Thursday, December 31, 2009

Good-bye 2009

Wow, that went fast.  Too fast.  This month flew by, and here it is New Year's Eve and in twenty minutes it will be 2010.  I have a good feeling about 2010, it just sounds promising.

2009 was a fun year, and I'm hoping to capture a few more memories here on the blog in the next day or two.  The Christmas break has been bliss, especially now that the final party hosted at our house is over and peace has been restored ;-).  So, here I sit, alone by the fire trying to keep my eyes open while I wait for my teenager to come home from a New Year's party.  Chris was wiped out by 10pm, Caroline went to a friend's for a sleepover, and after the cousins left tonight, the little girls couldn't keep their eyes open one minute longer.

In the past I would have thought I needed to be somewhere celebrating, but not anymore.  I can't remember the last time Chris stayed up until midnight, so it's just me here enjoying the Christmas tree lights one last time before we take it out tomorrow and contemplating the new year ahead and its endless possibilities.  Not too shabby.

Happy New Year my friends.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Memory Lapse?

Today Liza brought home a little something from school, and I thought you all might find it as funny as we did:

Don't worry, Ryan's feelings were only mildly hurt.  The rest of us were laughing so hard that Liza referred to him as "Brudr" instead of his name . . . too much!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tea Party

No, not that kind of a "tea party" . . . a Julie specific "tea" party, meaning drinking my absolute favorite peppermint herbal tea before bed.  Soothing and wonderful and just one of those things that makes me, me.

Just thought I'd share, because if you don't drink herbal tea, you're missing out on one of life's most relaxing little pleasures :-).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Feels Like Christmas

SNOW!  Yes, snow, the wonderful Christmas kind of snow that falls softly overnight and blankets the neighborhood the next morning . . . just what we need to really feel the warmth of the season.  After decorating gingerbread cookies last night and watching the classic "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" the little girls were skipping around the house this morning after we had hot chocolate with whipped cream, and then while Christmas tunes played in their bedroom as they got ready for school.

Ahhhh, I love it.  It's mornings like these when the excitement from Elizabeth is just electric and is truly what makes Christmas so special . . . those feelings you remember from your childhood.  It's those memories of  family, warmth, and heightened anticipation, combined with the smells, sounds, and tastes of the season that one never forgets.

Hopefully we'll have more mornings like today this season . . . even if the girls did get to school 30 minutes late!!

Oh, and I'm putting the thought that I haven't STARTED Christmas shopping yet, completely out of my mind . . . I think today I'll enjoy more hot cocoa and turn on the fire :-).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Manna from heaven

I praise the genius who first dipped a cinnamon bear in milk chocolate . . . these little creations have got to be my favorite holiday treat.  A few years ago you could only find them in specialty chocolate shops, now they are EVERYWHERE . . . heavenly.  So today when Caroline and I discovered the "Sweet Shoppe" chocolate display was set up at Dan's, we were giddy with excitement (I'm not joking - GIDDY) as we scooped over 2 lbs. of these delights into a white paper bag and rushed through the checkout so we could finally open our sack of treats and indulge - aaahhhh, love Christmas!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Option 2

My conversation with Liza while fixing dinner tonight:

Liza - "Hey I have another idea for Christmas"
Me - "Great, because I'm not sure Santa can bring a talking dog."
Liza - "That's ok, I either want a talking dog or an elf."
Me - "Exactly what type of an elf are you talking about?"
Liza - "You know, one of Santa's little elves."
Me - "So, do you think you would like a boy or a girl elf?"
Liza - "A girl elf . . . oh, WAIT, I think a boy elf because we have too many girls in our family, we need another boy."
Me - "OK, you'll have to ask Santa if he can part with one of his elves."
Liza - "All right - I'll tell him that I'll take good care of him and make sure he wears his seatbelt."

Anyone want to help me with THIS Christmas wish??

