Saturday, April 30, 2011

BYU Women's Conference

I went to BYU Women's Conference yesterday! Amazingly enough, I had never been before. Which is strange on a variety of fronts.
First...just about every woman I know makes it an annual tradition to go with friends or sisters. I have four sisters so you would think this kind of thing would be right up our alley. But nope.
Second...I've actually sung at Women's Conference twice. In 1999 and 2003 I performed with Lex de Azevedo and the Millennium Choir at the big Thursday evening concert that they always hold. But despite having to drive down for those, it never occurred to me to go earlier so I could attend some classes beforehand.
Third...the conference used to be a huge part of my mother's life for many years seeing as she had been hired by Deseret Book to be the editor and compiler of a yearly Women's Conference book. When I was pregnant and soon to give birth to Rebekah I remember my mom telling me, "Sarah, you know I will drop everything and come when you go into labor. But if you really want to be'd be great if you could wait until AFTER Women's Conference." :)

Despite all of these things, it wasn't until yesterday that I got my first taste of what Women's Conference is all about. I went down with five other awesome friends from my neighborhood and we had a great time. I'm not sure I've ever seen that many women in one place before. Thousand and thousands of women all packed into the Marriott Center for the opening session by General Relief Society President Julie Beck (kind of fun to see her in a little less formal of a setting, actually. She's pretty funny...) and then spread across campus attending the widely varied workshop/class offerings.

The three classes we chose:
1. The Tongue of Angels or Sounding Brass: Communication in Marriage
2. "He Has Borne Our Griefs, and Carried Our Sorrows": The Power of the Atonement
3. "Like Lionesses at the Gate of the Home"

All three were great and we took copious notes...especially Didi who was the only one us that was smart enough to bring a laptop. I don't don't know about you but I type much faster than I write. I had a ridiculously hard time trying to keep up with all of Elder Bednar's fabulous quotes in the closing session. He was spouting off gem after gem of amazing stuff and I couldn't get it all written down. Guess I'll have to wait for the transcript. Or hope Didi's flying fingers got more of it than I did.

Didi, Sita, Brooke, Emily, (me) and Ann

I look rather ridiculous in this picture...and the picture (not the weather) is somewhat foggy because, well, I don't know why, really. It was Rebekah's camera. But whatever. Picture proof of our fun and spiritually enlightening day.
(Special thanks to Bryan for taking the day off work so I could be gone all day! Is he awesome or what?)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: More London

November 1999
I know that I talked a bit about my London adventure a few months ago in a previous post... But in honor of the BIG WEDDING today, I thought I'd post a few more pictures from our trip. I don't know if I should admit to a guilty pleasure or declare it with pride...but I am a House of Windsor royal watcher. Have been since I was in Jr. High. Maybe it's silly seeing as the royal family really has nothing to do with us here in America. Escapism, maybe? The whole fairy tale, princesses and castles of it all? The pomp and circumstance and grandeur? Or maybe just the foreignness...figuratively and literally...of the whole thing. Well, whatever it is, I set my Tivo to record the grand event and am looking forward to watching it after I get home tonight. Maybe I should make scones and tea?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday was a much calmer day after the happy chaos of Saturday and its egg hunts. We do it that way on as to focus on the real meaning of Easter.

Back story: When Easter rolled around during Bryan's and my first year of marriage, I had all sorts of plans to fill an Easter basket for him. Candy, a book, a CD, a new video...just some fun little gifts. At the time, I was working at The Book Table which had a custom framing shop in the upstairs portion of the store. The more I thought about my upcoming plans for Easter, the more I realized that maybe I was going about it all wrong. We were living in a new apartment and still little by little trying to decorate...we didn't yet have a nice picture of Jesus Christ to hang in our home. So instead of picking out a bunch of odds and end unimportant sorts of things, I climbed the stairs to the framing department and had a talk with my co-worker. He helped me pick out a picture, a mat and a frame and then he put it all together for me. General Conference was on Easter that year. I still have very fond and tender memories of giving Bryan that picture (which he LOVED) and then cuddling up on the couch to watch conference together. That picture has followed us through 17 years of marriage and many moves and hangs on the wall in the hallway just outside our bedroom today.

That first Easter experience was a decision making one for us. We decided that we wouldn't teach our kids about the Easter Bunny. That we would make sure that any kind of egg hunt part of the Easter holiday would be on Saturday. And that what they would find in their baskets on Sunday morning would be church related. For example, years past have included new scriptures, CTR rings, their favorite scriptures in vinyl lettering to hang on their walls.

