Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy 7th Birthday Sophie Ann

On July 31, 2001 we welomed this beautiful little girl into our lives and now she's SEVEN . . . lucky number seven. What a blessing she has been to our family - such a precious, sweet, and loving girl. So gentle and kind to all her friends and filled with so much spunk around her family :-). When she was a baby, her great-grandma Jean nicknamed her "Sparky" and it still fits. Her grandma Janice and grandpa Terry call her "Ladybug," and the rest of us refer to her as just "Soph." We LOVE you Sophie and are so happy you are ours!

Some of Sophie's favorites: Anything and everything that has to do with a HORSE, playing tennis, giggling with friends, riding bikes, ballet class, the beach, swimming, and reading.

Here is the rundown of Sophie's birthday "extravaganza" as Chris referred to the past couple of weeks . . .

Her "big" present: Two private horse riding lessons. She was in heaven . . . if you want to see what pure, unadulterated joy looks like - take a look at Sophie's smile. She learned how to groom the horse, use the reins, halt, turn, and trot. Now she believes her life calling is to be a professional "horse rider" as she puts it.

The birthday festivities began in Bear Lake when grandma Janice pulled out surprises for all three Howick grandkids who celebrate birthdays in the same week (Miriam turned one on the 27th, Avery 4 on the 30th, and Sophie 7 on the 31st). The only drawback was when grandma made her grand entrance with birthday goodies for the three kids, Liza immediately wondered what was up and why she wasn't getting a surprise too . . . . oops, we had some explaining to do!
Celebrating all three birthdays with the Tilt and Howick families at the park before Jenna and Bryan made their way back home to Oregon. Avery was nice to share his "dinosaur cake" with Sophie.
Now, for the actual birthday . . . a little gathering at our house with a few friends, first lunch . . .
then SWIMMING! Fun times . . . well, except for Liza who was disappointed that she didn't get a ring-pop in her goodie bag. Oh well, she survived, and Sophie made it up to her by making her a sno-cone from her new "Snoopy snow-cone maker" that evening after our family birthday celebration.

Well, chalk up another 7th Birthday success in the Cantera family - boy, I still remember Ryan's 7th birthday party like it was yesterday . . . time flies, but we try to enjoy it all and make it special for each child. Gotta love a birthday, even if mom is completely wiped out by the end of the day!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Pioneer Day Weekend

The 24th weekend was spent up at the lake with my sister Jenna who was visiting from Oregon with her two little ones (Avery & Miriam) while Bryan was in China. So, we made it a girls trip and left Ryan and Chris home to spend some "male bonding time" eating fast food every night, going skating to hone their hockey skills, playing guitar, and seeing the new Batman movie. Ryan loved having dad all to himself. While they guys were hanging, we gals were having some good times of our own:

Caroline and cousin Shelby McDougal (our newest cousin, adopted from the Ukraine in February). Caroline really enjoyed getting to know Shelby better on this trip.
Caroline flying thanks to Michael's "let's see how long they can hold on until they wipe out" skills.
Cousins in the tent (with mom) - they loved it!
Sophie just couldn't get enough of her little cousin, Miriam.
Jenna, Miriam, and Avery . . . her kids thought the lake was the greatest!
Time out of the sun with fun activites on grandma's "toy blanket."
Liza and Avery deep in conversation while grandpa plays frisbee with Sara's dog.
Shelby, Heidi, and Sophie on the boat. We love our Howick cousins!
Julie proving to her kids and the young punks in the boat that she can still waterski. However, I didn't let them in on the aches and pains that made it almost impossible to get out of bed the next morning ;-). Oh, and I STILL can't straighten my left arm out completely . . . and don't tell me it's because i'm getting old. OK, you're right, it IS because i'm getting old and my joints for some reason haven't got the message that I still want to do all the same activities I did 20 years ago without any pain!

Monday, July 21, 2008


Saturday night, after 20 long years, the Police finally returned to SLC. The last time they were here, I missed Sting in all his 80s glory. However, he couldn't have looked better and this time Chris and I were among thousands in the mid-30 to mid-50 age range who came to watch Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland work their magic . . . our 13-year old and his friend were as excited as all the oldtimers. What a concert it was - amazing, AMAZING! It's one of those rare moments when it's completely acceptable to behave just like the teenagers in the crowd, if only for a couple hours, and believe me, I took full advantage of that those hours :-). We were lucky to be with such a fun group of great friends . . . we were on our feet the entire time and it was sweet to attend with my son and watch Ryan and his friends groove with the beat as well. Good times had by all!
So, as we were singing Police tunes in the car driving out of the parking lot we suddenly found ourselves in an unfortunate fender-bender. For the whole story, visit this blog. I was so happy that the cute girls we hit had a camera since I forgot mine, so I stole this pic from her blog (I just HAD to get a pic of Ryan and Sam in their concert t-shirts). We made two more friends and even discovered that one of them was in the same Nutcracker cast as my daughter - small world.
Just to rub it in a little more for those of you who missed out - here's the set list:
Message in a Bottle
Walking on the Moon
Demolition Man
Voices Inside My Head/When the World is
Running Down
Don't Stand So Close to Me
Driven to Tears
Hole in My Life
Every Little Thing She Does is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
Invisible Sun
Can't Stand Losing You/Regatta de Blanc
First Encore: Roxanne, King of Pain, So Lonely, Every Breath You Take
Second Encore: Next to You

