Wednesday, April 28, 2010

15 & 39

BIRTHDAY Celebrations! 

That would be Ryan's and mine, on the 14th and 16th of April respectively.  Ryan was the tiny, precious gift I brought home from the hospital on my birthday, Easter Sunday 1995, and here we are 15 years later, still sharing our favorite ice-cream cake.

Of course, I wasn't quick enough to get a picture of the two of us, but we did have our annual lunch together at Ryan's favorite spot, Himalayan Kitchen, where Surya (the owner) and staff wished him a happy 15th, and Ryan loved getting out of school for half the day :-). 

Here are some pics of our little family celebration later that evening after his lacrosse game (which unfortunately just had to be Judge, so he didn't get a win for his birthday) . . .

 Reading Sophie's card -
she wrote the sweetest card and couldn't wait to give him her gift.

M O N E Y . . . that is all he wanted this year, so we hid $20 bills in some of his favorite junk foods and wrapped them up - fun!

 Birthday love from the girls!

 Getting ready to blow out 15 candles - Happy Birthday son!

FIFTEEN reasons why we love Ryan . . .

  1. You are extremely responsible.  We never have to worry about you forgetting to do your homework or turn in assignments in school, and you always wake up to the alarm in the morning.
  2. You take an interest in our lives and ask questions . . . "How did Caroline do in her tennis match?"  "Did you have fun with your friends at dinner?"  "How was the movie with Dad?" . . .
  3. You mow the lawn and do your own laundry.  Enough said.
  4. You take disappointments in stride and try again.
  5. You're a great leader and motivator.
  6. Your favorite class in school is seminary.
  7. You can finally out-ski your mom!
  8. You make a mean fruit smoothie and always have plenty to share.
  9. You are very easy to please and rarely ask for anything unnecessary.
  10. You have a tender heart.
  11. You love to tease your mom and sisters.  My favorite:  "I swear Mom - you're on drugs!"
  12. You are a good friend.
  13. You are dependable.  I know when I give you a list of chores on Saturday, they all get finished.  I know when I give you a time to be home, you honor our curfew and come home when asked.
  14. You love and honor your grandparents.
  15. You are unbelievably HANDSOME and get better looking every year!

    As for my birthday celebration . . . I had purchased a "date night" basket at our elementary school's spring fundraiser last year which included a night in a suite at the Grand America and dinner at Cucina Toscana . . . hmmm, come to think of it, I believe I gave this to Chris for his birthday.  In typical Cantera fashion, we couldn't seem to find a weekend that we could get away until now.  April 16th this year fell on a Friday, and as luck would have it, we had NO games or obligations until 1pm on Saturday.  We figured now the kids are old enough, they could stay home take care of each other for one night.  WOW - freedom - it's pretty liberating knowing that we can now run downtown for a night without needing to find a babysitter!

    Chris asked what I wanted to do for my birthday since he was going to take half the day off.  I thought an afternoon session at the Salt Lake temple would be lovely.  It was an absolutely beautiful day and the temple grounds were bursting with fresh, spring blooms at every turn.  After our time in the temple, we walked around the grounds and couldn't believe that it's been over 18 years since our wedding day at that very place.

    After checking in, relaxing, and letting it sink in that there were NO responsibilities, we headed to a fabulous dinner at Cucina which always includes a warm embrace and compliments from the eccentric owner, Valter.  After dinner it was back to the hotel where we enjoyed an evening walk around the hotel courtyard and grounds, and time relaxing in the pool and spa . . . seriously, it's amazing how "away" you can feel just by leaving home, even if it is only 20 minutes away.

    We were thrilled that checkout wasn't until noon the next day, so the celebration ended with sleeping in, watching the SL marathon runners make their way down State Street, and then the most relaxing couple hours I think I've ever spent poolside.  Yes, OUTDOOR -  we took advantage of the bright morning and headed out to the pool (yes, the outside temp. was only about 65, so no one else was even around :-).  It just felt oh, so good to feel the sun once again!

    What a birthday, what a time to connect with my love, and what a perfect way to rejuvenate and recharge.  I came back home a better mom and ready to take on my final year in the 30's with added resolve to make it an amazing year!  Thanks Chris and family for making my 39th so special.

    Saturday, April 24, 2010

    soul connection

    "A soul connection is a resonance between two people who respond to the essential beauty of each other's individual natures, behind their facades, and who connect on this deeper level.  This kind of mutual recognition provides the catalyst for a potent alchemy. While a heart connection allows us to appreciate those we love just as they are, a soul connection opens up a further dimension."

