asked the elder helping us to take a photo, but he said it was against the rules. No one told me. So, I quickly snapped this final shot. I'll remember this next time and insist on a photo before we leave.

For the boys and I, it hasn't really set in that Chloe's gone. For the next few weeks, she'll be only a few miles away. It's more like she's at college again. Katie didn't cry prior to dropping off Chloe and didn't even cry on the way home. However, when we got home, Katie had planned to take the boys to a movie matinee to help keep her mind occupied. But, neither of them was too keen on seeing a movie. (I should have prepped them.) They wanted to go see friends. This opened the flood gates. I, unfortunately, had to leave Katie and go back to work, and I'm sure it was a tearful afternoon. But when I got home, I saw a beautiful bouquet of flowers from one neighbor, and another neighbor put together a missionary mom survivor kit. All this and a call from mom and dad helped put a smile on Katie's face. You know, Katie deserves most of the credit for Chloe becoming the amazing young woman she is. 

People keep asking us if we think it's going to be hard having Chloe away for so long. But, we know Chloe is ready for a mission and will do amazing things in Alabama. We know Heavenly Father will work miracles through Chloe to bless the lives of many. Also, I like the way Chloe looks at it. She said, "It's only 18 months. That's 18 Fast Sundays. Doesn't it seem like Fast Sunday is every other week?"

Later this afternoon at work, one of my students who teaches at the MTC told me she ran into Chloe coming out of her first class where she met her teachers and was on the way to the big welcome meeting with the MTC president. My student said she looked happy, excited to be there, and loving every moment. Yep, that's Chloe.

We can't wait for that first letter, and for all those to follow.

February 04, 2013

Same Day—Science Fair AND Pinewood Derby

This past Tuesday was a busy day for Tomas. This meant, of course, it was doubly busy for me and triply busy for Katie. On the same day was the Science Fair at school and the Pinewood Derby at Scouts. Maybe one of these years, Katie and I will learn to help our kids get an earlier start. But then, we'd be breaking from the long-standing family tradition of staying up most the night before trying to finish these projects.

Let's begin with the Science Fair. Katie took charge of helping with this one. For this year's fair, the school added a category. Instead of choosing to do the standard research project, each kid could do an engineering project. This got Tomas really excited. He wanted to invent something. I did not share the same enthusiasm because I saw it as a lot more work. But when it comes to "learning stuff" like this, Katie will never, or very rarely, say "no" to the kids.

For the project, Tomas saw a problem in our home that needed to be addressed. Ever since our dog, Scooter, died, Chester has dealt with his grief by turning to food. Seriously, that cat meows nonstop for food. And, he's smart. If he doesn't get food from one family member, he moves on to the next. He's turned into quite a porker. Tomas wanted to invent some kind of cat feeder that wasn't the kind which made food available all the time (that would not be good for Chester) but a feeder that would dispense food and make the job of feeding the cat easier.

Tomas, with help and guidance from Katie, drew up some plans for the invention. As they told me about the plans, I must admit I was doubtful, and I was really worried the entire thing would be a disaster. But, they got to work and only had to make a few trips to the hardware store. I went to bed, but I think I heard Tomas say they finished before midnight.  

In the end, I'm sure glad I'm not a betting man. The thing actually worked. Below is a photo of Tomas with his invention and display. As Tomas walked into school, the science teacher told Katie she was very excited to see Tomas' project because he was the only kid to choose an engineering project. After school, the teacher said Tomas and his project impressed everyone, and had he been a fourth grader, he would have been moving on to the regional science fair. Just wait for next year.

Tomas excitedly told us that two of the judges (university students) told him he should become an inventor. As you can see below, he drew a crowd as he demonstrated his invention.

I videoed Tomas as he explained how his cat feeder worked. We tried it on Chester with mixed results.

However, when no one was looking, I caught the cat using Tomas' contraption.

Now, on to the Pinewood Derby. Not only am I Cub Master and in charge of the Pinewood Derby, but I had to help Tomas with his first derby car. I told him the same thing I told Liam and Chloe when I helped them with their Pinewood Derby cars. They were not blessed with a father who's an engineer or extremely handy with tools, so the object of the Pinewood Derby was to have fun making the car and that it was all about style. Who cares if we don't go fast as long as we look good.

Lately, Tomas has been into sock monkeys. It started when his hamster died. Chloe gave him a little sock monkey to cheer him up. Since then, he has added four or five to his collection. So, Tomas decided he wanted a sock monkey car. Below is what we came up with. Tomas actually did most of the work. He sanded, painted and glue pieces into place. I helped where power tools were involved.

This time, I did a little research on how to prep the wheels and put them on so they are straight. Tomas and I also put in extra effort polishing the axles and adding graphite powder. This, plus some added luck, must have helped because Tomas' car placed 3rd in a field of nearly 30 cars. It was strange, but his car seemed to get faster with each heat. I was shocked and surprised. Our family's cars have always seemed to fall in the middle of the pack.

Tomas also won the Judges Favorite award given to the car the judges would actually like to drive in if it were real.

I've shared this photo on the blog before, but I think I should once more. Guess who also got 3rd place in his first derby?

In the end, Tomas had a really fantastic day. We were very proud of him. 

All the hours we put into the projects paid off. Afterward, Katie and I crashed and slept very soundly. The one thing I recommend for next year is to get an earlier start, but I'm not counting on that to happen.