Thursday, April 30, 2009

In my Prime

I was going through my old albums the other day and found this picture of myself when I was about 19 or 20. It's my favorite picture of myself, but at the same time it makes me laugh to look back and think how much I've changed.

I was just talking to my friend Jenna about how I used to carry all my makeup around with me everywhere I went and checked my face about 19 times a day. My lipstick, cover up, powder and eyelash curler were absolutely essential to my happiness!

I brushed my teeth about 5 or 6 times a day. At 5' 10" I fit in a size 8 jeans and everywhere I went people told me I was "too skinny".

Much of my identity was being a "pretty girl", and I was used to being looked at by men, I expected it and looked at them back.

Boy, have things changed....

Soon after I got engaged, I remember walking through Walmart and having a tall dark handsome guy give me "the look". I started to give him "the look" back and then caught myself and I remember thinking, "I never have to play that game again! I'm never going to look at a strange guy like that again, as long as I live."

And I haven't - and I SO havent' missed it. I'm so happily married to my honey and it truly doesn't occur to me to look at men that way anymore. I may look at someone and think "That's a nice looking guy", just the same as I might look at a girl and think she's pretty, or a horse, or a flower or a child and appreciate their beauty, but that other element is completely gone.

I also don't look nearly as good myself anymore, I'm overweight, am crowding 40 and don't receive those looks from men like I once did. But I'm totally okay with that. I feel like my focus is much more directed on developing myself as a person, finding my talents, being a good mother and wife, and focusing on things that are more valuable to my Father in Heaven.

Yes, sometimes I wish I could still fit into a size 8 - okay, daily I wish I could still fit into a size 8, but now, when I exercise and try to eat right, it's about wanting to be healthy and happy and not about wanting to look good in the world's eyes.

And thank goodness my sexy husband still finds me beautiful. And it's a great thing to have confidence that he's not looking at anyone else either. I'd trade that for being 20 again - anyday!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Emus!

On Thursday, my scouts and my kids and I got to go to a friend's house and check out their new baby Emu chicks. Apparently, they bought 2 females and a male (hens and a rooster??) about a year and a half ago and they haven't laid a single egg. Now, all of a sudden, they have 8 chicks and 3 more in the nest. (It seems something's in the water around here lately.) And, although they aren't quite as heartachingly adorable as the miniature horse baby - I know, I'm horse prejudice - they were still pretty stinkin' darn cute:

(And hello again to my new D90!)

I especially liked their stri-ped bodies and the funky little zig-zag pattern all over their heads. They had these strange dinosaur black-skinned, backward-bending legs that were pretty interesting as well. The boys all got to pet them, and I held one for a while. I'm such a sucker for baby animals, it's pathetic.


(Can you tell it was camo day at school?) I guess baby Emu fit right in, his stripes are his camo.

But here's the amazing/fascinating/riveting thing about Emus that I never knew. (Actually pretty much anything there is to know about Emus is something I never knew, but anyhoo....) The great thing about Emus is that Daddy Emu (drake, gander??) does all the work. In fact, he is so dedicated to sitting on the nest that he doesn't eat or drink, except for dew, the entire 2 month incubation period! He only gets up once a day to turn the eggs - apparently turning is imperative to egg health - and then he's back down on that nest again. Now that's dedication! He lives on stored fat and looses about 1/3 of his body weight during this time.

Here he is:


Kinda handsome, don't you think? Or maybe I find him attractive because of his excellent parenting skills - you know, there's something pretty appealing about a good dad.

And even after the chicks hatch, his work isn't done, he stays with the chicks for up to 18 months. And by that time, they are fully grown. Don't you think that's just too cool?!


Daddy growled at us whenever we came near the nest, but as long as you stay out of beak reach, he just stays put and doesn't attack you - even if you get under his tail end and rob an egg from him.


Perhaps a wild Emu would be a little more protective, I don't know, but it seems that brooding instinct in Daddy is pretty dang strong. You think he'd be like a sitting duck to predators, now wouldn't ya. Wow, I just realized where that expression came from!

