Sunday, December 30, 2007

Olivia's Dance Recital

Finally, we get around to posting Olivia's dance recital on December 18th. She's been taking dance for a few years at the local Rec Center and she LOVES performing. See the video below--Olivia starts at the front right end and ends up on the back row, far left.

(Above) This is Liv before the recital. (Below) All the proud dance mamas: Amy, Jessica, Isabel, me, and Sherri.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Someone Cares!

I just got a very interesting phone call--one that made my day. Most of you know that I am extremely opinionated and enjoy sharing my opinions with anyone who will listen (some might call it "blowing smoke"). Today I got a phone call asking me to be a part of a small focus group (only 12 people) that will meet for 90 minutes to discuss political ideas. Not only do they want my opinion, they are going to pay me for it, and as I just shared with Ryan, make me feel like they really want to know what I think. The caller told me I'd get refrehments to boot, and our meeting is at Thanksgiving Point, so I'm pretty sure the treats will be tasty!

How lucky is that???

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Favorite Christmas Gift

I love giving gifts. In my family, we draw names (so as to not have to buy for 7 siblings and their families) and this year I got to give to my youngest sister Lindsey. She just had her first baby and they just moved into their first home, so when she said she'd love something for her house, I got very excited! Ryan did a photo shoot with their family several weeks ago, and I think we put together a really neat gift--since we won't see her on Christmas, I got to give it to her a few days ago when her sweet baby Jonah stayed with us for a couple of hours. I am sure this is the favorite gift I gave (or will give) this year and she loved it too. How could we go wrong with such a precious baby photo?

Christmas Gingerbread Cookies

This Christmas, Coleman has had a freakish obsession with gingerbread cookies and he's asked almost every day this December when we could make some. We decided yesterday to do it in celebration of school being out and Christmas vacation starting. The kids LOVED decorating their ginger-people and eating the spoils afterward. In the picture are some friends (left to right: Addie, Olivia, JD, Coleman, and Jared). There are enough sprinkles on each cookie for a whole ginger-family, but the kids loved them. Even though we made a huge mess, it's a tradition we'd like to keep.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

New Look

You know how every so often you just need a new look? I know my blogging history isn't extensive, but I've come across several blogs that use the same generic template"Dark Dots" that I had before and decided that I needed a new look, my own look, desperately. My friend Sally's blog had an advertisement for "thousands of free templates" and I found one that I think I really like. So what do you think? I'm not too fond of the orange ad running along the top, but I guess that's the price for such a cute blog template that's free. Installing the new template erased my list of recent reads--but since I've not read anything new in awhile, that's okay. I'll try to stick to this template, lest you think you've lost your way the next time you stop by.

Out of the mouth of Coleman

Coleman's prayer tonight was too cute to miss recording. He said:

Dear Heavenly Father, we're thank thee for Jesus. We're thank thee for Mary. We're thank thee for the snow and that we could eat carrots. We're thank thee for Joseph and that he could be with Jesus sometimes. Please bless all the people to not see snow monsters. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

What I wouldn't give to get inside that kid's head and really see how he thinks!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Cookies

My cute friend Marilynn (who is also hostess extraordinnaire) has hosted one of my favorite Christmas traditions--her annual Cookie Exchange. We all bake 6 dozen cookies and go to her house to eat delicious appetizers and exchange our cookies and recipes. How can you go wrong with good friends and good food? Last night we went to her new home in PG and ate tasty treats and brought home a beautiful assortment of cookies and treats. Marilynn's new house has TWO kitchens--which will be perfect when she starts her own catering business, which she will be great at. Below is a picture of all of us girls before we dug into the goods. Marilynn and I were overcome with the tantalizing smell of all of those cookies while we were kneeling for the picture. I wanted to eat them with my face, pie-eating contest style, but I was able to restrain myself. Some of my favorites: Chocolate cheesecake peppermint bars, Oreo Truffles, Andes mint cookies, and Marilynn's Cinnamon Crackle Cookies (that have orange zest and lemon zest and lots of good spices--they sort of have a wassail-like flavor to them, yum-yum!). Thanks to Marilynn for carrying on the tradition (and to all the ladies for sharing their cookies and recipes!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Books

Do you love Christmas books as much as I do? When we first got married a woman that I really admired told me of her family's holiday tradition--each Christmas they would purchase a new book for their family. We decided (okay, I told Ryan we were doing it and he agreed :)) that we'd like to do that also. Some years we've gotten great books--other years have been just so-so, but we are slowly building a library of Christmas books to read with each other and our children. I'm going to share a few of my favorites--in no particular order, except for the one pictured above. The book Red Ranger Came Calling by Berkeley Breathed is hands-down my favorite non-religious Christmas book. My buddy Kyle introduced it to me our senior year of college and it's been a favorite ever since. The illustrations are amazing, the writing is intelligent and witty and hilarious, and the story is a good one about believing in Santa and understanding the true meaning of Christmas. Each time we read it, Ryan and I laugh out loud. In some places I start laughing way before the funny parts, just because I know they are coming. You are in luck too, because for several years, this book was out of print, but now is available for the low, low price of only $7.99 on I strongly recommend this book for kids young and old!

