Monday, January 28, 2008

President Hinckley

Although President Gordon B. Hinckley was 97 years old, I still feel shocked that he is gone. He was an incredible leader who accomplished much during his ministry and he will be missed greatly. Any that had the opportunity to hear him, see him, or read his words could feel of his love for all people and of his testimony of Jesus Christ. Like many others, I feel joy for him that he is with his dear wife again. As a student at USU I watched as they came to speak at our Regional Conference and he "helped" Marjorie up the stairs by gently pushing her backside. It was a humorous and sweet display of the affection he felt for her and always so eloquently expressed. I feel blessed to have been alive during his leadership and to have benefited so greatly from his teachings and example. I know that he was a true Prophet of God and represented Jesus Christ at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. President Hinckley helped strengthen my testimony of Jesus Christ and my desire to be the best person that I possibly can be.

I found a great quote on another blog that I stalk by President Hinckley--the quote is a good indicator of his humility and understanding of his responsibility. As he so often did, he also encourages each of us to take our responsibilities seriously and to be better.

“This church does not belong to its President. Its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name each of us has taken upon ourselves. We are all in this great endeavor together. We are here to assist our Father in His work and His glory. . . . Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence.” --Gordon B. Hinckley

Friday, January 25, 2008

TAGGED--Random and Weird

I got tagged by Janene (my cousin's cute wife) to post 7 random and weird things you might not know about me. Some of those random and weird things I don't think I'm ready to post to the world--call it pride or maybe wisdom that I don't think you REALLY want to know all my deep, dark secrets. I'll try to post exciting stuff without divulging too much :). Let your imaginations run wild with that! I was tagged a while ago for another fun one that's a little longer (from my cute SIL Laura :)) which I still plan to do... stay tuned.

1. We had lots of high adventures on our road trips while I was growing up. Once, we had a throw-up fest after eating lots and lots of Fruit Loops. My dad always got pulled over for speeding while driving across the country, and this time the kind police officer stuck his head in the window and quickly asked us to go on our way. Another time, we lost a box of canning jars off the top of the van (guessing it wasn't tied very securely?). Yet another time, we got stuck in the parking entrance at ZCMI mall because our car top carrier made our van too tall. And another time our car top carrier was blown off in that windy and windy (you know, it winds around and blows a lot) canyon in Arizona. My dad pulled over to rescue it and was almost carried away into oblivion by a big gust of wind. It was pretty frightening, but looking back we laugh. Note to self: Be very selective when choosing a car top carrier and very, very careful when securing items it in. Several times on the road we made McDonald's ice cream machine break because we needed too many cones. What fun!

2. When I was 11 or 12 my dad and I were body surfing or boogey boarding and we got pulled out by the undertow. We had to get rescued by a lifeguard. It was really scary--I was afraid for my life and my dad's. In the end, it turned out okay, the lifeguard was hot. I am sure he was straight from Baywatch.

3. When I was 10 or so my family went to Disneyland. I got selected by Merlin to pull the sword out of the stone because I had on a purple shirt (the royal color, of course). A few other people (big strong men) had tried before me unsuccessfully, but thanks to my superhuman strength I pulled that sucker out--oh, and thanks to the hydraulic lift that Merlin activated too.

4. At Utah State I was the President of my Lambda Delta Sigma chapter (Beta Chi!) my sophomore year. For Rush Week we had to come up with a skit--the other officers and I had the brilliant idea of going with a Mary Poppins theme. I died my hair black and put on a long black skirt, white blouse, and apron to look just like Mary and we sang "Let's go fly a kite" with the other girls and we gave out wooden balloon magnets that said "Flying high with Beta Chi". Shows you how very naive I was--totally missed the drug reference that any other sorority chick would have gotten. So very lucky for you that the photos I have of that blessed event are NOT digital :).

