Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Back to school

Well, school officially began last week and the kids are still in the "school is so much fun" mode which I expect will come to an end by this Friday.  Here are a few pics from that first day of school, along with some quotes from the kids that I couldn't resist posting to remember the week . . .

Ryan trying to hide his excitement as he leaves for High School - 10th grade

"MOM . . . you did NOT!!" . . . those were Ryan's first words when he walked in the door, and ya, we did - that would be decorate his locker with a "welcome to high school" board and notes from the family saying "Go Eagles! . . . We hope you have a great first day . . . we love you, etc..," along with his favorite gum.  The girls and I had his locker combo since he missed registration (he and Chris were in Michigan), so Caroline came up with the idea and we went to town.  The greatest part was that he had a whole crowd of friends with him when he opened the locker.  PERFECT!!  I think he was secretly thrilled to have the attention and all the girls telling him, "your mom is so cool" . . . yes Ryan, I am ;-).

"Did he actually think I would go over and sit by him??"  We got a kick out of this story:  Caroline (8th grade) arrived to her geometry class right after the bell rang and most the kids had found a place to sit and all was quieting down.  One of the SBOs (9th grader who thinks he's God's gift to all Jr. High girls) calls out, "Hey Caroline, wanna come sit by me?"  Caroline didn't hesitate with her nonchalant response, "Um, no, not really," as she sought out another desk.  Apparently the class and teacher thought it was hilarious and everyone laughed, completely embarrassing this kid . . . oh Caroline . . . Chris summarized the event quite nicely with a chuckle and, "ooooh, playing hard to get now are we, and with a ninth grader . . . ouch."

"All the other girls will want to wear their fancy back to school outfits, not me, I want look like an ATHLETE!"  Of course, Sophie our track and soccer star wouldn't want anything less and couldn't wait to sport her new t-shirt, Nikes, and pigtails (I insisted on bows for a touch of femininity) for the first day of 4th grade.  The highlight of her week was beating all the girls AND boys from her class in the quarter-mile run during PE yesterday . . . we have one happy girl!

Loading the bus on the first day . . . go Sophie!

"It was SOOOO boring!"  Yep, that would be the first thing to escape Liza's lips after she stepped off the bus and I enthusiastically asked her how her first day of 1st grade went . . . sigh.  The good news is that school is getting better and she enjoyed the majority of the week.  The better news is that I am really loving my days free from interruptions :-).

And if your pantry looks like mine with a month's supply of Capri Sun (don't laugh, it was on sale - if you bought 8 boxes you saved another $4 - can't pass up that deal), school must be back in session . . . ahhh, making lunches everyday, not my favorite, but I do it because it's all part of being a mom and if I don't my kids would rather starve than eat school lunch, plus if they're eating lunch at school, when will they get their love notes I write on napkins?  Ryan informed me sometime during the 8th grade that he really wouldn't feel all that bad if I refrained from that tradition when it came to his lunches.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Season opener

Ok, just how amazing is this picture taken from last night's opening home football game at Skyline?!!  (credit to photographer and fellow SHS student, Calvin Chour).  Ryan was in his element hanging out with friends and cheering the team from the student section, as you can see from this picture I stole from his facebook page.  He is LOVING high school, especially the social aspect (i.e. weekends = nonstop party).  I'm happy he's having such a great time, I'll be even more ecstatic if he can keep his grades as high as his rung on the social ladder :-).

Since we're on the topic of double rainbows, if you haven't seen this video it will literally make you cry, it's that funny!  Oh, and I suppose I would probably act just like this guy if you combine my love of nature with some weed . . .

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This morning in my study group (Old Testament this year) we were discussing the life of Job, and what struck me the most during my reading of these chapters was his unwavering devotion to truth and righteousness, in its purity.  The Lord refers to Job as a "perfect" man and I believe he was referring to the state of his heart . . . his heart, mind, and soul being filled with perfect integrity . . .

"Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. 
My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go."
Job 27:5-6

I found this insight into the scripture from my little book of daily Old Testament scriptures and thoughts:

"Those who have integrity live with a whole and complete heart.  They have no secret places, no hypocrisy - what you see is what you get.  Such individuals strive daily to choose the right and choose it for the right reasons.  They have fused right actions with pure motives.  They act out of love rather than for outward appearance.  They show their family the same courtesies and respect they show acquaintances and strangers.  They uphold sacred truths regardless of circumstance.  This "integrity of heart" keeps them faithful and strong even when surrounded by a world of temptation and difficulty.  Like Job, no matter what, they persevere in righteousness and testimony.  People with integrity know that life is a process of growth.  They find the strength to change, because they "[love] that which is right" (D&C 124:15).  They learn from shortcomings, ask forgiveness, and cleave unwaveringly to truth."

It was an uplifting and spiritual conversation (as always) with my dear study group friends . . . I leave refreshed and rededicated every Thursday, especially on beautiful mornings like today when we have our discussions on Anita's deck surrounded by trees rustling in the breeze and the sound of the creek underneath.  Indeed, I am so blessed!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This explains it all . . .

It's not that I'm overly emotional, just highly evolved ;-).  I just listened to this story on NPR and found it really interesting and thought I would share with all the rest of you out there who also seem to have a hard time controlling those tear ducts!

Tears, tears, and more tears . . .

Caroline put it this way last night:  "it's not like she's DYING or anything."  No, nobody is on their deathbed, but yesterday and into this morning you would have thought by my irrational behavior someone indeed had died.

Liza started first grade today.  First grade, that means she's gone ALL day . . .

OK, I'm not going to start crying AGAIN . . . seriously, I thought if I could channel my thoughts like I did on my run earlier today, and think about all the wonderful things I can do now that I'm entering this new phase of life, rather than dwell on the unnatural quiet in our home and the fact that after almost 15 1/2 years of always having a little buddy with me for part of the day, I'm now completely at a loss.

Yesterday Ryan, Caroline, and Sophie began school and I had one last day together with Liza.  While I was cleaning up the kitchen after all the kids had left, she exclaimed, "c'mon Mom, play a game with me - you know it's our last day together!"  And so I did, I turned off the computer, left the dishes in the sink, and played.  We played some games, we put together a puzzle, we watched "Wordgirl," we blasted ABBA and danced together in the kitchen, and we went on a bike ride together . . . then, because I new the inevitable was coming, last night I took her to get her new pink school shoes and let her pick out some new clothes to wear on her first day.

While we were dancing in the kitchen, Chris called and asked, "how are you holding up?"  That's all it took for the first breakdown . . . I was a blubbering mess on the phone, then Liza started crying - really Julie, keep it together!  Then while we were leaving on our bikes, my friend stopped by and asked if Liza would like to come swimming.  As I was telling her thanks for the offer, but we were trying to spend every last minute together, the tears started AGAIN . . . ugh, really, am I that unstable when it comes to my children??  What in the world am I going to be like when Ryan leaves for his mission?  This morning I handled myself a little better, trying not to let Liza see me cry and ruin the excitement she was feeling for her big first day.  She was so excited she couldn't even eat breakfast!!

I'm happy for my kids, I do love watching them grow and gain their independence, but watching your baby leave for her first day of school is tough.  It's letting go of that part of motherhood when you always had someone who needed you practically every hour of every day.  It's funny, because I know I've looked forward to this day on several occasions, just couldn't wait it have the house to myself, time to finally do all those projects I've put aside for so many years because my kids took first priority, time to read and study, time to volunteer and serve.

That's where my thoughts took me today, to the anticipation and excitement of this new stage in life where I can truly explore my talents to help others, to dig into the projects that have been put aside, and maybe even bask in the peace and quiet that seems so unnatural after all these years.  And, I'm sure I'll be just fine after a couple of days of mourning.

