Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For this I prayed...

 I could feel the beginnings of a sore throat coming on.  A persistent and annoying tickle.  It made me cough occasionally.  This can't be happening, I told myself.  Ironically, just the day before I had been laughing with my singing friends at rehearsal about starting a regimen of vitamins as a precaution, a defensive measure against this very kind of thing.  Realistically, I was fine, no sign of any kind of sickness.  But what if?  We were singing in a concert that upcoming weekend.  I didn't want to be hoarse or worry about coughing in the middle of a song.  But even more than that...I wanted to sing for pure joy with no vocal restrictions.

I wasn't serious about the vitamins but maybe I should've been.  Or maybe I jinxed myself by even joking about getting sick.  Because now there was this annoying tickle and a cough.
I started downing Airborne immediately.  {Blech}  But I also started praying awfully hard that I wouldn't be sick for the concert.  That I would be able to sing on Saturday night.

Cough drops at the ready, I walked on stage.  I sang my heart out.  Only once did I feel like I might cough...and it was slight and passed quickly.  I was so grateful!

The very next day I got walloped with a wicked cold.  Runny nose, sneezing, aching.  It was as if it had been in a holding pattern...waiting and building until Sunday when it could finally manifest itself.  And it did so with a vengeance!  But all I can say is, hallelujah!  I will gladly take this cold.  Realistically, I prayed...not to avoid sickness altogether...just that I wouldn't be sick for the concert.  So though kleenex and Dayquil are my constant companions and though it's taken me the past 3 days to get up my Christmas decor and I'm still not done because I have limited energy...I can thankfully say that my prayers were answered!

{Can we all go to bed now?  I'm so tired....}       

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Gloria" was glorious!!

 I'm on a high that I don't think I will be coming down from any time soon.  Singing Lex de Azevedo's "Gloria" with the Millennium Choir at the Tabernacle on Temple Square Saturday night was an amazing experience and one that I will treasure for a long time to come.

I can't count how many times I have sung "Gloria."  We recorded it back in 1998 and have been singing it almost yearly ever since.  (I missed the past two years.)  I've sung it in the Citadel in Jerusalem, in the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion in Los Angeles, at BYU Idaho, USU, UVU and Dixie State College.  I've sung it in huge concert halls, tabernacles and little churches.  I've sung it with a huge symphony orchestra and with just piano.  Always it's been a great experience.  But this year?  Singing at the Salt Lake Tabernacle?  I'm not sure we've ever sung it better.  Emotions were high and passion was strong.  I think there are a few reasons for this.

One...this is what happened last year the night before "Gloria" was to be performed.
I was not scheduled to sing last year....conflict of rehearsal times.  But obviously, the rest of my friends in the Millennium Choir had been rehearsing for weeks.  The Provo Tabernacle was decked out in it's Christmas finery.  BYU TV was planning to video the whole concert for replay later.  The dress rehearsal went off without a hitch.  But when everyone woke the next morning (the opening day of a 3-day concert run) they were devastated to learn that the Provo Tabernacle had caught fire late the night before and burned to the ground.  The cause was later determined to be a Tabernacle light fixture that had been set aside in the attic...which actually had started burning before the dress rehearsal was even over!  Tragically, there was no smell of smoke at the time or maybe the destruction of the building could've been averted.  It was horrifying news.  And I cried along with the rest of my friends, despite the fact that I was not involved in the production that year.  Millions of dollars worth of equipment, musical instruments and costumes were lost.  With the absolute worst loss being, of course, that beloved and historic building!!  But "the show must go on"so arrangements were hastily made for performances at the American Fork Tabernacle.  Costume and musical instrument rentals were generously donated.  Ticket holders were not disappointed.

Tears were shed once again this past October when, in the LDS General Conference, President Monson announced that the church would indeed be rebuilding...but not as a tabernacle.  The new building would be dedicated as a 2nd Provo temple.  Oh!!  What joyous news!  I was with my friend Kim (the producer of all of Lex's shows) at a rehearsal for "Harriet" that we were both performing in when we heard the news that Saturday morning.  She sobbed as I hugged her.

So as you can imagine, emotions were high and memories of that fateful night last year were flying fast and furious this past Saturday....with the immense gratitude that good came out of tragedy...and that here we were, ready to perform "Gloria" once again.

Add to that the fact that this was not a normal "Gloria" performance.  Not only were we singing in the historic and beautiful Salt Lake Tabernacle for the first time, but we had singers from all over the world!  Lex decided 9 months ago to try to arrange for a virtual choir to sing the big finale with us.  Something along the lines of Eric Whitaker's "Sleep."  (See here)  But in this case, Lex wanted a virtual choir TO JOIN WITH a live choir!  It's never been done, as far as we know.  So he sent out an invitation across the web...asking all of us to help him further it along.  Those who could be in Salt Lake City over Thanksgiving week were invited to audition for the live choir.  Those for which travel would be impossible, were invited to learn the music with the help of click tracks and videos of Lex directing the music, and record themselves singing.  Each video was combined into one amazing Millennium Virtual Choir that sang with the Live Millennium Choir at the Tabernacle during the big "Gloria" finale.  In that virtual choir there were singers from 8 different countries and all throughout the United States.  There were singers in the live choir that traveled from as far as Georgia and Connecticut to sing with us in the Tabernacle.

