Monday, January 30, 2012

words to live by

"Making people feel important is part of courtesy, so it's important to remember that whether or not people remember what we say or do,
they do remember how we made them feel. . .  

Always be kinder than necessary
because you can never be too kind.”
Michael Josephson

The perfect example of this sentiment: Mother Teresa

Sunday, January 29, 2012

why indie films?

Alright, I know I'm a complete movie snob . . . you know, the person behind you trying to stifle laughter while everyone else is sniffling at the end of War Horse because I can only take so much melodramatic, manipulative, Hollywood "if we make the music swell at just the right moment and add cheesy silhouettes against a bright, too perfect sunset, then you, the dumb audience will feel an emotion that probably didn't exist in the first place, but we'll make you feel it anyway."  Ugh.

I honestly can't walk into a theater and watch a drama created by the Hollywood machine, it's torturous (especially if it's an adaption of an already ridiculous Nicholas Sparks' novel - saw a dvd of one of those once - NEVER again).  However, if the film is something akin to a Mission Impossible or other 'suspend your disbelief' action flicks, or even a well written comedy, then yes, I'll go and enjoy the escape for a couple hours.

OK, off my soapbox and on to my point.  Indie films.  Independent films created by talented directors outside the mega studios using small budgets and lesser know actors.  Films that connect with the audience on a deeper level than studio movies because the emotions are REAL - not contrived, not predictable, and especially not manipulative.  That's why I love Sundance, and this year I would have to say my favorite film was the very low budget, but beautifully directed and emotionally raw I am not a Hipster.

The themes explored in this film are universal and I connected with every character on a level I didn't expect.  Of course it wasn't perfect and its flaws will be apparent to any discerning film critic, but it affected me deeply and touched my heart.  Without giving too much of the story away, it is a portrayal of a troubled soul - the internal struggle within the main character after he has disappointed everyone who is dear to him, and the unconditional love and forgiveness that sometimes are only found within the bonds of family and the best of friends.  There was absolutely nothing contrived in this film and its sincerity and genuine warmth was powerful. I am always thrilled when a director "gets it," when they understand so completely the very real human emotions of loneliness, estrangement, frustration, connections, and of course, love.  The film was also infused with moments of laugh-out-loud humor, tenderness, and amazing music.  I look forward to seeing it again and hope it gets picked up for wide release.  For another review, click here.

So, as the next Nicholas Sparks' "book made into a movie" makes its debut in theaters around the nation, check out the offerings at your local art house theater.  I guarantee you'll find a better story that will stay with you long after the credits roll.

I knew I would run into the director and cast of this film - it was that special - it made my whole week . . . and yes, Caroline was part of the magic too (only she had no idea why I was so excited to talk with these people ;-).

Friday, January 27, 2012


My week officially ended tonight with a beautiful documentary by director Joe Berlinger in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of Paul Simon's Graceland album.  It was the perfect ending to an amazing line-up of films that made me smile, laugh, cry, think, and contemplate life's journey.  But most importantly, they touched and expanded my heart.

Thank you Sundance.

More pictures and reviews to come . . .

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

holiday 2011

Before January comes to an end, I've just got to wrap up the end of last year.  The holidays were definitely simple and low key, which was partly nice and relaxing, but on the other hand, a little dull to be honest.  It was the first year since we moved into our home that we didn't host a party or gathering of sorts, so things were pretty quiet around here.

It seemed the holidays really crept up on us this year with the end of the year trips we had planned, so I was just lucky to finish the Christmas shopping and fortunate that all but one gift arrived before Christmas eve (poor Sophie just got a "picture" of her new i-pod since Mr. Claus was even less on the ball than Mrs. Claus ;-).  I've learned that taking off a week before Thanksgiving, and then for a long weekend the first week in December really does a number on how much time is left to prepare for the holidays, hence, no Christmas cards sent out before Christmas!

All in all it was a nice holiday season in which we continued our favorite family traditions: baking rolls and apples/yams for Thanksgiving, picking out the Christmas tree together (we even took Lucy to the lot this year), feeling more kindness and appreciation for each other as we passed the "love pillow" along, baking cookies and decorating a gingerbread house, school programs, making grandma Janice's cheese ball, listening to our favorite Christmas music, the girls' holiday piano recital, attending a musical (this year it was Annie), visiting Temple Square, going to movies (Hugo on Christmas Eve, and War Horse on New Year's Eve), our Christmas Eve treasure hunt, enjoying a lovely Christmas Day sacrament program, New Year's Krumkake and toast, and of course, skiing and sledding on what little snow was to be found during that oh, so dry December.

