Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Perfect 24

Most of us have good days, some great days, a few "just alright" days, and hopefully not too many lousy days.  But rare is the day that scores a perfect 10and since they don't come along that often, I feel compelled to record my perfect 24 hours, beginning at 8pm last night . . .
  • First gathering of my newly formed book group - a most amazing collection of friends whom I absolutely adore.  It was an insightful discussion about this beautifully written memoir, and I think we all enjoyed each other's company immensely.  Thanks friends for a delightful evening!
  • Peaceful, restful, invigorating night's sleep (rare for me - especially when Chris is away).  I attribute my great night's rest to the new exercise regime I am crazy enough to do with some other friends - we'll see if I can make it the entire 60 days . . . I'll be a believer if I actually do get "ripped abs" ;-).
  • Waking up to the SUN and bright blue skies early this morning (which are highly appreciated after gloomy, dreary, gray days).  Time to read scriptures, get the kids off to school, straighten the kitchen, and then off for snowshoe adventure with Lucy up Millcreek Canyon.  Even though I did find it ironic I was snowshoeing in a foot of fresh powder at the end of April, I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to begin my day.
  • The PIANO TUNER guy came!  OK, this might sound a little strange, but it really is one of those days that brings a smile to my face - every 6 months we get the piano tuned, and it's like playing tennis with new strings - nothing better.  I LOVE playing on a freshly tuned piano . . . . ahhhh, one of life's little pleasures.  After he left, I sat and played piano for almost an hour - heavenly.
  • I found a Thule cargo box on KSL for a GREAT price . . . deals make me happy, especially when I was the first caller and 3 people called while I was talking to the guy :-).  Now our family can travel in a little more comfort this summer without taking out seats to fit sleeping bags!
  • Productivity.  I organized the girls' drawers, cleaned their room, changed sheets, then organized and cleaned the kids' bathroom and my room . . . all while listening to NPR for company.  This was the most thought provoking story I heard today - I was deeply moved and profoundly grateful for my own blessed life, and the lives of opportunity and safety my daughters enjoy.
  • P90X.  Enough said.
  • A sweet hour spent visiting teaching one of my favorite people in the world - time to reflect on the gospel, share insights, and gain wisdom from one another.  Perfect.
  • Heading out the door to meet some girlfriends for dinner and knowing Ryan is out on the patio grill cooking dinner for the girls - what a guy.
  • Spending time with dear friends, catching up with one another, comparing wrinkles (or botox injections depending who you are), and laughing so hard I think we really were a menace in the restaurant . . . I LOVE my friends!
  • As I pulled into the garage this evening, I was met by Ryan holding the phone out to me . . . it was Chris, calling from China.  My day ended with a conversation with my sweetheart whose morning is just beginning on the other side of the world.
Yes, a most perfect day indeed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh, Ryan

Today Ryan went to take the test to get his driver's license. 

He's had his permit since October.

He's driven all over town, driven on the highway, driven through construction zones, driven through heavy snow, sleet, hail, and rain.  Clocked hours in the car.

He was prepared.

Apparently, his focus was on the speedometer, making sure he wasn't going past the 25 mph "school zone" limit, that he failed to notice a fairly important road marker . . .

A stop sign.

Sorry dude, but they won't give a driver's license to a 16 year old punk who went through a stop sign in a school zone.

Now that the ribbing from his family, lacrosse team, and young men's leaders is over, Ryan is ready to give it another try.

I have a hunch he'll be on the lookout for those big red signs posted on the occasional neighborhood corner ;-).

Saturday, April 23, 2011

"The Easter Bunny, really?"

If you are a Cantera kid,
you don't believe in the Easter Bunny . . .

I'm not sure if my children are missing out on some integral part of growing up in suburban America, but they seem well adjusted, so I'm not worried.  They especially love the fact that as pre-schoolers through about 2nd or 3rd grade they are the only kids in on the big secret that a rabbit doesn't bring Easter treats.

As young parents, we planned on perpetuating the myths of Easter bunnies, tooth fairies, leprechauns, and Santa.  So, beginning with Ryan we began hiding eggs and baskets Easter morning and telling him it was a rabbit who made the rounds.  He easily believed and looked forward to these holidays with anticipation.

Enter Caroline - age 41/2 - born skeptic.

Ryan was about 6 at the time and within one week, Caroline had debunked the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, and was quickly closing in on Santa before I stopped her in her tracks and made her believe, at least for another few years, that Santa was indeed REAL.

I remember the day well.  It was early spring, a few weeks before Easter, and Caroline had a couple little friends over to play after pre-school.  I had noticed signs of her apparent logic and reasoning skills since she was about three, and on this day she beamed with pride as I finally recognized her talents.

