Thursday, August 28, 2014

Beaching It

Beach day.  A little last minute, and so worth it.  Perfect weather, and an awesome day.  I'm telling you, having my Saturdays free now that I'm not doing merchandise is the best!

Dallin is really into building elaborate sand castles, so of course he has all of his instruments.

Every girl needs a gorgeous man to hang out at the beach with.  Enter Wagens. I mean, seriously. 

The ladies: me, Alisa, Amber, and Rachel.  Solving the world's problems by the seashore.  Really though, there was some serious, substantial conversation happening.  Loved it.
Unfortunately, Dallin's re-creation of Rodin's Thinker didn't pan out.  (Not a joke.  This man is an artist.) So he consoled himself by fulfilling a dare.  I think he is quite talented....

Pete joined us at the end of the day, but was an asset anyway!

A great end to a Saturday with a birthday party for Ty.  And the best cake ever.

The Odds and Ends of August

First day back from vacation.  Yep, this is why I live in NYC.
Sometimes Gary comes on business, and has meetings cancelled, and we get to hang out.  It's the best.

This man was living for his roller skates in Central Park. ;-)

And some Central Park goodness.  Possibly my favorite view from the inside.

And then my childhood friend Kristi comes to town and specifically asks me to pose in a lunge for a pic on the High Line.  I have no idea when this became a thing, but it has been for years.  And of course, I obliged.  Naturally.

This was posted on a lamp post, complete with little tear-off strips on the bottom:
"I'm really looking for a girlfriend.  This is not a joke.  Just tired of the singles scene and hoping to meet the right person.  I am a professional artist and creative person.  You know who you are.  To me each and every person is beautiful.  Open to the possibility of the relationship morphing into something more profound."
Maybe it was a hoax.  I kind of hope not.  Any takers?

I nanny-ed some out of town kids for a few days.  First of all, it takes some serious $$$ to entertain kids in this city.  Sheesh.  Anyway, we went to a cool exhibit by Nathan Sawaya.  He uses Legos for his art medium.  It was so cool! He had a lot of original work, but also would take established, well-known work and recreate it in Legos.  We loved it.  The 10 year old said, "This is getting weirder and cooler all the time!"

Outdoor movies in NYC are the best.  Karate Kid in Bryant Park?  YES.
More Central Park goodness, courtesy of the picnic after church, my friend Paul's camera, and the skyline. Don't ask me what Ned and I are doing.  I don't know.

That awesome Saturday when I went running by the river, and then hung out with a friend all afternoon, and at The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop we found this.  Bea Arthur holding court with a unicorn.  Of course.

And then on that same evening, I went to my first Mets game,
followed by a Boyz II Men concert. 
WHAT.  It was amazing!  My teenage self died and went to heaven.  It was one love ballad after another, bringing back to many amazing and awkward memories of school and church dances.  The best.   Overall, a really great day.

 And finally, Jeff and I are clearly meant to be friends, because we keep matching outfits.  It's fine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Oh Utah, How I Love Thee...Part 2

Or in other words, Disneyland = Happiest Place On Earth? 
Heaven.  No filter.
I am pretty sure the above view from the back deck at The Ranch has been in multiple blog posts.  But IT NEVER GETS OLD.  However, I'm getting ahead of myself...

After Aspen Grove, I went to my dear friends Deb and Brenden's wedding.  That was an amazing day, and has its own post.

The next week was just more family time, since some of the fam stayed in town for a while longer, and spending time with friends.  It was great, with some needed down time too.  Not a lot to say about it, but I sure do love my people.  I also got some time on my favorite neighborhood hiking trail, Whiting Canyon.  Cyndi and Carolynn joined that party a few times.

I have to give a shout out to Becca's therapy jar.  It's real, folks.  I was never sure.  But she really does have a jar to save up for her kids' therapy after a "stellar mom day."  This made me so happy.
  And by the way, Sarah did NOT want me to show this picture of Eva, but I can't not.  She's too cute.  And it's my blog. :-)

Thursday night I went down to The Ranch with my cousin Kelly for our extended Riding family reunion.  The Ranch really is my happy place.  I've talked about it before, but I really just can't say enough. Even more of my favorite people were there.  It was gorgeous weather, and we just played and ate and sat, and hiked a bit, played with babies, it was heaven.

We had an old fashioned money grab, with coins in the sawdust that the kids dove into.  Even my mom got a turn.  And that Naomi, I will tell you.  She's a formidable opponent. 

There is always time for a family talent show, and the Cannons did not disappoint with their skit, starring Seth, Cyndi, Adam, Elissa, and Jon Jon. 

It was really hard to leave and come back to reality a few days later, especially since I missed these crazy kids' 53rd anniversary by a day.  Mom and Dad are amazing.  They still laugh together, show love for each other, and roll their eyes behind each other's backs.  That's love.  I hope to have a relationship like theirs someday, and until then, I am content being their favorite charity case.

I have had conversations with people around the question, if you could choose either place to have a dream home, would it be on the beach or in the mountains?  Don't get me wrong.  I LOVE the beach.  But I think I would choose the mountains.  Especially after some much time in the gorgeous mountains of Utah.

I mean, come on.  Wouldn't you?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Every great couple needs a paparazzi name.  Deb and Brendan became DeBrann, and that was it.

My girls. Carolyn, Abby, Deb, and Mel.
They got married on July 12th in the Mt. Timpanogas temple, and it could not have been more perfect.

My faves!
I'm so glad I got to be there, and I saw so many people that I love that day!

