Friday, September 28, 2012

homecoming 2012

Caroline's first high school dance

Last weekend was homecoming for both our teens, and can I even tell you how much FUN it was having two kids involved, especially a daughter.  From the excitement of getting asked, to picking out the perfect dress and matching shoes, and finally sending her out the door to have the time of her life with all her friends . . . it was truly memorable.  First of all, she looked darling.  Caroline is definitely my daughter - it took her all of 30 minutes to get ready: make-up, hair, dressed, DONE (no fancy curls or manicures for this girl).

She went to the dance with one of my favorite young men on the planet, her best "guy friend" since 6th grade, Jacob.  I love this boy, ADORE this kid, and knew he was the only person good enough to take my girl out on her first date (yes, I'm biased).  One drawback was that his soccer game that afternoon went into overtime and he had to have his mom, along with another couple she was driving, pick up Caroline and bring her flowers - how great is that?!

Although I didn't get to witness her first attempt at pinning on a boutonniere (that would have been comical) and see her date personally pick her up, his mom did email over a boatload of pictures that captured their friendship perfectly as the group gathered before they headed out for dinner (to the Spaghetti Factory of course . . . Caroline thought it was pretty cool that even I ate there before school dances back in the day :).

Here you go - a TON of pics, but I had to post them in succession so I can remember the sweet friendship these two share:

I can hear Caroline saying, "OK, enough my friend!"

Really, aren't these two just so cute!!

Miss Caroline - the life of the party
LOVE this group of kids!

Ryan also went to the dance . . .
Poor Ryan won't get nearly the face time his sister did on this post, but I do remember quite a detailed blog post when it was HIS first dance.  Anyway, I was hoping that more pictures would pop up on Facebook, but unfortunately I only have a few from his Homecoming festivities (all the kids instagram now, and I can't figure out how to pull pics off their instagram - ugh).  He and his friends planned an all day activity, so he took off in shorts and a sweatshirt up to Park City (the picture would have been Ryan holding a hanger with his dress clothes, opening the car door while Chris and I wish him well - not that exciting).  I didn't see him until he made his way back home at 2:30am.

At the football game Friday night
The guys . . . it makes me happy that my son sports a bow tie :).

Part of their crew - they were in a group of 42 - yes, all 21 couple reserved a patio area at a sushi restaurant - oh my.  They even all squeezed into one picture at the dance.
Now, THAT is a pic I want to see!

One memory the kids shared that has no picture, but worth recording:
While at the dance a large group had formed a circle and Ryan was in the center doing his thing (whatever that was - dancing apparently :), and he sauntered up to Caroline who was clapping along with the crowd and took her by the hand, led her to the center of the circle and danced with her. OK, melted my heart to hear that story. I'm pretty sure that gesture meant the world to Caroline . . . 

ah, temple square

I am so blessed.  Brilliant, fall mornings like today make me ever so grateful to live where I live and have the myriad of opportunities available out my door each day.  This morning I decided to get back to my once-a-month temple visits downtown (didn't happen in the summer).  After getting parked and strolling onto the gorgeous temple grounds, I was kicking myself for not coming more often.  The flowers today were stunning.  Absolutely breathtaking.  Truly a sight to behold in September.

My temple visits never fail to strengthen my faith and hope that all is well, increase my love for others, and especially sustain my conviction and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The more I study, I mean really study, read, and ponder the words of modern and ancient prophets, the more convinced I am that this IS indeed the restored gospel in its purity.  My testimony is firm and I am committed to teaching my children these precious truths.

I love the gospel, it is everything to me.  I feel a little guilty that I don't take advantage of the many temples within a short distance of my home, but after today I will try to go more often . . . especially when I can drop the girls off at school and be downtown to the Salt Lake Temple in 15 minutes with time to spare to walk the grounds and drink in the beauty of it all.  Indeed, what a blessing.

I couldn't help myself:

 These flowers were just in front of the First Presidency building - AMAZING with the morning sun.

