Saturday, July 31, 2010

Psssst ...

Pssst ... it's been a year! Can you believe it? I know, me neither. Oprah got wind and decided to celebrate with me. Can you believe that?!?! I know, me neither. She's such a sweetheart - and REALLY knows how to throw a party! Wish you could have come with me - you are reason for me to celebrate too. Thanks for all the kind words ... it keeps me going ... well, it keeps the blog going. (I keep pinching myself - OPRAH? Wow ... )

Friday, July 30, 2010


Did I mention that our brother, Drew, was also on the trip? I do have a brother. Just one. And he falls right in the middle of his four sisters ... lucky guy.

My parents live in a town called Pittsford, which is just about 15 miles or so from the town of Palmyra which is where the Mormon church was organized by Joseph Smith in the year 1830. Every summer at this time of year, the church puts on an outdoor pageant depicting events from the Book of Mormon. It takes place on the Hill Cumorah which is where Joseph Smith found the buried golden plates on which the history of the people who lived in ancient America was engraved.

People come (quite literally) from all over the globe to watch the pageant, both those who belong to the Mormon church, and those who don't. It is a free event and truly spectacular.

Well - one summer, Drew and a friend came home from college and realized there was money to be made at this event. Thousands of people attend and converge on the otherwise sleepy little town of Palmyra. So they came up with the idea that they were going to sell t-shirts to the tourists and make boat loads of money.

They started selling in the year 1987 with one t-shirt design on a card table which grew to a few more designs on about 3 or 4 banquet sized tables ... and eventually into a rented store along Main Street, which they rented for just one month each summer, until Drew came to the conclusion that clearly it involved way too much work with the set up and break down and wouldn't it just be easier to have his own store to keep lots of merchandise in and maybe even keep it open longer and just see if that would work!?!?!

Well - that is what he did. So during our fun "sisters time" in New York, we didn't really see too much of our brother Drew. He heads out pretty early in the morning and usually doesn't get home until late at night, and when he does get back home he falls into bed from exhaustion because clearly being the owner of a store during a busy tourist season is way too much work.

Through the years Drew has enlisted several members of the family to help him sell. Back in the beginning, he would pay our two younger sisters (who were local) to help sell from the tables. My sister Leslie and her girls have helped on different summers too when they were visiting from Utah. And one summer, not too many years ago, I thought it would be fun to go and help as well.

Now, in hindsight, thinking that retail would be fun is kind of an oxymoron ... but what was fun was spending day after day with Drew. Because he is hilarious, and I know that about him, but what I learned on that particular trip was that he does impersonations.

Drew, myself, and two of our nieces would be driving in the old family station wagon each morning heading into Palmyra and he would tell stories in actor's voices, or sing just like the artist on the radio, or immitate the local vagabond who would ride his bike up and down the street in Palmyra asking for free stuff. We laughed until the tears streamed down our faces every single day. I told Drew if he ever wanted to make a living as an entertainer, he totally could.

And he really does come up with great shirt designs ... he is an artist ... a fine artist, actually. That is what his degree is in. He is just pretty talented all the way around - and we all think he is a keeper - for real.

(the original design ... happy 24th!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Chocolate almond custard.

The thing that my sisters and I look forward to the most about going back home is going to Don & Bob's to get their chocolate almond custard ... bar none. It's true, and we go every day we are there, sometimes twice a day - to the dismay of our mother, but our dad is always on board and likes to make his girls happy!

Spring (second from the right) had arrived a couple of days ahead of the rest of us. Leslie, Courtney and I all flew together on JetBlue's red eye flight. I am pretty sure the last time we flew on that same flight - which leaves Salt Lake at 11:40 pm and flies us into NYC for a three hour lay over before we head on up to Rochester - we had decided we would NEVER do that again.

But then it came time to making our reservations, and the price on JetBlue was so much better than the other airlines, and they are one of the few airlines that gives you a free bag to check, so we gave in and booked the flight.

