Thursday, May 30, 2013

Work, work, work

We didn’t have any plans for Memorial Day weekend (hooray!!) and we were able to get so much stuff done.  Russ started the day on Saturday by installing some outlets into our outlet-less island. 


I spent my day planting 8 new tomato plants – different heirloom varieties; a black one, a green one, a purple striped one, along with a few that are less exotic.


I can see how why it was a good idea to buy those other tomato plants at Costco—check this out.


My pea plants are loving our cool & rainy spring weather.  Too bad the lettuce & spinach all bolted when we had those warm two weeks… Don’t you love my tomato cages?  They make me happy every time I look at them.


I also unpacked 6 boxes.  That may not sound like much but it took my whole day.


Russ (and various other family members at different times) spent almost all of Memorial day bonding with our friend’s pressure washer.  Our friend was thoughtful enough to bring pressure-washing clothes with his pressure washer.


Awesome, yes?

He started by pressure washing the moss off of all of the rocks, then moved on to washing all of the sidewalks, patio areas, and the driveway, and then finished up with the big kahuna—the pond.  It’s been looking pretty scummy for months and months, so this was his big chance to Clean It Up.  It was a multi-person affair and took a LONG time.



But when they were done it was so beautiful and clean!


Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I came home from Utah and noticed that something was different in the family room. 


When I asked what was going on, Jenna told me that Rachel had been decorating. 


And when I wondered how she had gotten the leis all the way up there…well that question was answered too!


Monday, May 27, 2013

The Piano Guys in Portland

A couple of months ago I found out that the Piano Guys were coming to Portland.   When I finally found the tickets online I had to stop and think for a bit.  They were pretty expensive.  Who was going to go???  Well me for sure.  And Russ.  It could have been a date.  But three of our kids are taking piano lessons right now, and I knew that seeing the Piano Guys would probably be good inspiration.  In the end I bit the bullet (several bullet$ actually) and bought tickets for everyone.  I put the date on the calendar and thought that it would surely be a long time before May 22nd rolled around.

Not so.  Just like everything else (except for Cindy Lynn’s baby) the big day was here before we knew it.

Last Wednesday night we ditched the regular activities at church, put on our nice clothes, and headed out into the rain for Portland.  The concert was in a 85 year old theater that started as a vaudeville theater many years ago.  We parked on the street several blocks away (apparently when vaudeville was big people weren’t so interested in parking??) and walked through the rain to the theater.  (Walking through the rain is a very Portland thing to do.)


(Josh & Jared were hoping we’d let them drive to Portland like this,
with the seats down.  They were sorely disappointed.)

When I bought tickets I had to decide which seats to pick for the 6 of us.  What a decision!  Most of the middle of the theater was already full, but we could have had seats on either side or on the balcony sides.  I finally (remembering our excellent seats for Wicked & The Lion King at the front of the balcony) decided on the balcony.  But then there was another decision.  Did we want to be able to see Jon Schmidt’s face or his hands??   I finally asked Alisyn because I just couldn’t decide.  She voted for his hands, and so I bought those tickets.  Front 2 balcony rows on the piano side.  Here was the view from my seat.  (In case you’re wondering, the Aladdin Theater has 600 seats.  DPAC has almost 2500.  The energy because of the small size was amazing.)


One thing that was really interesting to me from the first moment I sat down and looked around was how many smart phones there were.  From up above I could see lots & lots of little screens.  (And the big soundboard.)


[When Russ & I were watching the end of Survivor this season the host commented that tv-watching isn’t the same solitary experience it used to be.  Now, he explained, people watch tv and tweet or post to facebook about what they’re watching as they’re watching it.  I wondered if there was any tweeting or facebooking going on there in the theater. (I know Jared posted a picture to facebook right before the concert started.)  One thing that was for sure was that there were lots of people using their smart phones to take pictures and record at different points during the concert.  It is a whole new world, isn’t it!]

The concert was AMAZING!  And WONDERFUL!!  And so ENTERTAINING!!!  And now I have a little bit of a crush on Steve Nelson, because he was just so dang cute and funny, in addition to being able to play the cello beautifully.  I was talking to someone else from our ward and she said that she worried about how good the concert could be without their great videos and locations and being on top of a cliff and stuff like that.  Well we shouldn’t have worried.  I don’t know when I’ve last laughed that hard—they were truly so funny.  And the music was beautiful.  And we could see Jon Schmidt’s hands perfectly


Speaking of Jon Schmidt, a funny story for you.  Once, probably about 2 years ago,  Cindy Lynn was in the hospital for a few weeks for antibiotics.  She was talking to her nurse about how she played the violin, and the nurse (who was probably around my age) said that she had once played the violin, but that she had given it up.  Cindy Lynn said oh it was sad to hear that, and the nurse explained that her sister had been so musical that she had contemplated going to Julliard, and that her brother was also a really good pianist.  Cindy Lynn must not have looked convinced that that was a good enough reason to stop playing the violin, because then the nurse added, “Do you know who Jon Schmidt is?  Because he’s my brother.” 


