Sunday, November 30, 2008

17. The Gospel of Jesus Christ

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." ~ 2 Nephi 31:20, The Book of Mormon.

Today is the last day of November and officially the final post on my gratitude list. As you can tell, I obviously didn't write everyday (um, not sure what I was thinking when I made that promise), but I think I've covered my "thankful" bases pretty well. It's been a lovely experience and really given me more of an optimistic attitude and a grateful heart. I thought it only appropriate end my list with what I consider the absolute greatest blessing in my life - the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all it encompasses.

When I mentioned in a previous post about those things that "define me" as a person, living the gospel is definitely at the top of my list. I'm not perfect at it, far from it, but the hope, the joy, the confidence it gives me is unparallelled. I can't imagine my life without it. I believe in absolute truth; the knowledge that there is a supreme being, a creator who knows and cares deeply for us individually, is truly a gift. I am grateful for my testimony, a testimony of the reality of God and my savior Jesus Christ, of the atonement, the restoration, a living prophet, and the scriptures. My life would be empty without the wisdom, guidance, and reassurance I find each day as I read from the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon.

I know that a part of who I am is because of my complete and unwavering faith. It brings me a deep and satisfying happiness that I know cannot be found elsewhere. The message of gospel of Jesus Christ is truly one of love, peace, goodness, and joy. It blesses not only me, but my entire family and I couldn't imagine raising my children without it in their lives. What an amazing blessing.

Friday, November 28, 2008

16. Motherhood

I know I've posted this video before, but I just had to again today in celebration of being "the Mom." Seriously, it is MY LIFE she is singing about and I love it! Motherhood has got to be one of life's most amazing blessings, at least for me. As my children grow, and the more independent, social, and involved they are becoming is so exciting to observe. I don't know if it's just me, but I get such an adrenaline rush from running my kids around, taking them to activities and their friends, and especially watching them in action whether it's Ryan on the ice in a hockey game, Caroline giggling uncontrollably with her girlfriends, or Sophie and Liza busy in the art room creating their next project . . . it's all such a natural "high" for me.

I think my calling in life was to be a mom, I live for it. It's when our days get outrageously crazy when I feel most alive; when I'm racing Caroline down for a Nutcracker rehearsal, then picking Ryan up at wrestling practice, running back to fix dinner, then hoping back in the car to grab Sophie at ballet class, then gathering everyone back in the kitchen as they work on homework and I fix dinner while one child practices piano . . . definitely the best part of the day.

A wise friend once told me that it's the mother's job to "create the environment and atmosphere" for her family, and I couldn't agree more. Each day I try to remember what a blessing it is to have these children in my home, to be graced by their beautiful spirits, their individual personalities, and all they offer. It's not easy and it's not bliss every day, but when I keep life in perspective and truly remember that these little charges living in my home do not just belong to me, then I can take a step back and a deep breath, give them a big hug and tell them how truly grateful I am that they are mine and how proud I am of each one.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Today is Thanksgiving and I thought it would be ever so appropriate to express my gratitude for my family. Not just these fine looking folks in the picture above, but to my entire extended family. . . grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws, etc. I'm really grateful today that my two sister-in-laws are cooking Thanksgiving dinner for us, and all I have to bring is rolls and pumpkin pie (such a great feeling, especially after being sick yesterday).

So, while the pies are cooking in the oven I would like to share how thankful I am for FAMILY - there is nothing that can compare to being a part of the larger picture, of something greater than yourself. It makes me so happy that my kids have cousins their age and how much fun we all have when we're together. I didn't grow up with any cousins even close to my age and was envious of my friends who would come home from a family reunion talking about all the great things they did with their cousins. It is such a blessing now to watch my children have that opportunity and how much they look forward to being with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. I love being with both the Howick and Cantera sides of the family - there is always laughter, stimulating conversation, good food, and of course, chaos (especially when all 18 Cantera cousins are together).

