Tuesday, July 31, 2012

On This Day 5 Years Ago........

I can't help but remember everything that was happening 5 years ago RIGHT NOW! 

 My little man, hamming it up since his days in the hospital.  I still love this picture.

I was a week overdue...painfully uncomfortable...scared of my imminent future...and yet incredibly excited to meet the little man who would change my life.  That's right, I am talking about the birth of my firstborn, my son, Sammy.  I look at the clock and can instantly recall the things that were happening.  About right now (1:11pm) we were at a non-stress test, making sure that everything was still okay for the little boy wriggling like crazy in my stomach.  I was almost a week overdue and I had yet to go into labor.  At this point we had just received word that my body was showing signs that I had toxemia and they had all the green lights to check me into labor and delivery immediately.  They were calling Labor and Delivery, reserving a spot for us and notifying my doctor that I was in.  I thought I would have a baby by evening.  Boy was I wrong.  :)  I was in for one of the toughest 24 hours of my life.  And I would not change anything because of the outcome.

I can't help but get sentimental.  I knew that day would change my life, but I couldn't imagine HOW MUCH it would change my life and change me!  It altered both my course and my very being.  How could I have imagined what it would be like to look back 5 years at that day as I am gazing at my sweet son?  I can't believe that time has flown by me so fast.  I can't believe that my son is about to start kindergarten in a few weeks.  I thought I had more time. 

This picture says it all.  He is everywhere, climbing and hanging from all angles and places, and yet is so bright and happy.  And if we are lucky to catch him for a few seconds, he always gives us his quick smile and ready love.  I love my boy!

I remember wondering what he would look like, who would he be like, who he would be as I stared into the amazingly alert eyes of my newborn son those first few days in the hospital.  I still wonder at some of those things but there is something more that I can't deny--his sweet goodness and love of life and people ever since the day he came into my life-- I know without a shadow of a doubt that there is a God, who is our Heavenly Father and we are all his children.  How could this sweet boy not have come straight from the arms of his Heavenly Father?  So much of his goodness and sweetness was born in him.  He is a strong, courageous child of God.  And by some miracle, I get to be his mother in this earthly existence.  I thank my Heavenly Father for the opportunity I have to love this boy and to care and raise him.  I hope that with my husband and the guidance of our Heavenly Father that I will be able to raise him the way God would want him to be raised.  I want to do everything in my power to help him be the valiant, gentle, and loving man he is born to be.  

The Prodigal Daughter Has Returned

Yes, we are still alive and kicking.   I just felt as though I got so behind in my posts that I couldn't come back.  And I finally have convinced my self that I can come back and document the end of spring/summer.  We have had an extremely exciting summer--and it's not even close to being done yet!  So, I have decided to ease myself into blogging by posting about our vacations/memorable moments and then get back into weekly or daily blogging, whichever I can handle best!

 Our family on vacation this past April in HAWAII!!!!  More about that trip in an upcoming post!

 I have been inspired by my husband who has recently returned to his blog after a lengthy "sabbatical."  So, I dedicate this return to blogging to my awesome husband!  I love you, and thanks for encouraging and inspiring me to do things that I need and want to do.  You're the best!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Soccer Wednesday

Wednesday was just another day. Wake up, take Sammy to school, pick up Sammy and have piano lessons. And try to clean the house up in between those things.

Piano lessons went great! My students are progressing and one of them even finished up their piano books! Wahoo! Level 1B here we come! I was really excited because we have been so close to passing these song for a while! We're free of those songs! Yes!

At 6pm, my sister, the official coach of Sammy's soccer team had a coach's meeting and brought along her assistant coach, Arnold! I am so excited that Addie will be coaching my boy! He is super excited and I know that Sammy will have a great experience with soccer and his first team sport! When the meeting was over we all went outside and played some soccer! Sammy was really happy to be playing and trying to do soccer drills but of course, like any other four year old, he wanted to do something else--such as playing catch! We had so much fun playing with Auntie and I am excited for soccer to start at the end of the month! I couldn't get over how big he looked playing with his soccer jersey on. He really wants to be #4!

Golden Spoon!

Well, today was an especially fun day for me and Izzie--while Sammy was away at Preschool we went to Golden Spoon to celebrate my friend Kim's birthday! I was also really excited because we were going to go to Golden Spoon! I love Golden Spoon! It is my favorite frozen yogurt place. I guess I just love it so much because it is the most creamy, tasty frozen yogurt! It truly reminds me of ice cream. I just love it! And I was happy to be able to share and celebrate with my friend. It was fun to get to know her better and find out more about herself and her family. I have really enjoyed making new friends lately.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 13

Well, In an effort to catch up on my blog, I am just writing the things that I can remember and making them as brief as possible. I promise that as soon as I am caught up and not feeling like I am drowning beneath a sea of blogs that I will write better--in depth, thoughtful and not so scattered.

Tuesday was different because I had piano lessons on Tuesday and I usually don't. Two of my students from Monday needed to reschedule and since I didn't have anything to do, that was fine. They did great and I was happy to see them because they are great teenagers! I feel so lucky that I enjoy all of my students. I have had students that I did not particularly enjoy teaching lessons to in the pas, and it really made wanting to teach a hard thing to do. But all of my students are awesome! I truly enjoy all of them.

I need to start organizing our recital. I want to have one in May around the close of school and before summer really kicks into gear. I feel as though time is slipping away from me. I think about these things in my head and the next time I think about them, it's a month later! What is going on here?!

I can't remember what else we did.

Monday, March 12, 2012

I Love You, Grandpa!

The loves of my life preparing for bed. We are reading our Book of Mormon while the kids are jumping on Daddy.

What can I say? It was a funny day! There were a few moments when it wasn't so funny (like when Sammy spilled apple juice from the big jug on my couch!) but overall, it was a good day.

I woke up this morning and I realized the kids were still sleeping. It was 8:45am! And then I remembered, Daylight Savings started yesterday! They were still a little off from the time change! We all slept in until almost 10am. It was kind of nice. At this stage in the game, I try not to wake up earlier than my children. If they hear me squeaking around in the morning they wake up! So, forget that, I will sleep in until they get up, thank you very much!

