Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sophie at age 3

Sophia's birthday was this past Saturday. While I am still in a bit of denial that my baby is already three years old, it definitely happened and we had a blast. We had a few friends and cousins over to my parents' house and let the kids swim and play while we threw some hamburgers on the barbie. Summer birthdays are so much fun.

Sophia is undeniably my wild child. She would prefer not to wear clothes, and definitely fights having anything in her hair, which is why I finally just cut bangs for her. She doesn't seem to possess the capability to stay still unless she is sick, and even then she wants to run around as much as possible. She can definitely be exhausting. Just the other day when we were at a swimming pool with a waterslide, she went down about 36 times before she lost steam and fell asleep on a deck chair. Of course, this means that Mommy had to go down about 36 times as well, and I had lost steam around trip number five.

She is a tease. She loves nothing more than to harass her sisters by stealing their things and running for it. She also quite enjoys badgering Joel and me, too, but if she has a garden hose in her hands, you'd better run for it no matter who you are.

Sophia is also my "why" child. I thought my other two were pretty curious, but she puts them to shame. She has to know why about everything to the point that even I don't know why I am doing something anymore. You know the drill:

Sophie: Whatchoo dooning?
Me: I'm making lunch.
Sophie: Why?
Me: Because we're hungry.
Sophie: Why?
Me: Because we haven't eaten anything for a while.
Sophie: Why?
Me: Well, because a few hours have gone by since breakfast.
Sophie: Why?

And then I just get frustrated, because trying to explain the time-space continuum to a toddler is about as enjoyable as poking your eyes out with a fork. Especially when that toddler doesn't seem to have any other word in her vocabulary besides "why?".

She is incredibly tender and will hug and kiss her sisters whenever they are sad. If either Joel or I is the reason for one of her sisters' emotional outbursts, Sophia will lecture us. "You no be mean to my sisser!" she'll say heatedly with a little stamp of her foot. Very loyal, that one.

She has brought nothing but joy (and a lot of fatigue) to my life these past three years, and I look forward to the next year with my crazy bundle of vivaciousness. Hopefully I can keep her alive while simultaneously keeping her from jumping into the fountain at the temple or anywhere else.

Happy Birthday, Sophia!

Monday, July 27, 2009

On straight lines and developing gifts

A few months ago I was listening to NPR while driving, as I often do, and I heard something that I have been mulling over ever since. It was on All Things Considered, and they were talking about an artist whose name I have now forgotten. The artist had said that something that truly annoyed her was people coming up to her and complimenting her work and then adding, "I can't even draw a straight line."

Her response to these people is always, "Neither can I. Most artists will tell you that is what a ruler is for."

As I said, I have thought a lot about this ever since I heard it. I just think that there are so many lessons that can be learned in that one little snippet of wisdom. One lesson especially has stood out to me quite prominently as I have considered straight lines and the development of talents.

Why is it that we feel we must put ourselves down in the light of someone else's talent? Why does a person feel the need to tell a gifted artist that they can't draw a straight line? What is the point in that? Why doesn't it suffice to appreciate the talent the other has, the joy it brings to our lives and leave it at that?

I am a talented person. And guess what? Each and every one of you out there reading this is, too. You will have different talents than I do, of course. Our talents will be in various stages of development. Some will have pursued only one of their talents, and have ignored the many others that they have. Others will have developed many, but none to mastery. And, unfortunately, many will have ignored all of their talents for whatever reason. Some talents are more obvious than others, but no talent is better than another.

Also, none of us comes with absolute mastery of something. Nobody can just draw a straight line, so to speak. We work to develop our gifts and talents. Nothing bothers me more than when someone comes up to me and tells me how much they "wish" they could sing like I do. Because, guess what? Wishing I could sing did nothing for my singing voice. Maybe I started out with a bit more raw talent than the next guy, but mostly I worked my butt off to get where I am as a singer. Hours of practice and study went into it. If you really wish you could sing (or draw or write or act or solve difficult equations or fly an airplane or whatever), then you will be willing to put the ten thousand hours into it that the experts say is required to truly master a skill.

