Monday, December 29, 2008

We're Back...For Now...

Whew. We made it to California before Santa, but we cut it close. Due to my perpetual disorganization, we left on the 23rd at 3:00 pm. Yes. It's true. David drove like the wind, and we got home about 12:30 Pacific time, but we were all very very tired. Especially me. Because I stayed up all night. Again. Can someone teach me how to get everything done on time and still go to bed at a normal hour? Please? I'm begging you.

Was it worth it? YES. If just for the time connecting with family, I'd do it all over again (yeah, that means you, all you crazy Youngberg brothers and sisters, as well as my wonderful Paullin family.)

I'll post pictures when I get my head on straight.

And now I start packing for a few days in Aspen Grove. Winter Wonderland, I'm ready for you.

Well, actually, I'm not at all ready...But I will be when I get there. For now, there's the laundry, the finding a home for Christmas presents, the finishing up (ok, really, starting) delivering Christmas neighbor gifts. Oh, and Christmas cards...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Calls

We had an exciting visit tonight from the man in red himself. He was as charming as ever, and certainly made all of us feel even more in the Christmas spirit. All of us except Ben, that is. When the Santa Invasion occured, his little face filled with terror, he ran to Katy (our wonderful neighbor), and clung to her before she handed him to David.

The Christmas requests? They were eventful, as none of the children stuck to what they had decided they wanted earlier.

Josh wants a cell phone. But since his parents (meanies) won't allow it, he wants a camera with a detachable lens. Nice one, kiddo.

Sophie wants a lime green sewing machine. Lime green, you ask? Oh yes. Lime green. Do they make lime green sewing machines? No, they don't, well, certainly not in normal sewing machine factories. But Sophie has assured me that Santa's elves can make anything she wants. ("Or do you not really believe, Mom? Are you saying Santa's not real, Mom?") Stinker.

Kate wants five rings. Luckily, she doesn't care if they're Five Golden Rings. She just wants rings to fit into the remaining ring slots in her jewelry box.

Ben? He just wants Santa to go away, already.

It's always fun that Cole and Emily happen to be visiting when Santa visits. What a great coincidence!

Santa assured us he would find us in California. I hope we make it there before he does...

Merry Christmas, everyone. We are grateful for you and all that you mean to us.

Friday, December 19, 2008

When I Said I'm Getting Old, I Meant It

After my post about my little sister Bri, I found this picture.

So when I say Briana getting married and being pregnant has made me feel a little aged, well...

You see what I mean?

And admit it, those sleeves rock.

I'm in So Much Trouble

Well, actually, I think I may have managed to smooth things over. But last night was not a pleasant night around the GreenHouse.

Since I'm not bringing in any income anymore, I've been trying to be careful about my expenditures. I keep trying to figure out ways to keep some of our hard-earned income in our bank account a little longer.

So would could be more natural than to try to avoid spending money on kids' haircuts, right?

Yeah. You see where this is going.

It's not like I was going to try to cut the boys' hair. No. I'm smarter than that.

BUT, honestly, all the girls needed was a trim. And how hard can it be to cut in a straight line? I have a masters degree, for goodness sake. I'm fairly intelligent, I have a good eye, and I can DRAW a straight line (most of the time.)

But this was Sophie's hair last week:

And Sophie's hair this morning:

Note: I put it in foam curlers last night after cutting it because I couldn't bear to let David see JUST how short it was. He has a thing for his girls and their beautiful hair. He does not think trying to save money on haircuts is a good idea. And now...

I don't either.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Me and My Little Sis

Briana came to visit at the beginning of the month. She wanted to meet Baby Evy and to have a little away time from LA while her hubby studied hard, and we're all so glad she came. I had to take a picture of the first time she outweighed me (she's 8 months pregnant). Ha ha, Bri. I have to enjoy it while it lasts.

We had a good time at Temple Square. I've never seen the Christmas decorations during the day, and it was lovely. It was especially nice to just be able to walk up to the Christus without any lines. Kate was fascinated by the statue.

We also made some very lovely but very disgusting cupcakes. Yikes. They were awful.

Bri was only 1 when I left for college. Accepting that she is a married, pregnant grown-up has been a little mind-bending, because it means that I have to accept that I am no longer 20. It's true, I'm not. I know that's a shocker. However, she is a lovely, kind, funny adult, so I guess it's kind of a win-win. Oh, except the feeling old part.

Thanks for coming to visit, sister. I look forward to many more visits, with baby in tow. We might even make some edible treats.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas is Coming

We love Christmas around here, at least in theory. In practice, making Christmas special is tricky, and leads to lots of late nights and therefore, grumpy kids. And Mom. And sometimes Dad. I'm sure that in the long run, the traditions are all worth it, though, and really make December life feel exciting.