Now that we are entering the holiday season, getting together with family is one of my top priorities. The kids can't wait for the annual Howick and Cantera parties - they are always a little crazy, but so much fun. I love the family traditions we have in our own little family, as well as the fun gatherings and traditions we all look forward to with our extended families. It is definitely during this time of year that we feel closest and enjoy the time spent together. My family is one of my greatest blessings in this life and I am so grateful for each and every member.

The annual Howick family party - Christmas tree decorating contest - "and the winner is . . . !"

Monday, November 24, 2008


"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born." ~ Anais Nin

What can I say? My life would be empty without friends, without those people in my life that I can count on without hesitation, that I can laugh and cry with, and talk with for hours. Those special friends who just make you smile when you see their name on your caller ID or email because just hearing from them can turn your day around if you're not having a particularly good one. It is those friends who just call to check in, to relate a funny story, and are genuinely interested in what's going on in my little corner of the universe that mean so much to me . . . those people who truly complete me as a person and add another beautiful and interesting dimension to my life.

One of my greatest blessings today is the wealth of friendships I've nurtured over the years, they are priceless. I believe every person has a story, we learn so much from the people around us, and one can never have TOO many friends. I have, what Chris considers to be a major social disease, of meeting new friends wherever I find myself - the club, the gym, pre-school, tennis, kindermusik, the kids' lessons, the blogosphere, airplanes . . . really, WHEREVER. For example, just tonight at Caroline's tennis tournament I ran into two old friends and met a new one (her name is Gwen, from Park City - just moved here two months ago from California and now we're going skiing next month - lol!).

I've loved reconnecting with old friends these past few months, especially those I knew years ago from Jr. High and High School. Many were merely acquaintances that I passed in the hall each day, offered a friendly "hello" and a wave, knew who they were dating, and maybe a little of the associated drama, and that was about it. But, NOW, connecting with these friends again has been such an experience - I've been fascinated to hear what's happened to each person since we graduated almost 20 years ago; I'm thrilled by their families and successes, happy to see where they are today, and heartbroken after learning about their struggles. I've truly felt such a connection with these friends who really did play such an important role in my adolescent years, it's been remarkable.

Life gets busy, but reach out every day to someone, meet a new friend, reconnect with an old one, send a note or make that phone call to keep those relationships strong . . . you'll be glad you did and your life will be blessed for the effort!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

13. My Parents

I am so grateful for my mom and dad. I can't even begin to express my gratitude to them for all they do for our family. They are so generous with both their time and energy, and always make such an effort to stay involved in our lives as well as the lives of our children. The kids adore their grandma and grandpa and look forward to spending time with them down in St. George - especially when they get to go down alone without the rest of the family. It makes me so happy that my parents play such an active role in the kids' lives and in their activities. Just this weekend it was watching Ryan's hockey game, in a few weeks they will attend Caroline's Nutcracker performance (again . . . really, I think it will be their 4th year of the Nutcracker), not to mention the tennis lessons, ballet and piano recitals they have been to over the years. And it's not just the fact that they come to these things, it's also the relationships they are building with each child that is so meaningful.

While they were visiting this weekend I thought of how my mom and dad have enriched and blessed my life over the years. I would be lost without them and I'm grateful for their example, guidance, and friendship. I hope to one day be as thoughtful, disciplined, and talented as my mom; and as patient, generous, and selfless as my dad. They truly are a blessing to our family.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

12. Piano

"What’s great about music is that when you’re angry, you can do this: and he played Beethoven. And when you’re heartbroken, you can play this: and he played Chopin. All of that is in your heart; you just can’t get it out of your fingers yet. The reason we’re going to practice scales is so that when your heart feels, your fingers will let you express it." ~ from a music teacher.