I just don't understand why so many of us feel that if someone else has developed one of their God-given gifts, that it somehow diminishes us. It makes me kind of sad, actually, even though I have been guilty of the sin plenty of times myself. In my heart of hearts I want to be thrilled for a person who has done much with their gifts and talents. I want to enjoy the benefits of reading a great book written by an accomplished author. I want to lift my spirits by listening to the amazing music composed and performed by brilliant artists. I want to relish the beauty of a work of art made by a skilled painter. I want to be in the company of a person who has developed the gift to make others happy. I want to learn at the feet of someone who has devoted hours of study to the Gospel and has cultivated the capability to teach others well.

I don't ever want to be caught not enjoying something wonderful because I couldn't have done it as well. I don't want to sit around wishing I could do something. If I really want to do it, I want to take the initiative to learn how and to practice.

But most of all, I want to be able to recognize talent in others and the talents that I have been given. Too often we waste time comparing our weaknesses to others' strengths, when we should be focusing on our own strengths, or at least how we can turn our weakness into strength.

So let's hear it. No comments allowed unless you can tell me at least one of your talents.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Don't forget!

Lunch today!

Paradise Cafe in American Fork
1:00 pm

I know there won't be a ton of us, but it will still be fun. Come if you can!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Let's do lunch on Thursday

I realize there have been a plethora of bloggy lunches lately, but since I'm going to be up north starting in a couple hours until next Monday and it's my last chance to actually attend one and of course nobody is having one the week I'm up which always happens, I'm just going to have one of my own. (Wow, that was a run-on sentence if I ever read one.)

So, I will be at the Paradise Cafe in American Fork on Thursday, July 23 at 1:00 pm. I would have chosen Saturday, but that is my Sophia's birthday and of course Friday is Pioneer Day. So Thursday it must be.

Let me repeat:

Paradise Cafe in American Fork (562 West Main Street)
Thursday, July 23
1:00 pm

Yes, I realize that this is two days from now, but I would really love to meet some of you that I already count as great friends. If only one person shows up it will be worth it, but I do hope more of you are able to make it. Let me know!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Stuff you never wanted to know about me

My friend Karen tagged me, and I was thankful. You may not be, but at least I have something to blog about that was fairly stress free. Not too difficult to answer a few strange questions, and I don't have the time lately to think of wonderful topics, so there you go.

And here I go.

1. What is your current obsession?
Packing up my house. Also, I will admit to having read the entire Harry Potter series in the last week. Between packing boxes and all. I'm a fast reader.

2. What do you hate the most that everyone else seems to love?
Twilight. Although that's probably the cliche answer, it's true. And I can't think of anything else.

3. What are you wearing today?
Khaki capris with a black tee that says "Western Cowgirl" on it. It's cute, even though I'm the least likely candidate to actually be a western cowgirl.

4. What's for dinner?
That is a question you'll have to ask my personal chef, er, husband.

5. What would you eat for your last meal?
Fettucine alfredo with chicken and garden veggies. Pumpkin pie for dessert.

6. What is the last thing you bought?
Brunch at the Bellagio Buffet.

7. What are you listening to right now?
The dryer spinning, the air conditioner humming, Sophia singing.

8. What do you think of the person that tagged you?
I think she's wonderful and I regret not ever getting to know her better when we were neighbors. After reading her blog, I have found that she is one of those rare kindred spirits.

9. If you could have a house--fully paid for and totally furnished--anywhere in the world, where would it be?
New York City.

10. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would it be?
That's kind of a difficult question. Anywhere in Europe, but top choice would probably be Vienna. Or London. Or Venice.

11. What is one of your hobbies?
Just one? Photography.

12. What is ONE of your favorite quotes?
This is a bit more forceful ONE, is it?

Only put off until tomorrow that which you would be willing to die having left undone. Picasso

Not that I follow it or anything, but I try.

13. What is your favorite color?
Red. In all its various shades.

14. What is your favorite piece of clothing in your wardrobe?
I'm pretty finicky about that, but it's usually likely to be something super dressy that I never have much occasion to wear. Like my fabulous aubergine concert dress.

15. What is your dream job?
Opera singer or recitalist. Or pro photog with all the amazing equipment to go with it.

16. Describe your personal style.
I would dress up every day if I could in heels and everything. Not being practical, I'd describe my personal style as being classy casual. Or something like that. Not today though.

17. What is your favorite tree?
Honestly, I have never put any thought to this. I am rather fond of weeping willows, though.

18. What are you going to do after this?
Edit some photos.

19. What is your favorite fruit?
I am really not much of a fruit lover. I blame my pregnancy with Bria for that. It would probably be some type of berry if I have to pick.

