Monday, December 30, 2013

good-bye 2013

I saw this today and thought it might just be the right little quote to start off writing once again.  We are indeed hoping for some "good madness" in the coming year, sprinkled with a few magical moments.  As I ponder the changes I wish to make in the new year, reflect on the good and not so great events of the past year, and hold onto the hope that all will be well, I am at peace.  At peace knowing that I am not in control, but I do have power to make our lives better each day . . . power to make change within myself, to overcome weakness, to become stronger, to accomplish goals, and to share more love and compassion.

Everything that may or may not happen during this coming year is out of my control and that's alright.  We have been so blessed and strengthened by the love extended to us by so many cherished friends and family.  Honestly, so blessed.  You truly see the best in people, understand how much they care for you and your family, and especially realize how much you are loved when something life altering suddenly takes you by surprise.

Speaking of tender mercies, and as I say farewell to 2013, I would like to recount a few of the little miracles that happened to our family this past year:
  • Ryan's mission call to serve in Ukraine.  It has been a great source of strength for each of us knowing Ryan is working hard and sacrificing much to serve the Lord and share the beautiful message and gospel of Jesus Christ to the wonderful people in Ukraine.
  • Experiences for growth in the lives of our daughters.  Each of the girls have been faced with their own personal trials and moments where growing pains were evident.  I am grateful for the people in their lives who have strengthened them and offered wise advice and comfort.
  • Our new home.  SO.BLESSED. 
I know there are many more little miracles that came our way during 2013, but I am ready to forge ahead to a bright new year and welcome 2014 with an open heart, hoping that I may even "surprise myself" with something unexpected and wonderful . . .  some of that "good madness."

Happy New Year my friends!

Monday, November 18, 2013

i wonder

"Books do for children what they do for adults:
they inform, they stimulate, delight, amuse, and transport us all into other worlds 
of thought and experience.  Most importantly, they make us think and feel and respond, 
and they can put us in intimate touch with the best that has been known
 and thought since the first words were written down.  
Good books make us more aware of others and lead us 
forward into a surer knowledge of ourselves."
Andrew Clements

As of late, my favorite part of the day is around 8:30-9pm when the little girls call me into Liza's room after they are all ready for bed.  I find the lights off, lamp on, and my "reading pillow" propped against the wall with the book Wonder lying on the floor just waiting or the next few pages to be read aloud.  No matter what has happened during the day - if I wasn't at my most patient or loving, if the girls engaged in warfare, or if they just have been to busy to even notice one another . . . these few minutes together make it once again feel like everything is all right in the world (and our family) once again.

We have always had a tradition of reading books aloud, but it usually happens very
s l o w l y . . . life gets in the way, evenings get busy, mom has more pressing duties after the kids are in bed, etc., etc.  For example, about this time last year we decided to read Dicken's A Christmas Carol because it was Christmas and it's one of the greatest classic tales every written, and hey, it's great exposure to Dickens.  Ya, well, we finished just before Easter.

That's usually how we roll, but this time it's been different.  The girls beg each night for just "one more chapter" and we're cruising through this tender book that I would recommend to every child and parent.  Wonder is a treasure and I delight that my girls look forward to our time reading.  I wouldn't want to spend my evenings doing anything else.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

family portrait

Today I ran into an old friend and she mentioned that the pictures we had taken were on the photographer's website.  We did a quick session the week before Ryan left for his mission . . .

Cantera Family - October 2013

Elder Cantera 

Friday, October 25, 2013

new blog for our elder

Alright, I finally got a blog up and going for Ryan, so all his mission letters and pictures will be on this site:

I will need to make his blog PRIVATE by the beginning of December, so if you are interested in continuing to read about his experiences in Ukraine, please put your E-MAIL ADDRESS in the comments after his posts and I will add you to the list.

