Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I always liked the idea of yoga, but it took me quite a long time to take action and find a class. Fear of the unknown maybe? Of looking inexperienced...a newbie in a group of experienced yogis? Of feeling ridiculous doing poses named after animals? Who knows, really but for me at least, it's always a little bit easier to conquer fear and try new things with a friend along for the ride. Mylissa and I signed up for a gym with the express intent of trying out yoga. Well, that and the spinning classes...Mylissa is my biking buddy.

The heat was spiked in the room. I hadn't realized that yoga was done in higher temps. And though it made sense, heat and I are not usually not friends so this worried me slightly. The class was full but the regulars cheerfully made room...sincerely happy to have us join their "practice." The instructor, a gal named Cassie, talked us through the hour's worth of poses. Some very doable, others more challenging but I was pleased to find that I was able to flow along with everyone else, Cassie suggesting different modifications for those who wanted more or needed less. Music played throughout the workout. And at the very end, Cassie had us lay in "Shavasana" or "corpse pose." Laying on the floor, breathing deeply with our eyes closed, Cassie read to us passages from a book. Honestly, I can't even remember what it was that she said...only that my first inclination was to laugh. Though I knew that yoga is multi-faceted, to me it was all about getting some good exercise. And I had achieved that. Any of this Sanskrit mumbo jumbo I had already pre-judged to be complete hooey. But I stopped myself. It was my first yoga class ever. Shouldn't I at least give all of it a honest and open-minded chance before I decided what I was going to take away as being of value?

So I did what Cassie asked of us. I let go of all my daily worries and put everything out of my head. I focused inward...on my breathing, on each individual part of my body. I took in the words Cassie was sharing...noticed it, reflected on it, and let it move on. I softened every part of my face and body...let go of any tension and completely relaxed. And felt really good. I went home that day feeling not only physically rejuvenated but unexpectedly mentally as well.

I have come to love yoga. I don't go to class anywhere near as often as I wish I could. But when I do, the effects last all day. It is a hard workout. I am stretched and pulled and worked in all sorts of ways that I didn't expect in the beginning. It is very good exercise. But just as much, I love how meditative it can be. The whole practice is all about focusing inward, mentally as well as physically. I love having that time to clear my mind completely and really think about every little part and parcel of my body... what it is doing, how it feels, what for and why. Balance and flexibility and endurance and breath....despite likening myself to a cat or cow or cobra. Calm and centered and focused and meditative....despite the fact that I'm pushing my body to do hard things physically.

At the end of each class, we put our hands to "heart center" and wish each other Namaste.
I honor that place in you where the universe resides, and when I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you, we are one.

Or, a more casual way of defining it would maybe go something like this....hey, we've just done this great thing together and are feeling really good about life. This light and goodness in me right now recognizes that same thing in you and thinks you are awesome. See you next time!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bring it!

It's been a bit of a busy and stressful week. Okay, I's been a hugely busy and extremely stressful week. So I have to admit, turning this morning into a lazy, lounge around in my pajamas kind of moment, though not originally the plan, felt good and needed all the same....well, at least until 10:30 when I had an appointment for visiting teaching and then immediately after, Brandon's DARE graduation at school.

So I slept in rather than getting up at 5:45 to go to the gym like I've been the doing the past few mornings. (I'm really not a morning person and yet, once I get over that little mind over mattress argument I have with myself every single morning, I've discovered that meeting up with friends at the gym is a really great way to start my morning.) And then after Rebekah drove her car out of the driveway, Julianne ran out to her carpool and Brandon and Lilian made it onto the bus, I padded down the hall to my bedroom, laptop in hand, kicked off my slippers and crawled back into bed...first opening the window blinds so I could watch the falling snow outside while catching up on blogs and email.

