Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Word For 2012

As I think about this last year, I can sum it up in one word....survival!  Needless to say, I am very glad it is over.  Hallelujah.

With that said, I am trying to get myself excited about 2012.  Unlike this past year, I have made some specific goals. 

 I plan on running at least one marathon.  Training officially starts on Monday.  This is going to be very difficult, but not insurmountable.  Luckily, I have a training program that requires only 4 days of running.  I know I can do that.  With training, I want to run a half marathon in March as well. Rinar did a whole bunch of races last year, but I am not going to let that stop me from doing my thing.

I also want to be more dedicated to my kids and their education.  I have ideas of things I want to do, so this year I am going to implement them.  I think it will be easier because Harry, Julia, and Eli are older and able to do a lot more things. This is only going to get better as the year progresses.  I look forward to that.

Rinar and I plan on taking Raef and Zach to Europe in the late spring.  This is something to look forward to as well.  We have wanted to go for a long time and it will be wonderful to take them with us.

Here are just a few things going through my head right now.  I just read a blog about choosing one word for the year.  And now that I have written some of my thoughts out, I realize what my word is. Implementation.

I have a lot of ideas and now I need to implement them.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sacramento Zoo

I live in a zoo, so why not go to the zoo? Rinar did not work today so we did a mini road trip to Sacramento.  It was a beautiful day and the little ones really enjoyed looking at the animals.

Except that Julia just couldn't walk another step. I had to hold her.

And this little guy wanted to go home after about 10 minutes.  "Can we go now?" Oh, the agony!!!

Harry had a blast. He was running around everywhere with a big grin plastered on  his face. He loved being able climb up on the railings at each exhibit. Good times.

I think someone stepped on her hand as she was descending the cement slide.

We were also able to eat at Chick-fil-a. Yay! A beautiful day and a beautiful drive.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Reflections On My Christmas Day

Another Christmas has come and gone this year. I am kind of glad it is done. This is what it looked like for us this year.


I really love Christmas with my kids. They are all so special and I am very grateful that Rinar and I can give them so much, though we probably gave them too much.  Surprise toy favorites: $1 laser pointer from Radio Shack.  They had fun for an hour playing with that thing.  I also found mini plastic animals at Goodwill for 59 cents and Harry would have been happy with just that.  When will I ever learn?

But Christmas kind of made me a little sad this year. I made sure to send or give something to every member of my family...parents, brothers and sisters.  Yet, didn't even get a phone call or text from anyone.  I wanted to see if anyone would remember me and call.  But, alas...  Thank goodness I have my Heather.  She is a very special sister. I have been so blessed to have her in my life.

Maybe I am being too hard on all of them or too prideful.  I heard this quote today in church by Howard W. Hunter...

“This year, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and the speak it again.” 

Examine my demands on others. This has really stuck in my head. Maybe I expect too much in my relationships with family members.  I should have just called, but I was too stubborn. I just feel kind of sad right now. I hope tomorrow will be better.

But no matter what, I do rejoice in the Christmas spirit, because the Christmas spirit is the Christ spirit.  How grateful I am for His gift of eternal life. I rejoice in that.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Project Linus

Our friend Tracy hosted a Christmas service project party at her house this afternoon. There were a million kids running around while us moms were busy cutting fleece to make blankets that will be taken to some charity. It was a fun afternoon chatting and cutting.

Denice busy with the fleece.

Harry found the toys. Unfortunately, two of these cars are currently in my minivan.  My little clepto.  Such a proud  mama.  The toys stay in the van until they find their rightful home, which definitely is NOT our house. Grrrr.

I caught Haley by surprise in this picture.

Kelli had her hands full with her boys.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And They Both Looked So Innocent

The little ones have been quite a handful these past few nights. Every room in our house has its own bathroom. Unfortunately, that includes the babies' room.  There is a lock on the door, but it does not work.

And guess what they have become interested in, all of a sudden?  Yes, the faucet. Rinar found them yesterday after a long day at the office. When he had disappeared for a while, I went to investigate. He was in their room cleaning up the gallons of water that were on the floor.   

It was the last straw. I made a late night run to Walmart to get two more round doorknobs, so that we could prevent further bathroom incidents.  I installed them today and then put a child safety lock on the door.  Problem solved, right?


I was reading to Eli across the hallway when I heard frantic crying from my little "angel" girl.  I went to see what the problem was.  The bathroom door was open.  WHAT!?!?!?! The faucet was running. Julia was pretty wet, while Harry sat "innocently" in his bed.  She was covered in body wash. It was in her eyes. It was in her hair.

