Thursday, January 29, 2009

Playing Around

I took video of some of the fun games Tess and I play on a daily basis.

Going Up.

Coming Down.
She did a great job until she reached the stair landing.
For some reason, she decided to tackle that last stair with a faceplant.
Hence, the dramatic ending.

Friendly, isn't she?

I think Tess would live upside down if she could.
She finds the world fascinating from that vantage point.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Align Center

Tess loves it when I scare her. Notice my expert filming does NOT get me on film.
I don't want to scare all of you too.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Back to Life

After a great holiday at the beginning of the week, we're finally settling down to a routine again. Ry had Mon. & Tues. off for MLK Day and the Inauguration. He was actually forbidden entering his office on Tues (we all know what a security risk he is)--not that he could have gotten there if he wanted to. In the moments leading up to the Inauguration, I was considering braving the elements and horrendous mobs to attend. I may have made it if wasn't so unbearably cold here! Instead, I elected to watch it on TV, snuggled under a blanket with my warm family.

Politics aside (and I have readers that span political spectrum!), it was a significant moment to watch the first African-American sworn in as President of the United States and feel the support of our country behind him. I'll admit that I got a little misty as I considered what a blessing it is to live in this country (then again, I still get misty whenever I sing the rousing lyrics to "Portsmouth is for People").

I've included some new pics and video clips that show how busy Tess has been lately. She has lots of new favorite activities, which include:

1. Pointing out all the pictures in her Richard Scarry book. Nana recommended this book for Tess, and she adores it! Her favorite things to point to are hats, cars, babies and for some strange reason a ball of yarn that is on one of the pages. I don't know what it is about the ball of yarn, but she points it out every time.

2. Climbing, climbing, climbing! Tess has always been a little cautious when it comes to stairs. Whenever she'd get to stair #6, she'd start shrieking like a princess in distress in need of rescue. So you can imagine my surprise when she crawled all the way up the stairs and into my bedroom yesterday! It's been nonstop climbing ever since.

3. Pulling out bows. Tess finally has enough hair to hold a bow--no corn syrup required! I've waited so long for this, but it seems I'll have to wait even longer. She won't keep one in long enough for me to even snap a picture.

I'm at a standstill with her hair. I'm not sure what to do with it. It's coming in more on the crown, but it's a hundred different lengths, and admittedly, a little unruly at times. Yesterday she woke up looking like Einstein. I'm not sure cutting it would help. I think I just have to be patient, and in the meantime explain to people that my baby's a genius.

4. Books and snuggles with Dad. A longtime favorite!

5. Shrieking when she doesn't get her way. We're trying to get her to use signs to communicate, but she knows that her way is much more effective.

6. Laughing all the time (when she's not shrieking)! Tess has the most infectious giggle! We think it's a great night's entertainment to hear her laugh. She has two true ticklish spots-- under her chin and her little chunker thighs. The thighs are her Achilles heel.

7. Going "Brrrm, brrrm, brrrm." This is Tess' new favorite noise. I don't know how she learned that cars and trucks go "brrm, brrm," but she's quite excited by it. She spent an afternoon playing trains with Wes & Sean, and had a fabulous time. Her new favorite toy is a fire truck that she makes go "brrm, brrm!" (The cashier was surprised that I was buying a truck for a girl.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Metallica live in concert

The review you've all been waiting for, written by guest blogger and unabashed headbanger, Ryan:

(Clockwise from top right: James Hetfield, lead vocals and rhythm guitar; Robert Trujillo, bass; Lars Ulrich, drums; and Kirk Hammett, lead guitar)

When I learned last fall that Metallica, the formative thrash metal band from California, was making a tour stop in Washington, DC, in support of its newest studio album, Death Magnetic, I decided to take the plunge. Sure, the tickets cost me an arm and a leg, but Miriam approved the sale (of my limbs) and even volunteered to go with me. She had only the faintest notion of what she was getting into.

(Before the concert)

Last Thursday was the big day. Miriam picked me up at work at about 6:45 pm, and we spent the next 45 minutes hunting for a parking space. Finally finding an open garage, we stopped for dinner. Technically, the concert started at 7:00 pm, but I wasn't overly eager to catch the opening bands: The Sword, a fairly new stoner metal group whose sound is heavily influenced by Black Sabbath (the video for "Maiden, Mother & Crone" can be viewed here), and Machine Head, a groove metal band from northern California.

