Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas and the Piano

This was an epic Christmas, that is for sure. It was pretty much perfect and I marvel at the fact that I was able to do all the things that I wanted to do. We went Christmas caroling to our neighbors, delivered a handmade gift, sent off my Christmas cards (a miraculous feat), and decorated the house with Christmas eclat. Well, at least my kids thought it was pretty fabulous. 

On Christmas Eve, Rinar asked me to take the kids and leave in the morning so he could get my surprise here in a timely manner. I took them to the children's museum in Lehi and came back promptly at 12, just like he asked. His mom decided to spend the week with us, so in the interim time the surprise was delivered and he picked her up. 

When I got home, I announced myself and then went into the living room. There it was, a grand piano. And not just any grand piano. Nope. It was a Steinway!  Holy moly. He really went all out this year. But the most shocking part for me was when Melody Brown peered around the corner. Melody is one of the 5 Browns, part of a dynamic sibling piano playing quintet. What in the world? She then shared her musical gifts with our family and played a few songs on the new piano. One of the songs was "My Favorite Things" from the Sound of Music. It was incredible. She is a Steinway artist, so I guess when you buy a Steinway, this is one of the perks of the purchase.

We visited for a while and her husband took pictures of us together. This piano was used in a performance by the 5 Browns this summer at the Draper Amphitheater. If you look inside the piano, they all signed it. It was also a birthday present for Linda to have this private concert with her. Linda had seen her perform live at Tuacahn and now here she was, in our living room.

After Melody left, the kids made gingerbread houses with grandma while I finished up last minute errands for Christmas.

Too cute.

And on Christmas Eve, we ate pork burritos and had a birthday cake for Linda. I think she liked it.

This is what our Christmas looked like this year.

And the kids patiently wait, eagerly anticipating the gifts Santa brought.

We decided to get all the boys a Nintendo 3Ds. I am not sure if I am going to regret this decision, but it sure has been much loved over the past few days, without a doubt. Julia wanted an Elsa doll and Noelle got a cuddly little doll also.

After we opened presents and ate lunch, we headed over to the Draper Rehab center to do a Christmas program for the residents. Linda was able to participate with us, which was a blessing. We left Noelle home to nap with my sister and her husband. That was also super nice to be able to do. Zach wasn't able to go because he lost his voice and was just not feeling very well. Over all, he was not too sick, but at that moment he was probably at his worst.

The Christmas program was lovely and it was nice to be able to do service on Christmas Day. I was really grateful that we could have the kids do that.

Sunday was another spectacular day. We decided to do the same program for our neighbors. I really wanted to do something for them as a way for everyone to get to know each other better and to create more solidarity on our street. I was happy with the turnout. It was kind of last minute.  But you can see, the room was full!

Rinar told me right before our guests arrived that one of our neighbors was going to bring some friends. I was like, uh, okay. Whatever. You can see the "friends" in the very back row. We sang and played and did our stuff. I finished off the program with "I'll Be Home For Christmas" and then was like, thanks for coming everyone. That's it.

But then Rinar stepped in and said there was an encore performance. What? I knew nothing about this. Then he introduced Josh Wright and his wife Lindsey. Josh is a world-renowned pianist and another  Steinway artist. You can find his stuff on Youtube, especially this song where he plays on two pianos. He also was on America's Got Talent. First they played a couple of piano duets and then he proceeded to play a slew of songs. It was breathtaking. And the best part was that we could share this with our neighbors. Everyone seemed to enjoy it immensely. It was just one of those super-cool moments in life I don't ever want to forget.

Of course, Rinar made sure we had a Sharpie, and had them both sign our piano as well. 

This is probably my best Christmas yet. How could you ever top this, right? Merry Christmas everyone.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Christmas Letter 2014

Merry Christmas everyone! I have taken a little blog vacation, but I guess a promised Christmas letter should help me get back on track.


We started off 2014 with a big birthday for Raef and Zach. They turned 12, which means they were ordained Deacons and started passing the sacrament in church. They took to it well and have never looked back. 

It was also a month that brought great change. Rinar's dad passed away after many years of poor health. We were able to have a beautiful funeral service for him to send him home. We miss him every day and look forward to a happy reunion some day.


Eli turned 6! And we also took a family trip to San Diego and Legoland. It was really nice and fun to be able to go when it was not busy. It is one of the perks of homeschooling, for sure.


We got back to business with school work galore.  All the kids are growing, but especially Noelle, who passed the 6 month mark.


