I failed a test today. Melanie Reese from strongermarriage.org and Amanda Sanchez of Richter7 stopped by to fill me in on the exciting things happening around Utah to prepare couples for marriage and to strengthen those who’ve already tied the knot. They also gave me a tube of toothpaste with a “5-second marriage compatibility test.” Do you … “A. Squeeze from the middle” … or …. “B. Squeeze from the bottom.” I know Matt would choose “B.” And I know he’s right. But 99 times out of 99 I’m trying to save time so I just squeeze from the middle and plan to even out the toothpaste later. (I never get around to “later.” Matt is a patient man.) I love the fun and lighthearted approach this statewide initiative takes to strengthen marriages. (See their recent funny ad on page 3 of Utah Valley Bride Magazine.) Yes, Utah is known for weddings. But we’re also known for a higher divorce rate than the national average. Not good. Wouldn’t we rather be known for our Jell-O, national parks and regularly brushed teeth — regardless of the squeeze technique? Can I hear an “I do”? Ideally, brides and grooms prepare for marriage and then stay married. And this is where the articles, events and surveys found at strongermarriage.org come in. Don’t dismiss this as some stuffy or academic relationship website. Phrases like “freaking awesome,” “factors in marital success” and “10 surprising health benefits of sex” will draw you in, and before you know it you’ve learned ways to improve your relationship. It’s freaking awesome, people. Thanks to Melanie and Amanda for the info and tube of toothpaste! I may try more compatible “squeezes” in the future, but Matt’s not convinced I can give up my “middle” technique. We are together at home and at work (see the short distance between our desks), and he knows my habits. For better or worse.
The Easter Basket Auction was named one of the 10 top charitable events in Utah County by none other than Utah Valley Magazine. Yep, I’m sourcing myself. I tabulated the list with my own ten fingers for our January 2010 issue, and I am surprised, elated and little bit nervous when I see people reference or quote us (like CJane did here). But I’m not at all nervous about highlighting the Easter event at Academy Square because I’ve attended several times and appreciate both the cause and the effect. Last night my 13-year-old Nathan was my date for this event that supports Provo’s after-school and summer programs. He wasn’t sure what he was getting himself into, but when he realized there was food AND BYU items up for auction he was an instant philanthropist. He felt we should support the Provo School District Foundation by outbidding other Cougar fans for the BYU basket. He ensured that our bidder number of 159 was the last line on the paper when time ran out. Rise and shout! The baskets and live auction items were donated by generous community members and businesses. The bidders left their recessions at home and brought their big picture billfolds to the event.
Kim Brown and Brent Brown (two powerful and philanthropic business leaders and valley residents) are the faces and hands and wallets behind this 9th annual event. And it was a huge success yet again! It turns out Utah Valley Magazine is a pretty reliable source when it comes to naming top charitable events. And you can quote me on that.
We’re within 48 hours of going to print with our May/June issue of Utah Valley Magazine. But I couldn’t wait to try out some of the ideas you’ll read about in our “Boredom Busters” feature. We walked away from the loose ends and unwritten cutlines we usually swim in at the end of the magazine production cycle, and instead we planned a swimming trip to St. George. After one last stop at the office to cross off a few to-dos, we headed south. Carson (age 7) asked, “Are we a fourth of the way there?” Nope, we just barely left. Thirty minutes go by. “Are we a oneth of a tenth of the way there?” For his academic benefit, it’s a good thing school started again today after a math-less spring break. We started our three-day journey with a jaunt to Cove Fort. Our missionary tour guide left us with a little something to remember him by in this picture. We also went to Snow Canyon where Nathan (age 13) took in the red vistas. As a Cougar fan, that’s not normally his favorite hue. We also took the shuttle into Zion and found the two easiest hikes on the map including Weeping Rock. When Carson got up there he said, “We hiked a quarter mile to see mud? Preposterous!” But we didn’t just see mud. We also saw breathtaking waterfalls, a dozen colors of sand, spring springing and people singing (that’s a reference to my seatmate on the Zion shuttle. National parks expose kids to people they didn’t know existed). Notice the blue ball in the picture above and below. It’s a Bennett tradition to haul a ball around pretty much everywhere we go. It gets bounced down trails, floated on, kicked (especially in lobbies despite my protests) and eventually popped on every trip. When Lindsey (age 5) heard us say we were going to the great outdoors, she figured it was the perfect time to wear a fancy skirt her aunt Roxanne gave her. And since she’s the baby of the family, we let her. Before and after Zion, we took our time visiting the highlights of Springdale and Rockville, which Matt renamed Rock-and-roll-ville. He can do that type of map editing since he is a rock carver, and he picked stones for his future projects. Now we’ve climbed our way back up I-15, and we’re in the office crossing the Ts on this next issue. But I feel much better about it now that we’ve personally tested some of our boredom-busting ideas. Check!