When we arrived at the Verizon Center near 8:00 pm, Machine Head was on stage. They were loud and that's about it. The lead singer, who has a very limited vocabulary (mostly limited to words that start with "f") and doesn't seem to be the brightest of lights, tried his level best to rouse the crowd. He didn't succeed. Inexplicably, though, he told us that we were the best crowd on the entire tour. Either he was lying or Machine Head has played in front of sleeping audiences in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

Our seats weren't bad--or at least the seats we decided to occupy weren't bad. When we arrived at our assigned row, our seats were filled by two men who I would guess had once been members of Hells Devils (the more violent branch of the motorcycle gang Hells Angels). We decided to play it safe and take some empty seats nearby.

At around 9:00 pm, the arena lights dimmed, the capacity crowd of 20,000 began to buzz, and the strains of "The Ecstasy of Gold" (from the western "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly") filled the air. A few moments later, lasers began to flash, spread, and swirl, and we heard the opening notes of "That Was Just Your Life." For next two hours and fifteen minutes, Metallica hardly took a breath, shredding through 18 songs, including three encore tunes. All four band members were in fine form, especially lead singer and rhythm guitarist James Hetfield, who was a ball of energy on stage (the stage is set in the middle of the arena floor, allowing band members to rotate positions), and bassist Robert Trujillo, who crab-walks as he plays.

(At the concert)

I was a bit disappointed with some of my fellow concert-goers who chose to remain seated during the entire set, but Miriam and I chanted, shook our fists, and headbanged like nobody's business. (She nearly lost control rocking out to the song "Enter Sandman." ["Only, like, the best Metallica song EVER! It was crazy awesome!"--side commentary from Miriam.]) We didn't get caught up in any mosh pits, our hearing is in fairly good shape (as we left the arena, I did notice that I didn't have any hearing in my right ear), and we had a good time.

I've included a review of the concert that ran in the Washington Post. Other concert photos I liked are posted here and here.

Metallica, Still Putting the Pedal to the Metal

By Dave McKenna
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, January 17, 2009; C02

The members of Metallica learned this week they'll be in this year's class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. No act this heavy has ever received that honor.

On durability and CD sales alone, the induction is deserved. Metallica is huge, after all, and has seemingly been huge forever: After the release of its latest record, "Death Magnetic," the band was cited by Billboard as the first group ever to have five CDs debut at No. 1. (The Beatles, U2Dave Matthews, none of whom ever detuned an E string to add crunch, are the only others with four.) and

But for Metallica, which put the wrecking ball to the wall between fringe and mainstream long before there was a Nirvana, these latest recognitions aren't as righteous as, say, having its logo ironed onto Beavis's T-shirt all those years ago.

So at Verizon Center on Thursday, a building packed with 20,000 real-life Beavises of varying ages and genders, no one in the band even mentioned the induction or the chart-topping status.

Instead, they delivered a punishing, cathartic set heavy with new songs -- among them "That Was Just Your Life" and "The End of the Line," which each clocked in at more than seven minutes -- that were as fast and furious as the stuff that broke the band out of Southern California 25 years ago.

Metallica's bond with its audience remains staggering. Guitarist/vocalist James Hetfield, who of all the band's veterans has retained the most edge, gets whatever he wants from the flock. Hetfield asked the fans to scream "Obey your master!" during "Master of Puppets," and everybody in the building complied with every decibel they could muster.

In return, Hetfield gave his all, whether while shrieking angry-man lyrics with astonishing amounts of menace or down-stroking the bass strings on his guitar at warp speed to provide a rhythm for lead ax man Kirk Hammett.

Bassist Robert Trujillo, the newest member, enthralled the crowd by stomping across the stage during the lead-heavy "Harvester of Sorrow."

Drummer Lars Ulrich, who ranks as Denmark's most popular artistic export since Hamlet, has alienated fans with his anti-metal behavior in the past: No musician was more outspoken against file-sharing during the Napster debate in 2000, and Ulrich made the news recently by getting $14 million at auction for a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat. But on this night, Ulrich only enthralled the followers by keeping his mouth shut and his kick pedal busy.

If Metallica showed its age at all, it was in the gimmicky flourishes that have been added to the live show over the years. During a reprise of Metallica's heavy 1989 gem, "One," huge coffin-shaped lighting rigs dropped slowly from the roof and dangled over Hetfield's head. That war-tale song is horrifying enough without any special effects, and the impact of the hovering coffins was scary only to those who remember Hetfield's previous run-ins with wayward props -- he was badly burned when a flash pot blew up on him during a 1992 tour.

