Friday, May 27, 2011

Mike Mulligan.

Several months ago ... I think it was probably early fall, I drove around the little bend in the road that I always drive around on my way to work (after my stop at McDonald's, it is the back way to my office), and tho and behold, LOOK at what I saw.  In that moment I seriously felt like a little boy must feel when he sees something like this.  Look at the size of that crane!!!  I had never seen a crane that big before.  I think I actually said an audible, WHOA! and pulled over.  It totally reminded me of the book, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel that I used to read as a little girl.  I loved it.

I was so excited that something "so big" was being built ... but I had no idea what in the world it could be.

Every day, I watched the progress of that enormous structure ... and I could NOT figure out what it was going to be.

It just kept getting bigger and bigger and BIGGER.  A hospital?  No.  There were no windows and a new hospital was just built less than a block away ... a huge parking structure?  No.  Why would they need that right there?  It couldn't be an office complex without any windows .... hmmm?

I hadn't noticed this sign on the OPPOSITE side of the structure.  DUH.  How did I not figure that out?  (Sometimes I do have blond moments.  I would call it a senior moment, but the blond reference is the lesser of the two evils.)

They just put the marquee up the other day.  Trees are planted. Lines are being painted in the parking lot.

Let the long lunches begin!  (Shhhh ...)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I don't think I have ever been more happy to see a contestant win the mirror ball trophy as I was last night when Hines Ward won on Dancing With the Stars.  I LOVE him.  I love Kym.  And I love them together.  I know I have already posted about how much I have enjoyed Kirstie Alley on the show, but these two could not be any more darling and any more deserving of the win.  

(Not that Elliott sits and watches this show with his mom and sisters every week, but the other night he was in the kitchen and looked into the family room while Hines and Kym were dancing.  He said, "Haley and I think those two should be a couple."  I totally agree.  They have great chemistry beyond the dance floor and truly seem to enjoy each other.  In fact, this morning Good Morning America had an "after party" with the top three couples from the show and Hines had on a black hoody with big white block letters spelling H.A.P.P.Y. - so cute. And I know, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's just a reality show but I am a romantic that way and can believe in a happy ever after for them.  They really do seem happy together, and happy together is a good thing.)

I am not a follower of football so I had no idea who Hines Ward was when they introduced him at the beginning of the season, but I am pretty sure I'll be watching some of this coming football season when the Pittsburgh Steelers play.  (He said he will have to use some of his dancing moves in the end zone now after a touch down - so cute.)

On Good Morning America, Robin, one of the hosts, made a comment to Kirstie about how she had a goal that she wanted to achieve during the show.  Robin asked if she had reached it.  Kirstie kind of laughed and then they showed a clip where Kirstie had said, "Well, I figured every week with all the dancing is about five pounds and I still have 40 to go, so honestly, I do have to make the finals if I want to reach my goal."  

After watching this season, and seeing a pretty dramatic transformation of Kirstie (at age 60! I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around that), I decided that maybe dancing is how I am going to get in shape (at age 50!).  It seems just a little more fun than my walking/jogging.  Okay, it's a lot more fun ... I bought Zumba for the XBOX the other day.  Right after Elliott set it up he danced to a few songs.  He doesn't like it.  I think it might be a little too girlie for him.  I hope I like it .  I want a transformation too. (Kym's body is my "goal" ... a girl can dream.)

If you haven't ever seen Hines and Kym dance, click here or here - you will love them too - so cute.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I don't think it would be a very big stretch to say that lots of kids start piano lessons at some point in their childhood.  My oldest sister started lessons first in our family and just loved playing the piano.  Practicing, lessons, and recitals - not so much.

I think Leslie only took lessons for about three years before she begged our mother to let her quit - which my mother very reluctantly gave in to - but Leslie did keep playing the piano, she loved it so much.  Instead of having to play the songs that her strict, (mean) piano teacher made her play, Leslie would buy sheet music of songs that she enjoyed playing and singing along to.  She spent hours at the piano and became quite good at it.  She still is too.  And she is a great accompanist.

