Music I Love

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Catching Up

Oh hi there!...have you been wondering where I've been?  I know, it's been far too long since I've posted anything, but that's because life has been happening around here, and that's a good thing, right?'s the scoop on the past 10 days that I've been away...

General Conference...
I always LOVE Conference weekend and this one was no exception.  I loved every word of every talk and I have a notebook full of thoughts and inspiration to prove it.  I promise to devote more time to some of those talks in the coming weeks, but for now, I'll have to just say that it was a rejuvenating, uplifting, spirit-filled weekend.

bird rehabilitation...
Last Saturday, the kids found a little cardinal in the front yard whose wing was broken.  He was limping around, so they picked him up and hand fed him blueberries and corn and a few sunflower seeds, and then tucked him safely under a bush near the house.  That night, there was a torrential rain storm and the kids all woke up worried sick about that little bird.  McKay rushed outside to see if there were any signs of his little friend, and lo and behold, a little red bird limped out from behind that bush!  Since rain was predicted through the evening, the kids insisted on bringing the bird into the garage for shelter.  And then they talked Craig into wrapping his wing.  And then there were morning walks in the backyard, and a 5lb bag of birdseed was purchased, and his name became Carlos.  He lived with us for the whole week, until Friday morning when he made a miraculous recovery and escaped both the bandages and the backyard.  Hopefully that will be the end of our bird rescuing. 

death of a microwave...
Apparently the lifespan of a microwave is about 13 years.  It's shocking how much you rely on one little appliance.  It's been five whole days and the leftovers are piling up in the fridge because how can anyone eat those things without a microwave! 

a new couch...
I have a great friend who likes to offload her furniture into our house whenever she gets new stuff.  When her family moved into a new house last year, they gave us their dining room set.  And last week, when they got a new sectional, she texted and asked if we still needed a couch upstairs in our, as a matter of fact, we did!  I love it.  The kids love it. And I think the space is going to be used a whole lot more now that there's a couch in it.  I think everyone should have a friend like Amy.  

You know our friends, the Rodriguez's (the ones we went on the cruise with?)  Well, their oldest son, Jacob and his wife Natasha have been expecting a baby for awhile...and for about two weeks Natasha was stuck in the hospital on mega bed rest.  Which was horrible for her, but pretty awesome for me because I got to watch their little Sofia for a whole day!!  

We played at the park...
...ate goldfish...
 ...watched Sofia the First...because it's about Sofia!...
 ...and then she snuggled up and took a nap on my shoulder...sigh...I just love her!
oh, and Tasha had this beautiful, perfect little baby, Penelope, on Tuesday morning.  

and then there was strep...
Four kids.  All home sick with varying degrees of viruses and strep throat.  Craig out on a camp out for the entire weekend.  Round the clock antibiotics.  That's it.  

On Sunday, with less than a week until Mormon Prom (our church's modest version of real Prom) Savannah decided she wasn't going to wait around one minute longer for a boy to ask her.  So she picked the one she wanted, called some friends to help her, and did something bold and courageous.  

And he said YES!  Yay Savannah!

missionary farewells...
Elder Christensen has been in our ward for 9 whole months!  That's forever long for a missionary to serve in one ward, so we knew our transfers with him were numbered.  On Tuesday, Craig drove him to the missionary exchange site.  Who knew they all met in one place?  It was like a giant reunion.  Craig saw all of our previous missionaries and had to get them together for a picture.  Super fun opportunity for Craig to get to say goodbye to one missionary and get to know our new missionary on the way back home.  
Elders Payne, Maldonado, Wilbur, Saenger, and Christensen (Saenger is going home; hence, the cowboy hat.)

It's been an eventful week and a half, and this wasn't even supposed to be my busy week.  Mega-rehearsal coming up tomorrow night for DMCO.  The concert is on the 26th...more on that tomorrow, hopefully.  Friday is Mormon Prom.  Saturday is EFY Express for the two older girls in Weatherford, TX (wherever that is.)  Sunday is EASTER!  And next Tuesday, my in-laws fly in for a week.  phew...