20. What inspires you?
Beautiful design and photography. Singing voices that are so stunning that they seem to stop time. Exciting music. Mothers.

21. Who was the last person that you kissed?

22. What are you currently reading?
Nothing. After the Harry Potter fiasco I decided it isn't really safe for me to be reading anything for the next few weeks. We'll see how well I can keep to that.

23. Go to your bookshelf, take down the first book that you see with a red binding, turn to page 26 and type out the first line.
I have packed most of my books already, but all of our music books are still out so Joel can do course planning more effectively. Red binding? Here you go:

"Amahl was the first opera written expressly for American television."

24. What delighted you the most today?
Watching Joel as he experienced taking Sophia to her little speech therapy preschool for the first time.

25. By what criteria do you judge a person?
Wow. This a deep one. I don't know if I have a set criteria as I find myself just judging people on how I feel when I'm around them. I guess that's the criteria then.

26. What was your childhood nickname?

27. What are you afraid of?
Failure. Looking stupid. Bugs.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You can't be good at everything

I have a huge confession to make.

I am not good at Karaoke.

I know, I know. One would think that I'd be a pro, being a fairly accomplished singer and all. But that's just exactly the problem.

Talk to any musician and you will find that they always have a weakness that they have had to overcome, or are working to overcome. I just asked my husband, and he admitted that his weakness is the ability to quickly understand theory, despite his excellent ear. My weakness is actually my ear. I am quite an accomplished sight reader, if I do say so myself, but I've always felt that I tend to use sight reading as a crutch to cover up the fact that my ear is far from excellent.

And that's why I'm no good at Karaoke.

Sure, it's fine if I really know the song well and have sung it several times. Then I can do the Karaoke. But, how many Karaoke bars have you been to that offer a wide selection of opera arias and musical theater? Exactly. I can only do popular music that I know well enough that I don't need the sheet music. And, unfortunately, (or fortunately, you decide), I don't actually listen to pop music all that much anymore. And I definitely don't go out and buy the sheet music to the latest hits. The songs I once knew so well as a teen I would now have a pretty difficult time pulling out of the air to sing. Maybe I could do the chorus, but most likely not the verses.

I would be so good at Karaoke if they just gave you the musical notation instead of the stupid bouncing ball over the words.

So, when I went with my sister-in-law Ashley to Las Vegas this last weekend, we had to do Karaoke. Not because I wanted to, but because Ash is the queen of Karaoke. I bucked up and did it, but I stuck to the few musical theater songs offered and The Carpenters. You can laugh all you want, but I can do a pretty mean Karen Carpenter when I want to. Apparently it was good enough that the Karaoke master called me up to do a duet of Top of the World with him as the finale number on Friday night.

Saturday night was not quite so successful for me. I sang Whitney and it was fine, only because I sang The Greatest Love of All as a solo in Jr. High and I've never really forgotten it. But when I went up to sing Memory from Cats, it was a bizarre arrangement and my crappy ear couldn't hear the melody. So, I had to sit down feeling thoroughly embarrassed and wishing that Karaoke machines all offered a sheet music option, and some guy named Spider got to come up and do the final duet with the master.

I'd like to tell you I was any better at Rock Band, except for the fact that the last time I did that I ended up singing the very obscure opera version of Livin' on a Prayer because that's what was winning me points. Let's just say I won't be doing Rock Band vocals again anytime soon after the ridiculing I received from my brother.

I'll stick to Karaoke.


PS The Karaoke bar we visited in Vegas posts slideshows of its participants each week. If you're interested in seeing what I look like while trying to be good at Karaoke, have at it.

Friday Night (Ash and I are towards the end, along with our friend Lili)

Saturday Night (Again, kind of towards the end)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Just how old does she think I am?

I'm going to Vegas in a couple of hours to see an 80's band in concert. Total girls weekend. No kids. No stress.

Bria wanted to know why I was going and the following conversation ensued:

Bria: Why are you and Aunt Ashley going to Las Vegas and leaving me here?

Me: Because we're going to see a concert.

Bria: What, like an orchestra concert?

Me: No, a rock concert.

Bria: Who?

Me: It's a group that was popular when I was a teenager, you've probably never heard of them.

Bria: The Beatles???!!?

Me: No, they're called Duran Duran.

Bria: Do they have a guitar?

Me: Ummmm....I'm not sure (do they?).