Leslie and Courtney had made their reservations at the same time so they picked the window seat and the aisle seat in the same row in the hopes that no one would sit in between them. I had picked an aisle seat several rows behind them. I did tell them that if the flight was full I would suggest to the person sitting in between them that they take my aisle seat and I would be sandwiched in between my sisters.

The flight was full, so I was sandwiched in between my sisters. And all I can say is that it is a dang good thing because Leslie and I were about to go stark raving mad with fidgets and did not sleep one tiny little bit the entire flight, which is why all night long, all the way through the flight, we vowed we would NEVER do that again - EVER ... no matter how much more another flight was we wouldn't care, because when you are SO tired and SO uncomfortable and want to just jump out of your skin for 5 hours, it is worth the extra money to fly during the day. We were miserable.

One of the benefits of flying JetBlue is that they really do have extra leg room and roomier, leather seats. And if you've never flown with them you may not know that they also have a T.V. screen in front of every passenger which is the best idea any airline has ever come up with since the invention of the airplane, if you ask me. But you know, somehow channel surfing through infomercials, news and music videos in the middle of the night just didn't cut it for us ... it didn't help, we were still miserable.

At one point Leslie and I walked to the back of the dark airplane, past all of the other sleeping passengers (except the kids who thought staying up all hours with their own remote control was too good to sleep through), back to where the stewardesses were sitting reading their PEOPLE magazine. We asked, "How much more time do we have?"

One of them looked at her watch and said, "Just a little over two hours."

Okay, good. We were half way through. Leslie and I still weren't sure we would make it without screaming first, but we headed back to our seats thinking that stretching our legs for that minute and a half might have helped.

It didn't. So we silently screamed. (Have I already mentioned that we were absolutely miserable?)

So. The point of the story is that by the time we reached Rochester and my dad met us at the curb, we told him that we were heading straight to Don & Bob's even though it was only around 9:30 in the morning.

He had come without my mom and Spring because we all wouldn't have fit in the car with our luggage. So my dad said, "Well Spring told me not to go without her," to which we replied, "We don't have to tell her. We can go again with her. We can turn right around once we get home and go back, but we NEED to go to Don & Bob's and it's tradition. We can not break tradition."

Courtney, being the youngest sister, said that that wouldn't be nice. Leslie and I didn't care. We needed to go. And so we did - and when Spring found out she wasn't happy about it, but we didn't care. And then we did go again later that day after we had gone to our cousin Becky's house for a luncheon.

(If we look a little disheveled with our bed heads and sleepy eyes in this picture it's because we had just gotten out of bed - the day after that. We can't get enough of the stuff ... we are ridiculously obsessed.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Niagara on the Lake.


You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? I think if I were to write a thousand words about my trip to New York, I probably wouldn't be able to express what you can see in this photo. This pretty much sums it up. Mom and Dad and my three sisters and I visiting beautiful little towns, eating in quaint little restaurants and shopping all along the way. (Sometimes my dad would just circle around the block in the nice cool car as he patiently waited for us girls - he is such a sport.)

This was the day we went over the Canadian border to visit Niagara on the Lake ... we weren't quite sure we would all make it over the border, however. My mom had told us all to be sure and have a passport since they have really tightened up border patrol since 9/11.

My parents had theirs, my sister Spring already had hers, and I already had one too - although when I got it out I felt like Sandra Bullock did in the movie While You Were Sleeping. (Remember she had gotten a passport which had sadly sat for years without one little stamp showing that she had traveled and had used it? I have had my passport for 9 years and it was still waiting for its first stamp too ... sigh.)

Courtney had paid an undisclosed amount of money to expedite hers so she would have it just in the nick of time ... and she got it just in the nick of time. It arrived at approximately 10:15 on the morning we were heading out.