I started dousing her with water and then had to do a full-on soak of her hair in the faucet. I put it in a ponytail and changed her pajamas.  All the while, I was reminding her how naughty she was and thinking to myself that all the coal is going to this one!

How did the bathroom get opened? The child safety cover had been pulled off. I got some duct tape and stuck it back together thoroughly.

But when I put her in bed, it smelled very soapy on Harry's bed. Very soapy. Harry had just a little bit of body wash in his hair.  Don't worry. Most of it was on the sheets, and his blanket, and a book, and a puzzle piece, and toy.

I didn't have to douse him.

So, who really gets the coal around here? I am not so sure now.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Santa Is Dumb

I have officially decided that Santa Claus is just plain stupid.  The older I get and the more kids I have, the more I hate that fat, overly-jolly, sneaky old guy.  I mean, I feel like it is my obligation as a "good" parent to take my little kids to the over-crowded, depressing mall to stand in a ridiculously long line, so that I can be guilted into spending way too much for a stupid picture that I will probably lose anyways.  

At least that is what was going through my head as I waited in line with three rambunctious toddlers.  I really didn't last very long.  I got out of line, took a picture from afar of Santa and headed to the mall playground.  

Look, here is a blonde kid on Santa's knee.  My kids are blonde.  Close enough!

The line goes all the way around the back of that Christmas tree.  I am standing at the halfway point. It is a Monday afternoon, for crying out loud. Shouldn't these kids be in daycare or something, or home taking a nap? What is going on here?

But the playground sure was fun. We hadn't been in a while.  The kids had a blast.

Way better than Santa.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Violin/Viola Recital

Well, it's that time of year again when I share my kids amazing, spectacular, awe-inspiring talent with the whole world, or at least with the 15 or 20 people who will actually watch the video I am putting up for you.  See...and you don't even have to buy a ticket or anything!

But before I get to that, the recital went really well. Zach actually showed up mentally and did pretty well once he got into his groove. The beginning was a bit rough, but I was very pleased with what he did.  Plus, he didn't swing his body back and forth violently.  It was a pretty darn successful day for him.

This is Raef and Zach's music teacher, Dustin Budish. He has about 20 students in his studio and we go to his place downtown every week for lessons.

Here are a few of the other students. This is probably about half of the students who performed today.

 After the official recital and some refreshments, most of the kids played a bunch of Christmas songs with Dustin. It was a lot of fun. They were just sight-reading it. Well, except for my kids. They play out of this book all the time. In fact, they will be playing some of the same songs next week as prelude music in church.

Zach kept making really silly faces for a little boy that was sitting right in front of him. I probably should have given him the evil eye and all, but it was just cracking me up.  He is a riot, I tell you.

I really could only see the top of Raef's head, but I peeked to the side to get this shot of him.

Zach's rendition of Gavotte, by J. S. Bach

Raef's rendition of Concerto in D Minor by A. Vivaldi

Concerto in G Major by Telemann, Raef and Dustin duet

Zach and group perform Concerto for Two Violins by J. S. Bach

And finally, Zach's first piano recital number, Fiesta Espana by N. Faber

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ichiban Christmas

We had our Christmas work party last night. I haven't been to one of these in many years.  Rinar's boss in Vegas was Jewish, so she would keep rescheduling it sothat everyone could come. It would usually end up being at the end of January, or just not at all. I guess there really wasn't a pressing need to have one in December, from a Jewish point of view, I suppose.

But we actually had a Christmas party in December, before Christmas. It was at Ichiban Steakhouse in downtown Reno.  It is like a Benihana's. 

Kelli, Kevin, Kim, Ryan, Mara, Aron, Rinar, Me, Ben, Natalie, Brenda, Karen, and Jim

Our cook was Manuel and he was very funny. Almost as amusing as me, really. I actually had a lot of funny jokes last night that nobody laughed at.  My best one was when Manuel put the minced garlic on the meat and told us it was good for our hearts.  I piped up and said love is also good for our hearts! No one laughed!  Come on...that was hilarious.

The food was delicious and it was great to be able to get out of the house for a date with my husband. 

Rinar took a bunch of pictures, but for some reason he didn't take one of Ryan and Kim.  Ryan is the new guy to the team.  This is a small branch, but they had a really great year.  They ended up #7 in the country.  Way to go, team!