If, for some reason (like all those up there,) I'm not very prompt with the blog updates, thanks in advance for understanding.  :) 

Friday, April 4, 2014


Last Saturday, the girls and I attended the General Women's Broadcast at our church building.  We could have watched this on TV in our living room, but we decided to go to our chapel instead, and I'm so glad we did.  In past years, there have been annual separate broadcasts for the Relief Society and the Young Women, one in March and one in September.  But as of this year, the church has combined those broadcasts into semi-annual Women's Broadcasts to include all women and girls ages 8 and up.  

I can't even tell you how much I love this idea, and how amazing this broadcast was.  

The entire week leading up to the cruise, I felt like I was running around frantically trying to pack the most perfect clothes, get the most beautiful pedicure, and have the most stylish hair cut/color so that I would look as pretty as all those other women on the ship...whoever they were.  That is a frustrating and unachievable try to be as beautiful as the most beautiful person your head can conjure up.  And let me tell you, the most stylish haircut doesn't matter one bit when you're traveling in Central American weather.  
After comparing myself to all 2000 people on that ship for an entire week, my self-confidence was pretty minimal.  It took awhile after returning home for me to get back into normal life and remember my priorities.  My head was still replaying events and thinking that I could have looked better or worn something more appropriate than whatever I had picked. Isn't that crazy?  I completely lost my mind for a short time.  

And then, on Saturday night, walking into that chapel with my daughters and sitting next to my friends, I was reminded of the things that are really important.  
Deseret News
Shortly after the conference began, a choir made up of women ages 8 to 80 from the Salt Lake area sang the open hymn.  It was beautiful and they were beautiful!  And guess what...not once during that song did I wonder about the way I look in a swimsuit.  Not once did I worry that my hair wasn't entirely curled or straightened or whatever I was trying to do to it that day.  Do you know what I thought about?  I thought about how beautiful that collective group of women were in that choir, and what an amazing experience to be able to sing in the Conference Center with your daughters!  I thought about all the women assembled in my chapel and chapels just like it all over the world.  I thought about my two friends sitting on the row next to me who have daughters serving missions right now, and how just for an hour or so, this meeting helped lessen the distance between them.  And I thought about how different these meetings will look for our family in a few years when my own daughters are away at college, or serving missions, or married with their own daughters.   

The theme of the meeting was keeping covenants and being united in worldwide sisterhood as daughters of God.  I love that the little girls as well as the young women were able to hear those messages.  What an empowering feeling to hear several times that night that we, as daughters of God, have been given divine gifts and that we have a unique purpose on this earth.  

I loved this talk the most by Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women General President:
What a great privilege it is to be here on this historic occasion and address all the women of the Church, ages eight and above.  There is tremendous strength in our unity this evening.  Tonight we rejoice in our many different roles as women in the Church.  Though in many ways we are different and unique, we also acknowledge that we are all daughters of the same Heavenly Father, which makes us sisters. To be sisters implies that there is an unbreakable bond between us.  Sisters take care of each other, watch out for each other, comfort each other, and are there for each other through thick and thin.  The adversary would have us be critical or judgmental of one another.  He wants us to concentrate on our differences and compare ourselves to one another.  We as women can be particularly hard on ourselves.  When we compare ourselves to one another, we will always feel inadequate or resentful of others.  Sister Patricia T. Holland once said, 'The point is, we simply cannot call ourselves Christian and continue to judge one another - or ourselves - so harshly.'
What a different week it would have been if I had thought of all those women on that ship with me as daughters of God instead of as my competition.  As I looked around that chapel, and then went out for ice cream with all of those women on Saturday night, I hoped to be able to keep that feeling of sisterhood, not only with the ones in the room, but with all of the women I come into contact with.  More love and less comparing.  More uplifting and less competition.  More thinking about them instead of thinking about myself.  More wondering what I can give instead of what I will get.  

