Music I Love

Friday, February 13, 2015

High Five for Friday

It's been a nice, uneventful, uncomplicated week around here.  

1.  Lots of Sunny Days
...and that means capris and cute flats in February!

2.  Dessert
It's always so nice to have unhurried Sunday dinners with Craig home from traveling and no plans after church.  Unscheduled Sundays always equal dessert.  

3.  Homecoming

Another Elder Thunell has completed a successful, honorable mission...this one in California.  How happy we are that he is home and prepared to start the rest of his life.  Savannah is thrilled that he will be joining her at BYU in the spring.  Welcome home, Jed!

4.  Valentine's Day
The decorating this year was more understated than it has been in previous years.  There are only a handful of pink and red heart-shaped things sprinkled around the house, but it's just enough to bring back a little of the color that has been missing since Christmas.  I love February.  

5.  Haircuts
What better way to greet sunny, pre-spring days than with a sassy new haircut?  I love that Emma wanted to make such a big change.  This cut is adorable on her!

I thoroughly enjoyed a week of fewer obligations, no drama or heartbreak, and plenty of time to drive around and look for beautiful things to take pictures of.  Hope it's sunny where you are, and that you have a long weekend to look forward to as well.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mid-Week Wandering

I realized this morning that I had absolutely nothing on my calendar.  Megan was staying late after school so that gave me an additional hour in the middle of a gorgeous February day.  And whenever I'm faced with that sort of serendipitous circumstance, I grab my camera, jump in the car, turn on the playlist, and wander.

I did more wandering than finding on this trip, but there were a couple of great treasures nonetheless.  I've seen this abandoned house before on this road, but it's always been too busy to stop and take a picture of it.  Today, it wasn't busy at all.  

And then there was a small herd of cows in a pretty bleak-looking pasture.  Everything is still so grey-green here, and even though the sky is blue and the sun is out, I think the grass and leaves are cautious about bursting forth.  It is still only February after all.  The pasture shots I took of these cows weren't at all spectacular.  But there was one little cute calf that wandered close enough to the fence that I could see every detail of his little face.  If at any point in my life, I might have wanted to hug a cow, this was definitely it.  And I think the feeling may have been mutual.  There were a couple of heartfelt moos exchanged in the minutes I spent shooting his picture.  

I am always alarmed at the things that are beautiful in an ordinary day.  But, I have hunted enough now to know that there is always, always something spectacular and inspiring to find in every single day.  Sometimes it can't be photographed.  Today I was lucky enough to stumble upon these two awesome moments.  There is not a single day of this life that I am not immensely grateful for the opportunity I have to steal a few hours in the middle of a day and take pictures.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

College Life

Here's an update via iPhone of Savannah's life at BYU.  She's only been there for 6 weeks, but she's so completely immersed in everything that you'd never know she hadn't lived in Provo forever.

This is her dorm...
And this is her dorm room...she shares this space with five other girls, and they share three bedrooms, two bathrooms and one kitchen.  

Here's her actual roommate...

Aren't they so cute.  Yes, they have matching stuff.  No, they didn't buy it.  They just came that way.  They are so alike it's a little scary.  And they absolutely adore each other.

And these are some of her friends...

...the top two pictures are friends from home.  The bottom two are new friends.  Yep, we're noticing a lot of boy pictures.  That one on the bottom is a double date she went on with her roommate this weekend.  They went to a men's volleyball game, then to a place that turns pie into shakes, and ended the night disco roller skating...only in Provo.  

This is her playing around in the BioTech lab with her friend Bethany (who is actually a BioTech major.)  Bethany asked the professor if Savannah could come into the lab, and he said, "Sure, just tell her not to eat anything!"  (ew...)

She's been getting up to Alpine and SLC to see family often, too, which we love.  She has become an expert at riding the train and navigating to various stops in the SLC area.  Tomorrow she's meeting the whole family at the airport to welcome home her missionary cousin after his two years in California.  

Can you tell she's having so much fun?  She has come to love her ward and her dorm friends (who are also in her ward.)  She auditioned for an a capella choir and made it.  Oh, and yes, she's working really hard in school, too.  I hear complaints about her statistics class a lot, but other than that, she's loving all of her classes.  Apparently college life agrees with this girl.  

