Monday, September 21, 2009

R&R Weekend

This weekend, Ben was graciously given Friday off by his Case Team Leaders, who knew that everyone really needed a break from all the hard work they've been putting in. It was SO great. Ben was even so recharged that he was excited to go back to work today. Friday we had a good big workout (putting all 3 events together back-to-back for the first time), relaxed, then headed to Pretoria to see some of the city and sites.

The City Center had some neat buildings and architecture that you really don't see here in SA.

This is the "Palace of Justice" where Nelson Mandela was sentenced to life in prison for being an anti-apartheid activist:

The Union Buildings:

After the city, we went to the National Botanical Gardens with a lunch, blankets, and pillows and took a seriously relaxing nap in the shade and perfect weather of SA. It's summer now and it's sooo nice. After that we went to see my triathlon route and then headed to a mall for dinner and a movie. Super fun.

Saturday, we had one of our YSAs get married (we are the YSA couple). Didier Kambolo, he is such a neat guy and he found a beautiful bride from the Congo, Annick. It was the first Johannesburg Temple wedding we've been able to participate in and it was really special. I told them I'd take their pictures and they were so excited.

Before the wedding we had fun hanging out with our favorite little 4-yr old, Erin. She, her little sister, and awesome parents Olivier & Marcia, are our good friends from the ward.

All our favorite people:

The reception was from 3-8pm at our church and man was it a PARTAY! They sure aren't like this back home! I love how much they love to make noise and dance!

Our little friend Taquan:

Erin & Leonni:

That's our bishop with the bow-tie:

Of course Ben got his dance on! He went into the middle and really got down, it was hilarious and everyone LOVED it.

It was such a great wedding! (Pictures on my photo blog soon). We love our ward SO much. They are such great people and we're so happy for these two. There is another YSA wedding on the 10th of October! We can't wait!

To top the weekend off, we set up our tent on the porch last night and took our couch cushions and pillows in and watched F.R.I.E.N.D.S! What a great way to end a great weekend. This weekend is Spring Break here in SA...should be wild! And we get another Friday off! Hooray!

Tri Update

Just a quick update on the big old Triathlon! Training is going really well. I'm on week 5 and Ben is on week 4. I am half-way there--only 5 more weeks to go! I get nervous when I think about it but at the same time I just can't wait for it to get here so I can do it! We were able to go see my route this weekend (it's about 45 minutes away at Roodeplaat Dam) and I feel really good about it now. It's pretty level, which is a relief.

We also signed up for a mini-Indoor Triathlon that our gym, Virgin Active, is putting on next weekend, October 3-4th! Super excited, but we don't hear if we actually got a spot until the 29th of September, so we're just training like normal and hope we get a spot! It's a 4k run, 10k bike, and 250 meter swim all indoors.

And last thing, about the dates; mine is on October 25th and Ben is doing his on December 6th. We decided to do them separately for several reasons: 1) Ben wanted a few more weeks to train, since he hasn't been able to train as much as I have 2) We wanted to be able to watch, cheer, and take pictures of each other. If we were doing it together, we'd have no one to take pictures of us or cheer along the way! 3) Most importantly, we could only round up one bike! That's the main thing. One of Ben's coworker's husbands was going to sell his road bike and is going to let us use it! A road bike! SO much better than a mountain bike, so it should be good!

That's the update! Keep cheering us on from back home! :) We need it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some wishes

My mom's birthday was yesterday and my sister's birthday is tomorrow. So I'm meeting in the middle and posting about both today! I wish I were home to celebrate and give proper spankings. First:

Happy Birthday Mother!

Here are some reasons we love you. We chose 47 reasons...I don't really know why. It's just a good young number:

1) You're the best mother in the world 2) You gave birth to me 3) You started teaching me piano at age seven 4) When you laugh hysterically 5) We love your sweaty upper lip 6) Your hair in the morning 7) Your competitiveness & sportsmanship in games 8) Being my only match when it comes to ping pong, loose your marbles, and Freecell 9) Your love for your children 10) Your acceptance of bearded boys taking your daughter out 11) Resilience, even when hit in the eye by a big head 12) Deep love of the gospel 13) Your love for animals 14) Ben says, "That she has a room for me in her house!" 15) That you were a Tigerette 16) Cute new jeans!! 17) Shopping with you 18) Writing all my essays, even in college 19) Playing duets with you on the piano 20) CLUTZ!! Enough said 21) Except I want to remind you of when we were shopping and you climbed on that chair to get that jacket I liked and...that's all that really happened 22) Your love for your brothers and sisters 23) Adventure woman. Super mom. 24) All the camping trips 25) All the kayaking, 26) skiing, 27) cross-country skiing on the dam, 28) horse-back riding, 29) yard work. 29) Man, dad got lucky 30) Your love of chocolate and sweets. Thanks for that 31) That you'll eat the chocolate off of Reeses and let me have the middle 32) For being the best manager/director/producer for our plays and box office hits, like Sleeping Beauty as kids 33) For cutting my hair like a boys in 3rd grade 34) For asking Mrs. Streeper what lotion she wore because I loved it in 3rd grade 35) For cleaning up after my problems throughout the years. Literally 36) For being the best Santa Clause 37) For raising us to love movies like Oklahoma, Singing in the Rain, Sound of Music, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, etc 38) and Disneys of course 39) For letting us beat you up 40) You rock at Rock Band, it's ridiculous 41) You love life 42) You love cheese 43) You love your cats 44) And they love you 45) Everyone loves Valerie 46) And even writes her songs 47) Mom, I'm who I am because of the person you are. So thank you for everything. Ben and I love you with all our hearts!!!



