Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Memories of 20 Ashford

My parents have toyed with the idea of moving several different times in my life, some more serious than the others. When they decided a few months ago that it was time to finally sell the house and move back to their home state of Utah, I wasn't very surprised. I guess I always knew they would do it. My Dad's a skier, it's what he loves and wants to do when he's retired. My Mom wants to be closer to her family, both to her Mom and then her kids and grandkids. Utah's lower cost of living will also calm any fears to their future financial security.

As real as their reasons and desires were to move, I guess I just didn't take them very seriously. When I thought about this summer, I imagined taking a vacation and spending a week or so in California after my internship concludes in July. I still felt like the house would always be there. Well, so much for that.

My parents sold the house two weeks ago and will be out of there by the middle of May. What about my planned vacation to go home and surf for a week, maybe even catch a few baseball games at Angel Stadium. I guess not. My Mom called me at work and I wasn't able to concentrate for the rest of the day. It became real. Much like the fable of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, this time my parents were for real and it caught me off guard.

So, in light of my parents decision, I have decided to share some of my most favorite memories from 20 Ashford:

My second morning waking up
We moved the weekend before my last three days of school at Vista Verde. I woke up that Monday morning extremely happy because it was the day of the annual Teachers vs. 8th grade students softball game. I had been dreaming of this moment since 2nd grade when I watched my brother John play in it. I remember waking up and going to the window to let the rare, early morning June sunlight come in. To my pleasant, 14 year old boy surprise, I saw a girl about my age eating breakfast in the house behind our fence. And no joke, just like Jerry might on an episode of Seinfeld or J.D. in an episode of Scrubs, I said out loud but yet still inside my head if you will, "I think I'm going to like this place." As I would later found out, the girl's name was Rachael and she would become a great friend.

Summer of '99 - Give Bryan Adams his summer in '69, just don't take away my summer of 1999. This summer in itself has about half of my most fondest memories and here they are:
- After days spent at football practice and surfing with my buddies Peter and Devin, we would spend the evenings playing Super Smash brothers and going to the jacuzzi. It felt like we hung out at our house almost every night.

- After catching that initial glimpse of the girl behind the fence, my friends and I spent the next month or two thinking of ideas of how we could get to know her. Our best idea came one evening when several friends from Vista Verde, including Daniel Ezroj and Kevin Brader, came over for a sleep over. Someone noticed that she was in the kitchen with her mom sitting at the table. We decided this was our chance so at 10:00 pm we ran outside into our backyard. We then threw a ball over the fence and almost instantaneously, 5 or so heads popped up to look over the fence. Believe it or not, we kind of startled the neighbors as they both turned their heads to look at us. Now I have a feeling that Rachael's mom had an idea of what was going on because she gave a little laugh, opened the door, walked to our ball, threw it back, and said good night. That was it. We were disappointed for two reasons, 1) Rachael didn't come so we still hadn't had very good luck and 2) her Mom didn't even invite us over for some milk and cookies at 10:00 o'clock at night. We had been certain that our plan would work so we returned back to the house a little dejected.

- Nerf wars were awesome in the third story bonus room. You seriously couldn't beat those. The only thing that came close was when we brought in the ping pong balls and used them to throw up at the ceiling fans. They were unpredictable as they deflected off of the fans, making for some laughs. The best idea was when we brought the two together and allowed the ping pong balls to be thrown like grenades during our nerf wars. The only rule being is that they must be thrown at the fan to count if they hit someone.
- The Ultimate Lawnmowers. My little brother loved cash as a kid so it only makes sense that he had the ingenious idea of starting a cheap lawn mowing "business" in a brand new neighborhood. He created fliers on the computer and then went around to all of the different neighbors. Initially, he only charged like $3 dollars but within a quick amount of time, he was charging $5 for the front and $5 for the back. Business picked up very fast and I soon began to help out. We then did it for the next couple of years and mowed 20 different lawns at our busiest period. As time went on we only kept a few houses, but those were the "money houses" as we called them, like the Friedman's across the street. These houses would pay us $20 to do their front and backyards.

