Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ryan's Photo Blog

Remember this great photo that Ryan made for me for Mother's Day (see my blog post in May)? Ryan's new photo blog is up and going... visit it!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forever Strong in Theaters!

Back in January I blogged about this great movie that I saw at the LDS Film Festival (see post here) about Highland Rugby. Forever Strong is opening nationwide this Friday!!! It is a great film that my cute brother David is in--he is rugby player #1 and is often seen next to the main character. I hope you will all go see this movie--it will be well worth your time and money!

From the archives: A picture of Ryan and me (when we were dating in May 1999) with my brother Matt (who played for many years and whose pictures can be seen during the closing credits of Forever Strong), my dad who came up to see the game, and my brother David, who can be seen throughout the film.

**Have you ever watched a rugby game?
**Are you excited to see this movie?

Journey of a Peter Breinholt Fan

I've been a fan of local Utah artist Peter Breinholt for as long as I can remember... and when I stop to think of how many times I've seen him perform, it makes me a little emotional (doesnt' take much these days) thinking about all the stages of life that I've gone through with Peter (not that he has any idea who I am, but that's beside the point...).

I first saw him in my early college days with one of my best friends Kim and her then boyfriend (now husband) Steve. I fell in love with Peter's music. Kim and Steve bought me his CD for my birthday and I quickly had all of the songs memorized.

Peter came to Logan/USU often to perform at LDSSA (Institute of Religion) events that I went to religiously as a college student with roommates and friends.

After the college days... I went to his shows with friends and family. Megan and I really like to go to his Christmas show together. I dated someone for several months after my mission that was as big a fan as I was--we "broke up" several times, but always seemed to get back together to see Peter Breinholt and had a dress code (fleece vests were a must, for some strange reason?).

Just after Ryan and I got married we doubled with this ex-boyfriend to a concert... the music was good, although the company was maybe just a bit awkward.

After Olivia was born we still went to his concerts, and then when Coleman got here we took him too. Who says you can't go anywhere with a nursing baby?

We've seen him at Thanksgiving Point, Sundance, USU, Ellen Eccles Theatre, BYU (De Jong Concert Hall), UofU, and even the Impact Training Center in Salt Lake.

Last Saturday we got to see him again at Thanksgiving Point. We had a ball. The kids spent most of the time running up and down the hill, or doing somersaults, or dancing with me in the front, shamelessly.
The weather looked a little ominous... and we did have a few raindrops toward the end, but we were well prepared with jackets and lots of blankets.
Liv thinks it's especially fun to take self portraits.
The concert was wonderful... and most of all I was glad to be there with my cute kids and my great husband, who has loved Peter right alongside me.

**Have you heard Peter Breinholt's music?
**Are you a "groupie" of any local artists?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Crazy Busy Defined

This weekend, our crazy busy looked like this:

2 birthday parties
1 pizza run
1 temple session
1 frozen yogurt stop
1 previously recorded movie
3 bowls of cereal
2 pieces of cinnamon toast
2 soccer games
4 quesadillas and soup
1 BYU game
1 timeshare presentation
1 Chadder's run
1 concert at Thanksgiving Point
1 bag of kettle corn
2 hours of football game review
4 more bowls of cereal
1 Primary talk on prayer
1 Relief Society lesson on testimonies
5 hot ham and cheese sandwiches
4 cups of frozen lemonade berry yumminess
1 Young Women's board meeting
4 gifts made and wrapped
1 jello salad
1 hospital visit
1 family dinner

A tip for the week: "At the heart of making the most of life today is the ability to treasure and protect your connections to what you care most about: people, places, activities, pets, a spiritual connection, a piece of music, even objects that are dear to you. But you must not have too many connections or none will flourish. Pick the ones that matter most to you and nourish them religiously; make that your top priority in life, and you can't go wrong" (by ADD expert Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap - Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD).

So, I guess since all of our activities helped us to treasure and protect the connections we care most about, we are still in good shape, just very tired.