Or, if it's just too quiet around here, I can follow the advice Liza gave to me yesterday . . .

 "Don't worry Mom, tomorrow you can just go out and buy a dog."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Out with a B-A-N-G

Well, summer is officially coming to a close.  The kids begin school tomorrow and we all agree that it's been an amazing summer.  Really, this past week has been so relaxing . . . busy, but in it's own way very relaxing (partially attributed to my I.T. band making it impossible to train, so therefore, no early morning runs :-).  Ryan and Chris were hanging out together on Ess Lake in Michigan fishing, hiking, canoeing, swimming, with nightly "manly movies," and male bonding thrown in as well.

The little girls and I finished up our swim lessons at the club (yes, "our" lessons - I took an adult swim class with the master, Tommy Thorum, and definitely gained a new found appreciation for swimmers - phew, it about did me in, but I really loved how great I felt after those killer workouts), we also squeezed in a few more outings, spent time at the courts watching Caroline compete in a local tennis tournament, finalized all the kids' school registrations, enjoyed some playful afternoons at the club pool, and ended our week with a Bees baseball game and fireworks last night.  I'm now ready for school to start and maybe a nap ;-).

Some pics from our final week of SUMMER . . .

Tommy instructing the little ones . . .

"OK, Liza, let's go over this one more time . . ."

Caroline serving during the finals . . . best I could do through the fence!
Smacking the ball so hard she's off the ground!

Caroline and friends Sophie and Hannah - annual "end of summer Snowbird outing"

We brought the teens up some lunch and stayed to hike and ride the alpine slide.

Our favorite walk at Snowbird - beautiful flowers!

At the game

After the fireworks . . . good-bye summer!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Temple Square

The summer is winding down, the kids begin school on Monday, and we've been trying to fit a few last minute field trips into what is left of our summer.  Yesterday it was supposed to be a leisurely day at the Dinosaur Museum . . . um, ya, didn't know it was $2 Tuesday and when we arrived were greeted with a 2-hour line around the museum!  Standing in the hot 98 degree sun waiting to get inside just to save a few bucks didn't quite appeal to our group, which included 7 children under the age of 9.  If interested, you can read about our alternative plan and see some pics on Marti's blog - the kids did have fun visiting Farm Country, playing with the baby goats, and eating ice cream - so the day ended with happy kids, which was our ultimate goal . . . mission accomplished :-).

Last week's outing was a little more manageable as far as crowds were concerned.  It's also hard to beat an activity as cost efficient as this one!  Sophie, Liza, and I decided to head downtown and be tourists at Temple Square for a day.  We went on tours, enjoyed the temple grounds, ate at the Lion House Pantry, walked around the visitor center displays (seeing the Book of Mormon in hundreds of languages was the hit), watched the movie "The Testaments," and even took in the amazing views of SLC from the top of the church office building.  Here are a few pictures from our day . . .

The temple grounds were just beautiful . . .

Before our tour of the conference center

We even listened to the organist practice

On the roof of the conference center

Lunch at the Pantry - the girls' favorite!

Viewing the capitol and downtown SLC from the top of the Church Office Bldg.

What a wonderful day with my girls . . . the big kids missed out!

Welcome to High School

Ryan got his schedule yesterday and it looks something like this:

All I can say is that I'm SOOOO glad it isn't me, because just looking at this schedule and remembering the stress of high school, grades, homework, social life, etc., etc. starts my heart racing with anxiety.  Here's hoping Ryan will make it through his sophomore year socially and academically intact :-).

Come again?

