Tuesday, December 9, 2008

O Little Town of Holladay

Every year at Christmas time, Santa comes to our little town and parks his jolly behind at a huge pinetree in the center of our neighborhood. We call it The Pinetree Party. Word got out that this is the real Santa and so Kelli and Jodi brought their kids to town to let them plead their case to St. Nick. Or maybe it was that word got out that donuts and hot chocolate were available in abundance.  

Sophie asked for make-up and a swim dog. Caleb's greatest wish is for an alarm clock.

Christian and Tucker wish for Emily.

Then, while Kelli and Brandt went to Kate's violin recital, I pumped all of the kids full of sugar decorating gingerbread houses.

I think it might have been more sugar than Jill was accustomed to.

T'is the Season..

...to focus on our Savior...

...to find ways to show our love...
...to sing His praises through christmas music and sharing God-given gifts and talents...
..to try to exercise self-discipline...
...and to drink hot chocolate with christmas marshmallows while watching the First Presidency Christmas Devotional with your family. 

T'is the season I love.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Not so empty nest out on the range...

for some reason I can't take pictures in auto focus and I also can't see anymore so all of my pictures are blurry-

When Ed and Diane's youngest child graduated from high school, they sold their suburban house in our neighborhood and moved into a cabin on 13 acres complete with room for their now 6 horses, barn and heated horse arena. 

Friday, we found ourselves-along with the O'Briens- once again in the good company of our friends and former neighbors. 
Prior to our little excursion into the wilderness to visit Ed and Diane, I found myself feeling a bit sorry for the empty nesters now living alone out in the "boonies." I felt a little less sorry for them as I took in the beauty and serenity of the night along the dirt road leading to their warmly lit "cabin." As we toured the 5,000 sq. ft. newly remodeled home I felt even a little less sorry for them. 

"Surely they must feel a bit 'out of the loop' up here", I thought, until Diane quickly apologized for the mess in the playroom left just hours before by 2 of her grandchildren. Grandchildren that ride horses in the heated arena with their grandpa. 
What about the neighbors (or lack of)? Friends with similar loves and passions? 
Each Saturday, all who so desire, gather to ride (horses) into the beautiful mountain trails surrounding their homes.
Okay, so I don't feel the least bit sorry for them anymore.  
Maybe it's because I worry about feeling fulfilled at that stage of my life that I was taking some pretty serious mental notes from our friends who-from all apperances- have managed to continue to fulfill their roles and responsibilities as parents and grandparents AND find a sense of joy and fulfillment as a couple and individuals. 
So, take note:
*Keep doing what you love-while you're raising your kids.
*If you don't have something that you love-find it-and do it together.
*Make regular dates with your kids and grandkids. (It's okay to schedule)
*Get outside! Hike, run, snowshoe, ski-or horseback ride.
*Stay active.
*Dogs are good company.
*Serve in the community and your ward.
*Cook yummy food and invite friends over.

*Go on trips together. Take lots of pictures.
*Compliment each other-in front of other people.
Okay, so I'm off to work on #2. 
Thanks, Ed and Diane for being our north star towards home when all of our kids have left ours. We love you. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Yes, this post is a little tardy but something needs to be said about this here turkey. This is not a wild turkey. He cannot fly away. He has too many feathers that weigh him down.  The very feathers that add weight to this turkey list the blessings that lift us.
Family and friends alike added their own feathers. Some of my favorites:
*the coolest teacher ever (Gabe)
*sweatshirts (friend)
*Red Mango (Hailee)
*mouse traps (?)
*trampolines and fire ...what the...?(Christian) 
*ear plugs and a warm body to sleep next to (Me)
*sky miles and family vacations (Christian and Hailee)
and... my personal favorite....
*parents (Brittney)

Friday, November 28, 2008


This is what I got when I tried to take family pictures....

Even the best wasn't good.

So just..nevermind.
Note to self: take pictures outside only in warm weather. Keep all sticks away from Christian.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Hailee


Is often referred to as
Susie or Suze or
Lover of babies and children
Family stylist and critique
Careful and exact in all she does.
Hates to be late
Reliable and
An instrument player-
Harpist extraordinaire.
Brings happiness through music.
Careful observer of all the world.
Cares about people and things.
Wants to serve-asks to help.
An instrument in her Heavenly Father's hands.
A walking calendar, phone directory
and dictionary.
scrambled eggs
cafe rio salads -just like dad's
a cheesburger and fries
but never with sauce.
Plays sports to be a sport
but not to compete.
Will be your best cheerleader.
SUPERMAN is her hero
and she is mine.
I love you, Hailee.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Party is an excuse...