Update:  I've been trying to talk Liza out of this request, but to no avail.  When I told her that Santa really can't just give away one of his elves, she responded that she only wants an elf without a home - an "orphan elf" - because she'll take really good care of an elf who needs a family.  Sigh.

I can't wait to hear what the local "Santa" has say when my daughter sits on his lap and asks for a  real elf!  I think I'll have the video camera rolling for this one :-).

LOVED this movie

After spending the entire day yesterday CLEANING the house (it feels great - hopefully today I'll get up Christmas) I decided to treat myself to this fabulous film - Meryl Streep was amazing, just amazing.  Yes, just me, at the Sugarhouse dollar theater.  I actually don't mind going to movies by myself, especially on a weeknight when the theater is practically empty and I can take my shoes off, put my feet up, and stretch out across three seats while I laugh out-loud at the funny parts and even shed a tear or two during the tender scenes.

Now that the year is coming to a close, I think I've seen maybe FIVE movies total in the theater - pathetic - especially when I know I've missed some great independents at the Broadway, and also knowing that of those five, two or three were with the kids.   So, I'm just going to start doing this more often because great films are released monthly and by the time I get Chris to go see them with me, they're already out on DVD and I've missed the theater experience!  If anyone out there wants to be my movie buddy, call me and we'll start seeing movies once a month - I think it's something I need :-).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In his element

Someone caught a great candid moment this past Monday morning before school started and posted this picture on Ryan's facebook page.

I just love it . . . love how it captures a piece of the day I never get to see, love how Ryan's expression tells a story, and I especially love the cute smile on the girl he is talking with - sweet!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Liza's Christmas wish

Anyone know where we can find one of these?

Yep, a talking dog, this is the ONE and only gift Liza would like for Christmas.  No matter how much we try and explain that Doug is pretend, and that collars that make dogs talk don't exist, she is still certain that Santa will make it happen, and a little puppy with a very special collar that translates its thoughts into words will be waiting for her under the tree on Christmas morning.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Waiting for winter . . .

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
~ Robert Frost ~

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I have a hard time with this . . .

It's appropriately named "Black Friday."

The thought of our rampant consumerism today truly made me nauseous.  Seriously, my stomach was in knots this morning as I drove past Wal-mart and saw the parking lot filled with cars and people filtering out of the store with armloads of electronics and unnecessary plastic objects for their children.  It's a feeling I've had for some time now, just a sickening "bleah" in the pit of my stomach as we approach the holidays.

I've found myself these past few weeks becoming more and more frustrated with what appears to be every American's right to consume, consume, consume.  From the insanity surrounding the latest "In and Out Burger," to the lines that begin at 3am in front of the local "Target" store,  even to the outrageous Christmas displays and home decor people give so much of their time, energy, and money.

Maybe it was spending time in India, maybe it was being closely associated with my friend's humanitarian efforts in Africa, or maybe just realizing that enough is enough.  Whatever it is, I've become quite disillusioned with how the majority of the populace never seemed satisfied, never can get enough of what they don't need, and continue their neverending quest for more "stuff."

How many Americans even think that somewhere on the planet where discounts, knick-knacks, and superstores don't exist, the greatest luxury is to have clean water, protective shelter, and nutrient rich food.  I struggle with this, and today it really got to me, but it did turn into a teaching moment for the children as we drove past that parking lot - a moment to talk about "needs" and "wants" and how much do we really "need" to live happy and fulfilling lives.

It's not much - family, home, good friends, service, the Gospel, memories, time, neighbors, goodness, love.

These items will never be found on "Black Friday."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving.  What a beautiful holiday.  Gratitude.  Thanks.  Appreciation.  Love.  Family.  Home.  Friends.  The Gospel.  Nature.  Music.  Laughter.  Health.  Kindness.  Adversity.  Beauty.  Intelligence.  Hope.  Faith.

My Father-in-law sent this inspiring message of Thanksgiving to his family today.  I thought I would pass it on . . .