5. During my senior year at USU my buddy Kyle (who was in the Dietetics program with me) traveled with me to Washington DC for a Legislative Conference that the American Dietetic Association put on. We dragged our friend Patrice with us for fun. We laughed for a week straight--our adventures included a flight to Boston on an airline that was so cheap and outdated that it was literally TOWED to go in reverse. We slept overnight at the airport and we almost died in a round-about on the way to Cape Cod where we went to visit my dad. I totally peed my skirt in front of them and a complete stranger in an elevator on our way to the Metro. I'm not talking a bit of dampness, I full on peed out the whole 64 ounces of lemonade I had just ingested. I have lots of embarrassing moments, but that one still makes me blush with shame.

6. In high school and college I was glad I was "smart" because I always got to study with the cute boys that weren't so smart. I always dreamed that one of them would fall madly in love with me, but turns out they all just wanted help with their homework. I think it took until I was done with school that a smart boy DID fall madly in love with me. Lucky me :).

7. I worked at a catering business during high school and college (love Meier's Prime) and we catered on movie sets--I got to meet lots of famous people like Harry Hamlin, Liza Minelli, Mira and Paul Sorvino, Treat Williams, and James Belushi. Wilford Brimley too. Did I mention I'm star-struck? I love seeing famous people. I don't love that they saw me in my food-service glory days. Oh well.

So there you have it, 7 random and weird things about me. I'd love to see any of you tackle the same task...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Perfect Day

So, how much does Ryan love me you might wonder? So much. For Christmas he got me a gift certificate to the Serenity Day Spa and Salon in Orem for some pampering. Last Saturday I had a perfect day--it started out by attending our Stake Relief Society Women's Conference. Mariama Kallon, a sister from Sierra Leone spoke about her harrowing experience running from rebels and escaping with all of her limbs intact and her life. Along this journey, she found refuge in the gospel and was given a hygiene kit. At one point, she and many others hid out in the forest for 3 weeks with only her hygiene kit and Book of Mormon. Through a series of events, she ended up serving a mission at Temple Square and was able to stay in Salt Lake where she now resides and studies at LDS Business College. Her talk was inspiring and helped remind me of the need for humanitarian aid throughout the world. It was so wonderful to see such a touching example of how a small thing like a hygiene kit blessed her life. I admit, I felt a tiny bit guilty because I had to skip out on the second portion of the conference (assembling hygiene and school kits). Mostly I felt guilty because I was leaving early for my own self-indulgence. My kind girlfriend told me she'd put some together for me, and by the time I was on the table getting my facial, I was mostly over it :). I can look forward to other opportunities to put kits together.

The spa was amazing. I started out with a parrafin (yes, wax!) hand dip. You dip it in hot wax twice and then they put a plastic bag over it and tied it up for the hour that I got my European facial. Heaven. So many creams and scrubs (one was a "strong exfolliant" that I thought was surely eating through my skin) and massaging that felt so good. Then I got my massage which made me feel like I could lay on the table forever--not a care in the world. I ended with a wonderful pedicure which included a parrafin foot dip and got my toes painted bright pinky orange. Very fun. I want to go to a warm beach to show them off!

Ryan took care of things at home while I was gone, and he even bought some really cool flowers (a macro shot of one of them is shown above) for me. That night our babysitter came to take care of the kiddoes and we ate at El Azteca (a great taco shop in Orem and Provo) then caught the second showing of Forever Strong (did I mention that my brother is a movie star?). I finished the day off by working on my lesson for Young Women's (just got a new assignment at church to work with them with Personal Progress and I got to substitute for the Mia Maid class). Ryan and I shared a homemade Oreo cookie from Dippidee that he had picked up for us, and it was the end of my perfect day. Ryan does many things to show me he loves me, and a trip to the spa and flowers and treats aren't necessary, but so appreciated!! How did I get so lucky?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Forever Strong" (aka my brother is a movie star!)

I attended my first ever film festival tonight--I've always dreamed of going to the Sundance Film Festival, or Cannes, or somewhere exotic, but no, my first film festival was in Orem, Utah--the 7th Annual LDS Film Festival at the Scera Theater. I know, some of you will roll your eyes and think to yourself you don't want to read any more... but I hope you do.