Noelle, Rinar, and I went with Bart and Monica on a quick trip to Las Vegas so that the guys could compete in a triathlon relay with our Vegas friends Rich and Johanna. The guys did great and won the relay. Then later in the month Rinar and I went to North Carolina for my 20 year high school reunion. It was fun to get away and do a bit of reminiscing.


We had an unexpected visit from Rinar's cousin Ranel, did lots of little outings, including a day trip to the Golden Spike National Monument and some scenic mountain drives. Then my mom came out to stay at our house for two weeks so that Rinar and I could take Raef and Zach on an epic Eastern states American history trip. We did it all, from Jamestown to the coast of Maine. I thought they didn't really learn much, but I have been surprised over the rest of this year how many things did sink in. Thank goodness!


The little kids took an intense interest in coin collecting. That is a super easy souvenir to bring back from any old trip. The boys also did a Father/Son camp out with our ward. And as always, it was violin camp time. This was Eli's first year and he really enjoyed it and wanted to play his violin a lot more.


We visited family in St. George for the 4th, did lots of swimming, visited the Salt Lake Cemetery, the Utah Arts Festival, and skate park.  We also planted a garden this year and it really took off. The kids just loved going out there every day finding botanical treasures and asking lots of questions about nature.  I also took a weekend trip to Sedona with my sister Heather and my Dad came for a week long visit.


Football was in full swing for our house. Raef made it onto a better team this year and had a positive experience with the coaches and the season. He was back on the line and learned a ton. Eli also played flag football with his crew. We went camping, hiking, swimming more, and worked on lots of merit badges for Boy Scouts. Zach participated in a triathlon and did a marvelous job. And the biggest event this year was probably that I enrolled both Raef and Zach into the public middle school. 


Harry and Julia both played on soccer teams and had a blast. We made a day trip to Wyoming and the mountain man rendezvous and a visit to the fairy forest. And darling Noelle turned 1! Holy Moly!!


Julia had a special princess birthday party to celebrate 5. It was a huge success. Harry had a LEGO party with the little boys in our neighborhood and just loved it. Two separate parties. I participated in the Red Rock Relay with my running friends and almost died running my leg around Jordanelle Reservoir. Somehow I survived. And Raef's team won the championship. Go Chargers!


Zach started with the wrestling club and really loves it. Raef found a competitive basketball team to play with and is enjoying it immensely. We also did the craziest thing by driving all the way down to Arizona to visit my family. Thanksgiving was at Golden Corral with my parents and sister Christi and her family. We stayed in a hotel in Mesa and were able to visit the beautiful Christmas lights at the temple and spend time with everyone. And somehow we limped home all in one piece.


Eli started playing basketball and is really enjoying it. Raef, Zach, and Eli all had string recitals and Raef and Zach continue to play in a chamber group with another violinist and a cellist. It has been a great experience for them.  And Rinar and I took an over-nighter to Las Vegas to watch our Utes play victoriously in the Vegas Bowl. We also were able to catch up with some wonderful Sunset Ward friends. We stopped by at a few other places to surprise people but nobody was home. Boo. I wish we could have seen everyone. Las Vegas has the best people in the world.

And you must really love me if you read through this entire list of family happenings. Have a Merry, merry Christmas everyone. We love all of you and look forward to hearing from you in one way or another.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Seahawks End Their Season

The crazy fall is starting to wrap up...thank goodness! Oy. Some how I have managed to get everyone where they have needed to go and everything seems to have worked out okay. Eli finished flag football this past week.  The kid was absolutely ecstatic to add another trophy to his shelf. He lives for the meaningless trophy. Don't get me wrong, I am glad he is happy and that he got one, but they only won two games this season. They didn't really earn anything. Some day he will understand.

But I can't take away from that happy face, right?

I think he was able to pull a couple of flags this year and he ran the ball for a total of about maybe +1 yards, but I might be generous in that estimation. However, he was definitely the cutest one out there. It has sparked a love of sport in him. Every day he goes into the yard and practices punting with Harry and Raef. I can see his coordination greatly improving. He is still a pretty slow runner but maybe if I got him some really good shoes, that would improve too.

Way to go, Eli!

My Blessings

The Primary Program was today and it was wonderful. The theme for the year was “Families Are Forever” and I was touched by the spirit as I listened to those precious children sing and speak their little lines to the congregation. There is power in the voices of the innocent.