Thanks for reading - we are missing our boy, but couldn't be happier about his decision to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

my crazy life

I honestly can't think of a more appropriate title for the first post in almost five months.  I've missed writing, feel so overwhelmed with the mere thought of attempting to "catch-up," but know it's time to give a quick run down, so here goes (minus pictures - that's just too exhausting):

Let's see, where to begin . . .

so Caroline turned 16, Ryan put in his mission papers, another school year comes to a close, Ryan receives his mission call (Ukraine, Dnepropetrovsk / Russian speaking) the day before graduation, Ryan graduates from Skyline with high honors, we sell the house, we pack up the house, Caroline gets her driver's license, we make it to Bear Lake and Idaho for a few quick get aways, great week at Girls' Camp with the girls, an unforgettable experience with R and C on the Colorado River for youth conference, Sophie turns 12, we keep packing, PTA registration (ya, I'm PTA president), Caroline's high school tennis team tryouts, close on the house, move into the new house, school starts again - Liza 4th grade, Sophie 7th grade, Caroline 11th . . . Ryan's farewell, Chris turns 48, our 22nd anniversary, last family trip before Ryan leaves - take off for Hawaii, high school tennis matches, Sophie's volleyball season begins, Liza's swim team, furnishing the new house, Oakridge fall festival, region tennis tourney, take Ryan to MTC, state tennis tourney, preparing to speak in our new ward . . .

Blessed beyond measure and holding it all together - I'm sure the breakdown is just around the corner ;).

Sunday, June 2, 2013

my daughter

Caroline turned 16 last week.  I love/admire/adore her for so many reasons, but for tonight I just have to share one reason that makes me smile . . .

Her uncanny sense of humor and the typical twitter post:

Every now and then I jump on my teens' twitter accounts.  Count it as a little "checking in" and a whole lot of entertainment.  Caroline's sloth posts crack me up.

Thank you Lord for sending me this girl to raise - she's truly one of a kind.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

life in little squares

"Taking pictures is savoring life intensely,
every hundredth of a second."
Marc Ribaud

Meet my new favorite:  INSTAGRAM.

I guess it's not really "new" anymore since I began using the app about a year ago, but after discovering that one can share their entire instagram account online, I thought it's about time to mention my favorite little pastime.

Yes, the blog as suffered as a result of IG, but it's been wonderful to capture and share little moments in time that would otherwise be forgotten or stashed on my phone or camera forever.  Sometimes it's an event that needs to be recorded, such as a school or piano performance, family gatherings, vacations, birthdays, etc.  But more often than not, it's those seemingly insignificant moments that beckon to be captured:  time spent reading aloud with my daughter, the split second when I'm captivated by a sunset, mountain peak or a field of flowers; the impromptu pictures taken on a morning hike, my children's artwork, or anything in general that makes me smile.

All in all, it's added up to about a picture a day, so yes, it's our past year in little squares.  Oh, and the filters are just oh, so fun!

Now that my IG photos are online, the past year of daily pics are HERE.

Phew, almost feels like the blog is caught up now ;).

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Yes, I know it's 1:30am and yes, I know my 16 year old daughter is still out on a Saturday night.  The laundry is done, my YW lesson is finished, the song I need to play is polished, lists have been made, receipts are categorized for the end of month budget, and the rest of the family is sound asleep in bed (all but Sophie who is spending the long weekend on Lake Mead with friends).

So, what's a busy mom to do?  How about completely losing yourself watching youtube videos - there is some really great stuff out there! Tonight I have been enlightened by the Discovery channel and have to share this clip - you're going to love it. Enjoy:

Is it just me, or did watching this bring tears to your eyes too?  (probably just me ;).  We KNOW this feeling, that tingling sensation deep in my soul that tells me something magical is happening.  Like last night for instance - I stepped onto the back patio to water the flower pots just as a brilliant full moon was rising over the mountain ridge and creating willowy black silhouettes out of the ridge line trees.  It was magnificent, it took my breath away and I stood there for a moment, grateful for the timing and taking it in, mesmerized by the beauty and brilliant light of a full moon rising.


These moments are what I live for and unfortunately, the pull of viewing someone else's moments of awe (i.e. my Instagram addiction) can rob me of these real moments that need to be experienced in the flesh.  Pictures are fabulous and give a momentary prick of enjoyment, especially when the photograph is particularly stunning. However, nothing compares to the pure rush of joy that fills the soul with something truly inspires.  It's exhilarating, and that's why this video recreated those moments of awe so perfectly . . . reminded me of my "responsibility to awe."