If you've ever lived in Utah, you have probably heard of Highland Rugby (if not, were you under a rock???). Both of my brothers (Matt and David) played Highland Rugby under Larry Gelwix for many years. Coach Gelwix is an amazing man and teaches his players life lessons while helping them to be the best rugby players possible (17 National Championships under his belt, and 3rd in the world in '98). He requires good moral behavior and total commitment to the team and he mentors each boy along the way. Both Matt and David can attest that Larry has helped them be the great men they are today (and they'd both concur that they are great men because humility is not a trait that they have mastered yet :)).

Ryan Little and Adam Abel (of "Saints and Soldiers" fame) heard about Coach Gelwix and the ways that he has helped shape so many young men and decided they wanted to share his story. They put together a great script based on actual events in the history of Highland Rugby--they brought in real actors from LA (Gary Cole, Sean Astin, Neal McDonough, and a few others that were recognizable) and used local actors (Jimmy Chunga, and others that you've seen before) for the speaking parts. The very cool thing (that will make my baby bro Dave famous) is that they used actual Highland players and Alumni to play most of the rugby players. David was just home from his mission and was "recruited" with the help of Larry Gelwix to be a part of this cool project.

"Forever Strong" is the mantra of the Highland Rugby team (Kia Kaha). The film has such a good message and the story, acting, and filmography were all great. It was so nice to see a show that was uplifting and true. After the screening we stuck around to talk to those that made the movie which was really interesting. We even got to fill out a Nielsen's ratings survey to help them know how to edit the movie before wide theatrical release. It doesn't have an MPAA rating yet, but would likely be PG-13 because of underage drinking and drug use. I took Olivia and Coleman and they both really liked it--I didn't feel like it was inappropriate for them. Someone there described it as "Hoosiers" type movie, with Rugby instead of basketball, but I'm not so sure. Most of the sports movies deal with teams that are underdogs and somehow overcome incredible odds and win a championship. This film deals more with growth and progress of a troubled young man who learns good principles and is able to change his life through Highland Rugby. At the end of the movie they have a quote by Larry Gelwix (who has a cameo as one of the refs in that Championship game) which is very inspiring, but of course I don't remember it, so I'll have to post it later. The producer pointed out at the end that they didn't have swearing--have you seen a movie without ANY swearing in it, ever? I don't know that I have (not counting church-themed shows, of course).

I highly recommend it to all--and you are in luck! It will show one more time at the LDS Film Festival, this Saturday, January 19th at 7:30 pm at the Scera Theater. Ryan wasn't able to go with us tonight, so maybe we'll see you there. If you can't make it, make sure to catch it when it comes to a theater near you (still not sure of the release date, I'll post it when it's going to open). And when you do, make sure to look for my cute brother David--shown above and below on his wedding day--and then you can feel famous too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Sister's Keeper

This was one of those books that made me want to skip out on all responsibilities and things that could wait--it was fascinating. Sometimes books do that to me--and by the time I'm done with the book, the house is a wreck, the kids have been neglected, and I've missed out on a whole lot of sleep, but it's all worth it to feel so good after finishing a great book and expanding my point of view or understanding of some situation or culture.

My Sister's Keeper is about a girl who was conceived to provide cord blood for her sister (3 years old) that has a rare type of leukemia. The cord blood puts the older sister (Kate) into remission for several years, but relapses require more donations (blood, bone marrow, etc.) from Anna. At 16, Kate is in renal failure and needs a new kidney, which Anna (now 13) is expected to donate. The story begins with Anna going into an attorney's office wanting to sue her parents for medical emancipation because she does not want to donate her kidney. It was so well written--the author told the story from all of the points of view--from each parent (Sara, the mother, who is also an attorney and represents herself and her firefighter husband Brian); Anna; Cambell, Anna's attorney; Julia, the guardian ad litem assigned to Anna; and Anna and Kate's older brother Jesse who is a juvenile delinquent. Each perspective showed different facets of the story and I loved that the author used a different font for each character (I love fonts!). Overall, the story was very thought provoking. As a mother, I can understand the desire to do anything to save your child, but it all becomes cloudy if another child (and possibly her health and safety) is necessary for that. By the end of the book, I still don't know WHAT the right answer is. I felt torn between 1--wanting Kate to live and Sara to feel that she was able to do everything possible to save her child and 2--wanting Anna to be able to make her own decisions and feel valued regardless of her ability to save her sister.