Okay, so I just Googled it, and apparently male Emu's are just called "males". How boring. I think we should start a petition and come up with a name for him befitting his mad fathering skillz.

Except I can't think of one.

Hmmmmm.

Any ideas?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Miss T and my new camera

First off, I have to say that my old Nikon D40 has served me long and well. It was a great leaping off point into the exciting and somewhat overwhelming world of DSLR's. We've had a closer and more enduring relationship - by far - than any other camera I've ever owned. And I've taken lots of shots with it that have been pretty nice. But recently, I've been craving something more, something beyond the realm of my trusty little D40. Something sharper, clearer, and more defined. The ability to have fantastic shots "Straight out of the Camera" (or SOOC in photo speak), without having to do a lot of post processing in photoshop.

For a long time, I wasn't ready. I was totally content with the camera I had, and I was learning how to do amazing fixes in photoshop with just mediocre photos - but lately I've been researching cameras and found "the one".

The D90.

Sounds impressive, huh. (That's like, FIFTY more than the D40! Fifty more what? I don't know, but it's gotta be good!)

I told Marty that the new camera could count for every present he was never going to get me this year, and I sold a bunch of stuff on ebay to help pay for it. (After 12 years of marriage, I've figured out a thing or two about how to work the system.)

And now it's here.......


This lovely little lady is one of Brynn's friends who recently had a birthday. As part of her present, we promised her a photo session and yesterday we made good. It was the first real live session with the new camera, and I am VERY happy with how they turned out. And Miss T was a great subject, once I talked her into taking her hair out of a pony tail and changing out of her white t-shirt.


She didn't think this one looked like her, but I assured her that she actually does really look like this from the side.

What I love most is her pretty eyes - those are almost Audrey Woolard eyes!


And I did so little editing on these! Almost SOOC!

Isn't she gorgeous?!

So, I've still got a lot to learn, but I'm practicing every chance I get.

So, D90 and I are on our way - bring on the portrait subjects!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bonnie Hunt's reaction to Susan Boyle

So, not only is this blog a place for me to record family events and such, but a place to record the sometimes quirky things that are meaningful to me or make me think. I found this video on someone else's blog and wanted to share it also.

Bonnie Hunt show reaction to Britain's Got Talent's Susan Boyle.


What do you think? Interesting, huh.

And if you want to watch the video of Susan's whole audition, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My Big Boy

I know that anyone out there with kids also experiences the same phenomenon, but I just can't believe how fast my kid's birthdays roll around! How can it be possible that my Jaxy boy is already 11?!

So weird.

I told the kids last year that, starting that year, we would only have friend birthday parties every other year, and that on the family party year, we'd let them pick any activity they wanted and we'd do it as a family. Last year, of course, they all chose to have their friend parties, so this year, I'm completely off the hook as far as that goes. (yay.)

So Jaxon chose to go to Cedar to the movies, lunch and a shopping spree at the $1 store. We watched Monsters vs. Aliens, ate at Dairy Queen, and each kid got to pick any 2 items (yes, 2 whole items!) at the $1 store (except candy). And of course, the $1 store was the funnest part, but what a dilemma, trying to pick!

Jaxon chose a spiderman poster and a water gun, and didn't have as much trouble choosing as the other two. They finally settled on an axe and a family of geckos (Luke) and hair pretties and a dog statue (Brynn). I don't know why, but the whole $1 store extravaganza was very entertaining to me.



Jaxon also got an MP3 player - iPod impersonator- a dvd, some games and the newest Fablehaven book.

The MP3 player kept him more entertained going over the mountain than he usually is. (yay)


Luke had spent the night with his friend, Ruger, and spent the trip over the mountain like this....


Jaxon's final request for his birthday was that he have banana bread instead of cake, so I gladly obliged and then finished off by taking bizarre pictures of him with candle wicks in place of his eyes.


I don't know why. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

So I hope you had a good birthday, Jaxon. I'm proud of the boy/young man you're turning out to be and I love being your mom!