Before the concert started (to a sold out audience!) Lex shared a story.  That of his beloved Grandfather, also a composer.  A man who had been his best friend, he said, and who had encouraged Lex in his music.  His Grandfather had dreams of seeing an oratorio that he had written be performed in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  It was not to be.  But when Lex was just a little boy, his Grandfather had told him that he believed his hopes and dreams would be realized in Lex.  So it was to this story...many of us in tears...that Lex dedicated this performance of "Gloria" to his Grandfather, and we began singing.

George Dyer as the Angel Gabriel, Greg Pearson as Zacharias and Isaiah, Melinda Lockwood Debirk as Mary and Catherine Hyde Stambaugh as the narrator....all phenomenal soloists who make me weep with the emotion and power in their voices and their words.  The exceedingly talented musicians...2 harpists, a harpsichord (!!!), grand piano, tympani, Daron Bradford playing every woodwind instrument known to man, and then of course, the incomparable and famous Tabernacle organ!  The concert was going exceedingly well...but we were all a little nervous about the finale.  Would it work??  Dress rehearsal earlier that afternoon had been a bit dicey getting the virtual choir and the live choir in sync.  I have no doubt that I was not the only one praying inside as we made our way to the big "Gloria" finale.  I was watching Lex's face closely.  I could see the hope there as he and the musicians put on their earphones and waited for the click track to start and the video to show up on the two big screens above our heads.  And then I watched as that look of hope turned to one of pure joy....a huge grin splitting his face as everything started up exactly perfectly, as planned...the culmination of 9 months of work.  And I cried.  Cried through the rest of the performance.  It was truly amazing!!

This music, this choir, these experiences....they have changed my life and I can't tell you how blessed I feel, how thankful I am for it!   

A letter from Lex to the choir:
Dear choir,
Looking back upon the many performances in which I have participated, there are three which stand out above all the rest.  In chronological order, there was the opening night of the California Saturdays Warrior cast, the Jerusalem performance of "Gloria" and our "Gloria" concert in the Tabernacle the other night.  Yes, It was a thrilling experience to be in the Tabernacle! but it was made all the more wonderful by your magnificent performance.  I would love to thank each of you individually for your contribution to the extremely successful concert.  I have often said and do believe that scratches on a piece of 5-lined manuscript and waving arms in the air does not music make. It is your performance that makes music live. . . And you made it live magnificently Saturday night in the Tabernacle. 

I was also very touched by the lovely pocket watch- such a thoughtful, meaningful gift! Before retiring the night of the concert, I sat by the fireplace trying to take in the impact of the evening, took out the watch, read the inscription and wept again. Thank you so much.  I will cherish it always.

While we do not know what the future holds for "Gloria" next year, we have high hopes for something equally as wonderful and hope that you will all return to be a part of it. We will let you know as soon as things are firmed up.

Thanks again for your individual contributions to the 2011 "Gloria" performance in the Tabernacle.  Have a blessed Christmas.  Until we sing together again-
Lex de Azevedo

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Epic Fail

Brought the Christmas tree up from the basement today.  It's a bugger of a big tree.  Bryan grumbled and groaned but didn't quite resort to swearing as he hauled that monster up the stairs and put it in its place in the corner of the living room.  I plugged it in and....

I knew it was going to have lighting issues.  We had lighting issues last year with more and more strings flickering out throughout the season before I finally pulled the thing down a few days earlier than planned out of disgust and frustration.  But I didn't realized it would be THIS bad!  One string?  Really?
BUT!  (And this is a really hopeful "but"....) 
This year I had a new handy-dandy lighting tool that was supposed to fix those lighting issues.  My brother-in-law swore up and down that it was the coolest gadget EVER (and this guy knows gadgets!)  The Light Keeper Pro.  Just pull out any bulb on a string of unlit lights, plug the tool in its place, click a few times and BAM!  Lights on.
I think this is what you'd call an epic fail.
So the choices are these:

1. Strip the lights off the entire tree, buy 15 boxes of new lights and re-string the whole thing by hand.
2. Toss the thing and buy a whole new tree first thing tomorrow morning.
3. Toss the thing, bring up the smaller, downstairs tree and go more simple this year in tree decor.  (And then watch for killer clearance deals on trees after Christmas in preparation for next year...)

I think we are going with option 3.
How can something that brings such joy and contentment also cause such head-ache inducing frustration?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Black Friday!

Not that I actually participate in this "holiday" in any way, shape, or form.  There isn't much that can induce me to give up on my sleep and join the hordes of holiday shoppers to stand in ridiculously long lines with the hope and prayer that you'll actually get what you set out for to begin with.  Nope...I got a good 8 hours of sleep last night and plan to spend the day writing my Christmas letter and taking down my Thanksgiving decor.
But Rebekah...my 15 year old teenage daughter?  SHE thought Black Friday sounded like a riot.  We dropped her off and her friend, Casey's, house at 11:00 PM (this being her normal curfew, mind you) so she could join in this girly Black Friday ritual Casey and her mother have.  ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  It's 10:00 AM and they are still not back yet.  I have no doubt that Rebekah will sleep ALL. DAY. LONG. when she arrives home.  Insanity.  Sheer insanity.