Autumn daisies, I'm in love!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

21 years on the 21st

Happy 21st Anniversary to us

We celebrated our anniversary Friday afternoon mountain biking in Park City before we hit Main Street that evening for dinner.  Can I just say how glad I am we decided to get married in September - really, every year it's such a beautiful time to get out and do something together. The original plan was to head up and take a couple runs on the Alpine Slide before dinner, but after a little more thought, we decided to rent some bikes and have a go at the mountain.  We have been talking forever about finally upgrading our old mountain bikes, so we decided to rent to see what we've been missing.  Ya, it only took about 2 minutes to realize our circa 1990 bikes are a tad outdated.  So, donning matching helmets and matching bikes, courtesy of Jans we hit the trails . . . 

My attempt to get us both in a pic on the chairlift

 Beautiful Park City Mountain Resort
The bright aspens against the brilliant blue fall sky were spectacular!

After dropping off the bikes and spiffing up courtesy the Yarrow hotel bathrooms (perfect place for cleaning up and changing after skiing or biking . . .), we took a trip down memory lane and walked around the newly remodeled Washington School Inn where we spent our first night of our honeymoon so many years ago.  The proprietor was so kind to let us wander around and view the renovations.  It was just lovely and I was having no luck at all talking Chris into checking in for the evening (it definitely wasn't $450/nt when we stayed there), but it sure was stunning inside.

Our conversation over dinner was one of reflection, as well as looking forward.  This weekend was pretty full and it was interesting to wonder what we would have thought if someone had told us on the day we got married that in twenty-one years on the weekend we were celebrating our anniversary we would . . .
  • have two teenagers heading to the homecoming football game with their friends on Friday night
  • watch our daughter get ready for her first high school dance Saturday afternoon
  • send our son with his Dad's car to pick up his Homecoming date for an "all day extravaganza"
  • sit on the sidelines cheering my 11 year old daughter during her volleyball game
  • take our 8 year old daughter to a birthday party
  • celebrate with our 15 year old her undefeated high school tennis season
  • discuss the progress of our 17 year old's college application
  • listen to two girls practice piano & ask one daughter to practice, despite protest
  • need to make sure all homework was complete
  • complete my visa application for our trip to China
  • have the privilege to sit surrounded by my four amazing children during the Brigham City temple dedication (broadcast) and know that this is what life is all about . . . our marriage, our children, our family, and the gospel.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

remembering summer

Although fall has grasped hold of my heart right now, I still find myself contemplating summer.  It was a memorable, albeit crazy summer and this is one of my favorite pictures.  I'm not sure how much of "summer 2012 catch-up" I'll be able to do on this blog, but every now and then I want to post a picture that seems to capture one fleeting summer memory.

I snapped this photo of Liza one evening in Island Park, Idaho.  I remember the moment well.  We had spent the afternoon kayaking on the river and met up with friends at Mack's that evening before dinner.  My friend Kristin and I sat chatting on the shore of the river while Liza, ever diligent in collecting minnows from the dock, took a moment to relax and let the sun bathe her warm, tan skin in the late afternoon light.

If I could capture the beauty and tranquility of our annual week in Island Park in one photo, this would be it.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

a little change

With all the change in the air and our Utah fall revealing it's magnificent beauty with each crisp, cool morning, I feel the need to switch things up on the blog to keep it interesting.

Anyway, I ran across this brilliant photo a minute ago and had to share:

I found it here, isn't it just lovely?

Oh, how I love autumn!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

42 life lessons for my daughters

I'm not sure if my oldest daughter actually enjoys conversing about her life with me, but I'm happy when she opens up and discusses her day to day happenings.  We have had some truly special conversations, especially since she hit the confusion and angst of Jr. High, and I am grateful for bond we share.  Now that she's entered high school I've been ruminating about some of the conversations we've shared over the past few years . . . these "life lessons" I'm trying to instill in her and her sisters.  So here goes, my list of things I want my girls to remember as they navigate adolescence and the future:

  • Be kind.  It's more important to be kind than to be right.
  • If you want to become great at something, work at it and put in the hours.
  • Look people in the eye when you speak to them.
  • Find a passion, do the things you love.
  • "Don't allow your happiness to depend on something you may lose." (C.S. Lewis)
  • Treat your family the same way you treat your friends.
  • Education is one of the greatest investments you can make.  Work hard in school. Make your studies a priority.  Go to college.
  • Never let a boy come between you and your best friend.  Keep your friendships strong.
  • Listen to your heart.
  • Don't worry about what other people think.  EVER.  "Be who you are and say what you will, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." (Dr. Seuss).
  • Forgive.  Be the first to say "I'm sorry."
  • Develop compassion.  
  • Take walks.  Go on a hike.  Let the beauty of the earth refresh and invigorate you.
  • Have faith that things will work out.
  • Open your heart to others.  Be the first to say "hello," the first to offer a compliment, and the first to say "I love/miss you."
  • Don't follow the crowd.
  • Be strong.  Your strength will astound you.
  • Never lose the desire to read a good book.  Never stop learning.
  • Jr. High girls are fickle.  Jr. High boys are clueless.  Everyone grows up by senior year (almost everyone ;).
  • Be careful with your language.  Never use words such as "suck, loser, piss, or fart" when speaking or writing . . . it's uncouth and not ladylike.
  • Drink plenty of water.  Stay away from soda. 
  • Listen to your dad . . . he'll offer some of the best advice you'll ever receive.
  • If you're feeling insecure or doubting yourself, reach out to someone who needs a lift more than you.
  • Keep a journal.  Writing when you are happy/sad/frustrated/elated/angry is wonderful therapy.
  • Be trustworthy.  Be someone who can keep confidences.
  • Wake up each morning with a grateful heart.  Practice gratitude.
  • Be confident.  Let it shine through your smile and demeanor.
  • Allow your mom into your life.  Believe it or not, she's been there.  Let her be your friend.
  • Never lose your childlike wonder.
  • Laugh.  Be happy.  Find joy.
  • Build your testimony.  Study and pray . . . find out for yourself.
  • Never stop asking questions.
  • Don't trust everyone.  Be selective with those with whom you share your deepest thoughts and life experiences.
  • Stay grounded and avoid drama.
  • Learn how to bake.
  • Everyone deserves a second chance.
  • Stay close to your sisters and brother.
  • Don't gossip.  Lift others, don't bring them down.
  • Practice self control.
  • Mistakes happen.  Wipe the slate clean and start again.
  • Always look for the good.
  • "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." (Maya Angelou)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

if we were penguins

I was cleaning up the art table the other day and found this gem:

This basically defines Liza in a nutshell: our random goofball.
Love that girl.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

that time of year

I keep telling myself that it wasn't that long ago that my friends and I were in the midst of the excitement and anticipation surrounding high school dances.  But ya, reality kicks in and yes indeed it was a few decades ago (ugh) and I really am old enough to have children experiencing similar rituals . . .

and I LOVE it!!  It is so much fun to be involved in the lives of my teens and I've been such a slacker not to record all the creative ways Ryan has asked (or been asked) to dances, let alone keep up with posting a few pictures.  I believe the only dance I've mentioned on the blog was Ryan's sophomore homecoming dance, so I'm going to try and be better at recording these memories.

As for tonight, he was answered by a darling girl named Liza.  He looked out his window and saw her decorating our front yard with glow sticks and ran outside chasing her up the street right after the doorbell rang.  The little girls love getting out of bed and taking part in the action.  It really was so cool - the entire yard lit up with colorful glo-sticks, and I regret not taking a pic from Ryan's window, but managed to get this:


Alrighty then, since I'm back to blogging, I feel this pull to write and write and write.  I was going to post this yesterday, but didn't want to send all five of my readers into cardiac arrest ;).  With all my "the kids will be gone before we know it" laments, I guess it's about time I become more vigilant and capture our daily lives.  In a perfect world, I think I would try and blog every day, but let's not let things get out of control here.  However, with the thousands of pictures I've managed to take during 2012, I'm thinking if I could just post a little something every few days I would feel on top of it.