**How do you cope with the crazy busyness of life?
**Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Friends, Facebook, and Fiction

Through facebook I have been rekindling some friendships from the past... it has been so much fun to get a glimpse of the lives of so many people that have been an important part of my life. Yesterday I was chatting with Rebecca, a friend from high school that I lost touch with after graduation, and we chatted a little bit about books. I was so impressed with her goodreads list because she has read such a wide variety of literature and so many important books. I feel like I'm at a point in life that I can fit pleasure reading into many of my days, but I usually just read fluff (see the sidebar of books read this year).

Then, I saw this today on Jill's blog and thought it would be interesting to do... It was fun to see that I actually have read some books that are deemed important by some group that sounds credible enough to decide which books are important. I was surprised to find that I have read 25 of them... not bad, but not great.

The Big Read is a National Endowment for the Arts program designed to encourage community reading initiatives and of their top 100 books, they estimate the average adult has read only six.

Here’s what you are supposed to do:
*Look at the list and bold those we have read.
*Italicize those we intend to read.
*Underline the books we LOVE. Share this list on your blog, too, if you like.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen (I listened to it on tape, but intend to read it someday!)
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible (I've read parts, but intend to read the whole thing)
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (I have started this a few times, but couldn't get into it... I am determined to read it at some point in my life)
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien (I tried on this one too, just couldn't get into it)
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens (I watched it on Masterpiece Theatre, does that count?)
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis (I've read a few, but not the complete series)

34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

I didn't underline the ones I loved, because to be honest, there aren't many books that I don't love (aside from that, I don't know how to underline in blogger!). My ratings on goodreads are usually on the higher end rather than the lower end... Don't ask me to discuss plot, characters, themes, or motifs very long after I've read a book though, becuase I can't seem to store anything of importance in my long term memory. I have to read my book club books as close to our meeting as possible if I want to contribute anything meaningful to the discussion (which is still arguable).

The most surprising thing to me is that although I consider myself a Jane Austen fan and follower, I've never actually READ one of her books. That's pathetic, I must say. I'm thinking that Masterpiece Theatre does not count :).

**Are you on facebook and goodreads?
**Are there books that I didn't italicize (intend to read) that you would highly recommend?
**Will you do this on your blog too?
**How about books missing from this list of "top books"? What would you add?
**Which Jane Austen book should I read first?
**Do you know how to underline text in blogger? Do you want to share your knowledge?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Lego Star Wars

Have I mentioned that I love birthday parties? I'm not sure I know how to throw a small party (much to Ryan's chagrin). Some wise moms have the rule that you get to invite as many kids as how old you are turning, so theoretically we should have invited five, but limiting it to five wouldn't have allowed us to invite the all the kiddoes on the block... so we invited the kids Coleman sees and plays with often, and had a very fun group. Anyway, we did a party for his friends on Saturday, and the next day we had our family over so we could enjoy their company for a little longer without all the mayhem... even though with our family, there is always mayhem.

So I love theme parties and I love to copy other peoples ideas. Blue had some great Star Wars party ideas and Amanda had some great Lego party ideas so along with those and great ideas from we came up with a spectacular bash. I can't take credit for many (any?) of the ideas that we used for the party, but like I said, I'm really good at copying, and imitation is the most sincere, best form of flattery, right?

We made big Lego cards for the invitations...

This was the inside of the invitation...

I thought I was so clever making our tables look like Legos (my very own idea!), but when I had to explain it to a few of the adult guests on Sunday I realized maybe it wasn't so clever.We had this sign on our front door so the kids could come in the gate on the side of the house...

Our apprentice Jedi Masters were there to help with training and preparation for the games (JD, Olivia, Anna, and Liam).

This was the check in table where they got their Jedi robes (a simple tunic made with fabric--20" X 60" with a hole cut in the middle for their heads and a rope tied around their waists) and light sabers. Note--if you want to make easy, cheap light sabers, make sure to buy pool noodles from the dollar store at the beginning of the summer, rather than waiting until a week before the mid-September party and going to every store in Utah County (15 in one day!) looking for them and ending up finding them at Big Five for a whopping 2.99 each. At least you get three out of each noodle (20" long each)... and they are very simple with 18 inches of 1/2" pvc pipe, a little black electric tape around the handle, and a cap on the end.

Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi (aka best husband ever) trained the Padawans in the ways of the Jedi so they'd be ready to face Darth Vader.
They were such good students, so attentive!

Darth Vader (my awesome brother-in-law Chad) came and fought all of the Jedis. Although his costume was a little snug (whoever invented the "size" called "one-size-fits-all" is an idiot) he was a good sport and made it so fun for the kids. Our friends lent us this great helmet, complete with voice warping and sound effects (thanks Whites!).

The Jedis had to help Yoda find his Light Saber in the fashion of "Pin the Light Saber on Yoda"

Then we had balloons with small pictures of Princess Leia and Queen Amidala inside them--they had to pop the balloons by stomping on them (or smacking them with their light sabers or just throwing them on the grass) to save the Princess and Queen.

Music from Dexter's Diner (made known to us through the wonderful Lego Star Wars video game) played while the kids danced... when it got shut off they had to freeze in a Star Wars pose...

The Jedi Knights (and isn't Princess Leia lovely?)

I'd love to be a talented cake decorator, but some days all I get is an A for efffort :). Here's my Lego Star Wars Cake complete with Happy Meal Star Wars Bobble Heads... thanks to tips from two blogging friends (Amanda and Shally) we came up with this... I'm not crazy about what I had to do to the bottom to cover up the big gaps between the cake and the board--maybe someday I'll be able to level it out right--but the kids didn't care a bit and ate the whole thing. Using marshmallow halves for the lego heads worked better than cupcakes, because the cupcakes got all crumbly as I tried to frost them.
Coleman said he was going to make five wishes when he blew out his candles (I think maybe the wind blew them out before Coleman got to them, so maybe there wasn't even time for one?).

After presents and cake and ice cream we had a few extra minutes, so we played an impromptu game of "Red Light Saber/Green Light Saber"--there's nothing like a small army of Jedis coming towards you at full speed brandishing their light sabers. I held up the yellow and red light sabers a lot then passed off to Ryan, who let the kids chase him around the yard with their light sabers. What a good sport.

On their way out they got a certificate of completion with some Legos Fruit Snacks stapled to the back... then we all crashed hard.

I think I liked how the cake turned out better for the family party the next day, but the cupcakes were the easiest by far.

Cute Jonah with his Daddy Chad... have you ever seen a cuter youngling? Olivia kept saying "Look, it's Yoda"....

Cousin Sam vs. Darth Vader (little Alyza was afraid of him, but Sam had no fear)

Coleman and Darth Vader

Uncle Tim with Faith against Vader

Cousin Evan fighting Darth Vader...

Lindsey and Jonah with Darth Vader who said in a very convincing Vader voice: "Jonah, I am your father."

We had a great time both days... I'm relieved it's over and still a little bit wiped out... and I think I'll wait awhile before I collect ideas for the next party. We missed our family members that couldn't come... and hope you can come next time (maybe move a little closer, would you?).

**Do you like to throw theme birthday parties?
**Do you like to copy ideas from other people?
**Are you better than I am at limiting the number of guests?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Coleman is five!

My sweet Coleman turned five today--it's hard to believe my baby is such a big boy. Five things that I love about Coleman:

1. He is so happy! He says often, "This is the best day of my whole entire life!" and he really means it. He is quick to smile and laugh and that makes everyone around him happy too.

2. He is very polite... several of my friends have told me that he'll make a great husband someday because he is always thinking about how he can help others. I am sure they are right, but we'll hope that is a long, long way off.

3. He says hilarious things and pronounces words in a very funny way. His very favorite food is homemade macaroni and cheese (which he calls "mac-a-moni"). He also comes up with some pretty dang funny questions. I would love to see how this kid's mind works.

4. He wants to be good, and most of the time IS very good. He often says, "I don't ever want to be bad" or "I'll never, ever choose the wrong!"

5. He loves being with and making friends. He got assigned to a soccer team without anyone that we knew... before his first practice he kept saying, "When do I get to go meet my new friends on my soccer team?"

