Overstuffed: November 2008 Overstuffed

Sunday, November 30, 2008

alfalfa

A few months ago, Bria got a hairband all stuck in her hair. Instead of coming to me for help, she just got some scissors and simply cut it out herself. Great idea, except for the fact that she also cut a bunch of hair off, right at the scalp.

We call it her sprig. At first, it wasn't really noticeable because it was so short. As it started to grow out it also started to stick up. She usually has to keep it at bay by putting a bunch of barrettes in it. It is a silly place to put barrettes, but it's better than a sprig anyhow. Nowadays, it's long enough to tame if we blow dry her hair and put some gel in it, but if we let it air dry, she looks just like good old Alfalfa from "Our Gang."

I just had to take a picture the other day to document it. Hopefully, it will be long enough to lay flat soon.


I'm thankful for this girl and the silly hair issues we are constantly going through. I'll miss them in a few years, I'm sure.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chloe and her artwork

Chloe has been working on a Christmas book this Thanksgiving weekend. It's really quite brilliant. I wish I could scan it for you, but my parents' scanner refuses to work, even after Joel spent an hour working with it.

I will scan some pages of her book when we get home to my working scanner. I haven't shown off her artwork in quite a while, so it's about time anyway.

I do want to make sure I mention her talent and passion for drawing and coloring as something I'm thankful for, though. And, of course, I'm extremely thankful for Chloe herself. She brings me quite a bit of joy, even as she goes through quite a bit of paper.

Friday, November 28, 2008

'till I drop
(or Joel does)

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Even though turkey day has now come and gone, I think I still have to post gratitudes until November is over. I guess. I mean, I have nobody to answer to but myself, but I think that's what I said I would do.

Today I'm grateful for my mom and all her shopping prowess. The woman is amazing at finding a deal, knowing which jeans I should buy and keeping her shopping stamina alive long after I've lost steam. It is one of our favorite pastimes as a mother/only-daughter team, and I'm grateful that I get to have her all to myself during these trips, even though I still wish I had sisters.

On Wednesday, after we arrived at my parents' house, Joel and I went with my mom to buy him a new suit. Poor guy. He didn't even know what he was getting into. He desperately needs a new one, what with his new calling and all (he hates wearing suits and avoids it whenever he can), so we really had to get him one before he resorted to wearing his tuxedo to conduct Sacrament meeting, complete with tails. Wrong kind of conducting, unfortunately for him.

We found him a lovely suit. Just perfect. And an even lovlier tie to go with it. Then, my mom mentioned she had some great star rewards at Macy's, and off we went, with just one stop at Build-a-Bear, where she had some sort of coupon and quickly made a bear for Sophie for Christmas. Well, it's a dog. But whatever.

I do believe we were in Macy's for a good 3 hours. Until the mall closed. I am also pretty sure that I tried on every pair of jeans in my size (which is a size less than it was last month!) in the entire store. Then there was poor Joel, carrying all of our bags, and sitting down whenever he could find a chair. His eyes glazed over and rolled back into his head and I could only bring him back from zombie land by asking his opinion on this blouse (it looks like you're an extra in the Scarlet Pimpernel!) or that sweater (that is the ugliest, most frumpy item of clothing I've ever seen!).

And all the while, my mother was still going strong. Like the Energizer bunny.

Today is Black Friday, and somewhere I am fighting the crowds with my very energetic mother. It is one of my favorite days of the whole year. So festive, so fun, and I get to spend it with her.

She is a joy to shop with.

And be with.

Love her.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Not going to write much today, because let's be honest, everyone's too busy digesting turkey and mashed potatoes to bother with reading my little old blog.

But just in case you couldn't stay away even when there is pumpkin pie to be eaten, I will tell you what I'm grateful for today.

Food.

And today, I will eat lots and lots of it.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dirt Devil

Today I am thankful for my vacuum.

A couple months ago I ran over the cord and sucked up the wires, resulting in a very broken vacuum. I took it to the vacuum repair guy in town (on Hoover avenue...I always think that's amusing) and was vacuum-less for more than a week. I have a Shark sweeper thing that my sisters-in-law gave me, but it doesn't do the greatest job on the carpet, although it does lovely in the kitchen.

It reminded me of my time as a missionary in Romania, where I never had a vacuum. Instead, we had to go outside and hang the rugs over a bar and pound the heck out of them with a rug beater to get all the dust out. I only did it twice my entire mission, and that was just because the mission president said we had to do it. Usually, I just swept the rugs with a broom and hoped for the best. For your viewing pleasure, I'm even including a (not very good) picture of me being a real rug-beating romanca.
Aren't you glad you don't have to do that?

Me, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Called to Serve

When they split our ward a couple of weeks ago, they didn't just do a down the middle cut. They actually took another ward along with ours and created a third ward out of the two of them. It was kind of a strange thing to hear the Stake President say, "All those who will be members of the newly created ward, are now released from their current callings," and then ask for a vote of thanks. Bam! Mass release.

And then absolute craziness ensues for the poor new ward in which nobody had a calling save the Bishopric and the Ward Clerk. Joel's been gone a lot issuing callings and meeting with people to talk about callings and just assigning people to cover callings that have not yet been made. You never think about what happens when you have an entire ward to staff, do you? It's hard enough when people are just moving in and out all the time. I mean, even when you are in a stable ward where nobody moves, you still get plenty of ward business at the beginning of Sacrament meeting, do you not?

I was lucky enough to get one of the first callings. The notion scared me a bit at first, since Joel wouldn't give me a single clue what it could be, but thankfully, it was just Ward Music Chairperson. I am really excited because, although I started out my church service by having every music calling in the entire ward, I haven't actually had a music related calling in about five years. I will really miss the Young Women, with whom I've worked for the past couple years, but I'm sure I'll still see them often enough.

I'm very thankful that this is the way our church is set up. I think it gives us such wonderful opportunities for growth. It opens up the way for us to serve others, and that can only be a good thing. Sometimes we are put in a calling because of what we have to give and sometimes we are put in a calling because of what we have to gain. I've thought a lot about the various callings that I have held over the years, and I've learned so much from each of them.

I saw a meme the other day, and I thought I would answer the couple of questions about callings that are there, rather than do the entire thing. I suppose I could have more efficiently incorporated them into the prose of this post, but it's nearly midnight, and I am too tired to try.

So...

1. What has been my favorite calling in the church?

It probably would have been easier to say what my least favorite calling was (activities committee), because it's tough to really pick a favorite. I loved it when I was the Primary music person because the kids made my week every Sunday and I had a lot of fun with them. I mentioned earlier how much I liked being in Young Women, but I do have to say it was a hard calling for me at first. I had a difficult time relating with them, but I overcame, and love them to death now. But, to be perfectly honest, my favorite calling was probably Relief Society President. That's what I was doing way back when I first started this blog, and I honestly can't think of a time in my life when I was happier, more productive, or more blessed.