Who would have guessed that after 20 years of rarely touching a keyboard I would find myself so in love with this inanimate object. From the moment our piano set foot in our home a couple years ago I've discovered a new passion. We don't have furniture in the living room, but we have our grand. I can't even express how much that piano means to me, and this is coming from someone who couldn't wait to QUIT playing the piano at age 15 after nine years of lessons and hours upon hours of practice. Now with some appreciation and maturity, I've discovered that there is something so relaxing, so calming about sitting and playing; feeling the keys under your fingers and stretching your mind to learn a new piece, that after all these years it's become something of an addiction. Who would have guessed that I would enjoy something so much that I once couldn't get away from fast enough? Now there are days I don't even notice how fast time is slipping by while I'm playing and wish I had more time to practice. So, I have to tell my parents "thank-you" for the years of lessons and patience as I learned to play.

I'm grateful for the music that fills our home now that we have a piano that is so expressive; really, it's amazing, the more you put into it, the more it gives back to you (I can't really say that about the Kurzweil ;-). I love hearing the kids practice and especially listen to Chris as he effortlessly plays his favorite Elton John, Jackson Browne, or Billy Joel scores. My favorite time to play is in the evening when the little girls are in bed and the big kids are in their rooms reading . . . that's when I pull out some Jon Schmidt or George Winston and let their soothing melodies resonate throughout the house. I can't think of a better way to unwind at the end of the day - what a blessing.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

11. The Mountains

"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."
John Muir

That is one of my favorite quotes and I know I already posted it after our Yosemite Trip, but felt it needed another appearance. I have to be in the mountains, live near them, see them, climb, bike, ski, and run in them. Just breathing the fresh air while on a hike is so rejuvenating for me. I have such immense gratitude for the canyon I live, for the mountains of the Wasatch Front that I am so blessed to see every single day that it would be almost disrespectful to not include them in my gratitude list. You want to see me at my very best . . . spend a day with me in the canyon!

Monday, November 17, 2008

10. COSTCO baby!

Yes, you've got it right - I am SO thankful for Costco . . . those of you who know me well, know that my Costco fascination is more that a whim, it's an obsession. I don't like shopping, I can't do malls, boutiques, or basically anywhere there are sales people, and I have absolutely no idea what the latest fashion or home trends are at the moment . . . all the necessities of Costco worship. You shop on tables, no one bugs you, you can pick up box of tennis balls, new pjs, a book, and even a patio table in one stop, and everything is such a deal it just makes you smile. I am giddy when half way through my day I realize that my entire outfit was purchased at Costco :-). Really, I think I have a disease. Believe me, I'm not the only one who grabs their phone and calls friends about the latest deal right there in the store: "AMY, you have GOT to see these boots for the girls - they're only $13.99 and SO cute . . . oh, and I think I found the perfect table for your hallway. . . . oh, and did you see that they have a HUGE jar of pesto for only $7.99!" Disneyland has nothing on Costco when it comes to the "happiest place on earth."

Here's a story that sums up my devotion to Costco. This summer while checking out after a delightful spree, I glanced up and found an old friend helping me. I let out an excited yelp of recognition as I gasped, "GERARD!! It's been so long, how are you doing? How's the family? Is your little girl still dancing? What brings you to this Costco?" Caroline's jaw dropped as she looked at me, then back at the Costco employee, then back at me. That is the first indication that maybe my adoration for Costco has gone a little too far - I'm on a first name basis with it's store managers. As we were walking out, Caroline was beside herself with embarrassment as she began venting her frustrations: "Mom, I can't believe you remember Costco workers from PROVO . . . Mom, did you have to call him by his first name . . . Mom, do you know exactly how weird that was??" I love it when my kids use the word "weird" when describing my actions, it means I'm right on track as a parent :-).