Anyway, we had a great time watching Jon’s hands.  He really is amazing.  This video isn’t great, but you can see the awesome angle we had.  (They didn’t have their video showing on all of the songs—just this one and one or two others.)


One of the best moments of the concert for me where the “Love Story meets Viva la Vida” because everyone in the audience was singing the “oh-oh-oh-oh” choruses for the Viva la Vida part—that was such energy!  The other was Pachelbel's Canon, which had to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  They ended on a high note with their fun rendition of “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” which I think is even more fun in real life than on youtube.

After a huge standing ovation they came back and did a double encore of “Bring Him Home” and something else that I’ve momentarily forgotten. 

What an excellent evening!


Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pretty Hands

I have to brag for a minute.  When I started teaching Rachel piano lessons several years ago she had the flattest fingers you can imagine.  They were so flat that her fingers curled up at the tips.  I asked Alisyn what to do about it and she showed me some finger exercises that Rachel should do to strengthen her finger muscles.  I told Rachel that she needed to do these exercises for each finger, EVERY time she practiced the piano.  And I kept telling her and telling her.  And telling her.

Last time we had a piano lesson I noticed something shocking.  Rachel’s finger/hand position looked GREAT!  Friday I noticed that again.  Her fingers stayed nicely curved the entire time she was playing.  Things she was familiar with, things that were new and difficult—all with curved fingers.  I was so excited that I grabbed the camera to record this moment.

The first scale was with what she “thought” were flat fingers.  The second scale was with her new and improved fingers.  The third time I got her to really flatten them, but look what happens in the end!  (I think my talking to her messed up her scale pattern, so blame that on me and not one her.)

Without further ado, I present…Rachel’s fingers!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lunch at Intel

I had lunch at Intel with Russ yesterday.  Mostly so we could do some business at the credit union right there in the cafeteria.  (Side note:  when we walked in the credit union employees greeted Russ by name.  I was truly impressed.  And wanted to break out into song: “Sometimes you want to bank where everybody knows your name…”)

As we were eating I asked Russ if he thought they had some foil that I could wrap up the rest of my sandwich in because I surely wasn’t going to finish the whole thing.  He told me that no, they didn’t have anything I could use to take it home.  I thought he was joking but then he went on.  As of Earth Day 2013 (which was last month) Intel is green.  Or greener.  Now the only disposable things in the cafeteria besides your uneaten food are the napkins.  And they can be recycled with the food waste.  No paper coffee cups, no paper plates, no foil to take the leftovers home.  This, people, is Oregon…


Oh yes, we did.

Here is a copy of the 9 day forecast from a couple of days ago.  (My screen couldn’t fit the 10 day forecast.)


Yesterday morning (after days of rain) when it was still about 48 degrees outside it was so cold and damp in our house.  I’m usually wearing some kind of jacket, but this time all of the kids were too.  And so I said What The Heck, and Who Cares if it’s May and Jared and I went out in the garage and chopped some wood.  And then after that mostly unsuccessful venture we picked through the wood pile for the smaller pieces and brought them inside where we made this.


Yep, a rip-roaring fire on May 23rd.  We sat in here until we were toasty warm.  It was heavenly. 


And here is some weather-related Jared humor:

Jared asked, “Didn’t we use to go to the pool on Memorial Day?”

I sighed, thinking of years of Memorial Day cook outs that ended sitting at the pool in the sun, and agreed that yes, Memorial Day had always been the beginning our our pool season.

Jared: It’s going to be so much fun to go swimming here…in the rain…


PS—It’s the 5th wettest May in recorded Oregon history.  And that’s saying something, because the first 11 days of May felt like summer.

PPS—Our pond has a leak in it somewhere, and when the water level gets low enough the waterfall stops running.  Which makes me sad since I’ve gotten used to having it running.  I’m happy to say that several inches of rain that have fallen in the last week have replenished the pond and the waterfall is running again…

IMG_5982happy gerbers in the rain…

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Utah Weekend Sights

Last Friday morning, after I’d survived the choir concert the night before, I took the max to the airport and flew to Utah for our annual Sister’s Night.  I was very impressed with myself for packing so lightly.


