Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring Singing

It's that time of year again. Spring. And unlike many other families where spring means soccer games and baseball practice, spring for our family means singing. As in spring choir concerts.

Rebekah performed with Limited Edition....the women's show choir at the high school.
She actually had two concerts back to back on successive days. One was the official choral department spring concert. The other was just Limited Edition and Madrigals...and they performed many more numbers that night. I was glad that since I couldn't go to both, I was able to make it to the one where Rebekah sang more.
They also announced the new Madrigals for the upcoming 2013-2014 year. Rebekah actually got "kidnapped" a few weeks ago as initiation into the group so it wasn't the big, original announcement. It was more or less to show them off and let the incoming and outgoing sing a song together per high school choral department tradition. Madrigals is going to keep her really busy next year but oh my, there is a lot of excitement at our house over the whole thing. I think Rebekah is probably more excited about it all than I am. But only by a little bit...

Julianne sang a few nights later with Rolling Thunder, the 9th grade show choir at her junior high.
Funny enough, she didn't originally audition for this group. I think I've mentioned before that while Rebekah has thoroughly embraced and shined in the choral music departments, Julianne has mostly decided that she was more interested in focusing on drama and the musical theatre type singing that comes with it. So she did not take choir in 8th grade, nor did she sign up for it in 9th. So I was surprised one day when picking up carpool to be told that Julianne was staying after school because she had an audition for the show choir. I hadn't heard of any audition. She certainly hadn't been preparing for one as far as I knew. Plus, this was early December...not even the semester break.

When I went back to the school to pick her up a little bit later, she told me that she had indeed made it into Rolling Thunder. A few more questions later and she told me that she had heard that one of her friends (boy...choir always is looking for boys who want to/are willing to sing) was auditioning for the Rolling Thunder that day and she decided then and there to join him and more or less crash this personal audition....and wing it. Apparently she did well because the teacher asked her to join on the spot, informing her that she was willing to let her in the class right then in the middle of December, or at the semester break the next month. Though joining in time for all the Christmas performing was Julianne's original plan, after talking to her counselor we ended up deciding to not waste the credits on her almost completed geography class and transfer in at the semester.

I have to admit that though Julianne has enjoyed being with friends in the class, she didn't really care for the teacher or her style of directing. So I caught more than one eye roll from Julianne during the concert when she felt embarrassed by what her director was asking her to do. She performed with outward aplomb, but with inner grimace. Mostly I think she was irritated that only 2 weeks before the final concert her teacher was trying to teach them 2-3 brand new songs and Julianne was horribly worried that they wouldn't be ready and would sound bad. They didn't sound bad. They fumbled some words here and there but overall I thought they sounded good. Just saying.
Julianne really despised the "ridiculous" choreography they had to do for Rhythm of Life. Can you see the slight smirk on her face?

And last but not least, I had a couple of concerts with the Sally Bytheway Chorale....
We sang at Assembly Hall on Temple Square and then also at the Viridian Center, a concert hall in West Jordan. Other than taking the past year off, I've sung with this choir consistently since autumn 2006. Melissa joined first. Then my mom and I one season later. A few years after that, Katie joined us. And then guess what? My dad, who had been our "Number One Fan" and "President of the Fan Club"...coming to every single concert and even a few rehearsals each season....officially joined to sing with us this year! And after a few months into rehearsals after we'd all learned our parts and Sally mixed us up into official concert spots, I was delighted to find that she had assigned me to stand right next to my dad! Good heavens, what fun that was!

Another fun little extra....Katie, Melissa and I were given a part to sing together, just the 3 of us. Being that we are sisters, we blend incredibly well, sounding more or less like one voice. We had a lot of fun singing together like that. I hope that Katie and Melissa didn't think it was too weird or inappropriate that on our last night in the Assembly Hall I reached out to hold each of their hands while we were singing our little solo...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Guilty Pleasures

We all have them, right? I'm sure I can't be the only one that indulges in guilty pleasures here and there.
A few of mine....

Chocolate...specifically these Brookside acai/blueberry dark chocolates. I'm a lot little bit obsessed. I comfort myself with the knowledge that dark chocolate is supposed to be better for you. And acai berries and blueberries...superfoods, yes? Antioxidants and all of that? So I justify it as being my "healthy chocolates." All the same, I'm not sure how healthy they are if I eat them by the handfuls. Which I do. All too frequently. I've tried to combat this problem by putting about 12-15 of them in a little snack baggie and limiting myself to one baggie per day. And that works. Sometimes.

