Sunday, June 28, 2009

One Year Older and Wiser Too...

Happy Birthday... to me!

Thanks for all the birthday wishes, phone calls, cards, and surprises. It's been a great weekend!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

Today we went to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple Open House. It was a beautiful temple and I loved seeing the view of the Salt Lake Valley from the hill the temple sits on.

I was particularly touched today at the realization of the importance of the work that goes on inside the walls of the Holy Temple. As I sat with my family waiting to enter, we watched a short video that talked about temples and their purpose. I was overcome with love and appreciation for my children and the fact that we are sealed together.

We had a couple hours of beautiful sunlight (and some wind) in between some big rainstorms today and it worked out perfectly that our reservation was right during the lull.

You can tell by Liv's closed eyes that the sun was very bright.

In addition to the marvel of the temple, Ryan ran into some high school friends (three or four siblings who did drama and singing with Ry in Tooele) who had gathered from all parts of the country for a reunion and just happened to be at the temple the same day we were.... and I ran into a dear friend from my days at Meier's Prime Deli and Catering. My favorite thing she told my kids: "You're mom is AMAAAAAAZING!" (And I won't let them forget it.)

I love running into people that were so important in our lives, even if only for brief periods... although we may have lost touch over the years, the impact they had on us is not lessened in any way. It was wonderful to see them in such a special place and reconnect after all this time.

If you haven't been to see this temple and want to go, click here to make reservations. The Open House continues through August 1st and is well worth your time.

**Have you been to this open house yet or do you plan to go?
**Where do you usually run into people from your past? Do you always talk to people you know or do you ever slink away and pretend you don't see them?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Still laughing... something Coleman just said in his gleeful anticipation for tonight's episode of "So You Think You Can Dance..."

"I really want to go to tap dancing school... I've pretty much got the skills... all I need is shoes and I'll be done."

I Spy With My Little Eye...

...a very fun activity for my kids and I!

(So for all you editors out there, I do realize it should probably read "...for my kids and me!" but that didn't rhyme.)

BYU's Museum of Art has a fabulous exhibit of Walter Wick's artwork. He is the photographer of "I Spy" books fame and other wonderfully thought provoking photographs. It is free and runs through August, so check it out if you need a fun activity.

We spent about an hour and a half in the museum... there were a few other really fun exhibits going on along with Walter Wick's stuff. It was a perfect way to spend a rainy and dreary afternoon.

Scary, scary night...

The other exhibit that the kids and I loved should have closed on June 6th, but it was still going in full force when we went on June 20th.

This artist made very interesting sculptures and displays with everyday objects like garbage bags, balloons, and PVC pipe.

I'm not sure how he kept the balloons inflated to the right amount for this fascinating sculpture.

This orange piece was my favorite... it looks like it is made of shimmery tiles... guess what it really is?

The packing peanuts were a bit hit too. The fans would go off every few minutes for a minute or so and keep this art confined to it's corner. All of the walls were painted black for this exhibit, which made the art really stand out.

I don't know how long it will be going on, but I highly recommend a journey to the Museum of Art at BYU to check it out before it's gone.

**What do you think the orange artwork is made of? First one to answer correctly in the comments will get a prize. (If you've been to the exhibit and know, please don't give the answer away!)
**Have you done any fun activities with your kids?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


After an eight year hiatus of being in the "working world" (isn't that a crock? stay-at home moms are the hardest workers I know...) I have made my re-entry. It's been almost two months and I have a few thoughts on the matter...

The first several weeks were rough. I often thought of the space shuttle and how it loses tiles as it re-enters the Earth's atmosphere because of the intense heat. I felt like I was losing my mind and my sanity... it isn't to say that NOW I'm a model of composure or organization, but I feel like we've found a better groove and are in pretty good working form.

My job itself is great. I still don't enjoy leaving my kiddos or being gone... but I like what I do and I feel like I'm doing good for others which makes me happy. I feel mentally stimulated and gratified with the work I do.

Returning to a job very similar to the one I left eight years ago doesn't mean that I have been able to skip the learning curve that comes with new (or renewed) employment... a few observations about that process:

Working (even part-time) doesn't remove any responsibilities or feelings of obligations that a mom has. There are just much fewer hours in the day to complete your list of things to do.

Some things go undone. (So what if my bed isn't made every day, but could the Tooth Fairy please remember my sweet toothless Coleman tonight? He really needs to feel the love and get a dollar or two under his pillow.)

Our computer system at work is extremely dysfunctional... yet I still look like an incompetent fool several times a day... and it really IS the computer's fault.

Many times my incompetence isn't the computer's fault.

My Spanish needs a serious overhaul. My vocabulary about nutrition related topics is seriously lacking. That said, I love speaking Spanish. One cute mom gave me a hug after I was finished "counseling" her.

Some days I feel like I'm sitting down with friends chatting about our kids and sharing great ideas for feeding them and other mom stuff.

Other days, not so much.

Commuting with or without traffic SUCKS.

Listening to audiobooks has made commuting much more tolerable.

David Sedaris is really funny (but has a potty mouth).