When the kids woke up we were in my room and Sammy was so excited to see his sister that he kept hugging her (squishing her at times) and when I would tell him that he shouldn't squish his sister because she didn't like it, he would shout, "But Mom! I love her too much! I just love her!!!" It's hard to make him stop when it is out of love. It was cute. We got going on our day and it got a little crazy! My son wanted juice but I told him he could have juice when he put his pants on. And then he wouldn't so he grabbed the juice off the table and put it on the couch where it proceeded to leak all over. Something in my brain unscrewed. I just couldn't handle it any more. And I was standing in a pile of crumbs. I don't know why things like that freak me out sometimes. I know I need to get over it, not let it get to me, but some days it just makes me lose it. And other days it doesn't even faze me. I was so glad that Arnie came home at that moment to take Sammy to school and he took the baby with him. It gave me an uninterrupted moment to clean the spill up, sweep the floors and clean the table and counters so I could see straight! It gave me some peace of mind which also gave me some of my sanity back. I don't know why I am like that. When I have a clean house I can handle things better and I am a lot nicer. When the house is out of whack, Momma is out of whack. Maybe it is because I am in this house so much! I don't leave very much. Hmmm. Sometimes I like blogging because when I write out things I am feeling it allows me to process them and understand my feelings. I guess blogging is like my own personal therapy!

After Arnie came home I wrote to my sister in Nicaragua on her mission and then I took Arnie back to work. When Izzie and I got home we cleaned a little, ate a little and the next thing we knew we had a few minutes before it was time to hop in the car. So we were in my room on the bed and the next thing I knew she had laid herself down on the pillow in front of me, with the remote controllers and started fake snoring! And then I kid you not, she looked at me to see my reaction and then laughed! And then I just had to try and get it on video so I asked her to do it again, and she totally did! I laughed so hard and sent the video to other members in my family and they thought it was hilarious! Especially my mother! We had a nice laugh over it! And then it was time to get Sammy!

Izzie pretending to be like her Grandpa Louie!

So we hop in the car and she was yelling, "Bub! Bub! Bub!" because she was so excited to get her brother. In fact, when we got to the preschool I put her down and she tore for the school, right inside to her brother's classroom where she proceeded to play with the other kids and get some toys out! We got her before she got make a mess and headed to the car. We got home, fed the kids and put her down for her nap. And then Sammy and I hung out until my first lesson of the day. I updated some of my blog and the whole time I was on the computer he kept saying, "Okay Mom, you have six minutes left on the computer." Okay Mom, you have eight seconds left on the computer!" The times were constantly changing, but I just thought it was so funny! He truly does crack me up!

And then as luck would have it, two of my lessons got rescheduled for tomorrow! I only had one lesson! So we drove over to my lesson and my little guy had a good lesson. A lot better than last week. I had to make him do all the same songs again. But at least he passed them. I felt so bad though, because at the end I realized that he truly thought he was a bad piano player because I made him stay on the songs an extra week! I tried my best to explain that he was so good and that everybody has moments where they have to stay on the songs longer than one week. It is okay! But I am not so sure he was convinced. I think I will call his mom tomorrow and make sure he's alright. It really broke my heart to hear him say that he was the worst student!

After that we went to pick Arnie up from work and as we drove up to the building Izzie starts yelling, "Papa!! Papa!! PAPA!!" It made me smile to know that she knows where to get her Papa! And then we decided to go to Costco since we were out of milk, bread, water, and so many other needful things! We bought a lot of fun stuff, I must say! Can't wait to eat! We also got pizza for dinner. And of course, our berry smoothies! We did have a sad moment when I realized that Sammy said that Izzie didn't want anymore smoothie so he drank it all by himself. Only to realize that this baby was dying for a little smoothie! Hopefully sharing goes a little better next time or it is sayonara smoothie! I hope not, because I really like getting the smoothies too!

Left: Sammy standing on his Dad's back as he prepares to jump off, Izzie is trying to get on.
Center: Izzie trying to get on for her turn.
Right: Izzie getting brave and trying to stand up on her Pop's back! Meanwhile Sammy is "The Blur" because he is moving way too fast!

So, we get home, cook food, put food away and then we prepped the kids for bed. During this time they really enjoyed using Daddy as a springboard and jumping off him onto various areas of the bed. It was kind of funny, but I am starting to worry for my husband's safety! My son is getting older and weighs more and he was jumping on my husband's spine like it was a springboard! yeesh! We are trying to get him to understand that he has to be a little bit more careful with Papa--he's just little!

Left: I love how Sammy is preparing to take flight and Izzie's legs are in the air because she just jumped off!
Center: Izzie looking quite mischievous while her brother plays on.
Right: Sammy trying to gain his balance.

After the kids went down my sister came over. I am excited because Sammy's soccer team (his very first!) needs a coach and I think I talked my sister into doing it! She was a very awesome soccer player and she loves Sammy, and I know that she is going to be at every soccer game anyways. I think she secretly likes the idea as well. I hope it happens!

And last but not least I just wanted to give a shout out to my Grandfather, Louie Rios. 20 years ago my grandfather passed away. I have missed my grandfather over the years, but I know that my grandfather is in a better place. I know that families can be together forever and I am so grateful for that knowledge. I know that at very important moments of my life he has been there letting me know that I was doing what I should be doing. I hope I have made him proud. He taught me so many things and I remember feeling so much love and joy from him. I knew that when I was with him that he loved me and was proud of my accomplishments--and believe me they weren't that big or impressive, I was only seven, almost eight when he passed. One of the things I have never gotten to thank my grandfather for was my first piano. A few weeks before he died, he helped my parents buy their piano. And they were buying a piano in preparation for my future lessons. He believed so strongly in me that he spent all of the money my grandmother and he would have used for a vacation to buy that piano. I still can't believe that he did that. I had never had a lesson! He didn't even know whether I would be any good! But that single act has changed my life in so many ways and definitely for the better. And I never got to tell him thank you or even play the piano for him. So Grandpa, wherever you are, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You have left a huge impact on my life, in so many ways. You taught me how to be a strong, unwavering member of the church. You taught me to love and laugh and enjoy life. You taught me how to garden. You also gave me the gift of music. I will forever be indebted to you for that. Music has not only built and enhanced my life but it led me to my husband. It has helped me make some extra money for my family without having to leave my kids. And it has helped me serve the Lord and help build his Kingdom though music. I know I wouldn't be where I am without you. I can't wait to thank you in person when it comes time for me to leave this Earth. Thank you and I love you!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Papa!!!!!!