She's coming home for a week between Winter and Spring sessions, and I can hardly wait.  I text her everyday, and talk to her a couple of times a week, and she FaceTime's us on Sundays, but it's just not the same as having her here.  How comforting to know, though, that she's surrounded by amazing opportunities, in a safe place, with awesome people.  We're so proud of her for working so hard and we are so grateful for the way this has all came together so beautifully.  Life is surprisingly amazing, isn't it?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Rural Exploration

In place of my usual solitary barn hunting excursions, I have taken up "rural exploration" these days with my mini-photographer companion, Megan.  She is drawn to all that abandoned, dilapidated stuff, and I don't really mind taking pictures of that either...especially on a beautiful, sunny day.  And the conversations we have in the car are pretty good!

This morning, we followed up on a tip from a friend about an abandoned orphanage in Sherman.  (Because really, who isn't just the tiniest bit intrigued by the thought of an abandoned orphanage?) 

We weren't sure exactly where to find this place, so we stopped first at the Sherman Museum.  This interesting little building is the former Church of Christ that is currently used for museum overflow storage.  Every single window in the front and on both sides is gorgeous stained glass!

We asked the museum curator for directions to the orphanage and were able to find it with no problem.  You really can't miss the thing.  It's so hard to tell from these pictures how spectacular this place is.  It sits on a hill at the intersection of two busy highways with a gated apartment complex directly behind it, and fences all the way around.  It's not the easiest place to photograph, that's for sure.  

The Woodmen Circle Insurance Company broke ground on the building in 1928 and it opened in 1930 to provide housing for widows and orphans during the depression.  During it's functional years, 100 children and 165 elderly women lived here.  There are several red brick buildings on the property, but I couldn't fit them all into one shot!  There is a gazebo to the right of the main building with the columns, and the entire west wing (built is 1948) is two stories of double occupancy rooms with a breezeway connecting it to the main house.  The place was sold to various investment companies after its last residents left the home in the early 70s and has remained unoccupied ever since.  

This building looks like more dormitory style halls and rooms, and sits at the back of the property behind the main buildings, but its entire roof is completely gone.  What a fascinating place.  We learned in the museum that in 2010, the owners (at the request of the museum) agreed to open the property to the public for one day only.  People paid $20 for limited access inside the buildings and guided tours by former employees and residents of the home.  What an amazing thing it would have been to wander through those halls and hear all the stories!  Well worth the $20 in my opinion.  

I continue to be amazed at the wealth of interesting little places here with so much history.  This one was definitely a treasure!  Megan and I are already planning our next RUREX trip.  

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Apples and Trees

I am always so surprised when the little birds in my home...and now out of my home...remember the things we've tried to teach them.  In my last post, I mentioned that we had a rough week emotionally around here (and in Utah.)  It's an especially difficult thing, to know that your child is sad and to not be close enough to talk them through it.  It's a difficult thing when your husband is sad, too, and far away.  Craig had some disappointments while he was traveling, and once again, I was pretty helpless from 1000 miles away.  There's only so much uplifting you can do via text.  

But I have come to realize that those challenges we face when we're alone are the ones where we learn the most.  Craig and Savannah probably needed to find their own personal solace more than they needed to hear from me.

There are places I go when I need to find solace in my life.  Prayer, scriptures, and conference talks all help a lot, but the place that I find the greatest comfort when I'm really struggling with something is in the temple.  Any temple.  At home.  On vacation.  It doesn't matter.  There is something about the sacrifice in getting there, the regular routine of it, and the time it takes before the running dialog in my mind is finally quieted, that brings the greatest relief and comfort for me.  This week I fled to the temple when the weight felt to heavy for me to manage alone.  And it was the perfect place to be.  

And then I noticed that Savannah posted this on IG this week...

How grateful I am that a few things stick with my kids even across the miles and that my little apples have not fallen very far from the tree that they've left.  

Friday, January 30, 2015

High Five for Friday

Oh, what an exhausting week.  We've all recovered from our various heartaches and disappointments.  Thanks to those of you who are always so sweet to write your notes and texts of concern.  I totally appreciate it and feel uplifted by all that love.  

There were some great things that happened this week, too, though, that really shouldn't be neglected.

1.  Efficiency
Whoever thought of this was brilliant!  Two sizes of little baggies in ONE box.  It's the small things that make such a big difference in life, don't you think?