Missionary departures and arrivals
- The first one is John's homecoming. John was coming home to a new house and my parents had an Isuzu Trooper waiting for him in the garage. It was even wrapped up with a "cute little bow" (as Jackie would say, already hinting that if she ever gets a new car, she wants a bow on it). We pulled up to the house and got the video camera ready. Then, we opened the garage so we could get his reaction on tape. Logan doggie was in the garage and came running out, and believe it or not, ran straight to John (even after two years absence she still knew who loved her the most). John began to start playing with his dog, suit and all. It probably went on for about 20 seconds and we still couldn't believe that John had not noticed the brand new car sitting there with his name on it, literally. The video we got of him when he finally did see it was priceless and I wish I could watch it right now.
- John also plays a huge role in my memory of leaving for the mission. I had always been excited and pumped for my mission, no real doubts at all. When I gave John a hug goodbye I noticed that he had begun to tear up. This shocked me for some reason. Going back to the Seinfeld/J.D. thing, I remember clearly thinking, "what did I get myself into!?" My mom was teary-eyed but that was expected, I knew she was going to miss me. But when I saw my older brother teary eyed, I felt it was a little different than the I'm going to miss you excuse. I felt like it was an "oh man, it's going to be hard, good luck out there" emotional showing from my brother. Is that what it was like John or was it similar to Mom's feelings?
- The day I got home from my mission, a few good friends came over and we went up to the Nintendo 64 to play some FIFA soccer. I, of course, had to pick Brazil as my team. Anyways, this memory sticks out because at one point during the game, I felt like my player had been fouled so I screamed at the TV, "PEN al ty! PEN al ty!" Everyone stopped what they were doing and all looked straight at me. I had pronounced it as a mix of both Portuguese and English. Michael still makes fun of me to this day. BONUS MEMORY: the very next morning I woke up early and went to use the bathroom. Beth had just walked in there so needing to know if I should go downstairs to the bathroom or wait for her to finish, I asked, "Voce vai tomar banho?" I got a very confused, "huh?", in response. I realized I had just asked her in Portuguese so feeling silly, I then asked her if she was going to take a shower, only this time in English.

Winter Formal '01
- At least I learned early in my high school career that hosting the after party to any formal dance is not ideal. This was my very first High School dance and since my date, Jacqueline, was pretty much the unwritten group leader, she suggested my house to host the 20+ person group. The party actually remained in control but I remember worrying the whole time that my parents might call off the party in the middle of it. Luckily, they didn't (thanks Mom and Dad!).

World Cup '02
- Does anyone remember the intense match up of Germany and the U.S. in the 2002 World Cup. I do. That is because I watched every minute of it. The game started at 3:30 am if I remember correctly. It was also on a school night. My parents, being the troopers that they are, allowed me to invite over my friends so we could all watch the game together. We probably had a little more than 10 people there for the game, a few slept over while others drove over in the middle of the night. If only the U.S. could have pulled it off.

Jack Flynn, the ultimate baby-sitter
- Sometime during high school my parents left us in the care of my brother John's friend, Jack. It was a party. I actually wasn't present for this memory but laughed that night when I heard the story from Jack. He had taken my little brother to Gelson's market to get some dinner. Michael didn't know what to order but ended up decided to have a pound of potato wedges for his dinner. Only Michael didn't call it a pound of potato wedges, rather a "lab of potato wedges." He saw the abbreviation for pound (lb.) and decided it must stand for "lab". After the Gelson's incident, Jack gave me the money my parents left to go and do the grocery shopping. My first time grocery shopping went like this: fruit roll-ups, check. Fruit by the Foot, check. Oreos, check. Pineapple, check. Hey, I knew I liked pineapple but it wasn't something my Mom bought that much so I decided to take advantage. I then remember it sitting there in the refrigerator because I had no idea how you were supposed to get that yummy goodness out from that wickedly, sharp skin. In the evenings Robbie Haglund would come over and the four of us would play 007 on the Nintendo 64 until we couldn't keep our eyes open.

Sean Conroy and the branch '02
- Like most High School Seniors, I felt like I was on top of the world. The light at the end of the tunnel was approaching coupled with the excitement of moving away to start college. My schedule was easy and had my afternoons off. Through John Garlock, we had met some girls from the St. Margaret's private school and had become friends with them. At this time, I had just started to date one and we began to hang out in groups to pair up some of our friends. She brought her girl friends and I brought my guy friends and we had a fun time hanging out like that. A car load of girls came over one afternoon to hang out for an hour or so. They had to leave to get back to school by 3:00 pm so we walked with them out to their car. Sean was feeling good because the afternoon went well so he decided to get some of his energy out by swinging on the branch, just as the girls began to back down the driveway. The next thing I know, I hear a loud snap and Sean's on his back, holding the branch like you would hold a bar on the bench press. He had fully committed to his swing so when that branch snapped, his feet were already gone and he went straight to his back. That caused a burst of laughter from the car and shock from my Dad as he came out to see what the loud sound was about. Sean played it off cool, as always, and I'm laughing about it right now as I think back on it.