We awoke to our boy coming in our room and telling my husband excitedly, "It's the eleventh! That means it's your Birthday, Papa!!" It was really cool because I did not even coach the boy to say that! I know it warmed my husband's heart to know that his boy remembered his birthday. We had fun taking our time and preparing for our Sabbath day. Arnie had to teach so he was preparing a lesson that involved shooting boxes with the slingshot and angry birds. I really wish I had had a teacher like Arnie. It would have been fun!

We put the baby down for her nap and we just got ready. Before we knew it is was time to load up and go to church. We made it again on time!! I am so excited! Even though we made it on time it was still pretty packed! We were just lucky that Sharon and her family saved us spots! It was a good meeting and I was glad that the kids made it without any major incidences! Our son keeps saying, "If I don't listen at church, no computer!" Sammy also defined a consequence as "when you get the computer taken away." He makes me laugh.

After the first meeting, we hurried and took Izzie to nursery because Sammy had to say the opening prayer in Primary! I was a little nervous about it because he refused to practice with us and he wanted to do it by himself. Okay. Here's hoping that he doesn't say anything crazy or un-prayer like. My husband had to go to his class so I was there, in the back waiting with anticipation for his big moment. And there he was. They called Sammy up and he rushed up to the front and squared the microphone in front of his mouth and said a quick, simple prayer and sat down. It was awesome! I was so incredibly proud of my boy.

Sammy's first primary prayer! He is awesome!

After the prayer I stuck around to hear my little neighbor girls give some talks and I got to sing primary songs with my boy. He kept looking back and smiling and giving me the thumbs up sign. I love him. And I love being his Mommy. There is nothing like the love of your child. Right now, I am one of the most important people in my son's world. I hope I will always be one of the important people in his life, but I know that I will only be one of the most for so long. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I will enjoy it all that I can. I love when I can feel how much he loves me and how much my presence can just lift him and help him be happy, that everything is okay. I am so grateful that I have been able to experience so many different types of love. I have felt the love of my parents and siblings. I have felt the love of grandparents and other relatives. I have felt the love of friends. I have felt the love of my husband, my soul mate, my best friend. And now I also feel the love of both my children. I can feel it every time I pick them up and they hold me tighter. I feel it when they gaze into my face and smile. I just need to remember these things when it gets hard, when they are trying my patience, and when I don't know if I have any more to give.

I left and proceeded to my regularly scheduled classes. I love being able to sit for two hours a week just listening to lessons and comments about Christ and His Gospel. It really makes me happy. All too soon, it was time for choir practice. I was so nervous because it was time for me to sing in front of other people! Well, we got all settled and we started with the other song, a choral arrangement of "I Heard Him Come." It was pretty good, and we kept practicing singing it faster so we won't drag it out so much! And then it was time. They had Arnold and me stand in front of the whole choir in the chapel. I thought I was going to pass out, I was so nervous. I also worried that I wouldn't be able to hit some of the higher notes because I hadn't warmed up or sang much. My sweet husband grabbed my hand and scared me and I took courage. I opened my mouth to sing, and noise came out! It actually was good! My voice carried a lot more than I thought it would. And then I got through my part without going flat (I have to do my solo part a capella! yikes!) And my husband joined in and we did it! It was a great feeling to know that I did it! Hopefully I can draw on this experience as we prepare for the real thing! We must have done a decent job because the choir director was crying and had to stop the song to compose herself. I noticed that the tissues were getting passed around a little bit. It kind of made me glad because in the first meeting a woman with a beautiful voice sang the same song we were going to sing in choir! And everyone kept commenting on how great it was (it truly was!) and I just didn't want to be compared to someone like that. Anyways, it was awesome to get through it! Yay! We did it!

After choir we hurried to my brother and sister in laws house to celebrate my husband's and nephew's birthday with the extended family. It was great! We had some yummy teriyaki chicken and funeral potatoes (my sis in law makes these killer funeral potatoes! I get so excited every time she makes them! I am so excited for her annual Easter Party! There is ALWAYS good food and good fun!) and other tasty treats. We really enjoyed being with family and Sammy loved playing with his cousins. Izzie was struggling because she had not had any good naps! Daylight Savings really threw her off! It kind of threw us all off though. Before we knew it, it was time for us to go.

My husband had scheduled Home Teaching some of his people for that evening and we didn't want to miss it--the family is so fun! They have these BEAUTIFUL daughters and they are just so fun to be around. And they got a new puppy, Oakley, a Labro-Doodle! She was just the cutest thing! Whenever we are ready to have a dog (and believe me, it ain't happening while I have plenty of mouths to literally feed and bums to wipe!) I really want a Labro-doodle! They are hypo-allergenic and don't shed as well! How awesome is that? And they are little, which are my kind of dogs! We had fun playing football with the family and talking about all kinds of fun things. And we even got to chat with the neighbors who are also in our ward. I just love living in neighborhoods where we all know each other and are friends.

Here we are with friends and playing with their adorable dog! Izzie loved that dog! But she also was a little scared--she would run to the dog and then stop as close as she dared. She sure laughed a ton, though!