I tell you what, it felt magical...probably because it was so needed. But as I watched those fat, fluffy snowflakes fall past my window, I smiled really big as I thought back to how awesome of a winter this has been. I'm sure that most of you know by now of my love affair with snow and any and all things winter. And therefore also of my irritation that borders on the irrational when storms skip my house entirely and and dump glorious winter wonderlands on towns further south (or north, for that matter). And also with friends who then complain mightily about said wintery weather. Don't they realize how lucky they are?? 

The past few winters have been so lackluster, I didn't have any real high hopes for this year. I was beyond thrilled to have a last minute white Christmas and honestly thought that if that was the only real decent accumulation of winter weather we got, well...a white Christmas is a pretty big deal in my book of winter satisfaction. But it didn't stop there. A little past the new year we had a storm come in that dropped enough snow to merit a "snow day" for the school district. And that's saying something in Utah! A good 20 inches within two days. The remnants of that storm continue to stick around to this day a good 5 weeks later. Partially because of a few more storms that have graciously blanketed us with a few inches here, a few inches there. And then also because of the arctic temperatures that dropped in shortly after the big storm. We're talking a couple weeks straight of temps in the negatives that were freezing pipes and causing havoc all over the place. (None here, thankfully.) And since I had bought a couple new coats on after Christmas clearance sales, rather than just endure the cold, I relished it.
(What a difference a few months can make....a drop of 100 degrees! A few days later the temps dropped to -4.)

And then...oh, and THEN...came the freezing rain. I had never seen freezing rain before. Solid ice. Everywhere. What a weird winter weather phenomenon. I was fascinated! All of the fluffy snow was covered with this shiny, thin, brittle layer of shining ice. And it was so pretty! My kids, all of them, had bruises from falling on the ice as they left for or came home from school. And then, if having an actual real "snow day" wasn't enough....the next day after the freezing rain, we had an "ice day" which though didn't result in school cancelled entirely, it did shift starting times to two hours later which made for a short day.
(I was really, very lucky that I didn't have to do much driving that day....)

But then, as if that wasn't all enough...we got a weekend of fog. I'm talking seriously thick pea soup. To the point where I was literally counting exits to know which one I was to take because I could not see. It's a little disconcerting to say the least, to realize as you're slowly making your way down the freeway, that you truly aren't sure where you are...other than you know time wise you haven't gone far enough. So you continue on following that white line, hoping that eventually something will appear out of the fog that will clue you in. And that hopefully that "something" won't be the car in front of you, a big pole, or something equally likely for you to smash into.
So here we are on another snowy weekend. And people are whining about the cold and the wet and wishing for spring. It all just makes me smile. This is what winter in Utah is supposed to be about! And winter is not over yet. So until March 20th, the official first day of spring....I say, bring it!
(Sledding down the convenient!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lover's Feast

I'd heard of the Lover's Feast over at the high school before. I knew that it was a big to-do and that it was a long running tradition but that was about it....until this year when Rebekah was involved with it. Apparently it's a fundraiser for the choral department and this was its 31st year. It being a Renaissance-themed feast extravaganza. And a "big to-do" only touches the tip of the iceberg. I can't even imagine the planning, work and practice that goes into something like this! I guess when you've been doing it for 31 years, maybe it becomes a bit of a science.

We arrived only to be welcomed by a slew of high school boys dressed all renaissanc-y in tights and such. We were officially announced as Lord and Lady from the House of Lancaster and led up the drawbridge to the other side into the commons area...all decked out like a beautiful garden...

...where a bunch of beautiful maidens curtsied and welcomed us. There was music (singing and a bell choir) and a maypole dance before the big feast.
 That's Rebekah at the right end of the front row....
 The "stewards" sang the "Men in Tights" song from that old Mel Brooks Robin Hood movie.