Barbara Kingsolver has some very intriguing points about the virtues of eating local organic foods and growing as much of your own as you can (I'll be heading to our farmer's market this weekend and trying with even more effort to keep my garden alive and producing food that our family can eat).

No matter which way you look at it, I didn't pick a great time to start working for the public health department... H1N1 anyone?

(As a side note, if you are symptomatic and believe you have the Swine Flu... please STAY HOME... do not venture to the nearest public health department because you heard they have free TAMIFLU... they don't. Call your doctor!)

There seems to be a never-ending list of requirements for orientation meetings, training modules, and check-off lists of things to know and be able to do. These offer countless opportunities to learn and grow, which have greatly enriched my life. Really. Some gems I've gleaned from this:

The symbol below is an actual chemical hazard warning symbol. It does NOT stand for the song "Ring of Fire" which is permanently emblazoned in my brain, not from the song performed by Johnny Cash (although that's catchy as well) but from Adam Lambert on American Idol. It's especially well known around our house because Coleman hums or sings it for entire days at a time. I'm not joking.Despite it's genuine value as a warning symbol, it still makes me smile when I see it.
In my workplace safety orientation I learned that if you want to be safe around dogs, just make sure you can run faster than your sister (or whomever else you might be with).

Also from my workplace safety orientation I learned that if a bomb threat is called in, I am supposed to get the name, address, and phone number of the person making the threat in addition to the location of the bomb. There is actually a form for this, if it's convenient to fill out.

(Another side note from workplace safety--if you plan to stalk me, please don't do it at my work location, there is too much paperwork involved.)

And finally, a deep thought from a training module on critical thinking:

"Critical thinking is the art of thinking about your thinking while you are thinking in order to make your thinking better...." (Paul, Binker, Adamson, and Martin 1989).

**What do you think?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Notice anything different?

(Besides the fact that I have an amazingly handsome boy?)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I Wish I Could Say I Made These...

Olivia's baptism dress was a great bargain find from Burlington Coat Factory...

...and this is the cutest skirt I've ever seen... it was lovingly made for Olivia by her auntie Laura for her birthday (someday I'd love to create something so beautiful!)...

...along with this lovely journal and matching bookmark. You are amazing Laura!

I almost feel inspired to pull out my sewing machine and create something (as long as it only requires sewing straight lines).

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photos by Ryan

Ryan took Olivia and Coleman for a little photo shoot a few weeks ago--here are some of my favorites:

The photo below is the one we used for Olivia's baptism invitation.)

I loved these shots--thanks Ry!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

It's Great to Be Eight!

Olivia has been so excited to turn eight... she's been looking forward to her baptism and has been excited to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We had a wonderful day with family and friends being with Olivia for such an important occasion.

She looked so happy all day long--it was so neat to see her preparing for such an important event.

Our little family just before the baptism...

Liv with Grandma Stover... she said a wonderful opening prayer and played her violin during the closing song while the kids sang "I Love To See The Temple."

Grandma Harper flew in from Connecticut to be with Olivia and celebrate some of our family birthdays in June. She gave a really nice closing prayer, but she said that next time she wants to give the opening prayer, because after seeing all those cute kids sing she got too emotional... I don't blame her, I was pretty teary too.)

Ryan and Liv... what a blessing to have him be able to baptize her!

This is Olivia's cute friend J.D. They have been friends since they were babies!

Grandpa and Grandma Cole were there too. We love having them live close by.

We were excited to have Liv's cousins there too... this is Abi who will be baptized next year.
We were so glad Megan and John could come. Meg's been pretty sick for a long time, so it was nice that she was able to get out and be with us.

Olivia and her uncle Tim... he played the piano for us and did a great job, especially for having never played one of the songs before.

We didn't get pictures with all of the special people that came... we were especially thankful for Kristen who led the music, Scott who gave a great talk on baptism (and mentioned something that has been on all of our minds--that our loved ones who have passed on were surely in attendance today), and David who gave a wonderful talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost.

We are so appreciative of all of our family members and friends who supported Olivia in this decision, even if they couldn't be with us.

After the baptism we had some lunch at our house and I couldn't resist taking a picture of the desserts... I especially love the square plate of "8" cookies that were made by my ever-talented and generous friend Jessica. They were a hit!

Olivia's great-grandpa Denver and great-grandma Jan visited us earlier to give her their gift--a new set of scriptures, complete with tabs and her name engraved on them. Olivia is so excited to have her own full set of scriptures.

It was a great day, filled with the Spirit, family, friends, and good food... what more could we ask for?

(Ryan took some beautiful pictures of Liv a couple of weeks ago that I need to figure out how to get my hands on so I can post them... he got some great ones of Coleman too... stay tuned!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eight years ago...

...we were welcoming Olivia to our family. I didn't think it was possible to love her any more than I did the first time I held her...

...and nursed her (check out that rooting reflex)... but after eight years of being delighted with her, learning with her and from her, and feeling so proud to be her mama, it's safe to say that my love for her has grown immensely.