Happy Birthday!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

First Annual Daddy Daughter Dance

My friend, Valene, moved here from Lehi, where they apparently held an annual Daddy Daughter Dance hosted by the school. She thought it was a great thing, and wanted to incorporate it into our own little humble elementary school. And the Booster Club board said, "Great idea! You're in charge."

So she delegated the portraits of all 81 girls in the school (I know, we have a small school - it could have been a lot worse) and the making of the slideshow, to me. Which was fine, I have been wanting to learn how to do a slideshow, and I love taking portraits of beautiful girls, but........

I had a crazy week the week before and the week before that, and left all the portrait taking to the week OF the daddy/daughter dance. And guess what, when you don't know what you're doing, making a slideshow is apparently a lot of work.

So with a lot of help from my friends - thanks Nanette and DeAnna! - and a day off from work to finish it up, I finally did it. And I think it turned out rather nice.

video

The girls were so cute, during the slideshow they cheered, clapped and screamed for every face that came up. ALL 80 OF THEM!

We couldn't hear the music on my wimpy speakers in that big gym and with all the enthusiastic support those girls were giving themselves, but we're making each of them a cd of their picture with their daddy, the candids from the evening, and the slideshow.

And here's my own lovely daughter with her wonderful daddy (lucky little schmucky) and a few candids from the evening.



So what's more cruel than making a bunch of dads dance the Macarena? Taking their pictures while they're doing it.

Definitely.


What good sports the dads around here are! And almost every dad (or grandpa, or uncle, etc.) came - we were only missing like two or three. Amazing!

The girls also had been practicing a song called, "I Like Being Me", and learned the sign language to go with it - with help from Mrs. Leigh. Don't they look so lovely all standing in a rainbow? And who knew that little girls dressed like princesses and signing could create such VOLUME!


It was a really nice event and I'm so glad we did it.

And I'm so glad it's over. Amen.

Sur-PRISE!

My friend Diane has had two miniature horses - a mare and an intact stallion - for about 5 years. They've lived together in perfect harmony, but obviously didn't want any children of their own.

Or so we thought.

Until Diane went out to feed yesterday morning and....

Sur-PRISE!


This is what she found.
Hmmmm..... Well, needless to say, this little girl was a pleasant suprise, and the whole little miniature family were just hanging out together like they weren't surprised at all. Imagine that.

So her name is Koda Surprise and she is an extremely brave, intrepid, friendly little thing. We went to see her this afternoon and wanted to stay and scratch her itchy little heiney all day.

Here are a few of the many shots I took.

kissing Grandma ~


"Look out Mom, here I come, and I'm HUNGRY!"


This one shows how HUGE she is in proportion to my (not overly tall) 8 year old and 5 year old.

Luke with Daddy Shadow, who is an amazingly sweet stallion, by the way.

And my favorite, cuddling with Uncle Lee.


And then she plopped right down in the middle of all the action (there were 7 people in there with them) and took a nap.


Poor little bit, she was all tuckered out.

Being alive is hard work.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My own little Easter flower

I really shouldn't put my own pictures back to back with Miss Audrey's (All hail A.W.!), but I did take a few of Brynn on Easter Sunday that I rather liked.

Instead of an Easter dress this year, which she really didn't need, I told Brynn I'd get her a few new flowers for her hair and a spring outfit (courtesy of Grandma).

It took a while for the hair flowers to grow on me, but nowadays I'm really liking them - as long as they're not bigger than the person's face or even head! (I lost that funny blog post you sent me, Jen, can you find it again?)

They remind me of when we lived at BYU and had Tongan and Samoan families in our ward. The ladies and girls always had fresh, gorgeous tropical flowers in their hair every Sunday.

Brynn was wearing her Easter flower around all day on Sunday and looked so pretty that I had to snatch her just as the sun was going down and get a few shots.


She really loves to model - and I really love to take her picture. I guess that's what you'd call a match made in heaven.

Sometimes I worry about her a little though.........



But this one, I love.




She's my own little Easter flower.

My Photography HERO!

