Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Morning 2010

I'm kind of a Grinch - I just don't love the commercial side of Christmas, but I have to admit, we had a really nice morning. The reason it was nice was because the kids were so sweet with each other and happy and appreciative of what they were given. We've never spoiled the kids much at Christmas, but this year we decided to go with President Monson's adage: Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read - and it worked out great.

The kids were also very motivated to get presents for each other this year. I didn't encourage them at all. Jaxon was especially conscientious about choosing gifts for people and especially gracious about what he was given. It did my heart good to see the kids showing so much love to each other.

Luke wanted to know if he could use my "real" name. Too cute. He wrapped this himself and even dug up a beautiful bow.

All Fred wants for Christmas is for us to keep the tree up forever. He has spent A LOT of time under there in the last few weeks.

For a special Christmas breakfast, we broke out the long lost waffle maker. I literally haven't made homemade waffles in like 12 years. I found a great recipe online for buttermilk waffles and they were definitely a hit.

My theory on cooking: If you hardly ever do it, people really appreciate it when you do.

We had our good friend Molly up for the day and had a super yummy turkey dinner. We went on a walk, played the new Wii games and had just a nice day. Whew, I'm always so glad when it's over. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Countdown of Craziness

I am in the zone - the Christmas Zone. Approximately 162 hours to go until the kids start to open presents. Approximately 150 hours left to go before it's too late to make, deliver or think of any more neighbor/friend/relative/teacher gifts or goodies. Pretty much every moment of my waking hours until now and then are spoken for -  making, creating, baking, delivering, shopping, mailing, wrapping, printing.... 

But as I sat here this morning working on an album for my sister, I felt my blog calling to me - or more accurately hanging over my head. I've been so swamped with photography the last few months I haven't kept up with my blog very well, but I still try to touch base with it without letting too much time go by.

So here's a photo out of the album I'm making for my sister as we speak. I can safely share it with you all because my sister never reads my blog. This is her youngest daughter, my niece: Ally-cakes.

She looks almost exactly like my sister did at this age, which means she looks absolutely nothing like me. But I love her anyway.

So Merry Christmas to everybody out there - perhaps you're also in The Zone and don't have time to read my blog. But best wishes to you anyway.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thansksgiving Trip to Temple Square

My mom and dad live in Utah County and we spent Thanksgiving with them this year. Two years ago, we went up for Thanksgiving and then went to Salt Lake to Temple Square the day after. Temple Square is famous for it's beautiful Christmas lights (among other things, of course) and they always turn them on for the first time on the day after Thanksgiving. We had such a good time last time that we decided to do it again this year.

We made kind of a quick trip this time because it was pretty cold, but here are some of the highlights. I really love these historic old buildings on temple square - and the new Conference Center is a marvelous work and a wonder!

All of the buildings on Temple Square are a different style, architecturally, and I think they're all fascinating. The Assembly Hall, which was begun in 1877, is built in the Victorian Gothic style which was popular at the time. It's built of quartz monzonite from the same quarry as the stone used for the temple. (Trivia: a lot of people think the temple is built of granite, but it's not.) The Assembly Hall was built after the Tabernacle - I read an article that says that part of the reason it was built was that the Tabernacle, with it's huge domed roof, was impossible to heat in the winter and they needed a building in which the the saints wouldn't freeze. Interesting. Something that I never really noticed about the Assembly Hall before this trip - the Star of David above the door. This symbolizes the regathering of the 12 tribes of Israel. Isn't this a nifty building?

The Assembly Hall after the lights came on:

The Tabernacle is famous for being the home of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. It isn't a very fancy building from the outside, it just looks like an oval dome, but it is an architectural marvel for the fact that the roof is just one big arch. Some visitors around the beginning of the 20th century criticized it as "a prodigious tortoise that has lost its way" or "the Church of the Holy Turtle," but Frank Lloyd Wright dubbed the tabernacle "one of the architectural masterpieces of the country and perhaps the world". It was completed in 1867, in a time before electronic sound systems, and it was built this way so that everyone attending meetings in the Tabernacle could hear the speaker no matter where they were seated. The acoustics are so good in this building that while sitting in the back seats, you can literally hear a pin dropped up by the pulpit! It has a international reputation as being a nearly perfect building, acoustically. And of course, listening to a musical performance in this building is an incredible experience.

The organ in the Tabernacle is one of the largest in the world. Originally, it had about 700 pipes, but it has been refurbished over the years and updated and now has 11,623 pipes! Wow. The Tabernacle, including the choir seating, holds 7000 people, which used to seem like a lot to me. 

The new Conference Center was completed in the spring of 2000 and holds 21,000 people! Not only is the meeting hall part of the building huge, but there are several large galleries and foyers inside the building as well - large enough to hold this tree:

The meeting hall really is immense.

