June 30, 2008

45 Years

My parents celebrated their 45th anniversary on Saturday. Aren't they cute? My mom wrote the following to her family on that day:

"After 45 years we still love each other...even more. We woke up this morning on our anniversary day in a very quiet house. We love having people live with us and visit everyday, but it was a very special treat to just have each other on June 28th. It was just the way we started 45 years ago….alone. Our gourmet breakfast was Russ's famous omelet with Pico de gallo. As we savored every bite I was thinking that eternity would not be right without this fabulous food. No one makes a better omelet than my husband!!!!

After a few Saturday chores, Russell asked me where I wanted to go for lunch and I chose the Royal Palms Resort on 52nd Street and Camelback. It is just a few blocks away from were I grew up and I love going back to visit my old neighborhood. Today memories flooded back as we passed 56th street and I thought of my last night at home on Valencia Lane with my wonderful family. I remember I had a little wave of sadness at leaving, mixed with excitement about my upcoming marriage to the most wonderful man in the world and our dreams of life together.

One never knows exactly what life will bring, but if a marriage begins the Lord’s way and we fulfill our roles, walking by faith, great joy will come. For us it took faith to bring eleven children into our home, having learned from the first few that it is no easy task to care for a child’s physical and spiritual needs. We were willing….and the reward has been great!"

My parents have an amazing relationship, and they are a wonderful example to me (except that I'm not going to have 11 children!). Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! And thanks for being such wonderful parents!

June 27, 2008

Magic Music Kidz Show

Last night was Collin and Mary's musical theatre performance. This was Collin's 3rd year and Mary's 2nd year participating in the "Magic Music Kidz" workshop put on by the music department at a local community college. It is a fantastic program, and the kids love it!

They both did a great job. We are very proud of them.

June 26, 2008

Tasha Tudor

Tasha Tudor died last week at the age of 92. I have been in love with her illustrations since I was a little girl, and I still am.

She illustrated about 100 books, some of them authored by her. But even if you think you have never heard of Tasha Tudor, you are probably familiar with her art if you have read "The Secret Garden," "A Little Princess," and Robert L. Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses."

Interestingly enough, Tasha Tudor did not live in the time period she recreated through most of her art. In fact, about 10 years ago, I was surprised to learn that she was still alive. I had assumed she would have died long before I was born considering the world represented in her illustrations.

She born in 1915, but was so fond of the 1830's that she spent most of her life creating that world around her. She raised her 4 children in a farm house in New England with no electricity of running water.... on purpose. She cooked on a wood-burning stove, wove her own fabrics, made candles and soap, and dressed in the style of the early 19th century.

Her most recent home was built in the 1970's (by her son, using hand tools), but looks like something from 1830's, and is filled with antiques from the period.
I especially love her book "A Time to Keep." I enter a dream world each time I read it.
I was so pleased to find it still in print, and snapped up a copy for myself (my parents' old copy is very worn and tattered because of me, I'm sure).
(an illustration from "A Time to Keep")

Sadly, this book, "The Dolls' Christmas" is longer in print. But as soon as I can find an affordable copy in decent shape, it will be mine. (I'm sorry, but $25 for a copy in "poor condition" is simply not acceptable.)

June 24, 2008

Don't Bother

Since I am an unabashed fan of Jane Austen, I am always eager to read any book that has anything to do with her. And so I picked up this book from the library without knowing anything about it. At the time, I didn't even know it had been made into a movie.

[I find that a great many mediocre books are made into mediocre movies. Since Jane Austen has a lot of fans, publishers and movie produces are probably just as eager as I am when they hear that name.]

Generally, I like to read books that have been recommended to me by someone I know and trust. I need to remember that in the future. I didn't really like this book... thank goodness it was short, so not much of a commitment.

I just couldn't relate to or sympathize with any of the characters. Their stories were all interesting enough, but I just didn't find any of them likable. Oh well. Besides that, there were too many gratuitous uses of the "F" word. Just plain stupid.

I don't think I will bother renting the movie.

A Familiar Face

At the store today, one of the clerks (a slender and attractive 30-something woman) looked at me and said, "You look really familiar." Immediately, the other clerk (a much younger woman) said, "Yeah, to me too!" However, neither of them looked familiar to me. It didn't phase me though, because for some reason, I hear the phrase "you look familiar" a lot. I must have one of those faces.

Anyway, I smiled and I told them "I get that a lot." Clerk #2 nodded and said, "Oh, you must have one of those faces." But Clerk #1 continued to look at me while Clerk #2 rang up my purchase. Then she said, "Did you go to M___ High School?" Well, that was unexpected.

I replied that yes, indeed I did... did you? And yes, we both graduated the same year. I asked her name and told her mine. Her name sounded vaguely familiar, and she said mine was familiar as well. (Give me a break.... there were approximately 1000 students in my graduating class, and YES, it's been a long time!)

But nothing about her face was familiar. I suppose she must look quite a bit different now than she did in high school. But then so do I! I can't believe she recognized me (or at least my face) since we hadn't been friends back then. (Yes, I do remember my friends!)