Leslie ... well, Leslie didn't get hers. See, you need your birth certificate to get a passport and she couldn't find her birth certificate, so she had to have my mom go get her one of those official embossed ones from the state of New York and then overnight it to her so she could try to get her passport in time - but she ran out of time.

HOWEVER. With birth certificate in hand and her Utah driver's license, she had been told that that should be enough to get her into Canada. We teased her that if we had driven all that way and she couldn't get in we were leaving her to fend for herself for the day because we didn't want to miss out on Niagara on the Lake.

She said, "That's okay, I'll just go to the outlets in Buffalo." But she didn't have a car and I don't think you really could spend 10 hours at an outlet mall by yourself ... do you?

Luckily, the girl in the booth looked over all of our documentation and let us through, but not without a warning, It won't be as easy getting back into the States, they are much more particular. (Um, well, at least we were in, right?)

Niagara on the Lake is a place of culture and beauty and history. The main road on the way into town is lined with beautiful big houses with sprawling lawns and enormous trees. There are vineyards and wineries, art galleries and museums. I think the live theater season in town runs for at least 6 months. It literally drips with charm. I decided we all needed to move there forever. Have a peek ...

We were all really glad that Leslie was able to be with us ... wanna know what happened on our way out?

We got to the guy in the booth at the border heading back into New York. He was looking through all of the documentation my dad had handed him.

He leaned out of his booth and said, "Who is Leslie?"

She leaned forward from the back seat so he could see her in the window and she said, "That would be me."

"You don't have a passport?"

"I don't, it didn't come in time."

"But you have applied for it then?"

"Well, no."

Then he said a little more firmly, "Why do you think it would be necessary for everyone else in the car to have a passport but not you?"

She started to cry and apologize ... he asked her to get out of the car. He told my dad that she would be detained for awhile and she may have to stay there until morning when supervisors were back because he didn't have the authority to let her back in without the proper documentation.

Nah! Not really. That's what my sister, Spring hoped would happen. See, Leslie has really incredible, attentive guardian angels and they always help her out of sticky situations. Spring just thought how will she ever learn a lesson if she always gets out of things?

But it sure did make for a great topic of a song about Leslie that Spring sang on the way home ... and we laughed over and over and over as the lyrics to the same tune changed throughout the trip. :)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Glitter toes.


Are glitter toes all the rage where you are?  These are Sophie's chubby little toes.  She was dying to get glitter toes!  I asked her what was so special about glitter toes and she said they were applied like an acrylic nail and they last much longer than regular polished nails ... I did think they looked cute all coordinated with her sandals today.  :)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Oh yeah!


I know ... it has been a few days since I blogged.  Computer problems ... I can't like them.

I started to have computer problems somewhere around last Wednesday.  Mine was "acting up" ... had it fixed ... still wasn't working right ... had it fixed again (fixed being a relative term here) ... was still acting up ... I left for the weekend ... came back this morning ... SO not happening. 

None of my outlook emails were downloading, couldn't get online, Quickbooks gave me a message that it had experienced a problem and would need to close ... not good.

I am leaving tomorrow night on the red eye for a little get-a-way with my siblings.  I have a lot of things I need to get done at work before I leave ... THATS not happening ... not good.

So I had a visit from my IT guy.  He took my computer.  Said it was pretty messed up and it would take some time.  Hmmm.

I decided to plug in another computer here at the office so that I could do a blog post. 

Oh, wait a minute, the pictures I had downloaded are on the other computer ... not good

Then I remembered that I did have some photo files on this one too - so here was my thought:  Today has been a frustrating day.  I will glance over the files and just see if one pops out and makes me smile and that is the one I will post.

Do you recognize the guy in this picture?  It is Michael Johns, the Australian from American Idol's top ten a couple of years ago.  He was one of my favorites.  I thought he was charming, handsome and got voted off WAY too early!