After Andra and Maria picked me up at the airport we went to a nifty little 2nd hand store to wait for Laila and Jenny to join us for a very late lunch, a movie, and a little walking around the new City Creek mall.  Here is one of the things we considered buying.


After we shopped we crossed the street to get lunch and were very entertained by the flags on the corners that we could carry for increased visibility.


Here is an outfit at City Creek we did NOT consider buying.  I don’t get this new trend of wearing different patterns together. (Sorry—couldn’t get a better picture through the glass.)


We did see some awesome shoes in one of the stores.  How could we pass them up?


City Creek kind of wore me out, but I thought these mobile sculptures at the entrance of the parking garage were so beautiful.  There were a bunch of them in a row and they were totally zen.


City Creek sculptures

We didn’t get back up to our hotel in Park City until late, but we still made time to sit in the hot tub until late Friday night.  And first thing Saturday morning. 

hot tub

On Saturday we got up late,  got breakfast sandwiches, and after we sat in the hot tub some more we went shopping, shopping, shopping.  This is my favorite thing I saw:


I didn’t buy it ($11.99 for ONE plate?) but oh how I loved it.  (My sisters know that I will always love anything blue & green.) I sat on the hanging swing in Pier One and just looked at that plate and loved it.  And decided that I can be happy enough with my $1 from Kroger plates at home.

We tried to end our day with sandwiches at our favorite sandwich shop, but it turned that they closed at 4 and we didn’t make it there until 4:30.  So we went back to Café Rio. (What a sacrifice!)


It was only when we were all about to drop from exhaustion that we left Park City.  Laila took me to the airport where I picked up a rental car for the rest of my weekend adventures.  I drove from the airport up to Logan to spend the night with our friends.  Sardine Canyon was lush and green and so beautiful to drive through.  Russ says it’s the prettiest two weeks of the year!  (Before everything turns brown.) 

sardine canyon

I drove into Cache Valley right before the sunset.  The sky was beautiful.


I’m not sure why I didn’t pull my camera out in Logan—I could have taken pictures of funny kids, delicious chocolate chip scones that I’ve already made since I’ve been home, or a killer game of Dominion with Abigail and Benjamin.  Next time I’ll have to take twice as many pictures.

On Sunday when after church I had a bunch of text messages telling me that my dad had gone to the hospital the night before with uncontrollable vomiting.  (Oh, how I sympathized with his pain…)  I left Logan and drove to see him in the hospital in Salt Lake.  When I got there my brothers Ben and Jeff were also there, so I got to visit with them, my dad, and Ramona too.  It was fun to see my brothers unexpectedly.  Jeff gave me a hard time about being in Utah again.  Last summer when I was back in Utah in August one of his neighbors asked him where I lived and he told them I lived in my van.  I thought it was pretty amazing that I didn’t travel anywhere between August and April, but Jeff was less impressed.  And it is a little crazy that I’ve been back to Utah twice since spring break!  (I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that my dad appears to be ok.  Ramona thinks he’s just had too much over the counter pain relievers since his knee surgery.)


After we’d stayed long enough at the hospital to wear my dad out, I drove south to Cindy Lynn’s to spend a day with my baby with Cindy Lynn’s family.  I couldn’t believe how much Kate had changed in the last three weeks.  She’s definitely not a newborn anymore!  I held her as much as I could in the 22 or so hours I was there.  Here are my favorite pictures from my day there.

This is what she usually looks like when you take her picture.  Startled,


This time I got lucky and got her smiling before I pulled out the camera, and I used the little camera instead.  Bingo!  Don’t you love her Elvis hair?


I also got to make a curl on top of her head after bath time, which I’ve been longing to do.  (Which is what made her hair in the previous picture so awesome.)


The next day I got to see what chaos that curl had caused.  It was like a rooster on her head.


On Monday morning we went to my uncle’s office to get adjusted and ran into my brother Jeremy and his family there.  I hadn’t seen Jeremy in a year so that was such fun too!  Kate was ready for a nap after that.


Monday afternoon I loaded everything up, hugged & kissed Cindy Lynn & Kate again, and drove myself up to the airport.  (Funny story—my rental car was a VW Golf and I had to call Cindy Lynn and get her to google how to open the gas tank cover.  True story.)  My flight home was uneventful—I read and then took pictures as we approached Portland.  Am I the only one fascinated at how things look from the air?  (Actually the woman in the seat behind me was snapping away with her big DSLR, so I know it’s not just me.)