So, in celebration of the greatest store on the planet in which I am ever so grateful, I'd like to share some of my favorite Costco finds, as my dear friend Jodelle and I use to describe anything wonderful we find at the warehouse. When it comes to Costco, we don't even speak in full sentences because it's so exhilarating, it's a language which only we understand, and in response all our kids just roll their eyes. It goes something like this: "Capris?" . . . "Costco baby!" "Love the rug" . . . "Costco baby!" "Cute vest" . . . "Costco Baby!!" "Beautiful table". . . "Oh ya, COSTCO BABY!!!"

Saturday, November 15, 2008

9. Indie Movies and Ethnic Food

OK, I was scanning my last few "thankful" blog entries and it's starting to sound like a sacrament meeting talk, and I can only act so mature and philosophical for so long :-). For the next few posts I would like to take a look at some of the fun things out there that bless my life and define me as a person. I'll start with two of my very favorite things to do with Chris on the weekend - hit an independent movie at the Broadway or Tower and then head to one of our local ethnic restaurants. Last night it was this movie, and I'm a little hesitant recommending it to anyone who finds some language and intense family drama uncomfortable (it's not for everyone), but for me, just like the majority of independent films, it was thought provoking, insightful, compassionate, and honest. If you watch that film without shedding at least ONE tear, you have no heart!

I am passionate and extremely selective about the movies I'll spend my time and money viewing. I've found the great majority of mainstream box-office films too predictable and even mind numbing like this film (we rented the dvd after a recommendation and were all so sick of it 1/2 through we turned it off - really, it was that awful - my apologies to those friends of mine who liked it), that I find it refreshing to sit in a theater and have your mind and soul renewed and expanded due to creative and talented writing and directing. My absolute favorite movie of all time I saw a year or so again at the Broadway after missing it's premiere at Sundance (DANG), it's one of those films that doesn't leave you, that says so much with so little and truly understands the heart. THAT my friends, you'll rarely find at the local Cinemark 16. I was shocked last summer while at a wedding reception conversing with some friends and making the remark that afterwards Chris and I were headed downtown for the latest indie . . . our friends had NO idea what we were talking about. Are you kidding? People . . . LIVE, experience, and find those things out there that are a little different, that enrich your life, that truly explore the human heart - you'll be a better person for the experience. Go see a great documentary and learn something new, or read the subtitles of an amazing foreign film, or explore a period drama, or a thoughtful biopic. You'll be glad you did!

OK, next, my insatiable desire for something with cumin, curry, or coridander. As grateful as I am for the pilgrims this time of year, they didn't bring eastern spices with them on the Mayflower, so right now I'm incredibly thankful for those immigrants who come to our little city and set up shop creating delightful aromas and victuals that tantalize the palate. Just give me anything Indian, Thai, Lebanese, Turkish, Moroccan, Greek, Indonesian, Afgani . . . ok, you get the picture. I am so thankful for the little restaurants scattered around the valley that cater to my desires, and especially to my friends Rachel and Sue who introduced me to these culinary delights while in college. So, to increase business so I'll never show up one day and see a "closed" sign, I'll put a few of my favorites here for your enjoyment:
  • Himalayan Kitchen (our choice last night - 4th S., west of State)
  • Cedars of Lebanon (152 E. 2nd S.)
  • Mazza (9th/9th and 15th/15th - I prefer this location - smaller and more intimate, plus the owner is more often up here and he's great!)
  • Royal Thai (1968 Murray-Holladay Road)
  • Cafe Madrid (for a splurge and authentic Spanish cuisine, 2080 E. 3900 S.)
I couldn't live without good food and thought provoking entertainment - my life is richer and more colorful . . . for that I am filled with gratitude!

Friday, November 14, 2008

8. Agency

"To LIVE is to CHOOSE." -- Kofi Annan

Last month my bookgroup read The Giver, an extraordinary book which in fact is written as a "young adult" novel, but is so profound that I'm recommending it for all ages. I've read the book before and thought the premise was intriguing and learned some and forgot most of it. However, this time the impact it made on me was remarkable as I continue to ponder the miraculous gift of agency, moral agency - the freedom to choose. How often do we really take time to even think about the blessing of choice and how it shapes our very being, our life, our existence? It's like the air we breathe everyday, it's just there, it just is. But to contemplate how our lives, my life, would be different if that gift was taken away is truly astounding - how would we function?