Here it is, a few moments from yesterday:

Monday's begin with a long walk or hike with Lucy, and yesterday my friend Dorothy and her dog joined us in Neff's Canyon.  It was gorgeous and overcast and the scent of fresh rain was intoxicating.  So far so good.  My hikes invigorate me for the day ahead and I'm actually enjoying coming home to a quiet house and getting a few things accomplished without interruptions . . . I baked some pumpkin bread, attempted to organize the giant mess of a basement, and listened to quite a bit of my audiobook ("Wolf Hall" by Hilary Mantel - intriguing).

At 3pm, I leave to pick up the girls (dumped the carpool this year and do all my own driving - a little bit of a hassle, but I sure do enjoy having extra chat time with them before and after school). Monday's are the best because we have no scheduled activities or lessons and the girls can take their time finishing homework and practicing piano.  It's a very relaxing day . . . so far.

Caroline comes home from tennis team practice, Ryan's busy with homework, Chris arrives and the guys settle in for football.  We fix a casual dinner and Caroline bakes cookies to answer the boy who asked her to homecoming.  It's sprinkling a little outside, the clouds have moved in, and everything feels snug and cozy.

Liza and Sophie go outside to play in the rain and enjoy some outside time.  Sophie doesn't realize that with the windows open we have full access to the rude, snide remarks she makes to her sister.  It doesn't take too long before we call the girl in for an explanation.  This is how the conversation goes:

Me: Sophie, come here now.  What did you just say to your sister?
Sophie:  I didn't say anything.
Me:  Yes you did, I heard you.  I'm not happy that you're being so mean.  You're finished for the night - go upstairs and get ready for bed.
Sophie:  (beginning to fume) - Well, it wasn't THAT mean . . .  I didn't make her cry.
Me:  Oh, that's nice.  Get upstairs, you're done. (Chris steps in to second the motion - sternly).

This is usually the time when Sophie completely loses it, and she did.  She screams and continues to argue at the top of her lungs that she wasn't "that mean" and we're horrible people, then proceeds to stomp up the stairs and slam her door (it's the routine).  The family is so used to her meltdowns that they have become quite comical, however, we worry that there may not be an end to her lack of emotional control when she is frustrated/angry/sad, etc.

Many years ago, to help her release her emotions, I would have her write down how she was feeling. Now she does it out of habit (and as a way to get back at us). Caroline found it quite humorous to find these three notes floating down from upstairs landing into the entry . . .

I know we shouldn't laugh, but Chris, Ryan and I were trying to stifle our giggles while reading these notes (absolutely under any circumstance do you let Sophie know you're laughing). Caroline was horrified and thought Sophie was just plain cruel (in Caroline's mind, she would NEVER do such a thing), but I just had to remind her of one of our family's mottos: "Words said in anger are never from the heart" and she understood and chuckled along with the rest of us. I'm used to the notes - I think I have several of the "you're the worst mom EVER" genre tucked away in my nightstand.

My heart really does ache for my girl and I think she may always struggle with keeping those passionate emotions of hers in check.  After 11 years with this sweetheart, I've realized that she is extremely tender and protects herself by putting forth a rough exterior at times.  She has definitely been our most difficult child and many of my prayers focus on how I can raise her to fulfill her greatest potential.  I look forward to what the Lord has in store for this feisty little one . . .

More than any of the other kids, she needs her space and thrives in peaceful settings - she's my best hiker.

After the meltdown, the skies opened up just as the sun was setting and the sky literally lit up - it was on fire - one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen.  We grabbed the girls (even Sophie was allowed out of her room) and walked outside to watch.  Sophie hesitantly sidled up to me as I walked to the corner and slipped her hand in mine . . . her signal to see if I was still upset, and my signal that she is ready for a hug.

Sigh.  All is well until the ticking time bomb decides to explode again.  Until then, I'll look for all the best my little girl has to offer.

The sunset from Caroline's bedroom window.  WOW.

