Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Meet the Team

Tashena is on the volleyball team at Bountiful High School!  First, I can't believe that she is in high school!  How did this happen?  Second, I am so proud of this girl!  She is a three sport athlete and she is incredibly talented!  Last night my family went to a benefit dinner (our attendance was compulsory because Tashena was required to sell a certain number of tickets) at the school to meet the team and watch some scrimmage games.  It was really nice with tables covered in red and white tablecloths set up outside in the courtyard.  Several families worked together to make all of the food and other families (including my sister) served it and it was delicious!  After the dinner the whole team was introduced then the freshmen played the sophomore team and the JV played the varsity team.  Tashena is on the sophomore team and they won!  During the games there was a raffle for all kinds of Bountiful Braves swag and Marilyn won a water bottle!  It was really nice and I was quite impressed with BHS.  I have a feeling my family will be spending a lot of time in that gym!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Pete's Dragon

When I was in elementary school there was a summer movie program.  At the end of the school year the PTA ladies sold passes to see a movie every Saturday during the summer and my Mom always bought them for us.  Every Saturday she would send us to the local movie theater with $1.00 (to buy a small popcorn, a small drink, and a licorice rope) to see movies like Pippi Longstocking, Swiss Family Robinson, Freaky Friday, and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, just to name a few.  One of the movies I distinctly remember watching on a Saturday morning is Pete's Dragon so, when I heard that Disney was filming a remake, I really wanted to see it.  I saw it Saturday night and I thought it was absolutely charming. After surviving a car crash which killed his parents, Pete (Oakes Fegley) is left alone in a remote forested area.  He is rescued by a dragon, whom he names Elliot, and lives in the forest under Elliot's protection for six years.  He and Elliot are discovered when a logging crew begins cutting down their part of the forest and he meets Natalie (Oona Laurence), the daughter of the foreman.  He is immediately taken in by Natalie's father Jack (Wes Bentley) and his girlfriend Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), a park ranger whose father (Robert Redford) has always told stories of seeing a dragon in the forest.  Elliot is worried about Pete and visits the town looking for him but returns to the forest when he sees that Pete is happy.  Unfortunately, Jack's brother Gavin (Karl Urban) has seen Elliot and wants to capture him leading to a big showdown in the forest.  I loved so many things about this movie.  I really loved how Elliot is portrayed.  He is so protective of Pete and his facial expressions and vocalizations are so endearing.  He looks more like a big, furry dog with wings and a long tail that a scary reptilian monster with scales.  There were moments when I was almost in tears when the loggers were trying to capture him.  I loved that the children are portrayed as ordinary kids rather than fashion models.  Fegley and Laurence give really affecting performances and I thought they were adorable, crooked teeth and all.  I loved Robert Redford's performance as an old man who still believes in magic.  Even as a grizzled octogenarian he is still so handsome!  I loved the beautiful forest scenery (It was filmed in New Zealand!).  I also really loved the soundtrack, especially the song "Something on Your Mind" by St. Vincent.  This is a sweet and old-fashioned movie that hearkens back to the ones I spent Saturday mornings watching with my sisters.

Note:  Do they still have the summer movie program?  Sometimes I think that today's kids are missing out!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Go Braves!

Yesterday was Sean's first official game of Little League football.  His team, the Bountiful Braves, played the Woods Cross Wildcats.  The Wildcats are a really tough team and, despite some great plays by the Braves (including a great interception), they ended up losing.  We had fun watching the game any way because Sean is so adorable.  He always helps the player he tackles get back up again!  I think his coaches are intense and I didn't like it when they would yell at him!  Sean is hard on himself and I could see him getting more and more dejected as the game went on even though I thought he did really well.  I definitely need to toughen up before next week's game!  Here are some candid shots from the game.