After the sun set we went home and put our poor, overly tired children to bed. I was glad to be able to celebrate my hubby's birthday day with him. He is so special to me. I still can't believe how I lucked out that he fell in love with me and chose to stick with me for the rest of this life and all eternity! I definitely feel as though I got the better end of the deal! I couldn't have ordered a better husband for myself and father for my precious children. He is a sweet, caring man who does his best to work hard for this family and give us all that we need--physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is a gentle man who knows each one of us and knows all of our needs. He knows how to soothe everyone in this family, and I hope he feels how much we try to take care of him too! Although I know that he does a better job of taking care of each of us. I love how brilliant he is. He is the smartest person I have ever met. And yet, he chooses not to showcase his brilliant mind or talents so he can make others comfortable and help raise them up. You will never see him tear any one down, no matter how well deserved it is! He knows that if others are busy tearing him down it is because there is something in that person's life that makes them seriously unhappy. And he chooses to try to make them happy, even if it is at his expense. That is the kind of man my husband is. That is the kind of person I can only hope to be. I hope just being around him will help me to be more like him. I love you, Arnold. Thank you for working so hard for me and our children. I may keep things running around here, but YOU are the heart and love that keeps this family so close. And I thank you for all that you do, seen and unseen. You amaze me with your humility, your depth, and your desire to provide and take care of not only us, but those around you! So, here's to another year! May it be better and better as the time goes by because you have proved that you are timeless, my love. Happy Birthday!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yard Work Saturday!

Izzie trying to shoot the ball into the basket. I love this picture because it makes it look as though she has magical powers making the ball levitate in the air! She sure loved playing basketball outside with everyone!

Saturday was so awesome! It is the first Saturday (of many, I am sure!) that we were outside taking care of our little yard! I am so excited for all that we get to do. When we moved into this house I was really excited for the yard and the fruit trees and all the plants we are going to be able to take care of. Some people we talked to were kind of negative about it (You don't know how much time you have to put into them, there is a lot of care that you have to do, etc) but I am still excited. I do recognize that it will be work. Probably a lot of hard work. But, I don't care. What things of worth in life come with no work? Nothing! Not anything that matters, not anything that can exponentially increase your joy! Please, if you think of anything let me know! I can't say that anything comes to mind.

Anyway, I also recognize that we don't know much about maintaining fruit trees or grape vines or other things, but we are willing and eager to learn! I was so proud of my cute husband, watching youtube videos about pruning and maintaining grape vines. And then he went out and he did it! What an awesome example he is to me! I just love that guy! Well, we started our yard work around 10am and man, we didn't finish until about 1pm! I was so excited that I worked on our front yard planter, right in front of our front door. I ripped out all of the dead leaves off the plants and cleaned things up, and I am so excited! It looks awesome! I didn't realize how cute those little plants were because there was so much dead stuff on top of it! And now they are able to grow more and they see the light!

While we were gardening, Sammy was across the street playing with friends. I am glad that he got to play with friends, but as a mom it is a bittersweet thing. I want him to be out there, enjoying himself, but I worry about kids being mean to him. Some of the kids are older and they weren't as nice to my boy as I would have liked but they weren't hostile. I just had to sit back and let my little guy learn how to navigate the waters of friendship while I watched from afar. It almost killed me! At one point he was crying, but he wouldn't tell me what happened. It just broke my heart! I think someone may have hit him, but he wouldn't tell. I couldn't do anything about it. It is so frustrating! And another time he was sad and came home and when we asked what happened, he just said, "They hated me." And we asked, "Did they hit you?" and he repeated, "No. They just hated me." After that he stayed with us. I think he had fun gardening with us.

When it came time for lunch, we received a surprise visit and lunch from Auntie Soana and Uncle Caleb! They had been passing by a fundraiser for the Orem 8th ward (The Tongan Ward) and they bought two delicious plate lunches for Arnie and me! They were especially tasty after the appetite we had worked up doing yard work. It was also nice to watch funny SNL clips with them and just to enjoy their company for a brief 30 minutes or so. They are so awesome and I truly do wish that they lived closer!

After our quick visit, Arnold and I ran over to our resident Voice specialist, Isaac Hurtado. So, we are officially trying to prepare a solo and duet for the upcoming Easter program! And Isaac graciously agreed to coach us and give us some tips! It was so much to work with him and to feel more confident about performing this song. We are singing at tomorrow's choir practice and I hope it goes well! I am so nervous! I usually struggle to sing songs that are of a spiritual nature. I just get choked up and cry because I am feeling the spirit or the importance of the principles I am singing and then I can't sing because I am crying! Or my voice is too tight! Well, those are issues to deal with later, I can only practice and try my best. I was extremely happy to have the advice Isaac was willing to give us. Thank you!

More shots of Izzie playing basketball! She just looked so happy and cute that I had to put these ones in as well!

After our lessons we talked with Kim, Isaac's wife and my good friend. I just love her! And she is so fun to talk with. And then we gave their oldest kid a ride to a neighbor's house so she wouldn't have to pack up her little ones. What was fun about it was that he has just recently acquired his driving permit, so we let him drive and he did pretty well! It was fun to give him that opportunity. Then we went home to be with our kids and to hang out with my sister who was watching our kids during our lesson. She was so nice to come and watch the kids while we were gone because she had just taken a grueling teacher exam. I guess it is the one where you have to test for re-certification after 3 years. I am sure she did well, but I know we will all be happy to have official word that she is a-okay.

Here are clips of Sammy shooting the ball. He actually made a lot of shots and it was his first time shooting into a real hoop! I was amazed at his ability to do that! He really is an amazing boy! And he's mine! = )

We never went into the house. By now it is almost 3pm and we decided to play outside with the kids and Auntie Addie. We had a basketball and Arnie, Addie, and myself decided to start a game of HORSE! And guess who won?! That's right, ME! For those of you who don't know/realize I am definitely NOT the athletic one of the family! Somehow, I totally showed those guys who was boss on the court! It was fun. Sammy also had some friends come and join us in our driveway. We had kids drawing on our driveway, others shooting baskets and more digging through the rocks. At one point my friend Kim came over with her toddler. It was fun to have Izzie play with another kid her age. And we met our new neighbors who had moved in that very day! It just felt good to be a part of such a friendly neighborhood. I am so excited to be living in our house.