I'm so grateful for this women's meeting, for gentle reminders to do better, and for the changes that have been made to allow so many of us to attend together and regularly.  I'm grateful for the upcoming Conference broadcasts this weekend and for the opportunity to hear from church leaders.  

You can go here to listen to Conference at your house this weekend.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


We bought this house in June 2011, after living across the street in a rental home for a year.  We knew we wanted to stay in this area.  And we really wanted to stay on this particular street.  We had made great friends.  We loved the schools and the church congregation we belonged to.  And we loved our neighbors.  So as we set out with our realtor, we warned her that we had a very long list of criteria and a very narrow radius for her to search in.  

We looked at a few homes but we didn't love any of them.  None of them felt like our home.  Until we walked into this one.  Craig was cautious about it, because it was slightly out of our price range, and he didn't want me to be influenced solely by the street that it was on.  So, I tried to be impartial.  But I loved everything about this house.  I loved the landscaping and the way it looked from the street.  I loved that it had mature trees.  And I really LOVED that our beloved friends would still be close by.  

And then we walked in and I saw this...
It's difficult to tell from this picture, but this is just half of the room.  This space is where our piano and Gladys, the bass, currently live.  The other side of the room is where the dining room and the buffet live.  As soon as I saw this giant open space, I immediately envisioned filling it with youth.  Really, I actually SAW them.  Do you have visions like that?  I have them all the time.  Just little fleeting pictures or glimpses or feelings sometimes of things coming up.  They're not like premonitions.  Just little comforting visions of future possibilities.  As soon as I had this vision, I also had immediate confirmation that this was the right home for us.  In fact, I was content to stop house hunting at that point and just make an offer.  Craig wanted to continue looking.  But after some relentless pestering over the next 24 hours, he finally gave in and we bought this house.

We have used this space well over the past three years.  We have had my family and Craig's stay for extended visits.  We have had missionary discussions, family home evenings, home teacher visits, and presidency meetings here.  The youth have come in smaller groups for game nights, wii tournaments, pie making demonstrations, and pre-dance parties.  And we've had many, many dinners, parties, and celebrations with people we love.  I am happiest when this space is filled with people.  

But last night, we did what I had seen in that "vision" three years ago...

Last week, Craig realized that the planned combined activity for the first Wednesday in April had been cancelled and that his little group of very YOUNG Deacons were in charge of coming up with a new one.  He was at a convention in Las Vegas, with less than a week to plan, and would not have access to the church gym because of another scheduled activity there. Eek!  Between meetings in Las Vegas, Craig texted me various ideas for a group activity.  Finally, he found one that would work, with few logistical requirements.  We just needed a space to do it.  

So I begged him to let us to do it at our house.  I knew it was possible because I had seen it, hadn't I?  With a little bit of redecorating and some creative seating, I was sure we could fit them all into our house.  He was hesitant at first, but I think with no other viable option in mind, he had no choice but to give in.  

We moved everything but the dining room table and the piano out of the room.  We put the dining room chairs up against the back wall, moved a leafless dining room table into the front corner (where Gladys normally lives) and used it as a TV stand. And then, with an iPad and and Apple TV, played a rousing game of General Conference Scene It.  So fun!

There were 10 youth leaders, 2 missionaries, 1 Bishop, and approximately 40 kids in our house last night.  They ate 6 dozen chocolate chip cookies, 2 pans of brownies, and 2 dozen sugar cookies, and they drank 10 quarts of lemonade.  And I loved it!  I loved that they didn't mind snuggling up close together.  I loved that they were so competitive and excited about this game.  I loved that their energy could be felt in every part of the house.  I loved that when they got bored, a few of them wandered into the kitchen to talk to me.   I loved that the older boys helped Craig reset the room afterward.  And I loved that every single one of them said, "Thank you," as they walked out my front door.  