Others that we love:

The Tale of Three Trees (retold by Angela Elwell Hunt, illustrated by Tim Jonke)
I Believe in Santa Claus (Diane Adamson and M. Chad Randall)
The Polar Express (Chris Van Allsburg)
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey (Susan Wojciechowski, illustrated by PJ Lynch)
Christmas Oranges (Linda Bethers, illustrated by Ben Soward)
A Christmas Dress for Ellen (Thomas S. Monson, illustrated by Ben Soward)
The Light of Christmas (Richard Paul Evans, illustrated by Daniel Craig)
The Night Before Christmas (Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Mary Engelbreit)
Christmas Day in the Morning (Pearl S. Buck, illustrated by Mark Buehner)
The Littlest Angel (Charles Tazwell, illustrated by Paul Micich)
Snowmen at Christmas (Caralyn Buehner, illustrated by Mark Buehner)
New this year: Queen of Christmas (Mary Engelbreit)

What Christmas books do you love?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Cards

I love Christmas cards! I love to make and send them and I love to write a cheesy update letter. I feel like it's a way that we can stay a little connected to all the people we care about in our lives--mission friends and companions, high school and college friends and roommates, cousins, aunts and uncles, and people we've worked with. We love to get them in the mail too--it's so fun to find out how our loved ones are doing. We post them all on our coat closet door and the surrounding area so we can look at them all month long. The kids love to look at the pictures and ask who all the people are--it's a great opportunity to "introduce" them to the special people in our lives. We spend a few minutes telling them how we know them and a little something about the person or family so Olivia and Coleman can get to know them too. Ryan laughs at me because I hang up ALL the cards we get, even the one from our dentist! I save all of our cards from year to year too (can we say pack rat?) so that I can get ideas for our next card or just to reminisce about years past.

No guilt if you don't send out Christmas cards or if you send them but we aren't on your list--just know that if you do send us a card or picture, we've got a spot for it for all to see. If you haven't gotten a card from us, it's because we've lost track of you (or it's coming with your gift!). Send your address our way and we'll get a card your way!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Breastfeeding Cafe--Slow News Day

It must have been a slow news day at the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday--they finally ran the article on the Breastfeeding Cafe (which was in August!). Many of you know that a good part of my life this year went to the planning and carrying out of this activity, so to have it be "newsworthy" even 3 1/2 months late is like getting a shiny gold star for my forehead. The article was very well written--just a bit late to encourage the masses of people we wanted to see at the City Library in August! You can read the article here. The cute ladies in the picture are Jean (who scheduled all volunteers--close to 100!) and Nicole (with her youngest daughter) who did all the work with the City Library to get things arranged. I co-chaired the Cafe with Vanessa (not pictured), who lamentably has moved on to greener pastures and recently relocated to London. There were so many people who put their hearts and souls into this event--and hopefully we helped inspire thought and conversation about breastfeeding. Thanks SLTrib for (finally) covering our event!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Tunes

I love Christmas music--and in the past few years I've really enjoyed finding music (actually, having Ryan find music) by popular artists. Don't get me wrong, I'll always love Christmas songs by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and other classic groups and singers, but I've really loved these newer versions of songs. Below is a list of some of the songs on my 2007 mix (I get a new mix each year--partly to put newer songs on, but mostly because it's inevitable that right after Christmas, I lose the CD). Tell me in the comments about any of your favorite Christmas tunes.

  1. I Saw Three Ships (Sting)
  2. Oh Holy Night (Tracy Chapman)
  3. Mistletoe (Colbie Caillat)
  4. 2000 Miles (Coldplay)
  5. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (Barenaked Ladies featuring Sarah McLauglin)
  6. Rudolph (Jack Johnson)
  7. The Christmas Song (Colors)
  8. Elf's Lament (Barenaked Ladies)
  9. Winter Wonderland (Macy Gray)
  10. Maybe This Christmas (Ron Sexsmith)
  11. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! (Harry Connick Jr.)
  12. Green Christmas (Barenaked Ladies)
  13. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Coldplay)
  14. Gabriel's Message (Sting)
  15. What Child Is This (Gypsy Soul)
  16. Noel Album--the whole thing is great! (Peter Brienholt)
  17. Mr. Grinch (the kid's favorite, by the Coats)
  18. The Christmas Song (Hootie and the Blowfish)