Here are some shots of my sister and me shooting the ball! I must have made my shot because it looks as though Izzie is cheering for me--something she would do every time I made my shots!

Arnie found a free app that let's you edit videos on your phone. Here is the same video from above with a little special effects!

The last game we played with the neighborhood kids was with a giant three person sling shot. We wrapped up a t-shirt and we would shoot it at other kids. The kids loved being targets and shooting it. We didn't have too many takers on holding the sling shot though. Arnie and I were so tired that we finally had to tell the kids that we were going inside! It was crazy! When we went inside we found out it was about 5:30pm! We had literally been outside all day!

It was around this time that I got invited to a play with my good friend Sharon. I wasn't sure about it--it was a scary, Victorian play--but I decided to go to be with my friend. Oh my gosh! I was so scared! It was the play version of the film "The Lady In Black" with Daniel Radcliffe. I knew it was scary, but I figured, "How scary could a live play be?" The answer is very, very scary!

We both didn't think it would be too bad. I think the worst part was that the "Lady" in black kept randomly showing up in different parts of the theater. And they would turn the lights off and on frequently! So, one minute the lights would go off, scuffle scuffle, and then the lights would be back up and the lady in black was standing right there! One time the lights went off and then back on and there was a child's rocking chair in the middle of the room, rocking. And the storyline was kind of disturbing. Whenever the death of a child is involved, it is never good.

I do feel bad because I know I scare people with my jumpiness. My husband has told me on multiple occasions that I am worse than any scary movie because I jump and scream and whatever else. I definitely don't think I helped my friend Sharon at all. I think I made it worse. When we were walking out of the theater we were passing some shops and didn't realize that there was a space between some buildings. These two guys pop out of the building as we are passing by and my friend jumped and screamed! She felt bad and the guys felt bad that they scared us, but we explained that we had just watched a scary play.

So, we drove to Gloria's Little Italy for some dessert. It was so good! We had a chocolate tartufo and a yummy nutella and cream cake. They were both absolutely divine! I wish I could have tried every dessert, they looked so good. We had a good time talking with each other and learning more interesting things about each other. I really do love my friends that I have made while living in this ward. I hope that we will be able to be lifelong friends and enjoy each other's company for many years to come.

My love the moment it became his birthday! Isn't he so cute?!

After this I came home and explained how scary everything was! My husband laughed at how silly I was. And he is right, I just need to stay away from scary things, I am much happier that way! Before we went to bed I filmed my husband giving some "words of wisdom" on his birthday as the clock changed to midnight. I think he may have ripped off another classic youtube video though. Actually, I know he did! I will also admit that I stayed up longer than usual watching Friends reruns to try to get all the scary play images out of my head. I think it worked. I didn't have to wake my husband once because I was scared!

Arnie's Words of Wisdom on his birthday. I think I have seen this before somewhere. Hmmmm......

Friday, March 9, 2012

No Lessons Friday?!

Here is Arnold eating some of his tasty birthday breakfast crepes! Crepes with nutella and whipped cream! Yum!

When was the last time I had no piano lessons on Friday?! Um, I can't remember! With my nephews on vacation I had no piano lessons what so ever on Friday! nor will have any next Friday, as my nephews will have barely returned and not practiced the whole time they were gone. Do I blame them? No way! They are in Hawaii!

So, Friday, we also were privileged to have Daddy stay home from work! Yay!! His brother, Caleb, came to visit from Afghanistan, with his wife Soana. We had tentatively planned to have lunch with them to celebrate my husband's upcoming birthday. So, since we usually take work off on birthdays he did! It was so fun! My son was so excited to have Papa at home that morning. And he always asks him, "You staying or going, Papa?" When Daddy comes home for lunch he recognizes that there are times when Dad gets to stay home and times when he is only home for an hour. I was so excited to all be together!

So, we started this birthday weekend right by making birthday breakfast crepes for Daddy! We even were coordinated enough to stick some candles in some crepes and light them and sing to him without arousing suspicion! It was great! Sammy was such a great helper and carried the plate to Daddy and was such a great singer! It was really fun to have a kid that could really do it by himself! I think it was quite nice for Papa!

We let Daddy relax and just veg while we waited for preschool to start. We took Sammy to school and hoped that he would pass his books! Sammy loves reading, but I think he is getting used to reading. Sometimes if there are the same first 2 or 3 letters he will guess a word in stead of making sure he knows exactly what the word is. His teacher noticed it too but said he is doing great! I am so proud of him!

Top: Sammy playing a water shooting
Left: Mom and Izzie at the mini cooper ride
Right: Izzie thoroughly enjoying the mini cooper ride

After preschool we went to Chuck-E-Cheese! Izzie had received a coupon for free tokens for her half birthday so we decided to go and play! Sammy was so excited! He hopped out of the car before we could get out and unbuckle his sister! They both rushed inside and headed for their favorite things! Unfortunately the kiddie basketball was not working correctly so I had to drag Izzie away from that one. She also was that kid who would walk up to you and throw your skee balls. So, we really needed to keep an eye on her! Luckily she loved this Mini Cooper car ride. I honestly stood next to it and just kept feeding it quarters! Every time it would stop she would do the ASL sign for "more"! She loved that ride. When I finally ran out of tokens, we had a melt down. Oh man. It was crazy!

Chuck-E-Cheese fun and shooting the rocket with Auntie

And Sammy, my little man! He played this one game and the next thing we knew there were tickets spilling out of it! I had to tell Arnold so he could help him catch them all! I think he got 180 tickets out of that game alone! I was proud of him! I have never even done that in my adult life! He is so awesome! We fed the ticket monster and went to grab a prize. It was awesome! Sammy chose a nerf type rocket launcher. He loves that thing! I have had to tell him not to shoot in people's faces though. I trust that he will be ok.

