"I know why families were created, with all their imperfections.
They humanize you. They are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of life is not destroyed." Anais Nin
—Robert Redford, President and Founder, Sundance Institute
I need to first give credit where it is most deserved, and that is to my generous and sweet husband, who for Christmas this year gave me a Sundance ticket package (after last year's festival I told him that would make a great gift and he wouldn't have to do a thing - definitely his kind of deal), along with the freedom of spending the weekend completely responsibility free (well, as long as I am sure to make it to church to deliver my Relief Society lesson :-). My friend Rachel, who flies in this evening from New York, and I will spend the next 3 1/2 days reveling in the energy that is the SUNDANCE film festival. I'm just crossing my fingers that the films we picked will be as great as the premiers I saw last year.
Blessed is the day that begins with a breathtaking sunrise in the desert, and ends in central Utah with the sun descending below the horizon while painting the sky brilliant hues of pink, yellow, and orange. Also, having the privilege of watching the sky eventually fade into darkness and realizing that a sunset this spectacular lasts for over an hour.
That would be the one grand benefit of a long drive home this evening with not much to do but look out the window and take in the scenery of an amazing sunset while listening to Simon and Garfunkel on the i-pod.
Unlike my last catch-up post from 2010, our July gathering in Island Park with Chris' family was well documented with plenty of fun pictures. We began our adventure stopping at Mesa Falls on our way to the cabin on Island Park Reservoir, then after a few days with the Cantera crew our family headed to Yellowstone and drove up to Mammoth and into Gardiner, MT for a day. Since this was our official "family vacation," it deserves a blog posting.
So, without further adieu, our summer adventure in pictures (warning: a TON of pics) -
This would be "Bear World," a place we drive by every time we head up to Island Park, but never stop because it looks a little cheesy, but we figured it might be fun to stop and see the bears. And yes, it's corny and overpriced, but hey, you get to see bears and even a moose up close . . .
and your kids can even pose as "Bear World" bears!
Liza checking out Mesa Falls from the top lookout
Checking out the falls
Everyone starting to gather at the cabin
Caroline with our newest cousin, Nick
Liza and cousins on the dock
Yep, the teenagers loved kneeboarding behind Brian's fishing boat - fun times!
Chris entertaining the kids
Horseback riding adventure with Grandma Pat . . .
A great trail ride through Harriman State Park and up to the top of this ridge overlooking Island Park
Cousins: Soph, Rachel, Liza, and Becca
No Cantera gathering is complete without SCATTEGORIES!
And no, Laura, a snowmobile is NOT an appliance ;-).
Becca and Liza enjoying Grandma and Katie's yummy breakfast
Setting up camp for a day of fishing on Henry's Lake
Unfortunately this year we didn't catch ANYTHING - where did all the fish go?
Hangin' at Mack's
YELLOWSTONE . . .
The top of Lower Falls (we hiked the North Rim - Liza was a trooper)
Mammoth . . .
Posing in front of the original stone entrance in Gardiner, MT.
I figured the best place to start as I begin filling in the forgotten posts of 2010, would be the month of May - an entire month of pictures that were inadvertently erased from the computer FOREVER . . . ugh. Oh well, I'm over it now after fretting for months about all the fun memories that were lost. That is why I'm starting here, with the month of May 2010 and hoping the written word will suffice:
Sophie and Caroline's spring performance. I remember taking pictures of the girls with their teacher, Sandra Preyz, as they held up the certificates they received from their performances in federation back in March. This recital needs to be captured on the blog to preserve the memory of listening to Caroline play her piece flawlessly and with such beautiful expression that she captivated all who were in the room. She played Pachabel's Canon in D with the fluidity and grace that it deserves and I was amazed that Caroline could "feel" the piano and express her talent so beautifully.It was a touching performance, and my aunt was literally moved to tears . . . truly a sweet experience for all. Sophie's "March of the Gnomes" was nicely done, but didn't quite move us as much as Caroline's piece ;-).