Bria: When girls go see Hannah Montana, that means they're her fans, Mom.

Me: Yes, it does.

Bria: So, are you a fan of the Duran Durans?

Me: Well, um, I never thought of myself that way, but I guess so.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I have had more photoshoots to do since we decided to move than I ever have before. 5 down, 3 to go. I'm trying to use my time wisely between editing, packing and normal stuff like cleaning the house and grocery shopping. Sometimes I feel like I'm failing miserably, but it is what it is.

I have now packed around 20 boxes, had a yard sale and taken several loads to the DI and yet I'm shocked at all the stuff that is still in my house. Where did it come from? Why do I even need it?

Anyway, I apologize for this blog becoming nothing more than a place for me to freak out about moving. We have managed to buy a house, so that's a huge thing off my mind. We do keep running into little snags here and there with it, but I'm pretty confident everything will work out in the end. And at least we won't be homeless.

So, this post is really just about the fact I finished editing a shoot and I'm rambling in a major way.

Anyway...I finished editing a newborn shoot! Wanna see?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Makes a mother's heart sing

I'm not gonna lie. As a musician who married an even better musician, I often dream about my little family doing performances together someday. And yet, those hopes are often dashed during practice time when all I hear is how much they hate piano/violin/music/me. Sometimes it seems like it would just be easier to give up on the darn music and not fight about it every morning.

And then one of them will say something that makes me realize it's all worth it.

Like what Bria said yesterday morning:

"I just feel so joyful when I'm playing my violin that I sometimes forget to do the right bowing."

Yeah. We'll just focus in on that joyful bit.

That's what music is supposed to be about anyway--joy.

The bowing will get there eventually.

Monday, July 06, 2009

On schedules, routines and lists

So, last week, I asked all of you how on earth to start implementing more structure into my life and overcome my schedule rebelliousness. I got a lot of great advice from you. I think what it comes down to, is that I need to choose a schedule/routine that fits my own approach to life.

It did seem to be the general consensus that I should not be worrying about such things right now at this time of my life. I do agree, but I think my kids need a bit more structure than I've been giving them so far this summer.

I really liked what Kerri had to say, and I think I'll do a modified version of her schedule:

This is our schedule for the summer: Morning: getting our jobs and practicing done. Lunch. Nap for Ben and quiet reading time for the others. Afternoon: activities. Mon: Cousin Day, Tues: Library, Wed: Pool, Thurs: Field Trip, Fri: Friends.

So far, so good. We haven't had any major breakdowns, and the schedule is loose enough for me to not get overwhelmed.

I will say that we have done a pretty good job of getting practicing done first thing in the morning. Bria is especially good at this, as she is an early riser and really does love to play her violin. I think she actually looks forward to playing every morning. It's a little more difficult with Chloe to get her to do her piano, but she's doing okay with it. After practicing, they each have to do three jobs and then the rest of their day is free...and that's where the struggles begin. So, I really like Kerri's afternoon structure. We only really have about 4 weeks until we move (AUGH!), so I may not be able to plan something every day, but I think 3 times a week is good.

I had to laugh at Chandler's comment, because, basically it is how I function, too:

I try, and try, and try to follow a schedule (especially since my husband is a creature of habit), but I'm not so good at it. The best I can ever do is invent a totally new schedule every day—so it's not exactly a daily routine, but at least that day is planned out.

(Then again, does anything ever go according to plan?)

Instead, I keep lists like nobody's business. I have the weekly list, the daily list, and the long-term list. And I'm pretty good at sticking to them—so even if my day doesn't exactly resemble yesterday, or tomorrow, at least I've accomplished the things I'm supposed to do. Yes, things like "do the dishes!" and "fold laundry" make it onto the list, too.

Don't know if that helps, but I definitely feel your frustration!

Ha! Joel constantly makes fun of me for my lists because I put such obvious things on there. But honestly? If it isn't written down, it doesn't get done. Sometimes it still doesn't, even if I wrote it down, but it was a lot closer to getting done than it could have been.

Today, my list reads:

Send in Michigan school registration for girls.
Pack 3 boxes of books.
Clean bedroom.
Unload/load dishwasher.
Clean kitchen.
Laundry--at least 3 loads + fold.
Take load to DI.
Take box of baby clothes to Heather.
Find musical number for Sunday.
Find babysitter for Friday.
Pick hymns for Sunday.
Call Gena.
Make CDs for play/photos.