Corniest of all were the hundreds of large black beach balls that descended from the rafters during the night-ending "Seek and Destroy," a tune so heavy it could get John Tesh to head-bang and flash the devil's horns with both hands. The ball drop created a very un-Metallica scene that one might have found at a Jimmy Buffett concert. Well, if 20,000 Beavises showed up at a Jimmy Buffett concert.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Do the Dance!

Tessie doing the "diaper dance" with her Signing Time video. Let's dance!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Christmas Catch-Up

OK, I'm falling way behind! Ryan, Tess & I flew to Idaho on New Year's Eve and spent a wonderful week with my family. Ry & I haven't made a winter visit to Idaho since we've been married, but I was itching to go home for the holidays this year. Good thing we waited until after Christmas--they were all snowed in on Christmas!

The day before we were supposed to fly out, Tess came down with a fever and was downright ornery. Turns out, she had good reason to be upset. We took her to the doctor who diagnosed her with an ear infection and possibly pink eye (thankfully, that diagnosis appeared premature). So, we hauled our ailing baby across country, antibiotics in hand.

She was actually very good on the flight--she loved saying "hi!" to everyone on the plane. We arrived just in time for our extended family Christmas party (an annual tradition on my mom's side). We were exhausted (we had left at 3:00 am our time!) and let's just say that Tess was less than a joy. Still, it was great to see everyone--cousins I hadn't seen in years and all their little ones are so big now.

Photo taken 9/2008

We were also blessed to have one last visit with my Grandpa Whitley, who had been sick with cancer for some time. I'm grateful he was able to meet Tess on our last visit, before his health deteriorated. With this visit it was pretty clear that he was ready to go. He was still mentally sharp and even cracking jokes (He was using a fan to cool himself and pointed it skyward with the hope that it could help pull him up to heaven. He pointed it downward and said, "Oops, don't want to make that mistake!"), but physically his body had had enough.

Grandpa passed away less than a week later. He will be greatly missed, especially by Granny who loves him so much. Grandpa was never shy in expressing his love for my grandmother. My mom wrote a beautiful tribute for my grandpa's funeral, which I'll include at the end of this post.

We also made it down to American Fork to visit my dad's mom, Grandma Ruthie. This was the first time Tess met her Great-Grandma Ruth, and Tess was quite impressed by her teddy bear collection!

After all that partying, we headed up to Idaho for more partying! The Murdocks had patiently waited for our visit so they could open their family Christmas gifts. This is an amazing feat of self control for my family--it truly took all the will power they could possibly muster! The rest of our trip was filled with games, crafts, football, snow, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, books, cousins and lots of time together. Tess started feeling better and she had a great time!

The trip back home was filled with its own adventures, including an exploding truck tire (which Dad and Ryan fixed expertly) and an airport shuttle mishap (we finally fly in at 1:00 am, we wait for Ry to take the shuttle to pick up our car, except worn-out Ry forgets that the car keys are in the bag he left with me and doesn't realize that he has no keys until he gets to the car, 30 mins. later Ry returns to us dejectedly). Ahh--good times!

We had such a fun visit, we're already planning next year's trip! We were so glad to get back home, though! Tess especially seemed happy to be back in her little house. She was so excited to see all her toys and she was spinning in circles on the kitchen floor. Tess really seemed to grow up a lot on this trip. She talks all the time now, though I can't understand most of what she's saying. She says "hi!" to anyone and anything. She probably says it 50 times a day!

Daddy’s Life Sketch

Written January 8, 2009

by Beverly Murdock

Dad was born July 11, 1925 in Hoxie, Arkansas to Thomas Jackson and Tessie Baugh Whitley. He was the third child in a family of 5 children. He had an older brother, Jack, an older sister Pat, then a younger sister Dorothy and younger brother Charles. He grew up in pretty tough economic times, but he has fond memories of his childhood and of his family and friends.

He grew up in Mount Vernon, Illinois. For the first part of his schooling he was in a one-room schoolhouse. He was a champion speller, and from a very young age would win all of the spelling bees. He said it was because he could hear all of the other grades' spelling words, and he learned them as well as his own. For that reason, he was pretty much bored in school. He just wasn't challenged enough. It was sadly the same when he went into the city, to go to high school. He was so bored he said he dropped out of school 30 days before he would have graduated, on April 1st. I never heard that he regretted that decision. He thought it was the best April Fool's joke ever. Don't any of you grandchildren try that!

