Thursday, October 25, 2012


Yeah...I know I promised the second half of the Homecoming pics quite awhile ago. (Getting ready for the big dance....see here.) Shall we chalk it up to better late than never? I'm starting to feel some serious pressure....the girls choice Halloween dance is this weekend. And I'm thinking it's probably best to get Homecoming flowers and finery posted and done before I start snapping pictures of coordinated Halloween costumes.

Big high school date dances such as Homecoming are now a full weekend event rather than just the actual dance evening. Beyond just dinner and the dance, you have to have a "day activity." So Friday late afternoon the crew headed out for a hike up Ensign Peak overlooking downtown SLC. The Homecoming football game was next. (I believe the team won...which is always a nice thing when it's Homecoming.) And then off they went for dessert at Hunter's house.

The next morning Rebekah was picked up at 8:30 AM (on a Saturday...gasp!) and whisked off for an early breakfast. The rest of the day was hers to primp and preen, paint nails and curl hair. And in our case...make a mad dash to the mall for some appropriate Cinderella shoes.

All dressed up in her sparkle and glitter, Rebekah was ready and waiting when Hunter came to the door looking all sorts of dashing, flower in hand. They did the whole boutonniere/corsage exchange admirably...especially seeing as it was the first time for both of them. (I gave Rebekah a little tutorial before Hunter arrived seeing as her task was a little harder than his, now that all corsages tend to come with a pinning required.) Rebekah tells me that once at the dance there were two options....a DJ playing top 100 songs in the commons area, or a live jazz band in the gym. I was pleased and proud of their good taste when Rebekah told me her group preferred the live band. A good time was apparently had by all and the evening ended with some games and fondue at Hunter's house after the dance. Our Cinderella arrived home just before midnight...what a perfect Prince Charming Hunter was to our Rebekah in getting her back by curfew.

Within a few days the Cinderella dress was returned and Rebekah had already asked a boy to the Halloween dance and was awaiting his answer. And so it goes.... 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Before and After: master bedroom

I've got another before and after for you. This bedroom.

Because in the master bedrooms in both this house and our previous one we've had a bay window, I've spent a good 10 years matching my bedroom decor to this greenish couch. Thankfully I've had a lot of luck finding bedspreads, comforters and pillows that matched over the years....I think I've gone through at least three sets. It looked nice, yes? But heaven help me, I am SO OVER IT! Green and brown, be gone already! Bryan brought home a completely white comforter a few months ago and that was the impetus that started the whole transformation. White, cream and grey....with turquoise as an accent color and a little black thrown in here and there, mostly in the way of little details and frames.

 The view from the doorway...

Swapped out the lamps, got some new throw pillows and blankets. Even hung curtains!!!! An explanation of the exclamations....I didn't think I'd be able to hang curtains in my room, what with the bay window making it more or less impossible for anything other than blinds or (eventually) shutters there. But thanks to a friend who alerted me to a design blog with pics of a master bedroom window set up like mine...I realized that I could at least hang them in the two windows that flank the bed. I originally thought that might be strange...but, nope! So yay!
Spending money on a new couch, only because the old one was being tossed solely on the basis of being "so over it," seemed a little too decadent. I originally bought a cream-colored cover and threw some grey and turquoise pillows on it...but didn't like how it looked. Regardless, there it stayed for a few months. How happy I was then, to find these slipper chairs for a much cheaper price than I was expecting to spend on Overstock! (I love Overstock. Just saying. The curtains came from there as well.) And don't you love the little table? It's officially called a "garden stool" apparently, and I've been seeing them around design blogs and decor stores for awhile now. I always liked the look of them but couldn't really figure out where I would put one and for what use it would serve other than to look pretty. After I got the chairs put together and in place I started wondering about a side table. And then inspiration struck! (haha...sarcasm.) I do love how pretty it looks....but also how it conveniently holds whatever book(s) I'm in the middle of at the moment. Believe it or not, I'm also liking two chairs in the bay window better than one couch. It's my new favorite spot. I sit there (I prefer the left chair for some odd reason) with my book, my laptop, my phone. I feel like I'm tucked into my bay window and it becomes my bubble of calm.
And admission...the dresser usually holds gobs of Bryan's "stuff." I cleaned it off for the picture. Just being real. And just like I tend to veg in the bay window...Bryan's spot is the corner between the dresser and window. I usually leave a pillow or two over there so he can lay on the floor. (Which he does almost every day after work to de-stress.) Now he claims it'll be harder, what with the floor-length curtains in the way. Working on that....