Books...which of course if you know anything about me, is a no brainer. But the guilty part comes in when you realize that I tend to shy away from the library and purchase almost every single book I read. Because then I can re-read it. And let my daughters read it. And loan it out to my mom and sisters. And really, don't you think that bookshelves lined with colorful books with interesting titles that look well-read is the best decoration for a home? I do. (Which is also part of the reason I haven't jumped onto the Kindle/electronic book bandwagon yet.) My guess is we own hundreds of books. I really ought to count sometime....

Grey's friend Mylissa and I joke about this being our "summer home in babylon." (My LDS friends will catch the reference to Elder Maxwell's famous quote.) Because truth be told, it's not the most, umm well....pure of TV viewing material. But I have religiously watched this show since first season and now it is in its 9th. Well, no...that's not entirely correct. I started watching mid-2nd during the big post-superbowl event. An unexploded grenade inside a man's body? What? And it was a cliffhanger so I had to tune in the next week to see how it all turned out. And then I was just hooked. Bought the 1st season on DVD to get all caught up on backstory and I was a forever fan from then on. (And oh...look at this picture with Mark and Lexie....ah, I miss them. I literally sobbed when they died in and from complications due to that plane crash. Seriously.) 

People Magazine....I look forward to the mail on Friday's specifically because I know my People magazine will be there. Yep, admitting to it loud and not proud. And also embarrassed to admit that apparently I'm that person...the one that follows the goings on of celebrities and such. Honestly, most of the time I think they are rather ridiculous. But that doesn't stop me from getting a kick out of reading this magazine. Hey, at least it's not the National Enquirer or US magazine, right? My favorite editions are the ones with royal updates. Because even more than being a celebrity follower, I am a royal follower. Have been since I was in junior high. I guess I can count that as another guilty pleasure...

Shoes....I'm picky and particular when it comes to shoe style and fashion but less so when it comes to quality. Which means that though my closet is full of shoes, none of them cost a huge amount. Payless and Target are where most of them come from. Because I figure that by the time they fall apart, I'm usually ready for something new anyhow. Besides, my feet aren't overly sensitive and don't have much in the way of arches so fancy support isn't usually needed. My favorite styles...sandals and boots. I almost always wear some kind of heel. (I have a friend who was surprised, when I was walking around barefoot during a rehearsal last week, to realize how short I really am.) Flats tend to give me blisters on the back of my heel. And I despise wearing tennis shoes for anything other than exercise.

LUSH....this is a newish guilty pleasure. You can smell the fragrance from the opposite end of the's like the store is reeling you in with aromatic promises of good things to come. I can't help myself... And so far, I haven't been disappointed. I've loved everything I've bought here. It's a store filled with all natural hair, skin and cosmetic products. Their bath bombs are...well, the bomb! I've completely converted over to their hair care line (their hairspray doesn't make Bryan sneeze...yay!) We've tried lotions, facial masks, exfoliating skin bars, etc. And I am hooked. Where does the guilt come from, you ask? After all, the stuff is all natural...good for the environment, good for me, no animal testing, etc. But the stuff tends to come with a bit of sticker shock...
All the same, did I mention I have plans to visit Lush this very morning? I'm out of hairspray and conditioner....

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Squats, ice cream and puppies

Things I've learned today....
And this is saying something since it's only a little bit past noon. Can you imagine what the rest of the day has in store for me in terms of little lessons?

Number one: If you decide to join a squat challenge, and if you choose to do those squats in what your husband says is the proper form (ie: "a** to the grass"...pardon my french) then when you do those 50 squats and then another 55 the next morning, your legs will not only be sore but then also very jello-like. And try as you might, you cannot wear wedge sandals...especially if you are trying to go down stairs. No matter how much you convince yourself to grin and bear it because you are a pro at fashion over comfort when it comes to shoes,'s just not possible. Because though you may be able to overcome the pain, you can't force your shaky knees to behave and you very likely will fall over.

Number two: If after eating a super nutritious lunch of salsa and chips you decide to just rinse out the salsa bowl rather than washing it throughly or getting a new bowl entirely, and then put vanilla ice cream in it....your ice cream is going to have a slight salsa-tinged taste to it. Which isn't too horrible, really. But good to know all the same if it's unseasonably hot outside (yes, 90 degrees in May, I'm talking to you....) and you're hoping for unsullied and pure vanilla ice cream.