When we all got back to NYC, there was another party for Brendan's side of the family in New Jersey.  And it was a PARTY.  Dancing, food, open bar, open candy bar...playing to the indulgences and vices to Mormons and non-Mormons alike.  Something for everyone.  I never thought I would say this, but New Jersey knows how to party!

An occasional awkward moment here and there, like when the DJ called for a couples only dance....all the single ladies stayed seated.  :-)

But don't worry, Mel, Abby and I found our thrones in the hallway, so all was well.  Because sometimes you have to pretend you are royalty.  Melanie has a really good "better than you" face.  Can you tell?

But seriously though, I am so happy for my friends.  Deb and Brendan are such a fantastic couple, two of my favorite people, and I'm glad I got to be there for it all!

#debrann2014 was a success!

(Cheesy post ending here).

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Oh Utah, How I Love Thee...Part 1.

Or in other words, the only time of the year when I wonder why I live in New York. 
There are so many pictures that I will be posting, that I can't do my whole Utah trip in one post. 
Well, I guess I could, but I would rather not.  That's a lot.
First of all, let me just acknowledge that I may be a little bit obsessed with taking pics of great scenery, which Utah is full of.  Not sorry about it.  Starting with my customary backyard pictures.   I'm in love with this view!  Not bad to come home to, I think. 

I loved, loved, LOVED my trip home.  It was a long one; 2 1/2 weeks.  But every day was great and so worth being home for.  Except for the day I was a little bit sick.  That was kind of a bummer.
I arrived on the 3rd so I could spend the Fourth at home.  The first thing I did in the morning was run my first race!  I ran the Freedom Run 5K in Provo with Cyndi and her family, although most of them did the 10K.  I'm not that cool yet.  But it was actually really fun, and I got a great time!  I was so proud of myself.
Elissa, lighting up the world, as usual.
The rest of the day was spent at Seven Peaks with Dave, Mike and kids (herding cats, I tell you), and then just at home where we hung out, barbequed, lit fireworks with the little ones, etc.  A great, relaxing day.  Post Seven Peaks, that is.

Sunset in Mapleton
Mom and her scones.  Of course.
For the whole next week we were up at Aspen Grove family camp in Provo Canyon.  We have been before, 8 years ago.  It was even better this time.  So gorgeous up there in the mountains, and beautiful weather to boot.  We had a great week. I discovered a love for the pottery wheel, though when I will get the chance to actually delve into that craft in my life I have no idea.  Maybe when I'm retired.  I'll write myself a note so I remember how much I liked it.  But I especially liked it when Sarah and Mike recreated the Patrick Swayze/Demi Moore pottery wheel scene from the movie "Ghost."  And of course I was singing "Unchained Melody" to provide the soundtrack. #gross

Finally getting to meet Maggie.
Lucy, just taking it easy.
Dad and I training for the Hunger Games
Best photo bomb ever.

James.  This kid.
We did family competitions, swam, ate, hiked, and hiked some more.  With that came the requisite family talent show, heart to heart conversations, and just kind of a nonstop party.  Have I told you my family is great?  And the KIDS!  I can't even start.  But I'm going to.  I have the best nieces and nephews.  Ever.  From the oldest who are on missions and preparing for college and just becoming incredible adults, to the babies.  There is nothing better than a teenager actually wanting to hang out with you, and a toddler wanting to snuggle. 
And everything in between.  I'm just in awe of my siblings and the way they are raising their kids to be such amazing humans.  I can only hope to take advantage of their examples with my own. 
Matt, just taking a moment. 

Ainsley proving, once again, that she has no fear.
My girl Eva.  I couldn't be happier.
Dave and I also climbed a rock wall and did a ropes course.  I used to climb occasionally with C; it has been a long time, and it was a little bit scary.  The ropes course- I was sitting there waiting to go, and I all of a sudden remembered that I had hated it the last time I did it.  It was terrifying.  What was I doing??  I think I really do have a fear of heights.  I hated every second of that dumb course, but I did it, dang it.  I did it.  And Dave sported a nice steri-strip all week from some mishap, proving how all out he goes on his quests for a good time.

Amy turned 16 while we were at Aspen Grove.  She is one of my favorite people.  I loved getting to spend her birthday with her!  Oh, she makes me laugh.  And Jonny turned 14 on the same day.  He is such a sweet boy, quickly turning into a man!  Crazy.  What a great big brother. 
Tim, Carolynn, and Tim's brother Jim and I hiked up and around Stewart Falls. 
It was a beautiful, slightly cloudy morning, so the fact that we took some serious detours only added to the fabulousness of the day.  
Eva and I had a little bit of a crush on each other.  I felt great about it.
Just hangin on Day 6. 
Sarah and James, LIVING.
Can we talk about the family dance at the end of the week?  Let's do.  It sounded a little cheesy to me, honestly.
 A big family dance, that would then wind down so that the teenagers could continue with their own.  But let me tell you.  It was SO FUN.  We Ridings, we know how to party. We were all, old and young, babies to teens and adults, shakin' it like a Poloroid picture. (Thank you, Outkast).  Sweaty, hyper, freaking out all over our own little corner of the room.  Even the teens weren't embarrassed to be seen with us, which is quite an accomplishment, I think.

It was an incredible week.
I laughed so hard, and played so much.  And did I mention that there was BYU Creamery ice cream and BYU mint brownies up there? I may have eaten one or the other of those every day.  At least once.

But really, I just need to sign off using the Native American name I was given.

Aspen Grove was a rousing success.


Mighty Stallion Mountain Song.

(Soon to be legalized).