I asked her if she was going to be attending our 20 year reunion (YIKES!) in October, and she said yes. (So am I, somewhat reluctantly... and Jay even more so.) I sort of felt bad that I hadn't recognized her.

But as I walked to my car I felt even worse when I thought about how 20 years after high school she was working as a clerk at Payless Shoes. Then again, maybe she was feeling sorry for me.... suburban mom, more than several pounds heavier, and three kids to show for it.

I hope she has her dream job. I know I have mine.

June 23, 2008

I think Drew would be offended....

In the early days of the TV show "ER" people would approach me on the street to tell me I looked like Dr. Susan Lewis on ER (actress Sherry Springfield). I started watching the show just to see what they were talking about. But apparently "MyHeritage" thinks I look most like Drew Barrymore. I'm not sure she would be too thrilled to hear that.

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities

Celebrity Morph of Jay

For some reason "MyHeritage" believes that Matthew Broderick is the celebrity who looks the most like Jay. So much for Jon Cryer.

MyHeritage: Family trees - Genealogy - Celebrities

June 20, 2008

Cousins and Lego's

My kids never get tired of playing with their cousins. Besides the ones who live nearby, my sister and her kids are in town for a month... she has one the same age and gender as each of my children, so they are thrilled.

All day long I have had a total of 6 boys (ranging in age from 4-10 years old... and Mary) playing at my house.... swimming, eating (holy cow, these boys can eat a lot!), swimming some more, and playing with Lego's.
Have I told you how much I love Lego's? Well, I do. They are the best toy ever invented. They keep all 3 of my kids busy for hours. Every child who comes to play at our house wants to play with them. When the grandkids are at my mom's house, that's what they want to play with.

They have also been playing with these little Star Wars space ships as well, which are always a big hit around here.
But nothing compares to good ol' Lego's.

More photos from Rocky Point....

Mary had such a blast hanging out with cousin Perry, even though she is almost 6 years older than Mary. She is such a good pal!

We forgot to bring our kite with us (even though I put it on my packing list). Jay asked another guy on the beach where he got his, in case there was somewhere nearby we could buy one. Later, the guy brought his kite over to Jay and said, "We aren't using this right now. Would you like to use it for a while?" What a nice guy!

I couldn't resist including this photo of Mary and her namesake, my Mom a.k.a. "Grandma Mary." She is rarely included in photos because she is usually the photographer. I suppose that is partly the reason I'm not in very many photos, but the main reason is that I... well, let's just say I'm not thrilled about the way I look. On the other hand, my mom (who has the grandkids convinced that she is "29 and holding") looks fabulous! Can you believe she gave birth to 11 children??? She is the most amazing woman in the world! (And not just because she is looks so good.)

June 19, 2008

June 17, 2008

Vacation Reading

During my vacation I read The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It was pretty good. Not fabulous, but entertaining, and actually pretty thought provoking. I have no idea whether the author intended to include any symbolism, but it was hard not to read those things into it when you know the author's religious beliefs. The story is really about what it means to be human. My mom and I had fun discussing it.Next I read These is My Words by Nancy Turner. I loved it! I highly recommend it. It's exciting and romantic, and clean. It's written in diary form, and the character is uneducated (hence the title) so it took a little getting used to, but once I did I was totally into the story. I was excited to find out there are two sequels.

June 16, 2008

Beach Vacation

We spent a fabulous week at the Mayan Palace Resort in Puerto Penasco, Mexico, courtesy of my parents, who were there with us, along with my brother and his wife and their four children. We had a "houseful" in a two-bedroom suite, but it was a blast.

The resort was great... away from town so it was very private and quiet. The beach was gorgeous, and the weather and the water were perfect. It was very nice and relaxing. I'm not what most people would call "tan" but I do have an actual "tan line," which is a big deal for me!

THANK YOU FOR A GREAT TIME MOM AND DAD!!!!!

FUNNY MOMENTS:
- Jay trying to communicate with the non-English speaking maid who he thought had stolen his wallet
- the look of terror on the kids' faces when they realized they would be attending Primary without understanding a word that was spoken (they were troupers, and it was a good experience for them to realize that the church is the same everywhere in the world, even if they are speaking a different language)

HIGHLIGHTS:
- a wonderful massage at the resort spa
- evening walks on the beach
- delicious fish and shrimp tacos at a taco stand in town
- fun (and free!) activities for the kids hosted by the resort
- yummy half-price tropical drinks (virgin, of course) at the pool bar during happy hour
- collecting shells
- the kids enjoying their cousins and making friends
- not wearing makeup or blow-drying my hair for a week
- watching the kids thoroughly enjoy themselves
- laying around all day by the pool.... long enough to read 2 novels cover to cover!

LOW-LIGHTS:
- almost turning back to go home on the drive there, when we encountered a fatal traffic accident, for fear we wouldn't be able to cross the border before they closed at midnight (the traffic was backed up for at least 10 miles, and the road was closed for a total of 6 hours... fortunately our delay was only about 2 hours)
- having to leave to go home at the end of our trip


(click on photos for a larger versio
n)

The whole gang gobbled up a lot of tasty tacos in Puerto Penasco.


