October 29, 2008

Something to make you smile

In case you ever wanted to know how to "Disco Dance," click here. You don't even need to be able to understand Finnish. :)


My kids, especially Mary and Jack, were absolutely thrilled to have Claire, Jane, and Oliver here for a few days. They played together Sunday evening when we were all at my parents' house for dinner, and Jane and Ollie spent the day at our house on Monday, playing with Jack. But, of course, the best part was being with their dad.Mary hanging out with Claire and Jane as they got ready for the concert

For Family Home Evening on Monday night we celebrated Claire's birthday (which is today) a bit early when we brought her a gift. We had to finally drag the kids away from each other... it was a school night after all.

They left to go back to Utah last night, so we stopped by to see them in the evening. Oliver begged to go to our house again, and both he and Jack were disappointed when I told them no. They are such good buddies. But at the last minute it was decided that since Oliver isn't in school he could stay for a while longer. Hooray!

I can't tell you how delighted Jack was to hear the news. (Of course, no one is more excited than Christian.) They are together again, this moment, playing and laughing. Oliver cracks up at everything Jack says, laughing his contagious, high-pitched giggly laugh that I have missed so much. I could get used to this.
Jack and Ollie, reunited


The last 2 and half months have been sort of crazy for me and my family because of all that has happened with Christian and Stephanie. At times I have been completed consumed with concern for them, and focused completely on what I could do to help.

I am still extremely concerned for them, of course, but in situations such as this, at some point you must return to your normal life and keep moving forward. It would be wrong for me to focus only on my brother and his wife, and neglect the needs of my husband, children, and myself.

I have tried to find a balance. (I only blog about a small portion of my life, so it probably doesn't look very balanced to you.) I wish I could attend the 5K fundraiser in Virginia this weekend, but instead I will be attending (and helping to run) my kids' school Fall Festival with my family (besides the airline fare is not in my budget). I would have loved to attend the Mindy Gledhill concert last Saturday (watch Claire and Jane sing here), but I had my 20 year high school reunion, so instead I will watch the concert on DVD.

I would love to be able to attend every garage sale, run, golf tournament, ski day, concert, and fundraiser of every kind, but it's simply not possible. Thanks to all of you who have been so thoughtful and generous without criticizing.

P.S. I said I would let you know, so here goes.... You can buy the "For the Love of Nie" T-shirt here.

October 27, 2008

Today's News

Here is today's news article.

And a message from Christian: He really appreciates all of your love and concern and support, but even though he is "home" he is still not ready for visitors outside of family. I will let you know when that changes.

October 26, 2008

Some stuff...

I attended my 20 year high school class reunion last night. Jay was a trouper for going with me. It was actually really fun and I'm glad I went.... even though I missed the benefit concert. (Watch a news report here.)

And here is an article that came out in the Arizona Republic today.

It was so fun to see Claire, Jane and Ollie.... they had a happy reunion with their dad. My kids are delighted to have them here for a few days.

Tonight I was telling Marcus (who was on his mission in Germany when our brother Stephen got married) about the skit Jay and I wrote for the wedding dinner. Wanna see Christian at his best? Watch it here.

October 24, 2008

Fee Fi Fo Fum

A few weeks ago, Jack came home from preschool with a bean planted in a styrofoam cup. (You know the one I'm talking about.) Jack was thrilled! He put it on the window sill and watered it faithfully.

Over the next couple of weeks, he watched with delight as a tiny green plant appeared, and then got bigger, and bigger, and taller, and taller.

One day, it occurred to us how funny this was.... Jack's Beanstalk.
As usually happens, I expected the thing to finally die.... a plant can't live forever in a cup, you know. It didn't die. It has been thriving. Well, I finally decided it was time to plant the thing outside.

So, since it's the prime growing season in our part of the country, I decided to plant some other things to go along side it.... so it wouldn't get lonely. Jack was a good helper.
I hope to add some carrots, spinach, peas, and beets, but for now we have lettuce and tomatoes, plus basil, rosemary, thyme, cilantro, curly parsley, and Italian parsley... and, of course, a bean plant. I have no idea what kind of bean. We shall see.