He chose crepes for his birthday breakfast and since our partying with cake is tomorrow, we put a candle and sang to him this morning... he was disappointed that we didn't sing "cha cha cha" and something about a monkey, so we did a do-over and Olivia filled in those gaps.
Coleman loves all things Star Wars and has recently acquired a love for little Legos--his favorite video game is Lego Star Wars, so we're doing a party with that theme... and we gave hime this Anakin Jedi Starfighter. Can I just say that I love my son, but I HATE putting Legos together? The box says it's for 7 and older... but they forgot to say that you also need an advanced engineering degree (I realize I'm not as savvy as some, but am I really that stupid?). It took me two hours, help from Ryan on a really tricky part that I kept putting parts together backwards, encouraging words from Coleman ("you can do it mom, I know you're good enough!"), repeated steps when pieces mysteriously popped out or off, crying from Coleman ("I just really wanted to play with it") when I was ready to give up, and not too few swear words under my breath when the pieces kept falling apart. When it was all said and done, it looks like the picture and doesn't fall apart when you pick it up...
...even though there were a few "spare" pieces which I'm sure belong somewhere... we'll just pretend we got everything where it needed to go...

I think we'll wait to put together the Imperial Dropship Lego set with storm troopers when Daddy is home to help. In the meantime... off to finish tunics, light sabers, costumes, a poster of Yoda, and some Lego cakes...

I love the Star Wars bobble-head ships (thanks Nicole and McDonalds!)....

Happy Birthday Coleman! I love you!

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Although I don't have anything profound to write about this day, my heart is full as I remember the tragedy that occurred 7 years ago. I remember watching in disbelief as the second plane hit the World Trade Center and then learning of the Pentagon attack and the crash in Pennsylvania. Olivia was only a couple of months old, and I spent days glued to the TV, clinging to my baby, wondering how this could have happened and if or when they would strike again. I was terrified to think that this was the kind of world Olivia would grow up in. I read a post from my friend Vanessa today who lost close friends on one of the flights, and I was struck by how personal the attacks were for her and for so many others.

I have taken for granted the safety and security and abundance that I have enjoyed during my life. I have also taken for granted the relationships that I have with my family and friends and the blessings that come from those relationships.

Currently my sister Megan is very ill and the treatments don't seem to be helping her situation. Her choices and circumstances have made it so that she no longer desires to have a close relationship with the friends and family members that have supported her and loved her for so many years. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on if I have been there for her in the ways that I should have been. I feel that I have failed her in so many ways. Is there more that I could have done to make her life better and to help her be happier? Could I have somehow prevented any of the sorrow and difficulty that she has faced in her life? Is there any way I could have helped her make better decisions or choose pathways that would bring her happiness?

I realize that many things in life are out of our control, as we saw seven years ago with the attack on our nation, and as I see with Megan today. My biggest inner struggle as of late is to understand what my role is and to know what I can and should do to fill that role to the best of my ability.

If you are a person of faith, I invite you to pray for Megan that her body and spirit will be healed and that she will know that her family loves her. Megan has so much goodness in her and so much potential to share that goodness with others, I only hope that she can find that too.

This is Megan, looking truly happy, with her son Chance just before he got sick in 2005.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Programs of the Past

Tonight at the dinner table we were discussing an upcoming PTA project (Red Ribbon Week) and talking about assembly possibilities. Ryan mentioned the police might do something, which made us think of the D.A.R.E program--but Olivia said she'd never heard of it (checking online shows that the D.A.R.E. program is indeed alive and well).
Out of curiosity, we asked if the kids had heard of McGruff--Take a bite out of crime? Never heard of him either.
Finally, Ryan tried good old Smokey the Bear. Olivia got a bright look in her eyes as she recalled that Smokey the Bear had visited her class when she was in kindergarten. She told us how Smokey barely made it out of the burning forest, and that his parents didn't survive. She said the firefighters were there to help save him. She spoke with such enthusiasm and sympathy for the bear that I asked her if Smokey was real... to which she got a very confused look on her face and said: "I don't know!?" I then asked her, "Well, did he talk?" to which she sheepishly grinned and answered, "Well, yeah...."