There is a gallery in the Conference Center of 12 original paintings by Arnold Friberg. He was commissioned by the General Primary President of the Church in the 1950s to do a series of paintings of favorite Book of Mormon stories. They're very well known paintings within the church, so it was cool to see the originals hanging all here together in their own gallery.

Abinadi prophesying to King Noah:

Lehi and his family sailing to the new world:

Mormon and his son, Moroni bidding farewell to a once great nation:

And then of course, there's the Temple. What an amazing building! It took almost exactly 40 years to build, which just boggles my mind. The temple is very photogenic and looks good from about any angle. I wanted to just stand around and photograph it all night. While I had my camera to my eye, I didn't feel the cold at all, but my family were starting to turn into familycicles, so I only took a handful of pictures. 

 In't it so purty?!

Seagulls are a fairly common sight around the Great Salt Lake, but I never expected to see them on top of the Trax station near Temple Square in sub-freezing temperatures....

When we go to Temple Square, we always ride the Trax train from Sandy. I think it's the kid's favorite part of the trip. Especially Luke. He loves the train so much, he kept trying to put his mouth on it.

 And some more happy riders: Brynn, my sister Sharon and Sharon's friend Justin.

 And Jaxon and my silly brother, Scott.

 Fun trip. We like Temple Square so much that we're planning to go back in April at Conference time when it's not so flippin' frigid!

Monday, November 29, 2010

One of the Neatest Things I've Ever Seen!

I ran across this video on the blog, Christ Centered Christmas.

I loved it so much, that even though I've been posting an awful lot of videos lately, I just had to share. That is one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever written - bar none!

"And He shall reign forever and ever!" 


Happy Christmas Season, everybody.

Come Take a Ride....

A horse can lend its rider the speed and strength he or she lacks, but the rider who is wise remembers it is no more than a loan.  ~Pam Brown

I've ridden other horses bridleless before, but I guess I never imagined I'd ever dare ride THIS one without a bridle. We've just been following along our little Parelli pathway and one day, I just knew we were ready. 

"If your horse says no, you either asked the wrong question, or asked the question wrong."  ~Pat Parelli


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Amazing. Inspiring. This gave me good chills.

Happy Sabath - may we keep it holy.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Freestyle Riding - Parelli Style

I took these photos a while back of my friend Linda. She is my fellow horse trainer at the nation's largest no-kill animal sanctuary. We are both Parelli Level 3/4 students which basically means we know how to have FUN with horses!

I don't know why horses like stickery tumble weeds, but they really do. And I've heard they're pretty nutritious. I love Hanky's Billy-Bob tooth in this picture.

Look Mom, no reins!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Costume Craziness

I've said it before, but I hate yucky, scary, evil Halloween costumes. When my kids were little and I had ultimate creative control, they were always cute, fuzzy, cuddly little creatures - chickies, froggies, skunkies - you get the idea. Now that they're a little bit older, they seem to want to have an opinion about what they'll be for Halloween. And then I have to have a little talk with myself about how I need to pick my battles. For instance, Brynn wanted to be an "evil goth vampire princess". Well, I'm not gonna lie, that doesn't thrill me. I would hope she'd never want to be an "evil" anything, even for Halloween. But I took a step back and realized that mainly, she wanted to wear a wig and makeup. Her friend gave her a long dress with fishnet sleeves and a velvet skirt. So I decided it wasn't worth it to fight with her about it - I hope that was the right decision.

I put some makeup on her - exactly how she told me to:

I even put some mascara on her for the first time ever - she has such ridiculously long eyelashes, I've never wanted to. But she insisted on mascara and it made her lashes about 2 inches long. RIDICULOUS!

And here she is with her wig, ready to go trick-or-treating.

The boys, thank goodness, collaborated on a super hero theme this year. And the cute thing was that Jaxon decided to be Robin to Luke's Batman.


Jaxon's costume was actually a men's size - he's getting so stinkin' big! And my, what big muscles he has these days!

And Luke. Seeing him in this little mask just makes me happy.

He asked me, the day after Halloween, if he could keep his costume out as a dress up suit and wear it everyday. I thought for a minute and said, "Why not!" He's the baby and no one is coming along after him to need the costume. And it brings me back to the time when he was 3 and I couldn't pry him out of his Superman pajamas. And frankly, I'm not ready for him to grow up - if he wants to be Batman everyday for 5 more years, fine by me!

I also had to include this photo:

This is one of Brynn's best friends and we let them go trick-or-treating together for a little while before we went as a family. This kid LOVES the movie, Avatar, so I wasn't surprised to see her dressed this way. But I was impressed by how great she looked - and boy, is that blue makeup fun to photograph!