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Family Vacation 2008

We're back from a glorious week of family fun spent first in Bear Lake and then Island Park, Idaho. It was absolutely WONDERFUL - our days were filled with amazing mountain scenery and beautiful vistas, long bike rides and walks, and especially memorable days spent with cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Bear Lake Highlights:
  • Biking with Caroline and my mom along the lake up to the scout camp.
  • Mountain biking with my dad and Chris around Round Valley in Laketown.
  • Ryan's fireworks show each evening while we made s'mores.
  • Relaxing on the beach, watching the kids play in the water, and riding as FAST as legally possible on the waverunner.
  • My favorite - Bear Lake evenings when the temperature drops and the sun begins to set behind the hills.
Island Park Highlights:

  • Cantera clan together in one place - all 30 of us!

  • Kevin's ab routines in the morning, Scattegories and movies every night.

  • Cousins in the hot tub.

  • Fishing with uncle Brian . . . and eating those 5 fish the kids caught that night.

  • YELLOWSTONE - ahhh, the beauty of that park.

  • Fun in the river on canoes and kayaks . . . maybe too much fun ;-).

  • My favorite - an early morning bike ride by myself down to these amazing wildflower filled meadows with the Teton range to the east and the forests of Island Park on the west . . . believe me, it felt like I had died and gone to heaven, either that or I was being featured in an REI ad!
Top Ten Cantera Reunion "had to be there" moments:
10. "See, even the Japanese tourists think it's funny!" - Chris
9. "It wouldn't have been that bad if the same man didn't have to rescue me twice." - Pat
8. "Julie look, it's a desert muskrat!" - Linda
7. "He's a teaser dad too." - Becca
6. "The traveling side show has rolled into Mack's" - Chris
5. "Man, it's just like an anthill in here." - Kelly
4. "We are NOT engaged, people!" - Laura
3. "Backyard B-B-Q!!!" - Kevin
2. "I'm NEVER getting in a canoe with you again!" - Liza
1. "Everything alright?" . . . . "you look a little flushed" - David, then Carrie

Cantera family reunion pics

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day

"Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested, are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world."

- John Adams -
(an excerpt from his final, passionate speech given July 1, 1776 . . . the day before the signing of the Declaration of Independence)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

It's a split personality thing

OK, so I hope I didn't sound too negative in describing Sophie's behavior lately because as you all know, on her good days she's an absolute joy to have around, as I described in this post back in April. She is so funny, one moment you just want to squeeze her to death because she's so loving and sweet, and a split second later you want to put her up for adoption! On the days I'm not the "worst mom ever," I'm the "best mom ever" and the days she doesn't want to go live at Annabelle's house, she couldn't dream of being away from our family. Anyway, I keep one of Sophie's cute little notes up on a bulletin board in our kitchen and yesterday I walked past and read it once again and figured the kid deserves a break, which for her came in the form of extra attention from Mom, a trip to the library, and lots of piggyback rides around the house :-).

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Poor, picked on Sophie

This blog aptly describes Sophie as "our drama queen" which is no exaggeration whatsoever. This summer with all the sibling closeness (i.e. they are all stuck with each other all day) that's going on at our house, I am desperately trying to keep Sophie's tattling to a minimum. Really folks, the other day after hearing "guess what he said . . . " or "she did this to me . . . " twenty times before breakfast I had to come up with a plan. Remember, if you look at Sophie wrong or say the wrong thing, or heaven forbid sweetly ask her to practice piano, she takes it a tad too personally and tells you immediately that you are the "WORST MOM EVER!!" Then if she sees you stifling a laugh, you get fits of screaming and crying . . . . ahhhh, parenting.

So, in the mode of trying to stay positive and not let her constant rants drive me insane I came up with a plan the other day, and to my surprise, it's actually working. I believe it was Saturday, when the sibling togetherness gets a little too much for our Sophie and she could use some space. Anyway, i doubt the sun had even come up and she was well on her way to explaining every injustice committed to her since she went to bed. I told her "enough of this . . . from now on, unless there is BLOOD, i don't want to hear about it, so here is some paper and a pencil and a box - every time someone does something you don't like, you WRITE it down and put it in the box then we'll discuss your grievances in a day or two."

It was no surprise by the end of the day that the little box was stuffed with scraps of paper explaining all her gripes. It was pretty funny and I just have to share a few favorites. So, here you go - Sophie's own words, spelling, & punctuation:

1. Caroline punched me and poped my muceuls! (I believe that's "popped my muscles" - what the??)

2. Liza coffed in my face.

3. Ryan was mean!

4. Liza frew my baby doll down.

5. One time Caroline lefet me out. (meaning: "This happened a long time ago, but I will never forget and I'm going to hold it against her until I'm 30.")