Friday, September 16, 2011

Ally's Update

I know you have all been waiting on the edge of your seat to hear what I've been up to all summer. Especially since I was so busy I couldn't find the time to even update our blog.

As you all know my summer started off with more broken puppy fun. Namely having Dublin tethered to one of us at all times. That alone pretty much accounts for May and June. We kept things very quiet around the house to help Dublin stay calm and rest up.

In July I got to go to Girls Camp. This year was Stake Girls Camp and I wish it was Stake camp every year. (I know words I never thought I would say...) But it was great. We went up to Lava Hot Springs this year and honestly the odds were already stacked against camp being good before it even started. I had my reasons, don't worry. You know like the last (and only other time I've been to lava), or my general disdain for Girls Camp, also the fact our campsite had no running water and porta-potties seemed to allude to a horrible week.

Because I'm only slightly committed to my calling (kidding), I only sacrificed 2 1/2 vacation days to attend camp(when you only get 10 days a year, that's kind of a big deal). This meant I got up to camp late on the first day which honestly isn't a bad way to go. With camp all set up by then all I had to do was plop my camp chair down and enjoy the evening. All in all, it turned out to be a great week. The stake leaders had put together workshops for the girls, we went on our hike (really a stroll down the road), we spent an afternoon at the ideal pool (seriously, it's great) which meant we got showers and our girls were absolutely fabulous the whole time. This one is for the record books, I actually enjoyed Girls Camp this year.

Shad already told you about our trip down to his Grandma's ranch so I won't rehash those details. Just share a picture of us on the side by side.

At the end of August it was finally time for Woman Cave up at Beak Lake. Once again this year I had a blast with my friends from work, Jen and Gina. We went up Friday afternoon and went swimming in the lake, had some delicious pizza and saw the show at the Pickleville Playhouse.
Saturday we played on the 4 wheelers and took a drive to Bloomington Lake to go play there. Unfortunately the road to the lake was less than ideal and we didn't make it there. Instead we stopped to play in the freezing cold mountain stream. Just as good as the lake if you ask me.
Saturday night we made our usual bacon wrapped-cheese stuffed hot dogs and then cressant rolls over the fire. So good.

I also got to work lots and lots of coverage and backs this summer. At the beginning of the summer I was given 2 new projects out of the blue. One project meant coverage (in my case backs because I'm nice) just about every other week. I'm pretty sure that's just one reason the summer flew by. I think sleeping all day tends to do that to you.

September meant it was time for my birthday and it was very uneventful, just the way I like it. We just ordered pizza and caught up on some Netflix. Nice and relaxing.

For the last part of my update I saved my big news. I start a new job on Monday!!! I couldn't be more excited. I am super sad to be leaving so many great people that I worked with at K-C but my new job has set hours (that's right no more backs...ever), lots of vacation and I get to learn something new. This also means I have a lack of vacation right now which means our big trip to Japan that was planned for October is getting pushed back a year but it's totally worth it for a new job. My goodbye/birthday cake. So good.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Shad's Update

So Allyson asked that I send her a bit to add to the blog about my summer. To be honest I kinda like reading about my own family and experiences in a blog without having to write it, but I guess I should give Allyson the same privilege today. Here goes:

My summer started a bit earlier than it did for Dubin, really with scout camp. We went up to camp Aspen Ridge on the Utah/Idaho border. Had 1 dad get called away on a business trip at the last minute, so we had to shuffle some adults' schedules around to make sure we had 2 adults there the entire week. The week went smoothly, no one was lost, and the biggest injuries were taken care of with a band aid or two. So I got to stay out of the newspapers.

The best part was the camp is like a boy scout all inclusive resort- activities, facilities, and food provided. We were there the opening week for the summer so the hot water heater for the showers didn't work just yet. Other than that the boys had a good time, earned a bunch of merit badges and taught me how to mountain board. Mountain board is basically a long board with large rubber tires and (gratefully) a rear brake.

In July Dublin being able to walk longer distances and start to run has helped me get outside and get a bit of exercise. Before that I wasn't nearly as consistent, and got in trouble with the animals in the neighborhood for coming by without Dublin. A neighbors pit bull ran across the street barking at me one day and shocked the owners. The owner apologized saying "she never does that, I don't know what is wrong." I knew, I didn't have Dublin with me. A yearling horse that lives in a pasture on the side of a trail I run by on used to look for the dog, but started to shun me (literally) as I came past. And finally one ornery dog who lives close to a school playground we run to stopped barking at me when I ran past, and started whining to express his displeasure. So with Dublin back out and moving hopefully my standing in the animal kingdom in the neighborhood will improve.