In the official hall (ie: lunch room) 4 long tables were set up for different "houses" with one big main head table at the top of the room. (Think Harry Potter.) And then we had a 7 course meal, intermingled with the head table (the Madrigals) who were acting out a family drama...the head Lord wanting to pass down his Lord-ship to one of his many sons...who were then doing all sorts of challenges to see who was fit to gain the official title. There were jesters, stewards, serving wenches nuns to bless the food, a bell choir to bring in each course and a recorder group to play music while we ate. It was crazy impressive and hilariously funny. My favorite part was after eating my enormous drumstick, chucking it at the head steward.
The House of Kent at the head table, also favored us with numerous madrigal musical selections along with their funny drama.
One of the challenges...notice the steward that is clapping the coconuts together to sound like a horse Monty Pyton style.
The bell choir. Wish I had a better was a pretty big group. And don't you love the stained-glass windows behind them?
 Our lovely "serving wench" Rebekah...
 Notice all the drumsticks on the floor?

Can't wait to go again next year....

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vegas, baby!!

Why is it that I always want to say that when I think of being in Las Vegas?

 It's starting to become somewhat of a yearly tradition to travel to Las Vegas each February. Brandon's Blackjack gymnastics meet is what takes us there, of course...but turning the trip into a bit of a family vacation has been a lot of fun and something that looks to continue yearly for the foreseeable future.

Bryan was in Syracuse, New York for business Monday through Thursday so the kids and I packed up the truck and drove the 6.5 hours on our own Thursday afternoon and met him at the Las Vegas airport a few hours after checking into our hotel.

Can I just say, this weekend in Vegas was all about too much to do, too little time. I wish we could've stayed a few more days. Mostly I feel bad we didn't do the shopping we had planned. Especially since this weekend was also doubling as a birthday celebration for Julianne and shopping specifically was high on the list seeing as I had not brought any birthday gifts with us assuming we would be buying said gifts once we arrived. And though our weekend was packed with great sights, sounds and tastes....I think Julianne felt a little gypped on the birthday side of things, despite the fact that I tried to make Friday all about her. In my defense, Julianne did turn down a "Happy Birthday" rendition from the servers at Serendipity 3. I guess when you are turning 15, attention like that is a little bit unwelcome? Or maybe she didn't want to embarras herself in front of John Travolta who had just walked in. (Seriously...Julianne is the one who first noticed him.)

And okay...we did window shop our way through the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian...but we didn't buy anything. Maybe we should've splurged on this does look rather stylish on Julianne's head, yes?

Remember Siegfried and Roy? The illusionists of the white tiger fame playing at the Mirage? The white tigers are still there in a little sanctuary that they call the Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. I never saw Siegfried and Roy's show back in the day, but I don't think dolphins had anything to do with it. All the same, dolphins share this sanctuary with the white tigers and we were pretty thrilled about it because they were really neat!  

And of course no trip to Vegas is complete without a stop at the Bellagio Fountains. Or a dip in the heated Tahiti Village hotel pool despite the 52 degree (chilly) temps outside.

 Saturday was all about gymnastics. Brandon's meet in the morning went well. A huge meet that had teams from all over the country. The competition is fierce and the judges, strict...but it's a ton of fun and Brandon took 3rd on P Bars, 4th on High Bar and 10th All Around. Later that evening we attended the Winter Cup where the college teams and elite gymnasts competed. Any wonder that Jake Dalton and Danell Leyva, our Olympians, got an extra amount of cheering? We've seen them compete live before, but I have to admit, I was rather starstruck (even more so than when we saw John Travolta...if you can imagine that) and very excited that our seats afforded us a ridiculously up close and personal view of rings and parallel bars.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A perfect marriage

I always used to think that I knew what the "perfect marriage" was. And I could point it out in various couples that I knew. Because somehow I guess I thought I was the best judge of who had it all together? I took cues from their behavior...little details to make my own marriage that much better. And while I will be forever thankful for those wonderful little hints that have indeed strengthened my own relationship, I've since come to learn that what shows on the outside is not what is always on the inside. And that actually, a "perfect marriage" is nothing like I thought it to be.