Ahhh, the things that escape out of Liza's mouth on a daily basis that aren't being recorded!!  Since my blog has been hit or miss, I'm starting today to once again "catch up," and what a perfect way to begin then by mentioning a few sentences that offer a tiny glimpse into the mind and character of Liza Jane . . .
  • After getting dressed, she announces:  "This is so cool, my outfit matches my blood!!" (yesterday, she took a spill on her bike where the handle bar gouged her neck, and yes, her top matched the red scrape quite nicely).
This next conversation happened within minutes of the excitement surrounding her fashion discovery . . .
  • At lunch I was asking the girls what they would like to drink, it sounded something like this: "Caroline, what can I get for you?"  "I'll have cranberry juice . . "  "Sophie, how about you?"  "Cranberry juice, thanks."  Before I get a chance to even ask Liza, she hits us with this come again moment:  . . . "I'll have a beer."
Seriously child, where that came from we'll never know, but this much we do know, it's never a dull moment you around, and no Liza, you can't have a beer!

Our toothless wonder

Thursday, August 12, 2010


This evening I took the little girls and some friends up to go hiking in one of my favorite places on earth, Albion Basin.  It couldn't have been more perfect: wildflowers in full splendor, cool temperatures, fresh mountain air, quiet trails, and even a gorgeous bull moose munching away right on the trail.  Indeed we are so blessed to find this beauty just 20 minutes up the canyon . . . remind me again why we are moving??

Good for the soul

Who else but Jackson Browne?  For today, because I'm in the mood to share one of those songs that never fails to sooth a weary heart and relax the soul.  The first time I heard this song (credit to Chris who put together a live cd collection of JB acoustic for an anniversary gift last year) I think I almost cried, it was that peaceful  . . . yep, his music is that good.  So, to anyone out there who could just use a minute of peace today, sit back, close your eyes, and listen . . .

 . . . aahhh, thanks Jackson :-).

Saturday, August 7, 2010

42 miles . . .

Alright, I hit a milestone after my run today - 42 miles in two weeks!!!  I ran 20 miles this week and 22 miles last week . . . never, never, ever in my life have I run this much and so it's a MAJOR milestone. 

I thought I would remember the moment with a post because if my knee continues to give me grief around the 10-11 mile mark, I'm not exactly sure how I will finish my first marathon in October.

I have my friend and seasoned runner Michelle to thank for getting me up at the crack of dawn for our long runs and knowing exactly what routes to take and how I should train.  I absolutely love my early morning trail runs up Bells' Canyon, even if those first switchbacks are ruthless, it's worth the views and fresh air.

And if it weren't for my sister Jenna, who encouraged me to attempt a marathon, I would never have accomplished this little milestone.

Here's to 26.2 and to keeping all my major joints intact :-).

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The simple moments

"It is a valuable exercise to close your eyes every once in a while and think,
'What is the most wonderful moment I have lived through during the past year?'
It might be part of a grand event or a very simple moment, perhaps a brief interaction with another person.
The grand or the simple, it doesn't matter.
Just the remembering will lift your spirits, and warm feelings will fill your soul."

~Marjorie Pay Hinckley~

Today was one of those days I want to remember.  A day filled with many simple, yet profoundly sweet moments spent with my children, friends, neighbors, and my husband.  As simple as a trail run in the cool early morning, surrounded by the fresh scents of pine and mountain air, and a meaningful conversation with a friend.  As simple as morning hugs, kisses, and "I love yous."  As simple as feeling the warm spirit within our home as Caroline takes time to make bracelets, build forts, and read stories with her sisters.  As simple as basking in the energy of a teenage son's awesome day and listening to all the details.  As simple as helping Liza master her first basic piano pieces and sharing Caroline's modest pride in her own accomplishments.

The joy found in making dinner with my children and the sweet conversations that take place when we work together.  The simplicity of an evening walk, entranced by the thunderstorm rolling in from the east and casting it's spell with a breathtaking sunset and picturesque canyon sky.  The spontaneous, welcoming conversation with new neighbors as we watch the western sky.  As simple as spending time reading and pondering the scriptures.  And, of course, the beautiful simplicity of spending a few minutes cuddling and talking with my love at the end of the day.

Indeed, a day to remember . . . and it was all so simple.

Monday, August 2, 2010

What we've been up to this summer . . .