I totally forgot that I had met him, here in Salt Lake, at a really big event called "Erin's Slumber Party."  Erin is a local DJ and sponsers this Girl's Night Out bash - vendor's booths with clothes and jewelry, and lotions and potions, massages, food, entertainment ... actually, it was pretty crazy.

My sister-in-law, Kim, has a catering business and was hired to bring her chocolate fountains and tons of dipping items to have out, free, for the taking.  (When there are chocolate fountains at a female only event - women go a little bit insane, literally.  Some of them acted as if they had been fasting for days- saving up just for this, or that this was their last meal.)  And technically, Kim wasn't really hired to do the event, she was asked to do it. 

The radio station bought the supplies, Kim (and the two of us she talked into helping her with it: Come on!  It'll be so much fun!  We can get free massages and food and tickets to stuff and they told me we could get a special meet and greet with Michael Johns!) ran the chocolate fountains all night ... ALL NIGHT!  It is a lot of work keeping things up and running for thousands of women who are being given free food. I have a new found respect for how hard caterers work.  (I never did get that massage though.)

Michael Johns was the featured entertainer for the night and he was every bit as charming in person - friendly, conversational ... too bad I didn't take my apron off for the photo op though. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Goodnight kisses.


Since I am currently down to just two children at home, the dynamic in the household is quite different - to say the least.  We were pretty much used to the idea of Chloe just being home for little spurts of time since she had gone off to college and had done summer theater for the past three years, but Haley has always been a staple at home.  Without Haley, we have to pay for haircuts now.  (I just thought I'd throw that out there because last night I took Elliott to get a haircut.  Haley insisted that he go to her old salon and request Cami ... so we did.  It was a $25 haircut and a $5 tip - free is way better, but it does look really good.)

When Haley was home, people came in and out all the time.  Sometimes for haircuts and color, but also because she has always been a social butterfly, and she has lots of friends.  Haley likes to be busy ALL the time so there was one activity or another that she was running in and out for or having company over for.

Elliott and Sophie, not so much.  They are both, as a rule, fairly quiet around the homestead. So the house is quiet most of the time.  I have been starting to feel a little discombobulated as a family - not even close to an empty nest, but it still feels like its getting close ... I don't like it.

BUT, my point with all of this sentiment is that even though our numbers are diminishing at home I decided that as the mom I still need to function as a family and carry on as a unit instead of as individuals.  (If you know what I mean.)

About a week ago, we were all getting ready to go upstairs and go to bed.  I randomly made the comment of how I always used to tuck them in and kiss them goodnight when they were little, and it occurred to me that there is no reason I can't still kiss them goodnight, every night!  So I made the announcement that I was now going to re-start giving them goodnight kisses before they went to bed.  I actually got two big smiles out of them and no objections.  So I went into their rooms for the next few nights and kissed them goodnight.

What I found so adorable was that a couple nights after I had made that new resolve, I was already in bed when the kids came home from being out for the night.  Elliott came into my room first and leaned down so I could kiss him.  Then last night I was talking on the phone in my living room as he was headed up for bed.  He came in and leaned down so I could kiss him. 

He is sticking to the plan and I love that ... (love him too.)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Celebrating the 4th of July.


There is a musical called "You're a Good Man Charlie Brown" that is about 102 years old.  Well, not really, but musicals have come a LONG way since that one was around and I doubt it would draw much of a crowd on Broadway these days - but I remember a song from it called "Happiness."  A few of the lines that I can remember go:  Happiness is two kinds of ice cream ... finding your skate key ... telling the time.

But the line that I remember the most says:  Happiness is anyone and anything at all, that's loved by you.

Ever since we celebrated the 4th of July, that song has been playing in my head. I think it had to be one of the best Independence Day celebrations EVER ... I loved everything about that day, which started by having my cute little Libby show up in her red, white and blue bedazzled self!!!