2. What has been my hardest calling in the church?

All callings are hard in one way or another, I think. I can't think of a single one that I've held that I would call "easy." My recent stint as Young Women Secretary was hard because I'm not such an organized person. I need to have a secretary, not be one for someone else! But it definitely helped me grow in that capacity. Activities committee is hard because it is just soooooo much work to put on those awesome Christmas parties and other ward shindigs. And oh how the activities people are under appreciated! Primary is hard, because you're working with little kids who can often be less than focused. But, in the end, my favorite calling was also my hardest. It ain't easy being the RS President, and I'm sure many of you know that because you've been in those shoes before. I could tell stories that would make your hair curl, but I will refrain. It's time consuming, it's emotional, and you find yourself cleaning a lot of people's houses. But, like I said before, it's totally rewarding.

I believe all callings are that way, big or small. Sure, they're hard, but in the end, we get so much more than we give, that we learn to love the difficulties.

And for that, I am thankful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dumb List Thingy

Today I am grateful for my husband's sense of humor. He is basically one of the funniest people on the planet, and if you get our Christmas letters, you already know this. (It really is too bad that he holds such disdain for blogging.) He has the ability to make me laugh even when I am so angry with him that I am spitting fire. It's a pretty annoying thing to do, but I always forgive him for it. His sense of humor is the other reason I married him, besides his being a spiritual giant. Oh, and his curly hair.

So, I've been cleaning out my incredibly full e-mail inbox the last few weeks. So far, I've gone from 2,000 plus messages in there to only 200! It's a miracle, since this is something I rarely do. Anyway, while doing my e-mail housekeeping, I came upon this hilarious message (titled "Dumb List Thingy") from my dear husband. One of those lists was going around in his family, and so he decided to actually fill it out, even though he rarely (ahem, never) does these things and is mostly just annoyed to find them in his inbox. I guess getting 25 of them within a couple of days from a bunch of female family members got to him. Who knows? All I know is that it is so funny I decided to share it with you. And then you'll know what I mean about his sense of humor, even if you don't get our Christmas letters.

Enjoy!

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Joel came from the book in the Bible. Neves is "Neeves" spelled backwards in Portuguese.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? After my last orchestra concert.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? A mix between chicken scratch, Hieroglyphics, and two-year old writing. Virtually indecipherable.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Hot pastrami meat stuff surprise sandwich meat

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, three girls: BRICHLOPHIA.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? Of course not, not.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM A LOT? Rarely, unless I need to prove a point to my wife.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Correct.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? The feeling that I'm just about to die is unpleasant and thus unfavorably disliked in my mind.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Cap'n Crunch. (translation: Captain Crunch)

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES or JUST TAKE THEM OFF? Always untie them and put them away nicely in the closet, ALWAYS.

12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Yes, when everything is going perfectly my way. But if I were female and had to endure periods, pregnancies, and low salaries, I'd go batty.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Ben & Jerry's "Touch Me, In a Crunch" series - currently discontinued.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? I have no clue - never thought about it.

15. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR RED OR PINK? Blue - stupid, communistic question!

16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My perfectionism. If I make a mistake, I freak out. I need to ecxept imperfextion betterer.

17. WHAT DO YOU MISS THE MOST? Having a cool telescope. Playing sports every week. Eating Mississippi Mud Pie.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Couldn't care less.

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Who cares? (O.K. fine, leopard print shirt, hot pink sandals, and form-fitting alligator skin pants.)

20. WHAT WAS THE LAST THING YOU ATE? Scrumptious luau food that I made.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? "Seize the Day" because Lara's been annoyingly singing it for 15 minutes.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Blue.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Lilacs. Curry chicken. Freshly cut grass. BBQ meat.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My father.

25. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? By all means, of course I do.

27. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? College football and NBA.

28. HAIR COLOR? Poo brown.

29. EYE COLOR? Poo blue.

30. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Never have, never will.

31. FAVORITE FOOD? My dad's stuffed cabbage. Ummm.

32. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Dumb question. But I only like movies where the ending MAKES SENSE. If it sends me home wondering, "What the HECK was that?" then I get mad. Like the ending of the last Lord of the Rings movie.

33. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Sahara - awesome movie.

34. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Poo blue.

35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Neither. Spring and Fall.

36. HUGS OR KISSES? Kisses.

37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Mississippi Mud Pie

38. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? ??

39. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? ??

40. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING? I never actually read books. The only "reading" I do is 1) music scores, 2) music textbooks, and 3) the Book of Mormon.

41.WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Dumb question.

42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Beautiful intonation, perfect balance, gargantuan brass, sustained strings, expressive phrasing.

44. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles.

45. WHAT IS THE FURTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? Israel.

46. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I mean, like, where do I start? Chick magnet, sweet conductor, etc. etc. etc. etc.

47. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Hayward, California, behind a barn, delivered by a midwife named Whanna.

48. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Who cares?

49. DO YOU HAVE ANY GRANDCHILDREN? In the spirit world, waiting for their future grandfather to make wise, righteous decisions, so that they can be born and say, "What a heck of a grandpa I had - he was sure swell"

50. WHERE DO YOU LIVE? Cedar City, Utah, America, Earth, Solar System, Universe, Kolob.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sorry, ladies. He's officially taken.

Last time I posted pictures of my brothers, a lot of you were telling me how hot they are. I have to admit, that weirded me out a tiny bit, just because they're my brothers and all. But, I guess you're right, they are pretty good looking. Good genes in my family. :)

Well, Jon and his girlfriend decided to tie the knot, Vegas style. They came down the night before Bria's baptism, and then went on to be married at The Chapel of the Bells in Las Vegas the next day. And then they still made it back up here to Cedar in time to attend the baptism. Big day.

After our little shindig for Bria, we had a little reception for Jon and Rachael in my kitchen. So my photo(s) of the week are of that, even though it was like 3 weeks ago, now.

Listening to my dad toast them (with apple juice).



Cutting the cake.


Eating the cake.

Since I don't have any biological sisters, I am really thankful for a new sister-in-law! Rachael is such a great gal and I just love her to death. My girls think she is the greatest ever, too, and are so excited to have a new aunt that is beautiful and fun and sweet and everything else that Rachael is.

Welcome to the family, Rach! We all love you!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rise and Shout!

Oh yes. Today is the big day. The "holy war." Most of you know what I'm talking about, and if you don't, I'll forgive you, because you probably live far away from Utah, and why would you know about it anyway?

It's the big football game between BYU and the U of U.

I love college football, but only if BYU is playing. My dad was a linebacker for BYU back in the day before I was born. Somewhere I have a cute picture of me as a baby sitting next to him in his football jersey, but I can't be bothered to dig for it and scan it right now (I'm sick in bed trying to recover so I can even cheer at the game at all).

