Thursday, June 30, 2011

Decision made.

"I seldom end up where I wanted to go, 
but almost always end up where I need to be."
Douglas Adams

Last night after Ryan voiced his opinion that moving to be closer to school, friends, and activities no longer appealed to him, we finally made the decision after years of indecision to stay put and truly make this house our home for many years to come.

Chris took the house off the market today. No more thoughts of moving. Ever.  

As I sit here relaxing on our front porch, listening to the mixture of whispers and screams waft through the air as the neighborhood kids play "Ghost in the Graveyard," the thought of trying to replicate such a scene some place else seems absurd.  This is truly a gem of a neighborhood, where pick up games of kick-the-can, capture the flag, kickball, and hide-n-seek are the norm.  A rare neighborhood where we have 25 kids between the ages of 2 and 16 . . . a place where everyone has a friend.

A neighborhood where childhood memories are forged on cool summer evenings like tonight.

But it's not just for my children, I came to the realization on my Sunday morning walk with Lucy up the Quarry Trail that I need these mountains . . . I need the pure beauty of it all.  I don't think I can give this up - give up brilliant springs, the glorious autumns, the smell of fresh pine, nor the scent of the creek as it rushes downstream.  The granite walls of our canyon have truly become home and my walks and trail runs are not only routine, but have become an essential part of who I am.

It must have been our destiny all along.  We were meant to stay, and now that we've come to that conclusion with the lessons learned along the way, it feels oh, so right.

The neighborhood is now dark and silent, the children have all disappeared inside, and I'm alone with the familiar sound of crickets chirping, the canyon breeze, and the stars.  Indeed it was meant to be, we just took the long way around before we figured it out.

Sometimes that's just life . . . it's patterned for slow learners like myself :-).

Speaking of milestones . . .

The little girls are now officially capable of being left alone at the club to finish tennis/swim lessons, order lunch, and hang out with their friends at the pool.

By themselves.

I tackled a major Costco run and picked them up on the way home.

Another win-win.


Monday, June 27, 2011

How sweet it is . . .

when a child reaches another milestone signifying more freedom for me and more independence for them.

Today's moment came when Sophie rushed in the house breathless, asked if she and best buddy/tennis partner Carli could grab their gear and ride bikes over to our friend's backyard court to play tennis.   The girls have only ventured across the busy road that connects our neighborhoods once, and they made it home in one piece, so Carli's mom and I figured they could give it a go again.

We filled water bottles, sprayed sunscreen, snapped helmet straps on tight, and sent them on their merry way . . .  a couple hours later Sophie appeared in the house with a silly grin plastered on her face that read, "see, I can do it all by myself, and oh ya, we had a blast!"

And I finished vacuuming.  Everyone wins.

Tennis bag packed, ready to go

heading out on her adventure

and they're off!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Father's Day weekend 2011

We love our DAD!

Yes, Liza really does adore Chris . . . she just wanted to go swimming, NOT take pictures

Big hugs!

Hug for the greatest dad a girl could ask for . . .

not to mention a fabulous GRANDPA!

OK team, you're done - time to swim (notice that Chris changed already ;-)

Before church - the girls' little surprise they made for their dad

Of course every Howick celebration must include an ice-cream cake - thanks Mom!

At the pool . . . daddy/daughter bonding - who knows what Liza is up to?!

The girls playing "pool categories"

Fun times at the Bloomington club pool 

I know I'm a week behind with my Father's Day post, but need to share a little someting Ryan wrote awhile back when he was completing a "Duty to God" requirement.  He was asked to detail ten attributes about a person he admires.  He chose his dad, and this was his list:

    • He's smart
    • He's a hard worker
    • He's in good shape and takes care of himself
    • He is caring
    • He is a good example to us
    • He is fun to be around and makes us laugh
    • He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and has a strong testimony
    • He uses clean language - always
    • He provides for his family and takes care of us
    • He is encouraging and supportive of me in school and all my activities.

    Well said Ryan - you are blessed not only with a wonderful father, but a lifelong friend.

    Ryan and Chris after Ryan took 1st place in a Jiu Jitsu tournament last year. . . 
    this was one proud papa that day!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    How awesome are my parents?

    Well, just for starters . . .

    They invited Sophie and Liza to come visit in St. George ALL week, where they fed them, entertained them, took them horseback riding, hiking in Zion, swimming, to the library, dinosaur museum, and to a play at Tuacahn.  Bless them.

    They have invited the rest of us down for the weekend for more swimming, refrigerator raids, and general mooching.

    They take my son golfing.

    They arrange tennis lessons for my daughters.

    They always have a project ready for one of the kids to help with.

    They don't mind when my kids order burgers and fries from their club account while at the pool.

    They will walk to the park, several times a day, if requested by one of the children.

    They check movie times in the area and plan a family movie outing.

    They stay up late playing cards or dominoes with the teenagers.

    They will play endless games of "pick-up-sticks" or "Sequence Jr." with the littles.

    They take time to listen to their daughter and enjoy our heart to heart chats.

    They never fail to tell the kids how wonderful, smart, good-looking, athletic, talented, and fabulous they are (I know, holy ego boost).

    They send us back home with a car loaded with snacks, treats, water bottles and gatorade.

    Thanks Mom and Dad - you are the BEST!
    Grandma Janice and Grandpa Terry with their favorite teenage grandson

    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    What can a mom do at home when the kids are all gone . . .

    Trail run 6 miles with the dog, and taking in the spectacular views with no rush to get home

    Dust all the blinds, shutters, shelves, and furniture

    Deep clean vacuum all the rugs

    A couple loads of laundry

    Color gray roots (thanks Clairol), shower, blow dry my hair, put on make-up, and actually put on REAL clothes

    2 1/2 hour lunch outing with a friend (when we sat down at the restaurant, we both said it felt like we were on VACATION)

    Write in my journal


    Set up my husband's facebook account (if you know Chris, be his friend!)

    Organize and clean cupboards, shelves, and the pantry

    Chat with neighbors outside without interruptions

    Play piano for an hour, uninterrupted

    Polish the kitchen table and chairs

    Read, read, read

    Hike up the trail a bit to watch the sunset

    Meaningful conversations with Chris during our peaceful evening meals for two

    Organize the food storage

    Watch the Stanley Cup Finals (way to go BRUINS) and catch up on "Breaking Bad" and "The Daily Show" while cuddling on couch with hubby

    Shop on the internet (so much fun - can't remember the last time I took time to do this!)

    Listen to my music . . . and play it loud

    Make phone calls

    Finally clean out the ski closet and replace all the helmets, gloves, goggles, and ski pants with towels, sunscreen, and beach toys.

    SLEEP IN.  Yep, slept in until almost 10am this morning - felt great :-).

    We get all the kids back on Saturday, 
    and I've realized that every mother needs a few days in her own house ALONE.

    That is what I consider a vacation.

    Another school year over

    Last Wednesday marked the end of another elementary school year for my girls.  The last day of school is always such a tender time as the mixed emotions of elation that summer is finally here and the nostalgic sadness that my little ones are one year older and moving on to the next grade, seem to take over.  As I walked through the elementary school to drop off teacher gifts, say my good-byes, and snap a few pictures it was difficult to hold back the tears.  Seriously, I am such a wimp.

    The desire to hold onto childhood isn't nearly as strong with the older kids, where the end of the school year marks an increase in maturity, wisdom, responsibility, and independence. R and C finished their 10th and 8th grades the previous Friday celebrating with friends, staying out much too late, and sleeping in much too long!

    Some pics:
    Heading out for the last day of school

    Liza and Sophie getting in their lines - on the mornings I took the girls to school I loved watching them head to class with their cute hair in ribbons or flowers and backpacks bouncing behind them.

    Our beautiful canyon - the drive back home from the school

    Sophie's teacher, Mrs. Rust.  Unbelievable 4th grade year - incredible teacher, amazing class . . . it was hard for Sophie to say good-bye.

    I adored these kids - it was so fun to help in Sophie's class each week!

    Liza with her 1st grade teacher, Mrs. DiPietro

    I also adored these munchkins and loved teaching "Meet the Masters" each month.

    It was such a breathtaking day that last day of school, I had to get a shot from the playground - beautiful!

    Yes, if you look closely - TEARS - all the girls in the neighborhood came off the bus crying . . . 

    I'm not sure Liza was crying - haha - I guess to be like all the big girls

    End of school PARTY in the neighborhood . . . bikes, scooters galore

    Sophie and best friend Carli - smiles replaced the tears!

    Liza and buddy Kate


    Saturday, June 11, 2011


    Today at Jordanelle

    Our Sophie is growing up.

    It's been a good week with my girl . . .

    Mother/Daughter book group with our Oakridge friends, watching a spectacular sunset together, making carmel corn, taking a bike ride, and relaxing on our front porch this evening - just the two of us, shooting the breeze and eating ice cream on our comfy new bench.

    I love ya sweetheart - you make me so happy!

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Love this picture

    Hanging out during Sophie's soccer game.

    Caroline is such a daddy's girl.

    Chris couldn't resist teasing Ryan about his fashion selection for the evening.

    I had to capture the moment . . .

    Monday, June 6, 2011

    U2 360, round two

    Since I am bound and determined not to let May happenings slip by, I'm backtracking a bit and figured a recap from the latest U2 concert are most necessary, even if I did write a lengthy post detailing our last concert experience. With that said, I was in awe every bit as much as last time, however we were so close to the band, it felt at times like a private concert . . . wow, wow, wow.  Each minute was pure joy, but I still have my favorites and wish I could see Bono and crew perform all the songs that make my heart soar.

    SLC highlights from my "top 20": City of Blinding Lights, All I Want is You, Beautiful Day, Moment of Surrender, Magnificent and Walk On.  Of course, no U2 concert is complete without Mysterious Ways, Vertigo, Elevation and a few "Joshua Tree" favorites.  Also, every time I hear Even Better than the Real Thing I am instantly transported back to that evening . . . truly, the perfect way to begin the concert.  If I had no other life, I would follow Bono and The Edge around the country, but alas, real life awaits, but it was sure nice to lose myself in the brilliance of their music for a few hours back on Tuesday, May 24th.

    Some pics:
    Our group waiting in line -  ya want to be close,  you need to spend the afternoon in line!

    Ryan and friends after being dropped off after school

    Heading into the stadium

    Scoping out our spot

    Chris found us!  If you're Chris, you can get away with showing up at 6:30 and still getting close . . . 
    Curt, he owes you big time!

    The Fray - very nice

    Curt and I escaped the inner circle before the big show

    My man, The Edge . . . performed right in front of us all night

    What a night - thanks Bono!

    Hold it together

    Today marked another unwelcome milestone: the last 1st grade program I'll attend until I have grandchildren.

    How depressing.

    It was precious.  Cute Liza in her favorite sundress and cardigan standing up straight and tall next to her 1st grade buddies singing her little heart out with the rest of those adorable toothless children.  It didn't hit me until the final couple of songs that this was it, after three other sweet, innocent, and informative 1st grade programs throughout the years, this was my last . . . my baby was moving on.

    Sniffle, sniffle.

    I did pretty well holding it together until the slide show.  What is it about sadistic 1st grade teachers that want to make mothers of last children make fools of themselves in front of their neighbors??  Really, flood gates and NO tissues . . . man, I wasn't prepared.  My friends from the neighborhood (who, btw, still have younger children) offered their support and condolences with looks of confused sympathy.  Just wait my friends, your day will be here soon!

    It was just last week for FHE that we watched Ryan's 1st grade program from Rock Canyon Elementary school in Provo, and now my little Liza was singing in hers.  Life seriously moves too quickly, and I'm finding myself becoming more emotional with each milestone.  Really, crying on the last day of "mommy and me" Kindermusik was one thing . . . what in the world am I going to be like when she graduates from high school??

    The least I can do is capture the moment forever.  Oh, wait,  the video camera didn't have a battery and my camera battery died.  Wow, nice one Mom.   But, I did have the cell phone for a quick, yet grainy shot of my girl.  Oh, and thanks Caroline for spending the morning of your first day of summer break supporting your little sister . . . and wondering what is wrong with your overly emotional mother.

    And thanks Liza for the giant hug and sweet kiss after the program.  You rock my world young one!

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    14 years

    Our Sweet Caroline

    I just love this picture of Caroline, courtesy of my friend Michelle who has the camera I really need to get for myself (but until then, I guess I'll keep bugging her to take my kids' pictures :-).  She took some pics of Caroline for her poster when she ran for SBO of her Jr. High a few weeks ago (didn't make it - dang it) and we thought they captured her personality perfectly!

    Caroline's birthday was actually on May 25th, and I promised this year I would not neglect her birthday post like last year - ugh (seriously, a birthday at the end of May is pretty much equivalent to a Christmas birthday).  Every year on her birthday we reminisce about the night she was born and how Chris had left the country just the day before and couldn't get a flight back home until she was ten days old.  It's a pretty funny story and the memory of her birth and how completely unprepared we were for an early delivery seems like yesterday.  Who knew that she was once our scrawny little five pounder!

    I believe that one can't turn 14 and make it through the insanity of Jr. High School without having a kindred spirit best friend.  Caroline and her friend Sophie have been close friends since the 3rd grade, and I just had to share Sophie's birthday note she posted on Caroline's facebook page . . . it pretty much sums up my daughter right now:

    Hey so today is your birthday, and you are turning 14!!! So here are 14 reasons why I love you soo much!!:)
    1. You are soo funny
    2. We have TONS of inside jokes;)
    3. Your nice to everyone
    4. Your an AMAZING tennis player!!
    5. We have been best friends for so long:)
    6. You love ranch dressing;) haha
    7. You make me cry.... Cus we laugh soo hard
    8. Robot Unicorns!!
    9. French class:)
    10. Your crazy dreams!
    11. Your cute dresses from the tennis club;)
    12. Reeces Pieces... ;)
    13. Our pudding song
    14. And last but definitely not least, when we flicked that ladle onto the freeway!!
    So as you can see, your a pretty great friend;) Hope you had a great day!!!! :) Love you! ♥

    We love you too Caroline!

    Thank you for bringing that added peace, understanding, wisdom, sensitivity, and unconditional love into our home that is second nature of who you are.

    May your future be as bright as your beautiful smile . . .

    (Picture taken on our annual birthday outing:  
    shopping and lunch - she picked Settebello this year - wise girl :-).

    Saturday, June 4, 2011

    Shhh . . .

    Operation A20 underway.

    Yep, thought of it myself.

    Can't wait!

    Friday, June 3, 2011


    for . . .

    the last days of school

    neighborhood kids, games, bikes, scooters,  & sidewalk chalk

    a week without rain


    laughter and giggles

    frisbees and tennis balls

    my children's friends


    cool spring evenings

    the smell of the canyon

    the sound of the creek

    smiles and hugs

    meaningful conversations


    Dimple Dell running trails

    morning walks



    washed dishes, every evening, courtesy of Chris

    healthy bodies

    a good book

    a clean house

    a content husband

    a happy dog

    a boy who keeps his curfew . . .

    Just a few of the myriad of blessings I've noticed the last couple of days.

    Who would have guessed that my day actually started out miserably?   However, once selfishness and negative thinking are pushed out of the way, I am much more aware of the abundance of light, goodness, and beauty that surrounds us everyday.

    Gratitude is a powerful elixir.