All the really great things in life
are expressed in the simplest words:
friends and family;
purpose and meaning;
love and work;
caring and community;
appreciation and gratitude.

- Dan Zadra -

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Heartbreak Kid

I have a feeling this is only the beginning . . .

Last night on our way to a parent/child doubles tennis tournament at the club, Caroline had me in stitches as she related a text converstation between her and the boy who has had a crush on her for four years.  In her words, "it was so lame - he had to TEXT me all this":

Boy:  I have liked you since 3rd grade, I really like you, will you go out with me??
Caroline:  No, I'm sorry.
Boy:  Why not?  Please, please, please . . . I think you're beautiful.
Caroline:  I don't need a boyfriend.
Boy: Yes you do!  I promise I'll be the best boyfriend ever, I'm so nice and I'll treat you really great.
Caroline:  Thanks, but I don't want a boyfriend, I'm not old enough.
Boy:  Would you go out with me if you were 16?
Caroline: I don't know.
Boy:  If you were 16, and I asked you out, would you say "yes?"
Caroline:  I'm not sure.
Boy:  I wrote a song for you.
Caroline:  Oh.
Boy:  I'll sing it to you if you want.
Caroline:  That's ok, I have to go now.
Boy:  No you don't, you're just saying that.
Caroline:  No really, I have to go, sorry.
Boy:  You know I've had a crush on you since 3rd grade.
Caroline:  Ok, great, I really have to go now.  Bye.

Poor Kid.

Update:  After school today I asked Caroline if she was at least nice and hopefully talking to this boy.  She told me he asked her if she was having a good week, she responded in the affirmative and asked how his week was going.  His answer:  "Terrible, because you won't be my girlfriend."

Poor Kid.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Baby slow down
The end is not as fun as the start
Please stay a child somewhere in your heart . . .

To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal,
If you wanna kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel.
U2.   The music, the lyrics, the passion, the intensity.
Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen Jr., Adam Clayton.
The concert. 10.23.09.  Moving, inspiring, intense, beautiful, spiritual.

OK, I know, I sound like I'm to the point of worship, which I am.  Besides Jackson Browne, there are very few artists who touch my soul as deeply as U2.  Last month we took Ryan and Caroline to the concert of a lifetime - U2 360.  It was unbelievable, and Ryan especially was completely engrossed watching the band perform.  It was an evening we will never forget.

For me, U2 was the soundtrack of my adolesence, soundtrack of those days of complete freedom and innocence.  I still remember listening to the band for the first time 25 years ago when Steve Lund brought their album "The Unforgettable Fire" to a party when we were in 8th or 9th grade.  It was U2 playing in the background that same night when I experienced my first awkward kiss, it was U2's "Joshua Tree" cassette that I about wore out during those high school and college years, and it was the unique sound of The Edge's guitars, the tambourines, harmonica, Mullen's drums, and especially Bono's distinct voice and piercing lyrics, that kept me entranced all those years.

Unfortuately, after marriage, growing up, and completely immersing myself in motherhood, without realizing it, I had gradually replaced all my music with nonstop Kindermusik, "Wee Sing," Disney, Raffi, showtunes, and of course classical (keep those brains cells connecting :-).  I couldn't have been happier . . . really, I was in my element as a young mother . . . singing along with my kids, "clap, clap, clap hello, clap hello together . . "  However, without realizing it, I think I was losing an integral part of myself.  By the time Ryan was ten, I honestly couldn't tell you when I last listened to U2, or even the RADIO for that matter.  If it was more intense than the muppets, I probably hadn't tuned in.

The songs are in your eyes
I see them when you smile . . .

Then, about four years ago during a particularly difficult time in my life, I was reminded of my forgotten passion for music.  We had just received an i-pod for Christmas and I had no interest really.  One night I decided it was time to give it a try, so after figuring out how to use the gadget, I found U2 . . . and began listening to Joshua Tree, track 5.  Alone in the dark, kids in bed, I lay back on the sofa, closed my eyes, and found myself again.  It was Bono's voice, then his unique "oooohhh" that brought the tears, seriously, the flood gates opened, I'll never forget it.