From what I recall, what began as a group of friends playing peacefully in our basement, ended in tears and accusations of who was "right."  I was preparing a snack when suddenly I heard crying, and not a slight whimper, but a child practically hyperventilating through her sobs.  At that moment, Caroline races upstairs and tells me her friends are SO mad at her and want to go home.  Immediately, I'm wondering what in the world my sweet, docile daughter has done to cause such an uproar . . .

Although this incident happened 9 years ago, I do remember our conversation -
 it went something like this:

Me:  "Tell me what is going on down there?"

Caroline (out of breath): "Mom, they don't believe me!!  I told them there is no such thing as a TOOTH FAIRY and they said I was LYING!  Then I told them there is no Easter Bunny and they started crying!  Go tell them RIGHT NOW that I'm right! Slight pause, as she considers the possibility that she just might be wrong . . . I am right, right?

I was at a complete loss.  How did Caroline figure this out when she hadn't even lost a TOOTH yet?!  My mind went into hyper drive while attempting to address Caroline's questions, as well as ease the fears of two very worried 4-year olds that are under my care for the moment.

Me: "Um, let's take care of your friends right now, we'll talk later."

I can't remember how long the girls wanted to stay and play after my daughter obliterated their childhood innocence, but I manage this lie: "Caroline was just "teasing" and of course, the tooth fairy and Easter bunny are alive and well . . . no worries, just go home and ask your parents."  I then barricaded myself in my bedroom and made calls to their mothers explaining what happened so they could continue "damage control" once their 4-year olds arrived home.

After her friends left the danger zone, I had a little chat with Miss Caroline.  I was quite impressed when she admitted her dilemma - that she couldn't figure out if the bunny was a "real" bunny, because then the eggs and baskets would be too big and heavy to carry in his mouth and he'll break teeth, and how could a bunny open doors anyway?  She also reasoned that a big bunny who looked like a human dressed in a rabbit suit was just too creepy to actually exist.  I thought, "right on Caroline - that is creepy."

After listening to her honest insights, I had no choice but to come clean. I told her she was indeed right, it's her parents that take care of the bunny duties and she no longer need fear of a giant rabbit stalking through our house. 

As for the tooth fairy, she flat out didn't think a little, itty-bitty, tiny fairy with translucent wings who lives with the other fairies in houses she makes in the garden with her friend Josh, would be interested in collecting teeth.  Plus, where did they get all the money to give away to little kids and why did they need teeth???

Well, it was quite a day, one I'll never forget.  However, after all the explaining and answering questions, and phone calls to other mothers, I forgot one minor detail . . . Ryan.  His response after walking in the door from 1st grade when bombarded with Caroline's exciting news:

"You're ruining EVERYTHING for me!!"

Poor kid.  Needless to say, we comforted Ryan and helped him see the light so we were all on the same page.  After that episode, we just debunked the Easter myths and figured it made no sense to keep them alive for the little girls, which has made our subsequent Easters absolutely delightful - no sneaking around hiding eggs and baskets, no children hyper with anticipation, and most importantly, more focus on the Savior and the beautiful reason we celebrate this holiday.  We still hide the kids' baskets and Chris provides the egg hunt every year, and they do look forward to a few little surprises from us in their baskets.  Sophie has been really great at keeping the secret, Liza on the other hand, not so much, just ask her kindergarten class last year.  Sigh.

As for Caroline, let's just say that I worked REALLY hard to keep Santa alive, but by the time she was seven, she had it all figured out . . .

Miss Caroline, age 4

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"I don't know, what I've been told . . .

You never slow down, you never grow old."
Tom Petty, Mary Jane's Last Dance

pics taken to commemorate the event - officially 40.

According to my friend, Tom Petty, I'll never age ;-).

Yep, I turned 40, FORTY, "the big 4-0" this past weekend on April 16th, and by the insanity that defines our daily lives there is absolutely no slowing down happening anytime soon.

So, this week I will take one of my favorite songs to heart while celebrating this milestone, and figure as long as I continue full speed ahead, old age will elude me forever!
It was a perfect weekend which began early Friday running on packed dirt trails, hopping over streams, and working up a sweat at the base of our snow covered mountains . . . with Lucy in tow. 

Ahhh, the freedom to finally RUN, just to run injury free on the beautiful Dimple Dell trails on a cool spring morning for the first time this season.  My sense of wonder was heightened as I watched Lucy run with total wild abandonment, filled with such a complete and whole awareness of the "now," and living, and pure happiness.  I couldn't help but embrace the moment and laugh out loud every time she would race past me, then circle back, loop around my ankles and take off once again.  I wonder at times why we humans hold back so much and let the silly cares and responsibilities of life wear us down.  I wish at times I was more like Lucy, and not just live in the moment, but live it with gusto!  Furthermore, I swear my dog smiles, and on this particular morning her grin was almost as silly and wide as mine.