And to be completely honest...Bryan isn't the only one with "stuff." Mine usually ends up in piles on the floor next to my side of the bed and bedside table. Just so you know.
Special thanks goes to:, West Elm, Home Goods and Target.  (haha)
My next project...still trying to get a gallery wall going at the bottom of the stairs. I've been buying frames here and there the past year or so. Just need to decide on some pictures and DO IT!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The redrocks and blue skies of St. George

It's Fall Break. And what better way to celebrate than to travel south to St. George and pretend it is summer again? Ha! Those who truly know me realize I'm being sarcastic. Fall is my favorite season with its chillier temps and gorgeous colors. I am not a summer person. But Bryan's parents have a beautiful vacation home in St. George which, with it's palm trees and vibrant red rock colors, feels very tropical vacation-like despite the fact that it is only 5 hours down I-15 and still in Utah. And in October I can handle the warmer St. George temps seeing as high 70's-low 80's is much more do-able than the low the 100's they get in the summer months.

I had packed lots of books and movies with the thought that we would spend our long weekend doing a whole lot of not much. No phone calls, no friends at the door, no work or school or gymnastics, no "I should be doing this and that" sort of guilt. Just pure relaxing family time. And family time was had...but of the more active variety than I had originally anticipated.

We spent one afternoon playing in the sand dunes and hiking in Snow Canyon. The weather was glorious and the sand amazingly soft. We dug holes and buried ourselves up to our chests. And when we'd had our fill of the sand, we hiked Jenny's Canyon...a short hike that ends in a little slot canyon.

We were hot when we arrived back at the house so we immediately changed into swim wear and headed to the pool. It was there that I received a somewhat frantic text message from a friend wanting reassurance that we were alright. The news was reporting that a teenage girl had been playing with her three siblings in the sand dunes in Snow Canyon that afternoon and had been buried in an accidental cave-in. When the family found her, she was not breathing. She was life-flighted to a hospital in St. George and then to Primary Children's Hospital in SLC (where she died the next day). My friend had seen my update on facebook earlier indicating our plans to visit that very spot. And I have a teenage daughter who has 3 she was understandably worried. Bryan too about that same time, received a phone call from his sister who also wanted to make sure we were alright. I immediately looked up the news-breaking story on my phone from pool side. My heart dropped to my toes when I saw the pictures. And judging from the story, this must have happened immediately after we left. I could imagine the scene all too well...we had just been there! And suddenly all those fun pictures of us buried in the sand....well, truthfully they made my stomach churn just a bit. And though it seems almost slightly inappropriate or disrespectful to flaunt them, I'm posting some of them here because when all is said and done, it was a part of our family vacation. Maybe when I re-visit these pictures in days to come it will make me all the more thankful that we were not the family involved in the accident that day. And also remember that teenage girl and say a little prayer for her family who I'm sure will never be the same.

The pool at the clubhouse is one of the nicest I've been to. Surrounded by palm trees and big rocks...just such a fun atmosphere to relax and swim in. We took advantage of the facilities and the warm weather daily while we were in St. George. Saturday we met up with our friend Heather and her four children. Heather, if you remember, is my best friend and college roommate. And though we see each other often because she now lives nearby, for most of the past 19 years she and her family have lived in or around St. George. Which meant that normally our visits south were wrapped around spending time with them. So when we discovered that we were both spending Fall Break in St. George, we decided to get together and swim for old times sake....even though we knew we'd be seeing each other in SLC in a few days.