Some of our favorite traditions:

Picking out our Christmas tree, then having hot chocolate in mugs bigger than our heads.
Decorating the family room downstairs, too.
Doing the 12 days of Christmas for a couple of families every year. (Oh no. We forgot last night. Oh no.)
Reading in front of the Christmas tree.
Reading Advent scriptures.
Sleepover in front of the Christmas tree.
Christmas lights on Temple Square.
The creche exhibit in Midway (which we missed this year due to illness. Sad.)
Decorating gingerbread (Ahem. Graham cracker.) houses. We had a BLAST with Eric and Christina making them just last night (thus forgetting to do the fourth day of Christmas. I could just slap myself. Argh.) Thanks, guys!
Watching Christmas Story.
Acting out the nativity on Christmas Eve.
An impromptu Christmas Eve concert, complete with drumming to Little Drummer Boy.
Clam chowder and a Yule log for Christmas Eve dinner.
Taking treats to people we love.
Lots of fun.
Lots of treats.
Lots of secrets. The good kind.

I love this season. I love the idea of the Christ child in all his purity coming to earth in the most humble circumstances possible. I love teaching my children about Goodwill to Mankind. It's all good.

Except the not sleeping enough.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Let It Snow

We spent a gloriously quiet afternoon at home. The big kids played in the snow, then came in for hot chocolate, warm baths, and dinner. Our evening hours were spent TV-free, thank you very much, in front of the roaring fire and Christmas tree, reading and playing games. Josh and Sophie played Battleship and Scrabble, Ben toddled from book pile to Daddy's lap, back and forth, over and over, and later the girls came to the piano with me and sang Christmas primary songs.

Things don't come together like this very often, but when they do, they're beautiful. Hooray for a peaceful, happy, Christmas-y day.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Kid Stuff

Things I love about my 12 year old:

He's truly funny, in a sarcastic, "I know how to push your buttons" kind of way.
He is passionate about soccer and skiing.
He loves babies.
He has fallen in love with his cello again.
He often helps me the first time I ask. (I said "often." Not "always.")
His grin is so huge, it nearly splits his face in two.
Watching funny movies with him makes them double funny because his laugh is so contagious.
He thinks he is Mr. Decorator and has Major Opinions about how we have decorated for Christmas.
He wore shorts to school every day this fall until 3 days ago, when he finally decided winter had officially arrived. I don't know, maybe it was because it was 25 degrees out?

Things I love about my 9 year old:

She now goes to violin lessons without complaining.
She is amazing with Ben, and often she just carts him around with his arms around her neck.
She starts projects for school BEFORE they're due, even if I'm dragging my feet.
She has a real eye for beauty and is constantly coming up with new ideas for art projects.
She is kind to her friends.
She decided to learn the last piece in her violin book and did it in one day. Performed it the next day. Didn't care that there were rhythm issues and wouldn't let me fix them.
She constantly does these flippy things off our stairs. It makes me crazy, but it's also very cute. Freaks her Grandma out, though. She's sure she'll break her neck.
She has a very specific taste in clothes.
She is passionate.

Things I love about my 5 year old:

She is passionate about playing the piano. I didn't know there were piano students like her.
She reads with darling inflection, especially when there are exclamation points. Oh my! Wow! Oh no!
She plays with Ben in such a darling way. Except when she's bugging him and making him scream.
She wore sandals to school almost every day this year until last week. And skirts and short sleeve shirts. And hardly ever a coat. Argh.
She loves to do hard puzzles.
She eats so many more foods than the rest of the kids.
She has a sunshine spirit.

Things I love about my 20-month-old:

He hugs us and pats our backs.
He loves chocolate milk. He opens the fridge, gets out the milk, goes to the pantry, gets out the chocolate milk mix, and says, "Muk. Chokuh muk."
He answers "Yesh" with a head nod when we ask him if he wants something.
His first sentence was "I want cookies." Good boy.
He loves to be outside.
I can lay him down and he will go to sleep. It's a miracle (a miracle that was many crying nights in the making.)
He loves books, and animals, and singing, and waffles, and did I mention chocolate milk?
He feeds the dog. Too often. Yesterday it was half a loaf of whole wheat bread. It's usually half his breakfast.
He copies all of us. David was standing by the couch a couple of days ago talking to me and leaned back against it, and Ben came running over and leaned back against it too, with just the right amount of nonchalance.

I swear they change everyday. It is lovely and heartbreaking, and I wish I could stop time and soak it all in.

Monday, December 8, 2008

What I Should be Doing...

Christmas shopping.

Folding laundry.

Studying scriptures.

Doing dishes.

Practicing with Kate.

Organizing my desk (it's ALMOST done. I swear.).

What I AM doing...

Nothing much.

Except wishing I hadn't ripped one of my last pair of contacts taking it out of my eye Friday night. And enjoying watching the snow fall. And trying to get over the cold that has knocked all of us for a loop in the last week.

OK. Break's over. Time to practice with Kate. (The rest of all you "shoulds" can just wait your turn.)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I'm finally posting our Thanksgiving pictures.

The truth: My basement did NOT get fully organized before Thanksgiving. I did not recover any chairs, make any new curtains, or even take a shower before the first guests arrived. (I DID eventually take a shower, but after the first group showed up. It was embarrassing to be caught in my pink striped pajamas, especially when I realized that my shirt was inside out. Oh well...take me as I am, I guess.)

The other truth: It didn't matter. Perfection is not a prerequisite for gratitude. I was surrounded by my little family and some of my wonderful extended family, we ate delicious (I mean De-Li-Cious) food, we laughed, we relaxed, we loved.