If you grew up in my house, you are a lover of BYU football. It was practically a requirement. One of my brothers played for them a couple years ago and is best friends with the entire current team, or, at least the team of a couple years ago. Then there is my one rebellious brother who refused to go to BYU at all and suddenly became a WSU fan when he did his MBA there. Whatever. Big traitor.

As a member of my family, you also learned what the heck was going on in football. Oh yes. I knew what a sack was at the tender age of 7. I knew all about first downs and two point conversions. My dad constantly taught me during the games, even though at first I just wanted to watch the sidelines to see Cosmo and the cheerleaders. By the time I was in college and we purchased our season tickets as a student ward so we could all sit together, all the boys wanted to sit by me. Unfortunately, it wasn't because I was some bombshell beauty, but because I was the only female there that wasn't in the stands to socialize and flirt. I was there to watch the game, dang it!

So, yeah. I bleed blue. (And I'm thankful for it? I know I have to get that in there somewhere....but I am grateful for football, I guess.)

Joel set up a projector in his classroom at school and we are going to go over there and watch the game on a mega big screen. Hopefully the kids will last, and not be too disruptive. This game is always nerve wracking, and this year is no exception. In fact, I daresay this year is even more nerve wracking than the past few years have been, due to the records and rankings of both teams.

So, Cougars....on you go to vanquish the foe!

(And I'm very sorry to all you Ute fans reading this. I still like you. We can still be friends. I can set aside our differences for every other day of the year but this one. May the best team win.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

What dreams sound like

(Psssst! I know I wrote about music yesterday, but after writing that post, this one just kind of spewed out. And since I haven't really been doing any very serious writing lately, I was kind of happy about it...so, yeah, I'm still thankful for music! And for dreams.)

Whenever I walk down the hall near the practice rooms in the music building, I have to smile. Hearing the disjunct sounds of pianos, oboes, violins and vocalists playing Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Schoenberg and scales transports me back to the catacombs of the HFAC, where I lived and practiced in my own college days. Some people might cringe or cover their ears at the discordant medley of notes, but it is one of my favorite sounds in the entire world, and I could sit and listen to it all day.

I am in the music building often because I am blessed enough to be able to teach adjunctly. Even though I only have a few University students, I love being there, because it reminds me of the dream I had once upon a time. Yes, once upon a time, I dreamt of becoming a star on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera, or at the very least, San Francisco or Chicago. I wasn't going to get married or go on a mission or anything like that until I at least had a masters degree. I was going to sing professionally if it killed me.

Every day for several hours, I would sing my Concone and my Marchesi, my 24 Italian Songs and Arias, my german lieder and my french chanson. I did it in my assigned practice room while a pianist next door pounded out a difficult concerto and a tuba player across the hall blared loud and low. That crazy, noisy, wonderful hallway was my second home and I am sure I spent more time there or upstairs on the slab studying theory and music history than I did at my apartment. Such is the life of a music performance major.

It's a wonderful life.

But even a wonderful life has a way of taking a different direction than you planned. When the Spirit kicks you in the pants and tells you you must go on a mission, you go. So, I did. I'm glad I went, but when I came back to the United States, I had developed some unforeseen vocal problems that really inhibited me for a while. I was discouraged as I prepared for my senior recital, and felt like I could never be accepted into graduate school because of the issues I was facing. My dream was dying, and was eventually shelved as I forged onward to complete my degree and then pursue other things.

One of those pursuits was marriage. Two months after graduation, Joel and I began our life together. He immediately started on his masters degree, the first step in following his own dream of becoming an orchestra conductor, while I taught voice lessons and stayed home with our beautiful children. It was a great arrangement, really. And somewhere along the way, I realized my dream was not entirely dead. I would have to change the details a little, but I could still keep it alive.

Today, I keep that dream alive by singing in my community. It's not a big community, but it is an artsy one with plenty of music going on all the time. I was explaining to Joel why I insist on singing in choir and auditioning for solos and doing recitals and the like. It's because I need to hang on to my dream, even if it's just a tiny piece of it. It might not be New York or San Francisco, but I'm okay with where I am, although I often feel a twinge (or an avalanche, depending on the day) of jealousy when I look at some of the amazing things my college peers are doing now, like auditioning in New York or actually winning the National Metropolitan Opera Auditions. My dream has transformed itself to accomodate my life, but I am still lucky enough to sing on the stage and bless the lives of others as I share my God-given talent with the people of southern Utah.

And that's why I smile as I walk down the practice room hallway. Because I don't hear random snippets of music being played by various instruments. No, what I hear is promise and potential being bowed and blown, strummed and sung, plunked and piped into one beautiful concert of hope.

It is the sound of dreams.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Our musical life

As I sit here at my computer, Bria and Joel are playing a game together. I feel pretty confident in saying that it isn't likely that your husband plays this particular game with your children, although I won't rule it out entirely. This game consists of Joel taking Bria's violin and playing a Christmas tune on it, and then handing it over to Bria to see if she can repeat it.

You should know that Joel may be an orchestra teacher/professor, but he is not a violinist. And yet, he plays the instrument fairly decently when you take into account that his primary instrument is the trumpet. You should also know that he has two of the world's best ears, and though Bria has my unfortunate eyes, she also has his blessed ears. (I do not have great musical ears, it's something I've had to work really, really hard at, and was the bane of my existence in college.)

Guess what? He's gone through Frosty the Snowman, Away in the Manger, Winter Wonderland, The First Noel, Carol of the Bells and several others and Bria has been able to play them all back with minimal mistakes, and also in the same key that Joel played them in. She amazes me daily. For instance, the other morning during her practice hour she kept asking me what song she should play and I started throwing her for loops and saying things I knew she hadn't learned on the violin. Just hymns and Primary songs mostly, but she was able to play them all without a problem and without stopping to figure out notes. Even when I thought I had her by asking her to play Turkey in the Straw, she totally came through (and now plays it nonstop, I might add). I must say that it's a good thing she inherited my lack of focus and organization, or she'd be some crazy prodigy violinst playing in Carnegie Hall next week. Oh, wait, maybe that's a bad thing?

Chloe started on the violin at age 3, just like her sister, but she was a spectacular failure. Not because she couldn't do it, but because she wouldn't do it. The fact that she refused to learn Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star after a year plus of lessons is proof of this child's amazing stubborn streak. So, we quit. I wasn't happy about it, but we finally felt that it was a giant waste of money we didn't have in the first place. She showed some interest in the piano, so I started to teach her a little myself and she enjoyed it, but we butted heads quite often about musical principles, so we stopped. Because she was wrong, and I was right, but she refused to accept it.

Well, she's been pestering me to take lessons again, so I found a teacher and we started up on Tuesday. I'm crossing my fingers that she will think her teacher is amazing and wonderful and believe everything she says and be excited about practicing and not refuse to play things just because. So far, so good. She was excited to do her theory worksheets and couldn't wait to practice something, even if it's just playing all the C's and D's on the keyboard. Oh, and she adores her teacher so far.

