Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Cello

Before I even had a kid, I'd decided that if I had a daughter, I'd really like her to play the cello. I love that instrument. I've met a few teen girls in my life who rocked the cello, and I have admired them all. Now, I understand that Tessa may not take to it; she may want to play the maracas for all I know. And I'll support her fully in her choice. (I can't even play an instrument --do you like how I'm already pushing one on my kid?)
But a mom can dream, right?
Below is a music video from the Provo based band Book on Tape Worm. The cellist is the daughter of a good friend of mine. When she breaks out the bow for the end of the song..... I'm telling you --I love the cello.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some Utah Pics.

Apparently I was a little one sided when I pulled out my camera, and I have no pictures of my side of the family! I believe Jake has some more pictures on his phone, though, so we'll get those and post 'em later.

We travelled to Utah at the end of May before Jake's parents took off the next week on their mission. The schedule was jam packed, and we certainly made the most of those family visits.
Here are a few photos of the park where we had the farewell luncheon (after Gma and Gpa M's talks and the family singing in church for the congregation --yes, me too. The things we do for family.) Also, it was actually sunny. Cousins playing:

Chatting with extended family and friends after downing some YUMMY food.
In between we spent a couple of days at my dad's and then at my mom's and had lovely visits with the parents, grandparents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. I will not let the pictures fall by the wayside next time.
We had a couple of days at a cabin with Jake's side of the family. I called it a villa instead of a cabin, it was that amazing. No phones or computers --I loved it. We had such a good time.




I needed this trip so badly to step away and clear my mind. I came home refreshed so I could keep on keepin' on with Jubilee.
Our whole family needed it, even if it was freezing cold.
Highlights besides the general visits: the kids catching their first fish, movie night, Dutch the creepy full service gas station attendant, long quality chats, games, fry sauce, cousins and grands taking care of the kids, walks, Memorial Day in the rain, BBQ's, curling up on a chair to read in a cabin in the mountains.

Aaaaaand done!

Sunday evening (stake youth testimony meeting) marked the end of that great big Jubilee weekend. It was everything it was supposed to and needed to be for those teens and even the adults involved. What a cool experience --a blessing to have been a part of and to learn from in every facet.

I cried way more this weekend than I thought was possible --in a good way.
Love those youth.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fun in the Sun




Cowboy

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Easter --that's right, Easter.

We kinda lazed out on having our own egg hunt for Easter this year, so thank goodness our kids were able to participate in two of them on the account of friends. Here we are rewinding to Saturday, April 23. The kids have on a t-shirt from the Easter Bunny, but I'm not sure we got pictures with the baskets! I'll have to check Jake's phone.
We had been in sick kid lock down mode for at least a week when we were invited to this neighborhood egg hunt at a park. We had the occasional nasty sounding cough, and Cole was battling goopy eyes. I figured we wouldn't breathe on or touch anybody at the park, but we had to get out to do SOMETHING. And candy filled eggs --seriously, who can pass those up? Not us.



The kids were gearing up for an egg race. Tessa held hers tightly on the spoon the whole race and thought she won in her age division, so she apparently didn't listen to the rules. :)


Poor Cole's eyes! He looked terrible. Holding him down every few hours for eye drops would not be either of our fondest memories. He was happy to be outside, but he wanted to be doing his own thing.

Big sister is trying for a happy Easter pose. Not gonna happen.
He is outta there.


Finally content with his Peep.

The Worst Punishment

A couple of times when Tessa has gotten in trouble over the past week, she has started crying and lamented that, "Now I'll never get to go to Chuck E. Cheese!"

I don't know where she got that we were withholding a trip to Chuck E. Cheese. We've never been.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Yum

For the last several months I've really gotten a kick out of trying new recipes. I have a pretty good system going with my family meals, with my two week menu planning, a big list of ideas to choose from, etc., but I was getting a little bored with the list. It's more fun to mix in a few different things than we're used to. The internet provides a gagillion recipes, BUT that doesn't mean they're all good! I have made my fair share of "Well, we'll never have this again" kind of recipes. I don't enjoy those. Choke-it-down food bums me out. However, the "that was a fun change" I enjoy, and the "Hooray! Let's add that to the family cookbook!"recipes make me really happy. I know it all depends on your taste buds, but I like to change it up at our house....with food WE like.
A friend in my ward keeps her weekly menus connected to her blog. She provides links. You can see where the meal is a repeat (meaning it was good). She is fabulous and a good cook. That means.....tried and true recipes......not just my hoping for the best with Martha's FOOD magazine or random online recipe sites. I tried a few of the recipes from my friend's menu blog and found that I was loving meals coming from the same couple of sites. New recipes to try from a credible source!
I must share some. So far, I haven't disliked any thing I've made from thesisterscafe.com.