I particularly enjoyed reading from Anna's perspective (who is very wise for her 13 years) and from her dad's perspective. A few things Anna's dad said really resonated with me:

"Goldfish get big enough only for the bowl you put them in. Bonsai trees twist in miniature. I would have given anything to keep her little. They outgrow us so much faster than we outgrow them."

Isn't that the truth? When asked to give advice to parents-to-be, I always say "Enjoy every stage, even the ones that don't seem so fun." Each stage passes by so quickly--it seems that we tend to look forward so much that we forget to savor the here and now.

While talking about the legal and medical crises he faces with his daughters, he said:

"And yet--like always--you manage to deal with both. The human capacity for burden is like bamboo--far more flexible than you'd ever believe at first glance."

Have you noticed during times of adversity that you really are able to bear more than you thought possible? I like the analogy of comparing it to bamboo.

Throughout the story, Anna and her dad (Brian) share a love for astronomy and there are many interchanges centered around that interest. Near the end of the story, Brian reflects on a twist that has just taken place in the courtroom. He says:

"Then it hits me--I am looking in the wrong place. The Aboriginal people of Australia, for example, look between the constellations of the Greeks and the Romans into the black wash of sky, and find an emu hiding under the Southern Cross where there are no stars. There are just as many stories to be told in the dark spots as there are in the bright ones."

It makes me wonder, what am I missing in the dark spots?

Have any of you read this book? What did you think? Overall, I really enjoyed the book and recommend it (with the warning of scattered profanity that might offend some). I am interested to read other books by Jodi Picoult--I think she addresses other ethical issues such as this. Any suggestions from that have read other books by her?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

My Favorite Things

Ryan was so good to me this Christmas--and today I wanted to show a few of the fun things he did for me. I've posted before that Ryan was blessed to go on a Masters Photography tour in Egypt with his dad last spring. For Christmas he put together some absolutely amazing photos for me... the one of the obelisk in Luxor is huge and is in our family room, with the collage next to it. Ryan has a lot of talent, and the way he captured these very cool places and artifacts in Egypt was amazing. I particularly love the lighting in the obelisk photo. We are so grateful to Ryan's dad for taking him along! It was an experience of a lifetime.

I also loved some photos he took at a spice market. The red chiles and spices are so colorful and he used his macro lens to capture the different textures. The bright blue is indigo--which they actually use not as a dye, but as a cleaning agent. Go figure! These two are hanging in our kitchen.

His other gift (a complete surprise!) was a gift certificate to a spa! I promise to post on that after I go to be pampered and rubbed this weekend.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dan in Real Life

One of my readers asked if I'd seen this and what I thought, so this is for you Sal! We finally went to see it last night at the local "Sticky Shoe" theater and I loved it. Steve Carell is one of my favorite actors--he's hilarious in "The Office" and I've loved everything else I have seen him in. Admittedly, it's a cheesy story line, but it's also a feel-good show with lots of poignant moments and some laugh out loud parts-a scene where Steve's character is dancing almost made me pee my pants because I was laughing so hard. I really liked that they portrayed him and his extended family as being mostly normal and loving. What's more, they forgive each other's weaknesses and help each other work through the hard times. There isn't really any language to speak of, but some innuendo that makes it a PG-13. Did I already say that I love Steve Carell? And Juliette Binoche was great too (of "Chocolat" fame) along with the rest of the cast. Ryan didn't love it as much as I did, but he enjoyed it, probably because of the good humorous moments, and how can anyone dislike something that stars Steve Carell?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Apparently my genius (see previous post) has not been passed on to our children. Yesterday over dinner Ryan and I talked about the New Hampshire primary and the interesting turn of events. Olivia asked who the President was. I asked her if she knew. She had no earthly clue (I am SURE I've talked to her about the President of the United States!). I told the kids I'd give them a hint, so I said, "His first name is George". The rest of the conversation went like this:

Olivia: George Washington?
Me: No, he was the first president.
Coleman: George Lopez? (too much Nick Jr. TV, apparently, where George Lopez is frequently seen in commercials)
Me: Nope.
Olivia: Curious George? (too much PBS TV, apparently, where the curious monkey is up to crazy antics)
Me: Nope.
Olivia: George McGree? (made up? grasping at whatever comes to mind???)
Olivia: George Washington? (must be desperate, trying the same wrong answer again)
Me: It's Bush, George Bush.
Olivia: George Bush-er?
Me: No, just Bush.
Olivia: George Bush-Boy?
Me: No, just Bush.
Coleman: George Bush-man?
Me: No, just Bush. George Bush. He is the President of the United States.

Do you think they'll have any better luck with Obama? Say it with me kiddoes, Oh-bah-ma. Bah-rock Oh-bah-ma. Here's hoping!

Monday, January 7, 2008

You need to be a genius to read my blog!

cash advance

I found a really cool thing where you type in your blog address and it tells you what the reading level is of your blog. Not so sure it's accurate, as it said my blog requires you to be at the level of a genius. No disrespect to the loyal readers, of course. I don't need some blog-o-meter to tell me you are ALL geniuses!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

I Am Legend

Typical Will Smith movie--he's the only one that can save the world, and does a good job being a cool guy. I have to say though, this was NOT a movie to sit down and relax in. It's scary--and scary like Night of the Living Dead scary, not Alfred Hitchcock thriller scary. The CGI work was really amazing, and it was very cool to see how they portrayed New York City a couple years after an almost complete wipe-out of the human race. I learned that Ryan is a nervous eater--during the whole movie he munched on the treats I had stashed in my purse. I think I was scared enough that I let out audible screams a couple of times, definitely hid my head and closed my eyes a lot, and even squeezed Ryan's hand hard enough that he preferred not to hold it. It's rated PG-13, but I think it should be PG-16, maybe PG-20. It was a little scary for this 30-something! When it was all said and done, I felt like I had gone through some insanely difficult physical obstacle course while taking a challenging mental and emotional exam. Deep breaths seemed to help. Have you seen it? What did you think?

Friday, January 4, 2008

You Know It's the New Year When....

....the local superstore replaces it's welcoming candy aisle right when you walk into the store with cases and cases of Slim-Fast, candy nowhere to be found. Do they really think I need to be reminded that I don't need to eat all that junk?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas Nativity

A few days before Christmas we got together with Ryan's brothers and their families for a yummy dinner. We read a couple of Christmas stories and then had the kids dress up to act out the story of Christ's birth. I love this picture of Coleman and his cousin Sam as the shepherds. The flash makes it look like they are looking up at the angel who came to bring them good tidings of great joy!

We also did the nativity scene/story at my mom's house. Olivia got to be Mary and she loved it. Liv has such sweet maternal, nurturing instincts. I love to watch her take care of her babies and her younger cousins and friends.

Coleman stole the show as he made his debut as a donkey. My mom bought some cute costumes from Deseret Book and Coleman LOVED being this beast--I was reading the nativity story as the kids acted it out and all of a sudden we hear Coleman braying like a donkey. He did it continuously, and quite realistically. All of us adults were laughing so hard. Of course I didn't mean to be irreverent, but the kid took his part very seriously and wanted to make sure we knew that the donkey had a very important (and loud) role in the coming of the Savior. His attention to detail is amazing.