Well, the last day in my thirties also included a massage and facial (oh, and I might as well add "eyebrow waxing" to the agenda - you know when the lady gently urges you to wax your eyebrows, it must be something forty-year-olds can no longer neglect ;-).  As I started the car after three hours of pampering, relishing every second of complete relaxation before I headed back to real life, I realized this is something I need to do more often - MAN, I don't take the time to do these kinds of things (um, ya, the massage in India DID NOT count as "relaxing").  So, chalk up "more massages" to my list of things to do in my forties, along with "stop worrying about things you can't change" and "more yoga."

I'm looking forward to the coming decade and the changes and adventures that lie ahead.  It's a little strange to think that in 10 years, I'll have two children in their twenties.  Sigh.

But, for now, it's back to the present and a recap of my 40th weekend . . .
The morning was spent supporting Caroline in the final matches of the Icebreaker Junior Tournament.  She played so well during the week and found herself in both the singles and doubles finals.  It was nice to spend my morning watching her play knowing Chris was taking care of the other kids' needs, games, etc.  Caroline was disappointed she lost her singles match, but by the time her doubles match took place, all focus was gone and it was all about fun and chatting with friends between sets . . . really, I think the girls spent more time talking than playing tennis!

Chris had made reservations for later that evening at one of my favorite restaurants, our traditional spot where we celebrate milestones together.  It was a perfect evening, and we'll be continuing the celebration next month in Monterey/Carmel, CA.  Thanks my love, I can't wait!

Some pics from the celebration weekend:

Caroline after the tourney: Girls 14s - 2nd place singles and doubles.

Our cake.  Highlight of my bday - after telling the young lady what to write on the cake, she exclaimed, "YOU ARE NOT 40!"  Made my year :-).

Our tradition: blowing out the candles on the same cake!

We had my brother Travis and Kristie over for dinner and cake - they gave me prune juice - nice.

Thanks for the book - I LOVE Tina Fey!

Favorite birthday surprise - homemade cards!

Reading Liza's cute card.

Card from the family - Chris had everyone sign it . . .

Thanks family for making my 40th so special . . .

Big Hugs.
Here's to many more years of love and laughter!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Yep, it's official, we have a 16 year old.

I love it,

and it just keeps getting better.

The poster we all signed for his big day . . . Chris added a little cash.

Our annual birthday outing: shopping and lunch!

Today my thoughts were filled with those sweet moments my son and I have shared over the past 16 years. I tend to get a little sentimental on my children's birthdays as I reflect on their childhood and how they've grown and what they've learned along the way.  For Ryan this past year as been filled with a tremendous amount of growth, in both maturity and wisdom.  I couldn't be more proud of this boy and the direction his life is taking.  Ryan's future is very bright, and today I found myself reminiscing about all of the small and seemingly insignificant building blocks that have formed our mother-son relationship over the years:

Dear Ryan,
Remember when . . .

We would snuggle on the rocking chair reading your favorite books?
Now I watch you hunched over the latest required classic as you carefully annotate each chapter and study for the next English test.

I would drive you to the ice rink, help you put on your gear, and kneel down to tie your skates before practice?
Now you drive yourself to the rink, grab your bag and stick out of the trunk and head off to your practices and games with an absentminded wave and "bye Mom."

You would ask me questions about anything that crossed your mind because you believed I knew all the answers?
Now I watch you carefully considering your options, coming to conclusions on your own, and sharing your new found knowledge and wisdom with me.

We would watch sports together and I could teach you the basics?
Now you fall on the couch, exhausted after school, and tune into "Sportscenter" to catch up on the latest games, stats, and player info . . . you even keep track of you brackets during March Madness.

You would follow the tracks I made with precision on the ski hill so you would know just how to make that perfect turn?
Now I follow you off the beaten track and into the trees for knee deep powder.

All you wanted to listen to was "Wee Sing Dinosaurs," then you, Caroline, and I would sing along together in the car?
Now, I'm dropping you off at various concert venues with your friends so you can watch your favorite artists perform.

You were the slowest kid on the soccer field and once you hollered to me, "I'm running as fast as my yittle yegs can carry me!"
Now you run with grace and speed up and down the lacrosse field, making your mom beam with pride as you play for your high school team.

We made that card for Valentine's day for the little girl you liked in Kindergarten?
Now we're coming up with creative ways to ask a sweet young lady to the Homecoming dance.

I would sing you your favorite songs every night when I tucked you in?
Now, I peek in your room to say goodnight, usually to see you scanning your i-pod looking for that perfect song to lull you to sleep.

I would take you out to lunch, just the two of us, and had to think of topics to keep our conversation going?
Now we can't stop talking we have so much to say to each other . . .