And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was lying still
Said I gotta do something about where we're going . . .

That night I felt renewed, felt like I finally found that had piece that had been missing, and I started to listing to MY music again.  I knew Chris loved U2 as much as I did, and realized he had all their amazing music right there on the i-pod . . . THREE new albums since "Joshua Tree" - sweet!  For months after that experience, I felt like a kid in a candy store, rediscovering my favorite music and listening to new music for the first time - yes, I even had to locate what radio stations were playing what types of music, 89.1 was about it for me.

The best part of this experience, is that my children who once clapped their hands and sang along with Raffi are now arguing in the backseat while U2's "Beautiful Day" plays if Bono and crew really did perform that song or not in the concert:  Ryan - "they did NOT play this" . . . Caroline - "YES, they did - I remember, right after 'In God's Country!"  Ryan - "are you sure??"  Caroline - "I'm sure, check the setlist."  That kind of a conversation just makes my heart happy, almost as much as listening to Ryan play "Sunday, Bloody Sunday" and "Vertigo" on his electric guitar . . . and just about as happy as going to see them again in Denver on June 12th :-).

And if the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass

It's just a moment
This time will pass . . .

Even better the second time

Love, love, LOVE this movie!  Last night I grabbed Sophie, Liza, and Ryan (so sweet - when he heard I was going to take the little girls, he wanted to come too) for an outing at the dollar theater to see "Up" again.  It's now hands down my favorite Pixar . . . I believe it's the only computer animated film that can bring tears to my eyes!  Such a tender story, so sweet and touching, not to mention unbelievably clever.  Truly, it's pure genius when you find a movie that appeals to everyone - a story that can move an adult to tears, make a five-year-old giggle so hard she about falls out of her seat, and keep a teenager enthralled the entire time.

Thanks again Pixar for another classic to add to our collection, this one is timeless.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

happily grateful

A couple of days ago I found this little book at one of my favorite places in Salt Lake.  I thought it the perfect ancedote for the season and I loved every quote inside it's pages.  So, in the spirit of a beautiful Thanksgiving, I wanted to share a few that spoke to me . . .

I apologize those last quotes are sideways - couldn't rotate them here in blogger, but loved them too much to leave them out.  Anyway, I just love my new little book - it's the perfect addition on my table and the ideal collection of quotes to help me and my family feel gratitude and abundance during this month of Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I beg you . . . to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language.

Don't search for the answers, which could not be given
 to you now, because you would not be able to live them, and the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it,
 live your way into the answer . . .

~ Rainer Maria Rilke ~

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Peace and Joy in the Journey

The other day while straightening Caroline's bedroom, I ran across a handout she recieved Sunday from her lesson in YW.  It included this excerpt from a talk given by Joseph B. Wirthlin and I was touched as I read it - such a beautiful reminder for me and my daughter of finding joy in every moment . . .

"The people of God are a joyful people.  We understand there are times for sobriety, reverence, and devotion; we also understand that we possess the joyful priciples of eternal life.  So many of us are always waiting to be happy.  For too many, happiness is just over the horizon, never reachable.  Every time we climb one hill, happiness beckons just beyond the next.

Make up your mind to be happy - even when you don't have money, even when you don't have a clear complexion, even when you don't have the Nobel Prize.  Some of the happiest people I know have none of the things the world insists are necessary for satisfaction and joy.  Why are they  happy?  I suppose it is because they didn't listen very well.  Or they listen too well - to the things their hearts tell them.  They glory in the beauty of the earth.  They glory in honest labor.  They glory in the scriptures.  They glory in the presence of the Holy Ghost.  Do not procrastinate a minute longer.  Every moment is precious.  Determine now that you will make of your lives something remarkable!

As I look back on it now, I wonder if those times of trial and loneliness weren't instrumental in strengthening my character and heightening my desire to succeed.  Those times of seeming failure may have been some of the most instrumental of my life, because they prepared me for greater things to come.