Here are a few pictures of our Thanksgiving with Bryan's family yesterday.... 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A month's worth of thanks

November 2: Today I am thankful that I live in a place that has four distinct seasons. What a perfectly gorgeous autumn day!

November 3: Today I am thankful for my sisters and the fact that no matter what....no matter how crazy life gets, where we all move to, or what life changes happen with our own little families...we will always have each other. Four built in best friends for life.

November 4: Thoroughly thankful today for my husband. For the relationship we have and the love we share.

November 5: I am thankful today for the exuberance of Lilian, the determination of Julianne, the spiritual strength of Rebekah and the curiosity of Brandon.

November 6Thankful today for church hymns....what we affectionately term "The Green Bible." What powerful messages in those lyrics and melodies! Today especially... Hymn 138: "As witnesses we gather here to thank and to attest of mercies and of miracles--oh, still our lives so bless! Feed thou our souls, fill thou our hearts, and bless our fast, we pray. That we may feel thy presence here and feast with thee today."

November 7Today I am thankful for gymnastics and the determination, discipline, strength, confidence, friendship, and pure joy that it has brought Brandon. Twelve hours a week he spends at that gym...it's like a second home and he absolutely loves it!

November 8Thankful today for my beautiful house and the fact that, more than just being a protective roof over our heads, it is a home.

November 9So thankful to live in such a wonderful neighborhood with such good people who all love and support each other.

November 10I am thankful that I get to go sing tonight! That Bryan is so supportive of my choirs, plays and other singing opportunities. And that tonight I will be singing with my mom, 2 sisters, sis-in-law and numerous friends

November 11:  Freedom isn't free.  Thank you, Veterans!

November 12Thankful to be on a date with my hubby and thankful for the near miracle that has allowed us to find a movie we BOTH are interested in seeing.

November 13Thankful today that my kids love it when I read to them....even the older ones. Such fun to snuggle all together on the couch and read the adventures of Harry Potter or Percy Jackson or some other such character. Also very thankful that I can usually convince one of the kids to scratch my back or play with my hair while I read...

November 14Thankful today for my body. Lilian and I have been reading one of her books that details how our bodies work...skin, muscles, organs, bones, blood, brain, nerves, etc. She enjoyed it so much we read it numerous times today. How marvelous and amazing our bodies are!

November 15Thankful for chocolate. I've been eating WAY too much of it this week. (Chocolate oranges, anyone? Yummm....) The chocolate craving comes along with an urgency to strap on the running shoes and work those calories right back off again.... but I still think it's worth it.

November 16Immensely thankful for the temple today. All told, between this morning and this evening, I spent 6.5 hours there today...and it was truly amazing. I feel so rejuvenated!

November 17So thankful for my bachelors degree in history and the opportunity I had to get a college education! I was digging around in my filing cabinet today and came across all my old history papers and essay tests that I wrote...sat for a long time and read through a bunch of them.  What wonderful experiences I had during those college years...such great memories. And though earning that degree was HARD work....I sometimes still miss being in school.

November 18:  Thankful for Bryan's business and his ability to comfortably provide for our family.  Also thankful that he is coming home tonight after being on a business trip this week...and as much as I'm loving this snow, if it delays his arrival, I will be irked!

November 19Thankful for the opportunity to watch the Nutcracker this morning up at Weber State. I cried. Seriously. It was just so beautiful and the music (live orchestra) was so moving! Sometimes I really wish I was a dancer. I'm so glad that The Nutcracker has become a yearly tradition in our family.

November 20Thankful for my testimony of and faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thankful for my knowledge of and relationship with my Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. Thankful that they know me, are aware of me on a daily basis and love me.

November 21So, so very thankful that I had the opportunity to sing with Lex de Azevedo and the Millennium Choir tonight!!! After a two year hiatus, I can't believe how incredibly wonderful it was to be singing "Gloria" with my friends again...I am filled to overflowing tonight!!

November 22Incredibly thankful that Bryan and I both were blessed with such AMAZING parents. Who know when to help and when to step back. Who love us unconditionally....even when they don't agree with our choices. And who, as well as being parents, are also good friends.

November 23I am SO thankful for good friends! Singing friends, old college roomies, neighborhood friends, childhood friends...friends from every aspect and phase of my life, how I treasure you and thank God for the impact you have had on my life!

November 24Thankful for a rejuvenating 3 mile run, good music, happy chatter, yummy stuffing, a nap on the couch with my hubby, playing a dice game with my father-in-law, football on TV, and feelings of deep contentment on this Thanksgiving Day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Why I Love Thanksgiving

I am all about holidays.  Absolutely love them.  Decorating for them, celebrating them.  Bryan is exactly the opposite and if we lived the whole year through without acknowledging a single holiday or birthday...he wouldn't care or probably even notice.  But that's okay.  Because I am festive enough for the both of us.

My favorite holiday, though, is a more understated and simple holiday.  It's Thanksgiving.  Which means I'm rather a stickler about Christmas decor and it's non-appearance in our house until at least the day after all of the feasting and thankfulness.