Don't you just love my double chin!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Peanutcracker and Cookies

On Tuesday we went to the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Reno to watch the "Peanutcracker".  It is a very shortened version of "The Nutcracker".  It was a very nice production, but not quite short enough for two two year-olds. 

 Just not short enough.  

So, while the production was concluding for the last 15 minutes, we took a tour of the lobby.

They really liked the water fountain.

Before the show, they were really excited...running around, jumping on stuff and driving the ushers insane.  But they were so filled with the Christmas spirit, they gave each other lots of hugs.

And on a separate note, I got a surprise package in the mail today.  Thank you Aunty Heather for our Christmas surprise. Harry and Julia decided to try them out, and they say the cookies are delicious. 

We love you!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What Sets Me Off

Some things never change. Today, I had a bit of temper tantrum.  Me...not my kids.  I was being such a good mom. I was actually cleaning things up before things spiraled out of control.  Eli's room was looking especially sorry, so I made his bed, picked up the dirty clothes, and spent at least 20 minutes putting the books back on his bookshelf. I organized them and made the room look quite nice.

Then Eli got in trouble. I don't even remember why.  Naturally, I banished him to his room. I tried to be loving and understanding of his feelings, but when I saw the other side of the bed, I lost it. Every bookshelf was empty, except the top one. He just couldn't reach that one. I gave him one good spank on the bottom and left. 

Then I started jumping up and down, screaming, because I was so frustrated. I can get no traction in this house!  I was screaming, hopping mad.

I sat down and fumed. Eli came out defiantly, stark naked. I just rolled my eyes. Whatever. Be naked. See if I care.

I was stewing over this whole episode in the back of my head and I came to a realization. I remember being about 5 or 6 years old, when we lived in a trailer in Provo, Utah.  My mom was sleeping and we were supposed to do the dishes and not wake her up, above all else.  Well, after I had washed almost every stinkin' dish in the house, my little sister Heather wanted a drink.  I was like, NO WAY!  You are not getting a cup dirty. This was too much work. She started crying, I got mad. We had a spat. Then, guess what? My mom woke up. She shooed us out of the trailer, and I sulked around waiting with terror for my dad to come home. Sure enough, he drove by and then a few minutes later he came marching fiercely toward me.

Yep, I got in big trouble.  

I can see the similarities here. I had got it just the way I wanted it and then someone comes along and wrecks it. I guess it is a test I haven't passed yet. It is kind of on the same lines as not ever taking a u-turn. I hate taking u-turns. It stresses me out. U-turns and re-cleaning things just you know what will set me off.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Lunar Morning

Do you know what we did this morning?  Rinar, Raef, Zach and I woke up in the 5 o'clock hour to watch a lunar eclipse.  Raef is always willing to get up at some absurd hour to be able to do astronomy stuff. I love that about him.  I probably would have just slept through it, but thanks to Rinar, and Raef's enthusiasm, they made it all happen.

As we laid on the floor in the living room watching the earth cast a shadow on the moon, which took about one hour to completely cover, Zach regaled us with lots of facts about the moon. 

"Dad, the moon is not a few miles away, it is thousands of mile away."

 "Did you know it goes from 300 degrees F, to minus 80?"

"The moon looks as big as the sun because it is a lot closer." Etcetera, etcetera.

I felt very educated at 5:30 am.

The eclipse was beautiful. I am grateful I could watch it from the comfort of a warm house. It was just above the mountain ridge, nestled in between pitch pine trees. When it was done, I went back to bed.

Friday, December 9, 2011


The Wii has reemerged from its storage unit in outer Mongolia.  

I was planning on bringing it back out after Christmas.  It was sent on a long, desolate journey because of the horrific fighting it was always instigating.

It was a motherly act of desperation. After frantically calling many women in my ward to see if my kids could come and play, I really had no other choice. I just couldn't watch any more tears fall from my son's face as he and his brother continue to mourn the loss of all of their friends from Las Vegas. They have no one here to play with, and it is just so sad.  I generally do not have any luck finding kids for them to play with. Everyone is just so busy with their own lives, we really don't have a place here.

It is just heartbreaking. Just when I think things are getting better, they really aren't.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Moment In Time

I thought I would get a few snapshots of the little ones. When I put Julia up there, she took the ribbon that Harry was not interested in.  All of a sudden, he HAD to have it! Notice her coy little smile as she uses her body to box him out. This girl knows just what to do.

Then they started sharing the cute.

Right after this, Julia got really mad at Harry because she wanted the ribbon back, naturally. What's a girl to do? Give him a big shove, of course.  I caught him just in time, before he did a face-plant on the ground.