I'm really trying to enjoy Halloween because the kids do and be a good sport about it. It seems like I'm getting better about it and Marty's getting worse. He was really a Halloween scrooge this year. But I figure it won't be very many more years before they will be too old, and then I'll miss it. Surely.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Forty-Two and FIERCE.

My hubby turned 42 yesterday. He wasn't feeling too well, and it was raining all day, so we pretty much stayed home and had a day in. It was a nice day, though.

For about a year he's been searching for a CD by The Cars. Apparently, The Cars are no longer in high demand - - don't these stores know that some of us are still living in the 80s? Musically speaking, of course. Well thank goodness for the internet. I got him The Cars Greatest Hits on Amazon and a little portable speaker system to play his Ipod on.

We also made Chicken Cordon Bleu and baked potatoes for dinner and my mom's oatmeal cinnamon nutmeg cake w/ brown sugar coconut frosting for dinner. So even though we didn't do anything too exciting, it was still a good birthday for homebodies like us.

And I know it's kind of yicky to say so, but I think my man is the sexiest 42 year old I've ever seen. He's still totally hot. Case in point:

Not to mention, he's an exceptional human being. Fierce, I'm telling ya.

Friday, October 22, 2010


Luke says the funniest things, and I really should write them down more often. He said something the other day that totally CRACKED. ME. UP.

As Marty was heading out the door to help chaperon a church young women's activity, Luke wanted to know where he was going.

Luke:  DAD! WHERE ARE YOU GOING?!   (he shouts about 73% of everything he says.)

Dad:  I'm going to Young Women's.

Luke: Why are you going to young wimins?  You're not young OR a wimin!

Dad: Because I need to go with Bishop.

Luke: Well Bishop's not young or a wimin either!

I don't know how you can argue with that logic, frankly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dallin and the Bubbles

My good friend and best photo client, Jenna, has two cute little kids. Her baby just turned 18 months and we had a fun photo session with her the other day:

 ....but Allison wasn't too sure she wanted to cooperate. At one point, her older brother Dallin stepped into the picture and was being so cute that I took a bunch of photos of him - I think, because the shoot wasn't about him and there was absolutely no pressure, he really turned on the charm.

 We borrowed a bubble machine for Allison's shoot, but my favorite bubble pic is this one:

 I wish I could have gotten one a half second sooner, too. That bubble was HUGE. I'm sure it didn't taste too good, but Dallin didn't care. He was in the moment, being a child, having a great time.

It's so fun to watch Jenna's kids grow, and having them around - they're like family.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Smell Like a Monster


and the original - so great. 

A Little Bit of (strange) Nostalgia

I probably saw this clip on Sesame Street during the mid to late 70s and have never forgotten it. I give lessons to a gal who has alpacas and every time I see her alpacas, I sing this little song in my head. The other day I decided to look it up on YouTube and see if I could find it - and sure enough, there it was! 

So here are the questions that come to mind as I watch this again after 30 years have gone by:

  1. How did this girl come to have a pet llama in the city of Manhattan?
  2. Why wasn't she accompanied by a parent?
  3. Why do she and the llama have the same teeth?
  4. Why, being Sesame Street, did they compose the song with incorrect grammar: "Me and My LLama"?

I'm tellin' ya, you just never know what's going to show up on my blog. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sometimes, I Just Don't Understand Her

This girl of mine, she's a caution. She came in yesterday and told me that she wanted me to cut off most of her hair. Now, the last time I cut her hair, she told me that she never wanted to cut it again and that she was going to grow it down to her waist. At least! But that was so many months ago and of course, she's completely changed her mind by now.

She wanted it "this short", she told me as she held it between her fingers. And the length kept getting shorter every time I told her how much I didn't want her to cut it. That's what I get. Always before - we've done this about three times before - I haven't said a thing, I've just cut it. But this time I was really feeling strongly about her keeping it long. And then I get, "But Mom, it's my hair!" And I figure, there might come a time when she want it purple, or heaven forbid, blond, and that's when I'll really have to make my stand.

So for now, I just gave in and cut it - and it's SO SHORT. Shorter than it's ever been before.

But even though I'm not too happy about it, I still had to take pictures to document. And of course, with a face like this, she's not exactly hideous.

But man, sometimes I just don't understand her. And I'm sure the feeling's mutual. Good thing we kinda like each other. Our mantra: We're the only girls in the whole family.

(This last photo was a special request by Brynn - don't mind the grubby crocs, she wanted to wear her Sunday shoes, but I told her they wouldn't show in hair photos.)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Most BEAUTIFUL Photos I've Ever Seen

'nuff said.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Back in the Day

Before digital photography, before I even had a decent film camera, I took lots of snapshots of my kids that were um... of less than stellar quality.

Nowadays, I am able to take pictures that look like this:

But today, while I was watching Conference, I started going through a bunch of old family photos to put them in albums, and I found pictures like this:

And my heart melted......