On Bracken family trip I got to learn that my mid-life crisis won't include the purchase of an ATV, ORV, or any other abbreviation that means getting motion sick while driving down a trail. This lesson came courtesy of a trip my parents planned down to Grandma's ranch where they rented a pair of Razors. Daniel and Monica (my brother and his wife) were more aggressive and left me trying to chase them and balance my desires of not losing them or the big breakfast they cooked for us before we left.

The other trip to talk about was a backpacking trip with my brother Luke. With Unitas and just about every other mountain range in Utah still being covered with snow in July we took some advice from a coworker of Allyson's and headed to the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. He advised we hike above Red Fish Lake, and I tried to find a map on-line, but I couldn't find an electronic one without requiring one of those subscriptions so I used Google Maps and decided we'd just buy one at the visitors center when we got there to keep us from getting lost. The lakes above Red Fish Lake didn't look that far on Google- maybe 3~4 miles out. I learned not to trust google for the back-country. The nearest lake was 11 miles, and there wasn't really a flat spot to put up a tent before that if we wanted to stop. It was a ridiculous climb to do in an afternoon. And I'm no longer in shape to make up for poor judgment. It was an amazing place, and a blast once the initial climb was done.

So back to home and the last thing I think I should report on- our garden. Allyson started nearly every plant on the windowsill in the kitchen in the spring to give the plants a head start. Our strawberries were awesome this year, we have a healthy pumpkin, tomato, and pepper crop this year. This years casualties included carrots, lettuce, peas, and green beans. Not sure what happened to the carrots and lettuce this year, and the peas and green beans fell to the poor soil (it's more like sand really) that they were growing in.

So to wrap up my summer- I didn't get famous for losing a scout, eliminated one mid-life crisis, am no longer shunned by the animal community, learned I'm not invincible, and had a bit of success as farmer Shad & Allyson.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Dog Days of Summer

Since it’s been such a long time since I’ve posted here, I thought I would break up the updates by members of our family. First up, Dublin.

After being cleared from his last surgery in July, Dublin plunged into summer and took advantage of the warm weather while it lasted. Shad and I weren’t too surprised once the initial excitement of being free was over, Dublin went back to being a pretty lazy puppy. I think two metal legs later, our dog has learned that going crazy and full out 90% of the time is maybe not a good idea. We can get him to chase his ball in the backyard about 3 times before he lays down in the grass and refuses to get up. Even though when he finally does get up he doesn’t appear to be in any pain. Maybe by next summer he’ll be back to the same wild puppy.

Other than being lazy Dublin has once again enjoyed playing in his pool, stealing flip flops (mostly mine) and missing his Mom and Dad while we’ve been gone for various church activities and while we took a quick trip down to Shad’s Grandma’s ranch. He’s definitely realized the three of us are his pack and when someone is missing he is determined to find them or wait for them to get home. He’s such a sweet puppy.

One thing he’s really missed this summer is the lack of grasshoppers in our yard to squish. We have a few snakes living in the garden (thank goodness he hasn’t come across one of those yet!), so Dublin hasn’t had near the number of bugs to chase like he usually does.

In the past few weeks Dublin has also started getting back to running every day. He loves it when Shad takes him running in the morning when it’s nice and cool and is not so much a fan when it’s hot outside.

This summer to help with my allergies, we also acquired a robot vacuum (yes you may think I’m lazy, but it’s been a dream). This robot appears to be Dublin’s arch enemy. The other day while I was gone he started barking at it when it started getting near his crate. I personally think this is a good experience for him for when we have children. I guarantee they will mess with his crate too.

Also I had to share this video of our vicious pit bull attacking a blown up water balloon. So mean...

So there you go. That’s what Dublin has been up to for the past few months.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Here we go again

Does anyone want a really cute pit bull? He might be a bit broken right now, but just a little bit of $$ and patience and love, and he’ll be back to new in no time. We found out on Monday Dublin has torn his other ACL on his other side. Yep, that’s right. Another round of this
And this after his surgery next Wednesday.
I knew his chances of tearing his second ACL increased exponentially after he tore his first one. I knew this so much that the second Dublin was allowed to be off the leash in the backyard, he got his very own health insurance policy (Trupanion if you’re wondering). It really made the vet appointment on Monday much less stressful on everyone’s part. At the end of the appointment the vet turned to me and said, “This appointment pretty much went exactly how you expected it to, didn’t it?” I laughed and responded, “Unfortunately, yes.”

Because Dublin hasn’t completely torn his second ACL, he’s still in great spirits and ready to play in the backyard at any moment. Because we know he’s going to be down for the majority of the summer, we’re not hesitating at all to indulge him. Every day after work we go outside and play like our lives depend on it.

I’m sad for our sweet puppy. I really could care less about the money, it breaks my heart to think about the 4 months we all worked to get him better only to turn around a month later and have to do it again. Poor puppy, I don’t think he has any idea he gets to do round 2 next week. I guess the real bright spot is knowing this is the last time we’ll have to do this with him. And we’re super lucky this has all happened while we don’t have other priorities (kids, moving, etc.). And that we don't have any big vacations planned until the fall.