Afterwards, Eli wanted to join in our little photo shoot. They are quite the trio.

Monday, December 5, 2011


My children have the most amazing, ever.

We sit down to eat dinner and I ask them, "So, how was your day?  What is going on? Tell me something?"

Answers are usually monosyllabic.  

But when the phone rings and I am talking to someone, then it becomes the perfect time to tell me about some amazing thing they have done.  Or when I am taking a shower, it is just when I need to give a kid permission to play the computer or get a phone number for someone they want to call.  And when I am trying to do a difficult yoga balance move that requires all of my concentration, that is exactly when they need to tell me what dastardly thing one of their siblings has done the day before. Or it is when they need a drink of water, or a puzzle from the top shelf, or cheese, or a cookie, or a pickle...oh you get the idea.

Like I said, their timing is always impeccable. Maybe that is why they are all going to be professional musicians is the perfect timing, of course.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Children's Choir Performance

I have been able to keep a Christmas tradition going one more year.  Today we did a musical program at a retirement community. It went really well. This year I took my children's choir from the Galena Ward to The Fountains.  It is a little retirement home near the airport. It really worked out perfectly and I am grateful for the experience.  

My choir member include Mateo, Porter, Soffia, Tessa, Summer, Aubrey, Bryce, Evva, Ella, Annika, Brady, Ryker, Anna, Derrick, Ruthie, Lena, Kaleigh, Olivia, Lily, Aryelle, Kennadee, Zach, and Raef.  My pianist is a young woman, Anna K., who has been such a blessing for the choir. Her family moved in a couple of months ago.

For the program, the kids sang "See the Joy", "Christmas Bells", "Teach Me To Walk/Love is Spoken Here", "That First Nowell", "Away In a Manger", and "Peaceful, Silent Night".  I also had some individual performances. Raef and Zach played three songs from Christmas Kaleidoscope. Tessa and Summer B. did a beautiful rendition of "A Special Night". I sang "Star of Bethlehem" and Anna L. did an adorable version of "Mary's Lullaby".

The last song was "Peaceful, Silent Night" and Kennadee C. sang "Silent Night", with the choir singing a different part. Then the two parts were put together and it was just lovely.

Rinar was able to participate because he accompanied on the solo parts, so it really was a family affair.

Someday we will be able to share this tradition with all of our kids when they are old enough. I look forward to it.  The residents enjoyed the show and all of the kids visited with them afterwards. 

Music is the perfect way to get the Christmas spirit. 

Me and Molly

Someone came over to our house last night! Surprise!  Our cute neighbors needed some sugar for a dessert they were making.  It was about 8pm and I was so excited. Someone came to our house.  Grant it, it was only 3 minutes, but still.

I thought about it this morning, and I can't help but remember one of my favorite musicals as a kid, "The Unsinkable Molly Brown". Did you ever see that movie?

Molly and her husband are a couple of country folk that discover gold and strike it rich. They move to Denver and buy this massively large house. The only problem is that the neighbors are snobs and no one ever comes to visit them, so they are so lonely. They ended up crashing the neighbors party next door.

"Howdy!" "Hi, there!" "Evening to y'all."

Oh, you get the picture.

I can't help but think of the Browns when I look at our situation.  We live in this huge house and we never get any visitors.  It is news worthy when we do. We just live so far away. I feel like my relationship with Molly Brown has gone to such a deeper level now.

Maybe I will go with her to France and learn some French.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Picking a Career

Rinar took the boys to a baptism today. As they were driving there, an interesting conversation ensued...

Zach: Dad, how many jobs can someone have and still make it home for dinner everyday?

Rinar: One

Zach: Darn, because I want to be an astronaut, inventor, doctor, and a chef.

Raef: Zach, you definitely won't be home for dinner if you are an astronaut.  You'll be in space for months!

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Miss My Ward Family

Some days are tougher than others. This was just one of those days. We had our ward Christmas party tonight. It was at the Stake Center, which is only about 20 miles away from our house. I was rushing to get out and all of my kids were being unresponsive, uncooperative, and incessantly whiny.  By the time I got in the car, my blood pressure was really high, my heart was racing and I just had to inhale and exhale.

When we pulled up to the church, Eli had fallen asleep. He completely zonked out. I took the twins inside and Rinar held Eli.  They had a creche display in one of the rooms. Both Harry and Julia insisted on touching the displays. I kept telling them no, but to no avail. They would not listen. So I pretty much lost it. I grabbed them both and dragged them out of the room.  I pretty much threw Harry on the ground.  I just couldn't deal with it anymore.