I am immensely grateful for this gift, to live in a country where I can exercise this miracle daily and truly experience all that life offers. I have deep gratitude for the agency of others, and how through their actions my life has been so richly blessed. It is this same gift that can cause terrible pain and affliction, but for that I am grateful as well, for the blessings of strength and refinement that come when each of us chooses how we will react to the choices of others. Which reminds me of this quote I posted a couple months ago. I am ultimately responsible . . . it's my agency that can either bless or hurt others, enrich or destroy myself or those closest to me . . . what a responsibility, what a blessing.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Doesn't this picture (taken a few days after Halloween) perfectly summarize the unpredictability of living in Utah and it's constant changes in the weather, no matter what the season? Today I just want to express my LOVE of Utah and all it offers. From the beautiful Wasatch mountain range to the red rocks of Southern Utah, to all the lakes and streams up in the canyons, it's one of my favorite places in the world and I'm grateful to call Utah home.

So, in lieu of a lengthy gratitude post like the last one, I'll just put up some of my favorite spots in our great state:

Arches National Park Skiing in Little Cottonwood Canyon Downtown Salt Lake City
Big Cottonwood Creek
Bell's Canyon Reservoir (i.e. "Our Lake")
Albion Basin Wildflowers

Sunday, November 9, 2008

6. Our Health

Good health . . . something we think about occasionally, and are most definitely grateful for when we are sick and stuck in bed, or when a friend or loved one loses their health due to a long term illness or suffers from injuries related to a serious accident. On Saturday I was reminded of not only how blessed I am for a healthy body and mind, but how the rest of our family enjoys those same blessings. Really, when you think about exactly how many things can possibly go wrong from conception to making it to almost 40, it's quite remarkable. So, after dropping Caroline off at tennis, then quickly driving over for Ryan's hockey game where I can get some mileage on the treadmill while I watch (at the SL sports complex you can cheer for the hockey team while working out - BRILLIANT!), I began thinking about our active family and thought I would share a humbling experience I had years ago that taught me a beautiful lesson on gratitude.

Ryan was just about 3 or 4 years old and beginning his first adventures in athletics . . . soccer. He was the smallest kid on the team and by far the slowest. He was darling, but really hadn't figured out how to use those little legs to his full advantage, so the coach decided to let him play goalie so he wouldn't get so discouraged when he couldn't keep up with the other kids. OK, this is my first son . . . my future baseball star . . . and he is showing absolutely no aptitude for sports! I have to admit that I became discouraged myself and started to compare him to the other kids on the field and wondering if my son would ever play as great as my friends' little boys, would he ever be the star who scores the goals or is he going to be that poor kid no one wants on their team?

One evening during that soccer season I had an experience I will never forget. I was watching the news while folding laundry and a one of those "special interest" stories began. It was about a father whose son's physical handicaps prevented him from participating much in daily life, let alone any sports, and how this little boy desperately longed to be with the other kids. So, his father put him on a soccer team and would go out during the games and push him up and down the field in his wheelchair just so he could feel the wind on his face and see the other children run beside him - truly feel part of the game. I felt a complete sense of ingratitude while watching this touching story unfold and I will never forget the lesson in humility I learned that evening. I immediately changed my thinking and looked at Ryan, and now all of my children as the wonders they are, at the healthy, beautiful bodies they were given that can take on every active pursuit they desire.

At that very moment I told myself I will never compare what my children can or can't do with other children. There will always be someone who is faster, stronger, or more athletic than them, and because they CAN move and their bodies work, they are able to enjoy life and all it offers - for that I am profoundly grateful. Occasionally when I watch my daughter play a tennis match or Ryan during a mean lacrosse game (his speed has increased dramatically since he was four :-), instead of focusing on their progress or the score, I think of that little boy in his wheelchair and am reminded of the miracle of my children and our health.