So Happy Thanksgiving, a week late. I'm still eating like it's Thanksgiving, and I'm plumping up daily. Time to renew my commitment to exercise and eating right. Well, not right, but right-er.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 30

I'm grateful for my gratitude posts.

My heart has been softened, my eyes opened to the goodness around me, my responses to hard situations kinder than they might have been. Cultivating a spirit of gratitude is not easy. There are so many struggles in all of our lives that it can be easy to wallow in the muck of it all. I certainly have found myself in many a muck-fest. Having this challenge helped pull me out of a few, and for that I am truly thankful.

I may have to continue to count my blessings on the sidebar of my blog.

And now it's December! Christmas!

It will be the first December in 11 years that I have not had lessons, dress rehearsals, concerts, recording sessions, etc. etc. etc. I hope that I will be able to create a season of peace for myself and for my family that hasn't happened in the past.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 29

I'm grateful for my good, kind parents.

I've already talked about my dad, but he and mom came up last night to see new baby Evelyn, and we were able to spend a few hours together today. This made me very grateful.

When I count my blessings, being raised by goodly parents must come in near the top of the list. I have learned many important lessons from these two: that debt is to be avoided, that an education is to be gained, that family is dear, that playing games late at night is memory-making, to never give up, to work hard and play hard, that popcorn and orange frosties are delicious, to encircle yourself with friends who love you, and always to love the Lord. Are my parents perfect? The short answer is, of course, no, but also yes.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all you have done and continue to do for me and my family. I love you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 28

I'm grateful that I don't stay up all night shopping any other night of the year.

(Can I just ask, What was I thinking?)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 27

I'm grateful for a beautiful Thanksgiving day.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 25 & 26

Day 25

I'm grateful for David's relaxed attitude today.

When he came home from work, David did not even mention how crazy it is that our downstairs is still covered (COVERED.) in papers, pictures, concert programs, childrens' artwork, and I'm not even sure what else. What a good man. What a patient man.

Instead, he made a big deal about how great my grocery shopping bargains were and how much money I saved. This is a man I'll keep. (Oh, and he also said I'm getting skinny...My oh my. I think my brain may explode.)

Day 26

I'm grateful for seeing my family room floor.

I'm getting closer to finishing my organizing. Oh my goodness. I had no idea how long this would take. I pictured ample time pre-Thanksgiving to polish the baseboards, re-cover the kitchen chairs, make new kitchen curtains, and of course by now I was planning on freezing my homemade rolls to pull out of the freezer tomorrow morning, finishing up the final touches on the yams, and making jam to go along with dinner.

Ha ha ha. Did I mention my optimism is sometimes inaccurate as far as results are concerned?

Time to get back to the paper madness...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 23 & 24

Day 23

I am thankful for Thanksgiving!

I've been planning our feast for this Thursday, and I'm so excited to have some of our family gathered with us to celebrate gratitude. And food.

I love food.

I love sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and gravy, pie, stuffing; oh, I'll admit it. I love it all.

And sharing Thanksgiving with people who are dear to me is great, too.

(Have I ever told you about the first Thanksgiving at our house? The one to which my cousin invited a girl suffering from anorexia? Yeah. It's a good story.)

Day 24

I'm grateful for getting to start over every day.

I like to think of the night as my reset button. I seem to need that reset button every single day. Didn't quite help the kids well enough with their practicing. Didn't study my scriptures. Got sidetracked on the computer (what? Who, me?). Didn't spend enough quality time with David. Didn't find someone to do something for. Read too much. Didn't practice. Ate eight cookies. Didn't run. Couldn't get myself focused on organizing the house.

And so, every morning, I get to Try Try Again. That sometimes feels overwhelming, but I am the eternal optimist, after all, so I often think, "TODAY is the day I'm going to get it right!"

Somedays I get pretty close to right. Most times I don't. But every day I get to try again, and that is a blessing.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 21 & 22

Day 21

I'm grateful for my new niece, Evelyn Rose.

How truly wonderful to have a new baby to love...Evie is a beautiful baby with a beautiful name and a beautiful mom and a beautiful family. I'm so thankful for her safe arrival, and that she's just around the corner when I start needing a baby fix.

Day 22

I'm grateful for David's help organizing our under-the-stairs closet and desk area.

Oh boy. Paper clutter is my nemesis. (So is chocolate milk.) I can't tell you how many preschool pictures, receipts, vacation memorabilia, and just plain junk I have had boxed up under the's just too overwhelming. So we've spent all day today cleaning out, and I am at the So Done I Want to Cry stage. Well, maybe not cry, but at least take a hot shower and pretend that my entire family room downstairs is not covered in piles.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 20

I'm grateful for my dad.

It's his birthday today! Happy birthday, Dad.

My dad gave me more than his white skin and quick temper. He gave me a love of friendly competition, a desire to learn, a loyal heart, and a love of family. I hope I also got my love of a good time from dad plays as hard as he works.

