Sunday, August 24, 2008
And I was toddler-free, again! 4 times in a week and a half! It will definitely be hard to go back to the normal way of life...thanks so much to Jared, my little bro, for watching Thomas!
As soon as we walked into IKEA I loved it...the atmosphere is so cool, and it makes you feel hip just being there. =) The first stop we made was at the eatery because we were both starving. The food was really good...I got pasta with their yummy meatballs and a fabulous apple-pie type dessert with vanilla sauce....mmmmm. We got all fueled up to shop! I couldn't wait to go to the children's section, because I'm starting to get really excited about redecorating Tommy's room once he moves into a "big boy" bed sometime in the near future. They have so much cute stuff for kids! I think I could've spent an hour or two in that section alone!
As we looked at everything, there was so much furniture I was wishing I could buy! Its funny, because I'm not that into the modern/contemporary style that makes up most of everything at IKEA... my tastes are generally more traditional ...but I still found lots of stuff that I loved! I ended up getting two really inexpensive, cute black metal tables to use as nightstands, and a couple other cheap little odds and ends. I can't wait to go back again, especially when Tommy's room is ready for a makeover!
Friday, August 22, 2008
I couldn't get good photos of Brian once the show started because it was dark, but this was the view from where we sat. Thankfully they had large screens on either side of the stage...we were at the very top of the hill, quite far away, and Brian's facial expressions while he performs are a big part of the hilarity!
Two days later on Saturday, Ryan's sister Sara and her husband Jon came over to babysit so Ryan and I could go see the Dark Knight. We had been so excited to see it because we loved the last Batman movie. I have to be honest though...I liked the Dark Knight, though not as much as I expected to, and not as much as Batman Begins. I think this time it was a little too intense for me. I did think Heath Ledger's performance as the joker was great...he was very convincing and frightening! He was a talented actor, and his untimely death was so tragic. I'm interested to see if he is put in the running for a post-humous Academy Award like so many people have talked about. Regardless of my feelings about the movie, it was still so nice just to go to a movie!
And then I went to a movie again last night! Ryan stayed home with Thomas while I and my mom finally went to see "Mamma Mia." I looooooooooooved this movie, just like I expected to! I was grinning and laughing like an idiot through the whole thing! My mom loved it too. I can't wait to see it again and I'm definitely buying the soundtrack to listen to until then! I have to say, I severely envy every single person involved with the filming of this movie in any way. The location in Greece was gorgeous and all the musical numbers and dancing were so fun and infectious... it would have been fun just to be there and watch the filming! I can't wait to buy the DVD and see all the behind-the-scenes extras. And now I want to go to Greece even more...ever since the last summer Olympics in Greece I have so badly wanted to travel there. We're going someday honey! Anyway, after the movie my Mom and I went to IHOP and then we made a late run to Walmart so she could get "Breaking Dawn" (which I'm borrowing when she's done...I'm only on New Moon). Even though that's all we went for, we just walked around Walmart for awhile, looking at everything and laughing our heads off...I was pretty hyper at that point. It was such a fun night...thanks for going with me Mom, I had a great time!
It was wonderful to have the chance to get out that much...I seriously need to make some arrangements to go out more, toddler-free, on a regular basis. =) Thank you to my Mom, Sara & Jon and Ryan for staying with Thomas! And Tommy, even though its nice to be away from you once in awhile, I sure like coming home to you! =)
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I don't know why I stress so much about it though... Thomas is always really well behaved and does so great! Any time we've gotten his picture taken he is very calm and curious about the whole process...so much so that its hard to get him to smile! Yesterday I talked to him all day about how we were going to get pictures and we practiced saying "cheese," but once we were there he was so distracted he forgot all about that! We still got some cute smiles out of him though. And I would much rather have a toddler that is too calm during pictures rather than stressed out and screaming! Although, I did resort to some bribery before we even left the house, in case he had a breakdown this time around...I told him if he was good for his pictures he would get a sucker and a new toy. It seemed to pay off! Plus, it gave me an excuse to go to the Disney Store...I absolutely love that place!
Its really fun to compare these photos of Thomas to ones I've had taken of him previously...he is so tall now, so much more a little boy than a little baby! And I sure love this little boy. =)
He was begging to put on this toy hardhat and toolbelt they had at the studio. It was hard to get a photo because he just wanted to play with the tools! This pic is cute because he loves to be like his daddy and fix things.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
Maybe I'm a nut, but I think anybody who sings at all has wondered or imagined at some time or another how they would fare if they tried out for this show. For several years now I've thought about auditioning, but never got enough gumption to fly somewhere and do it. So, when I found out a month or so ago that they were coming to Salt Lake City to audition for the coming season, I knew I had to do it! I knew if I didn't go, when they were less than an hour away from my front door, I would always regret it! So I enlisted my wonderful mom to accompany me, and I did it!