So Easter morning was calm at our house.

In the past Easter Sunday also meant fancy, new church clothes. The older kids don't care so much about that anymore so Lilian was the only one with a traditional "Easter dress." (She had a pretty little white sweater on as well but shrugged it off after church and refused to put it back on for pictures....)

After our big Easter dinner, we colored Easter eggs together as a family. I am proud to announce that Lilian did not crack a single egg...although she did spill the dye a few more times than I would've liked. While the kids were meticulously working on their eggs, I read them a talk about the Easter story. And while I was a little frustrated at times when outbursts such as "Hey!! That's the color I was going to use!" or "Don't touch my eggs!" would occur while I was in the middle of trying to explain something...all in all, I think they were listening judging from the questions they asked.

My favorite part of the talk (from my Dad) that I read to the kids...

"Unlike the words of the Christmas story, the words that we read at Easter are often hard and foreboding and violent and heartbreaking But in the end, the words of the Easter story are the words that make the Christmas story important. Because the words of the Easter story tell us that the baby of Bethlehem really was the King of the Jews, the Son of God, and the Savior of the World. And, in the end, the words of the Easter story may be the most joyful of all because they tell us that when the women arrived at the tomb, the stone was rolled away and the tomb was empty. As the women looked about frantically, an angel appeared to them and said, 'Fear not ye, for I know that ye seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.'" (Matt 28:5-6).

Overall, it was such a great day and I was spiritually renewed. How amazed and thankful I am for my Savior's sacrifice and oh, how I hope I never take it for granted!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hunting Eggs

Last year it snowed. The year before that Easter was in March and was cold enough that we had to postpone the big hunt till May. Easter being so late in April this year, we thought we were golden but rain and cold threatened all the same. We persevered and the great family egg hunt went on as scheduled. When I say great...I mean, not only fun and fabulous but also great in terms of size. This is Bryan's side of the family. His siblings and their children. But also his aunts, uncles and cousins...and THEIR children. Some serious kudos are due Bryan's parents for planning and hosting this event every year. I took oodles of pictures but here are just a few of my favorites....

Three different hunts took place. Lilian was in the "Under Kindergarten" age group. Here she is hunting through some of Grandma's bushes. This was her second hunt of the day....we had another little one earlier that morning in the common area/park of our neighborhood.

Brandon was in the "Big Kids" hunt. I chased him around for awhile, trying to get some pictures of him actually picking up an egg but he was so fast I could only get pictures of him sprinting from here to there.

The "Teen" hunt was made all the more exciting by the fact that there was money in many of the eggs. That was some serious egg hunting incentive for a group of kids that normally think they are too old for this sort of thing.

Here's Julianne meticulously combing through the bushes, irises and daffodils. It was because of her patient searching, rather than frantic darting around that she ended up with over $30.

Rebekah gets the prize for being one in mind and spirit with the most creative/tricky egg hiders. Inside the frame of the swing set? Who would hide an egg way up there? And yet, Rebekah figured it out. I guess she knows her uncles well.

After lunch was consumed and all the eggs had been found, things settled down a bit and we were all able to do some photos with Grandma Berneda...the matriarch of the whole clan. She is Bryan's children's great grandmother. She's a great lady and I'm so glad that my children know her.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Egg Drop

The 4th graders had an egg drop today. For the uninitiated...the idea is to wrap, pad and otherwise safeguard your egg in any way you choose so as to keep it protected while being thrown off the it then bounces, crashes, splats to the ground.

Brandon had wrapped his egg in packing foam, packed it into a tin can, stuffed napkins in every nook and cranny around it as tightly as he could and then taped the lid back on. Some kids had attached a make-shift parachute to soften their egg's descent. One person had wrapped the egg in diapers. Another had stuffed the egg into a roll of toilet paper. There were a lot of fun looking packages, a lot of great ideas for padding that ever so fragile egg.

The school had arranged for the fire department to send a truck and some firemen to do the actual chucking of the eggs off the roof. Brandon's egg was one of the first to come down. It made a rather ominous splatting sound. The whole crowd seemed fairly obvious that the egg had not survived. I was worried that Brandon would be disappointed. But amazingly enough when he untaped the package and rooted around for the egg, a smile spread across his face when he realized the egg had actually made it through unscathed.
(Yes, Brandon is wearing a pink tie with his t-shirt and sweats. I'm not sure why, exactly. He's been wearing a different tie every day this week. New fashion statement, I suppose.....?)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

By Brandon:

My family is a sandwich

My sister Lilian as the pink ham loving her color.
Julianne as the lettus, not alwase happy, not alwase mad.
Rebekah as the mayo, alwase sweet, happy, and loving.
Somewhere in that sandwich is me as a pickle, sower, taking over and alwase wanting to compete.
My dad is the bread, always pretecting us and my mom almost like the mom is the wheat.
They are together, they couldn't be one without the other.