My mom continued to encourage the rest of us to play the piano as well.  I don't know how many times my brother and I started and stopped piano lessons.  My two younger sisters have the same story.  The thing that we all remember the most is being embarrassed to go to our lessons because we hadn't practiced nearly enough, and our one teacher who gave us candy bars whether we had practiced or not.

(Winebrenner family stats for piano players: one out of five.)

I am also fairly certain that all of those same moms who started their children in piano lessons said, "You will thank me for this when you are older."  Or, "You will wish that you played the piano when you grow up if you don't practice now."  And all of those moms would be right.

And then all of us kids, who didn't practice the piano, would repeat the cycle with our own children. All of mine had lessons for at least a little while - two of them play, at least a little bit. McCall and Haley stuck with it long enough to be able to read music and enjoy playing on occasion.

Elliott took cello lessons when he was in elementary school one year and actually did really well, which was a very good thing since he was the only cello player in the orchestra and at the recital you would know if he wasn't holding up his end of the song.  He was going to continue playing in middle school but bullying the little guy with the big cello became a problem on the bus and he wasn't interested anymore.  Sigh.  I can't say I blame him though.

I figured since the fingering was probably about the same, he should take up the guitar.  I was very encouraging ... Elliott, girls love a guy who can play the guitar and sing.  Really.  I bought him one for Christmas one year.  Haley bought one too.  She thought it would be fun to learn to play together.

On my last trip to Tennessee to visit my girls before they came back home, I heard Haley playing and singing softly in her room next to mine.  I had forgotten that she knew how to play a little bit.  It was really sweet for me to see that.

And then just last night I heard some soft little strumming and singing in our living room.  I walked into the hallway and there was Sophie, sitting on the chair, looking at guitar chords on her phone.  Saturday she decided that she wanted to learn to play as well.  We have four guitars in the family - so far only one knows how to play.  Maybe this will change that.

(Wood family stats for guitar players:  one and a half out of five.)

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I bought these little pansies a few weeks ago but haven't planted them yet.  I have enjoyed having them just sitting on my kitchen window sill though.  I am reminded to water them everyday, (they are pretty much in my face, how could I not?) so they are staying cute and the blooms keep on coming.

We have been getting a lot of rain lately, as is most of the country.  Fine by me.  Oh, how I LOVE the rain!  Especially at this time of year when my lawn is trying so hard to recover from the brutal winter, and do its best to green up for me because it knows how much I LOVE a green lawn!

I love being home on a rainy day.  (And especially a dark and stormy day.)  I would love to be home right now cleaning and organizing and listening to the sound of the rain.

This morning, as I was standing at my sink, looking out at my beautiful view of the mountains, I couldn't help but notice these little colorful "heads" and how they are all turned toward the window.  Normally I recognize that they are reaching for the sun ... I love how flowers do that, don't you?  But this morning, when I looked at them, I saw something completely different.  I couldn't help but think how much they resembled little children, staring sadly out into the wet yard, with raindrops streaking the windows, (think Sally and her brother in The Cat in the Hat) wishing they could go out and play and that made me smile a really, really big smile.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cake graffiti.

(Images from Sweetapolita blog.)

Remember my last license plate post:  RUKDNME?

Well .... ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  Have you ever seen anything like this?!?!?!  I am dying at how adorable this is!  And what child wouldn't have a blast decorating their own birthday cake?  And mommy actually letting them do it?!

I am in love .... (not sure I would have the patience, but this is one of the cutest things I have ever seen.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

A zoom lens.

The Christmas after my oldest baby had turned one, I got one of my very best gifts of my life.  It was a Canon T50 - 35 mm camera with a detachable flash.  I cried when I opened it.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven. And not too long after that, I got the best zoom lens EVER to go with that camera, and I knew that I had died and gone to heaven.  It was with that camera and lens that I started to love photography and started taking better pictures.

I became the official unofficial family photographer.  All of the best pictures my sister Leslie and I have of our little children (because Leslie and I were the only ones who had any children at that time) were taken with that camera.  That Canon did me proud for years - until one extremely unfortunate, sad day, seventeen years later.