But mostly, I was just grateful all day long that we have the space to even think about doing something like this.  I am grateful for a husband who doesn't mind my visions, who hears me when I am insistent, and who can execute all my crazy ideas.  And I'm grateful for the opportunity that we have to be in the presence of these awesome kids on a regular basis.  

I loved everything about last night and look forward to lots more youth activities at our house.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Costa Maya

Our last port was Costa Maya, and it was, by far, my favorite stop of the entire week.  It was beautiful, for sure, but no more than Cozumel or Roatan.  I think my attitude was just better.  By Day 6 of the cruise, I had finally figured out what I was doing, how to communicate via sticky notes with all of our traveling companions, and that it's ok to sleep past 7:00am.  If I ever have the chance to cruise again, I will be so much better at it.  

Sorry for the picture overload, but there are too many great ones to narrow it down any further.

Look at that water!  It really is that perfectly turquoise turquesa!  And those little black stripes are fish.
Just a couple of miles from the terminal, there was a beautiful beach area called Mahahual.  We loved that place so much.  Perfect white, sandy beaches on one side of the road, and tons of little restaurants and shops on the other side.  We had a taxi driver drop us off at the far end of Mahahual and then we spent the afternoon meandering back to the terminal.  

Because really, can you think of a better way to spend your day?  Massages, guacamole and nachos.  

Oh, I loved this little girl.  Her name is Genesis and she's two.
We saw all these women and little girls walking up and down the street with their handmade bracelets everywhere in Mahahual.  We couldn't resist all the bright colors, so the girls and I came home with about 7 bracelets each.

Costa Maya was the perfect end to a once in a lifetime adventure.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Roatan, Honduras

Cruise life is harder than I expected.  With a new port to visit every day and many, many activities to choose from at night, and lots of teenagers who would rather play than sleep, I let the schedule get away from me.  I might have had a small meltdown after Belize.  By the mid point of our week on the ship, I had convinced myself that cruise life was not my thing and I would never be going again.  And honestly, if I could have figured out a way to find a helicopter to fly me home, I think I would have taken it.  

Fortunately, there were no helicopters available.  And fortunately, I have a very understanding and patient husband.  On Thursday morning, when I was still feeling overwhelmed and unexcited about another day of adventures in an unknown country, Craig suggested that I stay on the ship for the day.  Really?  Who knew that was even an option??  I was conflicted about not being with the group, but given their experience with me the previous day, they were probably relieved to not have to be with me.  So, I stayed on the ship.  And my sweet little Megan, who has become a hermit, like her mother, asked if she could stay with me.  Hooray!  I loved that idea even more than staying on the ship by myself.  

Megan and I waved to the group as they went ashore, and we happily and calmly ate a lovely breakfast all by ourselves.  Surprisingly, there are a lot of people who stay on the ship in the various ports.  We were without the group, but we were in no way, completely alone.  We spent the day taking pictures, looking over the side of the boat and marveling at the beautiful water, watching movies, and strolling along the unoccupied decks.  

By 11:00, we talked ourselves into going ashore for a little while just so that we could say we had been in Honduras.  Here's what our Roatan experience looked like...

Here's what everyone else's looked like...

yep, that is my baby hanging upside down from a zip line high above the forest floor

Megan and I didn't wander very far from the ship.  We spent more time looking at fish and flowers than shopping in the center of town.  And just over an hour later, we were back on the ship having lunch.  Craig and the Rods and all the kids rode first in a van, then in the back of a truck up to the highest part of the jungle, and spent the day zip lining through the trees, crossing suspension bridges, and hanging out with Capuchin monkeys.  Vastly different experiences, for sure.  But we all had a great day.  When everyone got back on the ship, Megan and I watched all their videos and listened to all their stories, and were pretty happy that we had chosen our quiet day.

At 4:00 that afternoon, we all walked up to the top deck to watch our ship back away from the dock. Roatan was so beautiful and lush.  I lingered up there for a long time watching the shore slip further and further into the distance...and took about a million pictures.