Since he was such a good speller it's not surprising that his first job was as a typesetter for a newspaper. He really liked that job, but it wasn't very exciting, so he and one of his buddies decided to work their way across country doing various jobs. They had quite a bit of fun doing this, but then the US got involved in World War II and dad went down to sign up to join the service. But he was rejected when they found a spot on his lungs, maybe from working on one of his mining jobs. He said it was strange, but that spot has never shown up since. Anyway, dad spent the war doing civilian jobs to help out.

He moved to California after the war and worked in a refinery there until an opportunity came up to work for Hadley Auto Transport, hauling brand new cars to dealers. He stayed with this job for over 40 years winning many awards for safe driving.

He met the love of his life, Beverly May Asay at the home of a friend, and after meeting her there, there was no one else for him. They were married in Reno Nevada on March 11, 1950, and were blessed 9 months later with their first daughter, who Dad wanted to name after his wife. 18 months after I was born, my sister Becky joined the family. I guess Becky was such a handful, they went 3 years before having my brother Brian. And I guess Brian must have really been a handful, because Brent didn’t come along for another 15 years! After Brent they quit!

We lived in Santa Clara, California for many years. Dad’s job had him away from home about every other night. We always knew what nights dad would be home because mom would fix a good dinner on that night. Dad was a hard worker and a good provider for his family. He was 100% committed to us. We always knew that dad wanted and worked for what was best for us. He made it possible for mom to get to stay home with her children instead of going to work. He made it possible for us to have music lessons and to go on a family vacation every year, things that have lasting value for a young family. At this period of time I remember some of dad’s hobbies to be bowling, baseball, frogging, hunting, and fishing.

In 1963 our family moved from Santa Clara, California to Hunter, Utah, where Bob made many friends. It was while in Hunter that dad was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on March 11th 1985, dad and mom’s 35th wedding anniversary. On their 36th wedding anniversary, their marriage was solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple, and we were sealed together as an eternal family--an event that has become even more significant to us since dad’s passing from this earth. Without that special ordinance, this would not be just a sad occasion, it would be a devastating final farewell. Well, we had prayed as a family for a long time for dad to join the Church. Sometimes on the way home from church mom would say “Now tell your dad everything that happened at church today, so he can hear about it all. But sometimes she would say, “Don’t tell your dad anything, so he will be curious and ask questions.” Dad already paid a full tithe to the church from when he was a young married. He said the church helped to raise his kids and it was the least he could do. And by the way, he also put another 10% into a “do-not-touch-unless-an-emergency fund”. It took dad 35 years to join the church. While trying to figure out why it took him so long, I thought it was because he took commitments very seriously. He disliked hypocrisy. If you said you were going to do something , you did it 100%. Before we were baptized he told us that we shouldn’t be baptized if we weren’t going to try to live our religion the best we could for the rest of our lives. One day I asked dad, “Why did it take you so long to join the church?” His profound, philosophical answer? “No one ever asked me!” Recently Becky asked dad how it came to be that he joined the Church. He said, "That is actually very sacred and personal, but I can tell you this, once I knew, I never denied it, and I acted upon it. And I've always kept my covenants and honored my priesthood. In the same vein, Becky asked what words of counselhe would like to pass on to his posterity and he said, "I want them to know the church is true. Some may try to tell you differently, but don't believe them. The Church is true. And I want them to know that they must always honor their priesthood and their temple covenants.

Dad still worked for Hadley while in Salt Lake, and driving became a lot more treacherous with snow thrown into the mix. He would be up way before dark, loading up cars to drive. Dad was always an early riser. He liked getting up early, and he didn’t stay up late. One thing I always thought was unusual is that when Dad went to bed he went to sleep. He didn't eat in bed, or watch TV, or even read a book before he went to sleep. He just laid down, laid his head on his pillow and went to sleep!

After I had been to college a couple of years, and this is before dad joined the Church, the Bishop called me and mom and dad into his office and said, "Bob, the Lord would like your daughter Beverly to go on a mission. It will cost this much money per month. How will it be paid for? And dad said, "If the Lord wants her to go on a mission, then I guess I will be the one to pay for it." Well at the end of my mission to France mom really wanted to come and pick me up. Dad was very nervous, however, because he hadn't ever really traveled out of the country before. But he said that his wish to be with me was greter than his fear to venture, so he and mom came to tour with me all throughout Europe. It was so much fun, and my dad got bit by the traveling bug. He has traveled all over the world --Thailand, Greece and New Zealand, probably every country in Europe and Scandinavia. and many, many other places. He cherished those memories, and was always glad he overcame his fear.