Friday, November 7, 2008

5. Laughter

Who can live without laughter? Really, for me it's a necessity of life (i.e. food, water, air . . . a good laugh) and I need it everyday for survival, therefore it's something I feel immense gratitude. Today was one of those days when things were just plain funny. Everything made me laugh and heightened my awareness how great a good chuckle makes me feel. There are times when I laugh so hard I'm crying, and the greatest part about that trait of mine is that Caroline has inherited it - we'll get her laughing so hard tears roll down her cheeks . . . really, can you experience true laughter any other way?? Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, those who have heard Chris' full throttle laugh knows that he snorts and all it does is get us all laughing even harder!

I am grateful for the times we laugh together at the dinner table or before family prayer, I am so grateful for my friends who can keep me in stitches and who know that all it takes is a phrase to bring back a hilarious moment (i.e. "the raquet has been spun"), I am grateful for the times I laugh with all my other family members when we all get together and the inside jokes that keep those bonds strong, and I am especially grateful for those friends who are so dear to me and know when I'm having a tough time or a hard day that all I need is something to make me laugh to feel myself once again.

So tonight the kids picked one of our favorite "laugh together" dvds . . . School of Rock. OK, we LOVE this movie - it cracks us up and Jack Black is absolutely hilarious. It's just one of those movies that makes you LAUGH, so if you haven't introduced it to your kids yet - please do, because no matter what your mood it will make you feel better, and your kids will love it!

"I pledge alligence to the band . . . ."

Thursday, November 6, 2008

4. Literature

"Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love and beauty."
- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

It's late and I've just come home from another enlightening evening spent discussing a great book with my book group. Really, you combine my social life with my love for the written word and of course it's going to last over three hours! I have to ask myself, what would my life be like without books, books, and more BOOKS? I love to read and I am grateful for the creativity and talent that so many authors throughout the ages have given to us through their writing. My gratitude stems from the life lessons, insights, and truth that I gain each time I read a great book . . . inspiration, yes, for a work of literature to become one of my favorites, it must inspire, uplift, and teach. For that reason alone, I am grateful because every time I read another book, I'm moved and I hopefully become a better person through the experience.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

3. Teenagers, especially my own

With all the excitement of yesterday's election and staying up with Chris and the older kids for a civic lesson in democracy, I completely forgot to post my daily gratitude. So here it is . . . yes, teenagers. I'm baffled by the fear that grips young parents when they hear that dreaded word - TEENAGER - I think I had the same worries as a young mother myself, but now that we're beginning that magical time of life where I have a son who will be fourteen in a few months I can't believe how much I LOVE having a teenager around. Here are the reasons why I am so grateful for Ryan:
  • He is responsible - especially with schoolwork and housework.
  • He can carry on a thoughtful, intelligent conversation (believe me, this is SO much better than trying to deal with an irrational 4-year old).
  • He is full of optimism for his future . . . this is the time when anything is possible - i love it!
  • Everything is new for him, all these experiences - it is so exciting and you can feel the energy.
  • He is open to new ideas, he listens, has questions, and is trying to understand the larger picture.
  • He's beginning to understand the importance of service and does make an honest effort to be patient with his sisters.
  • He is growing in the gospel and participating fully in the young men and scout program.
  • The confidence in himself and his abilities increases daily - which makes him such a pleasant person to be around (most of the time :-).
I am just so grateful for Ryan and all he is becoming. Teenagers really can be a delight. As I look back to the years I spent in the Young Women's program in Provo, I can't express how much each of those girls enriched my life - they were such a blessing to me and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to teach them as well as learn from them. Chris just commented on Sunday about what an amazing group of 16-17 year olds he has in his Sunday School class and how much they bring to the table. I have so much gratitude for the youth, especially those who are genuinely trying to learn and grow through their experiences. Caroline is just about there and it's already such an exciting time for her as well.