But I'm pretty sure it won't get tall enough for Jack to climb it.

October 23, 2008

What to do Saturday morning

The Highs and Lows

I visited Christian today. He was in very good spirits because he....

- had a very positive visit with Stephanie this week,

- is excited to see Claire, Jane, and Ollie who are coming for this,

- is getting much stronger and feeling better physically, AND

- (most likely) gets to go home* on Saturday!

On the other hand, I'm not in the best of spirits because....

- Jay is out of town this week for a work project at the ranch, with my dad and brothers, and I miss him, and I don't sleep well when he's not here, and I don't like being a single-mom, AND

- I just had 4 inches chopped off my hair, and I'm feeling some remorse.

Oh well, it will grow back.

* To stay at my parents' house for a while, and do out-patient therapy at the hospital where he can also visited his beloved Stephanie.

October 21, 2008

Busy Weekend - Part 2

On our way back from the hotel on Saturday, we stopped by my parents' house to collect our kids, and then headed over to downtown Mesa for the Blissfest and Nie Recovery Carnival Fundraiser.
I wish I had more pictures, but I was so overwhelmed at how amazing it was that I forgot to take more! What a great thing to see so many people who were volunteering to help, and all the people there making purchases for a good cause.

I met the amazing and talented Kristin of Domestic Bliss. What a great lady! She has a gorgeous store, but even more wonderful is her willingness to do so much to help someone she hardly knows. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! (Click here for some GOOD photos of the event.)The kids had fun too, even though it was unseasonable warm... OK, it was HOT!
Also, a huge thank you to the amazing Reachel Bagley who heads up NieRecovery. You are another one of those angels!

On Sunday we all attended church with my parents to hear my brother report on his mission. He did a fantastic job. We are all so proud of him. He was a great missionary.

It was also my mom's birthday, which we celebrated after our big family dinner together. My mom is the most amazing person I know... no offense to all you other amazing people out there, like Reachel and Kristin. She is my role model, my idol... and if she had a blog (well, actually she does, but she has never written anything on it), she would be just as popular as NieNie. :) My daughter, Mary, is so proud to be named after her.

Yesterday, two of my sisters and I took Mom to lunch. We had Indian food and had a great time talking. I am so lucky to have such great sisters too!

Happy Birthday Mom! You are the best!

October 19, 2008

Busy Weekend - Part 1

We had a great weekend. On Friday night, Jay and I stayed at the (brand-spanking-new) Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel for my birthday. Everything was very nice, and the staff was excellent too. It was so fun to have it be so new... I'm quite sure we were the first people to stay in that room.

Speaking of the room, we reserved a regular room but we were upgraded to a suite... sweet!
We were on the 30th floor... the highest but for the governor's suite on the 31st floor... so we had a spectacular view of the city.We had dinner at District (the hotel restaurant) which was just as good as last time. We both had the baked tomato soup... to die for! I had the fantastic salmon with shrimp and asparagus risotto. It was delicious.Jay had the chicken pot pie. (I know this picture looks like an entire chicken, but that's just the puff pastry on top.) Jay loved it. We were too full to order dessert, but the general manager knew we were celebrating my birthday and sent this out with his complements. Yum! So we stuffed ourselves some more.Afterward, we walked across the street to the Arizona Center, and we went to see this movie. It was quite funny! (I can recommend it only with reservations.... it was rated PG-13 for good reason!)When we returned to our room, we found this lovely note from the GM and a "little treat."
Since we don't drink, we had a good laugh. It was a very nice gesture. We didn't want him to think we didn't appreciate it, so we took it home as a souvenir, and it will probably sit on a shelf in our closet for many years. (I don't know anything about champagne... does it get better with age?)Here is where we did NOT eat breakfast the next day. Matt's Big Breakfast is a very popular breakfast spot.... there are usually twice as many people in line as the restaurant can accommodate. (Think Pizzeria Bianco.) Instead we went back to District for breakfast. I just went to the buffet, which was elegant and delicious... everything from eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits & gravy, to french toast, steel cut oats, all kinds of cereals, yogurt, pastries, and fabulous fresh fruit. Jay is a connoisseur of Eggs Benedict, and we heard theirs was special, so that is what he got.... and he wasn't disappointed.

