Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kofford Christmas Classic

This year for Christmas we had the opportunity to drive down to Las Vegas with Elisa and Alex. Late Thursday afternoon, Alex and Elisa met me and we went and picked up Matthew from work. After Matthew finished vacuuming the car, we were off. It was a fun ride down; we talked and listened to the new CDs I had made from the music Matthew and I bought from the itunes gift card I got Matthew for Father's Day. When we arrived at my parents home we of course spent the next few hours talking with family and staying up way too late, but it is always one of my favorite parts of the trip.

Friday morning the whole fam, with the exception of Jordan, went to the mall to get a family picture taken. This is not a typical time of year for us to be taking family pictures, but one of the foreign exchange students staying with my parents is leaving at the beginning of the New Year and my mom always likes to give them a family picture before they leave. As per usual we needed to come up with a funny picture to take. In years past it has mostly included the latest family joke, like our awkward turtles, or shaping your fingers into the letter L on your forehead and in an awkward voice saying, "I Love You" while using this letter L to point at the person you are speaking to. We have also done things on the fly like pointing in different directions with a confused look on our faces, while Kaleb continues to look straight ahead and smile at the camera or utilize our best modeling skills by giving the camera our best tiger impressions. Needless to say, we are a little weird, but we sure do have fun! This year I came up with the idea that we use Isabella, the first grandchild, as a center theme of our funny picture. Gary could lift her up like the Baboon does in The Lion King while the rest of us bowed and revered her. There weren't any other grand ideas, so we went with it.

After taking the pictures we hung around the mall waiting for them to be printed and while we waited my brothers thought it would be fun to start a pretend football game in the middle of the mall. At first they just pretended to throw each other a ball and a few times some strangers would run in and pretend to intercept the ball. Eventually we all joined in and had two teams playing against each other. We thought it was pretty funny and so did some bystanders, but one of the guards disagreed and told us to knock it off.

After we all agreed upon which photos were best, the parental units headed home and Gary, Haley, Jonathan, Elisa, Alex, Matthew and I headed towards the food court for some grub. Matthew and I ended up just getting some soft pretzel sticks as a snack and then eating everyone else's leftovers which consisted of McDonalds, a Philly Cheesesteak baked potato and Panda Express.

That afternoon we all helped to prep Christmas dinner so our Christmas day wouldn't have to be spent cooking food, then we all helped wrap Santa's presents and played our traditional Christmas Tree I Spy. That night my dad and Matthew went to Midnight Mass with Lorenzo and Jana. I also wanted to go, but wasn't feeling very good. The next day they reported that the "Midnight Mass" actually started at eleven, so they attempted to find another location and when they finally did, they walked in and it was entirely in Spanish.

On Christmas Day we all slept in and took our time to go and open presents. Most of the morning was split between opening presents, eating and trying over and over and over again to call Jordan. We tried calling him, but the number didn't work and then he would call us to tell us to try something different, but it still didn't work. Eventually it ended up working and we had a good time talking to him about his experiences in Guatemala and what things we were up too.

After opening all the gifts and stockings and taking the traditional photo with all your gifts, we changed our clothes and settled into watching one of the new movies. We all decided upon Despicable Me...such a cute movie! After the movie we headed to Grandma Kofford's house for a visit with her and some of the "Kofford" aunts, uncles and cousins. It was fun to see everyone and catch up. Elisa and Alex officially announced to the whole family of expecting a new arrival in June/July. Upon returning home we sat down to our Christmas dinner and as usual it did not disappoint.

On Sunday we all went to Sacrament together. It was nice to see many of the people from my childhood, although many have moved or passed away. Danielle England, one of the girls my age growing up, and her husband were visiting with their new daughter and they blessed her. It was good to see them again, although I have to admit a little hard. I am very happy with my life, but sometimes it is hard to see others have or doing things that I would like to have or do. I know that I am doing what is best for me, but I sometimes still get impatient waiting for things I am excited to have and do.

After Sacrament meeting we all headed back home to change and hit the road. My parents had decided that they would just follow us back home and make a short visit to the snow with us! Unfortunately there wasn't much snow in the neighborhood, but we entertained ourselves anyway. When we arrived that night Elisa and Alex continued towards their home, while the rest of us herded into our little apartment, but what our apartment lacks in size is made up for with all the blankets we own!

Monday we made breakfast burritos for breakfast and hung around the house all morning. Elisa and Alex arrived with their friend just as we were leaving to go eat lunch at Chuck O Rama. They had just eaten lunch, so they declined coming and hung around our place until we returned. In the early evening, before it got dark, we headed towards Temple Square. My
mom wanted to show Lorenzo and Jana, the foreign exchange students, around and inside each of the buildings before it got too dark and crowded. It was actually a really good experience because I saw parts of Temple Square that I had never seen before and Lorenzo had a lot of questions. It was fun to see his curiosity. After walking to and through a majority of the buildings we walked by some of our traditional spots and took pictures. On our way back to the car we noticed that the Conference Center was open and walked inside for a minute. My parents had never been inside. We took a quick look around and asked when tours were given and how long they were. The Missionary stated that the tours run all day until 9:00pm and could be as long or as short as you wanted them to be. It was getting late, so we decided that it would be a fun thing to do when they came up for my graduation in May.