Monday, April 25, 2011


So the official word on the street is that Shad and I are staying put here in Ogden. For those of you confused by that last sentence, let me explain a bit. Remember those changes I mentioned at the end of a blog post a little bit ago. Did you think when I posted about the end of the Sweater Friends that was the change? If you did, you were wrong.

You see, there was a sneakier reason for Shad and I randomly flying down to Las Vegas a bit ago. We both had job interviews down there. The company we interviewed with was kind enough to fly us down for the weekend so we could see the area, look at some houses and determine if we were willing to move to Vegas. The interviews went great and about a month later the company gave us our offers. The offers they gave us were less than convincing (less than we make now) so we countered with something we would take and they politely declined. Such is life.

I’m actually pretty relieved for a few reasons. I love our house up here and after looking at houses down there, it’s a complete mess to buy a house now. We probably would have ended up building a house because it would have been cheaper (yep – that’s how messed up the market is down there right now). I can’t imagine how long it would have taken our neurotic dog to get used to a new city and house. Seriously, we moved a couple of lawn chairs in the backyard this weekend and he freaked out. Our dog takes OCD to a new level. We would be leaving behind all of our friends and family and though Vegas isn’t that far, it’s way further than Ogden. I am a bit bummed that we don’t get to have a pool in our backyard and nice warm weather but Utah weather hasn’t killed me yet.

So what else have we been up to? Quite honestly, not much. Between working a bunch of coverage at work, planning to move and tutoring 4 students, I’ve been a bit busy.
We did make time to go down to This is the Place for the baby animal festival on Saturday. It was a lot of fun. How can you resist baby animals as cute as this little guy (or girl)? Too cute.

We also got to watch a sheep get sheared. She was too big to fit through the fence and needed some help.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Fond Farewell

So as some of you may have seen on Facebook this week, Jake and I have decided to call it quits with The Sweater Friends. We both kind of had a moment at a show we were supposed to play at on Monday night (we actually didn't end up playing) and after talking it over (more like emailing it over), it felt like we were both asking the question, why are we still doing this? I am really sad to close this chapter of our lives but I'm so glad we made the decision together instead of waiting for some sort of catastrophic falling out. Jake and I are still good friends and will remain that way for a long time. If you're interested in knowing more, head over to The Sweater Friends blog to read my last blog post there.

We will be playing our last show ever next Thursday night in Provo. Details can be found here. I can't convey how sincerely I hope anyone and everyone can come to our last show!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Vegas baby!

It feels like it’s time for another blog update so here you go.

Unfortunately for Dublin, he didn’t get freedom at his last Vet appointment. It was another month on the leash tethered to one of us at all times. Luckily for everyone involved, he had his final vet appointment on Wednesday and after being put out to get his leg x-rayed (yes our dog is always way too excited at the vet’s office to really do anything that requires him to sit still), he was given a clean bill of health and is now allowed to be off leash in our house and backyard.

I think I can speak for all three of us when I say it feels GREAT to have a somewhat normal dog back. I say somewhat because he literally sprints at top speed to get from any point A to point B. Hopefully that will stop once his energy level gets back to normal. I also hope to not wince every time he takes off to run anywhere at some point too. What can I say, the dog’s leg is easily the most expensive body part in our family at the moment and I really don’t want it broken again.

In other news, Shad and I got to spend last week in Las Vegas for a short trip. We flew down Saturday morning and came back Monday night. It was delightful, so nice and sunny and warm. It was exactly what we both needed as the cold drags on up here. It was also a pretty low key vacation for us. We pretty much just went shopping, saw a movie, met up with some friends down there and enjoyed some amazing restaurants. I almost always seem to come home from vacations more exhausted than before we left but this time around I definitely came home relaxed. I would share some pictures but I didn’t take any. Not a single one. Not even one with my phone.

In other news Shad and I both have new callings. Shad is the new Deacon Scoutmaster and I’m the new 2nd counselor in YW. Not really big moves for either of us considering I’ve been in YW for the past 2 years and Shad has had the 11 year olds but I guess it’s nice to have more church duties.

Lastly Shad’s brother got married a few weeks ago and it was a great time. And the best part in my opinion, he married a cute girl I got to go to high school with. Neither one of us would have expected we would end up related when we sat next to each other in AP English but I could not be more excited about it! Welcome to the family Monika!