Why is it my favorite?  I'm not entirely sure.  It's certainly not as flashy as Christmas or as frenetic as Halloween.  But maybe that's a big part of it.  Thanksgiving seems cozy to me.  It's all about family and food.  And being thankful for both, among other things.  When else do you spend a whole month recognizing and then dwelling on your blessings?  I think it's cathartic....really bringing in to focus what life is really about.

But also, Thanksgiving is steeped in American history.  And being the history geek that I am, I love the origins of the holiday....the Mayflower, Plymouth Rock, Pilgrims and Indians.  And to make things even more exciting, I actually come from some serious Pilgrim stock.  My 9th great-grandfather on my father's side was present at that very first Thanksgiving.  Resolved White, born to William White and Susanna Fuller, came across the ocean from Holland on the Mayflower when he was about 5 years old.  His younger brother, Perigrine, was the first baby born in the new settlement...actually on the ship while still moored in the bay.  Resolved's father, William, died that first winter...one of the nearly half (45 of 102) who did.  His mother Susanna, soon after remarried...another Pilgrim named Edward Winslow.  Resolved went on to eventually marry and have 8 children....one of which, of course, my genealogy comes through.  And maybe this doesn't sound very exciting to you, but I absolutely LOVE that I have Pilgrim ancestors!  It makes Thanksgiving all that much more special.

These are a few of the reasons why I make sure that Thanksgiving gets it's full due.  That it is more than just a big feast to usher in Black Friday and Christmas.  We're heading to Bryan's parents house tomorrow to spend the day with his siblings and all the little cousins.  I can't wait!  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Because it made me smile...

THIS is why I am not on speaking terms with my scale....

 During this whole are they/aren't they Mormons as Christians debate I've often thought this very thing.  That ultimately the fine print matters very little as to whether a person is Christian or not.  If a person claims Christ as his Savior and the Son of God...and lives his life the way Christ would....well, that is what a true Christian is to me.  

 Umm...this is SO true that I about fell out of my chair laughing the first time I saw it.

 I'm a big fan of the Keep Calm and Carry On posters...current and original WWII.  I love what they stood for then and what they continue to tell me today.  So any variation of that original (of which there are MANY) tends to catch my attention.  And being so close to Thanksgiving....this one tickled my funny bone.

The measure of a woman...
I LOVE this ad.  What a great reminder.  And what a great list of attributes. 

I'm not a Nordstrom shopper...they tend to make my wallet say "ouch!"  But seeing this announcement that they place at each store entrance....makes me want to do ALL my Christmas shopping there!  And yes, I realize that this is a few years old (seeing that Black Friday is on the 25th this year) but apparently this is their official policy each and every year.  How cool is that??

My very favorite.  Because we are big "Dr. Who" fans at our house. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Singing "Gloria"

I spent the evening at a rehearsal for Lex de Azevedo's Christmas oratorio, "Gloria."  Other than taking the last two years off, I've sung "Gloria" every year since 1999.

Lex has continuously made changes since then, though, which means that every few years we get a new, updated score....I think I have 5 full scores all together.  (That doesn't include the random extra page here and there...)

My most current one is pretty hammered.  Penciled in are new notes and rhythms and reminders to myself of difficult passages and dynamics.  Yellow highlighter shows where I sing 2nd soprano.  Little smiley faces or notes to myself of personal memories of that particular song or passage are written on the side or above the stanzas.  The pages are dog-eared where I've tried to mark codas.  Tabs marking the beginning of each new song have long since started to rip.  New pages with updates are taped in on top of other pages.

We received a new score today...which Lex claims, after 13 years, is his FINAL draft.  I have to admit, as clean and nice as it looks....I miss my old score.          

Sunday, November 20, 2011


....started with this:
I bought three tickets when Courtney came to the door a few years ago...deciding that we'd go support Rebekah's little friend in what surely would be a sweet but probably amateur production of The Nutcracker Ballet.  More, even, than pleasantly surprised...I was stunned at just how good the production actually was!  Impressed already that the performance was being held at at Weber State University's fancy theatre in their performing arts building, I was even more delighted when the opening notes of that famed Tchaikovsky music gave proof of a LIVE orchestra....a GOOD, live orchestra.  I realized at that point, that somehow, as familiar as I was with the story and music, I'd NEVER seen the ballet!  The colorful costumes and sets, the cute and talented dancers... the principles on loan from Ballet West (!!!) dancing the big parts.  Holy wow!  By the end of the performance, I was in raptures...and a new yearly tradition was born.
Rebekah, Julianne and I attended for our fourth time yesterday morning.  And I cried...literally cried at the sheer beauty of it all.
 Zoe: Arabian, Jessica: Oriental Servant, Lauren: Red Soldier, Julianne: Audience Member

I think we counted 14 girls from our neighborhood participating in the ballet.  It was fun to try and pick them out under all their costumes and heavy make-up.  I also paid close attention to the littlest ballerinas this time.  Lilian just started taking ballet from this same ballet academy a few months ago...which means that in another couple years, we might be watching her up on that stage.