(The assignment: to write a poem that compares the members of your family to something...a thing, a place, etc. Our family is a sandwich. Apparently Brandon was hungry that day....)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Spring inside and out...

Spring outside.... trees in bloom, herbs and raspberries coming back after the long winter, daffodils and hyacinths showing their faces, while the tulips are on their way. (Our house faces north which means my bulbs get a late start.) And some pansies waiting to be planted in a porch pot.

Spring inside..... Easter eggs on trees and in table displays, bunnies on bookshelves, forsythia branches in the living room. Fresh tulips on my beside table and some lilies on the kitchen counter and on the fireplace hearth. Ah, how I love fresh flowers!

Lilian and I got all crafty yesterday. Paper mache eggs painted white with black letter stickers on them. We screwed in some eye hooks and attached some twine so that we could hang them somewhere if we wanted. But for now, I kind of like how they look just sitting in an egg carton on my apothecary chest in the living room.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Taste Testing

Walking through the Gateway on Saturday night after a yummy dinner at Biaggis, Bryan and I passed a new store we'd never seen before. Bryan glanced over, slowed, and eventually came to a dead stop as he took in the name of the store and the little bit of a view that he could see through the front window. "I've got to check this out," he said as he he led me towards the door. Table after table of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. With little plastic cups so you could smell and taste. Now, I've never been to a wine tasting before but I can only imagine it has to be somewhat similar to watching Bryan swirl the olive oil/or balsamic in his little cup, smell it with his eyes closed and then taste...accompanied by descriptions of the various flavors in each. Bryan takes his olive oil seriously.

In discussing price with the owner of the shop Bryan learned of a discount if he bought at least a dozen. He looked over at me, his eyes full of hope. "Think of all the awesome salads we could make with these!" he persuaded. He looked so darn cute...his face full of excitement. How could I say no? So while Bryan was trying to narrow his favorites down to just twelve, I went across the street to Starbucks for a "tall" hot chocolate. And it made me laugh a little bit. Being members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) we abide by the Word of Widsom...which means we don't drink. Wine, coffee, etc. So Bryan's wine tasting look-a-like and my little side trip into Starbucks struck me as really humorous. Maybe in a different life Bryan would've been a wine snob and I would've been addicted to my morning cup of joe.

(It's been less than two days and he's already used two flavors....)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: Main Street Palmyra

October 2006
This is a picture of Julianne overlooking Palmyra (New York) Main Street from the windowsill of the Grandin Print Office..the place where the Book of Mormon was first printed. I like this picture for many reasons...
I like the dark shadows all around the window.
I like Julianne's profile.
I like that the window is paned so the outside view is cut into sections.
I like the old fashioned building across the street.
And I like the memory of the pizza place next door that had, according to Bryan, the best bleu cheese pizza he has ever eaten.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Too well?

I was watching a movie recently. "Date Night." You know the one...that comedy with Tina Fey and Steve Carell? The whole premise: Feeling that they are a boring married couple...efforts to spice up their marriage with a fancy date in the city end up going terribly awry. Hilarity ensues and the shared experience of this nightmare of a date ends up bringing them closer together.

ANYHOW...what stuck out at me was a scene near the beginning of the movie. Some friends of theirs have decided to divorce. One of the reasons behind the demise of their marriage, according to the wife, was that they knew each other "too well." That she knew all her husband's habits and did he of her. I'm guessing this means that, according to her, there was no spice or mystery in their marriage anymore and she felt that things were flat and boring. And yes, I get that it takes work to keep that marriage relationship fresh and alive so as not to become only "excellent roommates."

But honestly, when I watched that interaction between the two wife characters, I thought to myself, "They've got it all wrong!" Having someone know me that well...all my habits and quirks, and me knowing the same about him? Well, that sounds rather heavenly to me.

I love that Bryan knows my favorite song is "Forever Young" and that I crave sushi any time of the day or night. He knows that I don't deal with heat well and if I'm mowing the lawn on a hot July day, I'm going to come in grumpy. He knows that if I'm talking on the phone with my Dad that I'm going to be a LONG time cause I get my chattiness from him. He knows that I will get irrationally upset when we don't get snow in winter. He knows my dreams of someday singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and he knows that I'm absolutely terrified of snakes.