The redrocks of St. George towering over the town are probably, for me at least, the most visible symbol of being in southern Utah. So unique, vibrant and wow! We've clambered around and over those rocks in the past...hiking and climbing and rappelling. The view is always phenomenal...especially as it's just getting dark and the lights are starting to wink on down below. But one of our favorite memories, something we've only done once before back in 2005, was when we hiked the St. George Narrows...aka The Crack. This hike is not for the faint of heart...especially one with a claustrophobic heart like mine. And forgive me if this sounds very politically incorrect...but it's also a hike only for the slender. Hiking sideways is the only way through and there were still places where I literally squeezed through with the rock brushing both my front and back.
My heart pound, pound, pounding. 
Deep breaths....breathe, breathe, breathe....(panicked gasp)....breathe, breathe, breathe...


Sunday we had plans to visit the nearby LDS church for Sacrament Mtg. I had looked up our location on the church's website and decided to attend the 1:00 meeting as we had been up rather late Saturday night. All dressed up and beautified, we pulled into the parking lot only to find it empty. Was the website out of date? Being that this is Utah, we drove down the street a few blocks till we found another church, but this one also had a parking lot devoid of cars. (In hindsight I think maybe it was stake conference....) Not to be thwarted entirely, we decided to visit the temple grounds instead. The temple is so white and the sun was shining so brightly we could barely look at the building directly. We spent about an hour and a half there on the grounds and in the visitor's center. And though I did feel bad that we had to miss taking the sacrament, I'm actually very glad it meant that we ended up at the temple.

I wish we could've stayed a few more days. All the same, it's fall in Salt Lake. And fall is my favorite time of the year...

Thursday, October 18, 2012

God is in the details....

It's interesting, isn't it? How God is in the details? How if you actually look, you can see His hand in your all that you do, really.

I took another "leave of absence" from the Sally Bytheway Chorale this season. I hadn't planned to, I didn't want to. I was already sorely missing my chorale friends from taking spring season off. But the more I planned out my already crazy Thursdays, the more crazy they became. Every time I'd figure something out ("Okay...I drop Brandon off back to drop Rebekah of there...drop Lilian off at Bryan's work on my way down south since I won't have a babysitter...and then Bryan can bring Brandon home at this time...and then this carpool will pick up Julianne at that time....") something else would either pile on or fall apart. A new theatre class for Julianne, carpools that I was banking on, disappearing. Each time I'd come up with a new plan...until finally, I realized that logistically I could not make it work. I could not physically be in two places at one time. So I prayed some. Cried a little more. And emailed Sally to tell her that I wasn't coming back quite yet after all.

But then as the weeks passed, I realized something. This break from chorale isn't really about my crazy Thursday nights. And I started figuring it out little by I started really jumping in to my new responsibilities as *stake music specialist and also as I went to weekly rehearsals for my singing group **Higher Ground and we began to prepare for our numerous upcoming performances over the next few months. It became clear to me that more than logistics, this leave of absence is about me focusing on these other things. Because Heavenly Father knows me. Really knows me. And understands that I'm stubborn and want to do it all. If there was a way for me to get down to Draper on Thursday nights to sing in chorale, I'd do it. And other things would likely suffer or not get the full attention they needed and deserved. Myself included. So He made it physically impossible for me to sing with chorale on Thursdays.