Note:  I am now going to have to get up early on Saturday mornings to watch his games!  Clearly, I love this kid!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Sunrise Ballooning in the Outback

After our adventure at the Kangaroo Sanctuary the night before, we got up at the crack of dawn the next morning to take a balloon ride over the outback.  Riding in a hot air balloon has been on my bucket list since I've had a bucket list!  I had the opportunity to do it while I was in Africa but I chickened out at the last minute and I have regretted it ever since.  When I learned that it was an option on this trip, I booked it almost immediately and vowed to myself that I would do it this time!  It was the coolest thing ever!
The balloon was so gentle!  By the time I realized that we were moving, we were already way up in the air.  It was amazing to watch the sun come up!
I loved looking out over the vast expanse of the outback.
After we landed we helped to deflate the balloon.
We also had the traditional champagne toast.  This tradition developed because the earliest balloonists were aristocrats in France and they would often land in the fields of peasants who would get angry with them for disturbing their animals.  They brought champagne to smooth things over (I may or may not have had too much champagne because the pilot kept refilling my glass).   This was such a magical experience and I'm so glad that I finally had the chance to do it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Jason Bourne

Another movie that I missed while in Australia and New Zealand is Jason Bourne which, by the way, I have been anticipating since I saw the first preview during the Super Bowl!  I finally had the chance to see it last night with my Dad and I liked it but it is definitely the weakest offering in the franchise!  It has been ten years since Bourne (Matt Damon) exposed Blackbriar and he is still on the run and clearly tormented.  Former CIA agent Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) hacks into the CIA mainframe and, while looking for evidence of another black op called Iron Hand, she discovers information about Bourne's recruitment and decides to track him down in Greece.  However, unknowingly, Parsons has attracted the attention of Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), head of the CIA's cyber ops division, and CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones) who suspect, correctly, that she will lead them to Bourne.  As Bourne searches for more evidence about his recruitment, Lee and Dewey send an asset (Vincent Cassel), a CIA agent with a personal grudge against Bourne, to assassinate him leading to an ultimate showdown in Las Vegas.  As with the previous installments, this movie does have some great action sequences.  Paul Greengrass, who directed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, with his signature use of hand-held cameras, puts us right in the middle of the action from Reykjavik, to Athens, to Berlin, to London, and, finally, to one of the best car chases I've ever seen on the Strip in Las Vegas (I also love the car chase on the streets of Moscow in The Bourne Supremacy).  Besides the great action sequences, the subject of this movie is quite timely and thought-provoking.  Iron Hand, the black op involving the use of a social media platform to spy on citizens in real-time, is pretty disturbing.  Are we willing to give up our privacy in the name of safety?  Damon is as inscrutable as ever as Bourne but I think that Vikander is completely wasted in this role because all she seems to do is say, "Copy that."  Also, she has way too many scenes in front of computer screens.   I will admit that I was a little bit disappointed in this movie because I have been anticipating it for so long but I didn't hate it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Kangaroo Sanctuary

After touring Alice Springs, we ended the day with a sunset visit to the Kangaroo Sanctuary, a 188-acre preserve dedicated to the rescue of orphaned baby kangaroos and their rehabilitation back into the wild.  Many kangaroos are killed by traffic though the outback but, if a kangaroo has a joey in her pouch, it often survives.  Brolga, as he is known, began rescuing the joeys from their dead mothers in 2005 and eventually built the sanctuary to protect them.  Brolga took us on a tour and showed us his newest joey, Madeleine.
As we were walking through the sanctuary we came upon Johanssen, one of the older joeys, and Brolga looked at me and said, "You want to feed him, don't you?"  I got to feed a baby kangaroo!
You can tell that I don't feed babies very often!  Look how awkwardly I am holding the bottle!  I'm such a dork but it was one of the coolest things I have ever done!  We continued wandering around the sanctuary and got to see lots of the kangaroos in action.
I loved how they would use their tails to balance themselves on two legs!
The sunsets in the outback were spectacular!  The visit to the Kangaroo Sanctuary was definitely one of the highlights of my Australia trip!

Note:  Go here to find out more about the Kangaroo Sanctuary and how to donate to this wonderful cause!
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