I also learned about sacrificing for the Lord from my dad (my mom, too!). My dad and mom always had callings that often called for much time and effort. I never once heard either of them complain about what they were asked to do. They simply did it. I am grateful for this example, and have come to realize just what an amazing gift that was for me.

So thank you, Dad, for honoring your priesthood, teaching me about working hard, and letting me live to adulthood. I know I tested you. You needed was too easy before me. Ha ha.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 19

I am grateful for other peoples' talents.

I just tried to sew doll clothes with Kate.

Nuff said.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 18

I am grateful to be a stay-at-home mom.

I have worked part time my entire adult life. I wasn't sure if I could give up my profession and still feel like myself. I have identified myself as a musician for as long as I can remember, and that label seemed to be my biggest identifier. I also have a great affinity for teaching and grow to truly love each of my students and their families. I care about their progress as people as well as musicians, and have enjoyed the opportunity to be a part of a child's growth from early in their educational lives until graduation. There aren't many professions that enjoy those kind of long term relationships, and I loved that part of teaching piano.

I was also happy to be an accompanist for Viva Voce, a women's choir that I have been a part of since January of 1997. I had the opportunity to perform and record in many different venues, and it helped keep up my reading and playing chops. I loved the women I worked with and, again, especially was thankful for long term relationships that often buoyed my spirits. (And to be quite honest, it was nice to be appreciated. Moms don't get the same kinds of acclaim as women can in the workplace.)

But it all got to be too much. Too much time focusing on other peoples' children. Too much time worrying about what I needed to do to become an even better teacher, an even better pianist. Too much stress, trying to figure out how to get my kids where they needed to go, how to help them finish their homework, how to get dinner ready after hours of teaching, how to be unfrazzled in the evening so that we all could feel peace in our home, how to get my OWN kids to practice after trying to convince all my STUDENTS to practice. It became clear that something had to change.

So after months of agonizing, praying, fasting, and worrying, David and I made the Big Decision.

And now it's done. And life is beautiful.

Well, a lot of the time it is.

The house isn't always clean. But it's cleaner. Dinners aren't always fancy. But we have dinner on time almost every night. I'm not always a paragon of peace and tranquility. But the kids are happier. Much happier. I don't know how we would have survived this year if I were still trying to keep all the balls in the air. I am truly truly grateful.

We couldn't have made this decision too many years ago. My income was vital for a long time. I have so much empathy for moms who work, and I'm downright blown away by those who work full-time. It's HARD. I respect moms everywhere who are trying to do the best they can with whatever hands they've been dealt. But I'm grateful that I was in a position where sacrifices could be made so that our family could be in a better situation than we were.

Am I still a musician? Yes. But I'm a mom. For now, that's my priority. And, surprisingly (to me, anyway), I love it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 17

I am thankful for Family Home Evening.

No, really, I am.

Disclaimer: We are not great about having FHE. We go in phases. Sometimes we do a story and a game. Sometimes we just have a treat. But since I quit teaching, we've had many more "typical" Family Home Evenings than ever before.

I even made an FHE chart. I'm so home-makery, it kills me. (But I just made it out of badly cut pieces of cardstock stuck together with a push pin. It's a 1 (lame) on the crafty meter.)

Tonight was a SUCCESSFUL evening. My sweet kids, my sweet husband, ALL of us participated, and voices were only raised once or twice. Hooray for mostly happy family time. Josh taught us from the Doctrine and Covenants, we read a story to Ben, the girls sang a song together, we talked more about gratitude, we had pumpkin shakes, and we played Modified Boggle. Whew. (I love Modified Boggle. Experts have to find words with 4+ letters, intermediate players find words of 3+ letters, and Kate can make any word she wants with any letters she sees. Good times.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 16

I am grateful that my parents are safe and that their house didn't burn down yesterday.

Yorba Linda was on fire yesterday, did you hear? Scared me. Scared me more today when I couldn't reach my parents on the phone and worried that they might have been evacuated, like so many thousands were. Every time the answering machine answered, I was grateful, though, because I figured if the answering machine was still working, the house must still be there.

My heart aches for my family's friends who have lost homes. I hope they had time to get important things out of the house. I am so grateful for my safety, and I guess this a good reminder to get my house in order just in case something tragic happens. Pictures on DVDs, important papers in a fireproof safe, maybe..., oh, and make sure our 72-hour kits are updated.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 15

I'm grateful for date night!

Woohoo!!! 007 and Citris Grill and happy kids with our wonderful babysitter, Katee...

I love date night! We need to do it more often.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 14

I am grateful for grace.

I need it daily. I don't ask for it as often as I should. I'm afraid that I can't do the topic justice in a short little gratitude post, but suffice it to say that I have felt the power of Christ's grace, and I know it has changed me for the better.

I know God offers it to me with open hands. It's for me to decide whether or not I can accept it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 13

I am grateful for my Nana Paullin.

It's her birthday today.

She is an amazing example to me of kindness, generosity, graciousness, hospitality, intelligence, dedication, service, and love.

She's a California girl through and through, and still can't quite believe I consider myself a Utahn.

She has passed to me her love of reading, her sweet tooth, and her tendency to think liberally, along with her respect for people of all faiths.

She loves me, she loves my family, and we all love her back.