...an excuse to eat treats. 

So thank you Hailee (who's turning 17),
and Caleb (who turned 7),
for having November birthdays and giving us an excuse to celebrate your birth and life with a brownie sundae bar. 
(By the way, YOU are the only excuse we need to celebrate!)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Zip tie torture tactics.

Have your kids discovered the joys of zip ties? The tough plastic ties that once zipped cannot be undone without being cut? I am sure there is a functional use for this invention but in the wrong hands they can be torturous. Shoes (in this household) have been zip tied together (while on and while off), one of Christian's friends was suspended for zip tieing  a teacher inside of his classroom by connecting the double doors to his room, and today Hailee wondered why she had a empty milk carton attached to her backpack. ( I wonder if Gabe thought she would not notice and wear it to school?)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Family Fun

The kids were so excited (check out the look of sheer joy on their faces) that  the weather made another sudden turn for the warmer and allowed us to do this:

It allowed Gabe to do a little of this:

But even more of this (that's an ice ball sailing through the air):

and gave Brittney a chance to work on her throw (not that she needs to work on it or anything):

I started out using the blower but when I burned my coat on the moter, Christian decided it was time to take over:

Aussie offered to help but decided soaking up the sun was a more constructive use of his time:

Note to the conspicuously absent husband/father: I thought I would document our fall family fun since your traveling schedule seems to pick up immensely during leaf raking season. ( Maybe you would prefer if we were to save some fun for you?)


You should still go on field trips after you are no longer in school. In fact, as a mom, you should go on field trips when your kids are in school. (This is not the time to be a chaperone).  And it's always more fun if you take your "class" of girlfriends. 

Go somewhere where you can involve all of your senses. 

Take in the sights:
Using the sense of touch helps some students retain information better:
As a mom, more that ever before, it is always important to involve your sense of taste (absolutely no sack lunches allowed):
Field trips always did make me feel like I played hooky from the "real" work for the day. But now that I'm older and wiser, I can see that field trips are such a valuable teaching tool in and of themselves. Today I was reminded that changing your scenery on occasion makes those  "classroom" days more enjoyable.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Be Prepared

I think "Be Prepared" should be one of the 9 bes President Hinckley gave us. Around these here parts those other "bes" seem like cakewalk compared to being prepared. 
Brittney told me a week ago that she had a performance with the UVU Orchestra in Heber City. I thought it would be a fun outing for me and a couple of Britt's sibs to attend. A whole week, people! That's prepared. But wait-it gets better. I am familiar with how the sharing of information works with Britt (there is no sharing) and so I have asked everyday if she has further info. Finally, yesterday, the day of the concert, I get frantic phone calls while in Hailee's lesson informing me that tickets are required for the event and that they are most likely sold out. I am bummed. Really. I had planned a fun evening with Gabe and Hailee that included dinner at our new favorite burger joint in Park City and I was excited to hear Brittney play.  Oh, well. Then, other more frantic phone calls. This time..."Could you come anyway. There are 2 broken strings on the harp, it's completely out of tune and I didn't bring strings, tuner, or tuning key." In other words, "I'm not PREPARED." I run home, get online and discover that this little Heber City event Brittney is playing at is a big honkn deal. The Cowboy Poetry gathering with special guest Michael Martin Murphey. There is one ticket available. I snatch it up, snatch up Gabe and Hailee, harp supplies and keys to the Park City condo where the other 2 without tickets can chill and watch the big Utah game on cable (which we don't have) for the night. We can still make this a fun, eventful evening-including of course-the burger joint. I told Britt I'd be there by 6 (the concert started @ 7) and at ten after 6 I was almost to Heber when I realize that Hailee still has the tuner and key in her bag in Park City. In other words, "I'm not PREPARED!" I make an illegal turn in the pitch black going 75mph on the freeway and head back. I roll into Heber at 5 min. to 7, try to find a parking spot within 5 miles of the venue and run for my (Brittney's) life. Trying to find "will call," I quickly realize that I am the only person there not wearing boots and a cowboy hat. ( I have some I wish I had worn-If only I had been better prepared) Heaven smiled upon me for a brief moment and I picked a man out of the crowd that was willing to show me the way to will call, explaining that I had to get a string to the orchestra harpist. Seeing the obvious panic on my face, he offered to take my little pile of harp paraphanalia to Britt. As he turned to leave, I yelled for him to wait. "I have one more thing I need for you to take," I tell him. Knowing that I would most likely loose the 1/2 piece of string needed to keep the string knot from slipping, I had placed it in my mouth. I dug it out of my mouth, wiped it off and turned to hand it to him. The incredulous look on his face told me how impressed he was that I was so prepared. 
I slipped into my very good seat and enjoyed the western performance-watching my daughter "fake it" nicely on the harp on the back of the stage-having never been able to properly install the string. Talking with her after the performance she assures me that "next time" she will be better prepared. It's now on the list people. Right there with, BE Honest, BE smart, Be grateful...Around here we continue to work on BE Prepared. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A New President and Stormy Weather(oh-did I write that in the same sentence?)