Alright, time for the elusive "catch-up" blog post - hey, I'm on a roll here.  It's exactly midnight and I told myself I needed to get up for a run in the morning, but what the hay, I've already written two posts and figured it's time to burn the midnight oil and have some fun!  I have a feeling my run will have to take place tomorrow evening :-).


First off, what would summer be without plenty of pool time?  We've spent just about every saturday at the club as a family, plus swimming lessons at our neighbor's beautiful backyard pool.  Thanks Megan for teaching the girls!
Dance recitals.  Caroline danced beautifully in her performance (unfortunately the pictures I took were part of those that are forever lost), and Sophie and friend Carli were a darling little hunters in the ballet "Snow White."  I enjoyed a good run with my daughters, but now, after years of ballet performances, Nutcracker, and all those classes, both have opted to focus on sports.  It was a good run and Liza at the moment has absolutely no desire to dance.  Chris is very pleased with the wise choices his daughters have made ;-).
Father's Day.  I love my DAD!  My parents were in town, so it was great to have my dad and mom over for a bbq, along with my brother and his latest girlfriend.  The day before Father's Day, they took Ryan golfing - it was his first time golfing 18 holes.  He just began playing this summer and has really enjoyed it - thanks to my dad for handing over his old clubs so Ryan can learn and develop a love for the game!

Track Meets.  I decided to sign Sophie and Liza up on a local track team for the summer to keep them active and try something new.  Sophie liked it and did really well, even placing 2nd in 400m at the all-county meet!  Liza, however, endured it . . . we're still trying to find her "thing."  So far, no luck.  Just tonight Caroline suggested she try karate!

Concerts!  Paul McCartney rolled into town a few weeks ago and Chris was sure to find some amazing tickets to see this living legend and share the experience with Ryan and Caroline.  However, Caroline was at girls' camp that week, so our friend Deja joined in the fun.  It was an amazing, AMAZING concert experience, truly one of the greatest concerts I've ever attended (even better than the last time we saw McCartney perform about 8 years ago).  It was fun to be part of so much energy on a beautiful summer evening.  Chris is also taking Ryan to see RUSH this week, and I'm hoping to catch John Mayer and possible Jack Johnson later this summer . . . we absolutely love outdoor summer concerts.  Ah, memories of Jackson Browne last summer in Deer Valley, or The Police two years ago.  Seriously, what is summer without a fabulous concert on a warm evening under the stars??

4th and 24th of July spent up at Bear Lake.  Really, what isn't to love about illegal artillery fireworks set off near the beach and giant sparklers lit in the firepit?  S'mores, cousins, tubing, sand castles, trampoline, scary movies under the stars, volleyball, capture-the-flag, FOOD, bike rides, homemade ice-cream, family, incredible sunsets, and staying up late around the fire . . . all of what makes Bear Lake so special and one of the most incredible places on earth.  Here are a few pics from this summer's adventures:

The kids making their way down to the beach for some fun in the sand (mud).

What would the lake be without the tramp??

Sophie flying high

Getting ready to take the kids out tubing.

Caroline, Ryan, and cousin Berkley heading to a Bear Lake dance

Evening is here . . . love the fire!

FIREWORKS - thanks to my cousin Michael

Plenty of beach time . . . or mud, whatever, it's Bear Lake.

Good friends, great memories . . .  every summer!

YES . . . it's that wonderful.  We love Bear Lake!!

Alright, it's past my bedtime.  I'll save the Cantera fun up in Island Park for another post.  The rest of the summer has been taken up with Skyline summer hockey games (the play-offs begin this week), LAX camps, tennis lessons, my tennis league & marathon training (ran 22 miles last week - yipee!), hiking, night games, summer reading (oh ya, bring on the Hunger Games), and still trying sell the house (really slow right now, which is fine, it's too crazy to get the house ready to show anyway).

Life is good, Chris is home (he's been in China for the past week), and we're happy . . . exhausted, but happy :-).