**Update--We just found two more cool songs--Frosty the Snowman (Fiona Apple) and Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (Chris Isaak). Did I mention I love Christmas songs? And did I mention that I love my cute husband for always finding me the songs I want?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Olivia's Piano Recital--Take Two

Olivia played in her first piano recital last Saturday and played a duet with Ryan. She did great! Our videographer (that would be me) didn't do so great the first time around and forgot to press the record button or something, because it didn't record, so we did a re-do and got it on film.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


For some strange reason, I made it to 33 years old without ever hearing a production of Handel's Messiah. Last December for our book club we read a (historical) fictionalized account of the writing of the Messiah, called Hallelujah by J. Scott Featherstone. It was a good book (and great to read during the holiday season) and it made me really want to get to know the music better. Of course I had heard snippets of the more famous songs and the Hallelujah chorus many times, but I was not familiar with the whole work. For the last 12 years the Timanogos Festival Orchestra and Chorus has put on "The Messiah Sing-In" at the Alpine Tabernacle, but we haven't ever been able to go. My girlfriend Tiffany called yesterday and asked if I wanted to go--so Ryan and I found a last-minute babysitter (we love Mattilyn!) and went, and I was amazed. When Ry was in high school he and his mom sang in a production of the Messiah, so he knew what he was in for, but I had no idea. They had four amazing soloists (the tenor was George Dyer, whom I had heard before) and the orchestra was incredible. We had music to sing along during the chorus/audience parts, so we were able to follow along during the production (apparently, that's what you do at a "sing-a-long" :)). I don't know where I got the idea that it would be a really casual, low-key event with us all singing the whole thing around a piano or something. To say it was excellent would be a major understatement. I was so moved by the music and the talent that was there, and really appreciated it more because of the book that I read which gave so much truthful background about how it came to be. Thankfully I had a woman sitting behind me with a great voice and a knack for reading the music, so I followed her lead, even though I only got about a fourth of the notes right. I usually sing soprano (because it's easier for me to sing melody), but last night, I was an alto, because she was. Through several of the numbers it was hard to sing through my emotions--I was so moved. I want to sit down and really study the scriptures that inspired each part of the oratorio.

A funny aside is that we sat next to a couple of adults from a group home. They were well-versed in the sing-along process, and the man next to Ryan was very familiar with the music. We surmised that they had struck a deal with each other--the guy next to Ryan got to have the copy of the music during most of the production, but had to pass it down the line during the chorus/audience part. The first time he had to surrender it, he was very angry that he didn't have it anymore, but by the second or third time, he was content to get rid of it for a few seconds so that he could "conduct"--which he did with as much enthusiasm as Jimmy Stewart conducted the Tabernacle Choir in the movie "Mr. Kruger's Christmas." It was good for some comic relief in such an emotion filled night, but at the same time it was very moving to see how the music so wonderfully written about our Savior had affected all of the people that were there, including this cute man.

I'll end with the same thought that I started with, I can't believe it took me this long in life to go to a sing-in. I'm going to make sure that my kids go to it when they are young--maybe not starting at 8, which is the age that they allow children to attend, but certainly before their teen years. The Messiah is something that all followings of Christ should be familiar with!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Tooth Sealants, According to Olivia

Today Olivia had to get sealants on her molars. Since we didn't know the process, I asked Olivia to tell me all about it when she came out. Here's her story:

"First they put that air sucky thing in your mouth. Then they put the soap on your teeth, you know, the teeth soap to clean them. Then they put in a sponge thing to catch all the slobber. Then they paint on the sealing stuff. Then they do the other side. Then they give you a token. Then you get to choose a toy like the bouncy ball I chose. And it tastes yucky. The end."

Monday, December 3, 2007

Once There Was A Snowman

We had our first real snowfall of the year last Saturday--a fitting way to bring in December! The kids were so excited to go out and play in it and were successful in convincing Ryan that he needed to go out and shovel. The guilty look on his mug is just after he chucked a shovel-full of snow at me, the innocent photographer. Olivia and Coleman loved being in the snow and had a good time building this snowman. Today, in the sun he melted, small, small, small. Goodbye Mr. Snowman!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

My First Wedding Cake

Okay, so I didn't really make this cake, but my dear friend Carrie Beth let me "help" with it. That means that I got to put on a few of the fondant dots and paint on the edible sparkle dust. CB just graduated Le Cordon Bleu California School of Culinary Arts and got her diploma in Patisserie and Baking. Impressed? I am! She came home to Utah this last week for her sister Mollie's wedding and let me watch in awe as she decorated this cake that she made. Not sure I am ready to do my a cake on my own, but if we can get Carrie Beth to move back here and open up her own bakery, I sure want to be considered as an apprentice. At least I could do "product control" and help with taste testing, right? And if you didn't know, fondant looks lovely, but tastes HORRIBLE! Here's to baking and decorating!