I am fortunate that three of my children participated. They did a wonderful job. Eli had to say what his favorite Article of Faith was. He has a musical mind and since he learned them through music he decided to sing his part. It was precious. When he finished singing A Capella the first Article of Faith, you could hear the congregation murmur their admiration.

Julia was able to speak her part very clearly. She also sang well, except for the times she would make faces at Sophie Daynes, her little buddy. It was pretty cute though, considering they were right in front for everyone to see.

Harry was also in the very front and I watched him sing his heart out and just be a littlecutie. He got to say why he was glad he could watch General Conference, because he could see the prophet on TV.

It is the little things that make my life so incredibly wonderful. As the sacrament prayer was being said, I looked at three blonde heads lined up next to each other with their eyes closed and I thought to myself, wow, Heavenly Father has richly blessed my life.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Dynamite Divas Rock the Relay

 I had an enjoyable weekend doing my first relay with ladies from my ward. It was the Red Rock Relay in Park City. Lindsey was kind enough to invite me to the party and I am so grateful for her thoughtfulness. It was just what I needed, to be able to hit the reset button on my life.

We left on Friday night and ate dinner at an Italian place in Midway. Dinner was lovely and it was fun to catch up with everyone. Katie C. sort of took on the role of hostess by asking questions to get the conversation going. We spent all night telling our "How We Met Our Husbands" stories, with a great deal of tangents thrown in.

Katie's family has a cabin in Midway and we slept there and were up super early to get to the starting line.

Katie was runner number one. She looks good, right?

She had to run in the dark and by the time she made it to the first exchange, the sun was breaking over the horizon. The sight was breathtaking; an idyllic, pastoral setting kissed by fluffy pockets of fog. Yep, it was going to be a great day for a run, or two.

Since our team was called the Dynamite Divas, we had a special hand-off, fist bump explosion thing going on. We were so cool, right?

Everyone is watching for Haley to come in on this leg. We were actually going faster than we expected and were catching teams all the time with the staggered start. You just can't stop pure awesomeness, I guess.

Until Lisanne's leg, most of the course was pretty mild. But she was getting ready to make a significant upward climb towards the Jordanelle Reservoir, 2.9 miles straight uphill. And she demolished it.

Here we are at the summit with Jordanelle in the background. Everyone has run a leg except for me, since Lindsey and I split leg #2. Katie was on her way down the hill to the reservoir, so she didn't make this picture.

I am ready to get going. My leg said 9.97 miles and my mind was ready for anything. I am not sure my body was, though.

Holy moley, holy hills. It was crazy what I was up against. The elevation gain was 1599 feet and the loss was 1477 feet. It was a net total gain of about 200 feet. It was intense. There were significant uphills and then immediate, significant downhills. The entire leg was a rudimentary gravel path. There were tons of turns and switchbacks and I have never done anything like that before in my entire life. I decided to just walk up the hills and then really try to gain time back on the downhills. It seemed to work as I did pass about 8 people. I only got passed 4 times. I was happy about that. And I was also happy about the fact that I was able to complete the course in 1 hour 55 minutes. It was not for the faint of heart. And my GPS watch said that the course was actually 10.3 miles long. Woosh! I was really happy to see that finish line and pass it on to Darcy.

Darcy went straight uphill for 7 miles to bring us into Park City, where she passed off to Haley again, who also went straight up for over 4 miles. And then Cassie and Lindsey ran together straight up 5 miles to get us over the summit and on the way to Midway again for the last leg.

That little red dot is Cassie, who had about a mile or so left from that point.

Lisanne brought us home by running eight miles down a steep, windy mountain road. It was great to have everyone at the finish line.  The team even competed in a push-up contest to win a dumb prize and I decided that since I really suck at push-ups I would just take pictures. Somebody had to, right?

Lisanne, me, Haley, Cassie, Lindsey, Darcy, and Katie.
 It was time to eat dinner and we were all starving. We went to Don Pedro's in Heber City and then hit the road for home. I think we were all pretty beat, but we sure had a fun time. I can't wait to do it again next year.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Party Time - 5 Year-old Style

It is just birthdays, birthdays, birthdays around here.  Julia and Harry turned the big 5 this past week. Since this is a milestone in life, at least I think so, I decided they each needed their own birthday party. Yes, I knew it was going to be painful for me to pull it off, but it just had to be done. You only turn 5 once in your life and I still remember my 5 year-old birthday party. It seems this is the age when you really start to remember stuff.