So, today, I'm thankful for music. It has blessed my life immensely, in many different forms. I'm thankful for the opportunities I've had since living here to perform a bit more, simply because it is a small, but artsy, town. I'm excited to solo with the Messiah chorus this December (all y'all better come see if you live within an hour of Cedar) and also to solo with the women's chorus at the Christmas concert (ahem! See above). I'm glad that my children also love music (even if they can be stubborn about it) and have been blessed with musical talent.

I can't wait to see what kinds of music we can make as a family as our children grow a bit older. We will have so much fun!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yeah, I know you were all waiting for the "I'm thankful for blogging" post.
Well, here it is!

So, one thing I'm pretty grateful for is blogging. Can you believe I've been doing it for almost 4 years? When I first started, I had no idea what it would turn into, but I love it. I love how I'm doing "journal keeping" much more consistently than I have since I was a lovesick teenager. I love how it keeps me feeling connected with my family and friends. And I also love how it helps me make new friends. Because of blogging, I actually feel like I can have an adult conversation with interesting people on a daily basis. How wonderful is that?

Part of being a blogger means being tagged and awarded sometimes.

So.....here are some awards I've been given lately.

From Shauna at Trying to Stay Calm (I call her the ♥Queen♥ of ♥hearts♥ in my mind):


I hereby award these to every single one of you, because I do love your blogs and you are all great blog friends. Some of you are even great real life friends. :)

From Keyona at The New Norm (this one does double duty and comes with a tag):
6 things I value:

a. My family.

b. My religion and all that comes with it: A belief in God and Jesus Christ especially.

c. Good books.

d. My education.

e. My friends.

6 things I do not value:

a. TV (I could totally do without it).

b. A messy house. I only value it when it's clean. :)

c. Rap music. Which is not music at all.

d. Brussel Sprouts.

e. Debt (Thanks, Keyona...that was a good one, and I had to copy it).

Finally, another tag from Stacey at Taylor Tidbits:

1. Write your name with both your left and right hands.

Well, I am right-handed, but tend to do several things with my left hand, too. I often eat with my left hand, for instance. When I am writing on a chalkboard, I will often do it with my left hand and not notice, but that is easier than writing on paper with a pen. I kind of wanted to wait and do this tag later so that I could practice my left hand writing and amaze everyone, but I really probably wouldn't have done it, so I just did it. So there you go. Feel free to analyze my handwriting if you want.
2. List five of your 50/50's (things you are torn between, or that you like equally):

Wow. This one was somewhat hard for me. I've never actually thought about it, I guess.

a. Bria and Chloe and Sophia (I guess they are 33.3/33.3/33.3).

b. Christmas and Halloween.

c. Utah and Arizona.

d. Opera and Musical Theater.

e. Candy Corn and Twix bars.

3. List five of your pet peeves:

a. Whiny children.

b. Soggy bread (this is more than a pet peeve. I will definitely throw up if I have to touch it, or worse, eat it, unless it's a bread bowl with soup, I've discovered. I know this because I had one last night and the sogginess didn't even bother me).

c. A messy house

d. Misspelled words and phrases. Things like a lot (this is actually two words people!) and their/there/they're, your/you're and it's/its mix ups really bug me, although I'm guilty of not paying attention sometimes myself. But I change it as soon as I notice, I promise!

e. The Twilight craze.

4. List five things that you think don't mix well:

Oh this one is so easy for me. I have a serious issue with meat and fruit together. The. Worst. Thing. Ever. Soooooo.....

a. Turkey and cranberry sauce.

b. Ham and applesauce.

c. Salmon and berry sauce.

d. Chicken and peaches.

e. Pork chops and pineapple.

And there you have it. One of the reasons that blogging is kind of cool. If you want to find a bunch of awesome bloggers, look at my sidebar. I've got family bloggers and bloggers I knew from BYU (although some people are lumped into this category that I have known much longer or met a little differently, but they still attended BYU, so there you go), and bloggers that are my friends from our time in Arizona and plenty of bloggers from where I'm currently living. Then there's the big long list of even more blogs which are mostly people I've never met in real life, although some of them I have. Here is where I must also mention I'm thankful for RSS feeds and Google reader, or I would never get off the computer!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

4th folder, 4th picture

Finally getting around to this. I was really feeling the pressure after seeing hundreds of other bloggers posting whatever picture is fourth in their fourth folder, or whatever other number combos were going on in the blogosphere. (Actually, I just really didn't have an idea of what else to post today, so this seemed like a good plan.)


It's Sophie playing basketball at my parents' house this summer. It actually looks like she's doing a bang up job at dribbling the ball, but don't let the photo fool you. The ball bounced out into the street while she blithely chased it in her bare feet with Joel close behind to save her life if necessary. And it's often necessary with Sophia.

I'm usually thankful for this kid's energy. Sometimes I'm just jealous of it. And I'm always exhausted by it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flu for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2003 was a memorable one for many reasons. It was our first holiday season in Arizona, far away from our large families in Utah. We moved to Mesa because Joel had started working on his doctorate at Arizona State University that fall and, as poor students, there was no way we could put together the fundage to go home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. Christmas was a longer break, so it was the obvious choice.

Instead, my parents and my younger brother decided to come to us for Thanksgiving. We were happy to have a little bit of family around and excitedly prepared for the first Thanksgiving we would ever host. Joel made the turkey and most of the other feast items. I did all the baking of pies and also made my grandmother's traditional green jello salad. My family can't have Thanksgiving Day without it, although Joel hates it and would love to see it not make an appearance during the holidays ever again. Too bad for him, though. Tradition, you know?

Nate and my parents flew in on Thanksgiving Day, and drove up to our house just as the turkey came out of the oven. We had a lovely dinner together and spent the evening catching up and enjoying one another's company.

Later that night, Bria (age 3) came down with an alarmingly high fever. I don't have all of my facts straight in my head anymore, but I remember going to the emergency room with her and waiting several hours to see a doctor, only to be told nothing. I remember we took her to the pediatrician a few days later since she was still refusing to eat or drink and was completely lethargic. Sometime in there my mom came down with the same bug, and it hit her hard. We were able to take her to the urgent care and get her something to take. Chloe (8 months) and I also got pretty sick, although neither of us were as bad off as Bria or Mamah.

The rest of our Thanksgiving weekend, which I had so looked forward to, was ruined. We spent it in bed, watching tv and worrying about Bria who was always asleep on the bed near us. As I look back on it now, I have to giggle a little at our pathetic state, but at the time it was certainly no laughing matter!

That year, I was more grateful than ever for family. I missed them fiercely at our dinner that night and was so happy to have three of them there with us. I realized how thankful I should be for my own little family, whom I saw daily and maybe took for granted. I knew my kids would grow up faster than I could imagine and that I needed to make the most of my time with them. I also contemplated more on our (generally) good health as we struggled with the nasty flu bug. I was feeling blessed that we didn't have significant health problems that would interfere with living our day-to-day lives.