We both had to go to register and get wristbands and seat tickets sometime in the two days before the audition. I heard that many people were showing up at ridiculous hours of the morning to be at the front of the line just to register, assuming they would get the best seats. But I read in a news article about the auditions that the organizers stated tickets were handed out randomly and that getting there early would offer no advantage. So I chose not to get all crazy and didn't go early to wait to register. My mom and I were so glad, because when we did show up to register at the Energy Solutions Arena (formerly the Delta Center) in downtown SLC at 11 am on Monday the 28th, there was no line whatsoever!
July 29th, the morning of the auditions, was a whole other story. The line was crazy, and of course there were people who had camped out all night waiting. We were told to get there by 5 am, even though they wouldn't let us in until about 8 am. I think they just wanted to get camera shots of the huge crowds waiting to audition and interview people in line. Of course, there were a few crazy and weird people in the crowd...We saw a chick in a "Wheaties" box costume getting interviewed, and we were in line near a guy wearing tye-died, high water sweatpants who was playing a guitar with a rainbow and a unicorn on it. (We're pretty sure he had purposely dressed for the part of an American Idol crazy dude, just for fun). While we waited to get in the arena we just stood around chatting with people (everyone was so nice!), or spent time reading the Twilight books. My mom and I were somewhat near the end of the line because we actually got there a little late, at about 5:30, but thankfully it wasn't really a big deal...the tickets were for assigned seats, so the time we got in line for auditions didn't really matter...we would still have the same seats in the arena.
And boy, did we luck out! When they finally let us in, we discovered our seats were only two rows up from the floor of the arena! We had a great view of all the action going on down on the floor all day. And boy, was it ALL day...we were there until about 5:30 pm. The morning was basically spent hamming for the cameras. They spent a LOT of time doing sweeps of the crowd with a camera on a long arm, while we were whooping it up, screaming, shouting...probably not the best thing for a bunch of people getting ready for a vocal audition! I tried to avoid yelling too much and eventually ended up pretending I was shouting and whooping. We also did a lot of singing before the auditions...we were instructed at registration to learn two songs we would be singing as a crowd on audition day: "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Marvin Gaye and "Get Ready" by The Temptations. There was a producer down on the floor telling us when to sing and what to do all morning, and he literally made us repeat these songs over and over and over while they were filming! It got redundant, but it was still a lot of fun, since we might end up on TV during the SLC audition episode of the coming season.
We also got a fun surprise in the middle of the day...Ryan Seacrest showed up! He gave us a great pep talk for the auditions and then they filmed several segments with him in the crowd. They were the typical segments you always see on the show...for instance, the camera is close up on him as he says, "This...is American Idol," And the instant he says the last word the camera zooms out and the whole crowd goes crazy. It was fun to be a part of! He was very funny and charming and so friendly to everyone. I was impressed that he was so patient and obliging with the tons of people that wanted to get photos with him, even when the producers told everyone to lay off so they could get on with the filming. At one point Ryan was standing next to this huge Polynesian guy and was kind of goofing off with him...the contrast of them standing next to each other was so funny because Ryan Seacrest is kind of short and a very thin guy. Ryan went to put his arm around this Polynesian dude at one point, and the guy kind of went to give him a hug, and then without any warning the guy totally picked Ryan up and practically tucked him under his arm! Ryan was definitely surprised, but he took it all in stride. It was absolutely hilarious, I wish I could've gotten a photo of it! I did manage to get several good shots of Ryan down on the arena floor though, since we had such awesomely close seats!
Auditions had been going a short time before Ryan showed up, but after he left they got in full swing. Waiting for my turn to audition was very loooooong...they started at one end of the arena and called down one section of people at a time to the floor. Unfortunately for me our seats were about three-quarters of the way around the other side of the arena from where they started, so we had quite some time to go before it was my turn...I didn't get to audition until about 5 pm! The advantage of waiting so long was that we got to watch the auditions and learn a little of what to expect. Since we were near the floor we could somewhat hear the people singing who were auditioning at the tables nearest our seats, and we were baffled to see all these amazing singers that didn't make the cut.
Here's the way the auditions worked: they called down one section of the arena at a time, and then people waited in line on the arena floor. Everyone eventually got organized into groups of four to go before a table where there were usually two producers. There was a long line of tables set up running down the arena floor, and each table was only separated with a black curtain, so you could easily hear people next to you singing, which was a bit of a challenge. Each person from the group of four at each table would step forward when they were told, would sing until a judge held up their hand to indicate "stop", and then that person would step back, and the next person would go. All four people would sing before the judges gave any verdict on who would go and who would stay. Sometimes the judges would ask certain people to sing a second song, I'm guessing to help them make a decision. Everyone who auditioned was instructed to have 2 or 3 songs prepared, just in case. But, we noticed that getting to sing twice was a pretty rare occurance. Those who didn't make the cut were required to get their wristbands cut off and had to leave through a specific exit immediately after their audition. We were sitting right by that exit, so everybody who got cut passed right by us as they left...and it was a constant stream of people!