2.  Sunny Weather
There is nothing that brightens up mid-January more than an unexpectedly warm week!  It was almost 70 degrees this week, and the sun was up early and bright every day.  I had to abandon the boots and socks I usually wear with these leggings and look for springier shoes...which I found in Savannah's closet.  Oh, the blessings of having a daughter who leaves stuff behind.

3.  Treats
This is actually leftover from last weekend, but I found the picture on my phone and realized it needed a space in my blog history.  Craig and McKay went on an ice cream run and because they know I'm not a huge fan of ice cream, they usually don't get me anything.  But I am a fan of non-dairy frozen when they passed this sorbet section they texted and asked which one I wanted.  Hooray for unexpected treats!

4.  Surprises in the Mail
Hooray for BYU mail from my girl this week!  Savannah wanted me to get a BYU Mom shirt when we were in Provo in January, but I just couldn't find one that didn't look like it belonged on a BYU Grandma.  Apparently she's been looking this whole time, and finally found one that was she bought it and mailed it to me!  It totally made my whole week!! 

5.  Inventive Kids
The dog on the left is the dog of my dreams.  Really any of those moppy looking things are the dog of my dreams.  I would LOVE to have one, I think.  But Craig is hesitant because there's work involved with a pet.  And I'm hesitant because I'm not great with living things.  Plants can't even survive in this house.  And a couple of us are very allergic to pets.  Therefore a moppy dog probably isn't in my near future.  The kids felt sorry for me because I keep longing for this little dog, though, so Emma bought a mop head from the store.  And then McKay fixed it to one of his stuffed animal puppies.  And poof!  Instant, hassle-free, fur-free, maintenance-free, moppy dog!  We're getting pretty attached to him.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Particularized Challenges

It has been a great and terrible week.  Terrible because there has been waiting and restlessness followed by disappointment and heartache.  And great because there have been so many answers to so many prayers. 

The thing that I've noticed, though, is that heartache and sadness and discouragement may look different on the outside for different people, but on the inside it all feels the same. Each person in my family and a few close friends have struggled with some major emotional catastrophe this week, and although difficult to manage with a few of us sprinkled across the country, it has been moderately comforting to know that there is some level of compassion binding all of us together.  Somehow knowing that you're not the only one climbing an endless mountain seems to make the mountain a little less foreboding.  

Neal A. Maxwell gave an amazing devotional at BYU called But For a Small Moment that was such a huge help this week.

"I'm not sure we can always understand the implications of God's love, because his love will call us at times to do things we may wonder about, and we may be confronted with circumstances we would rather not face. I believe with all my heart that because God loves us there are some particularized challenges that he will deliver to each of us. He will customize the curriculum for each of us in order to teach us the things we most need to know. He will set before us in life what we need, not always what we like. And this will require us to accept with all our hearts the truth that there is divine design in each of our lives and that we have rendezvous to keep, individually and collectively."

In the temple this morning, those words "particularized challenges" seemed more comforting than they did earlier in the week when I first read them.  What a huge blessing to know that we have a Heavenly Father who has designed even our challenges to bring about the best possible potential in us, and to draw us nearer to our Savior.  Because ultimately, that's the whole reason we're here.  

There are very few hard things that I enjoy doing.  And this week has been filled with way too many of them.  But I think Heavenly Father knows that nothing compels me to move like love and loyalty.  There are a handful of people in my life that I love enough to attempt to climb an occasional mountain for.  

I can't even tell you all the things I've learned this week about my personal challenges and about being elevated to a new level.  I think there is much in our lives that we can do with just our own strength, will, and determination.  But eventually there will be something that requires us to acknowledge our complete weakness and inability to climb on our own, and we will be brought to our knees to ask for help from someone much stronger, much more willing, and more determined than we could ever hope to be.  

In the presence of God, . . . all things . . . are manifest, past, present, and future, and are continually before the Lord” (D&C 130:7). The future “you” is before him now. He knows what it is he wishes to bring to pass in your life. He knows the kind of remodeling in your life and in mine that he wishes to achieve."