And I know that when he has a headache, if I rub his head it helps. I know that he is determined...if he has a hankering to learn something, he WILL learn it....from wood working and guns to music theory, juggling, magic and cooking. I know that one of his favorite foods is garlic...just plain fried garlic. I know that he loves mixed martial arts fights and horror movies...but also that he will always laugh at Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day." I can tell when he is stressed. I can tell when the noisy chaos of 4 kids is getting to him and he is trying to hide it. I know his silly side that very few other people ever get to see.

Personally, I think getting THAT close to someone, knowing someone THAT well, feeling THAT comfortable one of the very best parts of being married. I feel very thankful that I have that kind of relationship with Bryan.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Say Cheese!"

Years ago, after numerous school portraits that were marginal at best, I decided to start taking the kids down to Target once a year to get their pictures taken. No offense to the photographers from Bell Inc...but when you are charged with taking pictures of over 700 kids within a few scant hours, long as the kid looks somewhat decent and isn't closing his/her eyes the picture is counted as a success. "Next please!" That works okay for Brandon...but apparently my girls need a bit more coaxing to get a good shot.
The only downside to Target...I actually have to make the appointment and get the kids there as opposed to the photographers just showing up at the elementary school. Because of this, unfortunately, I'm a bit overdue...the last sitting was in January 2009.
The time off during spring break seemed to me to be a good time to rectify this procrastination issue. (Brandon didn't join us, having just had a photo shoot with his gym.)
Here are the results:



Friday, April 8, 2011

Making the best of a snowy spring break...

Plans involving bike rides, yard work and picnics at the park apparently were not in the cards this, the week of "SPRING" break {grumble, grumble}. Instead, after watching it snow all day, we decided to make a snowman. And then have a really big snowball fight.
Two thoughts:
1. If ever gymnastics doesn't work out for Brandon, he would make an awesome pitcher for a baseball team. I think I may have bruises where he nailed me with hard packed snowballs...
2. I'm going to claim running through the snowy backyard, ducking and dodging, bending down to gather up snow as I ran, throwing snowball after my workout for the day. All agreed? Thank you.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The lovely Spring Break weather {insert sarcasm here} was making it impossible to spend any sort of time outside today so we decided to go bowling. It's been years since we last bowled. We had to explain to Lilian what bowling even was...she had no idea. Even Brandon had to be reminded to bring a pair of socks (he was wearing his new five finger shoes) because he forgot that you are required to wear those awesome bowling shoes! {More sarcasm...}
Lilian loved her shoes...thought they made a neat tap shoe type sound on the wood. Which meant that she did a happy dance for each and every pin she knocked down.

BOWLING STYLES:*Rebekah had this kind of flick of the wrist, palm down sort of bowling style.
*Julianne kind of speed walked up to the lane but right as I thought she was about to let go of the ball in one smooth move, she would stop and practically throw that ball down the lane like she was pitching in a baseball game.
*Brandon was our left handed, spin-meister. The ball would ricochet back and forth between the bumpers like he was playing pinball. Worked really well when he had a split.
Lilian, of course, used the metal rack. Which, we were disapprovingly told by the bowling employee, were supposed to be for handicapped bowlers. ("My grandchildren have been bowling since they were just 1 year old and they NEVER used the rack. But parents today...." accompanied by a couple of shakes of the head and some tsk, tsk noises.) Um...we decided to use it anyway.Julianne was kicking our trash until I got my groove on. All those high school bowling lessons came back to me and I started to get strike after strike. I'm not sure I have EVER bowled that well! I still remember the night back in college at the Sno-Cap Lanes in Ephraim where I bowled so badly that I was entertainment for the entire alley.

We had tons of fun and laughed A LOT. Can't wait to do it time, with Bryan in tow. I have this feeling that he will very calmly and decidedly beat the pants off all of us.

Princess playlist

This girl loves her Disney Princess music. See that bright pink button? It plays one song per princess doll....and Lilian was pretty obsessed with it. The only way I could get her to leave without drama was to promise that we'd find some princess songs on itunes when we got home and make her very own playlist on the computer. (Hard to tell since it's a still picture, but Lilian was totally jamming out to "I'm Almost There" from Princess and the Frog.)

A few hours, dinner at Pei Wei and dessert at Yogotogo later...I kept my promise.
She listened...and listened...and listened all evening. And this morning it was the first thing out of her mouth. "I want to listen to my music!"