So the problem I see with my personal lists, is that they don't really help my kids. And my kids need structure more than I do.

But I'm not going to worry about it too much until after school starts and we are all safely moved in.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Pink Tennis Shoes

I love that Chloe loves pink. Bria doesn't care for it at all, much like I didn't as a child. Chloe would wear pink at every opportunity and when Mamah got these shoes for her, they had to be pink.

Bria's are white.

Friday, July 03, 2009

A conversation with Chloe

Chloe: Why isn't there a Sister's Day, Mom? We need to have a Sister's Day.

Me: Hmmm. I don't know why there isn't a Sister's Day. Maybe we could have our own.

Chloe: No, I think we should just have our birthdays be our special day. We don't need to have a Sister's Day.

Me: Okay. That's a good idea.

Chloe: Besides, everyone will be a mother or a father when they grow up, so they'll get to have Mother's Day and Father's Day when they have kids, right?

Me: Yes, most people will, you're right.

Chloe: Well, they have to choose to be a mom or a dad. If they choose that they don't want to be, they just have to be a doctor or a dentist or something.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sitka, Alaska

Our second port was Sitka, Alaska. If you've seen The Proposal, this is where it was set. I haven't seen the movie, but I do know it wasn't actually filmed in Sitka. They made a town in Maine look like Sitka. I did look at some pictures of the set and they did a pretty darn good job, too. Amazing what the movie people can do.


I loved Sitka. I thought it was one of the coolest places I've ever been. It is the fourth-largest city by population in Alaska, and it only has a population of about 9,000 people! It was originally settled by the native Tlinget people, but Russians settled there in 1799.

St. Michael's Cathedral--a Russian Orthodox Church--is probably the most well known tourist attraction there. I have a fascination with the Orthodox religion, simply because I served my mission in Romania where the Orthodox Church is the main denomination. Mom and I went and took the little self-guided tour of the church while Joel and Dad went in search of chocolate, which is apparently more important than history.

I love the Byzantine architectural style of most Orthodox churches, including this one.

This is the roof from the inside. I loved the blue (even though everything in Alaska is blue).

We didn't do any of the cruise excursions in Sitka, instead opting to just explore the town ourselves. Mostly we checked out all of the cute shops, and yes, Joel found his chocolate.

We ended our time in Sitka in a castle fortress that overlooks the ocean. Apparently it was built by the governor of Russian-America, Aleksandr Baranov to watch for people coming into the town from the ocean.

Joel was a little impatient waiting for me to climb the fortress stairs. I had accidentally pushed a button on my camera that was causing it to overexpose everything and I really wanted a good picture of the stairs. Unfortunately, by the time I figured out what was going on with my camera, Joel was in all of my pictures looking exasperated.

I don't have a single stair picture sans-Joel.

The views from the top were pretty amazing (the picture at the top of this post is a view from the castle fortress).

Can't forget the obligatory tourist pictures.

And then we went back to our home on the water for another night of good food, good entertainment (Scrabble), and good company.

PS: I never finished writing about our Juneau port, mostly because the pictures weren't very good from the rest of our time there. So, just for the record, after we did the whale watch we went to visit the Mendenhall Glacier and then went on a salmon bake and did some shopping. There. Now I am guilt-free.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Farm Country

So, to be totally honest, I got a little sick of the Alaska pictures and needed to do something else with my photo editing time for a while. (See? I'm trying to have a routine.) I'll get back to them, but I needed a little different color palette since Alaska seems to be all blue and white and well, blue.

These photos were taken after I went to Michigan but before we went to Alaska. Joel and I and the girls went with my sister-in-law, Anne-Marie, and her three boys to the Farm Country at Thanksgiving Point. Always a fun activity, especially when you get to go with cousins.

It was a very hot and sunny day, so most of the photos aren't great. But here are a few fun ones from when the kids were playing around in the little playhouse while we waited to go on our wagon ride.

This is my nephew Kanoa with Chloe. They're about 6 months apart in age and adore each other.

This is cranky Sophia. I'm pretty sure at this point it was naptime and the heat wasn't helping. No smiles from her....all attitude.

This is Bria with her cousin Gabriel. Gabe is about 9 months older than Sophia.

Sophia playing in the little jailhouse. My, but she was overheated. Look at those little red cheeks!

And we musn't forget my cutie-pie nephew, Lucas! Isn't he adorable?