It was the very last day of the 2002 Winter Olympics that were being held here in Utah.  Haley was in a little teeny-bop girl band at the time and they were performing one morning in Olympic Square.  I had gone up with all of my kids and my parents were in town from New York so they came with us too.  We had a ball .... the kids rode on the mock luge ride, they got into the giant snow globes and I took their pictures.  We walked up to the Olympic torch and took pictures.  It was just a really thrilling thing to be able to take part in.

Later on in the day Martina McBride was giving a concert right there too ... and I had four tickets.  So my older three girls and I got to see her. I sent my dad home with my two younger ones and the video camera. I kept the Canon to get some pictures during the concert.  (Even with a zoom lens Martina was just a tiny little speck through that lens.  And as luck would have it, I only had two more pictures left on the roll of film anyway.)  I should have sent that camera home with my dad.

After the concert, the girls and I wandered over to my brother's booth before we headed to the car.  He was selling Olympic memorabilia - shirts, hats, bags ... all kinds of stuff ... and of course, Olympic pins.

When we drove into the driveway, I looked around for the camera.  It wasn't there.  I said, "Who had the camera?  Where is it?!?!?!?!"  Panic struck.  My little Chloe started to cry because she had been in charge of the camera.

"Mom, I'm so sorry.  Maybe I set it down at Drew's booth."

I called Drew.  "Please tell me you have my camera there with you."

He said, "I saw a camera sitting here on my counter and thought it was an awfully nice camera to be unattended.  I should have picked it up, but I didn't.  It isn't here."

I cried again over that camera.  Not happy tears.  Aching, sorrowful tears as if I had lost a child.  I had had that camera longer than I had had most of my children.  I just laid on my bed and wept.  Seriously.  It was a tremendous loss for me.  I hated losing all of those pictures we had just taken too ... all of those memories.

I don't remember whose camera I borrowed, but after I had cried for a while, I told the kids to get bundled up again and we were going back to Olympic Square to try and recreate our memories.  (Have you ever done that?)  Moans and groans ensued ... they didn't want to.  I made them.

When we got to the gate there were military guards ushering people out and keeping anyone else from getting in.  The Olympic experience had come to an end.  NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!  LET ME IN!!!!!  I told one of the guards that I had left my camera at one of the booths and I needed to check at the lost and found to see if anyone had turned it in.  (It was cold and raining too but I didn't care.  I was going to RECAPTURE the memories on film if it killed me!!!!!)

He said that I could go in but my kids would have to stay outside of the gates. NOOOOOOO!!!!  LET US IN!!!!  I can't even remember now how in the world I finagled it, but I did, and my kids and I were all inside the gates.  It was looking pretty deserted by then but I kept running all over the place telling my poor kids to get in a shot ... "You guys - quick, stand over there!  Hurry, get in there and look at me!  Wait, just Elliott and Sophie."  It was terrible.  Especially since my camera wasn't at the lost and found.  I filled out a form and was told that I could keep checking back at an address in Salt Lake City for the next few weeks to see if it ever showed up.

I knew it wouldn't.  I was right.  I was so sad.  The only consolation, all these years later, is that I wouldn't be using it now anyway since pretty much everything is digital.  And I never have gotten another zoom lens.

But Chloe did .... and I took it to Elliott's track meet the other day and had a really good time with it.

I captured Elliott way down on the field.  I captured he and his friends and their fun antics.  And then I spotted a girl who looked just like the girl over at the blog meohmy!  I was sure it was her.  It looked like her to me ... and the guy she was with looked like the husband over at meohmy too.  (She was so adorable in person too.  And soooo tiny.)  Then she reached into her stroller and picked up her little boy.

Oh.  Nevermind.  The girl at meohmy has a cute little girl named Presley.  Not her.

(Elliott and his friend.)

(Elliott and more friends.)

(Elliott, his friends, and their antics.)

(The girl who looks so much like the girl from meohmy.)

(The girl and her husband who looks similar to the husband from meohmy.)

And then I saw this guy through the eye of the zoom lens.

Hey?  Isn't that the guy who used to work right next door to my office?  That I had a little crush on because he is so handsome and charming?

Yes it was.  I took his picture.  And then I completely felt like a stalker.