After stuffing ourselves again, we walked over to the Public Market and browsed for a while, checking out the local produce, crafts, etc. I bought these delicious tortillas.... the best whole wheat tortillas I have ever tasted! It was a very fun little get-away... the perfect birthday gift. Thank you Jay! You are the best!!!

Media updates

Read the latest Tribune news story about C & S here.

And here is an article about the fundraiser yesterday.

October 17, 2008

Coming up NEXT weekend....

I'm really sad I won't be able to go to this benefit concert... I will be attending my 20 year high school class reunion instead. Seriously, 20 years. I can't believe it either. Yikes!

I hope you will be there though. Get tickets here.

Check out this video too.

October 16, 2008

Fall Break

My kids are out of school this week for Fall Break, so Jay took a couple of days off work and we took a little trip up north. It was nice and relaxing. I did some sewing (a bunch of new pillow covers, and duvet covers for my boys' beds), we walked around the lake, sat by the fire and drank hot cocoa, did lots of reading, and Mary and I made this paper house from this cool website. (Yes, I know it's in Japanese or something, but you can still figure it out.... I did!) It was really fun. (Don't forget to save and print both the cut-outs and the instructions... they are two separate files.) It's not perfect (a little crooked), but I thought it turned out cute.
Today I visited Christian. He has made improvement in just the few days since I last saw him, looking better and getting stronger. He has talked to the kids a few times, seen Stephanie a few more times (though not as often as he would like), and doing lots of physical therapy. We spent most of the time talking about current events and the election. Fortunately, we agree on all issues, so it was a pleasant conversation.

Tomorrow night Jay and I are going to celebrate my birthday (which was this week... bleh! I'm getting old!) by staying at "Jay's Hotel." (I've been looking forward to this for about 3 years! Staying at the hotel... not my birthday.) And then we will stop by the fundraiser on Saturday. And my brother and his wife will be in town from Seattle. And on Sunday Marcus will be reporting on his mission to Germany/Austria. And then we'll have dinner with the whole family. Busy weekend, but a good one!

October 14, 2008

Coming up this weekend.....

Nie Recovery
Nie Recovery Carnival Fundraiser
Saturday, October 18th, 8-5 pm

Fishbowl Raffle, Fair Food, Carnival Games, Face Painting, Silhouette Artist, Showings of "The Nie" Movie, Silent Auction (the bidding has already started online and will continue at the event)
100% of proceeds to Nie Recovery Fund**

Hosted By:
Domestic Bliss & Blissful Living Studio
166 West Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201

**Nie Recovery is a charity benefiting Christian & Stephanie Nielson, survivors of the August 16th plane crash in St. Johns Arizona. Christian & Stephanie both received third degree burns covering their bodies and their medical bills are expected to reach into the millions.

October 09, 2008

Snacks vs. Torture

Today I made a visit to the hospital to see Stephanie. Unfortunately, I didn't get a see her because she was in the middle of a dressing change. But I did get to talk to some of the wonderful staff at the burn center who I hadn't seen in a while... and even got a few hugs! Everyone is so wonderful! I talked to the social worker for a while, who was very encouraging about Stephanie's current status. She had more cultured-skin grafts this week, and the report is that they are doing well. Hooray!

Then I booked it over to the rehab hospital to see Christian during his lunch break. They have him busy all day long with physical therapy these days, so it was a shorter visit than I would have liked, but better than nothing! (Since I hadn't seen him since Sunday I was starting to go through withdrawal!) I stocked his fridge with more Vitamin Water, and Trader Joe's yummy hummus and whole wheat pita. I also put up some Halloween decorations from a package that had just arrived from some of the many well-wishes. The rest will go in Stephanie's room... after all she is the biggest Halloween fan ever!!!!

Two of Stephanie's sister-in-laws from Utah arrived at the same time as I did, so Christian had a "house full." Lisa and Katie are great. Then all too soon we had to send him off to the gym for more torture... I mean physical therapy. I'm glad he is able to tolerate that much; that's a good sign.