and ended with this:
Culture to pop culture.... 
"Breaking Dawn" is the epitome of a "chick flick."  Which means that it makes one heck of a great Girls Night Out.  We had dinner first, at The California Pizza Kitchen...gabbing and eating (mostly healthily because I live in a very health conscious neighborhood...lots of salads on that table.)  We were joined by even more friends at the movie, taking up almost a whole row up near the top of the theater.  Healthy eating went out the window by the time we hit movie go time, with most of us holding buckets of popcorn in our laps and sodas in the cup holders.  Cheesy movie...yes.  As with most cases like this, I prefer the books over the movies.  But we relished that cheese and had ourselves quite the fun evening.
Proud to be Team Edward!
Brandi and I both wore shirts sharing our team affiliation...
Silly?  Of course.
Feeling a little like 16 year old in a 38 year old body?  Yep.
Tons of fun all the same?  Definitely!!   

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Decor and Cute Girls

We've done cinnamon cloves in oranges before...but never in mini pumpkins.  Cute, right?  And it smells so festive too!  Lilian wanted to help me so, although I probably could've done it in half the time by myself, I let her crawl up onto my lap and push the cloves in after I had poked the holes.  And lest you think I'm this creative on my own...I got the idea from Ten June, another blog I enjoy reading. 

Want to see some more cuteness...but so much better than random Thanksgiving decor?  Take a look at these cuties....

Jessica, Zoe, Lauren, Julianne and Paige

Friday, November 18, 2011

Favorite Photo Friday: Little Turkeys

A Thanksgiving themed Family Home Evening in 1999 with the cousins.
Megan, Jordan, Rebekah and Julianne

This picture was taken twelve years ago. 
Which means that these little toddlers are now teenagers....
How crazy is that?

I could go into all sorts of philisophical musings about the way time flies.
I could ponder on the difference between raising my oldest child vs. raising my youngest {I don't tend to do cutsie crafts like this with Lilian...} and how I feel about it.
I could delve deep into the relationships between these cousins and how they have changed over the years.
I could even go all out on my Pilgrim ancestors and why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  {Actually, you can probably expect a post like that early next week...}

But I'm going to do none of the above tonight.  Because I am way too tired..... 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Leaving Home

(This post is in response to a writer's prompt on the NaBloPoMo website: "What is the moment you leave childhood and enter adulthood?"  After thinking about it for awhile I realized that the moment for me was when my parents dropped me off at college a few weeks after I had turned 18...)

Eagle-sized butterflies were wreaking nervous havoc on my stomach as my parents and I drove past the billboard reading "Welcome to Ephraim, Home of Snow College."  My view of the small town was limited since our Mazda sub-compact was stuffed to the ceiling with boxes and suitcases...hopefully everything I needed for my new life at college.  As we drove down Main Street passing 7-eleven-sized grocery stores and the one-movie-a-week theater, I was thankful for my previous visits to this small town so that I could direct my parents to the building that would be my home for the next nine months.

After pulling up to the large, red-bricked dormitory, I carefully extricated myself from my precarious nest among the boxes, bedding and baggage and stared at the building wondering which window would be mine.  I walked up the sidewalk, through the double glass doors, and found myself in a lobby.  To my left was a long hallway with many open doors and a stairway leading to the second floor of the building.  In front of me were four rather uncomfortable looking couches, a few tables and a wooden plaque on the wall announcing the dormitory name as Castilleja Hall.  There was another sign too, this one proclaiming "Don't let IT happen to you" together with a picture of a wedding ring with a line through it.  "Now what's that supposed to mean?" I thought.  My hands were trembling as I turned to my right and walked to the check-in desk.  The resident assistant handed me a key and some papers....a welcome packet, of sorts.
(Sandy and me in front of "the sign" in the lobby.  IT was marriage.  Despite the warning, we had plenty of "ring ceremonies" that year at Castilleja Hall.  I'm pleased to report that none of them were held for me.)

My parents and I made our way down the hall, past many open doors with sounds of music and excited chatter emanating from within.  My nervousness dissolved into excited anticipation as I found my name on the door of room #108.  I knocked lightly, then opened the door and found three of my new room mates already inside.  I was immediately pulled into an excited hug by Sandy, a girl I had met once before, who told me how happy she was to see me.  After she introduced me to the two other girls, Leslie and Jen, I was able to take a good look around the small apartment I hoped to someday call "home."  The kitchen and living room were combined and already furnished with a small, brown couch and an old table with six plastic, orange-colored stacking chairs.  Off this large room were two smaller bedrooms.  One, I was told, was mine and Heather's, while the other belonged to Leslie and Jen.  To my right was a small hall which led to Sandy and Heidi's bedroom and also the bathroom, which my parents claimed was the best part of the apartment with its enormous bathtub.

In my bedroom I discovered a large closet, a pull-out bed and a desk with numerous shelves and drawers...all for me.  While I started unpacking, my parents, with Sandy's help, brought the rest of my things inside.  As I surveyed the room deciding where things were to go, my excitement grew.  I had been looking forward to this day for months...ever since I had received my letter of acceptance in response to my earlier application for admission.  I was now a full-time student at Snow College!  I would be living on my own without parental supervision and making important decisions by myself.  I felt so grown-up and mature!