I am still grateful for family and for health. They are two blessings that many people aren't lucky enough to have. After thinking about it some, I have realized that all the money in the world can't make up for the lack of wonderful parents, siblings, spouses and children. Nor can it make up for the lack of health. I am rich, indeed--it just took several hundred miles and the family flu to help me realize it!

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Written for Scribbit's November Write-Away contest.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A happy sight indeed!

It almost seems like a miracle! When gas prices hit the $4.50 mark this summer, I was sure we'd never see below $3.00 a gallon again in this lifetime.

I'm happy to say I was very wrong.

On Monday, I filled up the van for $2.45, which was the lowest price I'd seen in over a year. Then, I watched the prices steadily go down, down, down for the rest of the week. On Thursday I drove past this same marquee several times. I saw the gas price go from $2.21 in the morning to $2.13 in the afternoon to $2.07 in the evening. Crazy stuff.

Yesterday morning it was $1.87, but by the time I took this picture in the afternoon it had gone down yet another two cents.

Very thankful for this because it means we can go north for Thanksgiving. It means my Christmas budget might be a little fatter (if prices don't decide to shoot back up in the next week, anyway). It means we can go down to St. George to shop a bit more often. And finally, I think it just makes people smile a little more.

Now, let's see if the grocery store can do the same thing, eh?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Simple faith

Last week, just before Bria's baptism, one of Chloe's Sunday shoes came up missing. It was probably missing for days, but since I didn't bother to organize everything beforehand, I didn't notice. We were frantically running around the house, and Chloe was crying because she is my girliest girl and she did not want to wear anything but her pretty new Mary Janes.

As I was looking in her closet for the fifth time, I saw her drop to her knees by her bed and say a prayer that she would be able to find her shoe. I smiled to myself, and kept searching. She got up, left the room and came back with her shoe within 30 seconds. Turns out it was behind a picture frame on the desk in the living room. Turns out she was walking by, and it caught her eye. We all know who put it there (Sophie), but who knows how long it had been there?

On Fridays, Bria's teacher draws a few names out of the good behavior box (they earn tickets to put in there every day). Bria has not been lucky enough to have her name drawn out, and she always feels a bit let down when she comes home on Friday afternoon.

Until yesterday. Before she left for school she prayed that her name could please be drawn out of the box this time. When she left she was excited because she had asked for that and just knew it would work. Well, it did. I'm glad it did, and I do think it was an answer to prayer. I think kids need these simple answers to start growing their faith. Chloe talked incessantly about how Heavenly Father answered her prayer and helped her find her shoe. Both of these experiences watered the seed of testimony a bit.

Most of all, they reminded me that it's okay to pray for such little things. I'm old enough to realize I won't get everything I ask for, but sometimes that causes me not to ask for things. I need to remember that my Heavenly Father wants to bless me. I need to remember that he wants to hear about all of my needs (and gratitudes!). I need to remember the scene of Chloe kneeling at her bedside while I was frustrated and running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

I'm thankful for prayer, and I'm thankful for children who are also thankful for prayer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Seriously, so blind

In college, I rarely bothered with my glasses, mainly because they were extremely hideous and also because they were broken. I finally replaced them just before my mission, but up till then I only wore them if I was desperate and never, ever in public.

Each night, after I took my contacts out at the vanity in the hall, I would blindly come into my bedroom and hang my clothes up or whatever while having a conversation with my roommate, who was usually on her bed reading. Without fail, during this time I would hear her snickering to herself, but since I couldn't actually see her face, I wasn't sure if I was hearing things or if I was just missing the joke.

Until that one night when I didn't take out my contacts, but she thought I did. While I was talking to her, I noticed that she was pulling her face into crazy contortions. I asked her what she was doing, and she innocently said "Oh, nothing," accompanied by her familiar little giggle. I immediately called her on the face making and she finally admitted that she got her kicks by sticking her tongue out at me every night and was always amused by the fact that I couldn't see, even five feet away from her. Funny indeed. She probably still did it even after she was caught...who am I to deny her small pleasures?

That's truly how blind I am, people. If I took my glasses off right now as I am typing this, I couldn't read a darn thing on the screen until my nose was literally touching it. Last night, while at an OSU orchestra concert with Joel, I took off my glasses to clean them off for a second and was astounded at what the stage looked like uncorrected. Just a bunch of circles, like out of focus Christmas lights. And two of them in the middle were bouncing around in time to the music. Some of them on the left were moving up and down. Turns out these were the conductor's hands and the violinists arms. Crazy stuff. I watched an entire movement like this until I felt like I might throw up if I didn't put my specs back on.

So, today, I am thankful that I live in 2008 and that my glasses correct my vision just fine. I can even wear my contacts if I feel like looking pretty, and nobody has to know that I am blind. If I lived a hundred years ago, it is doubtful that I would be able to see well at all. My vision would most likely be worse because nobody would have known how badly it was deteriorating when I was young, and they wouldn't have taken the steps they did to fix it.

If I lived in biblical times, it would have taken a miracle for me to see. I could have even been one of the blind people that Jesus healed.

And nowadays? I could get Lasik if I were rich enough. That would be the modern day miracle to heal my blindness.

But until I have some windfall and the courage to go under the laser, I am just very grateful for my cool red glasses.

I'd be more lost without them than I am my camera!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I hereby declare...

I have a special folder in my email called "pick me ups." These are messages that various people sent me which brightened my day and gave me warm fuzzies. If I'm ever feeling a little blue, I can always go to that folder and read about how wonderful I am (even if these people were seriously deluded, it still makes me feel better). The messages range from simple happy birthday wishes to ladies from a scrapbooking board telling me they like my stuff to friends letting me know how much they love me to the Stake President telling me I was doing okay in my extremely difficult calling.

I like my pick me up folder a lot.

Do you have one, too?

I bring it up because yesterday, a fun blogger named Trying to Stay Calm posted a little blurb about how it's the small things that make a big difference. And only a few hours after I read that, I got an email from a friend that totally made my day and went straight into my pick me up folder. That really solidified it for me. It wasn't very difficult for my friend to do that, and she easily could have just ignored the urge to do so. But she didn't. And we're both better off for it, I'm sure.

So, since I totally have the authority, I am making today, November 13, National Tell Someone Exactly Why They're So Wonderful Day. It can be anyone. Your husband (write him a nice love letter), your mom (call her), your sibling (send an email), your friend (send a text message), a blogger you've never even met but love (post a comment). Anyone who has somehow touched your life and for whom you are grateful.

Go now. Do it. I dare you.

I promise you that you'll feel great, and so will someone else. The world will be a better place today.

All because of a little note of gratitude and love.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

We have a winner, folks!