October 06, 2008

Hope, Joy, Angels, Unity, and Harmony

Today we watched the remaining sessions of conference at home. In between, Jay and I made a visit to see Christian. Jay did a great job of making Christian laugh and distracting him from his worries by sharing funny memories with him. (Jay has such a talent for humor! It blesses our home and our lives.)

I love General Conference! What a blessing to hear these inspired messages! All the talks were wonderful, but here are the ones that particularly touched me.

Saturday A.M.
-Dieter F. Uchtorf: Hope

Saturday P.M.
- Joseph B. Wirthlin: Joy amidst Adversity
- Jeffrey R. Holland: Angels

Sunday A.M.
- Henry B. Eyring: Unity

Sunday P.M.
- Russell M. Nelson: Harmony in Marriage

What were your favorites?

October 05, 2008


My parents left on Friday to attend General Conference for our church this weekend, so I spent the night at the rehab center with Christian, taking my mom's usual place. Christian and I had some good talks. While I was there, my parents were with Christian's kids in Utah, so they called and Christian was able to talk with the kids for the first time since the accident (all except little Ollie who was asleep). It was good medicine for Christian!

The next morning Christian had a physical therapy session, and then we watched the first session of conference together (well, half of it together... the other half I watched in the waiting room during his dressing change). Then after lunch he had more therapy and I needed to get home.

That night Jay and I attended the CopaBall benefit, along with several other members of my family, and Stephanie's brother and sister-in-law who drove down from Utah. Our table had been donated to the family in honor of Christian and Stephanie, and the new burn foundation fund set up on their behalf. It was a really nice event, and everyone was so kind. They also honored the late Dr. MacDonald Wood, the founder of what is now the Arizona Burn Center, with a life-time achievement award. It brought tears to my eyes, and does again now, as I think how grateful I am to this man, and all of those who work at the Arizona Burn Center. I love you guys!

Welcome Home Marcus!

It's been a busy few days, so I'm getting behind.

On Thursday, my youngest sibling, Marcus, returned from Germany after serving for 2 years as a missionary for the LDS Church. It was a wonderful reunion. (Since I forgot to bring my camera, I stole these images from my sister-in-law's blog.) We formed a rather large crowd at the airport, and I'm afraid we kind of overwhelmed him. There is nothing like a mother hugging her baby! (Even when he turned into a man since you last saw him.) I don't know if Marcus really is taller or just seems like it, but he is definitely more confident and mature. I can't believe that he was just learning to walk when I left for college!Marcus is such a great guy. He was a faithful missionary, and we are so proud of him and grateful to have him home.

P.S. I didn't get to see Christian or Stephanie that day... Christian had a full day of therapy, and Stephanie was in surgery.... looks very hopeful though.

October 03, 2008


As Jack and I were eating grapefruit this morning, he offered me this great bit of advice:

"Close your eyes when it's about to squirt at you."

He's right, you know.

October 01, 2008

New Digs

It was a busy day.

This morning I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony/grand opening of "Jay's Hotel." Jack got to come with me (the other kids were at school). There was a good crowd there, and Jay received a well-deserved "shout-out" from the president of the convention and visitors' bureau. It was fun to mingle and have so many people greet Jay and congratulate him. He is quite popular. :)

Also, he was pleasantly surprised to be credited on the plaque in the lobby.

This afternoon I visited Christian in his new digs. Yes, he went to the rehab hospital after all. He has a very nice large private room. When I arrived he was just returning from visiting Stephanie at the burn center. We visited a bit, I read him this article from the Ensign while he ate lunch, we had a visit with a doctor, I read my book in the waiting room while he had a shower and dressing change, I wheeled him to the dining room for dinner and he ate while we visited with a man who was in the burn center at the same time as Christian (and his wife), went back to his room and talked some more. My parents had arrived by then, and I left with a promise to bring Christian some more vitamin water. He loves that stuff.

I was planning to go back tomorrow, but he has a pretty full day of therapy scheduled, so I may not be able to see him. I will perhaps go visit Stephanie instead.