It made me reflect on the times when I feel that rush and I try to record as many of my "awe moments" in an informal journal where I record my little miracles.  It's been a few weeks since I've recorded anything solid, so for posterity's sake on the blog, here are a few things that bring on that giddy sense of awe, or "radiant ecstasy" as he says in the clip:

  • Finding the Milky Way on a clear night, in a place far away from city lights.  Watching for shooting stars.
  • Reading bedtime stories, singing songs, and tucking in my little ones.  Goodnight kisses, good morning kisses, snuggle time under the covers.
  • Meaningful conversations with my teens.  Hearing "I love you" over the phone or getting a text with the same message.
  • Flowers.  Really looking deeply into the blossom of a flower, any variety, and being blown away by the intricacy of creation.
  • Art.  Art and sculpture move me.  The vibrant energy inside a museum is thrilling, especially when I come across a painting that immediately draws me in by its beauty, its struggle, its humanness.  I never leave a world class museum without feeling a deep sense of awe.
  • Laughter.  Especially the open hearted giggles of children, and even better when it's my own children sharing a moment of laughter together.
  • Holding a newborn.  Is there anything more awe inspiring than a child who is so fresh from heaven?  Snuggling a baby and drinking in that sweet baby smell will bring a sense of awe to even the hardest of hearts.
  • Connecting deeply with someone and opening your heart.
  • Nature.  The beauty of this earth overwhelms me at time with it's magnificence.  I've been brought to tears many times just by the simple majesty of a sunrise/sunset, the mountains, fields, oceans, rivers, and deserts.  The mere variety on this planet is enough to bring a sense of awe into anyone's life!
  • Architecture.  Exploring the intricacies of cathedrals, old buildings, sky scrapers, and especially historic homes tends to heighten my sense of wonder.  
  • Music.  I'll never forget the first time I really listened to Beethoven's 3rd Symphony (Eroica) - I was so blown away, I sat in my car, in the dark, to finish listening to the entire symphony.  It was an experience I'll never forget.  Music, especially hearing something so pure, creates a radiant sense of awe.
Just a little something to think about this coming week.  And no, Caroline isn't home yet and it's 2am.  Time to call and get that kid back where she belongs so I can get to bed :).

Here's to finding and holding onto those moments of awe, wonder, and inspiration . . .

Thursday, May 23, 2013

ready to take on the world

Alright, it's been WAY too long and our lives are entering such an exciting, fun stage I have got to get back on the blogging bandwagon and start writing again.

I find it interesting that my last post was Katrina Kennison's touching video which laments the passing of time and letting go of our children.  However, ever since Ryan made the decision to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I have been at peace and trying to completely live each day in the present moment. Occasionally I find myself dwelling on how fast the time has flown and begin to reminisce, but these moments seem less frequent and are fleeting.  However, I will catch myself tearing up with something as simple as the "checklist of items and dates in preparation for graduation" sent home from the high school, or something more solid, like a song (93 Million Miles by Jason Mraz and Jackson Browne's The Only Child get me every time).

This time of life, right now, has been pure joy.  I adore teenagers, and young people who are approaching high school graduation with a lifetime of possibilities ahead are the most invigorating, lively, and enthusiastic group of human beings one could surround themselves.  I can honestly say that this is the very happiest I have seen Ryan since he entered adolescence.  There is a light and goodness about him that just radiates and I know that these few months before he leaves on his mission will be very special.  That's why living in the present moment for me, each day, is crucial.

No, I haven't forgotten that I do have three other children who are leading lives of interest and hopefully the girls will receive some blog face time soon, but for now, here's a recap of Ryan's last few months:

First things first . . . college applications and acceptances.  He applied to four schools:  Boston University, Columbia, University of Southern California, and Brigham Young University.  He was accepted to all but Columbia and it was such a rewarding experience to watch these acceptances (and scholarships in the case of BU and BYU) roll in.  After so much hard work during high school and the hours put into the application process and essays, we were celebrating for days!  Now, figuring out how to finance his dream school (USC) is another story.