Matt Clayton and the game of Sardines '06
- There aren't as many distinct memories over the past few years because of Brazil and just the time I've spent in Utah going to college. However, the weekend getaways, all of them a memory in their own, have provided me with some memories. Continuing with the friend breaking something at our house theme, there was the time Matthew Clayton broke the glass of the frame to my parent's 1989 lime green one piecers in all their glory, Brianhead Parents only trip ski trip photo. We were playing sardines and it was Matt's turn to find a place to hide. He crawled into the closet downstairs and sure enough broke the glass. Luckily, no cuts or injuries were sustained.

Summer of '06
- The closest thing to rival the summer of '99 is the one that I had in 2006. I was a valet at the St. Regis so my job was fun and interesting. When I wasn't doing that though, it seems like I spent all my free time playing Settler's of Catan with Robbie Haglund, Amanda, and Blake Corbin. Although we were probably at the Corbin's house more, there were still plenty of good Settlers battles at 20 Ashford.

The Roommate
- Probably the best part of the Summer of '06 was the new roommate in the Emmett household, my lifelong best friend Christian Clayton. When I got home from my mission, I lived with my little brother, and then Christian, Blake, and Matthew Clayton, and we still refer to that time as "the longest sleepover ever." That fun continued when Christian came to California for the summer. Christian slept in the attic most nights, except for when I would work the graveyard shift. When that happened, I would get home around 7:30 am, about the same time Christian would roll out of my bed and get ready to go to his job.
- 2006 was so much fun that Christian came back for more in 2007. As much as I would like to think he came so he could hang with me, we all know the real reason he came, Kennedy. I actually wasn't even there for the first couple of months because I was busy myself pursuing the girl to become my wife. Christian spent those months bonding with my sister Kristin. When I got home from Mozambique I was able to spend more time with Christian because I didn't have a job that required me to work in the middle of the night. We spent those summer nights gathering in either his room or my room and talking about "our girls."

Showing off my beautiful bride '08
- The couch in the attic of 20 Ashford provided the perfect location for mine and Jackie's first kiss on this continent back in the summer of 2007. I knew then that we had a serious thing going and sure enough, it lead to our wedding last year. Having the open house celebration there was a lot of fun as I got to see many friends that I had not seen in a long time and show off the wonderful person I had found. I'm quite the lucky guy.

Man, I'm going to miss that house.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birthday Weekend

'Tis the season for Disney theme parks. Over the past few weeks I have seen Disney pictures on a bunch of different blogs so now it is our turn. Those blogs include my cousin Ashley, Michelle, sister Kristin, uncle Chad, Jensen family, and then the Miller's Outpost blog. We took advantage of Jackie's birthday (last Thursday, she's still accepting happy belated birthday wishes) as well as her disney credit card rewards dollars. She got in free both days so we just had to fork out the cash for my admission. We left Miami at about 7:00 am and got to Orlando around 11.
You have to take the Monorail or the boat to get to the Magic Kingdom from the parking lot. Jackie was wearing her birthday badge so we got invited to sit up in the front car with the driver. Yee hah! How many cheesy jokes do you think we heard from the Disney monorail driver in our two minute ride? Honestly, probably around seven.
The Birthday girl at the entrance. After I took this picture the battery light started flashing on my camera. D'oh! That meant I only had about 3 quick pictures left until the camera was done for the day. A bad thing for recording memories, a good thing in that I didn't have to decide if a specific event was worth recording.
I used one to take a picture of Jackie in front of the castle...
...and the other to take one of both of us in front of the castle. (Interest note, Jackie's brother Charlie proposed to his wife inside the castle. Their daughter, Aurora, was named after Sleeping Beauty)
That's all the pictures we have from the Magic Kingdom. It's just like Disneyland but with no Matterhorn, so therefore, not as cool. The next day we were off to Disney's Hollywood Studios.
The big, new attraction there is the American Idol Experience. Anyone can try out. If they like you, then you can actually sing in front of a large crowd. They have three judges and everyone in the audience gets one vote. They have a show every hour or so and then all of the finalists compete in the last show of the day. The winner of the day is awarded a "golden ticket", a pass to get to the front of the line at any American Idol tryout location for the next season. I tried to get Jackie to try out but she wasn't having it.
The Tower of Terror

Herbie the love bug trick car
The stone tablet from the Chroncles of Narnia.