Rinar took them away, and I ended up holding Eli on the couch in the lobby while he slumbered away. While I was sitting there, I started to watch the ward members walking by, talking, visiting.  I felt so isolated and utterly alone. Here are all of these people. I have been in the ward for over 8 months, and I know no one.  Then I laid Eli on the couch and stood at the door to keep my eye on him and to watch the festivities.  Lots of people chatting and talking and it is always the same people paired up with each other.  I can just tell you who will be sitting with who talking and visiting.  I started to get very depressed.  

Can I be honest here? I really miss my Sunset Ward family.  They were always so sensitive to new people. You always made sure to sit with the new people, talk to them, really get to know them.

This ward is "friendly". Lots of smiles, and "Hi, how are yous?"  That is pretty much it. No one knows me. Okay, I can't say no one, but the list is incredibly small. People in this ward are just very comfortable where they are and there is no effort to really reach out to new people in a heart-felt way.  It was just so different in my last ward.  It truly was a family. This is very hard for me.  It is almost unbearable.

But then I sit here and think to must be me. What kind of vibes am I sending out?  Why do people talk to me the way that they do?  It kind of reminds me of my high school experience all over again.  I mean that in the sense that I had lots and lots of acquaintances, even a few fairly good friends, but I was so lonely. I had no real friends, where someone knew who I really was. It was hard, very hard. I was so alone.  But I am guilty. I have not really made as much of an effort as I did in Las Vegas.  I think that after many interactions, I have just become discouraged. We did invite a slew of people over for dinner to try to find our place in this ward, but it just hasn't gone how I hoped it would. Some people reciprocated an invite, but it felt like an obligation.

These are my feelings. I am probably being overly dramatic here, but at this moment, it is where my head is. This feels like a burden even more so, because we live so far away, on the fringe of the ward boundary. It is a huge inconvenience for anyone to come here. Whenever I tell people where I live, they give an audible sigh or groan.  Let's just say, we have had very few visitors for our entire stay in Reno. I think that in the 6 months we have lived in this house, we have had the same amount of visitors as we did in a two week time span in Las Vegas.

I actually started to feel nauseous at the Christmas party, so we left early. I just couldn't keep my feelings in check without making a spectacle of myself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What I Didn't Eat

It was a small victory today, but I am going to celebrate.  I went to a ladies night dessert thing at Mandy's house. I drank bottled water, I carefully selected one small desert, ate a lot of fruit and dipped only a handful into some healthy dark chocolate. 

I am usually the girl that has one of each dessert.  But I decided I didn't want to be that way, and I wasn't.  Will it always be so? Probably not, but at least I have something I can build on.  Each time I am successful, I get a little bit stronger. Plus, I have been trying to reprogram my thinking a bit.  I mean, I have eaten all of the goodies before. I know what they taste like. I know how I feel after I indulge too much.  I can remember the good tastes, and avoid the yuckiness that follows.

I really want to get rid of the baby gut I have been carrying around as a result of two consecutive pregnancies.  I know I am never going to have washboard abs, but I know that I can do better. I am just hoping I can make it through this holiday season relatively unscathed.

I am just going to do my very best, and I will be happy with it. The small things really do add up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Family Thanksgiving

We decided at the last minute to go to St. George for Thanksgiving. We had to drive on Thanksgiving day because my children's choir had a performance at an Interfaith meeting in the city.  Therefore, we woke up super early and hit the road by 5:20am. It actually worked out really well. The kids were fairly docile for most of the trip, so we didn't have to stop very much. 

On Friday, Jamie, Leah, Catye, and Mike drove down together from the Salt Lake area to spend the weekend with us. It was a lot of fun. We ate at Frostop, played games, did a little bit of shopping, and then they all went bowling before our big Thanksgiving feast on Saturday at Grandma Wilma's house. I stayed home with the babies for a couple of reasons. First, the babies were taking a nap and second, because I can't stand bowling. I also started cooking dinner while they were bowling. It worked out really well.

But the kids has a ton of fun. Especially Eli...take a look at his delivery...

 I think it is called the upside down delivery special.  Nordel and Tru also joined them for an afternoon of fun. Eli was able to spend some time with Tru on his own on Friday while Rinar played some golf and he had a lot of fun over there. Tru and Eli are buddies.

It was a lot of fun. All of the kids really enjoyed my siblings and their spouses.  

Maybe we will be able to do it again next year!

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