When we got back home Alex, Elisa and their friend couldn't stay because they had plans with some other friends, but Matthew and I decided to make the rest of the family our famous bacon cheeseburgers and sweet potato fries and we watched Inception.

Tuesday morning my parents woke up early and headed towards Matthew's parent's home for breakfast, just the four of them. The rest of us just slept or lazily lounged about for the entire morning. When my parents returned my mom wanted a nap, so the boys went outside to toss around a frisbee. When the boys returned we headed up to Ogden to show my parents Alex and Elisa's apartment and to celebrate Elisa's birthday. Elisa thought we were just coming up to see the apartment and then my parents were going to head out, but after we left their apartment the first time, Alex lured Elisa out of the house and we returned to throw her a surprise party. My parents even told my sister that they had forgotten her presents at my house and she would have to get them later. Elisa admitted later that she had no idea about the party until as she was walking into the apartment she saw my parent's car. After opening presents and eating cake and ice cream my parents headed back home to Vegas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Branch Christmas Party

For those of you who don't know, Matthew and I have been serving in a retirement branch for the last year and a half and we absolutely love it. Each Monday night for FHE we have our Sunday School lesson and because we have it every Monday without fail, at the end of the year we have a few Monday nights without an assigned lesson, so we have a Christmas party!

Last year we enjoyed a Choral Group and an assortment of goodies dipped in chocolate from a chocolate fountain. This year we decided to have a dinner and talent show. The dinner was provided by President Langheinrich and his wife Annette. It consisted of delicious chicken salad sandwiches, chips, fruit and an assortment of cream puffs for dessert. Simple and yet delightful and filling.

There are many very talented people in our branch. We have a couple who have both been members of the Utah Symphony, a Sister who was the first female to play the organ for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and was on the music committee that assembled the Hymn book, we have a Brother that sings Opera, another Sister that sings and was Miss America at one point and many Brothers and Sisters with so much talent.

For one of the talents, Brother Mueller played a medley of German Christmas songs and his daughter Birgit (Sister Robinson) read about many of the Christmas traditions in Germany. Mike Phillips had us all entertained with the sounds of Charlie Brown and Matthew and I got the whole room laughing and singing to the Twelve Days of Christmas. I sang and Matthew accompanied me on his Kazoo while raising big silly pictures (given to us by the lovely Charlotte Sheffield) of each of the items given, he was in a pool of sweat by the end of it all! Sister Nancy Dixon then played more Christmas songs on the piano while Charlotte Sheffield lead the group of us in singing them. It was a lot of fun!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Pizza Christmas Party, Taylor Style

For Christmas this year, Matthew and I had the chance to get gifts for the Taylor Clan. We began to think early on about what we could get that the whole family could enjoy together. The very same week we were thinking of gift ideas, we received an email from Cole that stated he was participating in an online fundraiser. Matthew and I browsed through all the items and for the most part, there weren’t any great family gifts, but near the end of our search we found a fun Pizza Cookbook. This book had several ideas for different types of pizzas, including kid and adult friendly recipes; the last page even had a fun dessert pizza. We thought that this gift would not only be a great gift that the Taylor clan could use over and over, but would also give us the opportunity to spend time with them if we brought ingredients as part of the gift. So we called up Liz and let her in on the idea, so that we could schedule a dinner date and on the 17th of December we enjoyed an evening with the Taylor’s.

Over the last few years Matthew and I have frequently had the opportunity to spend time with the Taylor’s and occasionally we have brought our camera with us and captured some fun moments with them. So another idea we had for them was a picture book of some of those moments. Many of them included time we have spent camping and hiking and going to the zoo, and other moments included holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Even with both of these gifts, I felt like there was something else Matthew and I could do to truly serve Liz and Zac. They have been so great to Matthew and I over the last few years and I wanted to do something for them that could help them in even a small portion of the way that they have helped us. Liz has always been willing to listen and talk with me about my struggles and new things that I am learning, and she and Zac have been great examples as parents. So, I thought that a fun thing to do would be to create a coupon for free babysitting, so that they could spend an evening out together without the kids. Here is a picture of the coupon we gave them:

When we arrived at the Taylor’s we all gathered around and opened each of the gifts. Once the pizza and ingredients had been opened, we all headed into the kitchen and began to make the pizzas. Liz and I had arranged earlier to make a stuffed crust pepperoni pizza for the kids and a chicken ranch pizza for the adults. Cole and Spencer were both pretty excited about helping to make the pizzas, James was excited to eat some of the string cheese and take bunch of real pictures with our camera and of course Maddy was excited to eat slices of pepperoni and look cute in her apron. The pizzas took longer to cook then we expected, but we all agreed that it was worth the wait.

After finishing dinner, we had more pizza fun by making a yummy dessert pizza; the crust was a sugar cookie, the sauce was chocolate and the toppings consisted of M&Ms, mini marshmallows and nuts. We really enjoy our time with the Taylors. We love and look up to Liz and Zac, they are not only great parents, but they live the gospel with all their hearts and they show genuine interest in our lives and the lives of all they associate with.

The following is a sampling of James' photography:

Salsa Chocolate

Just in time to help me celebrate the finish of a great semester, my cousin, Justin, came to town for a short visit. And what else would we do with Justin? DANCE, of course!

I actually called Ryan, Justin's brother, in the late morning of the 16th because I knew Justin was flying in and I wanted to know what the plans were. Ryan informed me that he was on the way to pick Justin up from the airport and that he would let Justin know that he was welcome to hang out with me for the afternoon while Ryan took his last final. About 30 mins later Justin called me and said Ryan was dropping him off to hang out.

Ryan stayed for a little while and we all caught up. Shortly after Ryan left, Justin said he was hungry and wanted to take me out somewhere. I told him about this Thai restaurant and he was in. I realized that if I called fast, that I might be able to catch Matthew before he started eating his lunch. I caught him just in time and told him I would pick him up for a lunch date! We went to Chanon Thai and ordered calamari and two entrees to share. It was a wonderful, filling lunch.

After dropping Matthew back off at work, I invited Justin to play our Wii while I did a little more cleaning and attempted to finished the scarf I had been knitting for Bella for Christmas. He had fun creating "Mr. Wiggle" and then proceeded to spend the rest of the afternoon dueling. He was still dueling when Matthew came home and Matthew was immediately sucked in. Just a few weeks prior, Matthew had spent an afternoon dueling, but couldn't get past the fourth level. It took Justin about half the day, but he had made it through all the levels and now he had started completing the levels in reverse. Matthew wasn't too upset about it, but decided he needed to try and finally get past that fourth level. After three attempts he finally did it and of course the entire time I was mocking him, and so he challenged me to "try it." I took the challenge and much to his dismay I got through at least the first five levels in one try.

Soon enough came the time for us to go out, but we had one pit stop to make before going dancing; Anthony Woolf's new wife Laura was having a birthday party and they invited us over to their new apartment for cake and ice cream. We stopped by for about 30 mins and enjoyed swapping silly stories about being pulled over by the police.

Before dancing we were driving around Provo picking up a few people and we passed by the Provo Tabernacle, which is one of the older buildings in the area and decided that it's a place we need to visit. The next morning we found out that the building was destroyed by a fire. It is crazy how things in this world can change in an instant.

After leaving the party we headed down to Provo to meet back up with Ryan. We went to a Salsa Club called Salsa Chocolate. Justin took me Salsa dancing quite a few times while I was in Pittsburgh and I had a lot of fun and because he is an instructor I think he was curious how the Salsa scene is out here. He was happily surprised, as was I. There were many more people at this club than most of the places we had been too and the dance floor was huge. I think Justin really enjoyed himself. He and Ryan are such good dancers, they have different styles, but it was fun to dance with both of them. I feel bad sometimes, because I know that Matthew knows I love to dance, but he is so uncomfortable. I hope one day I can have more patience and he can have more confidence so that we can both take lessons and truly enjoy dancing together.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goal Attained

Last Tuesday (Dec 7th), I was on my way to work when I was pulled over and cited by a Utah Transit Authority police officer. She cited me for failure to stop at a red light. I was riding a bicycle.

That's right. Much to my surprise, UTA police officers have the authority to write traffic citations. Also to my surprise, they are serious when it comes to cyclists abiding by traffic laws. As surprising as those revelations were, they did not shock me as much as some of the other details surrounding this experience. Now let me confess up front that I did not stop quite as promptly, nor did I initially take the officer as seriously as she would have preferred. This did not help my situation.

Here's the story. I was stopped at a light when the officer pulled up along side me and began to talk to me out her window. Apparently, she quickly suspected that I found some amusement in the situation because she asked, "Do you think this is funny?" Now, I believe in being honest but perhaps this was one scenario in which it might have been wisest to answer with something other than, "Yeah, I kind of do." I believe that was the pivotal point at which the situation turned from a verbal warning to a citation.

The light changed and the officer followed me a block and a half to the back entrance of my place of employment where I decided we had better stop and talk. I was shocked when two more UTA police cars arrived within a minute or so. I was further shocked when a South Salt Lake officer arrived within minutes as well.