After two days at Disney World, we spent Saturday morning at the Orlando temple. Afterwards we met up with Jackie's friend, David, and had lunch at the Macaroni grill. It was a lot of fun, especially since Jackie is the Mac Grill pro.

From there we drove down to St. Petersburg so we could catch a Ray's baseball game that night against the White Sox.
Tropicana field. I can't figure out if the roof looks like an Orange juicer on purpose
I had to park a few blocks away because the parking lot was "full." Well, I can see three open spots in this picture. I actually wouldn't have been frustrated if I hadn't left the tickets in the car. D'oh! We had to make the trek back to the car once we realized it.
The first thing we did was go straight to the Ray tank. There you can feed and touch the rays in the tank. It was sweet, although kind of scary when they came straight at you looking for food.
Inside the doom it gets pretty loud. The Rays lost the game but we still had a lot of fun.
On the way home we stopped in Naples to check out the Gulf of Mexico
The highlight on the way home was the Ochopee Post Office, smallest post office in the U.S. I had actually read about this place when I was reading about the everglades but didn't see it when we drove by it last month. I was sure to catch it this time.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Florida Grand Opera: Sarah Coburn

We do more than just attend sporting events. Here we are, all ready to go to the opera! Brian wore a tie to match my outfit. Isn't he cute?! Our friend Keith showed us a youtube video about a year ago, of a fabulous coloratura soprano named Sarah Coburn rehearsing "Lucia di Lammermoor." Click here to see the very video. Well, I was quite impressed, to say the least. He gave us a call a little while back to let us know that she would be participating in a concert right here in Miami on April 6. I told Brian we were going!
We were not actually supposed to take any pictures during the performance. I don't think we were even supposed to take these but Brian snapped the above photo of the orchestra warming up and then one of us in our upper balcony seats. We couldn't afford to sit any closer. It was a beautiful concert hall as you can see from the pictures and the performance was absolutely amazing! Sarah performed with a Welsh bariton name Bryn Terfel. Sarah even did an aria that I had done in my days as a vocal performance major. "Una Voce Poco Fa" was one with which I competed and was chosen to perform in the Chairman's Honor recital, which doesn't mean anything to any of you, but it was a big deal for me! Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear her sing that one. She is flawless! It made me miss my opera singing days. Thankfully I am able to sing in church on occasion and was fortunate enough to get out of my talk on Easter and perform the special musical number. There is an amazing college music professor in my ward who accompanied me as well as a gifted young cellist. So with piano, voice, and cello, (and a prayer beforehand) we performed "I Know That My Redeemer Liveth" from the Messiah after a very brief rehearsal on Sunday morning. It was wonderful to have been a part of it. Brian gave a talk on the Atonement after our song and he did so well, he brought me to tears. Okay back to the opera!

Brian snapped another quick shot when they came out to take the final bow, after the two encores. It was so absolutely fabulous! We have tickets to go see Madama Butterfly in May and I can't wait!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Sony Ericsson Final

Jackie and I had a pleasant wake up call last Saturday morning. A friend of ours called to ask if we wanted two tickets to the Women's Final of the Sony Ericsson tennis tournament. Serena Williams was in the final so we thought it would be a fun match to see.Third row tickets, not bad huh
Front row parking at a tennis match. Bentley, Rolls Royce, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and 2 Maseratis.
What do you guys do when you ask a random person to take a picture and it doesn't really come out like you wanted it to? Do you ask them to do it again after you check the picture? We had asked the kids behind us to take a picture and I told them to get the court in the background but it didn't really work out. I decided not to ask them to take it again.
Serena didn't play her best and ended up losing the match. We stayed for the Men's doubles final but we didn't take any pictures during that match. It was a lot closer than the Women's match

Monday, April 6, 2009

MLB Opening Day

Did anyone else out there have trouble sleeping last night because you were so excited for baseball's Opening Day?

Jackie and I are going to the Opera tonight so we'll miss the first couple of innings of the Angel's and A's game but we'll be sure to get home quickly.