Last Kindergarten Outing
During the school year, Liza and I would have an outing together each Wednesday after kindergarten before the kids came home from school. Our activities were as simple as a "tea party" on the family room rug, or as elaborate as an afternoon spent at the Discovery Children's Museum or the zoo. May came too quickly and our last adventure together was approaching. Liza picked historic Wheeler Farm to spend our afternoon, and I made sure I took my camera to capture our time together (ya, those would be in the forever lost picture category). So, in lieu of pictures, here are our memories: watching Liza feed the horses in the shade of the willow trees, listening to her giggle as the baby goats licked her fingers while she played with them through the gates of their enclosure, walking along the bridges and into the meadows while taking in the spectacular view of the Wasatch range, watching the geese flit around their pond, chasing the ducks along the pathways, buying ice cream from the general store, and walking hand in hand as we passed the cows and sheep on our way back to the car. I'll never forget Liza wearing a sweet yellow skirt and her blue "sunshine" shirt that seemed to match our spring day!
Caroline's 13th Birthday
Well, Caroline now has the honors of being the only child since birth who doesn't have a single picture to commemorate one of her birthdays. Memories of her first day becoming a teenager (May 25th) include the fun surprise party her friends Sophie and Maddie arranged at "Top It" frozen yogurt in Holladay after school, then the kids headed to the park to goof off for a bit (I had some sweet pictures of Caroline with all her friends sitting under the trees talking in the myriads of fallen blossoms); the giant plate of cinnamon rolls with 13 candles rather than a cake, per Caroline's request; her excitement upon opening a gift containing Buckyballs - really, that's all she had mentioned and it made me happy that my new teenager still thinks toys make great birthday gifts; and of course, the mandatory picture with her siblings on the couch at the end of the celebrations. I will do another "catch-up" post highlighting this precious teen of mine.
St. George Memorial Day Weekend
We headed south for the end of May for what turned out to be one of our very most relaxing long weekends - ever. Sometimes just getting down south for a few days, especially when my parents' pool at their club opens, is just what our family needs to reconnect and get ready for the lazy days of summer. I took some great pictures to capture our weekend, and out of all the pictures we lost, the one that Chris took of my grandmother surrounded by the kids and me, is the one I miss the most because it was the last picture we took with my grandma before she passed away in October. We had stopped by to visit grandma on our way to the pool and sat outside her retirement home on a bench chatting and laughing together. As we were leaving and saying our good-byes, I had Chris take a quick photo and I remember how sweet it was. Other memories from that weekend: Ryan golfing with my mom and spending time on the driving range with my dad, playing tennis with Caroline on the Bloomington courts, hours in the pool (and of course, burgers from the snack bar), Ryan and my dad working on his model plane and flying it together at the park, and many walks to and from my parents' neighborhood park with their dog Maggie in tow. Ahhhh, how we love our time with my parents in St. George :-).
. . . Simple times now seem so far, Used to be in my backyard, Yeah, the world was still in my backyard . . .
These lyrics are from a song written by my absolute favorite contemporary alternative singer/songwriter, Josh Radin. It was just playing a moment ago as I went about my household duties for the day, and when the song We Are Okay began my thoughts turned to yesterday afternoon's conversation which with one of my dearest childhood friends, and our memories of the seemingly simple, idyllic childhood and adolescence we shared together growing up in Bountiful, Utah.
I haven't seen my friend Wendy for over two years, and was so happy she was in town for a few days and I could finally take her to lunch to celebrate her 40th birthday. I honestly can't believe this year all my comrades and myself turn forty - ugh - seriously, I remember when my parents turned forty and they seemed SO old. While at Wendy's parents' home I couldn't help but stare into the faces of her family in a picture taken about 30 years ago, when they had children ranging in age from about 6 to 16, a picture I remember well hanging in the hall of her childhood home. Unbelievably, that family portrait now mirrors my own family, my own children celebrating the freedom, discovery and simplicity of youth, and I'm suddenly thrown into the role of responsible parent and mature adult preparing my children for the world that faces them.
The greatest part about spending time with Wendy is the flood of childhood memories that come back when we are together and how fun it is to relive some of our adventures. We met when our family moved into our Bountiful home (1467 Vineyard Circle) the fall of 1978 when I was seven years old. Wendy lived down the street on Seville Way and we began 2nd grade at Oakhills Elementary, walking to and from school together every day. We continued into Jr. High at Millcreek Jr. High and were locker partners all three years. We endured those awkward years together and spent practically every weekend with one another, and with our friend Rachel, usually ending up at one of our homes staying up all hours talking about the very most important topic of the day (which cute boy smiled at us or what music we like), making up dances to our favorite music (the BeeGees come to mind), playing cards (what? no face cards at girls camp - what's up with that!), singing showtunes, playing pool or pingpong, baking cookies, playing Atari, or making forts out of the couch cushions.