At the time, I was very confused why it was deemed necessary that so many resources be dedicated to a traffic citation for a cyclist. It was not until later that it occurred to me that it was likely because the back entrance to Access RV is very secluded and could have proven to be a dangerous situation if I had been armed or had otherwise become violent.

The officer who pulled me over approached me in her jeans, T-shirt and fuzzy slippers and requested my driver license and while she was reviewing my lack of criminal history, the two other UTA officers chatted casually with me. Suddenly, the South Salt Lake officer approached me and curtly informed me that if he had addressed me as she had and I had not stopped immediately, that instead of just following me to work, I "would have been eating gravel." This statement was the one that disturbed me most. For an officer of the peace whose focus should be primarily on public safety, I was horrified to learn that he would intentionally cause bodily injury and property damage simply to proclaim his authority.

I was informed by the female UTA officer and the South Salt Lake officer that they could arrest me on the spot and charge me with fleeing. They reiterated this multiple times. Oddly, they referred to the fleeing offense with varying levels of severity. They seemed unsure if it was a misdemeanor or a felony. Either that or they changed their tune to felony when I seemed unimpressed with the misdemeanor charge. Ultimately, she wrote me a citation for failure to stop at a red light and they left.

My coworkers were all very intrigued by the scene I created for them as they arrived at work. So I told the story multiple times all day. All of them were as shocked as I was at the spectacle of four cop cars versus one bicycle. My boss found it laughable that while riding my bicycle, I received a traffic citation that included a penalty of some points on my driving record. In the course of these conversations, I keenly observed that while I do have the cycling merit badge from the Boy Scouts of America, I have never been licensed for cycling by any government agency.

I went home and told Kara the story. She was unamused and disinterested in the details. She simply responded that if I weren’t breaking the law by running red lights, none of this would have happened. This is one of the reasons I love her so much. She is such a woman of principle. She often puts things in proper perspective for me.

I did a little research on the Utah State website and learned that traffic laws in Utah hold cyclists to the same standard as motorists and that there is even a question to that effect on the written driving test.

This morning before work, I rode my bicycle to the Salt Lake City Court House to pay my debt to society. I briefly mentioned to the hearing officer that I was hoping at least to avoid points on my driving record. I asked him to note the vehicle shown on the ticket. That's all it took and he had a city prosecutor change the citation from "failure to stop at a red light" to "failure to follow bicycle rules." This meant no points and it reduced my fine from $90 to $70. I paid my fine, walked out and rode my bicycle to work.

I've always said I wanted to be pulled over on my bicycle just so I would have the story to tell. Now that I've attained that goal with such flying colors, I can focus more on other goals.

I stop for red lights now regardless of my vehicle.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Well, I've done it, I've finally done it! Today I took the last of my final exams! I am now done with all of my bookwork for graduate school! And to make things finish off even better than I could have asked for is that I earned two 100%! This has not been an everyday occurrence for me in my graduate career, so I definitely ended on a high note! Now all that stands in my way are two internships, a $500 boards exam and getting a job! I never imagined that this day would come so soon!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


A few weeks ago Matthew dropped a hint that we had some sort of special occasion to celebrate on the 10th of December. I racked my brain and could not figure out what anniversary I was forgetting. You see, Matthew is a data type. He likes to take note of things like: the first time we said that we loved each other, the day he decided he wanted to marry me, the first day we met,our first date and so on. So when he finally gave in and told me that the special occasion was 1000 days of marriage I wasn't too caught off gaurd about it, but I was excited. To celebrate this grand achievement we went to dinner at vinto. I know that's nothing new and exciting, but it was a nice evening out with each other. We tried a new dessert because the one we have tried before is seasonal so it was unavailable. This time we had a peice of lemon cheesecake.

This year the second year class from the PT school were in charge of our Christmas party. It was announced that the party would be held at the chapel on Sunnyside and that there would be dinner, music, games, a raffle, an ugly sweater contest and a mechanical bull.Matthew wore the same sweater I bought him for the Christmas party we went to my first year in grad school and I wore his Hunter High School Student Body Officer Sweater. At the last minute I realized that the sweater was the same color as BYU's colors, but unfortunately I didn't have time to tape on a big Y. I think if I did, I might have had a chance of winning the ugly sweater contest. Most of my classmates were there including Danny Johnson and Evan Papa, who were both wearing hideous turtle necks with another sweater over the top.

Dinner consisted of a variety of soups with rolls, vegetables, chips, fruit, and a lot of other random things. It was really tasty. After eating a bunch of people started playing "Tornado" which is a basketball free throw game and others started to ride the mechanical bull. Underneath Matthew's ugly sweater he was wearing the bull riding shirt that his brother bought him from Spain, so after mustering up courage, he rode the bull in his bull shirt. His ride didn't last long, but neither did mine, but we did have fun.