    John Welwood

    I love quotes that speak to me, so I'm stealing this one from a friend of mine. I just think the term "soul connection" speaks volumes about those rare friendships one stumbles upon throughout life.  Those "kindred spirits" who connect with your inner core, and before you know it, you have a lifelong friend who understands you more completely than even you at times, understand yourself.

    Like I said, these friendships are rare and I am grateful to have a small number of these connections.  Friends you trust with your heart and soul, who truly love and support your family, who cheer you on when discouragement sets in, and who will never let you down. Friends who encourage without judgment, listen with an open heart, and who understand your weaknesses and shortcomings without taking advantage of your vulnerability . . . and you do the same for them . . . a "soul connection."

    CLICK HERE to read this quote in its entirety.

    Tuesday, April 13, 2010

    Happy 6th Birthday Liza

    Yes, Liza is SIX!  Well, she turned six exactly a month ago (March 13th) and my goal was to post her birthday events before the next child’s birthday. So far so good . . . Ryan turns 15 tomorrow ;-).

    Last Friday afternoon, after an agonizing month-long wait, Liza finally had her little birthday party at the Living Planet Aquarium. We had a nice, managable size group of six little girls, plus Sophie and friend Mia. Per Liza’s request, the party began with rousing games of “duck, duck, goose” and “button button,” followed by presents, then off to the aquarium, then back to the house for Liza’s favorite cupcakes and ice-cream.  Here are some pics from the festivities:

    Liza was happy she finally got her promised "friends" party and I’m happy we put it together for her, even if it was at the last minute and with just a few good girlfriends. I’m glad I didn’t just bag the whole thing like I was tempted to do. Seriously, I feel like I “over promise and under deliver” so many times with my kids, it felt good to follow through this time :-).

    Our dear Elizabeth,

    You are the only child we know who screams and cries on a Sunday morning when dressed in a beautiful dress with pretty bows in your hair: “YOU’RE RUINING MY LIFE!”

    You delight us with your uniqueness and non-conformity. You like doing things your own way and don’t follow the crowd. Of course you are the only child in kindergarten who, when the class is decorating giant paper gingerbread men at Christmas, decides to turn yours into the Easter Bunny because “everyone else is doing gingerbread men.”

    You enlighten us with your non-stop questions. Especially about the resurrection, this topic seems to intrigue you like no other. The other night while tucking you in bed and answering yet another round of “when we get resurrected” questions, you told us “all animals will get resurrected . . . except the ones that get squished, right?”

    Your bright mind, keen awareness of life around you, and especially your loving heart are what endear you to our family. We love you dearly Liza and wonder what our lives were like before you entered this world. Happy 6th Birthday!

    Your family

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Daily thoughts

    Each day I've been reading a scripture from the Old Testament followed by a short commentary.  I figure it's going to be about as close as I'll come to this year's study of the Old Testament.  I did take "Old Testament" in college and think once through the entire book will suffice until the children are out of the house ;-).  So, I thought every now and again this year it would be nice to share a scripture and thought that spoke to me, and may make a difference in your lives as well . . .

    "And thou shalt remember all the ways which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart."

    Deuteronomy 8:2

    Commentary:  "This life is full of 'wilderness experiences' that test our mettle and provide opportunities to soften our hearts.  Indeed, our hearts are revealed in the crucibles of suffering.  We can become bitter or angry because of tribulations, or we can become stronger, more faithful and humble.  These divine tutorials are preparing us for life hereafter, even as they expand our souls in mortality.  We can develop the attributes of godliness in the furnace of affliction.  We can prove ourselves worthy of exaltation.  In life's journey, the Lord will not leave us comfortless.  As he did for ancient Israel, the Lord will lead and guide us.  If we stay on the path and strive for righteousness with all our hearts despite mistakes and shortcomings, he will not abandon us or forsake us.  His promise is sure."

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    "Do I wear you out?"

    This was Liza's question (just one of the hundreds she asked during the day) to me last night after she asked if she could climb on my lap and watch youtube clips of her favorite movie she's never seen, Slumberdog (sic) Millionaire.  While I searched for the clips, she continued her one sided conversation, it went something like this:

    "I think I wear you out - you look tired."  um, ya, it's almost 9pm and you should be in bed, but insist on seeing the little boys from the movie steal bread from the roof of the train.