So I haven’t blogged in a week. What have I been doing, you ask? A whole lotta stuff. I just can’t remember exactly WHAT. So I checked the photo log on my phone to remind me. And this week’s theme starts with “cam” and ends with “era.” And speaking of phones, I was also checking my weather app every other raindrop to figure out when we could take the cover photo for our next issue of Utah Valley Magazine. After a reschedule or two, Mother Nature fit us into her schedule on Monday. I won’t tell you WHO these men are, but they are a father-son combo (which is perfect for a Father’s Day story). You’ll learn more when the issue comes out in early May. And I’ll learn more when I finish writing the article today. (Thanks to Kenneth and MaryLyn Linge for their stellar photo skills.) But the hardest photo shoot was where I was in front of the cam with an era. In this era of my life, I’m not looking for things to add to my schedule. But when I saw that the talented Justin Hackworth was looking for mother/daughter combos for his 30 Strangers exhibit, I threw my hatless head in. Because I AM looking for things to do with Hailey. She’s my 11-year-old roommate, and she isn’t camera shy. When she saw our official welcome, she asked me to take the first pic of the shoot. But then the real professional took over. Justin is a master at reading light and faces.
When Matt and I were dating and then engaged, we worked for separate student news organizations. Matt was editor at The Scroll (Ricks College), and I was editor at The Daily Universe (BYU). We both got press passes to cover the April 1995 General Conference, which meant we got to sit together in the balcony press section of the Tabernacle on Temple Square (cheap date!). Our non-digital cameras captured President Gordon B. Hinckley (a fellow journalist) being sustained as the new LDS prophet. Sixteen years later, Matt and I again sat together with tickets from LDS Public Affairs. The only difference is that General Conference is now in the Conference Center. And that our press passes are from the same media outlet (ours). And that we’re married. And that digital thing.
It was a snowy Sunday morning, so I pulled out my brown boots that had begun to hibernate for spring/summer. I also wore a long skirt from Dear Lizzie that my non-filtered neighbor once said looks like curtains. But for the record, a lady behind me in line on Sunday got my attention to say she loved my skirt. And she hadn’t yet heard the conference talks on kindness.
Last night was our 4th annual UV50 gala. That’s “BusinessQ speak” for the night where we gather the county’s top 50 businesses for appetizers and applause and so much more.
Here are 10 things I’m going to remember about the 2011 gala at Talon’s Cove in Saratoga Springs.Matt made me promise I would eat during the day as we set up, but my integrity went the way of my high heels. I did an involuntary fast except for one truffle provided by Commerce Real Estate Solutions. Matt did bring me Chick-Fil-A just before the event started, but I only sipped the soda — the rest of the dinner ended up in the bathroom garbage where I was transforming from setup girl to hostess gal. Culinary Crafts served up delicious appetizers and entrees, but my appetite forgot to check in. Podiums and microphones do that to me. But after the ballroom cleared for the night, I was craving my cold asparagus and filet. Culinary Crafts boxed up my entree, and later I microwaved it while Matt and I relived the evening.Our huge UV50 banner wasn’t finding a home inside the facility, but in the early afternoon I got a crazy idea to hang it outside. After I batted my eyelashes, the Talon’s Cove geniuses risked their lives and their stucco to put in a few nails and announce UV50 in a big way.Before picking up our kindergartner, Matt picked up the green napkins from Diamond Rental and brought the cloth squares to us. (Points for Matt!) But he didn’t notice they handed him hunter green napkins instead of lime green. (Strike the points!) Unlike Americans, not all greens are created equal. It took deliveries from both the Salt Lake and Orem locations, but there were eventually 230 lime napkins in the house. (Points restored!)Although it seemed impossible at first, we fit 217 guests around 27 round tables in the ballroom. If we’d had one more RSVP, we would have burst into the reception area. Briana Stewart (managing editor of BusinessQ) and I shared a few “Did You Knows” as an intro to our Fastest-Growing Company awards. Then cue the video. Cue the video. Cue the video! The DVD player couldn’t hear us or the remote. When the screen did finally turn the proper shade of green, a silent movie began. I said to the crowd, “And did you know … technology never works when you need it to …” Luckily, this glitch had a happy ending. (Thanks to Issimo for the stellar video segments.)The attire ranged from jeans to tuxes. Property Solutions, our #4 fastest-growing company, filled two tables with white tuxes and red shoes. They guaranteed themselves some camera time.The evening ended with our No. 1 Startup to Watch (Orabrush) giving us a taste of their tongue-brushing YouTube phenomenon. Let’s just say people were clamoring to pick up their free tongue cleaner on the way out. Hello funny skit, goodbye bad breath.After wishing everyone a safe drive home, I glanced at the time on my phone: 8:41 p.m. My estimated timeline had us finishing at 8:44. Just call me Rainwoman.Briana and I were the last ones out with a few bags and boxes hanging off our arms, and only then did we see our brilliant banner still hanging in the breeze. Oh, yes .. the banner. We set our things on the curb and tried to fling the canvas off the nails. Ryan from Talon’s Cove bravely climbed an extension ladder tangled in a rope and freed one end of the banner while Bri and I swung the rest of it loose. Cheers! One last rollup and the 2011 UV50 gala was complete.The lake view and the lights were spectacular on the drive home. My phone was dead from a hard day’s work, so I couldn’t snap one last photo. Congratulations to our 2011 UV50 winners. If it’s true that behavior rewarded is behavior repeated, Utah County’s business community is in for another stellar year of growth!Lastly, thanks to our staff (especially Bri Stewart in the center) for throwing the party!