I don't remember how I found her, but for about a year and a half now, I've been stalking her blog. She's a world renowned children's portrait photographer based in Chicago and, in my opinion, she's the best there is.

Her name is Audrey Woulard, so check her out if you love breathtaking, informal portraits of babies and kids.

And since a picture's worth 1000 words, here are a few of the photos I've pirated off her site:

I totally dig these cute hats - I don't know if the parents provide them, or if Audrey does, but she has about 237 different ones.

And she takes newborns in their own environments.


I love that the clothes and settings are so casual.


THE EYES! they're killin' me!


She also specializes in getting fun, natural interaction between siblings.


And one more, especially yummy one for the road.........


Thanks Audrey, for your inspiration.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter partyin'

We had a full house this Easter with Marty's brother's family here - with 7 out of their 8 kids able to make it. And, of course, it wouldn't be Easter without my sister, "Aunt Sharon". She has come every Easter for years and years. So that made 16 people crammed cozily into our little 1500 square foot house - but they are all so fun and easy and helpful, I almost wish they could move in full time!

I'm not sure how many Easter Egg Hunts are the standard requirement, but between the kid's school parties and all the rest, we had 4.

Is that a lot?

The town egg hunt was held at the Elementary this year and there was actually snow on the ground. And the hail held off just long enough for the last golden egg to be found (worth a kite). And then all hail broke loose. Bwah, hah, ha!

Here are a few highlights from Saturday's festivities:

(Luke hunting eggs in his snow boots!)

Krystel and Jaxon (with his "manly" basket - he refused to carry a froo-froo one.)


Kami demonstrating what a cake-walk this egg hunt was....


Aunt Sharon helping look for that elusive golden egg - Brynn eventually found one. Oh goodie, more kite string all over the house!


_____________________________________________________________

* Rolling Eggs *

The first time I ever heard of rolling Easter eggs, I was like, "Huh?"

But now I think whomever thought up rolling eggs was some kind of genius! They should be sainted - or knighted - or something. Rolling eggs is so blasted dang freakin' much fun!

And we have a perfect spot to do it, it's called "white sands" - (whoever thought up that name was probably from Orderville.) But it's such a cool place and I often take visitors there. The kids can play there for hours, and the dogs get a right kick out of it too.

It looks like this:


So the idea is to take shovels, hoes, teaspoons - what have you - and dig trails, jumps and tunnels for your intrepid little eggs to negotiate. Only it's harder than it sounds. If the trail's not steep enough, the egg won't keep rolling, and if the trail's too steep, the egg will get up too much momentum and leap the track. It's actually quite handy to have an engineer in the family if you plan to roll eggs.

But if you get it right, it looks something like this:

And boy howdy, is it exciting! You think I'm being facetious, but I'm totally serious! When it finally works and your cute little egg is able to negotiate all the hairpin turns, death-defying jumps and long dark tunnels, everyone cheers and does the happy-happy-joy-joy dance.

And then we quickly get bored and start burying children.


And then things quickly deteriorate into egg-THROWING!

Pretty good throwing form, huh. I think he sent that poor egg into the cliffs at about 98mph. And he threw out his shoulder. Poor baby. Ever heard of egg-karma?

And then we went home and hunted eggs in the wash behind our property.


Sorry this post is so long, but we did A LOT of stuff, and it's essential that I record it all for posterity. Who knows, future anthropologists could spend years studying the culture of Southern Utah and their strange egg rolling habits.

Also, during this one day, we:
  • made and cleaned up after three large meals
  • dyed about 6 dozen Easter eggs
  • played ultimate frisbee
  • went to Fredonia for K'lyn's family's celbration
  • (I) went to work for a couple hours to give a lecture for a seminar
  • had 3 Easter egg hunts
  • swept up about 14 pounds of sand from the floor
  • bathed 12 people
  • played basketball
  • made a desk calendar for my mom's Mother's Day present to send back with Sharon
  • prepared Easter baskets
  • and more.........

One last thing:

Bantam eggs! I know you can't tell from the picture, but these eggs are tiny! And as everyone knows, when a thing is smaller than usual, it's cute factor is automatically increased by 79%.