Julia's party was first. I held it on Tuesday at lunch and it was a princess tea party. Julia decided that she wanted it to be a Belle party. I think this can be attributed to the fact that she has a Belle dress. We invited over all of her friends from the ward, her soccer team, and a few homeschool friends we have met this past little while. I hung lights and chinese lanterns (from Catye's wedding), got out all of my fine china (from the thrift store, of course), and had everyone wear their fanciest party dress. It was perfection.  Eighteen little girls descended on my house and it was a lot of fun. 

I had a few surprises for them. They colored crowns, ate a fancy lunch, twirled, and painted fingernails by the wonderful Heather E. They also ate cupcakes and ice cream and Julia opened presents. Then, with 30 minutes to spare, the girls saw the princess make her grand entrance! Belle came to the party...the REAL Belle, according to Julia. 18 little girls were mesmerized. They sat down as she talked to them. Belle had a coronation ceremony for Julia and crowned her the official princess of Draper, Utah. She read them a story and sang them a bunch of songs. And then we took pictures. All of the girls were asking her if she could come to their party. It was most definitely a special day for my special girl.

That party was a ton of work. And then it was time for Harry's party on Thursday. Boy, what a difference boys make. Soooooo easy! I invited all of the boys from his Primary class. They are all adorable and they play well together.

I also did this party at lunch time. It was a LEGO party. I fed them pizza, sang a few songs to them, put LEGOS together, of course, and did an obstacle course in the backyard. They just loved the obstacle course. There was a balance beam, soccer kick, up the ramp to the trampoline, swerving through the stools, and then a crawl through the 'tunnel of death'. This occupied them for about 30 minutes or so.

Then they just played together and continued to make LEGO creations. I gave them all a little LEGO set, a few lollipops, and sent them on their way. It was fun and laid back.

And hallelujah, party season is over...until next year.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Noelle

My precious, gentle, squishy, rambunctious baby girl is one today. Has it really been one year? It has been a blur. Time moves so quickly. I was so anxious to be done being pregnant and I was thrilled when the doctor announced that it was a girl! Rinar and I were ecstatic. 

Noelle, you have been a blessing for our family in so many ways. We love you so much. In the beginning, you were a darling spectator as the daily circus passed before your eyes. You soaked it all in. I would just hold you in my arms for hours and hours.

But then, the spectating was done and you were ready to take the world head on. You have come so far. You walk and explore and destroy with perfect innocence. You give so much love to all of us: Dad, Raef, Zach, Eli, Harry, Julia, and me. You make us laugh and bring smiles to us all.

You are a pro at climbing up and down stairs, up and down the stroller, and love, love, love the toilet and all of its possibilities. You are now starting to talk and the words are forming and sorting themselves out. Today, you loved to say football. Maybe that is because you play in the front yard and watch your brothers practice their punting skills. You also love the wiggle board and have an obsession with my yellow iPhone, at least almost as much as I do.

You love it when I sing you to sleep and tuck you in and we always play a good game of peek-a-boo. You are a master peek-a-booer. Sometimes, you let me cradle you and sing to you and you will just stare at me, perfectly still. It is heavenly.

It is a privilege to be your mother. Thank you for choosing our family. You are my heart.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Precious Kid Moments

I just love the funny little moments in my kids lives, and I get a front-row seat.

Eli wore a green shirt to the park. Clearly, it perfectly camouflages him with the grass.

"Look mom, I am invisible when I squat down like this."

Yep, Eli. You ARE invisible.

And then we went home for lunch. It was a long morning at the park. Harry was parched.

Problem solved!

Kid Happenings

September has been a go, go, go kind of month. My calendar is packed with appointments every single day.  Here are a few things we have been doing...

I am part of a playgroup, which is comprised mostly of boys, and then there are the two girls, Julia and Molly.  A few weeks ago it was my turn to host this motley little crew. They had fun as you can see playing pool. And why bother taking turns when you can all go at the same time? Right?

Ryder, Boston, Sawyer, Harry, and Charlie
 Eli's flag football team, the Seahawks, play on Wednesdays at Galena Park. Our team is navy, Ryan P. and Jason B. are the coaches, and our entire team is made up of first graders, minus one second grader. All of the other teams are pretty much second graders so it has been a tough season.  The first game was very entertaining. When it was Eli's turn to be the running back, he really pulled out the juke moves. Of course, there was more juke than move, but it was still adorable.