After a successful trip to Chuck-E-Cheese we went home to put the baby down for her next nap. She was in dire need by now, so it was kind of a relief to do so! While the baby and Daddy was sleeping Sam and I got a surprise visit from Auntie Addie! She had gotten off work a little early and came over to wait for her yoga class to start. It was really fun to watch Sammy and Auntie Addie play with the rocket launcher together! They would lay on the floor on their back and just shoot it straight into the air. They would laugh every single time! It was great!

Sammy loved playing with Auntie! They had a really good time, if you can't already tell!

Auntie Addie also brought the Hunger Games over for me to read. I am a pretty prolific reader, but I just haven't gotten around to reading Hunger Games. I don't like bleak future plots such as Brave New World, 1984, you get the picture. They aren't much fun. But, since I now have the books in my house without any extra effort expended to get them, I guess I will read them. Thank you, Addie! Now I am jsut debating whether I should read them after the movie or before the movie. One of my piano students told me I have to read them before, but I just don't want to ruin the movies by knowing what is supposed to happen. Does anybody else think like this? Or am I the only one who cares?

And then we got word from my bro and sis in law that we would go to dinner with them at Chuck-a-Rama! We love that place and so do the kids! It was awesome! I don't know what I was thinking, but I didn't get any pictures of the kids with Auntie and Uncle! They had so much fun! It was a great evening talking about life and family. I love getting together with family and understanding each other and just laughing together. It was definitely a much needed get together and I am sad that they don't live closer so we can get together more often! I guess we just need to enjoy it when we have the opportunity to do so.

After we got home we put the babies down and enjoyed resting with so much yummy food in our stomachs! It was nice. Man, just thinking about it makes me wish I could do it all over again! It was a great day.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Busy Thursday

Sammy playing with his cousin, Caleb. They love to play computer games together such as Peggle, Plants vs Zombies, and PBS Kids. I am glad that Sammy has always had such a good friend in Caleb, and in his other cousins, Richmond and Christian as well. And of course, little Gaby, too. I hope they can always be friends.

Before I start, I just want to mention that I have been blogging for a month now! I am so happy (and a bit surprised) that I have made it so long! Hopefully I can continue the streak!

Well, we really started our Thursday early! My Brother-in-law and his family were heading to Hawaii on Thursday afternoon so they opted to skip school and have piano lessons Thursday morning at 9am. Now that's dedication to piano! Or maybe it was just convenient for him to keep them out of school and keep them busy in the morning. :) So, we got up, quickly fed the kids and we got crack-a-lackin'!

I was impressed with my nephews once again! They did so well! They really have put so much effort into their piano that it just warms my heart. And it makes the lessons A LOT more interesting for me! Yay! And the kids loved playing with those guys. It really does make piano more fun for the kids that they actually get to play with these guys. I just have to remember that when it is more hectic and crazy for me. It's for the kids. I am helping form bonds between these cousins and also making memories. It will all be worth it!

Left: Izzie enjoying having her cousins in her house. She couldn't stop smiling about it!
Center: Two of my nephews playing with the ipod after some serious piano playing--they definitely deserved that play time.
Right: Izzie scooting backwards on her tummy. It was so funny!

After they left we didn't have much time to relax because it was voice lesson and accompanying day! Wahoo! So I got the baby down for a nap and went downstairs to practice my songs. Sammy followed me downstairs and he proceeded to play while I sang. and then as I sang my song we would play soccer! I am sure it didn't do much for my posture, lunging for balls and trying to make shots, but it helped me play with my son and practice singing at the same time.

And before I knew it, it was time to go accompany. I went and I did my best. And then it was my turn! I was so excited because I felt like I was making breakthroughs! However those breakthroughs came at a price. I now feel as though my voice will sound worse because I am trying to develop muscles and learn techniques that will help me sound better in the long run! But I have lost a bit of control. Oh well, my voice teacher was happy with it and so am I! When I finally stopped caring about being in total control my voice sounded so big! And he said that we may have gotten a glimpse of how big or much bigger my voice could get! It was very exciting! I also sang my songs and I am close to passing two but I also got assigned some new songs! I am really excited about that too. Overall, it was a great day for voice lessons.

And then I had accompanying and piano lessons left. I know the back and forth make things a little bit difficult, but I kind of like being that busy. It makes me feel good. And I like that my kids get to play with other kids and learn to be a little separated from Mommy, especially Izzie. She really needs to learn not to be so clingy with me. Man, it was so awesome. My teenage sisters are doing so great. I am proud of the progress they are making as well! And I was happy with the accompanying that I am doing! I feel as though I am getting better at playing these songs. I have been out of the sight reading level I used to be able to do and I feel as though that the more that I do this, I can feel it coming back. I am so excited about this too! It feels like I am progressing in my piano skills, which I haven't felt in a long time!

Left: Sammy loved those strawberries. He kept raising them up, he was so excited to have them!
Center: When Sammy really loves something, he shows it by closing his eyes while he eats! He cracks me up every time he does it!
Right: Izzie loved the strawberries as well. She kept wanting to put the whole thing in her mouth, but they were so gigantic that they would not fit! She tried as hard as she could anyways.

After a long day of lessons and accompanying our neighbors brought us some chocolate covered strawberries! They were absolutely divine! And the kids loved them too! Those guys love chocolate and strawberries. Just thinking about them makes me wish I had more! Yum!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Beginnings

The Blanket Monster surfaces once again. But it is moving so quickly you can hardly discern who it is!

Wednesday was a very busy day! We had preschool and then we needed to get going for piano lessons and then after that I would need to rush for the Young Women's program was here! I was so excited!

I am trying to remember if anything crazy or funny happened and I am sure that there was something said or done that was funny, but I can't remember. I need to start blogging on the days that things happen! Or else I am left with patchy blogs! Ack!

My lessons rolled around and It was a pretty decent day. My first lesson came and she actually practiced! We have been having a little trouble remembering the value of the notes and I got a really awesome idea to make some flash cards right then and there so she wouldn't forget to do them and another week would have been lost! I was quite proud of myself! And she told me a few days later that she has been studying them! Yes!

