Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Lot of Cancun Pictures (And No Swine Flu!)

Zipline at Isla Mujeres.
Before dinner at our hotel.

Josh on the beach at Akumal.

Trent and Noelle on the ferry to Isla Mujeres.
Such a fun vacation. Our only complaint was that Trent and Noelle and Terry and Claire ended up at a different hotel. (Long story, very sad.) We showed Josh the pyramids he'd been asking to see, spent a day at Isla Mujeres, and spent the rest of the time at the pool, beach or the buffet. Managed to avoid the Great Swine Flu Epidemic of 2009 that hit Mexico. This is probably our last international vacation with kids for a while, but I am so greatful we had the chance to spend a week together as a family.

Cancun Pictures

Tyler and Dave on the golf cart at Isla Mujeres.

Josh on swings at Isla Mujeres.

Josh in the pool at Isla Mujeres.

Josh holds a starfish at Isla Mujeres.

More Cancun Pictures

Tyler on the beach at Akumal.

The view in the courtyard of our hotel.

Tyler gets at drink at Chichen Itza.


Dave and Tyler on the beach at Akumal.

Josh is hot and sad at the pyramids (Chichen Itza).

Terry, Claire, Maddi, Noelle, Trent, Elyssa, Tyler, Josh (hiding) and Dave.

Josh, Tyler and Dave at the beach by our hotel.

Tyler fell asleep every night at dinner.

Tyler also got sand in his eyes, mouth and nose pretty much all the time.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hope it Gives You Heaven

It's not a very nice song, but I love to listen to the All-American Rejects's "Gives You Hell" when I'm driving my minivan. Normally, I'm a Britney Spears or Madonna kind of girl (both my co-workers and my family are appalled by my taste in music, by the way), but I make an exception for this particular song. In case you haven't heard it, "Gives You H-E-Double Hockey Sticks" is pretty much a repetition of the title lyric over and over again, with lead vocalist Tyson Ritter railing against an ex-girlfriend he doesn't much care for. The song suggests that Ritter is particularly disgusted with said ex-girlfriend for embracing responsibility, with all the stable employment, picket fences and shiny cars it entails:

"I wake up every evenin'
With a big smile on my face, and it never feels out of place.
You're still probably workin', at a 9 to 5 pace. I wonder how bad that tastes."

It's a song that I'm sure Ritter never, ever intended to be sung in a minivan, that perfect symbol of dorky suburbia I have so come to embrace. I particularly love to blare the song when I'm wearing a sweatsuit, driving my minivan, and headed to Wal-Mart to haggle with the cashiers about coupon matching and price adjustments. It's a guilty pleasure I enjoy when I do my late-night shopping, free from children who might inconveniently start singing "Gives You Hell" at, say, church or preschool.
Truth be told, I don't have a picket fence or a shiny car (mine is streaked with dirt and kid fingerprints). But part of me likes to envision the horror Ritter would feel if he pulled up next to me at a stoplight and saw me singing -- and dancing -- along to his rant against Middle America. It might, as they say, give him hell.
-- Elyssa Andrus
Published in the Daily Herald April 1, 2009.

Say it to my Face

Say it to my face: I'm a late adapter when it comes to any sort of technology, and I think I am one of the last people on earth to join the friend-locating, social-networking, time-sucking Web site Facebook. Just in case you are one of the other last people on earth yet to join, here's how it works: You set up a free online profile and choose "friends" who can look at it. A person has to accept you as a friend for you to see their profile, or vice versa. Then you can send messages back and forth, both private and public. When someone requests to be your friend, you can either confirm him as a friend or ignore the request -- a fun new form of cyber rejection.

Fair enough. The site's greatest feature, in my opinion, is its amazing ability to locate people. I've been able to find most of my high school friends, many people from college, and practically every teenager that lives within 5 miles of me. Interestingly enough, all of my high school and college friends look amazing -- the best they have ever looked. Either there is a lot of careful photo selection and editing going on, or an extra decade really does make all of the difference.

Because Facebook includes so much personal information, it's kind of spooky and weird to now know so much about people I haven't had a face-to-face conversation with since the 1990s. And I've gotten a few friend requests from people I truly can't remember. I always feel horrible hitting "ignore," but apparently that's not a problem for a couple of old boyfriends of mine. I tried to add them as friends so I could, you know, show them how happy and successful and beautiful I am after all these years (just look at the Photoshopped pictures!), but not a single one has added me as a friend. In all three cases, the relationship ended poorly and it was my fault.
But at least I've given them the final word (or mouse click, in this case).

Rejection is subtle with Facebook, but I get the message.
-- Elyssa Andrus
Published in the Daily Herald Feb. 11, 2009.

A Column That's Totally Awesome

When you're married, there's an almost endless list of things you can do to annoy your spouse. I've been married almost a decade, and I've discovered that I can aggravate my husband (with so little effort!) in the following ways: cleaning obsessively, complaining about the weather in Utah or Utah in general, wearing stinky perfume, showing up 15 minutes late for everything. But, oddly enough, the thing that bugs my husband most is when I use the word "awesome." I can't help it. I can't get enough of the popular '80s adjective. It works in so many situations. You can use it sarcastically when your 1-year-old child sneaks away: "Tyler, that's awesome that you are drinking out of the toilet. Again." You can use it in moments of true wonderment: "Oreo Cakesters now come in 100-calorie packs? Awesome!"

There's a whole host of products displaying this super-cool adjective on their label. I recently purchased a bottle of LA's Totally Awesome Carpet Spot & Stain Remover at a dollar store in American Fork. I was dubious about the name at first, until my 3-year-old son used a red Sharpie marker to draw dots all over my carpet. The $1 cleaner was totally, totally awesome.

Entrepreneur, pitchman and former Utah gubernatorial hopeful Dell "SUPERDELL" Schanze has named a handful of companies after my favorite word. Totally Awesome Computers makes for a fairly pedestrian-sounding business, but you have to love a store called Totally Awesome Guns and Range. I have never been in a TV commercial, carried a handgun, or lost a part of my finger in a freeway motorcycle accident. It's fair to say that SUPERDELL and I have little in common. But we are wed, so to speak, by our affection for one awe-inspiring adjective. Also, we both drive my husband a little crazy. And what could be more awesome than that?

-- Elyssa Andrus

Published Jan 4, 2009 in the Daily Herald.