Since we're on the subject, I've been meaning to put some pics of Ryan's new room up on the blog. When he turned 13, his big gift was a room makeover . . . no more little boy red/white/blue rugby rug and baseball theme. So, we have IKEA to thank for helping us modernize and giving Ryan the space he is finally comfortable having his friends visit:

Monday, November 3, 2008

2. My Country

"America is another name for opportunity. Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine providence on behalf of the human race." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

With election day tomorrow I thought it would be appropriate to express my gratitude for this great country in which we live. I am grateful for the determination, intelligence, and fortitude shown by our founding fathers when they established this nation. I am grateful for the freedoms that I enjoy each day, especially at this time of year when I can voice my opinion politically without the fear of losing my life or my family. I am grateful for the freedom to worship and participate in whatever endeavors I feel will enrich myself and my family. I know our government has strayed from the original outline of the constitution, and right now could use a good cleansing, but as for the basic freedoms I enjoy each day of my life, for that I am grateful.

God bless America.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

1. The Fall Season

Everyone who knows me well knows that autumn is my favorite season - LOVE it! So much to be grateful for during this time - it just lends itself to gratitude, so I'll begin my list today with this spectacular season (if you have no idea what i'm talking about, read the post right below this one). Everything about fall makes me smile: the leaves changing and falling, the cooler temperatures, Halloween, apple trees, crisp air, harvesting the garden, Thanksgiving, family, baking autumn treats, the brilliant blue sky . . . the list goes on. It is such a relaxing time of year for me and every time it comes around I can't help but feel like a kid again as I walk through the falling leaves, dress up for Halloween, or get up in the mountains to breathe the autumn air.

Speaking of kids - here are some pics from our Halloween:

Elizabeth before her Halloween party at pre-school in her first costume creation: "a little girl dreaming she's riding a unicorn."

Liza's class watching in awe as their teacher stirs up some Halloween brew.

Liza and a little friend during their pre-school program.

Caroline and Sophie off to school for the Halloween festivities. The 6th graders dress up in what they would like to be in 30 years - then have a "reunion" on Halloween.

Sophie in the school parade - marching with her 2nd grade class.

Caroline and friend Sophie in 30 years - the pastry chef and the clothing designer.

Elizabeth and friend Gracie helping out at the 6th grade reunion party . . . Liza now in her 2nd costume choice - a rhino!

Later that evening . . . The witch, the rhino, and the cowgirl

Liza and Sophie gearing up for some trick-or-treating fun!

The gang . . . don't you just love these girls!

The DICE (Caroline and friend Kelsey) . . .

What a FUN night . . . I'm just disappointed that I didn't get any pics of Ryan and his friends at their party. Oh, well, he had a great night as well and only dressed up for about an hour as a football player to grab some loot :-).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

To live each day with a grateful heart . . .

“The grateful man sees so much in the world to be thankful for, and with him the good outweighs the evil. Love overpowers jealousy, and light drives darkness out of his life. How much happier we are in the presence of a grateful and loving soul, and how careful we should be to cultivate, through the medium of a prayerful life, 
a thankful attitude toward God and man.”

- Joseph F. Smith

It's officially November and I've decided to be more faithful in my blog entries and try to post something each day during this month of Thanksgiving to express my gratitude for the countless blessings in my life. There is so much to be grateful for . . . so many beautiful reminders every day of how blessed I am, that I figured it was time to take a moment and document a few of them. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin said, "Gratitude is a mark of a noble soul and a refined character. We like to be around those who are grateful. They tend to brighten all around them. They make others feel better about themselves. They tend to be more humble, more joyful, more likable." (Ensign, Sept. 2001).

These are the attributes I try to cultivate in my life daily, and by recording my gratitude I hope to brighten the lives of all those I care about . . . so stay tuned!