Happy birthday, Nana.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Giving Thanks, Days 11 & 12

I'm grateful for so many things that seem insignificant, but are remarkable.

I am thankful for hot water that comes on when I turn on the faucet. I'm thankful that I can take a hot shower every day.

I am thankful that I have a home that is palatial when compared to the average home size in the rest of the world. I am grateful for windows with screens. I am grateful for a furnace in the winter and an air conditioner in the summer.

I am thankful for a grocery store with an enormous variety of food to choose from and that I can afford to feed my family well every single day.

I am thankful that we have enough clothes and blankets and shoes.

I am thankful for access to modern medicine.

I am thankful for cars that run and telephones that work. I am thankful for modern communication.

I am thankful for libraries with their access to books and information.

I am thankful for the public school system, where the majority of teachers are dedicated, talented professionals.

Sometimes I forget how amazing it is that we have all of these blessings. It's so easy to take daily life for granted. But we are SO BLESSED. (Seriously so blessed. Ha ha.) Any of these things would have been considered an unimaginable luxury 150 years ago, and yet I still FORGET to be grateful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 10

I'm grateful for my family.

My own family:

Some of my mom's side:

Some of my dad's side:

Some of David's family:

As evident in the above pictures, I have many people to love who also happen to be part of my family. We have varying political, social, and religious views, but I adore them all. I laugh with them (a LOT), learn from them, I am thankful for their kindnesses and care for me.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Giving Thanks, Days 8 & 9

I am grateful for David's decision to run the Snow Canyon half marathon with me.

WE DID IT! We ran together, and I loved it. The race was gorgeous, the weather was beautiful, the experience was unforgettable. I think we'll run this race every year. Anyone want to join us?

I'm so grateful for Lyndsey.

We love my niece Lyndsey so much. She sacrificed her weekend to take wonderful care of the kids. Art projects, late night movies, and a CLEAN HOUSE...amazing. My kids were NOT thrilled that we came home in the early afternoon today. They wanted her to stay forever.

I am grateful for Liz and Jeff.

We are blessed to have amazing neighbors all around us. Liz was one of my training partners when we ran our first half marathon. We've had hours of wonderful talks on the road and I am so thankful to have a friend like her. She and Jeff are funny, kind, and loyal friends who have helped me in my life so much. Liz ran the race in 2:02! Woo-hoo! She is amazing (I already said that, didn't I?)

I'm grateful for the earth and its glories.

Seriously. I got to spend a morning running in this majesty. The world is a gift.

Oh, and I'm really really thankful for ibuprofen. And so is David.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 7

I'm thankful that I'm getting out of Dodge!

David and I are leaving in a few minutes for St. George! Our wonderful Lyndsey is staying with the kids! I get two nights with David! No kids! No stress! Just a half marathon and lots of unscheduled time!

(Was that enough exclamation points?)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 6

I am grateful for a healthy body.

I am so thankful that I have been given the gift of health. I am aware of how tenuous that claim is...disaster could be just an hour, a day, a week away. The very fragility of health makes it even more precious to me, and I want to be grateful for it every day I can.

It rained all day Tuesday, a cold, sleety, miserable rain. I was supposed to run, but didn't feel good about sticking Ben in the stroller in that miserable weather. (I know. I need a weather cover.) When David got home, I put dinner on the table, then put on my running clothes and left. It was dark, cold, and less than two minutes out, it started to sleet. I had to think, "What on earth am I doing out here? This is ridiculous. Running is a stupid time-waster. And why do I ever say I like to run? I hate it. I can't stand it."

Many of my runs begin this way. You'd think my mindset would change after so many months/years, but there is something about Newton's First Law of Motion that fully applies to me: a body at rest (Mine) tends to stay at rest. Getting it into motion takes physical and emotional endurance.

The pouring sleet turned to snow (I tasted some of it), but after a mile and a half, it began to clear. After three miles, the clouds began to part, the crescent moon appeared through them, and a few stars began to twinkle. My body was mine again, not some obstinate other being, and I felt one with the world around me. I was full of gratitude (thank you, endorphins) for David's willingness to support my run, for my sweet family, and for the chance to run. I ended the run with a smile on my face and was able to reenter family life with more grace than I left it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Giving Thanks, Day 5

I am grateful for optimism.

I had the rare privilege of being raised by an optimistic mother, and I am so glad she passed on her gift (or her genes) to me. Do I sometimes lose my optimism? Sure. But overall, give me a chance and I will find the silver lining. It makes David a little nuts, especially when I'm absolutely sure we'll be on time to something, despite the fact that we left 15 minutes late. But believing that something better waits around the corner has given me hope time and time again. And more often than not, I'm right!

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "Cultivate an attitude of happiness. Cultivate a spirit of optimism. Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine." I say amen. The world has its glorious beauties, the hardest trials have their benefits, things are rarely as bad as you think they'll be, and most people mean well: My optimistic viewpoint in a nutshell.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I voted for a president who WON!!!! What?!?! This NEVER happens. And I mean never.

I'm so excited.