When Brent was in high school, dad was old enough to retire. After dad retired, he enjoyed golfing with his golf buddies. He claims he got a couple of holes-in-one, but we haven’t got any pictures to prove it.

He also loved working in the temple. He made many friends while working in the Jordan River Temple, and later, when he moved to Kaysville, working in the Bountiful Temple. Even as dad became more and more sick with cancer, he would try to reserve his strength throughout the week, so he would have enough energy to serve in the temple on his assigned day.

Dad also enjoyed doing his genealogy, and I hope now that he knows the answer, he will give us some clues about his 3rd great-grandfather, George F. Whitley.

Dad and mom moved to Kaysville about 4 or 5 years ago. It was hard for them to leave their many, many friends in Hunter, and I think it surprised them how quickly they were able to make new friends in Kaysville. Dad loved living surrounded by young children, some who actually called him Grandpa.

I think being a grandpa was one of dad’s special talents. Because his grandchildren and great grand children were so dear to him, I am going to mention each one by name, along with their spouses. I am also going to name his son-in-law, and his daughter-in-laws, who he also loved with all of his heart, and who actually made the grandchildren possible.

I am married to Phil Murdock, and my family include Miriam, Meredith, Maureen, 2 Ryans, Brian, Josh, Kenzie, Isaac, Lauren, Tess, and two sons Loren Jackson and Joseph Whitley who have already passed and are showing grandpa around. Since we lived in Virginia while my kids were growing up, we got to have dad stay with us for fun vacations. My kids called him “Pappy” and they were surprised when the other cousins didn’t call him that. We have fond memories of crabbing, camping, canoeing, and having water fights with Pappy.

Becky’s family includes 2 Jareds, Michelle, Josh, Kiah, Ayla, Kindra, Melissa, Morgan, Trever, Addison, Matthew, Sandra Maksym, Melanie, Mark, Aranxta, Marcos, Alcera, Mikel, Marsi and John. One dear daughter, Jennifer Rebecca, died when she was seven. What a happy reunion they must be having. Because Becky was single, dad was a true patriarch to Becky’s children--ready with blessings and wise advice. And they in turn looked to dad as an example of a righteous priesthood holder.

Brian is married to Elizabeth Schwieterman, and they have Thomas Jackson, or T.J., Sarah, Jonathan, and Lauren in their family. Dad loved living close to Brian’s family these past few years. He could pick them up from school sometimes, or they would drop over with friends. They have given countless hours of service to dad in his illness and he loved them and appreciated them so much.

Brent is married to Tracey Uliberri and their children are Myiah, Bobby, and Kurstyn. Mom and Dad tended Myiah and Bobby many years and I watched Dad soften as he cared for them. Everything they did tickled him, and he put up with things from them, that he never would have with his own children. I want you to know Myiah, Bobby and Kursten, and in fact all of you grandchildren, that grandpa still loves you and is concerned about you, and is watching over everything you do. He will always be your grandpa. He is hoping that you will make right choices so that after you die you can return not only to your Heavenly Father, but you can also be reunited with your Grandfather.

Now I know that there is no way I can share all the stories you want me to share, or whittle down dad’s life to 5 pages. In closing, let me give you my view of what dad’s legacy is:

1. He was pure in heart. This means he was sincere and genuine. He did the right things for the right reasons. Not to be seen or praised by others. What you saw was who he was. He was absolutely honest about everything. You know what it says about the pure in heart in the scriptures. They shall see God. I know this is true of dad.

2. He had a sense of humor. He was so witty. All of his children loved bantering with him as well. Just a clever, clever man.

3. He was a real man, and took care of the women in his life. He made special efforts to stay close to his mom and help her out how ever he could. He was dearly loved by his mother-in-law. He made her feel loved and important. He loved and cared for his sisters-in-law, Dawna and Elaine and their families. But most of all, he adored his wife with all of his heart. We all knew it. They may have had little tiffs, but they were also very demonstrative. Dad’s eyes would light up when mom walked in all dolled up, and more often than not, he would take her up in his arms and give her a nice long kiss. Not just a little peck, mind you--a nice, long kiss.

Everything good that he contributed to the world is manifested by someone else. His end goal was to make other people shine, not worrying that he shined himself. When you hear Brent speak next, with I’m sure great humor, thank Dad for that humor he passed on. When you hear Becky and I play our violins, we can thank dad for making our music lessons possible. When you hear Matt teach us spiritual truths, we can thank Dad and Grandpa for his legacy of righteousness. I’m sure each one of you here has been enriched by having dad as a part of your life. I thank God that he was my dad.