That’s about all I can update on though some changes might be brewing at the Bracken house. Time will only tell. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Next week Dublin gets to go to the vet for his 6 week post-surgery check up. We get to find out if he gets to be free at that appointment. Shad and I are pretty excited about it, Dublin cannot wait. Not only does he get to go to the vet again (THE MOST WONDERFUL PLACE IN THE WORLD) but he also might get his freedom back. He can be in the backyard unattached to one of us. He can wander the house unattended and he can go up and down stairs. This also means the MDF blocking both our staircases gets to go away too. You might wonder why we had to block the staircases when the dog was attached to one of us with a leash at all times. I would counter with you haven’t met my husband. The dog sometimes “gets the best of him” so in order to prevent the dog from re-breaking his leg if he did happen to escape, I felt blocking the stairs was necessary.

In other news, I survived the month of birthdays at work. There are a few birthdays in February one of them being my best Ogden friend, Jen. Her birthday requires more attention than most work birthdays. Of course there was a cake (cupcakes actually) and a present but this year was also her 30th. To celebrate, our friend Jared wanted to throw her a surprise party much like the one we threw him for his 30th birthday. Next time there’s the prospect of a surprise party on the table I need to dibs either being the surprised person (easiest option) or get to be the distraction person. This time around I was not that smart and ended up being the person that got to cook, clean Jen’s house for the party (because she didn’t know about it) and decorate. Next time I will be smarter. I promise.

Last weekend we finally got to go down and visit Annie, Steve and Tommy. Tommy is absolutely adorable. He looks so much like Steve right now and has a full head of dark hair. He pretty much slept the entire time we were there so for me to say he is so sweet may not be true, but I think he is so sweet. And even though being parents seems to have shocked their systems, Annie and Steve are being fabulous parents. Seriously Annicka Sue, you are doing such an amazing job as a new mother, I could not be more impressed!

I’ve also been in training at work all week this week, for 9 hours each day. I am also getting a cold and trying my hardest to fight it off before it becomes a full-fledged cold. That combo really isn’t working. By about 10:00 every day I’ve had a raging headache and the biggest urge just to put my head down. Training is a good reminder why I say I don’t ever want to go back to school. Ever. Except in work training, I can’t just go to sleep like in thermo because instead of me paying to sit in the class, someone is paying me to sit in the class so just going to sleep and figuring it out later really isn’t an option. Just two more days left. I think I can make it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


So I’m a little torn about apologizing to the people that actually read this blog because I haven’t posted anything recently but honestly, I’m not feeling it. We’ve been busy having fun and taking care of life so I’m not too sorry for the lack of updates.

The past two months were filled with lots of coverage at work for me and lots of good times spent with family and friends. There were also a few sad moments for us too.

This year was my family’s turn for Thanksgiving and we had a great time. My sister and her hubby came from California and we had a delicious meal and good conversation and even a couch to lay on after the feast (I dare you to spend Thanksgiving at a place with no couch to lay down on after the meal and then not count that as a very important part of your subsequent Thanksgivings).

The day after Thanksgiving my family got together for some family pictures. Stacy Marie that did our wedding and our last family pictures took them for us this time at Wheeler Farm. I have them to share at some point in time. They seriously turned out so cute.

The first week of December brought Dublin’s second birthday. Due to the extreme amount of coverage I had been working (and by coverage I really mean serving nachos until 11:00 at night for a few nights that week – I’m so glad I went to school and got a degree so I could use my mind to serve people nachos. Nachos – chemical engineering at its best.), our poor puppy only got a store bought cake but he didn’t care. One bite people, our dog ate his piece of cake in one bite. There were also no presents – I’m a bad mom.

Our December weekends were filled with dinners with family and friends. There was even a night reserved for making gingerbread houses (okay graham cracker houses) with some of my favorite Ogden friends.

By mid-December, I was done working for the year. Woot! That’s what happens when you work as much coverage as I did last year. I’m not quite sure it was worth it, I would have much rather had more time off when it was warm. Despite the cold, I got a bunch stuff done around the house that had been neglected for a ridiculous amount of time.

Christmas Eve we spent with my family having our traditional fondue dinner and watching movies and Christmas day was spent with both of our families which is always so much fun.

Speaking of the puppy, a few weeks before Christmas he managed to injure his back leg. Long story short, it ended up that he had completely torn his ACL. I guess on the bright side, he had impeccable timing since I had time off work to take care of him but really the optimal option would have been him not competely tearing his ACL.
Sad cone of shame puppy.

Gross post surgery puppy leg.
He came home from the vet new years eve so instead of going dancing like we typically do, we spent the evening on the floor in the family room keeping him calm and resting. Right now we're half way through his recovery period which basically consists of keeping our dog calm and rested. This means that whenever he's out of his crate, he's on a leash connected to one of us at all times. Needless to say, we've gotten pretty inefficient at our house lately and I can't wait until he's free again. He can't either. He has cabin fever in a bad way. Just imagine our 75 pound pit bull that used to get a run every single day to control his energy and make him a happy dog, confined to his bed in the family room for 2 months. That's what we're dealing with at our house. At least the cone of shame is off now.

So there you go. That's what we've been up to.