Giving Thanks, Days 1-4

My friend Jessie posted something she was thankful for every day last November, and I loved it. She just started up again, which reminded me that I had planned to copy her (imitation is the highest form of flattery, after all...)

So, here are my first four days:

Nov. 1

I am grateful for David.

He is an amazing man. He has a remarkable will and so much strength. He is funny, (sometimes ridiculously so), he is kind, and he loves me with all his heart. He is a tender and sweet dad. I knew he would be an amazing father even before I ever knew I would marry him. He works extremely hard. He has an amazing artistic eye and ear. When I was getting ready for recitals, I could always count on him to give me his honest (sometimes hard to take) opinion and that my playing would improve as a result. He makes up crazy songs. He is a loyal friend, and I have never doubted his faithfulness. He is a good man to the core.

Nov. 2

I am grateful for my children.

Being a mother is a beautiful, difficult, amazing role. These four people are full of life, energy, wisdom, and curiosity. They teach (and test) me every day. I believe we have known each other for eons, from time before this world, and I am grateful to be their mother. It's not an easy task. I don't always think I have what it takes, but I am grateful for their goodness and their humor and their intelligence.

Nov. 3

I am grateful for this amazing world.

I love our world. I love the seasons. I love the wild open spaces around me.

Nov. 4

I am grateful for America.

Having just returned from voting (Go Obama!) (but it's ok if you say Go McCain. We can all be friends.), I was reminded how amazing our country is. We get so caught up in the negative aspects of modern life in America sometime, and it's easy to forget that we live in a truly amazing country. I walked into a polling location, gave my name, received the chance to vote my mind without pressure of any kind. I didn't wake up nervous that there would be violence at the polling location, or that someone would try to pressure me into voting for a certain candidate. Those who have fought for my freedom are dear to me. I'm so thankful that I have the opportunity to speak dissenting words without fear of persecution or imprisonment. While I wish we would be kinder in the election process, and certainly less divisive, I'm very aware of the beauty of what we have.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Halloween

We had so much fun on Halloween. I loved having Halloween on Friday. It felt so much more relaxing, especially because Kate and Sophie get out of school early on Fridays. I set up my backdrop for Halloween pictures for our friends again (sorry, Liz!) and had a lot of fun trying to get decent pictures. They didn't all turn out great, but they were fun to take.

Here are our family's Halloween pictures. I decided to dress up. Can you guess what I am?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Yuck. Yuck. And Again Yuck.

Hey, fellow mommies...want to earn a few extra bucks? Click here to see how...

Joshua vs Goliath

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Malisa tagged me...

5 Shows I Love to Watch:

1. The Office
2. Project Runway
3. Top Chef
4. So You Think You Can Dance
5. hmmmm...that's about it. I like Arrested Development on DVD, too.

5 Favorite Restaurants:

1. Thai Siam
2. Log Haven
3. Cafe Rio
4. Citris Grill
5. really, anything I don't have to cook that is not McD's...

5 Things That Happened Yesterday:

1. Went to dinner with David. We got to have a date! Yippee!
2. Read a book
3. Paid bills
4. Had a headache
5. Did lots and lots of laundry

5 Things I Look Forward To: (ok, 7)

1. The kids in bed
2. Running when it's not 35 degrees
3. Reading
4. Dates with David
5. Happy family time
6. Good, thoughtful conversations
7. Feeling the Spirit

5 Things I Love About Fall:

1. Running through crunchy leaves
2. The colors
3. Wearing sweaters
4. My birthday
5. Wassail

5 Things on My Wish List

1. Steinway
2. Everyone in my life to be happy
3. For the political process to be simpler and more positive (is that like asking for world peace?)
4. World peace
5. The habit of going to sleep earlier

5 People I Tag

1. Christina
2. Liz
3. Jessie
4. Karissa
5. Janae
5a. Seriously, I tag you all. If you want to do it, go for it. If you don't, don't. I'm easy like that.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Cool Songs for Slideshows

Think of this as a Public Service Announcement. My sister-in-law and I decided to do a slideshow for my mom's birthday. Surprise, surprise; this was harder than it sounded. One of the trickiest parts was deciding on songs for everyone. Internet searches helped a little, but most of the songs that show up when you google music for slideshows end up being, well, lame-o. So just in case someone is looking for songs for their OWN fantastic slideshow, here is what we ended up using. Remember, our family is large, so we needed many songs. The siblings all chose their own songs, so there is a good variety. And yes, I did choose a couple of rather overused songs, but they worked, so deal with it.