That adult feeling quickly left me when I had to say goodbye to my parents and watch them drive away.  Suddenly I wanted to throw myself into their arms and cry, "Don't leave me here by myself!  Take me home with you!"  Once again I felt like their little Sarah who had lived with them in that big white house on Quailstone Drive for thirteen years.

Long after the tail lights of my parents' car disappeared into the darkness, I stood looking into the distance where they had last been.  Then slowly, once again I turned to stare at the large, red-bricked building in front of me.  This time I knew which window was mine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Temple Day

I spent 6.5 hours here today...split between morning and evening with the afternoon off so I could get Lilian to preschool and go to Brandon's SEP (Student, Educator, Parent) conference at school.
Our church ward decided to have a temple DAY and told us about it far enough in advance that we could make arrangements for child care and taking work off, if possible.  So our ward had people steadily filing in and out of those front doors all day long...all on different schedules but all trying to get as much time in as possible.

I've never spent that much time in the temple in one day before.  It was truly an amazing experience for me.  The peace and strength I felt there and took away with me at the end of the day was so rejuvenating.  I had so many new insights that are still swirling around in my brain this morning.  Most of them are too new and special to me...or too sacred, really, to share here.  But I do have one thing...

I am never in a very good mood on a temple day.  Oh, once I arrive my mood lifts immediately and I'm glad I'm there...it's the getting there that is the problem.  When I have made plans to attend the temple, say later in the evening...I know I'm in for a hard day.  Everything that can go wrong, will and I find myself fighting the urge to just stay home.  And truth be told, there are days where I have done just that.  Made excuses.  Told myself that I'd go a different day.  I know full well the reasons WHY, of course.  No way, no how does Satan want me going to the temple.  But knowing the reasons WHY things are going wrong...although it helps a little, still doesn't completely take away the frustration.    The same was true yesterday morning.  Oh, I never even considered NOT going but I found myself grumpy, irritated about all the sacrifices I was making to go, feeling sorry for myself that Bryan wasn't in town to go with me, etc.

After dropping Lilian off with a friend, I made my way up the hill to the temple and found myself parked next to a close friend from my neighborhood who was also just arriving.  As we walked together towards the front door she asked how my day was going.  Just polite conversation....but I told her, matter of factly, that of course my morning had not gone very smoothly.  She smiled.  She understood, she said.  About 5 years ago she made the decision to try to go to the temple every Friday morning.  Which means that every Friday morning getting the kids off to school is harder than usual, things come up, she's tired, she's grumpy.  BUT.  She had learned to look at those obstacles thrown in her way as an opportunity to become stronger and more determined to go.  And so now, when things come up to make her temple day rocky she just defiantly says, "Oh yeah??  You think THAT'S going to stop me??  You just watch!"  She says she stops short of saying "Bring it on!!"...because, well Satan can, realistically, do just that.  Why push it, right?  :)

Anyhow, this thought really stuck with me.  And it was what got me back to the temple later that evening when it would've been easy to tell myself that I'd already been that day and surely that was enough.  Realistically, it COULD'VE been enough.  But I had made the decision that I wanted to take advantage of this temple day... to truly make the sacrifices necessary to be in the temple for more time than I do normally.  So despite all thoughts to the contrary, I thought of my friend and her DETERMINATION....and headed back up the hill.
I'm so glad I did. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


If you are a teenager you know exactly what that title refers to.
If you are more like me you most likely are thinking...
"Umm...what?  Planking?  You mean that pose I do in my yoga class, right?" 

Well, kind of.

Planking is a new fad.  Here's the definition from Wikipedia:

"Planking" (or the "Lying Down Game") is an activity consisting of lying face down in an unusual or incongruous location. The hands must touch the sides of the body and having a photograph of the participant taken and posted on the Internet is an integral part of the game. Players compete to find the most unusual and original location in which to play. The term planking refers to mimicking a wooden plank. Rigidity of the body must be maintained to constitute good planking. 
Since early 2011, many participants in planking have photographed the activity on unusual locations such as atop poles, roofs and vehicles. Planking can include lying flat on a flat surface, or holding the body flat while it's supported in only some regions, with other parts of the body suspended.

Rebekah has joined her high school friends in participating in this fad...well, after she got over her initial reaction of incredulous disbelief.  (Or, in teen speak: This is like, really weird!)  And although she and her friends do not upload their planking pictures to the World Wide Web at large, they do enter into the weekly high school contest.  (The person with the coolest/most unusual planking picture wins Chick-fil-A lunch meals for a week...so it's definitely worth shooting for, don't you think?)

Here is Rebekah's first attempt at planking in front of a local grocery store:

Yesterday we kept planking in mind as we wandered around IKEA.  And let me tell you, that place is a plankers dream!  However, planking on the top of various furniture displays, we were afraid, would be frowned upon by IKEA employees so we reluctantly left the store planking-less.

Undaunted, Rebekah and Julianne found places to plank around our yard today.

 (Sneak peak of our finished "man cave" floor....)

I tell you what...if this feels anything like what we do in yoga, all this planking is going to lead to some serious rock hard abs!

Monday, November 14, 2011

So much for that Christmas surprise...