This time, I put all the strips of paper with your names on them in Chloe's hat. Because it's one of Kara's hats and I thought it would be apropo. Bria was the only one awake, so I interrupted her violin practice so she could draw the winner for me.

Reaching in with her eyes closed (at least I told her to close them...I can't tell now if she actually did).
She pulled out a name...can't quite tell whose it is.....come a little closer, please.


It's The Motherboard!

Here is what The Motherboard said in her comment:

Oh! I love this little hat! I have a 7 month old, so I TOTALLY need to win this!

May the force be with me!

I guess invoking the force is all you need to win, folks. May it be a lesson to you.

And, since most of you did not win (I was really wanting all of you to win, this is unfortunate indeed), you still could go buy a hat from Kara. They're very reasonably priced and totally cute! There are even a couple there that look a lot like the one Miss Motherboard won, if that's what you had your heart set on. I'm off to buy one for Sophie, since I didn't win, either.

Have fun shopping!

Ode to my camera

I would be lost without it.

I love it.

The end.

In other words, I'm thankful for photographs, a pretty good camera, and the ability to use it somewhat well. I still have a long way to go in photography and I learn a lot on every shoot I do. I sure do love doing it, though.

Here's a couple of my recent shoots:

My new nephew Lucas

Cyndie's family

Cyndie's gorgeous girls

[shameless plug] If any of you locals are wanting family pictures in the next little while, I will be doing some mini sessions in anticipation of Christmas Card photos. What's a mini session you ask? Well, it's a session that will last only 1/2 hour--family only, no single shots--for 40 dollars. You'll get between 4 and 8 images on a CD. Let me know if you're interested, and we'll get it scheduled. [/shameless plug]

I'll be announcing the winner of the hat giveaway later today. I hope it's you! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My official "I'm thankful for the Children's Place" post

I know. I've said it before. I hardly need to say it again. You already know how much I love this store.

But in case you don't know why, I now give you the top ten reasons I am thankful for Children's Place. (Or just PLACE, since that's what Bria calls it.)

1. Amazingly adorable clothes (for girls anyway--I never pay much attention to their boy fare, sorry).

2. High quality clothing for reasonable prices.

3. Awesome sales. If you know how to work their clearances, coupons, and rewards programs, then you can get their stuff for cheaper than you could at WalMart. Seriously. I almost never pay full price there, and usually get stuff for a downright steal.

4. Totally appeals to my matchy matchy girly needs. I will rue the day when Bria is too big to shop there for her clothes. Of course, by then, she would be mortified to match her sisters, so I suppose it's all good.

5. They send me great coupons for my kids' birthdays, and just because they love me. And they do love me. I am their best customer, after all.

6. Did I mention the clothes are totally adorable?

7. Hair accessories that match all outfits. Also, hair accessories for all seasons.

8. Great customer service. For instance, I wanted to buy a certain pair of socks at the St. George store, and they were out of stock. I mentioned to the clerk I'd try to find them online, so she just handed me a coupon code for free shipping since they didn't have what I wanted in the store! How many places do that?

9. Best socks ever. They don't even fall off the little baby feet like every other sock in the entire world does.

10. Just look at my girls in their Christmas dresses! And isn't Sophie's hat to die for? And the matching hair accessories on Bria and Chloe? And the matching tights? And the dresses? And the shoes? How could you not love this PLACE?


(I took the picture on Sunday right before Church. They always get to wear the Christmas outfit for the first time in the Primary Program, which was also on Sunday along with the ward split. Busy day.)

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Oh yeah, speaking of adorable hats....today is the last day to enter the hat giveaway! Hurry!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Bursting

Finally.

I have been wanting to talk about this for over a week, and now that I finally have permission to do it, I don't even know where to start. I suppose the beginning is as good a place as any, so here goes...

On Halloween, during trick-or-treating, Joel got a call from the Stake Executive Secretary, asking us to meet with the Stake Presidency on Sunday morning. Just from that phone call alone, we knew something big was up, and we hoped it was as simple as being called to stake music or something. Still, we both couldn't shake the feeling that it was something a little bigger than that, because why wasn't Mr. Executive Secretary doing Halloween-type things with his family?

We just had no idea what bigger thing it could be.

Well, when we got there, indeed we met with the entire Stake Presidency. That is pretty unusual, as many of you know. The Stake President told us that our ward was going to be split and that Joel was being called as a counselor in the Bishopric of the new ward.

(For those of you who aren't LDS: As you may know, we do not have paid clergy. Instead, the members of each congregation (ward) are given callings. The Bishop is the Priesthood leader of each ward, and he has two counselors who assist him with his duties. A stake is a unit made up of several wards, and presided over by a Stake President and his two counselors, also volunteers who are called to serve in these positions. Most members have a calling of some sort, either in leadership, or teaching a children's class, or leading the music, or whatever. There are always lots to go around.)

Needless to say, this wasn't at all what we were expecting, and it has been a little overwhelming. We are already so busy, and we knew this was only going to magnify that, but we also knew we would be blessed immensely. Joel has spent the last week feeling inadequate and humbled. I have spent it worrying about how I will manage sitting all by myself with the kids in sacrament meeting, and freaking out about how I will make Sunday dinner and how I will deal with having Joel gone more often than he already is which means making dinner more often. (So thanks for all the recipe help!!!!) I haven't worried about Joel being inadequate, because I know he isn't.

I married him because he is a spiritual giant (one of many reasons, actually). Really. I couldn't ask for a better man in that regard. He is meticulous about making sure we have Family Home Evening and family scripture study and family prayer. He tries harder than anyone I know to keep every commandment. To do everything that God asks of him. I'm not surprised about this calling one bit.

Yesterday he was sustained by the members of the new ward, ordained a High Priest, and set apart in his new calling. I was on the verge of tears (okay, so not just on the verge, I all out cried) for most of it. I am just so thankful for him and for his example to me and the girls. I am thankful he is a righteous and worthy priesthood holder. I am thankful for the spirit he helps to bring into our home.

And, strange as it sounds, I am thankful for this new calling. It is a new opportunity to serve, and a new opportunity for both of us to grow. I know that it will take a lot of sacrifice (like having to learn to make more than spaghetti), but all of the blessings will surely be worth it.

Right?

Of course, right.

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Hat giveaway reminder....get your entry in now, comments will close tomorrow!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Minnie Mouse

This is our niece Aly. I've known her since she was in elementary school. I taught her voice lessons while I was still dating Joel.

She was Minnie Mouse for Halloween.

She is pretty much the best niece in the world, and we're lucky enough (both us and Joel's brother's family), that she chose to come to college in our little town.

Why?

Because she is one of the sweetest girls you'll ever meet. She loves to help me out with anything and is always willing. She helped me do some baking for Bria's baptism, she will watch my kids in a pinch (even if I try to steal her car), and she is just plain really fun to be with.

On Halloween, when she could have been spending time with her much cooler friends, she came trick-or-treating with us.