Cantera Christmas pics:

 Liza's rendering of the Nativity
After "Annie" (my littles and Sophie's friend Anna)
After the Christmas piano recital
 Sugar Cookie fun
 Visiting downtown after our matinee on Christmas Eve
 Having fun in the new Deseret Book store
 Temple Square before we headed to Himalayan Kitchen for dinner
 I just love my crew!
  . . . and we're back for the lights
LOVE Temple Square on Christmas Eve!
 Time for our Christmas eve treasure hunt - the kids don't just have their new pjs handed to them,
they must HUNT for them!
 Settling down in our new pjs
 Cookies for Santa . . . and a cucumber for the reindeer (we didn't have any carrots,
 figured the reindeer might enjoy something different ;-).
 Christmas morning excitement . . . yep, line up at the top of the stairs
 Liza's wish was granted - and her new doll even came with a ski outfit just like Liza!
 Chris opening his "manly man" gift from the kids
New tennis outfits for the girls
 New hiking shoes from the kids - oh ya!
The littles enjoying krumkake a they watch the New Year's celebration from Times Square

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

greetings for a bright new year

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men."  
 - 2 Nephi 31:20, The Book of Mormon 

Another year has come to a close and for the first time as long as I can remember, we didn't get Christmas cards out in December, so we sent "happy new year's" greetings to our dear friends and family.  Also, the tradition of enclosing one of our family letters with the card didn't happen, so this post will be our official 2011 Cantera update.

As I was addressing our cards the other night, I couldn't help but feel the connection and ease that accompanies friendship and family closeness.  Although it was so nice not stressing over the cards in December, while sitting at the table, pen in hand in the solitude of late evening, I remembered why I do love sending holiday greetings - it gives me a moment to recall all who have touched our lives in one way or another, and through the act of simply writing a name, I am blessed by those memories.

In true Cantera fashion, it was another busy year filled with activities, school, vacations, church callings, projects, celebrations, sports, and plenty of time on the sidelines and in the car.  A quick perusal of this blog will bring anyone up to date on our noteworthy 2011 events and happenings. But this year, I would like to bring you up to speed on how we are doing, rather than just the what we are doing . . .

Ryan (16) is navigating his way through his junior year of high school - juggling school work, social life, sports, family life, young men's, and increasing responsibilities at every turn.  Ryan can be gregarious and playful one minute, and a typical teenager needing his space the next.  He is surrounded by good friends and takes the minimal leisure time he has quite seriously (namely 'Sports' Center' and weekends out).  One of my favorite traits about Ryan is his awareness of what everyone is up to . . . he never forgets where family members have been and always asks us how things went.

We are holding tight to these final years with Ryan in the home, and know deep down, despite his longing to be out on his own and away from bothersome little sisters, he will miss the family and the good times we share together.

Caroline (14) has definitely come into her own this year and is not just Ryan's "little sister," but one of his closest friends and confidants.  I consider this one of my greatest blessings, that these two teenagers have formed such a strong bond.  Caroline has emerged into her 9th grade year filled with confidence and an inner strength that continues to flourish.  She is a true friend to everyone she meets and has a smile that lights up the room.  Her days are filled with friends, homework, babysitting, piano, young women's, and her passion - tennis.

She will admit that the first couple years of junior high put her optimism and trust in others to the test, but she made it through and has become a shining example to all who know her, especially her sisters who adore her.  Caroline is a happy soul and we couldn't imagine life without her quick wit and sweet laugh.

Sophie (10) wishes every single day that she could have her own room.  Liza has a way of pushing her patience to the limit and there are days when all I can do is throw my hands up and hope that one day these girls will love each other dearly.  When Sophie isn't frustrated with a sister or brother, she can be found in the basement pounding the tennis ball on our concrete backboard, kicking a soccer ball in the yard, running races, reading, practicing piano, or surrounded by her giggly 5th grade friends.

Sophie works hard at everything she does, and like Ryan, enjoys her space and solitude at times.  Her competitive spirit has served her well in her various sports, and is thrilled when Caroline will hit with her and give her tips on the court.  She is an absolute beauty and there are days when I wonder what happened to my little girl, knowing soon I'll have another teenager in the home.

Liza (7) has somehow morphed into what the older kids refer to as "the awkward child."  She still continues to keep us laughing practically every day and I hope she feels confident with herself and her abilities.  The poor girl has to deal with three extra parents who think they all know what she should be doing an every given moment . . . sigh. Liza handles her bossy siblings quite well and is always happy when someone will play a game or color with her.

She is still the delight of the family and filled with such random thoughts and expressions we can't help but anticipate great things from this girl as she grows older. She works so hard in school, on the piano, and in ski team.  She loves to read and just devoured her first abridged copy of "Little Women."  Liza is so patient at home, in church, and in school.  She also knows how much her mom still loves to hold her, and is always willing to crawl into my lap for a snuggle.  How grateful we are for our Elizabeth Jane.

Chris & Julie are so blessed, especially for the Gospel of Jesus Christ which give us the inspiration and additional light we need to guide and direct our children. We continue to "press forward" each day experiencing the highs and lows of marriage and parenthood.  Where else would we learn to be more patient, kind, gentle, and loving than in the crucible of family life?

2011 has been a year to remember.  We have seen personal miracles and the Lord's hand working in our lives, and we have drawn closer to one another and our children through memorable experiences and vacations, as well as the ordinary every day events that lead to meaningful conversations and discussions when least expected.

We know that as we hold fast to the truths we hold dear, we can look forward with a perfect brightness of hope and be filled with the love of God as we bring that love into our hearts, home, and community.

Wishing you all a peaceful and bright 2012.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012