I had an appointment this morning downtown. As I waited at a red light, windshield wipers going, I thought how much more I liked the snow when safe inside my own house.  A homeless woman crossed in front of my car. She wore several layers of clothing, clutching the corners of her obviously too big pants, and the snow seemed to me to be magnetized to her face. I recognized her from my last appointment when I saw her sitting outside in an empty cafe chair in the cold drizzle. I wondered then why this woman would want to be sitting outside. Why wouldn't she find a dry, warm spot to rest? This time when I saw her, snow clinging to her bare face, I knew that she didn't own a dry, warm spot. She didn't own any spot. And sitting in someone else's spot does not carry with it that same sense of peace and comfort that comes from knowing that you're safe at home. How much I take for granted! 
When I walked into my door hours later, I breathed a physical sigh of relief. It was so warm. So cozy. I really had nowhere I had to be. I lit a candle and baked cinnamon bundt cake (Thanks Ang for my mini pans). My house smelled like heaven. And it hits me. My home is my haven. And I thank heaven for blessing me with my very own warm, dry spot. 

(What is your favorite thing to do when you're "snowed in"?)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

It was a FRIGHTfully good Halloween!

"Happy families don't just happen by accident or luck-they are created. Bonds can exist between families that will be a joy and a strong support in good times and bad. But just because people are related to each other doesn't mean they have good relationships. Those bonds have to be forged through hours spent together in meaningful activities and traditions.
From Traditions, by Kimberly Bytheway and Diane H. Loveridge

I love holidays because I love the comfort and security of traditions. Try to change or break tradition and watch your kids revolt. That said, I know that as life and circumstances are constantly changing, so must traditions. You have to find what works for your family at that stage and  phase of life.  My hope is to create activities and events that can bring the family together to create memories and strengthen feelings of love and unity. I hope, hope, hope........
So as we reflect on the traditions of Halloween some are iron clad-and some-are subject to change.

Tradition: Calling upon friends and Thrift Town to piece together costumes.
Subject to change: The height of the heels. 

Tradition: Getting a kick out of the Halloween Parade at the Elementary School. (The Clown and the Sandwich-with his head in balloons-are Gabe's two good friends, Sam and Jake).
Subject to change: Attending the Halloween Parade at the Elementary School. Only one more year before Junior High for my baby. There will be mourning.

Tradition: Wearing the jack-o-lantern necklace.
Subject to change: The various black and orange wardrobe combinations.
(side note: Hailee took this picture she said to document one of my favorite traditions: writing out jobs for my kids to do)

Tradition: Finding ways to acceptably change your friend's appearance. (Christian's friends, Christian's hair color, but no Christian)
Subject to change: Colors, patterns and willing victims.

Tradition: Oohing and aahing at Hailee's "kid's" costumes before the night begins. (Hailee has nannied for this family since the oldest was a baby)
Subject to change: Since Hailee sadly quit her nannying position at the start of her Junior year, this tradition could be on its way out.

Tradition: Chili, scones and hot cider
Subject to change: Those willing to roll and fry scones. This year it was Erick and his friend Natalie.

Tradition: Piling on layers and layers of warm clothing, completely covering any signs of a costume to try to trick-or-treat to at least 3 houses before your extremities freeze off.
Subject to change: The weather. This year was the warmest Halloween on record. We actually got a glimpse of the cute costumes. Another bonus this year was having both of my sister's kids join us for the night.

Tradition: Waiting in anticipation to see what costumes Britt and friends come up with that require no time or money.
Subject to change: Britt and friends

Tradition: Ditto for Christian and friends
Subject to change: Their vicitms...... (Oh no! It's the Mafia. Run, Maddie.... run for your life)

Tradition: Falling into bed exhausted and happy
Subject to change: please let this one stay the same..........