And I saw it happen. It was one thing after another after another. I'd plan and figure ways around a complication...and then something else would happen. It was almost as if Heavenly Father was saying, "Oh really? That wasn't enough for you? Well about this?" It did get to the point where it became obvious that it was more than just an oh-darn-this-isn't-working-out. It progressed in my mind to the I-don't-think-I'm-meant-to-do-this-for-some-reason. But in my limited scope of understanding at the time, I thought it was just because I needed to put my family first. Don't get me wrong...I do think that is a big part of it. But it's more than just that. And I didn't truly understand until my mom, sisters and friends had all been back singing together for a few weeks...and I realized how relieved I was that I didn't have that too. Oh, I miss it most definitely. But I am thankful that Heavenly Father knows me enough, even better than I know myself, guide me...even in the little details.
*I've been fairly active with the stake choir the past year and a half. Our stake appreciates and adds music to just about everything in every season....beyond just music for stake conference, we're talking huge Easter and Christmas firesides, women's conference, youth events, etc. Our impressive stake choir director and his equally talented wife moved recently. And when the announcement of that move became known, I immediately started to keep my head down, fly under the radar. Because I knew that because I'd become somewhat high profile in stake music circles, my name would be on the short list. It was all for not. When President Steele called to set up an appointment with me, I cried....literally cried, I was so scared. My relief was immense when I discovered that I was not to be the new stake music chairman...but the stake music specialist. A committee? I could do that! But my stress level grew again when Amy, the new chairman, called me. I was specifically meant to be her partner...not just a committee member. And oh, have we been busy ever since! But though at times I still feel a bit overwhelmed I've come to realize that, well....I can do this! It takes time, it takes work, it takes prayer. But this is something that I am actually rather qualified for. And so I am finding myself surprisingly thankful for my new calling. 

**We've changed the name of our singing group! A little bit of an explanation is probably in order. We loved the idea of the name Witness and what it meant...standing as a witness through music, of motherhood, womanhood, the gospel and any and all things that are GOOD in this life. All the same, we waffled back and forth on using the name Witness officially. Did we sound like Jehovah's Witnesses? And though it worked alright for religious performances, we found ourselves decidedly uncomfortable when doing more secular things like singing at Cherry Hill or Layton's Broadway night, or singing a national anthem somewhere. At a recent rehearsal Catrina was sharing with us the new song she had written...she said it was called "Higher Ground." And just like that, we knew. Our heads all flipped up in unison, we got goosebumps, and then the chatter started..."that's perfect!" Still acting as a witness....but doing it from Higher Ground.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Before and After: hall bathroom

Working on some before and afters in a few different rooms of the house. First up....the hall bathroom.

We bought this shower set...curtain and matching towels...for our very first house in Magna. Seventeen years ago! And it matched the white and black diamond tile floor in the bathroom absolutely perfectly. It continued to be quite serviceable throughout the four years in Magna, the eight years in Centerville, and now five years here in our current house. But despite the fact that it is still holding up remarkably well....well, is it okay to admit that after seventeen years I'm getting a little tired of it?

Light, bright and color...that's what I was hoping to bring to the hall bathroom.


I swapped out the browns, blacks, and oranges for white, turquoise, green and yellow. It's so much brighter in there now! This is the bathroom that gets used primarily by Lilian. If you slide back the shower curtain you'll see all manner of bath toys and most likely a dirty ring around the tub. And realistically, it's only a matter a couple of days before there will be toothpaste in the sink, water marks on the mirror and dirty handprints on the white hand towel. But for the moment, at least, doesn't it look nice?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Pumpkins and spiders

I had visions of taking the whole family to the pumpkin patch. Because believe it or not, even my teenagers still think it is fun to hunt for the perfect pumpkin. But after waiting and delaying and trying to get everyone's schedules to align...I finally just bagged it. Grabbed Lilian when she walked in from Kindergarten and took advantage of a slight break in the rain to hit the patch closest by. The two of us still had a good time...even if we did have to hurry so as to get back home before the rain clouds opened up again. (Not that I'm complaining...because that rain was truly glorious!)

We've been doing some Halloween decor at our house. Beyond the traditional stuff we always pull out, this year we added a bit to the front porch. Big, hairy spiders with an equally big spider web. Normally we prop up a corn stalk with our pumpkin display in that corner, but this year it didn't seem to fit. So the pumpkins got piled into and on top of the garden pot. Mostly because since my little pine tree died, I have an empty pot sitting on my front porch and it just looks like it needs something....

And we made a little grave yard. Complete with orange lights (that normally wrap around that now-dead, little pine tree). Halloween is big stuff in my neighborhood and on the actual spooky night, it's like walking around a Halloween-themed carnival. I don't know if you would classify our new yard display as joining in on the fun....or keeping up with the Jones'. Maybe that's the same thing? And truthfully, our nod to Halloween doesn't even compare to some of our neighbors. A sneak peak:
This picture from last year doesn't really do it justice...there is so much more to the yard than I'm showing here. And don't even get me started on the house that has a different theme each Halloween. This year....Harry Potter! I can't wait! 