    " . . . like OLIVIA, in the book, I'm just like Olivia huh -  she wears everyone out!"  can't disagree on that point.

    "Oh, I don't want to see the part when they burn the eyes out"  sheesh, does anything get past this kid??  Don't worry, I won't show that part.

    "Do you think when I'm nine you'll let me watch Slumberdog?"  probably . . . I'll be so worn out by then you'll get away with anything.

    Those ramblings were the follow up from a conversation we had a few days ago in the car with Caroline.  I should know by now that whenever I play the soundtrack from Slumdog Millionaire, Liza will start in with a barrage of questions.  This is how it played out:

    Liza: Ohhh, Slumberdog music . . . what's going on in the movie now?

    Liza:  When do I get to watch the movie, Ryan and Caroline got to watch it!

    Me:  It's not really a kids movie, it's a little too violent.

    Liza:  It is too a kids movie, there are KIDS in it!  What does "violent" mean?

    Me:  Well, there are kids in it, but there are things that might scare you.  Violent means people with guns, and people who get really angry and do things that aren't right like hit or shoot people.

    Liza:  That's ok, I don't mind.

    Me:  SIGH . . . hmmm, maybe i'll let you watch a little part.

    Caroline pipes in:  Well, just don't let her see the part when they pour the acid in the kid's eyes.  Thanks a lot Caroline - here comes another round of questions . . .

    Liza:  WHAT??  What did you say they did to the kid's eye?  What's acid?  Does it hurt?  What happened to their eyes?

    Let's just say that for the past two days I've been answering every question an overly inquisitive 6-year old can imagine that has to deal with children in India, why children have acid poured in their eyes, why they beg in India, why they are blind, if everyone in India is violent or just a few people, if all children in India get to ride on the top of trains . . . . .

    Yes, Liza, there are days when you wear me out, but I wouldn't have it any other way.  Like last night just before bed, while I knelt down with my two precious youngest daughters for prayer (big kids and dad were at the Jazz game) and enjoyed this sweet conversation:

    Liza:  When conference was on the tv, I heard someone say that Heavenly Father loves us even more than our parents, is that true?

    Me:  Yes, that's true, believe it or not, we love you so much, but Heavenly Father's love is even deeper and more powerful.  It's probably hard to understand that, but it's true.

    Sophie:  Ya, Heavenly Father never gets mad at you like your mom and dad!!

    Liza:  He doesn't get mad, but He can get disappointed.

    Me:  (thinking - "did she really just say that? quite insightful"). You're right, yes, he does get disappointed in us sometimes because we aren't obedient and don't choose the right, but he knows we'll make mistakes and still loves us and wants us to choose the right.

    Liza:  I know he loves me . . . I think he gives me a hug every night when I am sleeping.

    Out of the mouth of babes.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010

    Chris is planning . . .

    our 19th anniversary trip!

    Yes, that was not a misprint, CHRIS is planning this trip and calls every couple hourse to get my opinion on his most recent itinerary or sends a link to his latest hotel find.  It's been so much fun to plan and we are starting to really get excited for this trip.  It was almost 11 years since we were last in Europe (celebrating our 8th anniversary and leaving our 4 & 2 year-old children behind) and we're hoping this trip will be as magical as the last.

    Paris at night - on top of the Arc de Triomphe - 1999.

    In September we are leaving our 15, 13, 9, and 6 year-old children home and heading to Madrid, Barcelona, and Paris (after several itinerary changes including Northern Spain, Southern France, and Austria).  Three cities in 10 days and short flights between them all (instead of hours on trains).  My wonderful husband has immersed himself in picking the destinations and planning the itinerary.

    This will be the first time I've been to Barcelona, where Chris served his mission almost 25 years ago, and the first time to meet his relatives who live in the city, oh, and who don't speak English (and I don't speak Spanish - should be interesting :-).  Chris stopped in Spain last year for a few days for a visit before heading up to the UK for business, and was in Barcelona a few years before that trip.  I, on the other hand, am dying to go.  We are both needing for a trip alone together - it's been too long (India didn't count as an "alone" trip since any time we had together was also with his fellow employees) and I think Chris is feeling the need to connect and have an adventure together as much as I have!

    OK, this is too much.  Just a minute ago while working on this post he came home from work, told me to go sit on the couch with my eyes closed and hold out my hands, whereupon he placed this little surprise:

    Seriously, what a guy - LOVE him!!!!