Our friend, Bruce, has banty (miniature) chickens and I talked him into saving me some teeny-tiny little eggs to dye for Easter. And they were so cute - pwecious iddy biddy widdle eggies! Needless to say, we didn't subject them to the rolling hoopla.

So happy Easter, one and all. And, despite all the festivities, we really love and appreciate the reason for the season.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My BABY!

I can't tell you how much I enjoy this baby of mine. I don't know if it's because he is the last child and I realize how fleeting babyhood and childhood is, or whether it's because he's been such a good natured, easy, fun kid. But whatever the reason, I just want to eat this boy up with a spoon. And he's running away from me - toward big-boy-ness.

Sometimes I grab him as he's flying by and insist that he sit on my lap and cuddle with me and be my baby again for just 1.3 minutes.

The other day we were talking about what we would do for his 6th birthday that's coming up in June. He said to me, "Mom, when I'm 6, am I still going to be your baby?". My heart flipped over and I said, "Yes bud, when you're 26, you'll still be my baby. When you're 46, you'll still be my baby. Somebody has to be the baby and I guess you're it. Sorry."

And he just shrugged his little shoulders and said, "It's okay, Mom, I don't mind."

A couple of weeks ago, he lost his first tooth. So now he has this charming little gap bottomed smile that's even more irresistible, and I had to take a picture of it. He's kind of hard to get pictures of, neither of my boys are posers like Brynn, but here's one that captures his personality pretty well.

A few years ago, I watched a woman on Oprah who had lost her little boy in a drowning accident or something. She talked about how he used to come in from playing outside and smell like a little dirty dog, and that smell just grossed her out. (Moms, I know you know exactly which smell that is.) Anyway, she said that after her son died, she would have given anything to have that little dirty dog smell back again.

That really touched me, and has always stuck with me. And even though I have a super-human crazy sense of smell and a low tolerance for stinkiness, I have, ever since that Oprah episode, really appreciated that little dirty dog smell on my children - and relished it even.

So here's to my little dirty dog boy - my baby/big boy - I love you Lukie!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The 5th Grade Musical Extravaganza

Tonight was Jaxon's 5th grade musical, and I have to say, I was extremely impressed. They started rehearsing it a long, long time ago so they were very prepared and it showed. Everything went off so smoothly - the kids all knew their parts perfectly, had all the songs down pat, looked confident and were really, really cute.

Jaxon had quite a few lines and played three different people, including Patrick Henry of, "Give me liberty or give me death", fame. And Martin Waldseemüller (if you haven't ever heard of him, don't feel bad, I'd have never heard of him if it weren't for the 5th grade play) who was a German cartographer that lived in the early 1500's. He is credited with the first recorded usage of the word America on a 1507 map in honor of the Florentine explorer Amerigo Vespucci.

There, we all just learned something. Or maybe it was just me.

Jaxon was also this character:

Anyone? anyone?

Here's your hint, he was a famous, African American who was born into slavery and became a very prominent speaker, writer and abolitionist. He escaped from slavery by boarding a train dressed as a sailor and carrying papers acquired from a free black seaman. Later, after he'd toured Europe as a public speaker, some admirers in Britain purchased his freedom.

This is what he actually looked like:

Spooky resemblance, huh.

Any guesses?

So I had to come up with 3 different costumes. I made a trip to the thrift store in Kanab and got a bunch of blazers, dresses, skirts and ties. His costumes turned out pretty good, I think. My favorite was the soft, textured corduroy jacket (worn above) and the ugly old tie with the tacky button on it. The button came off a really gaudy dress that I made into Martin Waldseemüller's robe. I also utilized a pair of my old riding breeches and some of my own pantyhose - I can't believe he fits in that stuff!

So here's the whole group. This is a pretty cute bunch. As I was looking at this, I all of a sudden realized how tall Jaxon is getting to be.

He gets that from me.

So congrats to the 5th grade and Mrs. Spencer on a job well done! It was good fun.