Shoot. (I need to get a zoom lens.)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


This is Haley ... my daughter who is a cosmetologist.  During Haley's schooling, as is typical of most cosmetology students, she ran the full gammet. ( ... gammet is being underlined as an incorrect word.  I tried to look up the spelling in the dictionary and I can't find one.  I tried:  gamet, gammit, gamat - nothing.  Didn't you think that was a real word too?  You know what I mean when I say gammet though, right?  I mean like, the full spectrum, the whole nine yards ...)  Anyway, suffice it to say she went through all kinds of hair colors and styles and cuts and usually liked all of them, which I think is pretty cool about Haley.  I am such a creature of habit that the few times I have ventured away from my "norm" I always grow it right back out to the way it used to be.

But not my Haley ... she likes to change things up.

When she first got her job in Tennessee last year she was a red head with a rather predominate blonde streak.  Then she went to just the red ... then back to a more natural light brown ... added a few blond highlights and could hardly wait to come up to change it up some more.  Yesterday, Haley was as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning because she was going to get hair extensions. (And I don't know anyone who takes better care of their hair with extensions on - she is a natural born stylist for sure.)

And I am pretty sure that if I was able to get hair extensions when I was growing up, I would have felt like a movie star.  (Especially after a bad perm .... some of you know exactly what I am talking about to, don't you?)

What a difference a few hours can make these days .... 

Monday, May 9, 2011

Graduation time.

There is something special in the air on the day of a graduation.  My son in law, Jared, graduated from college last week in Business and all of us girls went down to watch him "walk."

I can remember being a student in college and just a little envious of the other students who were married.  I thought that would have been so much fun.

(Now ask McCall or Jared that right about now and I know they would think I was crazy!  What is so fun about having a mortgage, car payments, a baby, full time jobs and homework on top of all that?  But still.)

Congratulations Jared!  
You did it!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Adorable texts.

My son is a boy of very few words.  He only sometimes responds with a "love you too" after hearing that from his mama.  Getting this text message from him  ... caught me completely off guard and totally made my day!


(I am very aware that my phone borders on prehistoric. But you can't beat the monthly cost and it works just fine for me, kids .... you know it does.)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

A remarriage.

Did you hear the news????  Marie Osmond remarried her first husband, Steve Craig!  I guess they know how to keep a secret 'cause I don't think anyone got wind of this until after the fact ... and I am really, really happy for them!

Back in my days as a student at Brigham Young University, Steve Craig was one of the basketball stars at that time.  Big man on campus too.  He was SO attractive.  I remember one time I happened to be walking back to my dorm and he was walking not too far in front of me.  When it was time for me to turn toward my dorm, I didn't.  I kept on going in the direction that he was going.  I wasn't quite done looking/gawking/admiring/enjoying him.  (I did all kinds of silly things back then.)

When he and Marie got engaged I didn't think, Wow, lucky Steve!  He got Marie Osmond!  I thought, Wow, lucky Marie!  She got Steve Craig!!!!!

They had their wedding reception here in Salt Lake City at a beautiful hotel which (back then) was called the Hotel Utah.  One of my closest friends' family was good friends with the Osmonds.  Her father had worked with some of them on various projects so they were invited to the reception.  But as luck would have it, it wasn't a good night for most of their family so I volunteered to go with one of the sisters in the family ... yay me!

We stood in line for about 3 hours (seriously), but it was worth it.  Marie's dress really was so stunning and she was just glowing.  And there I stood, face to face with Steve Craig and got to shake his hand ... sigh.

I love that she wore the same dress this time too.  As the story goes, she wasn't intending to but the one she was hoping to wear wasn't working out so she found her old one.  "I can't breathe, but I'm in it!" (Marie's words.)

It was a complete surprise to hear this news today, but I wish them all the best!  I hope Marie is happy now.  

Sidenote:  I already have mentioned that I attended Marie's wedding reception.  Do you remember that?  It was back in the blog post about wedding dresses?  When I mentioned it would be so fun to see everyone's dresses and talk about why we picked the one that we picked?  Hint, hint .... smile.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

LP sighting.

McCall found this plate and sent it to me.  I am LOVING it!!!

(Sadly, I have been using this expression far too much lately.)