Tuesday, January 26, 2010


It seems that every so often there are defining moments that for one reason or another help put everything in perpective and add such clarity that it's almost impossible to explain.  Today happened to be one of those days.  After an emotionally long week dealing with teenage son issues (to be posted at a later time - stay tuned for the drama) and a stressed-out husband, I was struggling to stay positive.

Sometimes you don't realize how much you need something until you experience it and find yourself brimming with renewed personal energy, as well as enthusiasum for the human spirit.  Today I experienced a bit of an epiphany - I realized that when were depleted and even if we think we can continue creating positive energy completely on our own without vital resources, we are sadly mistaken.  It really IS so important to leave life behind for a moment and completely immerse ourselves in the things we love.  A very difficult thing for most mothers to do!

So, this morning I headed up to Park City for my first day at this year's film festival.  Let me clarify, my first day at the festival in YEARS.  I bought tickets to films I researched and thought looked wonderful (and they were), I went completely on my own, ended up meeting some amazing and creative people, and drove home so energized I could hardly contain it.

I've always loved independent films, and after today I have a newfound respect, almost reverence for these writers and filmmakers.  The creative energy that was present during the screenings and question/answer sessions after the films was contagious.  The people I listened to and even personally met (writers, editors, musicians, directors, cinematographers, and actors) were simply brilliant, and listening to the directors whose vision finally has become a reality was truly inspiring.

W I N T E R ' S  B O N E

I can't stop thinking about this film - the acting was incredible, the atmosphere the director created was palpable, the story was heartwrenching, but it was the inner strength of the main character that was so remarkable.  I was deeply moved, and felt it a privilege to sit right behind the author of the book, Daniel Woodrell, as he watched his novel take shape on the big screen.  It was a wonderful thing to see his reaction to the film and talk with him after about his feelings after he watched this movie for the first time.  It must be such a beautiful experience for an author when their work of art is transformed perfectly into another medium.


Absolutely charming and delightful.  I really loved this film and am looking forward to more work by Diane Bell.  She both wrote and directed "Obselidia" and I was very impressed, especially since it was her first film.  She created a unique character that was honest, humble, and vulnerable without seeming pathetic.  She also infused such beautiful ideals and philosophies into her work that really made you think and evaluate your own opinions on these topics.  The film deftly explores themes such as perfection, love, beauty, and how we view the future.  Bell was such a lovely person and it was a pleasure to hear her talk and answer questions, as well as the entire cast - what talent - can't wait to see these actors in more films in the future.

I wish I had all week to live in Park City and soak it all in, but alas, I have a family and children who need me.  Thursday, I'm headed up for another film (if anyone wants to join me, let me know - early morning), then Friday night Chris and I are going to waitlist a documentary, then Saturday afternoon I have my last film - another documentary that looks so inspiring I can hardly wait.  My energy sources will truly be overflowing by the end of the week!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Christmas memories - 2009

I'm finally getting around to our Christmas post.  December was crazy wonderful, we had a great mix of family togetherness with the Howick and Cantera clans, fun outings and activities, as well as our own family traditions.  Our home was "party central," which ended up being a lot of fun - we hosted Christmas Eve brunch and sledding with Jenna's family, Christmas Eve dinner and party with the rest of my family, enjoyed having my parents and brother over Christmas morning, then Cantera cousin fun and skiing with David the next day.  That was just the first three days.  Then it was helping host the big Howick family party at our church with my mom and aunt, then having the cousins over for New Year's eve, and finally the New Year's Eve party with grandpa Ron and the Cantera fam.  Here are a million pics of some of the festivities . . .

Sophie and friends at Annabelle's annual tea party.

At the "living nativity" - wow, very beautiful - next year the whole family is going!

Decorating gingerbread cookies - just one of our many fun projects in the kitchen.

First round of treats to give to friends . . . sugar cookies and pounds of toffee to follow!

Howick family tradition, now Cantera tradition (thanks Mom!) - the "Love Pillow" - we take turns expressing love and appreciation for one another. 
The kids love finding it on their beds!

Our annual family Christmas outing 2009 - This year we choose to go see the Joseph Smith movie, then lights at Temple Square, then dinner at Himalayan Kitchen.  It was so nice having Grandma Pat join us.

CHRISTMAS EVE with the Howicks
Family pics in our living room - My  mom and dad with the grandkids

Our photographer set up the studio right in our house - pretty slick . . .

And yes, Chris needed a haircut - hadn't had it cut since AUGUST -
oh well, I love my rockstar husband!

Christmas Eve dinner

Uncle Travis gave all his neices/nephews new beanies - how SWEET.

It's not Christmas Eve without traditional Norwegian Krumkake filled w/fresh raspberries and whip cream - yummy!

My favorite women - Mom, sister Jenna, and my sweet Caroline

Thanks Grandma!

Christmas Eve pjs - the kids had to forego the treasure hunt and settle for "hot and cold" this year - just got too late . . .

But they didn't seem to mind!

Liza with cousins Miriam and Avery

Singing "The Nativity Song" together before reading Luke 2 . . .

Sophie and Liza's surprises from Santa
Always exciting!
Chris' gift from the kids - a nice, new blender for his protein shakes - they were SO excited to give it to him!

oh, and Wii Fit and snowshoes for me . . . fun!