The Sisters Cafe
Creamy Chicken Taquitos *
Honey Lime Enchiladas * Tessa loves these and calls them the crispy enchiladas. We like to use pork for this recipe.

Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Lemon Cream Pasta with Lemon Garlic Chicken too much lemon for our kids, but I loved it.

Our Best Bites -the taquitos recipe above actually originates from Our Best Bites. My mother in law just gave me their cookbook, and I'm ready to rumble with it.
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Lemon Poppyseed Vinaigrette -topped with grilled chicken, this is a great summer recipe.

Our Recipe Box's Completos -Chilean style hotdogs Oh my goodness, I never thought I'd like a hot dog so much. We saute the onions and tomatoes.

You're welcome.
Feel free to share any links of recipes that you love....especially summer recipes now that it's HOT outside.

Jubilee -Standing Together As One

I have been thinking for a couple months about needing to write this stuff down.....but there's a lot to it, so I've avoided it, but as a result, I'm finding that I'm not posting anything else. I am not postponing it anymore!
Jubilee has been part of our existence since October. First, I'll tell you what it is, and then what it has to do with me.
Jubilee is an event that will take place at the end of June at a nearby events center for the youth of my church. The youth involved are those in the Dallas mission (11 stakes), 14-18 years old, numbering about 2000 individuals. It is a celebration of the youth, what they stand for, Texas culture, and everything virtuous, lovely, of good report, praiseworthy, and fun! The big celebrations that have been held recently (they are making a comeback! It's been over 30 years since we've had something like this in our area.) have been for temple dedications. This Jubilee stands on its own, and is the first of its kind in a long time. Through President Monson, Elder Fluckiger instructed the Dallas mission stakes to put this on.....and so it is! The regional representatives have been putting this thing together for at least a year and a half now. The work that has gone into it..... I'm continually astounded. There is no denying, we love our youth.
What it will be: a four day youth conference -great speakers and workshops, a service project, a dance, rehearsals, and then the big event --the performance (three in one day). The three performances will consist of all 2000 youth dancing and singing for an audience of 7500 people for two opening and two closing numbers, then there will be two all girl numbers, two all boy numbers, single stake dance numbers, and special ensembles in between. Auditions were held in the fall for ensembles. A youth recording choir was assembled to record all the music to be piped into the arena. Gemini, the lighting crew for the last Superbowl, will be lighting Jubilee. It will definitely be a Texas sized Jubilee.
On my own micro level, I was called to be the Plano stake dance specialist in October with two youth dance specialists by my side. Each of the 8 wards in our stake called two adult dance representatives and two youth dance reps. I've been in charge of making sure these dance reps. all stay on the same page with one another in teaching. Jake and I were called to be ward dance reps. for our own ward. None of us had any idea what these jobs would really consist of since we'd never been a part of something like this. But I was really excited --because I love dance, I love teaching, and I love the youth.
In November, rehearsals were held for all dance reps in the region to meet with the regional choreographers. Six dances were learned one week, and then we learned our own stake swing dance the next week. It became my responsibility to make sure that the dances were passed along on the ward level as purely as possible when the time came for the separate ward reps to teach in their individual wards/buildings.
The stake and ward meetings started. Our own stake regional rep. -Sister Rast- is also in charge of the opening ceremony for Jubilee. The opening ceremony will take place on the first evening of the Jubilee weekend after the youth have signed in and entered the arena and is a show by the youth just for the youth to kick off the whole weekend. Sister Rast needed help and a committee --Jake and I agreed to help.
We obviously had no idea what this would entail. I will from here on out capitalize Opening Ceremony --because it deserves it.
Each youth involved in Jubilee had to learn 6 dances --the 4 all cast, one all boy/all girl, and then the Plano stake dance. Time was slated for every other week starting in January to be a Jubilee teaching day. Two buildings took the first and third week, two buildings took the second and fourth so that the stake people (my two young cohorts and I) would be able to travel and help.
I helped to prep my ward teachers in December for our first dance and quickly remembered that some people say yes but don't mean it. Several of the ward dance reps. disappeared, adults and youth ----but most importantly, more of them stepped up to the plate. I will always be grateful for these stalwart individuals. They've been fantastic people to lean on.