Last Valentines Day was emotionally tough. And before you jump to any conclusion that Bryan and I were struggling, let me assure you that as a couple, we were just fine and enjoyed a sweet holiday together. But at that same time, we were being rocked to our core as we watched many of our close friends struggling in their marriages. It seemed like every few weeks we'd hear another shocking story... many from those same couples who I had labeled as having that ideal "perfect marriage." I was stunned and I was heartbroken and I shed countless tears....tears for them, tears for myself. How could this be, I wondered over and over again.

And as I put in a lot of prayer and thought, I came to realize that a "perfect marriage" is not all flowers, butterflies and rainbows. And lest you think I was too idealistic or naive...I was fully aware that love and good marriages didn't always run smooth. But a perfect marriage also isn't always holding hands or flirty and sweet comments, romantic weekends without kids, sharing the same hobbies. While those are things that will certainly strengthen a relationship, a "perfect marriage" is more real and raw than that. It's the marriage that goes through serious ups and downs...the couple that comes out bruised and bloodied on the other side of a trial meant to break you up, still stubbornly determined to cling to each other. A "perfect marriage" is not shiny storybook. It's gritty real life.

I've never doubted in all our nearly 20 years of marriage that Bryan loves me. But when I look deep into his eyes and see just how much he truly adores me...I know it comes from a long life together of determinedly clinging together through not only the good times but also and especially during our fair share of the really hard.

Is our marriage perfect? A few years ago my answer may have been no. Good and satisfying with a lot of love and happiness, yes. But "perfect"...according to my unrealistic criteria at the time, I'm not sure we completely measured up. "Perfect" was a pretty high level to attain. How ignorant I was. Marriage is hard. And unlike other goals, you don't really ever get to a place where you can lean back and say with pride, "There! I did it....mission accomplished!" A "perfect marriage" is always going to be a work in progress. Real and raw alongside of the butterflies and flowers, ups and downs working in tandem in our every day life. But with that criteria in mind...I would humbly say yes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Short hair

This is Lilian's bed head. Pretty bad, yes? Lilian, in normal 5-year old mode, doesn't really enjoy having her hair combed and done. Which means that not only is it a hassle each morning, but truth be told, some mornings...weekends especially, the hair doesn't really get done at all. It's been awhile since she'd had a trim so she was a head full of split ends and damaged strands. But beyond even that, a little over a year ago, she took a razor to the back of her head. (Remember this?) So she also has this weird section of hair that is shorter and thinner than the rest. Which makes for even more crazy knots when she wakes up in the morning.

So we finally just went and did this:
She was downright giddy. She claims that she's never had her hair cut by anyone but her dad or grandma so she was pretty excited to climb up into that chair. much better, don't you agree?

And in other short hair news....I too, got my hair cut. It was long. And I needed a change, for change sake...but also because the older I get, the thinner my hair gets. Seriously, my pony tails looked ridiculous and every time I tried to do some kind of up-do it was an exercise in frustration feeling like I just didn't have enough hair to do much with. So I got brave (after a full year of debating) and chopped off 6 inches. But now I'm having haircut remorse. It's more mental than anything because it isn't necessarily a bad haircut. But it was so long for so long that I'm missing it. And (crazily) I'm freaking out wondering if cutting my hair means that I've now admitted that I'm getting old. (I turn 40 this year...)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Talent show vocals

Julianne auditioned for and made it into her school's talent show. And though she was really excited about making the cut to sing at the big talent show assembly, she downplayed it and told me that I didn't really need to come. Yeah, whatever. She sang a song called "Gravity" by Sara Bareilles. And though I know my girl can, that girl can SING! I could not wipe the proud mama grin off my face! I think even she was a bit taken aback and more than pleased when the audience erupted into cheers and applause when she belted out the big money note and held it long and strong.

Watch the recording....

Remember when Rebekah auditioned for an made it into her Jr. High talent show when she was in 8th grade? (See here)