Mom: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Israel Kamakawiwo'ole)
Dad: Sing Sing Sing
Mom & Dad: Love and Marriage (Frank Sinatra)
Me & David: Mushaboom (Feist) and Life in Technicolor (Coldplay)
Eric & Christina: Better Together (Jack Johnson) and Three Little Birds (Bob Marley) (Three Little Birds got thrown in at 2:30 in the morning. I may change that later after talking to E&N)
Chad: Where is My Mind (Pixies)
Matt & Ananda: Feel Good Inc. (Gorillaz) (This needed a little editing to make it family friendly)
Brent: Move On Up (Curtis Mayfield) Brent was also going to use Superfly (Curtis Mayfield) but I ran out of time to edit them together.
Kurt & Ashleigh: Time to Move On (Tom Petty) Loved this one. Also had to add something at 3 am to fill in for time, so I chose the Johnny Cash version of In My Life. I love that, but again, I may change it after talking to K&A.
Steven: North to Alaska (Boxcar Willie) Since Steve-o spent the last five months with sled dogs in Alaska, this fit beautifully, but I'm not sure it has Wide Appeal to the Masses. It made me laugh, though. Good choice, Steven.
Bri & Mike: Good Day Sunshine and Got to Get You into My Life (Beatles)
Chelsea: Fabulous (HSM2 Soundtrack) and I Always Get What I Want (Avril Lavigne)

Then came the grandkids. They got to choose their own songs. You will be able to tell that. Christina and I, as parents, had other ideas, but oh well...:
Joshua: Island in the Sun (Weezer)
Sophie: Walking on Sunshine (Aly & AJ)
Abby: Life's What You Make It (Hannah Montana)
Kate: Soak Up the Sun (I edited out the first verse...Kate doesn't have any Communist friends. As far as I know.)
Will: Life is a Highway (Rascal Flatts)
Ezra: Upside Down (Jack Johnson)
Ben: Beautiful Boy (Ben Harper. It was hard to not use John Lennon, but the kids liked Ben Harper better.)

Then a few group pictures to Our House (Madness). My brother and I used to, um, well, um, make up dance routines to Our House. Sorry, E, to spill the beans. Don't you wish we'd videotaped our old dances for posterity? Well, I wish we had, because then I'd have some great blackmail material.

Here are some other songs that nearly made the cut:
My Favorite Things (Sound of Music)
Shiny Happy People (REM)
Material Girl (Madonna)
We're Going to be Friends (White Stripes) (I'm still going to use this one for a cousins outtakes section)
Send Me on My Way (Rusted Root)
Circle Game (Joni Mitchell, although I love Jim Harmon's version)
A Bushel and a Peck (Doris Day)
You Are My Sunshine (a not cheesy version (I know, amazing) from Elizabeth Mitchell)
Happy Together (Simple Plan)
All You Need is Love (Beatles)
L.O.V.E. (Nat King Cole)
Big House (Audio Adrenaline)
What a Wonderful World (Louis Armstrong)
These Are Days (10000 Maniacs)
When I'm 64 (Beatles)
Wonderful World, Beautiful People (Jimmy Cliff)
Be Kind to Your Parents (Michael Feinstein. That would have been funny.)

I've got more, people...but I'm going to stop. I need to clean my house.

P.S. If you need more ideas, click here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Home Again

Back from California...

We had a wonderful time with my family over the weekend. My mom turned 60 (!) on Monday, and it happened to be our school UEA break, so we drove down on Friday and home Tuesday. I dreaded the drive, but it ended up being quite nice. We listened to books on CD, the kids watched DVD's, we talked, and I even got to read. Ben didn't love being stuck in the car seat, but he even did better than expected. I love having low expectations. I'm so rarely disappointed, and often pleasantly surprised.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fall Pictures

We spent last Sunday afternoon in Heber, having scones with David's mom, his sister Rachelle, and her family, and watching the afternoon session of General Conference. To top off a lovely day, we drove back into Wasatch Mountain State Park to enjoy the beautiful fall colors. Gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous.

(That last picture of clouds was taken by Josh. He's getting grabby with my camera. Little stinker. Now I have two kids fighting over it. I asked him if he wanted a camera for Christmas, and he said, "Not some dumb little one.")

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Post Postscript

I hit a parked car while I was attempting to parallel park at Sophie's violin lesson. This has been a fun day!

More Parenting Advice

Postscript to my last post.

Teach your older children to:

1. Flush the toilet

If they forget to do that, at least:

2. Shut the lid

If they forget to do that, at least:

3. Close the bathroom door.

Otherwise, the baby may decide to help clean the toilet with the plunger, leaving another wonderful mess for me to clean up. On the same day.

Let's not mention the dog food spilled, the coloring on the kitchen table, and the lift-the-flap books which are now without flaps-to-lift.


I Love My Eighteen-Month-Old.

Birth Control on a Blog

If you're considering having a baby, just think about this.

Your baby might one day decide to play in his poop. And wipe it all over himself.

Did you know this was a possibility? I did not. I'd heard stories, of course. You hear stories when you're a mom. But to really see it? To smell it? To know that you are the one who gets to clean this up? When you picture motherhood, this is not one of the things you consider.

Sometimes, in the middle of motherhood, I think, "I got a masters degree for this? I learned how to interpret Bach, Mozart, and Prokofiev, and I'm spending my days cleaning up poop?"

Well, yes. In a nutshell, here it is...the poop will only last a few years. But these children will be dear to me always.

Oh, wait. This post turned sweet. And I just intended it as a warning.

So, consider yourself warned. And if it's too late, and you're already in the middle of the whole motherhood thing, just remember...

Put your babies in a onesie and pants at all times. Or you may be writing a post just like this one.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Love Some Things

I try very hard to control my tendency towards materialism, but I must admit that there are some things that I LOVE. These are Things-with-a-capital-T because I really really like them. I don't really want to live without them. Is that so wrong?