My next lesson actually canceled on me! I guess his parents were going out of town and it was stressing him out and he didn't want to play. Oh well, I hope he practiced so he can finally pass his books!

And then my last lesson came. I love that girl. She is one of my new beginners and she did so awesome! She passed all her songs and got her name in the ticket jar! I am so proud of her! She's awesome. However, I felt a little sad when she was telling me how she is not as good as her older sister. I had to kindly and gently remind her that her sister has been playing for a few years, she has only had lessons for four weeks. It took a little bit of convincing, but I think by the time she went home she understood. She really is one of the best beginners I have ever had and her future looks extremely bright! I need to help build that confidence up a little bit.

And then I got ready for the big event, "New Beginnings." Hours and weeks of practices and meetings were finally coming to a head. I got all dressed up and my family dropped me off. We ran through the number and I finally made the changes we had talked about on Sunday! Just look at the director! How simple and elementary! How did I not do that at first?! Hahaha. The girls were fantastic. I was truly so proud of them. And the comments I heard about the performance were awesome! Everyone was so excited about the new song and how upbeat and fun it was! And I heard a lot of comments from the adults that they thought it was cool that I was kind of groovin' with the music as I played. I couldn't play that song without feeling it--that's how I was playing it, by feel! And if I didn't move it was harder to feel the beat and where the syncopation should fall. And I didn't want to mess up because it would be blatantly obvious with the percussion section playing the same rhythm I was doing! Some parents told me it was like a rock star was playing on the piano. Someone told me it was like having Stevie Wonder on the piano! hahaha. I appreciated the comments.

The monster comes in and leaves
so quickly you can barely tell who it
is! Once in a great while you can catch a glimpse of a person. Or did you?

When I got home there were these two little babies playing their favorite game of The Blanket Monster! They even tried to surprise me while I was in the bathroom! And then it was time for bed! We had an early morning ahead of us!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

McDonald's Is So fun And Fish Tacos Are Yummy!

Yes! We made it to Tuesday! I love Tuesdays because they are my day off from lessons and school so we can just do what we want! Woot woot!

So, we took our time getting ready. There was a slight bummer about Tuesday though. Monday had been so nice! The sun had been out, the weather was warm, it felt like spring had come! One of Sammy's good friends, Caleb invited us to a picnic lunch at a park for Tuesday. Sammy was excited, I was excited (we have been wanting to get outside and enjoy the nice weather) and then, it happened. Tuesday was overcast and cold! It seriously felt like it was going to storm! We kept waiting for the weather to clear up as the time for our play date crept nearer and nearer! But it never did. However, Caleb's mom, Andrea, had the best idea! She suggested we go to a McDonald's Playplace. At first I was hesitant, but oh well, it would be fun with friends! When we got there, it was amazing! They had remodeled the play land and it was pretty clean, the play toy was three levels (which equals super fun!), there was an enclosed basketball hoop area, and a little toddler soft slide but the best part of all were they giant piano keys and guitar that made music when you played them with your feet or body! It was so cool! The kids loved it!

Izzie wanted so badly to play on the Play toy with Sammy that she crawled all the way up there by herself to find her brother! And then she didn't know how to get down! It was kind of cute how she was freaking out that she couldn't get out. Sammy and his friend Caleb helped her get out. She didn't venture into the playground too much after that! But she did love the toddler slide and the musical instruments! She laughed and laughed whenever she played them! I never got any good pictures of Sammy as he was in the playground so much!

Doesn't this just look like fun? Izzie loved it and Sammy loved it so much he is busy playing on the toy! We could only entice him out with food when he was hungry enough to eat it!

My most favorite part of the experience was when we were walking back to the car. I grabbed Izzie's hand but she wriggled her hand out of it because she didn't want to hold my hand....she wanted to hold Sammy's! She ran to Sammy, who was a few steps a head of her, and grabbed his hand. And he held it and led her to the car, so carefully, and protecting her in the parking lot. It was so sweet and it made me happy to know that they are friends. Even my friend Andrea noticed the exchange and told her son Caleb, "You should hold Adam's hand like Sam is holding Izzie's hand." It was a deeply needed good Mommy moment!

Later that day after Arnold had gotten home from work, I was finishing up our laundry--I did all of our loads and I had folded all of it!! I felt amazing! Because I spent so much time on our laundry I didn't have any dinner ready. You win some, you lose some, ya know? Anyways, My sister called and asked us if we wanted to go to Taco Tuesday with her after her yoga class. Well, we let the kids decide and no sooner had I uttered the words, Do you want to go and eat with Auntie at Taco Tuesday? The kids both started screaming and saying Yes!!!!! It was decided. So we were running a little late, we needed to get to Costco before it closed, and then we show up at Rubio's for Taco Tuesdays (Their tacos are $1.45 on Tuesday nights) and my sister isn't there. We grab a booth and wait. The kids had gotten a little crazy before we left so waiting at Rubio's was not going so well. They were escaping, crawling on our table, yelling and getting cranky. And truth be told, so was Mommy. Mommy was hungry, her kids had spent the last few hours yelling at her (or so it seemed) and now they were acting crazy and everybody kept looking at us (again, or so it seemed). When my sister finally called us to let us know she had gotten held up at yoga Mommy kind of snapped. Nothing too bad, but I will admit I was not as nice to my sister as I should have been. However, she showed up and we ordered our food and had fun! The kids really do love their Auntie and spending whatever time they can with her! She is awesome! Sammy even ate his whole fish taco so he could get a churro! Yum!

As we waited, Sammy let us briefly see into his mind and his thoughts. His wisdom is profound.

And then we went home and put the kiddos to bed and watched one of our new shows, New Girl with Zooey Deschanel! I just think it is so funny! Sometimes it is not a show I would watch with kids, but in every episode there is always a moment or a joke that makes us both laugh out loud for several minutes. Usually earning a rewind to watch it multiple times! Good times!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday, Monday

Monday started off as any other Monday. We got going, got the kids all fed and dressed, and just got ready. I had such a great Sunday that I was still pretty happy and just feeling great about my life. Yes, it's crazy and it's messy, but it's still beautiful, a work of art if you will. I love Sundays, they always seem to give me perspective and the ability to face a new week and all the possibilities that await! I was pumped!