The few people who made it had to go through a different exit, where we were told they were taken into a room somewhere to fill out paperwork, get photos taken, and to be instructed about the next rounds of auditions. There were going to be no more rounds of auditions that day...I read that the second round would be in front of executive producers at some later date somewhere in SLC, and the third and final callbacks, with Simon, Randy and Paula, were to be held sometime in September. The great thing was that the whole arena was watching the auditions, and when we saw people making it through and going to the "non-rejected" exit, people would cheer for those singers. There was a real atmostphere of encouragement and support among everyone there, even though we were all complete strangers to each other. My mom and I sat next to a lovely girl named Shannon, who was a 28-year-old mom of three and had come alone from Denver to audition! She was so nice and we had so much in common. We spent lots of time watching the auditions, dissecting people's performances and commiserating about how nervous we were!
Here's the only photo I took during auditions (I was quite distracted). They left part of the space empty for awhile to do some things with filming, but they eventually lined up more tables to fill the whole floor.
It was both good and bad that we had so much time to watch other people audition...it was a learning experience, yet it was nerve-racking and discouraging to see the vast majority of people getting cut, even many who were incredibly talented. It was hard to understand how the judges were deciding who to keep...we couldn't figure out the method to their madness!
I finally got my turn to audition, and you can probably guess the outcome...I'm not going to be famous, not this year at least (wink wink)! I knew the particular judge I ended up in front of was going to be hard to impress. She was at the table we could see the best from our seats, and we'd been watching her all day. Though we couldn't see her face, we felt like she was a bit of a grumpy, impatient judge, and we noticed that she had been cutting pretty much everybody that came to her table...I seriously don't know if we saw her put more than two or three people through all day. She seemed to be tougher to get past than most of the other judges, and for some reason, hers was the only table that only had one judge instead of two. So, I was really disappointed when my group of four ended up in front of her.
I had three songs prepared that I was trying to choose from, and I didn't completely decide until maybe an hour or two before I auditioned. I chose to sing part of a Frank Sinatra song: "I've Got You Under My Skin," kind of a modernized, pop-i-fied version...think Michael Buble style. I knew it was a risky song choice because it wasn't mainstream, but I really wanted to do something different! So many of the girls were just belting out their songs like crazy...many of them were practically shouting while they sang, and they all started to sound alike after awhile. Yet, even the really, really good ones weren't making it through. So that's why I chose the Frank Sinatra...it was something smooth and classy and different from what I had been hearing all day.
When I stood up to sing, I think the judge gave me 8 seconds, then cut me off. It was pretty disappointing because as we watched people audition all afternoon, most of the judges were giving people more like 20-30 seconds. All four people in my group (including my new friend Shannon) were stopped in that short of a time. After we had each sung, she had us step forward and she said something like "Thanks for coming today, I know it was a long day. Thanks." And that was it...all four of us walked through, they cut off our wristband, and we left. I was so annoyed that she didn't say anything else to us at all! No critiques, no short bits of advice or why we weren't what they were looking for. All day I had noticed other judges actually spending a little bit of time talking to people about their performances. I really could have used that kind of constructive criticism!
So, I won't deny that it was a little depressing...waiting 12 hours and dealing with intense nervousness and anxiety that whole time, only to be cut after a few seconds of singing! I had so hoped that I would at least make it through that very first round. But, it was comforting to remember that the majority of people there were cut too...very, very few people made it past that round. There were about 6,000 people there, and I read in an article that the producers thought they'd probably let 200 to 400 people through...but I highly doubt they let through that many! I was there for three quarters of the audition day and I have a really hard time believing they let through even a hundred people while I was there!
Regardless of the outcome, I'm so glad I did it! Now I can say I've auditioned for American Idol, and I got to be a part of the show in some small way. I won't have any regrets about not trying, and I'll know what to expect if I ever want to audition again...which, I think I very well might! It was a fun experience, and now I'm absolutely dying to see the start of the new season. Even though I love the show, I've always been sporatic about watching it...but this year, I will not miss a single second of the show! Cause, you know...it could've been me! =)
Monday, August 4, 2008
Although, he will be working. He plans on traveling around and visiting friends and people he knew or taught for the first several weeks, and then he'll settle in one area, get an apartment, and find a job teaching English. He's planning on flying back to the U.S. just a few days before Christmas. After having three brothers go on missions, it will be so weird to go to the airport when Travis arrives and see him walking out wearing something besides a suit! I'm seriously considering bringing the "Welcome Back Kotter" banner I had made for his mission homecoming to the airport again, just to embarrass him when he walks out in his casual clothes. =)
Sunday, August 3, 2008
The boys did most of the riding, but I did take one good ride with Ryan and Travis. Its been awhile since I've done some serious four-wheeling, and I have to say I still do ok! I kept up with the boys really well, even though the trail was quite curvy, rocky, and muddy in places. I was pretty darn dirty when we got back, though I tried really hard to avoid the big mud puddles! The photo really doesn't do my dirtiness justice! Our four-wheelers are sport four-wheelers, not the big, cushy utility ATVs that go over rocks and bumps pretty comfortably. Ours are very fast and nimble, but considerably less comfortable, and a little more difficult to operate.