Thursday, October 11, 2012


It's been a smorgasbord. A feast. A fancy 6-course meal where none of the dishes are small appetizers or desserts....all are full entrees.

Alright, alright. Enough of the eating analogies. (Maybe I'm hungry?) But I have been very literally spiritually fed over the past few weeks. The neat thing about spiritual food is that you never get overly and uncomfortably full. Content, yes. But there is always room for more. So you really can feast on the word of God.

A quick rundown of my delicious entrees?
*The Brigham City open house in August on my birthday. (See here)
*A stake fireside with guest speakers, President Callister and his wife...the Bountiful Temple president.
*The Brigham City Temple dedication.
*The General Relief Society meeting. (I got to attend live at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City.)
*Our ward day at the temple where President Callister spoke to us again before we began our service that morning. I wish for you all, the opportunity to listen to President Callister someday. He is something special. (See here for last year's day at the temple experience)
*And then of course....General Conference. The main-est of the main courses. Like the turkey at Thanksgiving.

And it was glorious, all that feasting. Spiritually uplifting and rejuvenating and strengthening, all of it. But wasn't General Conference especially special this year? Like the talks were meant specifically for me. (Maybe you felt they were all for you?) Sunday afternoon I was left wishing we still had one more session to go. And wasn't President Monson's surprise missionary age announcement amazing? The funniest part of conference...watching the faces of the youth as the cameras panned across the audience during that announcement, and realizing that mine and Bryan's faces looked similar.

After each session of conference, I logged into Facebook. (Okay, okay...hear me out.) I find it fascinating to read all the status updates wrapped around my friends' experiences with conference. Their favorite speakers, reactions to various announcements, quotes from talks. I enjoy seeing what stood out to people and whether or not it was the same thing that stood out to me.

My favorite quote from President Dieter F. Uchtdorf:
We shouldn’t wait to be happy until we reach some future point, only to discover that happiness was already available—all the time! Life is not meant to be appreciated only in retrospect. “This is the day which the Lord hath made … ,” the Psalmist wrote. “Rejoice and be glad in it.

But what really blew me away was reading the updates on Rebekah's and Julianne's Facebook news feeds. Their friends, some I knew, most I didn't... were on fire with conference! They were especially excited with the missionary news and were counting down months (or years) until they could submit their papers. They were quoting apostles, they were "loving" conference, it was their "favorite weekend." And I was equally stunned as I was delighted. I have no doubt that my friends and I were nowhere near as strong as these kids are when we were their age. We were not glued to the TV, we were not taking notes (unless required by a seminary teacher.) We tolerated the long weekend, more than anything else. I don't think it was until college that I even started to understand the gloriousness that is General Conference. But these kids....they are just young teens in jr high and high school. Teens who have to be stronger than I was to make it in this day and age. And I got a little choked up reading update after update. Wow. Truly...just, wow.

So I have feasted good and plenty over the past few weeks. And right now I am full. Thankfully there will always be room for more because I will always be hungry. But this good, full, contented feeling I have....I hope I can continue to keep that. To feed myself in such a way, even without the big entrees I have had the privilege to partake of lately, that I never find myself starving.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Favorite Photo Friday: Cousin Make-over

July 2011

Lilian adores having cousins close to her age. And luckily for her, she has scads of them on both mine and Bryan's side of the family. This is Lara, Kevin and Kari's daughter. Summer 2011 all five of their children stayed with us for a couple of days while Kevin and Kari celebrated an anniversary or birthday. (Can't remember which.) Anyhow, Julianne and Rebekah decided to do a "make-over" and photo shoot with the younger girls (Lilian, Lara and Kaitlyn) to keep them entertained. And though I'm not a big proponent of young kids wearing make-up....don't they look cute in a dress-up sort of way? (Kevin and Kari's children have the most amazingly beautiful eyes, don't you think?)