But after much thought and deliberation, Ryan decided to defer his college acceptances and serve a mission for our church.  His papers just went in this week, and he is eagerly awaiting his call - he is hopeful it will be here by graduation.  He will leave sometime in August or September, so until then he's enjoying every minute of his senior year (especially now that his has completed all his AP exams), and looking forward to his last summer at home . . .

Ryan and his close friends (all 22 of them) are heading to Newport Beach to spend a week together in two beach houses celebrating graduation, otherwise known as "Senior Trip."  The kids are all looking forward to the beach time and I praise my friend Monica who not only volunteered to chaperone one of the beach houses, but held a parent meeting to discuss specifics, and put together packets for each teen which included a medical release form and "code of conduct" disclosure.  I love this woman (and so do all the kids)!!

BIRTHDAY!  Ryan turned 18 on 4/14/13 and we celebrated a low key birthday at home since it was a Sunday.  He received the standard "money tucked away in his favorite sugar cereals and treats" as well as a fun treasure hunt I put together with 18 clues - each one a special memory of Ryan at that age (he's reading clue #1 on the cereal box).  The treasure hunt was truly a walk down memory lane as I hid clues behind his favorite books when he was 7 (Harry Potter), behind his deacon picture for clue #12, in his car for clue #16 . . .   and the prize at the end of the hunt:  a longboard for Sr. trip - he was thrilled and we all know he secretly loved the treasure hunt, even if he kept telling us he's not a little kid anymore!

Ryan asking to the dance (with Caroline's help) and Annie answering
SENIOR PROM excitement begins to brew.  At Skyline, where Ryan attends high school, Sr. Prom is reserved mainly for the seniors and so this was his first really nice, formal (as in wear a tux) dance.  I was elated when he told me who is was going to ask since I had been bugging Ryan each dance to ASK HER!  These two have been friends since we moved here when they were both in 5th grade and she is one exceptional young lady whose smile lights up a room the minute she walks in - LOVE this girl.

A few pictures from the dance:
Ryan, Annie and the crew gathering for pictures with the parents.  4/4/13.
Cute couple.
The handsome senior guys 
The stunning senior girls
Part of their group of 30!
I had to screen shot Ryan's instagram after the dance - so sweet!  
(Annie was Skyline's prom queen as well - way to go Ryan :).

MOTHER'S DAY 2013 was definitely one I'll never forget.  It is tradition that the graduating seniors from the Little Cottonwood Ward speak to the congregation about their plans for the future, as well as pay tribute to their mothers.  The bishop asked these four exceptional young people to share which Christlike attributes they see in their mother's and how they have been influenced by their moms.  All the talks were fabulous and Ryan's words were thoughtful and straight from the heart (even if he began the talk by saying "everyone knows how awesome my mom is, but she is really awesome because she let me keep my mullet" - sigh).
LCW seniors - these kids are going places - we were very impressed.
Love my boy!

Time for SENIOR pictures and I'm so grateful for a friend who has a nice camera, whose son is great friends with Ryan, and who took the time to shoot a few pics for Ryan's graduation announcements (for free).  Thanks Kim!
I thought she captured some great shots highlighting different aspects of Ryan's personality 
(and his pride and joy - the hair ;).

The next item of business was graduation announcements, which I just put together last night - here is the final product:



Now with graduation approaching and the cap and gown resting neatly in a box on Ryan's dresser, his mind is filled with anticipation of a mission call and I couldn't be more proud to be his mother.  This young man is going to be an AMAZING missionary.  His leadership skills and knowledge of the gospel are truly remarkable, as well as an intuitive way with people that just makes him so dang likeable.

So, it was off with the hair and on with the dark suit and tie for a quick picture to send in with his papers.  
Here is our future missionary:

Friday, March 29, 2013

preparing for the inevitable

OK, here goes.  It's been an exciting week of college notifications, friends receiving mission calls, preparation for graduation and senior trip.  I'm just ripe for another sentimental post about my child growing up and preparing to leave the nest.

But instead of reading my ramblings, I'll share some thoughts from an insightful author who just "gets it" and has the uncanny brilliance and ability to put my feelings into these touching words.  Thank you Katrina Kenison for your wisdom in finding the beauty of my very own "ordinary days."

Get a tissue . . .