Of course, the night ended on a high note:
Caroline on her way to answer her best friend Jacob after he asked her to Homecoming.
She made cookies and baked letters (Y-E-S) wrapped in tin foil inside three of them - cute!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Ah, the beginning of the new school year, the cooler evening temperatures, and the brilliant fall colors signify one thing - change.  I don't particularly care for change.  I know, it's inevitable and now that we're a couple weeks into school, and I'm not the basket case I was back then, I can finally write about these changes.

The first day of school, I couldn't even come home - spent the entire day out and about so I wouldn't have to face an empty house.  Enjoyed a morning hike with Lucy to one of my favorite spots (pic at left - Dog Lake / Millcreek Canyon), and then babysat my nephew for a few hours.

The panic and tears didn't begin until the next day when the quiet of the house and the realization that we only have a year with Ryan before he's off to college, hit home and hit hard.

I should have known it was coming . . . throughout the summer when I would least expect it, BAM, the tears would start, and before I knew it I couldn't stop.  Something as simple as a song would usually begin the deluge (Jason Mraz's "93 Million Miles" does it every time, and just last week it was U2's "Walk On").  After closer reflection, it's not the fact that school as started again and the house is empty and I'm missing the energy and chaos of the kids, which is all true.  But it's that this season, the transition from summer into fall, and the myriads of changes that are taking place signify something much grander than going back to school.  It's the passage of time. I am mourning the passing of another year my kids have grown and matured, and another year closer to them leaving home.

My planets

Chris sent me this beautifully written article last week with the tag "this reminded me of you and what you're going through right now."  Of course, we're only beginning the college application process with Ryan, but reading this woman's experience was so familiar and her feelings so closely mirrored my own, that I will cherish her essay for many years to come.  The author's metaphor that as mothers we are the "sun" to our "planet" children, and as we raise them they orbit around us and we are always there, shining down on them, keeping them safe, and watching over them.  Then a child leaves his/her orbit, and of course they are still part of our lives, but more like a "shooting star," coming and going, never staying too long, and it will never be the same.

Change.  Transition.  So another year has passed and I should truly celebrate rather that try to hold on to the past.  I've turned to reading Zen philosophy this past week to remind myself to enjoy the present with the awareness that change is always taking place and nothing is permanent, nothing.  And that's the beauty of life.

The Zen proverb, "Let go or be dragged" speaks volumes about letting go of permanence and allowing change into our lives.  I have to let go of my children and some point, but I'm going to be present for them now and really listen and open my heart to them while they are in my orbit.  Letting go of attachments and not fighting change is central to Zen awareness and it's so difficult for me, but I'm getting better.  I'm learning that anything we hold onto only drags us away from truly feeling at peace. As hard as it is to let go of children, of resentment, the need to be right, expectations, and even past friendships that were once crucial to my happiness, holding on will never lead to the peace and serenity necessary to enjoy the present.

Enough of Zen, but I have to say it's really helped (along with yoga, reading "Gilead" yet again, and hiking a few times each week).  Friday morning after I dropped the girls off at school, the sun was rising in the east over the Olympus mountain range and Simon & Garfunkle's Bridge Over Troubled Water was playing (gotta say that the "Essential S& G" is definitely the best music for life's transitions). As my car filled with brilliant September light, I knew everything would be alright. Life will continue to march forward and I'll keep moving along, trying to stay with the beat without looking back and getting trampled in the process.

time to bring the blog back to life

Alright, seriously, I can't open this blog again and see that same picture staring back at me, which at this point is just begging to "PLEASE move on!"  So, I've got to do just that . . . resuscitate this poor blog and start fresh with our lives, even if I don't have all the pictures in one place, and even if I may not catch up with every piece of Cantera family minutiae since April.

That said, I have to share a Garrison Keillor tidbit I heard on this evening's broadcast of "Lake Wobegon" (ok, I know, I'm a radio geek) that had an interesting way of reminding me to recommit myself to this blog . . .

"The worst part of dying is all the 
unfinished business you leave behind."

Not like I see myself keeling over anytime soon, but you never know, and this part of our family history is definitely "unfinished business."  Soooo, my friends, I don't want to die and not have the blog caught up.  End of story and my neurosis.

Until the next post (which will hopefully be sooner than three months away).