Coleman (who is feeling so much better, thanks for all your concern and well-wishes) didn't miss a beat though... he said, "Nah, it's just a person dressed up."

**Do you remember these programs? It should be noted, they are not programs of THE past, just programs of MY past.
**Can you recall (without cheating) what D.A.R.E. stands for?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

And the "Good Mom" award goes to....

...I'm not sure who, but I'm quite sure it's not me. This, after I was feeling like such a wonderful parent these last few days because I'm reading The Glass Castle where the parents leave much to be desired. After all, I don't allow my kids to cook hot dogs themselves (and catch on fire) or ride in the back of a moving truck while holding a baby, or play with discarded chemicals in old sheds, or... you get the picture, right?

Despite my "competency" at parenthood, the last few days have proved otherwise.

Tuesday morning Liv told me she was sick. Her stomach hurt, and she didn't think she should go to school. However, I had errands to run and things to do and I was pretty sure she wasn't really sick... so Ryan and I teamed up and convinced her that she was fine and not really sick so she could still go to school. We had a stern conversation with her about telling the truth and got her ready for school. She didn't eat breakfast, but I packed her a lunch with Jell-O and juice. At school she told her teacher that she didn't feel good, who then told her maybe she needed some food in her tummy, so Olivia ate her Jell-O like the obedient child that she is. She sat through lunch recess feeling yucky and upon returning to her class promptly threw up in the garbage can. Let's just say the conversation with the teacher ended with "so you see, Mrs. Harper, she really was sick." Olivia made sure that both Ryan and I recognized that she had been telling the truth and that she was in fact sick.

Olivia recovered within a day and was happily back at school, soccer, eating, and wanting to play with friends.

This morning Coleman said he didn't feel good, his stomach hurt, and he thought he should stay home from preschool. Once again, I had things to do and I was pretty sure Coleman was fine. So, once again, I sent my child on his way and then did my thing.

When Coleman got dropped off from preschool, my friend Jill told me he wasn't feeling so good. He didn't look good either. He walked in the house and got to the couch and stayed there, taking sips of apple juice now and again, drifting in and out of sleep. He seemed warm (but taking his temperature didn't show a fever--good thing I have an awesome underarm thermometer that is oh-so-accurate) and then his breathing became labored. He couldn't seem to calm it down and he started coughing quite a bit. Jill called to see how he was and I told her his symptoms--she told me how a few weeks ago she felt so awful and was surprised to find out she had pneumonia. She asked if he'd had breathing problems before... and he hasn't... and I didn't think much about it, but I was sure it wasn't something like pneumonia or asthma. I decided that if he wasn't better within 12 or 15 hours, I'd take him to the doctor. When Ryan got home, he felt like we should probably take him tonight, so I set an after-hours appointment. Ryan and I assured him that the doctor would help us figure out what was wrong and poor Coleman was worried about having to get a shot. We both assured him that a shot wasn't necessary, the doctor would just look at him, and maybe give him some medicine to help him.

Turns out he had a fever of 101 F.

Turns out he needed a breathing treatment.

Turns out he not only has a virus, but pneumonia.

Turns out he needed a gigantic, painful injection of an antibiotic, which I then had to rub in for FIVE minutes, which elicited even more agonized cries.

Turns out he needs 3 more days of nasty-tasting antibiotic.

Turns out he needs 4 days of steroid medication, that "could have a bit of an after-taste."

Turns out he might need another breathing treatment tomorrow.

Turns out he really needs to drink more liquids and get some food in his tummy.

Turns out, mothers don't always know (or do) best.

To those whose children have been around my sweet (sick) kids, the doctor assures me that they haven't been contagious for several days.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Coleman's First Day

Today was Coleman's first day of preschool. He was trying to make a "P" with his fingers to show he is off to preschool...
Then he wanted to show us his big muscles...
...and that he's an all-around cool guy. I'd have to agree.