So here are my top five Things:

1. My Bob Duallie Ironman Stroller.

Yes, it's true. My number one Thing is a STROLLER. How can it be? Well, if I didn't have this three-wheeled wonder, my bottom would be parked at home instead of running four mornings a week. And therefore, said bottom would be larger than it currently is. Ben loves to run. I love to run. The Ironman makes us both happy. This morning at 6:30, we spent four miles greeting the dawn. It was perfect. Thank you, Bob.
2. My Garmin Forerunner 305.

(This pic is actually the 205, but they look nearly the same.) Why do I love this watchy Thing? Well, before I owned it, I spent a lot of time driving over courses, trying to determine a new 3 mile route, or a six mile route or whatever. It took time. It took gas. My kids thought I was weird, driving up and down street after street. But now I have my little GPS unit telling me how far I've gone, how slow I'm going, and how way-too-fast my heart rate is. I love this watch. It is my friend.
3. My camera.

I just love my camera. I love it. I love its lenses, too, but I didn't list them today. It feels so good to hold you, camera dear. Thanks for all the fun.
4. My iMac.

I've converted wholeheartedly. iLife Suite, I love you, too. Sorry, brothers. I know you love your PCs, but Mac and I will live happily ever after.
5. My Yamaha U1.

I shouldn't be rude about this. It's ungrateful. I have a love/hate relationship with my Yamaha U1. I love him because he's a reliable, dutiful friend. He mostly stays in tune. His touch is not too hard, not too soft. We have had a lot of great times over the years, and he's made me lots of money. BUT...
He's not a Steinway. Or even a C3. So, I love him, but I'll dump him as soon as I can get my hands on something better. Sorry, U1. You deserve someone who'll love you for who you are. Maybe one day, but until then, I'll treat you mostly right (tunings twice a year, polishing when I get around to it. You know the drill.)

So these are my Favorite Things. Maybe if I'm sincerely grateful for them, I won't fall into the materialism trap? I can hope, anyway.

Monday, September 29, 2008


You know what I hate? When I can't really tell if my kids are sick enough to stay home from school or not. And my regrets when I make the wrong decision. It's bad either way. Either they are too sick to go to school, so you lose if you send them, or they're not sick enough to stay home, but you're not sure at 8:00 am, and you keep them home, only to find out that they're just grumpy as sin and ready to make life miserable. They're apparently fine enough to play all day, but when you ask them to do their practicing, they act like you just asked them to climb Mt. Everest. "I'm SO SICK. MY WHOLE BODY ACHES. I just feel AWFUL."

Can you guess which way my day went?

Grump grump grump grump grump.

There. I feel better. Next time I'm sticking with the house rule: If you don't have a fever and you're not puking, you're going to school.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Our Adventure. Or Elephants and Emergency Rooms

I had a bright idea yesterday. I thought it would be a fantastic idea to take Kate and Ben and anyone else I could rope into going with us to the Gateway to see the Circus Elephant Parade. It's always around noon on the day the circus starts, so this will be the last time Kate will not be in school at noon. (Sad, isn't it? Why do they have to grow up so quickly?)

I convinced Christina, Will & Ezra and Kate's playdates Eliza and Briana to join us. But first, we had to have some lunch.

So I fed all the darling little people (and Christina and me, too.) But uh-oh, because by the time we were done eating, we were in serious jeopardy of missing the parade. (I hate I-80 construction. It has fouled up my travel plans too many times.)

When we were driving past the Gateway in search of parking spaces, a friend called to let me know the elephants were passing her at that moment. We were stuck at a stoplight, and what do you know, the elephant parade turned in front of us. I opened the van door, shooed out the kids and told them to climb the ES Arena stairs so they could see better.

You must understand, this is a Typical Kerri Event. I have grand ideas, generally spur of the moment, and not always plausible. I think I can fit in more than I actually can. I rush to try to accomplish what I think is still, just maybe, if I'm lucky, possible. And way too often, I'm given moments of grace like this one. The kids got to see the elephants. I even took Ben out of the carseat and he sat in my lap, happily making elephant-like noises. We didn't have to fight any crowds to find a spot on the sidewalk. Kind of win win, in a lame way.

Briana's mom happened to be at the parade, too, and offered us all passes to the Discovery Gateway Children's Museum. Fun! We had a wonderful time. Except for the clowns terrifying one of our group. And of course, the unfortunate incident invoving Ben's chin and an exhibit that landed me at Primary Children's Medical Center for three hours.

And I'm not actually being sarcastic. We really had a wonderful time, even poor little wounded Ben. Can you tell he's going to get 8 stitches in a couple of hours in the following pictures? I bet you can't even tell which pictures were taken BEFORE he was shoved into the garden area and which were taken AFTER.


(And after...)

So it was a pretty good day. Except for having my baby sedated and stitched. But I must say, I am utterly grateful for the fantastic staff at PCMC. Every unfortunate time I've had to be there, I've been super-impressed with their kindness and professionalism. And every time I've had to be there, I've been grateful for my children's good health. We are very blessed.