Jason and I went snowshoeing up American Fork Canyon on one of our favorite biking trails recently. It was strange to see those well-known hillsides transformed from a dense growth of leafy underbrush and gracefully attired aspens to a landscape dominated by dark hued pines in a frosty sea of powdery snow. The scene seemed alien and familiar at the same time; kind of like the face of a good friend that you haven’t seen for a while and you find surprisingly altered since you last met.
Here I am hiking up the Pine Hollow trail.
We trekked up to one of my favorite spots in the canyon, a large meadow that I have lingered in during many biking outings. It was almost as lovely swathed in windswept untracked snow as it is in the spring when lush grasses adorn it.
Jason in the very picturesque meadow that I love.
We quite enjoyed ourselves…though Jason did complain periodically about his “aching calves” as we climbed one hill after another. But his wimpy muscles couldn’t squelch the joy of blue skies, fresh air, and gorgeous views.
Gotta love those Utah mountains! They are beautiful in any season!
Shopping with your woman: the bane of every man. As much as most men despise being coerced, guilted, or tricked into shopping with their girly there is something they find even more tedious: boutique shopping with their girly. Many men shutter just at the thought…excuse me while I roll my eyes. What’s so horrible about boutiques? Whole stores dedicated to marketing every form of baby bow in existence or establishments that smell of potpourri and old wood and are stuffed to the rafters with overpriced decorative doodads. What’s so awful about that?
Although I have no pity for you men that are feeling a little queasy right now as you envision such hells, let me give you a big pointer. There is an easy way to avoid such a loathsome experience and still be the hero of your woman’s dreams: Girls’ Day Out.
That’s right, all you have to do is suggest that your significant other go out shopping with her sisters or girlfriends to those doilie packed boutiques and you are off the hook. If you want extra brownie points simply recommend that they get together for lunch beforehand as well. The “Girls’ Day Out” ploy makes you seem like such a thoughtful guy and it gives your girl exactly what she wants: some relaxing time shopping leisurely with adults. (No, you do not count as an adult in this context. You know that you whine just as much as your children when forced into one of those cutesy stores; don’t try to deny it.)
I too like shopping with those of the female persuasion. Jason is an excellent husband and a very patient shopping partner; he doesn’t grumble like the 5 year olds everyone else seems to be married to, but he does have his deficiencies. When I’m shopping with Jason and I need a second opinion on something such as, whether this or that quilt is cuter, and I’m forced to asked him because I have no other companions, he usually pauses momentarily before responding, not to conscientiously contemplate the question but rather to give himself time to do “Eeny Meeny Miny Moe” in his head. Considering this, I gladly took my sister up on her plans for a refreshing girly excursion.
Simone, Madison, Tonya, and my mom...yes, they do have a lot of shopping bags.
Last Saturday my sister, sister-in-law, mom, niece, and I all went to Gardner Village for lunch and shopping. We had a great time! We laughed through our meal and enjoyed conversation that for once didn’t revolve around virtual hard drives, software, or network security. After lunch it was time to do some serious boutique shopping damage…for that, you men will find, is the one flaw in the Girls’ Day Out scheme. When girls go shopping together they will spend much more of their dough on items you might find frivolous or perhaps downright unattractive than they would if you were present.
Our men didn’t suffer too much wallet shock from Saturday’s outing though. Sure, my sister and mom may have come home with a few extra pieces of furniture, a rug or two, and enough doll clothes to dress a doll army but it was all on sale and every girl knows that when you buy stuff on sale the only thing that counts is how much you saved not how much you actually spent. I don’t know why guys don’t understand this basic rule; it makes perfect sense in girl world.
The girls having a laugh
Well, whether our husbands would have approved or not, we spent some of our money and had a lovely time doing so. It was great hanging out with the wonderful ladies in my family…and getting opinions that weren’t based on random number generators was pretty sweet as well.
So remember boys: send your wife out with her girlfriends and save both of you the misery of shopping together. It’s a win/win scenario; you look like an angel instead of a selfish prick and your lady gets to truly enjoy shopping for once. Your pocketbook may suffer a little but better it than you.