Number three: (And this might just be a no-brainer) If three of your closest friends in the neighborhood all independent of each other bring home puppies within just a couple of weeks, you are going to get puppy-hungry. And you will waste all sorts of time on the computer looking up those breeds of puppies...havanese, cocker spaniel and labrador, respectively. And you will inundate your husband with phone calls and emails regarding said puppies and info on each. This all despite the fact that you know your husband is allergic to puppies. And knowing full well that having a puppy is like having a new baby that will thoroughly disrupt daily life as you know it. (But those little puppy eyes....oh my goodness, how can you resist?)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Celebrating Rebekah's 17th

This girl turned 17 yesterday. A big birthday bash with all her nearest and dearest besties was how she was hoping to celebrate. Because this weekend she is performing "Crazy For You" with her theatre group, we decided to have the party a few days early.
Rebekah, the technological saavy and social media guru that she is, created a facebook event to invite all her friends. Oh, nothing's not like she invited the whole high school or anything. But she did make sure people knew it was fine to spread the message, that it was an open invite. Because after all, it was just a "hang out" in the basement kind of party....

It was kind of interesting to watch the numbers go up each day as to who was planning to come, who was a maybe and the messages from people expressing their regrets if they couldn't make it. It also gave me a better idea of how many people to plan for, food-wise.

And I did have plenty of food. Mostly because though I figured I'd have tons of leftovers, I wanted to have lots of variety. But wow, I was still surprised at the sheer numbers of people who showed up! I think even Rebekah was stunned. "I think that may be the biggest party I have ever been to....and it was at MY house!" was her comment. After everyone left around 11:30, Rebekah tried to remember and write down all the names of the people who had come...and if her memory hasn't failed her, we had a good 48 teenagers in our home.

They more or less took over the home, actually. Pockets of kids around the food in the kitchen, kids talking on the deck, playing soccer on the back lawn, jumping on the trampoline or climbing up the 20 foot rope, kids dance party-ing in the man cave, playing pool in the basement or board games in the family room. Kids congregated in the living room playing the piano, kids even talking out on the front driveway. At one point I think they all gathered out front to play a night game of some sort. But other than that, they all just kind of hung out and enjoyed each other's company. Rebekah looked ridiculously pleased with how the whole thing turned out. She was kind of floating a little bit when everyone left....from fatigue, I'm sure...but mostly because she'd had so much fun.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Saga of the Goat

Most kids bring home a pocket knife or maybe a cool leather bracelet as a souvenir from the scout-o-rama. My kid? He brings home a baby goat.
Yes, you read that correctly.
A goat. Maybe 4 months old at the most. Yep.
Bartley, they named him. They being the 3 boys who hatched this plan, decided to go in on it together monetarily and be part owners of said goat. Brandon, Branson and Tanner.

You'd think, wouldn't you, that the scout leaders chaperoning the boys on this trip would've put a kibosh on the plan? Well, you'd be wrong. You and I both. Because between what I think boils down to a cross between miscommunication and practical joking, not only did they say yes, but actually lent the boys the money to buy the goat!
So when I could've sworn I heard goat bleating as I went out to bring the garbage cans into the garage and chalked it up to what surely must be Julianne's "baby" inside the house crying...apparently I should've trusted my ears. Because a few minutes later I got a phone call from Brandon. And his first order of business was not to tell me that he was home from his overnighter but rather to giddily inform me of his new souvenir.
Oh my.
"But mom, we already have ducks and chickens in the backyard. Why not a goat?"
Again, oh my.

Blessedly Branson's parents, after listening to the scared and lonely goat bleat from their backyard for a few hours (goats are social animals and don't like to be always buy goats in pairs), made a call to another neighbor who owned a farm in Farmington and arranged to take it there, at least temporarily.
Sunday church was a flurry of talk. Ward members laughing over the story, and those of us involved trying to figure just what in the world actually went down at that scout-o-rama! Bryan was all for leaving the goat tied to a tree in the scout leader's front yard and letting him deal with it. But by this point in time I had been contacted on facebook by my friend Russ. He and I had done "Power in His Touch" together a few years ago but hadn't seen each other since. He had a farm in Taylorsville, he said. He had 20+ goats already. Our little Bartley was more than welcome to join the herd.

So today Brandi (Branson's mom) and I, along with her son Deven and Lilian drove to Farmington to pick up Bartley...already crated up and ready to go....and continued south to Russ' farm. And I have to say, I really think Bartley will be happy there.
Along with checking out Bartley's new home, Russ gave us the full farm tour. We cuddled with not only goats, but also rabbits, horses and alpacas. We were there for over an hour and had such a great time! We learned all the animal's names, we heard all sorts of fun stories about farm life....and it was great to see Russ again after all these years. He says we can come back and visit Bartley any time we want. We just may take him up on it....