Mary and Jack got a kick out of the parrot at the taco stand....


... and Jack liked the funny sculpture out front.


Mary loved the beach....
... and building sand castles.
Jack had a blast at the beach........ and the pool....... and spent some time relaxing too.
Jack also made a little friend, who conveniently had an extra water cannon.

Collin (far right) had a great time playing with his cousin, Penn (next to Collin), and made some friends too.

We didn't see much of him... he was having too much fun!


The finished product of one of the craft activities


Mary and Jack crashed after a day of excitement.





Jay took the older boys into town one afternoon and bought luchadora masks for all the kids.



June 06, 2008

Ahhhhhhhh......

We are off to spend a relaxing week on the beach!

June 05, 2008

Lost Love

I stayed up very late last night to finish reading the novel The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. Even though I knew how it would end, I couldn't put it down. And even though I knew how it would end, I cried.

The book should probably be classified as a historical novel since a great deal of the book is factual. She writes in the voice of Jane Austen, which makes it a great read, but she fabricated a love story that will captivate anyone who claims to be an Austen fan.

It would make a great movie... much better than the mediocre "Becoming Jane." It would make a great companion piece to the excellent Masterpiece production "Miss Austen Regrets" on PBS.

June 04, 2008

Summer Routine

A few weeks before school let out, I started dreading the long hot summer during which my kids would inevitably drive me (and each other) crazy in their boredom. So, I decided to create a routine to not only keep our days interesting, but productive as well. (Mainly because I read this excellent book recently and have determined to follow it's advice.)

So, I put together a plan. My kids have been so excited about it. They take it all very seriously and they have been really amazing with it. It is cute that they love it so much. (I was kind of surprised... I thought they would complain.) I keep each activity pretty short so that they don't get tired of it.

Here is our daily routine (times are approximate):

8:00 - Personal Scripture Study
Collin and Mary read on their own and I read to Jack from "Book of Mormon Stories."

8:15 - Exercise
This means we take turns leading a short session of stretching and cardio.... it's pretty hard to not laugh when it's Jack's turn, but they all take it very seriously and love it.

8:30 - Chores
These are simple daily chores... make bed, clean up room, plus one additional chore like wiping the bathroom counter or picking up in the family room.... not the more extensive "Saturday Chores".

9:00 - Mommy School
The kids came up with that name. This is just to keep them from forgetting everything over the summer. We review something different every day.

Monday: skip counting/times tables
Tuesday: phonograms and penmanship
Wednesday: addition/subtraction flashcards
Thursday: miscellaneous math worksheets
Friday: Cubs Scouts (I know it's not school, but I want Collin to do a lot of the achievements this summer, and most of it is fun stuff that Mary and Jack can do too. Besides, Friday should be more fun.)

9:30 - Skills Training
We are learning a different kind of skill each day of the week.

Monday: Laundry (sorting, washing, folding, etc.... ironing is too advanced for them)
Tuesday: Cooking (we are working on bread, cookies, cake, sandwiches, oatmeal, eggs, and muffins)
Wednesday: Cleaning (how to do it RIGHT: toilets, dusting, vacuuming, mirrors, windows, etc.)
Thursday: Art (I'm not very good at this, so mostly crafts... which I'm not very good at either)
Friday: miscellaneous

10:00 - Music
Piano practice and music theory

10:30 - Reading
Sustained silent reading (I read to Jack). Sometimes this gets postponed until the afternoon when they are bored and we need some quiet time.

By 11:00 we are ready to hop into the pool. (Yes, it's just as good as last year.)

What are you doing this summer?

June 03, 2008

Called to Serve

Just before I gave birth to my first child (over 9 years ago), I was released from my church calling as the Primary chorister. When I returned to church after a month or so, I was called to be the Relief Society pianist; nice and easy for a new mother.

After performing in that calling for just a few weeks, we went on vacation. Our intent was to drive to Utah to visit Jay's grandmother. We didn't make it. On the way we were involved in a pretty serious car accident. I spent the next month in the hospital, and the following 6 months in a wheelchair/learning to walk again. So, of course I was released as the R.S. pianist.

When I finally got back into the swing of things, I was called to be the ward choir director. Shortly after that I was called to serve in the nursery as well. Just before I had my second child, I was released from the nursery, but continued to serve as the choir director until child #2 was about 10 months old, when I was called as a counselor in the Primary Presidency.

At the end of two years in the presidency, my third child was barely 3 months old. The Primary President's husband had been called to serve in the bishopric, so I knew we were getting released. I thought to myself, "Well, since I have a new baby, they will probably call me to something easy, like Relief Society Pianist."

Ha.

No. Instead, to my utter shock, I was called to be the Primary President.

Four years later (with no baby, not even a toddler), I was expecting to be released at any time. This week was finally it. There is no place I would rather serve than in Primary, and the calling I was really hoping for was Primary Teacher.

Nope. I almost laughed when the bishop said, "We would like you to serve as the Relief Society Pianist."

I am sad to leave Primary because I love it so much, but I guess there must be something I'm supposed to learn as the Relief Society Pianist.

(But I still hope I will be back in Primary again before long.)