"I know what you're going to bring me for Christmas," stated Lilian very confidently....even somewhat arrogantly.  "Cause you've already bringed it. And it's a Rapunzel doll."

I've never had this problem before.  I'd always congratulated myself for having such obedient children when it came to Christmas secrets.  My children didn't go hunting for an early glimpse of what they were going to find under the tree on Christmas day.  Oh, they knew exactly where I had "hidden" the Christmas loot but they purposely steered clear.  And if, by some chance, they did come across something...they would apologize profusely and swear to immediately "forget" what they had accidentally seen.  There was no need to find more secretive and devious hiding places or wrap everything the moment I bought it to keep them from ruining Christmas surprises.

Until now.

Lilian has never been a good one for secrets.  She outs me on just about everything....from giving in on something Bryan has specifically forbidden, to immediately telling a sibling what we've just bought them for their birthday.  A few days ago I did a little Christmas shopping with Julianne.  This Rapunzel doll was on my list and though my original plan was to order it on Amazon, when I saw it just sitting there on the shelf (for an even cheaper price, mind you) I snatched it up and bought it.  As we pulled into the garage I asked Julianne for some help running interference if we bumped into Lilian on my way to the Christmas hidey spot.  And she did do a marvelous job of distracting Lilian....it was MY mistake that led to my current problem.  As I walked by I taunted Lilian with the news that I had a Christmas present for her in my sack...and that she shouldn't look or it would ruin the surprise.  I honestly thought it would just make her excited...realizing that Christmas was close enough that I was buying gifts.

Lilian did not see that I had hidden that sack in my closet behind a bunch of clothes.  But using some sort of deductive reasoning she obviously found what she was hunting for.  I don't know if she went straight to it or if it took her awhile.  All I know is that a few days later I found the sack half opened and leaning out of the clothing I'd so carefully hidden it behind.  Then came the above pronouncement.

So a few thoughts:
1.  Obviously I need to find a new, more secretive and devious hiding spot.
2.  THAT doll needs to come from Mom and Dad....not Santa.
3.  I'm so glad she DID NOT find the other presents for her that I'd also stashed back there....

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ode to my iphone

Dear iphone,

I was wrong.  There, I said it.  I mocked you and your hordes of admirers when you first came out in 2007.  People hyped up for months in advance and standing in ridiculously long lines to purchase you?  Really?  Admittedly, I didn't even have a smart phone at the time.  But you were a phone, for heavens sake!  I couldn't see the point in having something that did anything more than allow calls to come in and go out.  Texting wasn't even on my radar.

But Bryan wouldn't take no for an answer when he asked, back in 2009, if I wanted a nicer phone.  He bought me a Sprint Palm Pre.  The communication options became much more varied.  I was able to not only receive and send phone calls...but also emails and (with tutorials from my 13 year old daughter) texts.  Heck, I was even able to update my facebook status from just about anywhere!

Little did I realize that my Palm Pre was really like a bike with training wheels.  It was my learning smart phone.  I wasn't ready for the true awesomeness that was you...my iphone 4S.  But little by little and slowly but surely I came around.  Around to the idea that I needed to do some research and see why that original hype that started back in 2007 was still going strong.  Why all my neighbors were iphone users, why my own sister had even chosen to go the iphone route.

Truth be told, it was running that decided me.  I could put you in an arm band on a 3 mile run and you would be my phone (if I ran into trouble), my music (because you can sync easily to my itunes), AND tell me how far, how fast and how long I ran with your ability to operate the RunKeeper app.  So when Sprint announced last month that they were going to start carrying iphones, I was sold.

To be honest, I was a little irritated that I was going to have to potentially wait for up to three weeks before I could start using you.  You, very clearly, are the Prom Queen of smart phones.  But I can be patient (most of the time) so I waited...only one week, actually.  When I walked into that Sprint store and they put you, for the first time in my hand...well, WOW.  My heart started beating a little bit faster, I must admit.  You were beautiful...with your white exterior and your colorful touchscreen.  The salesman excitedly showed me all the many things you could do and introduced me to Siri.  You know, she's pretty nice.  I have yet to truly utilize her to her full extent but I'm learning.  For example, she's already given me a list of potential places to dispose of a dead body if need be.  How handy is that?  (I have a 10 year old son.  He's a little obsessed with Siri...)

Today I took you to church and followed along in the lesson manual and the scriptures right from your touchscreen.  I also received a text from Bryan telling me he had arrived in New York safely (but in politeness to the teacher, of course, I didn't respond until after the lesson was finished....)   Yesterday I looked up movie times and weather updates on you.  Tomorrow your alarm clock will wake me up and your calendar will remind me of my 9:00 appointment.  And this, I know, is only the very tip of the iceberg. 

So, I see now.  I see what all the hype was about and it was well deserved.
Love,  Me

P.S.  I've been excitedly buying covers for you because I want to keep you safe and modest (you are pretty sexy, after all).  There are so many to choose from!  When I ordered this one and it said it was from Hong Kong...I didn't realize it would actually be shipped from there!!  But you sure look beautiful in your new "clothes"...    

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Date Night at the Movies

 Tonight was date night.  We had dinner at Thaifoon where I ordered the Evil Jungle Princess Shrimp.  Though the description on the menu had not just one, but two chili pepper symbols indicating some serious heat, I was less than impressed with the spiciness of my dish.  It was still really yummy though.