And Zach was able to do the Kokopelli Triathlon again this year. I am really proud of my boy. He ended up placing 3rd overall! Whoa! I was not able to go down because I had to stay up here for Raef's football game and Harry's soccer game. But it was nice to have Rinar do the race with him and also have Monica W. down there spectating and cheering for Zach along with her daughter Natalie and husband Bart. They are good friends. We are blessed.

Zach with Natalie W.
 Julia has her soccer games on Monday, which is nice because Rinar is able to come to those. She is enjoying all of the girls and has made special friends with this cutie, Jocelyn. Whenever they are on the sidelines, this is what they are doing. But all of the girls are darling.

September is coming to a close and October will be here soon. One more month of craziness and then I will be able to breathe.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


September is my birthday month. It was a nice way to celebrate 38. Rinar was home and able to help me and do stuff to give me some free time. He even installed a bunch of motion-sensor light switches for the lights that always seem to be on, like the basement stairwell and the pantry. There is also one in the kids bathroom and the half bath. 

I was able to go to lunch with Melanie. She treated me to Blue Lemon, which opened on my birthday. There were some ladies walking around giving out presents and I came home with a t-shirt and a hat. I am a walking billboard!

Melanie and I had a wonderful lunch together and were able to catch up after a busy month of doing mom stuff.

And once again, not a word from my parents. Nothing. Crickets. It kind of bothered me for a bit, and even more so when they called me a week later. I just really didn't want to talk about it. I just didn't. It brought back memories of my 8th birthday when they completely forgot because they got into a big fight. It was pretty miserable, I am not going to lie. And every time this happens, it just takes me back there.  I have thought about what I want to do about it because it bothers me with how much it bothers me.

So now I have a plan. Next year, I am going to call them on my birthday. They never remember, so I will remember for them. I will call them and have a nice conversation and remind them that it is my birthday and then the problem will be solved. I really like this plan. I don't like all of the attention anyway. But it is nice for my parents to remember me.

Violin Recital

This past month has been pretty darn crazy. Every single day I have been taking the kids to something or another and Saturday is the worst because Raef and Harry have games and they are usually at the same time. The nice thing is that their games are always in the morning, so the afternoons are free. 

A few weeks ago Zach and Eli had their fall recital. It was wonderful. Eli played "Lightly Row" and he was a pro. He kept going even though he had a few little hiccups in his song. He also played "Old MacDonald" with a group in the middle of the recital. Zach's group piece was "Ashokan Farewell" it is a stunningly beautiful tune. I love it so much and his group played it exceptionally well.

Zach played Violin Sonata in E Major, 4th Movement by Handel. It looked like a walk on a sandy beach for him. No problem. 

Overall, the boys represented well. I am one proud mama.

Labor Day Get Away

We had a wonderful Labor Day this year. Since there was no school or work, it was time to take a mini road trip. We took everyone up to Fort Bridger, Wyoming for the Mountain Man Rendezvous. It is quite a festival in the middle of nowhere. We were able to get there at lunch time and made sure to get some funnel cake to start the trip out right. Plus, the kids were kind of hungry and something in their stomachs was better than nothing. 

Noelle really liked the funnel cake, but so did everyone else. We enjoyed it while watching the Native American tribe members perform traditional dances.

Everything at Rendezvous is authentic. There is nothing made from China at the festival. Plus, they have hands on stuff and learning booths. Raef and Zach were able to play an old-fashioned game of tug-o-war with one of the mountain men. They really liked it.

Eli especially enjoyed the festival. He is a sponge. We watched fire making the mountain man way, spinning of wool, touched animal pelts, and searched for old coins to add to their coin collections. He really loved everything and wants to return next year. You got it, Eli!

After we made the rounds, we headed to Mountain View to eat at the local burger joint and then hit the road for the scenic way to Utah, through the Uintahs and Mirror Lake. On the way to Heber City we stopped at an enchanted fairy forest. Yes, a fairy forest is in the Uintahs! It is an art lovers dream on the Mirror Lake Scenic by way at mile marker 17. You can make your own little city for the fairies when they come out to play.  The kids enjoyed looking at all the contributions. We will definitely be returning to add our own vignette to this special forest.

As the day was winding down, we finally were able to visit WISP, Lindsay and Justin's shave shack in Heber City. The treats were delicious and it was tons of fun. And we even got to see them as they were down the street hanging at the Provo river. We visited for a little bit and then hit the road to get home before it got too late. I mean, the kids had school the next day. We had to be responsible.

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