Liv chose "Breakfast for Dinner" for her birthday meal... we had German pancakes, bacon, strawberries, and a super-duper-tropical-berry birthday smoothie.

She got a new dress for her baptism day, a journal, and some other fun surprises!

Our birthday girl still loves to get tickled by Daddy-O.

Eight crazy candles for the birthday girl! She blew them all out and promptly told us she'd tell us what her wish was because she knew it would come true anyway... we told her to wait until it came true to tell us... but she let it slip that it has something to do with her baptism. We can't wait for that special event.

We had a great day celebrating Olivia... and we can't wait for many more birthdays and celebrations to come!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Flattery or Insult?

So today one of my co-workers said that she and another co-worker had been wondering something and she was nominated to ask me... and then she said, "So, do you sew your own clothes?"

(I had on a particularly cute skirt today which several people had complimented me on.)

I wasn't sure whether to be flattered that she and another co-worker thought I was capable of sewing such masterpieces...

...or offended that all my clothes look so shoddy that they must be homemade.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bearing One Another's Burdens

The last several Mondays we have been talking about baptism in preparation for Olivia's baptism in a few days during Family Home Evening. Last night, it was our pleasure to study some of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon--Mosiah 18:8-10. I love the phrases "bear one another's burdens that they may be light" and "mourn with those that mourn" and "comfort those that stand in need of comfort" and "stand as a witness of God at all times." I love the question that Alma poses to the people, "If this be the desire of your heart, what have ye against being baptized?" and when the people heard this, they "clapped their hands for joy."

Olivia earnestly wants to be baptized and is prepared to make that special covenant with Heavenly Father. During our discussion Olivia and Coleman asked what it means to bear one another's burdens. It was so easy to explain since we have been the recipient of so many kind acts recently.

Just yesterday I was on my way home from work, going over and over in my mind what meal possibilities we had and how I was going to manage putting dinner on the table in a timely fashion (more on the back-to-work transition later). I was at a loss.

I pulled up to my friend Hannah's house, where my kids are well taken care of for at least one day during the week. Coleman and Olivia love being there (and they love being at their other "sitter's" house, my other friend Char). We feel so blessed to have friends help us out in this way.

Hannah was handing off their bags and as the kids were (reluctantly) getting ready to go, she nonchalantly said, "so, we made you some dinner..." and proceeded to hand over and carry to the car several dishes that made up a fully prepared, hot meal complete with rolls and fruit. I was dumbfounded to the point that I don't think I was able to express my gratitude and I'm sure I sounded like a stammering idiot while trying to give thanks.

Tonight as we were folding and ironing clothes (ironing is something that rarely happens at our house, so it's worth mentioning, right?) we had another doorbell ditcher... this time leaving beautiful and tasty sugar cookies, with lots of frosting, and an envelope with money in it.

We don't know who it is from, but the fact that I can think of at least 20 people capable of such a generous and anonymous act makes it all the sweeter.

I have a sneaky suspicion that it comes in part from my last Relief Society lesson, based on Elder Hales' talk from April Conference "Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually." It needs to be said that just before church the day I gave that lesson, I was released from being a Relief Society teacher. I have loved the calling and so enjoy learning from the sisters in our Relief Society. I knew the release was coming sooner or later (because I have a couple of other callings) but that didn't make me any less wary of the timing.

Just before General Conference I felt strongly that I was prepared to hear the messages that would be shared. The minute I realized what Elder Hales was speaking about that Saturday morning, I knew that I would be teaching a lesson based on his talk. It came as no surprise that it was the first Conference talk assigned to me from this session. The fact that we had just been smacked in the face with our LACK of provident living and preparation for the future and that much uncertainty lay ahead made me feel humbled and humiliated and aware of the many ways I needed to change. It also made me feel like a bit of a hypocrite at the thought of standing in front of a room full of women who were much better at provident living than I am.

It seemed like pure poetic justice that my last lesson, my swan song, was on a topic that I was highly unqualified to teach. (I brought my Eiffel Tower and a beautiful photo that Ryan took as proof of my lack of provident living--you can see Ry's great photo here--you know I couldn't teach my last lesson without a lovely table decoration.)

In Relief Society I shared some of the events leading up to hearing the talk and discussed with the sisters ways we could all be better at living providently. I was comforted to know that I am not alone and that many other people are facing similar circumstances. I feel like (and hope) that we all went away feeling empowered and capable of doing better.

Things are looking up for us--Ryan is working at a new job that he really enjoys. I started my job about a month ago, and we are adjusting to the change of having me be gone a few days a week. We are paying our bills and within a couple of months we should have our fabulous trip to Paris paid for. I will breathe a lot easier when that day comes and when our emergency fund is a reality and not just a nagging feeling that we really should start to set some money aside for a rainy day.

Until then, we are so grateful for the big and small ways that people have shown us love and generosity. I shouldn't be surprised that people so willingly give, and fundamentally I am not surprised. I guess I am still getting used to being on the receiving end of so much selfless service.

I am grateful for the real-life examples that we have to show to our children what it means to bear one another's burdens and comfort those that stand in need of comfort... that the lesson came with sugar cookies is icing on the cake.