Skiing and sledding with cousins . . .

Caroline and Shelby

Cousins Becca and Rachel with Liza and Soph before sledding.

On the sledding hill

NEW YEAR'S EVE with the Canteras
Party with the Cantera clan and Grandpa Ron - Ryan was awesome at celebrity charades - until he had to ask, "Who's Rosa Parks??"
Ryan can't wait to leave and go with his friends to a "real" party!

We  made it - the year is over - time to open up our 2009 box . . .

Inside our "2009" box - all the mementos from our year - always fun to open and remember the things we did together and individually, as well as the milestones that were reached during the year.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


"A friend is one who knows you as you are, understands where
you've been, accepts who you've become, and still,
gently invites you to grow . . ."

I found this quote today, something I saved from "Academy For Girls" almost twenty-five years ago.  I was just thirteen years old when I spent a week down at BYU for this program.  I still remember my counselor, Katherine Kennedy (we actually connected on facebook of all places just recently), some of the talks that were given, and especially how I felt and grew spiritually during that time.  So, today while organizing some boxes I found this handwritten quote on a little piece of pink paper, given to me from one of the counselors and thought I would share.

It must have meant enough to me back then to keep all these years and I understand why.  After my family, it's truly my friends that keep my tank filled and bring so much happiness into my life.  Thanks to you all!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Quote for the day . . .

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.”

Mary Anne Radmacher

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Yep, New Year's resolutions - made some that I thought were pretty great.  Thought I would tackle some of my inner weaknesses, well guess what?  ALL bets are off when that perfect storm has been brewing for a week and is finally unleashed . . . ok, yes, you got it, that optimistic, cheerful, happy thing that rarely lets anything bother . . . um, ya, today I turned into "don't get close to me or I'll bite your head off" psycho lady.

It was purely self loathing.  Self pity for the squishy belly that suddenly appeared, for the lovely cellulite that's multiplying and replenishing on my thighs from all the junk I've put into my body the past few weeks, and for not having the drive get my sorry self out for an intense workout.  Today was going to be "the day" - the day to get out and do something active . . . well, I forgot about a PTA meeting I had to go to (only to face the principal's disappointment that I messed up on a project), then it was finishing the Christmas clean-up, then it was laundry, then it was kids . . .

SO, after barely squeezing into my favorite jeans yesterday + not working out seriously for over a MONTH + gorging myself with every holiday treat in sight (dang my aunt's homemade chocolates) + drinking coke (which i never do) + the inversion + "that time of month" + my sassy kids + feeling like I have no "me" time to actually get out and exercise = the version of Julie that probably has offended everyone within earshot - my kids, my friends, the neighbors, strangers, the neighbor's dog . . . you get the picture.

SIGH . . . the good news is that when i finally connected with Chris on the phone today at 6pm and he asked "how's your day been?" I didn't hesitate to say, "honestly, it stunk - ugh, lousy day, I think it's because I haven't had a good workout in ages."  Thank goodness I said what I felt, thank goodness I didn't say "fine, it's been fine," which normally I would do and just deal with it, because he said, "GO - tonight - take as much time as you need, I'll take care of the kids."

And I did - even if it was just running at a lousy 10 minute pace for 3.5 miles on a treadmill - I was sweating, my heart was racing, my face was red, and it felt OH, SO GOOD.  Tomorrow morning I have a tennis workout which I haven't been to since before Thanksgiving, and I'm going running afterward, Friday I'm skiing with Sophie, and if I'm not skiing with the big kids on Saturday, I'll be on my new snowshoes up the Quarry Trail in Little Cottonwood . . .

Life is good again.  My sincerest apologies if any of you experienced my wrath first hand today, I'm still not perfect, even if at times I think I am :-).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Date Night

Cozy dinner and cinnamon tea at our favorite Lebonese restaurant:  Simply amazing.

Watching Chris take 15 minutes to parellel park:
"Laugh so hard you cry" funny.

Masterpiece of a movie at our favorite downtown theater: 

Chris admitting that he really is a movie snob, just like me:
Oh, so satisfying.

Finally finding some time alone to talk, laugh, and connect with each other after more than a week of holiday company and craziness: 

Friday, January 1, 2010


I want to share the most eloquent words I've read all year.  They came as a Christmas card greeting from a dear friend of mine, the last will and testament from her grandmother.  So, as we contemplate "new year's resolutions" and the fresh start 2010 offers, I am reminded that it's the simple, everyday moments that I want to place my focus this year . . . living each moment filled with gratitude and joy:

"My love of learning is yours for the seeking.
My excitement over Earth's beauty
Is to be snatched in the fleeting moments
By the observant.
My deep well of contentment will be found
In quiet moments of thankfulness.
The riches I have found in life
are for each of you.
Find them in a baby's smile,
In a friend's warm touch,
In the understanding smile of a stranger,
In the security of family love.
The peace I have
That God is a good and forgiving father
I give to all of you with my love and blessings."

Maurine Conover Jensen (1913-2007)

So, if I die anytime soon, just copy and paste these words into my own "last will and testament." I couldn't express how I feel any better.  Here's to a beautiful 2010.