After our lunch at "Himalayan Kitchen" - Ryan's favorite.

Happy Birthday Ryan.  I am grateful for the journey we've had together.  It's been a pleasure raising you these 16 years, despite the bumps in the road at times.  Thank you for not only being my son, but my friend.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

well said

Invisible to the Eye

Some problems are more obvious than others. When someone is clearly struggling, we are usually quite empathetic. We see them limp through life, and most of us readily help in any way we can. We may even make great personal sacrifices to ease their burdens.

Other times, however, the afflictions people endure might be completely invisible to the eye. Some struggles are silent; some burdens are carried privately. It may be an unhealthy relationship, a personal financial crisis, or physical or emotional pain. Whatever the ailments, these silent sufferers may smile and seem to be all right, but inside they are barely holding on—and doing so alone.

Perhaps we could be more observant. Maybe we should notice when hands clench with pain, when eyes glaze over with disappointment, or when cheeks are flush with embarrassment. Along with such subtle signs, we could pay attention to those quiet feelings in our heart urging us to help, even when others haven’t asked for help.

One woman recalls how a friend noticed that she had started hanging laundry on the banister inside her home. She never told her friend that her clothes dryer was broken; she did not want to explain that she did not have money enough to repair or replace it. But this observant and kind-hearted friend paid for a repairman to fix her dryer. As much as the woman was grateful to have a dryer, she felt even more grateful to have a friend who cared enough to look beneath the surface of her life.

Opportunities to help surround us, but they rarely come with engraved invitations. More often, they come with a gentle nudging in the heart, an intangible sense that we can help. As Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s little prince wisely observed: "The eyes are blind. One must look with the heart.”

I remember listening to this inspiring message last Sunday morning before the first conference session began and thought I would share (thank you Lyn for recording these messages on your blog every week).  While listening, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

"Be kind, everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Plato & oft quoted saying of Marjorie Hinckley

How true.  It is amazing how much a little kindness, love, respect, patience and encouragement means to someone who is struggling.  Even a smile goes a long way. So SMILE this week and look for opportunities to brighten someone's day :-).

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blue skies and polished floors

Really, what is better than a day when the sun finally makes an appearance (I know, it's still cold, but I'll take any weather as long as the sun is shining at this point :-), and I'm so productive that I actually get to the floors which have been demanding attention for weeks, and make them sparkle?

Our house, for at least 8 more hours is completely dust free and spotless, and I'm seriously considering staying up all night just to revel in the scent of my shiny, clean floors before they are covered once again in the grass from soccer cleats, crumbs, muddy dog tracks, sticky who knows what, and a hundred other miscellaneous items that find their way onto the floor.  Truly, an accomplishment - to have the ENTIRE house clean at one time, and although it requires staying home most of the day, it is so worth it and it keeps me mentally sane.  Sometimes I don't realize how much I really do need to have that time at home alone with my thoughts, my music, and my work.  Those who know me well know I don't function well in a dirty house (organization is an entirely different matter ;-) . . . turning into such a grouch when things are messy, cluttered, or dusty.

Hard work is just good for the soul - it's fulfilling and brings so much satisfaction into my life and makes the subsequent days run smoother.  Today was just a "feel good/smile" day which began with a run through the neighborhood (Lucy's first 2 mile "training run" - um, ya, we've got some work to do), then 6 hours of cleaning while listening to NPR and music, then after school catch up with kids, then drop off Ryan at LAX game, head over to club to play a half hour of tennis outside with Sophie before her lesson (so much fun, this girl can HIT), then back to the LAX field to watch Ryan's game, then home, dinner, quick catch up with Chris, then it's off to take Caroline to piano (get some reading in while I wait), back home, evening wrap up with teenagers, kids in bed, finish polishing floors (downstairs still needed to be done), e-mail/FB catch-up . . . . ahhh, time to write a post.

Another reason it was a great day:  I rediscovered a favorite artist I haven't listened to in literally years, Natalie Merchant.  From what I remember, around the end of senior year in HS and freshman year in college, I listened to this 10,000 Maniacs album ALL THE TIME.  I remembered how much I adored Natalie Merchant - loved her voice, her lyrics, her band, and especially that brilliant passion she imbued into every single note.  This afternoon, I grabbed Caroline's i-pod, and who knew, but she had "In my Tribe" downloaded, and the second I pushed "play" the memories washed over me and I was consumed by Merchant's music once again, as if no time had passed at all.  Enjoy . . .

"Verdi Cries" is so beautiful and her talent so raw, I remember the first time I heard it I almost cried.

This was my absolute favorite song on the album - I listened to it over and over and over . . . for some reason it reminds me of the summer after my freshman year at BYU.

Amazing, brilliant song, what else can I say?  Thanks Natalie for the memories!