The goats were so playful...running, jumping, chewing.  This goat kept chewing on my shirt. Every time Brandi knelt down they would chew on her long hair.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


....probably. To the best of my knowledge. I hope.

The man cave is officially done. It was a long process, wasn't it? Or maybe it just seems that way to me because I've been staring out my back windows at it for the past couple of years watching as it slowly but surely inched it's way to completion. Oh, it's been functional for a good year and a half now. We stalled a bit on the exterior, specifically railing for the side porch and stacked rock. The railing came last summer. As of this past week, the stacked rock is finally done. And wow...what a difference that rock makes! It was interesting watching the workmen put it up. It's quite time consuming, kind of like putting together a puzzle.

Here's a before pic....before not only rock but apparently railing also:

Here's some pictures of the rock progress:

These big boxes of rock were in the driveway in front of my side of the garage. I had to park out behind them for a few weeks. It's nice to have my spot back again...

And the finished product....
Doesn't it look nice? As you can maybe see, we have a lot of yard work to do to reclaim our backyard now that things are finally finished up. Things like nurturing our poor lawn that has suffered mightily from construction and trenching and lack of water due to cut sprinkler lines. But also, we need to figure out what to do with the space to the sides and back of the building. I'm kind of thinking some serious hedges to the one side, and maybe some more garden boxes on the other. I'm excited to plant some more trees and fill in that skinny little flower bed that I insisted the workmen make for me when creating that pathway in front of the building to the porch. I'm anxious to get some reclining lawn chairs up there on the porch. I guess what it truly boils down to is excitement for finally LIVING in our backyard. It's got potential to be really, really great. I watched Rebekah and all her hordes of friends back there for her birthday party last weekend (more on that in a few days) and saw what could be, what will be...what really already is to some extent. I'm hoping this is the year.

And in other non-related man cave news but kind of goes along with all the backyard I was heading back to the house after taking man cave pictures I noticed that my lilac bushes are in bloom. This is my favorite flower bed...even though it's so simple. I wish the lilacs could flower all summer!

 And then I heard a bit of contented squawking, and found these little guys...

...which is kind of funny because last week I found them on the other side of the house here.
 I guess they are enjoying the blooming flowers as well.

If you are interested in the whole man cave saga...
Progress Update
My lawn is crying
Another man cave update
It's done...mostly
One step closer to completion

Monday, May 6, 2013

Meet Lucy

She's our new baby...well, Julianne's baby, to be more precise. And she's temporary. I suppose you could say that Julianne is doing foster care. A fake baby, to be sure....but one that is realistic enough to give Julianne a pretty darn good idea of what it's like to be a mother of a newborn. I can't count how many times, in an effort to elicit sympathy for how hard and time consuming it was to take care of this baby, Bryan and I rolled our eyes and said, "Yep...welcome to parenthood!"

This is a teen living class baby. Julianne is not actually in the teen living class. But the teacher of the class at her school is none other than my best friend, Heather. After explaining to Heather her envy of all her friends who were carrying around babies as part of this particular parenting unit in teen living, Heather told Julianne that she'd let her take a baby home over the weekend to see what it was like.
And Julianne loved it....despite the fact that Lucy kept her complete attention all weekend long. These teen living babies are programmed to give you the full experience. You have to figure out why the baby is crying. Is it hungry? There's a bottle...and it takes a long time before the baby decides it's done. And then you actually have to get a burp out of it. Does it need a diaper change? There are two diapers that come with the little tyke and you have to actually change it each time. Sometimes the baby is just fussy. Other times it is screaming because it's head wasn't supported and fell back too far. The "mommy" of the baby has to wear an electronic wristband and check in with the baby frequently...this calms the baby down as well. And makes it so the student can't just hand the baby off to a friend or sibling. Much different from the babies we carried around back when I was in high school...regular dolls we brought from home weighted down with pennies or rice to make it feel more realistic.
(Multi-tasking....feeding Lucy while playing Candy Crush. Reminds me of how I used to read books while nursing my babies...)

Julianne made a great little mommy. Only once did she threaten to shut the screaming baby in the truck out in the garage because she couldn't figure out what was wrong with it and needed to get some homework done. After all, she wasn't being graded on this baby experiment. But overall, she did a fabulous job....even with the baby waking her up every night consistently at 3:00 AM. I think she'll be as sad as she is relieved that the baby experiment is over....Heather came to pick up little Lucy on her way to work this morning.