Create of your lives something worthy of your divine heritage.  As you pursue righteous desires, the Lord will be with you and will direct your paths.  He wants you to be happy and successful.  He wants you to come unto Him.  May you find peace and joy in your journey throughout life."

~ Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917-2008) ~

Sunday, November 8, 2009

So proud

1st term report cards came home on Friday.  We couldn't be more pleased with our kids - they've all developed amazing study habits and now that Ryan's grades actually count towards getting into the university of his choice, we are thrilled that he's starting off on the right foot.  I'm posting this mainly for grandparents, if you're all wondering why I'm posting their report cards, but after speaking with my mom tonight I knew she would be tickled to see the actual documents :-).  Take a look . . .


(she ended up with a 'B' in English because she forgot to put her NAME on an important assignment, and her teacher gave her a ZERO on the assignment to teach her "accountability" - give me a break!)

(a "4" means 90-100% in that area)

Just so everyone is clear here, neither Chris nor I performed this well in school . . . EVER!  I'll be the first to admit it, we're kinda living through our smart children ;-).

Friday, November 6, 2009

I've missed writing

I really need to find time to write, but what happens is I open my blog and begin reading everyone else's blogs because it's been forever and I love catching up, and then I'm too tired to even think about putting one or two of the thousands of thoughts bouncing around in my head down on paper (computer) . . . UGH, so many things to write about, so LITTLE time and energy to do it.

I will be a better blogger, for my sanity, I will write!!!  But it's too late now, but I did actually get around to a Halloween post, which is progress.

"The Best Halloween EVER!"

That was one of the kids' comments Halloween night . . .  they were right, it was just one of those magical, picture perfect Halloween weekends when everything fell into place and everyone was happy and content.  I think it was because the holiday fell on a Saturday, so we had time to relax and really enjoy the kids and the excitement.  Believe me, we've had complete flops in the past when it came to Halloween!

The fun began with the little girls' elementary parade Thursday morning, followed by the Jr. High's annual Halloween dance concert that evening where Ryan and Caroline both participated, then a lovely Friday evening spent with Sophie and good friends at a neighborhood spook-alley while the big kids attended Halloween parties with their own friends, then Halloween day: the girls' piano recital in the morning, making costumes and playing tennis with Caroline in the afternoon, then an evening of trick-or-treating under a full moon and coming home to our traditional roasted pumkin seeds and cider, and finally wrapping up the day with trips to the older kids' friends homes to pick them up and listening to their tales of the evening on the ride home.

Great memories . . . wish I could freeze time on nights like these.

Click here for the rest of our Halloween pics!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Photo shoot

All summer I kept procrastinating Sophie's 8-year pics and Caroline's 12-year photos - I try and get nice pictures of the kids at age 1, 4, 8, 12, then 16 - I like these ages, milestone ages, and a lot of change takes place in those short years, plus it's fun to see the kids' pictures side by side when they were the same age.  Anyway, I contacted Jamie (a darling photgrapher - we met last year after she took Liza's 4 yr. photo) and told her I needed some quick pictures of Sophie and Caroline before the good weather was gone, AND before they turned 9 and 13!

Before I knew it Jamie told me that I might as well bring Ryan and Liza along as well for some sibling photos, then she suggested doing these "urban shots" downtown as well as the girls' pics at Memory Grove, then the night before she sent me an e-mail telling me to look decent because I might as well jump in some shots as well.  Sooo, after running around like a mad woman trying to find outfits that didn't clash for the kids, getting everyone up early and ready on a Saturday, changing the girls in the car into their dresses, and trying to look put together myself, I have to say I was quite pleased with the final product.  Here are a few of the many I liked:

I'm happy, especially now it's over :-).  Jamie's great - click here if you're interested.  She's extremely reasonable - $150 for the entire shoot, plus editing, and the cd is yours to keep.  It was worth the effort!