Although I'm not at all comfortable with the "remodeling" process, I am grateful for the most amazing Designer who is constantly at work in my life and in all of our lives, turning us into things we could never be on our own.  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


I really enjoy seeing.  I love it so much that I am compelled to take pictures of nearly everything I see so that I can remember it when I get home and sometimes share it with the whole world.  But lately, my eyesight hasn't been great.  I noticed last Sunday when I was playing the organ that the lines on the music had mysteriously disappeared.  I attributed my many, many mistakes during Sacrament meeting partially to lack of practice and partially to being overly emotional because it was our first Sunday at church without Savannah.  But the real reason was because I couldn't tell the difference between the space notes and the line notes.  And that makes it difficult to play the right ones.  Those little lines are immensely important!

I have been asked to play the piano this Sunday for a missionary farewell.  It's not a difficult song.  It's only two pages.  But every time I've run through it, I make a million mistakes.  And since I don't love to make mistakes, and I don't love things that are difficult, I have procrastinated learning that music.  Which leads to dread and guilt and this giant thing looming over my head.  

I have to KNOW this by tomorrow morning at 11:30 in order to be able to practice it with the violinist.  

So today, I decided to try it again..this time in prime seeing the middle of the afternoon, with all the blinds open in the piano room, and a spotlight on the music. lines.  And more frustration.  Within minutes, I considered calling another pianist to fill in for me.  I planned my resignation from my self-appointed substitute organist calling.  And I prepared for a dismal future of darkness as my sight dwindled from "not great" to "legally blind" over the next few years. 

And then...I had an idea.  

I own a pair of glasses, you know.  They have lived in my bathroom drawer for almost three years because I don't like them, they don't really work, and glasses in general just give my a huge headache.  

But, you know, desperate times...and all that...

In complete desperation, I dusted off those glasses and made one final attempt at playing through that music.  

And miracle of miracles...they worked!  Things were magnified.  All those invisible staff lines reappeared.  And I played right through that whole song without any difficulty.  Oh, how much easier would my life be if I would just use the tools that are right here within reach?

I've been wearing these things around the house all night and it turns out they work on just about everything.  The font on my iPhone is larger.  My IG pictures aren't at all blurry like I thought they were.  I can read books...the printed kind with words on pages...and I don't have to wait for the sun to be up.  I can see the cooking instructions on the box of mac and cheese...yes, that's what we had for dinner tonight.  

It looks like that one little idea may have just improved my life a whole lot!  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Empty Bedrooms

I went into Savannah's room today for the first time since we've been home from Utah.  

Holy cow...  

People told me I would feel the full range of human emotions with this event, but I had no idea.  I immediately started crying at the thought of her presence being so noticeably absent from the room, but still so much a part of it.  All the chalkboard notes are still there, all the pictures are still on her bulletin board, even the familiar and ever-full trash can still had trash spilling out of it.  But her pink Christmas tree has been packed away.  Her shoes and socks aren't sprinkled on the floor.  And her bed is made.   

I have prayed in her room since we moved into this house.  I love the warm light that comes in through her pink curtains and the sun that seems to shine brighter in there.  I love the quiet in her corner of the house.  And typically her room is the cleanest and most enjoyable place to just linger and have a conversation with Heavenly Father.  

My first instinct after I walked in there was to get the heck out and never go back.  But I made myself stay.  Even though I could barely breathe.  And I made myself feel every single one of those emotions.  And holy cow, was it hard.  

But after a really good cry, I was completely flooded with gratitude.  To have loved that little bird so dang much that the thought of her being far away rips my heart out.  To have had such a great relationship and friendship with her that I ache to think of how long it will be before I get to have a real conversation with her again.  To have had so many, many memories in her room that it hurts to go in there without her.  

And I also thought a really important thing that sort of swept away all the floods of tears for a minute.  I don't have a single regret with her.  Not one.  I don't wish I had said, "I love you" more.  I don't wish I had snuggled her more, or listened more, or spent more time with her.  I know in the deepest part of my heart that I did all of those things.  I was where I needed to be when I needed to be there.  I acted when I felt inspired to uplift or edify or scold.  I apologized when I needed to.  And because of that, I know that she now has what she needs for her new adventures and all the upcoming experiences that are waiting for her.  I could not have filled her with more knowledge or love or life lessons.  I gave her absolutely everything I knew how to give.  And it will be enough.  

And now it's time to make sure the three remaining little birds in this nest have all that stuff, too.  

Thank goodness we only lose one baby bird at a time, because this is so much harder than I ever thought it would be.