This lovely lady is 18 years old!! HOLY BUCKETS BATMAN!! I can't believe she's not 12 anymore.

1) You have the best smile 2) You're so photogenic 3) You are the funniest one in the family 4) You have the best attitude 5) DATING MACHINE 6) You drive the blue CRV, just like Ben did 7) Your curly little hair when you were a baby, 8) and those chubby little cheeks, 8) and that hilarious laugh! 9) For being the best Prince Phillip 10) For being able to quote movies like a champ 11) You are so thoughtful and caring and selfless 12) You have so many friends and 13) EVERYONE LOVES ANNA 14) You make people happy 15) You're good at math and school 16) We're so much alike! 17) I have so much to learn from you 18) Thanks for being the best, most understanding, patient, loving, thoughtful, fun, hilarious sister. We love you Anna!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today we're REMEMBERING.

First, Happy Birthday to a special man in our lives. Pa! And here is a little poem to tell him we love him and some favorite things about him:

Happy Happy Birthday, to the one and only Pa!
All that we love about you, just leaves us in awe,

Thanks for being born, on this day so long ago,
And for convincing Nan to make you her beau,

Thinking back on all your ketchup sandwich meals,
Must make you grateful for work and banking deals.

Teaching Ben to golf, with you his first birdie,
The way you work with wood, you still must be thirty.

Watch out Brigham City, Pa’s working in his yard,
He’s got to get it right, to win this year’s award.

With a glass of lemonade and finger bunny ears,
The jokes you tell will bring us joy for many, many years.

To the hole in Eve’s leaf skirt, all the way to Timbuktu,
Thanks for being you Pa, just know we sure love you!
(Picture taken after my first time through the temple).

And my good buddy Kelly (Vause) Gerritsen! Happy Birthday friend! Love ya lots!

And last but not least, we're remembering 9/11.
God Bless America!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Safari Wedding

How do I get so lucky?!

Every wedding I do is fabulous, but this one was just so unique I'm going to post about it. The long-awaited wedding in the bush finally came! An awesome couple from Australia picked me to be their photographer for their wedding at Madikwe Game Reserve, a high-end reserve about 4 hours north of Johannesburg. We've always wanted to go there, but you have to stay the night to go on a safari, which would cost $400+ per person a night.... so it was unfortunately off our list. Who knew we'd get to stay there and get paid to be there? :)

It was quite the honor to be chosen because the groom is an awesome photographer in Australia! He offered to let me use his Canon 5D Mark II, which is my dream camera, and of course I couldn't turn it down. They were also so nice to let Ben come along as the "2nd photographer" using my equipment.

The first thing we saw as we were driving in was this, which I was so excited about because we haven't seen this yet in the wild, but knew it was awesome:

We got up there around 1pm for lunch and to capture everyone getting ready. Then the ceremony started at 4pm. The whole lodge (with 12 luxury tents) was reserved for the week for this wedding. It was a quaint, intimate ceremony with just family.

After the ceremony, everyone got in the safari vehicles to do a game drive and have drinks out in the bush. It was so amazing. The weather, the scenery, the animals, the sunset....perfect. There were rhinos and elephants just a couple hundred meters away from us!

They were such a great couple.

After drinks, everyone headed back (under the RED full moon, I've never seen it so red) to the lodge for dinner. It was incredible. One of our favorite meals of all time. We had Kudu, and it was so tender and juicy, we didn't even need a knife. My mouth is watering just thinking about it again. After dinner, we danced the night away.

They were kind enough to let us stay the night and get up EARLY (5am) for a morning game drive. It was FREEZING, but we saw 9 lions and followed them off-roading into the bush, giraffe, an injured hyena, and our favorite--a 4 DAY old baby elephant!!

Look how cute!!

Click here to see some more pics of the wedding.

It was just spectacular, and so fun that Ben was able to come with me. What a weekend! A deluxe safari along with a once-in-a-lifetime safari wedding in Africa!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Side by Side . . .

year by year...

My fabulous parents have been married for 25 years today!

Aren't they cute??

What a stinking cute couple they were and still are. Thanks for being great parents and even better examples. I hope that Ben and I can learn from your love and commitment for each other, and hopefully raise our kids as great as you raised all of us.

Here's to you!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Uganda & Stuff

Finally, here are some pictures from Ben's business trip to Uganda a couple weeks ago. He had a great time and liked Uganda a lot, except for the INTENSE heat being right on the equator. Here are some highlights:

Awesome photo babe! I taught him well :)

He went out to an island and was able to see these guys. The videos he has are hilarious. They're like little 5 year olds!

The Equator. Awesome. Videos show the way the water flows differently on the North and South side of the Equator. Only a few feet apart!

Celebrating in Monte Casino (mini-Vegas here in Joburg) the night he came home for good:

We had a visitor this weekend. He's a friend of Jon (Ben's brother) back in Salt Lake. He went to Cape Town for a few days first and then came to stay with us and do the safari and baby lion experiences. Way cool kid, we enjoyed having you!!

Ya sick of baby lion pictures yet?? Neither am I. So here's more:

BAM, right on the bicep. It was actually a really bad bite and he was quite sore the rest of the day. Punctured, swelled up, and bled. Good bite little guy!

Sweet little 6 week old tiger. SOOOO CUTE!!

That's all for now folks. Nothing new really. Just busy busy! Ben's working late this week, we're training hard for the tri, I had a wedding last weekend and another one at a Game Reserve this weekend--super excited...and that's it!

Thank you! Goodbye, now. Goodbye. Goodbye, thank you. Goodbye!