And she actually trick-or-treated, too. She came away with quite the haul in that blue pillowcase of hers.

And then she organized a candy swap with the kids while we were at Joel's brother's house afterward for our second annual after trick-or-treating spaghetti (spook-etti?) dinner. The kids totally loved this activity, and Aly got a lot of the good stuff out of it, too. This proves that she is very, very smart.
(Yes, that is the de-scarecrow-ified Joel sitting on the couch there with the People magazine, completely oblivious to the bartering going on under his still-painted nose.)

Yeah, Aly is awesome. Everybody loves her, and I am extremely grateful to have her in my life.

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Don't forget to enter the hat giveaway! Only three more days to enter....comments close Tuesday at midnight.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Help?

I am thankful for a husband who does most of the cooking as I loathe having to make dinner. Besides, Joel is an excellent chef and he enjoys doing it, so why should I bother?

However, recent and upcoming events, which I'll share later, are going to necessitate my being in the kitchen at supper time a lot more often.

Sigh.

So, I was hoping you all could help me. The last time I posted about my cooking deficiencies, many of you left me some easy recipes in the comments, and I didn't even ask! This time I'm asking. I'm going to have occasion now to use these in a big way, and I'm hoping you all can come through with a few more.

Also, I would love to know how you even do it? Prepare dinner amongst screaming kids who are trying to finish up their homework, begging to watch TV, complaining about violin practice and screaming, that is. I need tips. Normally, Joel is in the kitchen happily preparing our evening meal while I am kid-wrangling. This works for us. During the times when Joel isn't home and I have to do it, I generally turn into a crazy woman who wants to rip her hair out. It could be that this is the real reason I don't enjoy making dinner, who knows?

Just in case you didn't understand, here's what I am begging for:

1. Easy recipes and dinner ideas

and

2. Tips to make dinner preparation easier and without resulting in injured children or mothers being committed to the insane asylum.

I thank you.

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Don't forget to enter the hat giveaway!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Scattered shoes

I pick up a hundred pair of shoes off my living room and kitchen floors daily.

No, I don't live in a shoe store. We don't even have that many shoes in the house, it is the same few pairs over and over and over again. Little Sophia is a fan of pretty shoes and considers it her duty to wear as many as possible all day long. If I ever wonder where she is, a quick check of the closets will usually reveal her trying on my Audrey heels or Chloe's red ruby slippers from Halloween.

This used to drive me absolutely nuts, until I heard the following line from President Monson's talk this past General Conference:

"If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will--to your surprise--miss them profoundly."

That one sentence caused me to look at things differently. Maybe it is annoying to be tripping on shoes constantly, or to never be able to find the mate to Chloe's Sunday shoes, or to have the shoe basket in the hall always overflowing and the closets generally empty of footwear. Okay, so those things really are annoying. But Sophia won't do this forever. Eventually she'll stop being so enamored of pretty shoes and be interested in other things. Or, even if she still loves shoes, she won't feel the need to wear every single pair in the house each day. And when that happens, I really will miss the sight (and don't forget the sound!) of her cute little self prancing around in my highest heels proclaiming her beauty.

So, for now, I will be thankful for every shoe I pick up during the day. After all, the little stinker did win me a thousand dollars (with your help, of course) due to her not-so-little shoe obsession. If that's not reason to be grateful, I don't know what is!

I'm still not convinced I will miss doing piles and piles of laundry, though. You'll have to get back to me in 20 years or so and see how I feel then. Meanwhile, I'll try to also be thankful for the 5 loads of laundry I currently have in my hallway waiting to be folded and put away.

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Don't forget to enter the hat giveaway! PS: It will fit any head from baby to about 7 or 8 years. Don't think it's just for babies! If you have a little girl, it will most likely fit! :)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What really matters

About two weeks ago, I was having a really bad day. Not the kind where everything goes wrong (I had one of those, too), but the kind where you just feel rotten. To be honest, I was feeling rather sorry for myself. Feeling like nobody cared about me. Feeling like I wasn't good enough at anything I try to do. Feeling overwhelmed with all of the things I was trying to do. Feeling on the verge of tears nearly all day. Finally, those tears got the better of me and came pouring out along with a torrent of insecurities.

I don't often have days like this, and so my husband and my children don't usually know what to do with me when I do. Now that I look back on the day, I do realize how ridiculous I was being, and I appreciate even more the way my family handled it.

All three of my girls tiptoed into my bedroom where I was wallowing in self-pity and salt water. The two older ones brought me notes and pictures about what a wonderful mommy I am, and tenderly tried to find out just what exactly was wrong with me. Sophia, just came and laid down next to me and kept asking, "Wa happe mommy?" She slathered me with her adorable kisses and gave me lots and lots of hugs and pats on the back. Bria and Chloe also went into their room and began to sing hymns and primary songs. This is not something they normally do, and when asked why, they said because they wanted me to feel the Spirit.

Joel came in, too, and listened genuinely to my feelings. He has learned to do that, you know, instead of telling me how I should be feeling or giving me silly solutions. In the morning when I woke up, I found several pieces of paper outlining the things that he loves about me: Many of them were the things I was feeling down on myself for not doing well enough.

The whole experience just reminded me that what really matters is not how good I am at photography or which solo I was chosen for in the Messiah. It isn't how clean my house is or how wonderfully it is decorated. It isn't how skinny or pretty I am. It isn't how many comments are left on my blog or how many followers I have. No. What really matters is my little family, how I treat them and how I teach them.

Oh, how thankful I am for my wonderful husband and my precious daughters and for the opportunity they give me to make me a better person and to learn to focus on what's most important.

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Don't forget to enter yourself into my hat giveaway!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Hold onto your hats!


I am so excited to be able to give away one of Kara's adorable hats! I am in love with her hats, as you might have noticed in my last post about them, and I only wish I could win this hat that she has so graciously donated to be given away on this blog.

You can find Kara both on Etsy and on eBay, (but mostly Etsy)....run and look at her adorable offerings!

Here are the rules:

1. You are automatically entered into the drawing by commenting on this post. Please include your email or blog address in your comment, unless you're positive I have it.

2. For a second entry into the drawing, write a post on your blog and link to this giveaway (let me know you did this in a comment, and make sure I have the link to your blog).

3. For a third entry, put a link to Kara's Etsy shop in your blog post (again, let me know in a comment).

4. You have until midnight, Tuesday, November 11 to enter. The winner will be announced sometime Wednesday, November 12.

So, enter! Who cares if you don't have a girl...surely someone in your life does, and that would be a Christmas present all taken care of if you win! :) Besides, if you really can't think of anyone else to give it to, remember that I have three girls and you can just send it my way! :)

Good luck! I'm rooting for you!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Her name is Sophia, and she approves this message


If for some reason you can't read her shirt, it says "Vote for my better tomorrow."