We headed off to the park early, got our pick of the grass for the day's festivities ... we leisurely walked around the vendor tents and had some insanely yummy, freshly made mini donuts sprinkled with cinnamon sugar just before we walked to "Chik-fil-A" for dinner, which I had never had before and was delightfully surprised at how chow the chicken was.

We had a front row seat to a rather entertaining parade ... I got more than my fill of taffy which was thrown our way a.l.l.  t.h.r.o.u.g.h.o.u.t. the parade.  We laughed when Libby ate her way through the paper around the taffy as she waved her little flag!  (So cute.)

But by far, the best part of the celebration was the concert later that night.  There is just something about an outdoor concert under the stars.  Especially when the entertainment is billed as "Utah's Premier Dance/Party Band."  And they totally lived up to their billing.  That band rocked the crowd and I'm pretty sure all five thousand of us danced that night (well, maybe all of us, give or take a thousand) .

As a mother, it made my heart happy to watch my two teens, the two that seem to have a love/hate relationship, get a little wild and crazy with each other and dance their hearts out.  The band had announced they would be playing for another 30 minutes after the fireworks so to stick around if we didn't want to fight traffic ... we stuck around, we didn't want to fight traffic, and we were some of the very last to leave the party! 

It will definitely go down as a great, fun, memorable 4th.


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America!


This morning after I got dressed for church Sophie said, "Aren't you going to wear red, white and blue?"  I had wanted to wear red, white and blue since it is tradition that we always dress in the colors of the flag on July 4th ... I had thought about the outfit that I could wear - my blue and white skirt, white top, silver necklace with my red glass heart bobble, but when I tried on the skirt and realized that it is a size six and I'm not a size six - I wasn't able to wear red, white and blue.  Sad.

When we got to church we sang "America the Beautiful" as an opening hymn and I got emotional.  I truly do feel blessed to live in a country where so many immigrants have come and settled because of the freedoms this nation affords.  Even being allowed to sit in that congregation this morning and worship as I chose is a freedom that I mostly just take for granted.

I looked over my shoulder and saw my friend Vicki a few rows behind me wearing her red, white and blue -which I knew she would!  She had on a blue skirt with a white blouse.  She had red, white and blue heart earrings on, a red, white and blue bracelet and of course her flag painted toes were nestled in her red, white and blue sandals.  But what really made me smile, as she sat with her arm around her husband John, was seeing him in his suit with his red, white and blue American flag print tie!

I am grateful for the founding fathers of this country, who were God loving men and who saw fit to have the phrase "In God we trust" engraved on our coins ... in God we should trust ... and I am grateful for those men and women who fight to protect the freedoms we enjoy everyday and who risk their lives for us.

So today - Happy Birthday America!   I know its been a really rough year (we all have them) but here is wishing you a better one yet to come as you continue the fight ...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sophie Rose Barton.


I have had a really hard time trying to do a blog post since Tuesday.  A friend I've known since we were teenagers in Connecticut was hiking alongside her daughter at girl's camp on Monday.  After the hike, her daughter, Sophie, passed out, was in and out of conscientiousness and then died at the hospital two hours later.

My heart has been heavy and aching since I heard that news.  She was a bright, beautiful, and talented 17 year old girl.  She wrote songs, played the guitar, and sang beautifully with her sister, Tessa. (You can hear their music here.)

Sophie had been having headaches for a couple of weeks prior so they had made a doctor's appointment for today, but instead, today was Sophie's funeral.  I can't even imagine the grief that this family is experiencing right now.

Funerals are where we pay tribute to the life that has just been lost ... and Sophie Rose had quite the tribute today.  I don't think I have been to a funeral where there were more people in attendance and every person that spoke said the same thing about this special girl - she was always smiling, always happy, always made you feel good ... she was a joy, a gift, and an angel.

So today, although Sophie will be desperately missed by her family and those who loved her, it is comforting to know that she lived a full, rich life in her short years on earth and I have no doubt that she is in the presence of our Savior and singing in heaven.