Our summers were spent wandering the neighborhood and ending up in anyone's backyard that sported a trampoline or basketball court and didn't mind we were there (the Gibb's yard was a popular spot). We endlessly explored the hills looking for old isenglass mines and collecting as much as we could carry home. We played games of "capture the flag" in my backyard with the neighborhood kids, we rode our bikes everywhere, we hiked up the streams in the woods near Rachel's house and would conquer climbing the "B" on the mountainside . . . all without much adult supervision. I remember being dirty quite often and rarely spending much time indoors.
By the time we entered Bountiful High School we drifted somewhat to different groups of friends, but always remained close. It was Wendy who, with her pertinent advice and wisdom guided me through some difficult times and always made sure I wasn't doing anything too stupid, as I was wont to do at times. She and Rachel were my beacons of goodness and maturity, while I still had a lot of growing up to do. I know my mom never worried when I spent time with my two childhood friends, like she did with some other characters I befriended during those years. By the middle of my senior year, I had once again formed the strong bond with these friends that we had shared during our elementary and early Jr. High years, and I count it as one of the greatest blessings of my life.
Wendy was my roommate our freshman and sophomore years at BYU - by far some of the most endearing and sweetest memories of my life took place during those first years at BYU. Wendy actually met Chris before I did when he stopped by our apartment and I wasn't home. She was the only friend who was able to come to our temple ceremony, as she was preparing to leave shortly for her mission, and was there that day, along with Rachel sharing the excitement of my marriage to Chris.
Now, we're wives and mothers of our own little broods, hopefully teaching the same life lessons our mothers taught us, and praying that our daughters will have the blessed opportunity to find those friendships that endure a lifetime. So, here's to my childhood friends and those memories we created that will forever be part of my life . . .
Now, back to the messy house that demands my attention (when personally, I would much rather be up in the hills searching for isenglass :-).
Perfect Days, beautiful introduction to the new year and hopefully an omen of goodwill that will continue throughout the rest of the year . . .
Spending the morning with Caroline working on her science fair project (topic: How do certain variables in physics contribute to increasing speed in a topspin serve?). We had a great time at the club timing her serves, however after approximately 150, her arm is more than sore today, ouch. Top Speed for Miss Caroline = 87 mph.
Taking the little girls and the dog sledding. Watching Lucy hone in on her herding instincts as she followed the kids up the hill, chased them down, and then rounded them up and chased them back up the hill. Gorgeous day on the neighborhood sledding hill.
Catching up with Ryan and watching a little football together after he returned home from yet another fun day spent on the slopes.
FRIENDS. Enjoying a quick New Year's day visit with dear friends, then receiving another friend's e-mail which included her flight plans from NY for her weekend visit at the end of the month, and then realizing that in two days another close friend will be flying in from Texas and we have an afternoon planned together. My life wouldn't be complete without my friends!
DATE NIGHT with Chris. Ahhh, fabulous dinner here at a cozy table by the window, then next door to see what we both agreed to be the best movie of the year, The King's Speech . . . intelligently written, brilliantly acted, and just plain inspiring. I would love to see Colin Firth receive an Academy Award for his incredible performance. We talked about this film the entire ride home and realized how it is movies like this that truly elevate and uplift us, how we leave the theater feeling edified and more enlightened than when we entered. We arrived home that evening to happy children, happy dog, and a messy house . . . but oh, how wonderful it is to spend time together alone, reconnecting after a busy holiday season :-).
Sunday began with a change in church schedule which means we get to sleep in . . . hallelujah! I also received some welcome news that a change was coming my way. Today I was released from my callings as Primary pianist and Activity Day leader and called to teach Relief Society as well as the YW sport's director. OK, as much as I loved primary and working with the children in the ward (5 years), it was definitely time for a change. Today I could attend Chris' insightful gospel doctrine lesson and then Relief Society in its entirety . . . something I've only been able to do a handful of times since we moved in the ward. I am really looking forward to these new callings!
TESTIMONY meeting. No travelogs, no never ending stories without a point, no ramblings about family history . . . just beautiful, inspiring, simple testimonies born one after another. It was truly one of the most spiritual meetings I've ever attended. I am so grateful for the faith, love, and strength of my fellow ward members and their examples. I left sacrament meeting today with my own testimony strengthened and a resolve for this new year to continue to increase my personal faith and knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ.