Thursday, December 20, 2012

it's about family.


My last post was written in a moment of extreme emotion, and I'm still pondering daily what can and should be done in this country to avoid another tragedy.   As time passes, I continue to evaluate what is truly the most important.  After reading numerous articles and statistics, and listening to many interviews and pundits, nothing "spoke" to me, until I read this news story on KSL a few days ago.

Estee Carter, a survivor of the Columbine school shooting, offers her perspective regarding last week's events and mentions that FAMILY and the bonds within that group, the love that is present as we watch over and care for one another is where we should focus our energy.  From the article:

Two months after the shooting, Carter was asked to participate in a youth violence summit. Her remarks were quoted in newspapers around the country. . . . 

“I said something when I was 17, and I still really believe it,” she said. “I think we focus so much on the periphery on the what, on the gun control, violent movies and we focus on the what and not the why. I think that the foundation of our society is our family. It is what is going on in our homes, and I believed it then and really believe it now.”

I could not agree more, because it is in families where we learn to value life, to express love and concern for family, friends, and strangers; where we gain confidence, and where we grow and learn about interacting with others and the world around us.  Unfortunately, our society has become so fragmented and families are disintegrating at an increasingly rapid pace.  Many children do not have the safety and security found within a loving home that is vital to their emotional, mental, and spiritual growth.  My last post detailed our responsibility to be that "village" and watch for those children who need comfort outside the walls of their own homes.

Indeed, we are our "brother's keeper" and should do all in our power to strengthen homes and families wherever we are in the nation, or we will continue to witness violence and tragedy.  The message from our modern prophets in the document, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" is one of pure truth, testimony, and hope.  The words of this proclamation have been running through my mind ever since I read the article, particularly this portion:

HUSBAND AND WIFE have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

WE WARN that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.
WE CALL UPON responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.
It IS about family, it's all about family.  The nations with the strongest homes and families will be the most successful nations.  We should do all we can to maintain and strengthen our own families, as well as support those mothers, fathers, and children desperately looking for role models and friendship.

And if I don't get another blog post before Christmas, may each of you enjoy a very Merry Christmas and hold those most precious family members to you a little closer this year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

charity never faileth

The tragedy in Connecticut has hit home for every person in the nation, if not throughout the world.  We are reminded to hold our kids tighter, to cherish our relationships, and never forget how fragile life can be.  There has also been a nonstop conversation regarding gun control, mental illness, and school security.  Everyone is seeking an answer of what drives someone to the point to commit such a senseless act of violence on the innocent.  My heart is aching tonight and my thoughts have been turned to the young man who took the lives of these children.  His life must have been one of desperation.  The pictures that I've seen of this boy are seered in my mind and I honestly can't help but wonder how his life events and relationships played out.  I imagine a tragic life without any sense of self worth, validation, appreciation, or love that is so crucial to every person's emotional development and well being.

A mantra that I repeat often to my children, my young women, and anyone willing to listen is this:

"When someone hurts you, it's because they aren't feeling love or they are filled with fear. People won't hurt other people when they feel noticed, appreciated, included, and safe."

The debate about why people do such awful things can begin with a deep look inside each of us and what steps we take each day to reach out and connect on a personal level with others.

To conquer bullying and encourage more respect and positive relationships, my girls' elementary school has begun a "fill someone's bucket today" initiative (the impetus which was this fabulous book).  The purpose is to instill lifelong habits in our children which build others, "fill" their emotional buckets, and make everyone feel like they have a friend.

Our world is becoming increasingly disconnected and a few minutes sending tweets and reading facebook posts will not equate the essential connection one feels within personal one-on-one interactions.  The friendships that I strengthen through phone calls and face time are the ones that currently bless my life.  The others pale in comparison . . . that is until we make personal contact again. It's truly amazing how quickly we are emotionally filled by the encouragement and connection with someone when it is done personally.

This is where my thoughts have been the past couple of days, and rather than engage in a contentious gun control debate or throw something at the tv when analysts begin discussing this "monster," I will choose to focus on making myself a better person and teaching my children to have confidence to reach out others.

I was dismayed that my sister called me out in a public social forum within hours of this tragedy on our choice to own a gun and demanded I answer her questions about gun violence. After answering her initial question with some of the reactionary gene that is imbedded in my psyche, I finalized the debate with this response:

I will end the conversation with this thought: I am not on trial here for my beliefs or values. If you and Bryan would like a civil discourse with Chris and me about this issue we would be happy to engage. Please take me out of this discussion, especially when our family is more focused and concerned at this time for the welfare and support of the families and loved ones of all those connected with this tragedy. My heart is breaking for everyone involved, and the conversation we are having with our children is that we continue to watch for the lonely, the misfits, and those who so desperately need to feel love and appreciation in this increasingly disconnected world. I don't know what the answer is, but for us, we choose to focus on love and awareness of those struggling with mental/emotional illness and those who so desperately need to feel validation and connection with others. That is one thing the government cannot solve. There are too many emotionally empty people in the world and my family will be doing our part to strengthen those in need rather than debate gun control in a public forum with you.

My prayer is that we come together during this difficult time in a spirit of compassion, understanding and love as we search for answers . . .
And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
  But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found  possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.

  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail.

  Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.

Moroni 7:45-48, The Book of Mormon

Sunday, December 9, 2012

that time of year again

Well, with a bunch of Cantera happenings floating around my brain that need to be captured on the blog and not exactly sure where to start, I just have get something new up.

So, here are few ski pics I just found from last March . . .

Ahhh, nothing better than spring skiing.  I doubt Chris even owns a ski jacket or goggles ;).

Annual ski time with our Colorado cousins . . . 
three days on the slopes and nonstop giggles from these girls!

With Ryan in Honeycomb . . . attempting to find some untouched powder.

We are loving the new season and thrilled that already we have better snow than we did much of last year. Saturdays are pure bliss - the teens are at Snowbird, Liza is at Solitude with ski team, and I have the option of either time on the slopes with Sophie or a quiet day at home.  My favorite part of the day is when everyone trickles in around 4pm with their mountain stories.  Here is sampling from this weekend . . .

Ryan:  "The cirque today was so good, I almost cried.  Really, Mom, it was unbelievable - fresh tracks all day . . . did I tell you I almost cried it was so good?!"

Liza:  "I guess I didn't get my boot in my binding the right way after lunch because half way up the chairlift my ski fell off . . .  but don't worry, my coach is really fast, so we waited on top and he found my ski and brought it back." 

Caroline:  "I froze my butt off."

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I ran across this yesterday.

A gentle reminder to be kind.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I have a problem.  Alright, it's been awhile since I've aired my weaknesses, so I figured we're due.  Thank goodness for teenagers, at least mine anyway, because they have absolutely no qualms about telling you exactly where you fall short in your social interactions with others.  Which is why I wasn't at all surprised when Caroline announced that I need to "take it easy" and try not to sound so condescending around people, especially other adults.  In her words:  "Mom, don't be such a know-it-all . . . it makes people feel dumb when they're around you."

Chris was in the room and burst out laughing because, yes, as much as I hate to admit it, there is some truth in her statement.  The problem is that I'm not intentionally trying to "one up" another person or be condescending, but rather that I seem to have so much information floating around my head, it needs to unload somewhere and I figure "who doesn't want to be enlightened by this knowledge?!"  Sigh.

Caroline's frustration arose after our "scripture feast" Young Women's activity last week (an annual tradition - such a wonderful evening), and I thought everything went off without a hitch and was fabulous . . . until Caroline mentioned my problem.  I know, she's a little extra sensitive because I'm her mom and I completely understand that my role is to never embarrass her.  Enough said.

Anyway, I suppose it began when I started pointing out extra scriptures and historical references to enhance the girls' understanding, which Caroline said was fine because the girls seemed to enjoy listening and learning, but when she realized none of the leaders knew what I was taking about, that's when I was hitting the danger zone. Then I really plowed into unwanted territory when I blurted out the correct quote someone had misquoted, and then without listening the the internal voice that was screaming for me to shut up, I offered the correct author of the quote.  UGH.  I must have sounded something like this . . . "oh, and I believe the person who originally penned that phrase was Eleanor Roosevelt."  Not Good.  Apparently I didn't see Caroline rolling her eyes as I dug myself into a pit of unsolicited, trivial information.

I applaud my daughter for bringing this short sightedness to my attention and I promised I would watch myself, especially during Young Women activities and in church.  Well, that lasted about, um, a day.  This morning during a meeting with the presidency and our advisers all was going well and I was keeping unnecessary comments and thoughts to myself . . . until our conversation drifted to include an unfamiliar neighbor (who is from Iran) whose mother is in the hospital, and what we could do to help the family.  I said, "Oh, I've met her, she's lovely, she's Persian, right?"  The gal next to me answered, "No she isn't, she's Iranian."  And before she could even exhale her remark, I responded with "It's the SAME THING . . . Persia is Iran, people who live in Iran are Persian."  And I'm sure she could hear the inaudible "duh" at the end because an immediate feeling of "Julie, could you be any more annoying" immediately presented itself from around the table before I could kick myself for being such an idiot.

Sigh.  I'll get better.  Please don't take offense and if it will help, just think of me as the female version of Dwight . . .

Thursday, November 22, 2012

happy thanksgiving

The turkey is roasting, the rolls are rising, dishes are (for the moment) done, the fire is blazing, big kids are skiing, and the girls and I are headed out for a Thanksgiving walk in the sun.

My heart is full and mere words cannot describe the gratitude I feel towards my family, the gospel, and the beauty which I have been so blessed to observe each day.

I am content . . .

Monday, November 19, 2012


"The most wasted of all days is 
one without laughter."
e.e. cummings

Thursday, November 15, 2012

welcome winter

Last weekend it snowed, and snowed, and snowed for almost two straight days.  We lost power for most of the day on Saturday, but no one minded much since they played outside the entire day, and even when it became dark and cold the girls thought it was awesome to play games by candlelight with headlamps (thank goodness we had power before bed :).  When the sun came out Sunday afternoon we had amassed over 30".  The kids couldn't have been more delighted!

Our yard on Saturday . . .
The same trees on Sunday (and patio table - crazy!). . .
The snow was so deep Lucy was literally swimming in the white stuff!

I couldn't resist taking a video.

I find great satisfaction in stepping in fresh snow - even if I'm still in my skirt and boots after church.

Caroline built an awesome igloo for all the neighbor kids and Chris and I made sledding tracks for them down our sidewalk. (Sophie wouldn't be in the picture and Liza wasn't that thrilled that I lost it after they had been arguing over hot chocolate for the past 15 minutes . . . )

Another video of the dog trying to find the squirrels on the mountainside across the street - too funny!

Monday morning - I couldn't let a morning like this pass by without a little snowshoeing in pristine Neff's Canyon . . . Ahhhh.

Caroline and friends enjoying their first day on the slopes together.  Opening day at Solitude was yesterday and Ryan celebrated his first day skiing today at Snowbird.  Yes, they both missed school and every year when the attendance secretary asks "reason for absence," I reply with "mental health day."  Always works :).

Sunday, November 11, 2012


 Last week I finished reading Marilynne Robinson's exquisite novel, Gilead yet again. This is a book to be savored. A beautiful story told by the Reverend John Ames through a series of letters to his young son as he contemplates his life, his history, and the future of his wife and son. Robinson's brilliant observations and lyrical prose set this novel apart from so many other contemporary writings. Her knowledge of the relationship between fathers and sons, as well as her deep understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ is remarkable. This is one of my favorite books and after finishing the final chapter, I felt as if saying good-bye to an old friend. However, I'm sure it won't be long I pick it up once again to be tutored by the ever wise, yet humble, John Ames.

Here are a few excerpts that I found particularly noteworthy during this reading:

". . . it's your existence I love you for, mainly.  Existence seems to me now the most remarkable thing that could ever be imagined.  I'm about to put on imperishability.  In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye . . .  The twinkling of an eye. That is the most wonderful expression.  I've thought from time to time it was the best thing in life, that little incandescence you see in people when the charm of a thing strikes them, or the humor of it. The light of the eyes rejoiceth the heart.  That's a fact."

 "Our dream of life will end as dreams do end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes.  And we will think, All that fear and all that grief were about nothing.  But that cannot be true.  I can't believe we will forget our sorrows altogether.  That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking.  Sorrow seems to me to be a great part of the substance of human life. . . ."

"This is an important thing, which I have told many people, and which my father told me, and which his father told him.  When you encounter another person, when you have dealings with anyone at all, it is as if a question is being put to you.  So you must think, What is the Lord asking of me in this moment, in this situation?  If you confront insult or antagonism, your first impulse will be to respond in kind.  But if you think, as it were, This is an emissary sent from the Lord, and some benefit is intended for me . . . You are free to act by your own lights.  You are freed at the same time of the impulse to hate or resent that person.  He would probably laugh at the thought that the Lord sent him to you for your benefit (and his), but that is the perfection of the disguise, his own ignorance of it."

"In every important way we are such secrets from each other, and I do believe that there is a separate language in each of us, also a separate aesthetics and a separate jurisprudence.  Every single one of us is a little civilization built on the ruins of any number of preceding civilizations, but with our own variant notions of what is beautiful and what is acceptable-- which, I hasten to add, we generally do not satisfy and by which we struggle to live.  We take fortuitous resemblances among us to be actual likeness, because those around us have also fallen heir to the same customs, trade in the same coin, acknowledge, more or less, the same notions of decency and sanity.  But all that really just allows us to coexist with the inviolable, untraversable, and utterly vast spaces between us."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

so grateful

It's November and I would be amiss not to post at least one "gratitude" post.

So here it is . . .

Salt Lake City finally has it's very own TITLE NINE store and yes, I was so ecstatic that I visited this weekend before the sign was even up.

And, to make life even sweeter, ATHLETA will open in 9 days at City Creek (yep, just sent in my RSVP for the pre-opening event).

Alright, call me shallow, but I don't really "shop" and to have my TWO favorite stores arrive in Salt Lake within a few weeks of each other is nothing short of miraculous.

Truly grateful :).

Sunday, November 4, 2012

images of china

 Last week Chris and I returned from China.

It was amazing and I would go back in a heartbeat.  I wasn't prepared to love it as much as I did and enjoyed every minute.  Chris was working in Shanghai during the first few days of the trip while I was visiting the sites with a guide, then we flew to Bejing to spend the last three days together.  Hopefully I'll get around to a day-by-day posting of my favorite pictures (I took a TON), but for now I just had to share a few from my phone . . .

One of the many bronze lions guarding the halls in the Forbidden City

Shanghai financial district (Pudong) along the Huangpu river.  This was our view from the restaurant one evening (one of the perks that comes with accompanying Chris on business :).

Bejing - outside the Forbidden City north gate.  
The pollution added just the right touch to this pic ;).

One of the many "lake rock" formations within the Forbidden City

The Great Wall of China at Mutianyu.  UNBELIEVABLE!

This was our turn around spot on the great wall . . . it was breathtaking.

"Jade Buddah" Temple (working Buddhist temple) in Shanghai.
I loved the incense burners and watching the believers burn incense and pray.

Kumning Lake - Summer Palace, Bejing

Tai Chi Master practicing along the banks of the lake.  This was really fascinating to watch.

About the coolest wall I've ever seen (Shanghai) . . .  a mile of FLOWERS!

The Forbidden City - in front of one of the grand halls.  
We were quite the tourist attraction for all the Chinese coming to Bejing . . . 
really, it seemed we were the only westerners visiting the city that day and garnered quite a few stares.

Forbidden City "Hall of Supreme Harmony"

Yu Yuen Gardens, Shanghai.  I loved old Shanghai and these gardens which are remnants of a noble family's home and gardens during the Ming and Xing dynasties

Beautiful "wish" lanterns at the Jade Buddah Temple, Shanghai

Charting our course on the wall . . . 
yep, climb that hill, traverse across the ridge and up to the next mountain range!!

Hopefully more pictures and tales from our adventures coming soon (but don't hold your breath - this may be it or follow my "instagram" posts - I uploaded a bunch while we were on the trip: username = juliecantera).

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Yesterday while running the trails behind our home on what was an absolutely stunning autumn afternoon, my thoughts were focused on the previous evening's presidential debate and the increasingly venomous attacks that continue to escalate via social media after such events.

What has happened to civil discourse in our society among its citizens?  As a mother, I am trying to teach my children to behave with respect and dignity when speaking to others and about others, regardless their opinion of that person.  It is disheartening, especially when I see such attacks coming from women, to read such crass and disrespectful comments.  Yesterday a woman compared Mitt Romney's platform to that of the Taliban, and if elected we would see more violence like the young 14-year old Pakistani girl who was shot . . . "those with opinions will be shot" were her final words.  Really?  Really?  There were only two of us who made comments in retort that her statement was out of line.  Even more baffling are the women who stoop so low to name calling or attacking the families, personal lives, and religious affliations of the candidates.  I've heard one candidate more than once called a "douche" by a seemingly educated woman. Can anyone state a logical argument or express their viewpoint without spewing venom?

Of course, we all have opinions and our freedom of speech allows us to share these with others; it is one of the great freedoms which  makes this country magnificent. Many of us enjoy watching or listening to the debates as important issues are discussed and disputed.  However, why must so many lose their self respect and display such vile anger in their crude personal attacks via comments and silly pictures on the internet, and what is this teaching our children?  A few weeks ago, I posted my "life lessons" for my daughters and think I should add another pointer:

"NEVER become a women who loses her civility, dignity, or decency while defending or promoting a personal opinion or life choice.  Always treat others with courtesy and respect, regardless of how you feel about their views, and never back down while standing up for what you believe."

"Blessed are the peacemakers . . ."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

parents' day

I love poetry, and after reading this one yesterday, I had to share.  It's lovely.

Parents' Day
by Sharon Olds

I breathed shallow as I looked for her
in the crowd of oncoming parents, I strained
forward, like a greyhound held back on a leash,
then I raced toward her. I remember her being
much bigger than I, her smile of the highest

wattage, a little stiff, sparkling
with consciousness of her prettiness—I
pitied the other girls for having mothers
who looked like mothers, who did not blush.
Sometimes she would have braids around her head like a
goddess or an advertisement for California raisins—
I worshipped her cleanliness, her transfixing
irises, sometimes I thought she could
sense a few genes of hers
dotted here and there in my body
like bits of undissolved sugar
in a recipe that did not quite work out.
For years, when I thought of her, I thought
of the long souring of her life, but on Parents' Day
my heart would bang and my lungs swell so I could
feel the tucks and puckers of embroidered
smocking on my chest press into my ribs,
my washboard front vibrate like scraped
tin to see that woman arriving
and to know she was mine

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


A few days ago while on an early morning walk with Lucy, I couldn't stop thinking about all the people who, each day, make my life that much better.  You know, those friends/acquaintances/strangers who take a moment to ask about your day, who go out of their way to accommodate your schedule, or just greet you with a friendly "hello, how's your day?"  People you just want to raise a glass and say, "cheers to you for making my life that much sweeter."

Before I knew it, a formidable list was growing and my heart was filled with gratitude for these random people who had brightened my days that week.  Something begins to happen when we recognize even the simplest of gestures and make a mental note of appreciation - suddenly our lives are FILLED with these moments of other people reaching out to us and our families without even realizing that they are making a difference . . .

Cheers to people who:
  • Take time out of their busy lives to come to support my children's activities, and those who sent texts and called to check in (thanks Bishop Wipperman, the Moultons, Travis & Owen, Preston, and all the Skyline kids for coming to Caroline's state tournament and cheering her on).
  • Rearrange a full morning schedule so that the girls and I can all get dental work done at the same time (thanks Dr. Boyden's staff).
  • Mention my son with heartfelt thanks for the example he is to her young son during testimony meeting (thanks Kim).
  • Welcome my girls and I with a hearty "hello" and friendly "how are you cute girls" when we stop in for breakfast at his cafe (thanks outgoing Hagermann Bakery guy).
  • Pick up my girls from school and drive them to swim/tennis lessons - even greeting them with snacks and their gear - so I can be with Caroline during last week's tennis tourney (thanks Kathy).
  • Meet the seminary council at 6am on a late start day to accompany them to the temple to do baptisms, then teach a full day of classes (thanks Brother Shields).
  • Put in hours of extra time to help her 3rd grade students achieve their fullest potential . . . all with a smile (thanks Ms. Merrill).
  • Greet a reticent Sophie at the beginning of a birthday party with so many unfamiliar faces, with a "SOPHIE - I've missed you - I'm so glad you're here!"  (Thanks cute Abbie).
  • Leave a kind note and treats on the door for Caroline when she returns home after a tough loss in the semifinals (thanks Kim).
  • Never fail to have at least one of my daughters over at their home for extended periods of time every weekend (thanks Denice).
  • Host the teenagers on weekends and don't mind their homes filled with to the brim with all their kids' friends (thanks Jodelle, Renee, and Lesly).
  • Are consistently kind, reaffirming, and complimentary, so that every interaction leaves you feeling uplifted and ready to tackle anything life may bring (thanks Ann and every one of my close friends :).

I'm sure I left out plenty more who deserve a shout out, because during my walk they just kept flowing into my head (this is what happens when I let too much time pass), but I think I covered most of those who made my life better last week just by being the amazing people they are.  Truly, our lives are brimming with people who are there to make it better - all you have to do is open your eyes.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

golden afternoon

I'm not sure which was more miraculous . . . this serene slice of heaven I found just beyond Dog Lake at the top of Millcreek Canyon before heading into Big Cottonwood, OR the fact that I can wake up on the first day of October and send the kids off to school, post a little something on the blog, get laundry started / straighten the house / clean the kitchen, go help at the school for an hour and then be HERE, taking in this breathtaking scenery just an hour later . . . and then back to pick up the kids from school after an invigorating 7 mile hike.

I find that quite miraculous.

Thank you Utah.  I don't think there are very many places on earth where nature and a major cultural/economic center are found so close together.  Plus, the options within our canyons are boundless . . . I haven't even begun to scratch the surface on all the available trails along the Wasatch.

My hike on Monday was going to be a "no camera / stay in the present moment and breathe it all in" type afternoon. Well, that lasted until I got to the top and found myself in a peaceful meadow at the crest of the hill leading down to another canyon.  It truly took my breath away and out came the phone, and before I knew it I was snapping pictures, with each one outdoing the one I took a moment before.

So, since I just LOOVVEE to share my nature loving moments, here ya go . . . our glorious mountains, bejeweled in brilliant gold:

I have to say that my iPhone takes some pretty great pictures. These photos capture the scenery just as I saw it . . . every bend more breathtaking than the last.

OK, so I have to share this little interaction I had with a fellow hiker.  As I was heading up the mountain, I came upon a portion of the trail that was lined on each side with these towering golden aspens.  The sky was bright blue overhead with the sun streaming through those blinding yellow leaves, the view of the canyon to the west was magnificent, and the leaves were fluttering and drifting onto the trail due to a slight breeze. It was truly one of those "catch your breath" moments.  

While I was in the midst of the trees, soaking in the magic of it all, a woman and her dog came around the bend.  I motioned at the majesty surrounding us, and barely above a whisper said, "oh my gosh, isn't this just magical . . . ?" Her response:  "Ya, I guess it's pretty nice."  Are you kidding me??  I wanted to give her a smack for so casually dismissing my reverie.  Seriously, it was the understatement of the year and I wonder how much it would take to impress that woman.  As for me, it was much more than "pretty nice."  But then again, maybe I'm just easily impressed :).

I even took a video for your enjoyment . . .