But the real noteworthy event of date night was the near miracle that allowed us to find a movie Bryan and I BOTH were interested in seeing.  This so very rarely happens.  Realistically, neither one of us tends to see movies in the theater very often.  But maybe that is because we have such different tastes in film that it usually necessitates seeing movies individually or not at all.

Bryan likes action flicks, science fiction and sometimes even horror.  And if there are aliens or superheros thrown in the mix, all the better.  Usually the movies he wants to see I can't handle.  Lack of interest, yes...but mostly, it's about being a first class chicken.  I WILL have nightmares.  No maybes about it.  Remember "The Sixth Sense?"  I didn't watch it when it came out, despite the rave reviews.  Bryan, even, loved it because it so took him by surprise which is rare.  People told me I should see the movie.  It wasn't scary, just intense, they said.  But I had two little toddlers at the time who frequently cried in the night and needed Mama.  There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would "see dead people" as I wandered down the hall at night to comfort my children.  Because my mind just works that way.  I didn't see "The Sixth Sense" until just a few months ago...and even then I didn't see the whole thing.  But I had nightmares all the same.  See?  First class chicken.

Me, on the other hand?  I love rom-coms and chick flicks that make me laugh and my heart go pitter-pat.  I am a sucker for Jane Austen, Henry James or any other classic book made into a movie (what would you call those, Period Classics?) and also historical films like "The Kings Speech."  I love musicals...although I have to admit, my neighbors and I mocked "Mamma Mia" mercilessly when we went as a big group to see it.  But Bryan has no interest, really, in any of these types of films.  So what does that leave us with?

Well...in the past couple of years we have found commonality in movies like "Star Trek," "Knight and Day," "Inception" and "Harry Potter."  But one genre of movie can usually always satisfy us both and that is your traditional thief caper.  You know...stuff like "Oceans 11," "The Italian Job"...even "National Treasure."  Bryan will complain about probability and I'll give a little spiel on suspending disbelief...but we usually both come out smiling.  Tonight we found ourselves all wrapped up in "Tower Heist."  (Side note:  Alan Alda and Mathew Broderick in the same movie = awesome in my book!)  Maybe because it's a rare and special treat, I find myself so completely happy and content when sitting with Bryan in a theater.  Leaning up against each other, fingers laced together or resting on each other's leg, laughing or gasping in the same places.  Okay...maybe it's more me that laughs out loud and audibly gasps during movies.  All the same, we had a great time.  How long will it be this time, do you suppose, before we find another movie we can both agree on?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Make a wish!

A wish?  As in just one?  On a day like this I think more than one wish is deserved.  I'm thinking more like three is pretty fair, don't you?

I could go all serious and wish for things like world peace, no disease, free healthcare for all, no divorces, affairs, or suicides, and no snakes.  But that's not realistic, unfortunately.  Well, except the no snakes thing....I really do wish for that!

So looks like my wishes are going to be somewhat silly and rather self-indulgent.  But hey, a day like 11/11/11 doesn't come around all that frequently.

1.  I wish for a cleaning lady.  I want to say that my house is genuinely too big for me to handle on my own.  But realistically my 4,700 square feet is doable if I put my mind to it.  {And get my teenagers to actually pick up after themselves.}  Truth be told, I just don't want to do it!  I'd even do all the laundry and cooking...yardwork too, if someone would just come over to scrub my toilets and mop and vacuum my floors once a week!

2.  I wish for a day alone at home free from any responsibilities to have a massive movie marathon.  I am SO behind on all the movies I want to watch.  I think the last movie I watched in the theater was "Winnie the Pooh" last summer with Lilian.  {That's kind of sad...}  So a day to rent all the movies I missed and watch them one by one...as I lounge on the couch in my most comfortable clothes and with my most favorite snacks...sounds pretty ideal. 

3.  I wish for a guilt free shopping spree at IKEA.  Rugs, curtains, picture frames, bookshelves....these are the things that, because they are wants not needs, I have chosen to wait on...or at least not buy all at once.  :)  I wish I could walk into that store all fancy free, pick out whatever I want, and walk out without my mind already trying to process how I'm going to break the news of my purchases to Bryan...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Like father, like son

 This kid is his father's son.  In  many ways but most recently:

When I met Bryan and saw his bedroom for the first time I was surprised to discover that he didn't have a bed.  Just a mattress on the floor and a recliner.  He didn't like sleeping in an actual bed, he told me...and spent equal nights reclined in the chair or sprawled out on the floor.  Luckily, Bryan does now spend his nights sharing an actual bed with me.  But naps frequently happen on the floor (the corner of our bedroom and the walk-in closet being his two favorites), or on a love sac in the basement family room.

Brandon seems to have adopted this tendency to favor sleep in places other than the provided bed.  For the past couple of weeks he has been spending his nights in a sleeping bag on a cot.  He keeps asking me to take down the bed.  But besides the fact that his bed also has a host of drawers and shelves that are being utilized and where would we put all that crap (?) I'm hoping that this is a phase he will soon outgrow.  Time will tell.