So here I am again, back with my family (happy), back to the cold/rain/grey skies (not so happy), wiped out from my fun weekend (happy). 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Other Christians

One of the moments when I am inclined to make a controversial comment in Sunday School is when the teacher or another class member makes a sweeping and/or patronizing statement about the superiority of Mormons over members of any other church.  Living in the “bible belt” for 17 years and associating frequently with other faithful Christians was a revelation to me—it was the first time as an adult that I realized that, despite having less revealed truth than I did, many of these people were living their lives in a way that brought them closer to Christ and closer to the spirit than I was. 

Yesterday I got in the car to drive to the airport and the first thing I heard when I turned on the Christian radio station was the host, reminding people to pray for everyone in Oklahoma.  I admit that was a little confused—I’d been too busy holding baby Kate all day to know anything about Oklahoma.  But I was also so impressed, especially as he read a request from Twitter to be sure to pray for the first responders.  I figured whatever had happened had been bad.  Then he went on to say that he found comfort in Isaiah 41:

…do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I was so touched by the talk of prayer.  I don’t think we do a good job of that as Mormons.  I don’t think we talk about praying for each other very well, and I don’t think we talk about supporting people in distant crises through prayer.  I was grateful for the suggestion that I could add my prayers for whatever terrible thing had just happened.

Later I sat on the airplane by a beautiful young woman who told me that she was coming to Oregon for a visit after having moved to Charlotte and then Pennsylvania.  (We agreed about the merits of the warm Atlantic ocean.)  She, her husband, and son walked off of the plane and  into the airport just in front of me.  As I turned to my right to go towards baggage claim I saw her husband catch her hand and pull her off to the side, saying, “Let’s thank the Lord for a good trip.” 

That was another humbling moment.  Yes, when we take a big car trip we always start with a prayer asking for God’s protection on our way.  But how often do we forget to acknowledge and give thanks for our safe trip when we are done?  And have I ever thought to thank the Lord when I’ve arrived safely after flying?  I do not think so, but I am committed to trying to do better.

So thank you, my Christian friends, for the excellent examples that you were to me yesterday.  I hope that sometimes people of other faiths find things to admire in the Mormon church, things worthy of emulation.  Because I certainly appreciate the good I see in yours.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Today's Song

This weekend when I had a couple of hours of driving to do I found myself searching for a Christian radio station again.  I enjoy listening to popular music, but invariably the messages of the Christian songs touch my heart and encourage or soothe me.  Sometimes both.  Here is the song that touched me today...

Friday, May 17, 2013

313 Months

One month ago today Russ & I celebrated our 26th anniversary.  It was right in the middle of a busy week and so it just sort of passed by without much celebration, but I still wanted to write about it.

Marriage is one of those time warp things—it seems like just the other day that we went on our first date, and at the same time like we’ve been married forever.  I looked around the kitchen the other day at our kids messing around and I looked at Russ and asked “Does it ever amaze you that we did this?”  I mean we have six children!  One of them is married!  We are grandparents now!


We were apart for our anniversary last year—Russ was living on his own in Hillsboro and I was working on the house with the kids in NC.  I’m much happier to have been able to spend this anniversary together—those months apart make the time we spend together now that much sweeter. 

One of the interesting things about living here is that we run errands together quite frequently.  I’m not really sure why this is so different—it probably has something to do with the fact that our kids are so self-sufficient here, and I think it also is because we live close enough to everything that errands don’t always include an hour of driving time. 


(Of course we put the top down whenever we can—that makes running errands feel a lot more like vacation.)


I feel like I won the jackpot when I said yes long ago to that boy who called me on the phone to ask me out on a date.  Without a doubt Russ is the best thing that’s ever happened in my life, and I’m looking forward to another 313 months together!




Thursday, May 16, 2013

Concert Over—and I survived.

But it was not without it’s scary moments.  And one really bad page malfunction.  There were a lot of moments that felt like this.  IMG_5826

This was a choral festival of sorts—the 3rd, 4th, and 5/6th grade choirs from our elementary school sang.  A combined 3-6th choir from 2 other elementary schools sang.  Then the Jr. High choir sang, and finally the high school choir.  Then all of the kids together sang a song called “I Will Sing My Song” that really turned out to be lovely.  And I was glad when it was all over!


Here are the girls in their choir “uniforms.”