And so, we started teaching in January. Most of the youth have been incredibly receptive, and like my experience in teaching dance in public schools, so many of the teens (especially males) realized that they enjoyed dancing. It's fun. I love seeing that! Of course, there has been a little resistance along the way in each ward, and you can't force anyone to take part in something they really don't want to do. To be a part of this great weekend, the youth involved have to at least take part in the opening and closing numbers --so, it's saddened me to know that these few youth don't know what they will be missing out on until the opportunity is gone. Very few of them can understand the scale and spirit of this thing, so I've been humbled at the faith most of them have put into the process. They've jumped right in, trusted, and have had great attitudes about it. Amazing kids. I've been able to get to know so many amazing kids. So many of them have had to deal with conflicting schedules and a ton going on at school, but they've made it all work for the last 5 months.
It was in the latter half of January that I was released after three years as my ward's Mia Maid advisor and put in as the new Relief Society secretary. I was torn because I love my girls and the other leaders so much, but I'd still see them in Jubilee rehearsals. I have had time freed up from this change to better do all of the callings I've been juggling, so I can see what a blessing it was. I also had to reach out and ask for help with the kids since Jake and I had to teach or attend some meetings together. The help poured in, and I was able to create a schedule of babysitters. That burden was lifted, and I'll be forever grateful.
February and March continued in my training/reviewing the ward dance reps to teach the next month, teaching my own ward, traveling to other wards, meetings, and our first all stake JAM get together.
There were some odd control issues along the way. Mainly, a regional rep. who had issues with wanting to take over in our stake when it wasn't his/her place. I apparently represented a blockade to this person, and had to deal with some interesting drama. As a result some of it trickled to the ward level. When you get that many personalities together leading a situation with no handbook on exactness, it's bound to happen. I learned so much through it. Sister Rast helped pull me forward, assured me of my job, and told me to move it forward. So I did. I learned not to take things so personally, to let things go a little more easily, but to stand my ground as well. The last couple months have been great with that rep. without any of the previous drama. I'm so grateful, and I feel like part of it is a blessing from putting forth a more positive attitude and trying harder to approach things in the spirit it should be approached --that certainly doesn't mean I haven't grumbled at all --but I've grumbled a whole lot less.
There were several meetings during February and March, a couple of which Sis. Smith and I helped Sis. Rast come up with a final script for Opening Ceremony. This thing got huge. It was supposed to be 20 minutes. We are shooting for under 30. Jake wrote a song. I choreographed a Flamenco dance, a short waltz, and a few other dances and had to take charge of three acts in a 7 act script --acting, dancing, lighting, staging, etc. Jake had to figure out how to get guitar chords written for most of the music (there are maybe 16 songs in the OC) and has been helping the other music leader get the kids ready. This performance has all live music. Eesh!
The weekly OC rehearsals started in April. Many of these my children have had to attend. They've been so good! Tessa loves the teenagers, and Cole is happy when he sees the footballs or basketballs out. The teens have been awesome with them. There are about 120 youth involved in the Opening Ceremony --from all across the region.
Meanwhile, the Jubilee meetings, rehearsals and JAMs have pushed forward from April through the end of May with information exploding all over the place --costumes, tickets, speakers, sets, music, ensembles, rehearsals, etc. etc. I was able to go see the arena with our stake's music specialist and our regional rep. to get a better idea of the space.
The end of May we went on vacation. I can't tell you how much we needed that. I remembered that there was more to me than Jubilee! I missed at least four meetings --and it was fine. Those great leaders I talked about earlier --they easily covered me ....and Jake too. I came back home with a refreshed brain, ready to take on make up rehearsals and our stake dance formation at an all stake rehearsal the next day.
We have two more all stake rehearsals, and then we turn our stake youth and what they know over to the regional choreographers for one more multi stake rehearsal before Jubilee.
The Opening Ceremony has two more rehearsals, and we adult leaders are praying it all works out! Which it will.
The night of OC, Jake and I will go and be on the floor with the rest of the committee making sure it all happens! THEN, Jake and I will come two days later with tickets in hand to watch one of the three big Jubilee productions and soak it all in.
Although it's been crazy, I've seen amazing things happen in this process. People have been strengthened. I've been strengthened! Miracles have taken place --where overwhelmingly huge obstacles have been put in the way, the Lord has removed them. The youth taking part in Jubilee will never forget it, and it will be something to share with their own future children. When it's all said and done, parents' hearts will swell with gratitude that their child had the opportunity to be in this massive thing. And as ready as I am to be finished, my own heart swells with gratitude for having had the opportunity to be a part of this --to learn, grow, and connect. The glow about it is undeniable, and I'm so excited to see ALL those youth stand together as one.
Then, I'm going to have to remember what I did with my time before Jubilee existed.