I just hit the very last marker, at least of those outlined by my doctor, on the road to recovery from peroneal tendon repair surgery: the obsoleting of my ankle brace.
Ah, the ankle brace…annoying to get off and on, hard to fit into shoes, yet a reassurance and a necessity. Every time I’ve exercised over the last 14 months my brace has been there to restrict and support and now it’s no longer needed. Is that a call for celebration or a painful separation?
I wasn’t sure how my ankle would handle its brace graduation. After all, obnoxious as the brace was it did make me feel a little more stable and invincible. Would my ankle have separation anxiety after having such a constant companion for so long? Or worse yet, would this precarious advancement cause me substantial pain?
The thrill of being brace-free immortalized
On my first run without the brace things felt amiss. Since I had not run brace-free for over a year the sliding motion of my ankle as I stepped felt unnatural and a bit disconcerting. It was like a screw holding my foot together had suddenly come loose; it didn’t hurt but it didn’t feel normal. Other than that the run was completely uneventful; my ankle handled the adjustment surprisingly well.
The day after that run a muscle in my bad leg was pretty achy from the top of my foot to mid-calf. My legs very rarely get sore thanks to years of being active (I wish I could say the same about the rest of my parts.) so I concluded that this muscle must be involved in controlling some of the movements my brace inhibited. Hence, it protested a little when it was returned to full duty.
Although my codependent ankle freed itself of the brace with minimal anguish it really didn’t gain full autonomy; it jumped right back into cahoots with another apparatus, one of its Xs. I wore a custom-made orthotic sole for a couple months before surgery in a futile attempt to appease my ankle without an operation, now that orthotic is back in my shoe and back in service. (Righty has been wearing its own orthotic since pre-surgery but the brace for lefty barely fit in my tennis shoe; there’s no way I could have squeezed in the brace and the orthotic at the same time.) According to my doctor, since I am at risk for further tendon damage I will have to wear that baby when I exercise indefinitely. My ankle acclimated to using it again pretty well; the arch in my foot hurt for a few runs but it was manageable.
I must admit that removing the brace from my routines went smoother than I had anticipated. There was no wailing or gnashing of teeth. My ankle didn’t cry, protests, or fall apart. A few strange sensations and a little discomfort were all that stood between me and a brace-free existence. Good job little ankle buddy! May all of you fellow ankle de-bracers fare as well!
Party hopping: reserved for just the socially elite and the chronically noncommittal?
No, apparently it also for the super awesomest party people on the planet…yes, I’m talking about us…duh.
Although we typically get invited to a couple New Years Parties every year, this year we outdid ourselves in the invitee department. Our presence was requested at no less than 5 events. Yeah, you wish you were that cool. While we are not fantastic enough to somehow pull off going to five parties in one night, we decided to try attending three.
Here's Cody the seal. Kenny kindly offered to slide with him; there's nothing sweeter than volunteer idiocy.
We started our evening at the Rowley’s with some Killer Oompi. Killer Oompi is a game that has long been a tradition among Jason’s friends. It’s basically speed Uno with penalties. The loser of each round has to do something completely idiotic like go through a spanking tunnel or eating a carrot out of the winner’s nose. Visions of Cody sliding through the snow on his stomach while acting like a seal were fresh in our memories and still warming our hearts as we departed the Rowley’s for our next gathering. Good times.
Here's Jason with his harem of women at the Hughes' party. After all, what's more Italian than cavorting with a bunch of females?
We then stopped in at Cam and Fran’s. They adopt a different country theme for their party each year and this year the motif was Italy. Yes! Tiramisu: food of the gods…or of some fat Italians at the very least.
This is the Nothing Bundt Cake we took to my sister's house. It was nothing bundt delicious!
We finished off the evening by counting down to 2010 with my sister and her kids. The youngsters were a little loopy from staying up past their bedtimes but they were very excited about ushering in the new year and getting to drink sparkling cider from fancy cups.
Instead of turning into pumpkins this is what happens to the Marshalls after midnight.
We returned home at 4 in the morning after our night of social scattering. Man, being awesome is exhausting!
Happy New Years to us!
Many thanks to all of you who hosted, entertained, and fed us; you were the wind beneath our wings.