What an incredible blessing it is to live in a country where we are given the right to speak our voice through the voting system. I have voted in every Presidential election since I was 18, and although my candidates haven't always won, I have always been honored and thankful to be able to make my voice heard.

I don't like to speak about politics on my blog, but that doesn't mean I don't have a very firm political opinion. This election is a very important one, and also a very difficult one for many people. I know who I am voting for, and (obviously) I hope that he wins, but if his opponent happens to be chosen, I will respect the fact that the people have spoken, and try not to mope about it all too much.

Don't take your right to vote for granted! Get thee to your place of polling and vote for Sophie's better tomorrow! And the better tomorrow of your own children.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A month of Thanksgiving

I'll admit, I don't usually give the Thanksgiving holiday the credit it deserves. I look at it as a chance to gorge myself on great food and spend time with family, but the real reason for the day is often lost somewhere between the turkey and the pumpkin pie.

I want to change that this year. This year, I want to really and truly focus on my blessings. I want to find ways to show the gratitude that I feel for the abundance that is in my life. And I'm going to do it all on my blog.

Each day, I'll focus on a blessing and express my thanksgiving for having it in my life. I also decided that I will throw in a few giveaways this month, in gratitude for the people that come here every day to read about my life.

And since Thanksgiving always brings to mind feasts, I thought I'd share with you the feast we had to celebrate Bria's baptism on Saturday evening. And don't fall over dead or anything, but I'll even link you up with some yummy recipes.

I had every intention of taking at least one picture of the spread, but everything happened too fast and I didn't get a chance. You'll just have to trust me that it all looked very pretty. And you'll have to trust me even more that it all tasted amazing, since I didn't get to eat any of it due to my diet, but word on the street says that everything was totally yummy.

First of all, I made these cupcake pops:




I took a picture the night before because I was so proud of them. They were rather labor intensive, after all. I started the process on Tuesday night, molded the mini cupcakes on Wednesday, and my fab friend Erin came over on Thursday morning and helped me with the final step of dipping them in chocolate and sprinkling them. She ate a couple, and confirmed that they were as delicious as they are adorable. Although I think that Erin and I did a fabulous job with these, we are nowhere near as professional as Bakerella herself, where I found the recipe and instructions. Here it is for your viewing, and possibly baking, pleasure. I also learned that Pioneer Woman did a Halloween version of these very same pops, so here is that link since you only have 362 more days until next Halloween.

The other thing that I, Lara, actually made, is apple tarts. Basically, I just bought apple pie filling in a can for those. I did make the crusts from scratch, though. I just opened my cookbook and found the recipe, but I substituted cream cheese for shortening. Then I made little mini pies in the muffin tin. They were really yummy according to my dad, who ate most of them.

Joel made BYU mint brownies which are to die for. When I am not on a diet, I have been known to eat an entire pan almost by myself. If you are familiar with BYU catering's version of these, you know they are divine. Except to my nephew, who said, "Uncle Joey? I think you accidentally put toothpaste in these brownies," the first (and last) time he ever tried them. Toothpaste and chocolate together are not so appetizing to him, I guess.

Joel also made pumpkin cobbler. I got the recipe from my friend Kathy, who recently made it for a Stake Young Women leadership training meeting. Since, alas, I couldn't eat my serving, I took it home to Joel, who exclaimed over its fabulousness with every bite, and couldn't wait to make it himself. I know I would love it, because I love pumpkin pie, but I will have to wait to try it another day. You, however, can go look at the recipe on Kathy's blog and try it out. Nothing's stopping you!

We also had a few cookies and some pumpkin bread donated by my mom and my cousin, Michelle. (Michelle....Joel loved your cookies, you'll have to send over the recipe unless it's a family secret!)

It all looked and smelled amazing, and turned out to be a wonderful way to celebrate our Bria's baptism.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

She's official

Before you scroll down to see the picture of Bria and her father before her baptism, you need to understand a few things about Bria.

1. Bria has a very difficult time adjusting to the idea of new things, let alone the new thing itself.

2. Bria hates doing anything in front of people, including playing her violin, speaking in church or school, saying prayers for anyone other than her immediate family, etc.

3. Bria likes her clothing to look "cool" at all times.

So, armed with that information, I'll tell you a quick bit about the day. We needed to be at the stake center at 4:30 in order for Joel and Bria to get dressed in their whites. Around 4:15, everything that could possibly go wrong at our house did indeed go wrong. We couldn't find Chloe's other shoe, Bria's new dress ripped and there was no time to sew and I could only find one safety pin, Sophie woke up from her 3 hour nap totally cranky (from all the Halloween candy, no doubt) and refused to wear anything but pink boots and wouldn't let me do her hair, I forgot my sheet music for the musical number, Joel couldn't find things he needed and on and on and so forth ad infinitum.

As soon as we finally drove up to the stake center, Bria refused to get out of the car (see number 1) and began to cry about being embarrassed and nervous to go through with her baptism (see number 2). We finally convinced her that all was well, and she came with us and got her white jumpsuit. I took her in the ladies' room, where she changed into it and immediately burst into tears upon seeing its less than fashionable shapelessness (see number 3). She flat out refused to come out of the bathroom, for fear someone would see her (see number 2) and also voiced her worries about being dunked under the water (see number 1).

I knew it would happen, because I know my daughter. I did my very best to prepare her for weeks and weeks, but it wasn't quite good enough. I considered it a victory that she even went to her baptismal interview with the bishop, and that she was excited about inviting her best friend to the ceremony. But it wasn't quite enough to assuage all of her fears.

So, by the time she was willing to get her picture taken, she was still having issues with the whole situation and refused to look happy. Also, by this time, there was only 5 minutes left before start, so there wasn't a lot I could do to happify her.


Do not despair, though. All four of her grandparents came and gave her pep talks and helped her to cheer up. When she and Joel were sitting together in the chapel in the opening meeting, he loosened her up in a way only he can (Joel can always make Bria laugh). Once everything was underway, I saw smiles from her and knew that all was well.

The baptism itself was wonderful, and Bria was very calm and only a little embarrassed. I cried and she didn't. I know she felt peace from the Lord, and knew she was doing a wonderful thing.

And indeed she was.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

All we were missing was the yellow brick road
(oh, and the Tin Man, and the Wizard, and the munchkins, and the Wicked Witch of the East...)


Neves Family Productions presents
The Wizard of Oz
(or Wicked, if that's what you prefer)

The cast of characters, in the order they happened to be photographed by mom.

Dorothy (played by Chloe)




The Good Witch of the North, aka Galinda, aka Glinda the Good (played by Bria)




The Cowardly Lion (played by Sophia)




The Scarecrow, aka Fiyero (played by Joel)




The Wicked Witch of the West, aka Elphaba (played by Lara)

Costumed by Lara, who is rather impressed with herself.
We all had oodles of fun, and oodles of candy.
Hope your Halloween was all it's cracked up to be!