How sweet! My two little munchkins tormenting our new - already half-feral kitty, Taffy.

I love the jammies and the rumpled bed, and even the Vaseline jar sitting by the ancient clock radio that I bought with my babysitting money when I was 10 and used until I was about 34. (Back in the days before I knew that petroleum jelly was pure evil.)

And then I found the next one in the series:

That HAIR! And those blue jammies that were once her big brother's - soft little terry cloth sleepers with snaps up the leg. I can practically feel how snuggly she was in those. And my cute Jaxon with his perpetually red cheeks and sweet smile.

I love these! I'm so glad I have them and that I took so many crappy pictures. And I realized that photos don't have to be perfectly lit and properly exposed to be heirlooms, and in fact, usually the everyday-messy hair-moments are the most treasured.

So here's to all our crappy photos and the beautiful memories they keep.

Monday, September 27, 2010

In Memory of Brian...

A few weeks ago, a terrible tragedy occurred in our community. Deputy Brian Harris was killed in the line of duty. Still, almost a month later, I don't have the words to express my feelings about what a great loss this is for all of us, and especially for his family. I was privileged to get to photograph his funeral and graveside service and wanted to share just a few of those photos.

First, there was the candlelight vigil the Sunday night after he was killed. We went to express our love to the family and to be united in our support for them and in our feelings of loss.

I don't know how many came to the viewing - both the night before the funeral and the morning of, but it was an incredible amount of people. We stood in line about an hour and a half. There were tables all along the line with pictures of Brian and his family and pages for people to write on. There was also a slide show playing in several places along the way.

I never get rid of any photos that I take for people and this is why: This family portrait is one I took of the Harris family last year.

(That little pillow in front of the photo is also one I made and sold at a school fundraiser a few years ago - kind of surprised to see it again.)

I also took the photo of Brian and his parents and brothers and sister here in the left of the frame - I was so glad that I had these.

Officers came from every police agency in the state and there were many from all around the country.

The wives of the sheriff's department made this amazing quilt:

The slide show had several of my photos included in it - of the whole family and some of Brian with his girls at the daddy/daughter dances from the last two years.

I tried to take photos of the different patches from the arms of the officers who were there. I didn't get nearly as many as I would have liked, but here are a few:

I had a chance to visit with two members of the Honor Guard from Ada County, Idaho. I was impressed by how impeccably turned out they were in their dress uniforms and I asked if I could take their photo. They had traveled a long way and I felt very appreciative to them - and all the visiting law enforcement - for coming to honor Brian.

The funeral was held in our new high school gym to accommodate everyone. It was also piped in to several different locations where people could attend through live broadcast.

The roads around the school were closed off and there was a line of motorcycles parked from the school almost clear to the highway.

After the funeral, Brian's brothers took him from the building, down a corridor of saluting officers to the waiting hearse and the procession headed to Glendale to the graveside service.

The motorcycle portion of the procession:

Very impressive.

I love our community - all along the procession route, there were folks holding flags and signs:

I was able to ride to the cemetery with some family members and I was very touched the by the outpouring of support along the way.

This huge flag was hung from cranes across the road leading to the Glendale Cemetery

And above the school, some local boys had placed a flag on "the V", our local Valley landmark, standing for Valley High School where Brian had graduated in 1987.

At the graveside, it took a while for all the officers to get there and to form a double line from the cemetery entrance to the gravesite.

Brian was taken from the hearse and placed in his own County Sheriff's truck for the last leg of his journey.

After the dedication of the grave, the color guard folded the flags and presented them to the family.

It was a very sober and touching ceremony, one I won't soon forget.

There was also an honor guard which gave a 21 gun salute and played the bugle.

The pallbearers - Brian's brothers, brother-in-law, and nephews, placed their boutonnieres on the casket, and Brian's second family - the member's of the sheriff's department - each added a rose.

Brian was the first officer to ever be killed in the line of duty in Kane County. He was an indispensable member of the Sheriff's Department and will be greatly missed by his brothers there.

There was also a fly-over:

...and a last call by dispatch. I'm sure there wasn't a dry eye in attendance when we heard them calling for Brian over the radio.

He loved his job and did it well. And even more than that, he loved his family.

I took a lot of pictures of the family, but didn't feel like I should include them here. They are so personal and I feel like they are for the family alone.

I stood there with his grieving family and felt my heart breaking for them. There is something, though, that makes this family more fortunate than most - they have each other. Brian's parents and 5 brothers and their wives all live right here. And as I watched his oldest brother holding Brian's youngest daughter on his lap and comforting her and whispering in her ear, I knew that though Kristina's lost her dad, she has 5 uncles who are never going to let her down.

What a privilege it was to be there. Our prayers will continue to be with Brian's family - we love them and hope to be of some help and support to them.

Brian, we'll sure miss you!