My husband comes from a big dirtbiking, four-wheeling family...you could say its a tradition, and its definitely carried over into our little family. For us, camping is not camping without going riding! Ryan already had a dirtbike when we got married, and he bought me a four-wheeler and taught me how to ride it before we had been married 4 months! I had to learn to operate a clutch for the first time when we got our ATV...I didn't even know how to drive a manual car yet! In the years before I got pregnant with Thomas we used to go on quite a few riding trips, especially to the Little Sahara sand dunes. Back then I used to think I was a pretty good rider. Its nice to know I still do pretty well! I gotta keep from getting too rusty, because I'm sure Ryan will have all of our kids zooming around on real dirt-bikes or four-wheelers by the time they're 4 or 5 years old! I have to at least keep up with the little kids, right?! =)
Saturday, August 2, 2008
I'm so behind, as always! July 10th was Thomas' second birthday...I can't believe my baby is two already! I can still remember the frightened feeling I had when it came time to bring him home from the hospital! When it comes to children growing up, how does time manage to slip through our fingers so quickly? Doesn't every parent wonder this?
We threw a birthday BBQ for Tommy one day early, on Weds, July 9th, because Ryan's parents happened to be passing through town that night on the way to California, and we really wanted them to be able to come. July 9th is actually my birthday...yep, I went into labor with my son on my birthday!...so it kind of morphed into a party for both of us, even though for me it was all about Thomas. I decided to get him a cute, classic red Radio Flyer wagon for a gift, so I ended up giving the party a red, white and blue Radio Flyer/wagon theme, and it turned out awesome! I wanted to try and keep the party low-key, (which it wasn't so much last year!) so we just did a family party this year. The funny thing is, we still had quite a big shindig...24 people total! It was a lot of fun though...Thomas got to celebrate with all four of his grandparents, most of his uncles and aunts and 4 of his 6 cousins. (We missed you, Uncle Josh, Uncle Zane, Aunt Amber, Ciara and Dalin!)
Thomas was of course spoiled by all those in attendance, especially by his parents! (I can't help it, I enjoy giving gifts way too much!) It was so funny watching him and all the other kids reveling in all the fun new toys there were to play with. Thomas was so distracted after the first few gifts that me, Ryan and the older cousins had to do most of the opening for him. Later, after we sang "Happy Birthday" and it came time for Thomas to blow out the candles on his cake, his cousins helped out with that too...they pretty much beat him to it! But, he didn't seem to mind. He loved the cake, though he didn't make nearly as big of a fun mess as he did last year! I think he had a lot of fun at the party, though he had a little mini-breakdown later in the evening...he was pretty pooped by the end of the night, and I didn't blame him...so was I!
But I got a little spoiled too! Ryan was so sweet and surprised me with balloons, gorgeous pink roses, a cheesecake (he said I should have my own cake...ahh), and he got me Photoshop Elements and more RAM for our computer...so I can actually run Photoshop! I'm so excited because now I can finally start learning to digital scrapbook! From my friends and family I also got some books, cash (always love that!) and the DVD set of the fabulous 6-hour-long version of "Pride and Prejudice." It was a wonderful birthday, even though I was the one paying the least attention to the fact that it was my birthday!
And on top of that, I was so happy because Tommy's party was a fantastic success! I was actually glad we did it one day early, because on Tommy's actual birthday the following day (Thursday) I was much less stressed...we just took it easy and totally relaxed. I took him to the park to play in the morning, let him eat whatever he wanted all day long, and when daddy got home we went swimming and got McDonald's afterwards. A lovely day!
On Friday Ryan also took me out on a belated birthday date, just the two of us. We had dinner at Los Hermanos, my favorite restaurant, and went to see the movie "Hancock"...it was very good, but I was sad because there were no chick flicks out at the time! I'm all about going to a chick flick on my birthday, because its the one time a year Ryan can't complain! It was a fun night though. Thanks, Hayley and Eric, for watching Tommy for us. =)
So, it was a great week! I love my little boy so much and he has brought so much happiness into our lives. I can't hardly remember what life was like before he was a part of our family. I have learned so much since becoming a mother, and I hope I can always be the mother that Thomas deserves. I love you buddy!