Sammy went to school and his selection for show and tell this week was two little Potato Heads! He has been really into Toy Story, Toy Story 2, and Toy Story 3! So much so that he loves playing with his real life Potato Heads and has also given the whole family and those who are near and dear to his heart new names. He is Woody, Izzie is Jessie, Mommy is Bulls-eye, and Daddy is Stinky Pete the Prospector. He gave Auntie Addie a new name, but I can't remember which character she gets to be. Auntie Soana is Rex the Dinosaur and Uncle Caleb is Hamm the piggy bank. And I think Grandma Gaye also got to be the Slinky Dog. Hey! I'm just lucky that I remembered what I do! I do love hearing what he associates with people.

So, he went to school and I got the baby down for her nap so I can prepare for the day and prepare for another week of piano. Of course, all too soon it was time to pick Sammy up and let the afternoon roll!

My first student was one of my sweet teenage girls. She did great and I was just excited by the progress she is making despite being at school until after 5pm everyday because of the upcoming musical! Good for her, trying to juggle it all. I will ad mit when I was a high school-er trying to fit piano and the musical and school, I was not always successful at practicing the piano!

My next student was my teenage guy who also passed his songs! Yay! It made things a lot of fun. And man, I was impressed with the progress he has made on Bumble Boogie. It is a tough song and he is just plowing through it. It's definitely making him reach and use all of the piano skills and knowledge he has!

And last but not least, one of my new beginners. It was a hard week for this little guy--his mom has been away on business. And at this early stage in the game, the best results come from parental help. But, some weeks you won't always have the ideal situation and you just do the best you can. Hopefully next week will be an easier week for him!

And then after my lessons were done we rushed to the BYU Health Center to get some cash to my brother who was checking up on his TB test. He had to work in SLC so it wasn't a very long visit. And then we were on our way to one of our favorite places, Tucanos!! My son calls it "Canos!" Yes folks, we received the traditional free birthday meal postcard! Hip hip hooray! We love it! The kids loved it and we got some really good footage of Arnie dancing his Happy Birthday dance (they make you at Tucanos) and the kids really enjoying their meal! Izzie even stuffed a whole teriyaki (probably my favorite one of the night!) sirloin (I honestly don't remember what cut it was) in her mouth! She cracks me up! Sammy told us, "Mom! I want to go to Canos and eat fruit!" Hahaha. How funny is that kid? Who goes to a Brazilian meat restaurant to eat fruit?! That's right, my boy! I love that kid!

Let the birthday palooza begin!!!!!!
(For those of you who do not know, in our family we like to celebrate birthdays and super special occasions or holidays with paloozas! That entails celebrating said event more than just one day, it could be a week or a few days or even a month! It is whatever we want to make it! Party on!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Awesome Sunday!

Oh man! I can't believe how my Sundays just keep getting better and better! Well, this Sunday was kind of nice because choir got moved to after church instead of 9:30am. So I slept in (a half hour more than usual) and then I got up and enjoyed preparing our crock pot dinner so it would be ready when church was done. I decided to make pork sandwiches with root beer BBQ sauce again since it was a big hit.

At one point we were able to relax before church and just watch our children dance and play with their toys that make music. They were just so cute together. These guys just love being with each other and having a party! I love it and I love them!!

Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for church. I was really working hard to get to church before 10 till. And we did it! I got the kids ready, myself ready and everyone was in the car! Yes! I had my bag full of treats and food and sippy cups and coloring books and crayons and Friend magazines. You name it, I had it.

So we are sitting in the pew with our family and our friends who always save us seats and it was going pretty well. I don't know if you read my "I Am So Embarrassed" post but the previous Sunday did not go so well and my son was trying to redeem himself so he could earn his computer privileges back! He was really working so hard and being so good. He was quiet, he stayed in the pew (for the most part) and was pretty good. Izzie was a little more vocal but nothing too loud or even in the realm of crying. She just gets really excited about everything and likes to yell about it. She is loud. But it was okay. I could not believe what a difference this Sunday was going! I was just enjoying it and loving every blissful moment! I can't remember a Sunday that had been this good in a long, long time!

At one point in the meeting, I heard a noise behind me that sounded like a baby making one incredibly dirty diaper. So, I kind of turn to look because you can always tell which kid it was by the look on the parent's face. I have made the look myself a few times and I just like knowing that there is someone else out there worried about poopy diapers. And as I look I realize that the sound came from the pew my good friends, who are also my piano students and voice teacher, are occupying. One of their kids had thrown up! Oh no! I felt so bad and I could feel how much they were trying to figure out what to do next. And the thought came into my mind--give them my baby wipes and some sort of baggie to put the dirty wipes in. I kid you not, the thought crossed my mind and the next thing I know I am telling the kid behind me to hand my wipes and a bag behind them to this family. I don't think anyone really knew that someone had thrown up. They did a great job of catching it in my friend's jacket (it will definitely need to be dry cleaned) and that poor kid was holding his hands over his mouth pretty well. And I just calmly handed that back without explaining what to do with it--they knew exactly what to do! I was happy that I was able to help in some small way. Sometimes when I feel as though I should help I worry that my idea may be dumb or not needed. It was nice to feel as though it was helpful. I would hope for the same kind of help if I were in that situation.

After that it was time for those who wanted to bear testimony to do so. The past week and the overwhelming parenting moments stood out to me and I felt as though I should get up and bear testimony of the love I felt from my Heavenly Father this week. I guess what I had taken out of the past crazy week was how much my Heavenly Father loves me. I had a hard week--definitely not the hardest week anyone has ever had, but still very trying for me nonetheless. And I realized that my Heavenly Father had helped me as best he could by sending people to help me (my friends who found my kids on the road and brought them home in less than 10 minutes), to say the right things when I needed to hear them (friends reassuring me that it was okay that my kids were more rambunctious than pretty much anyone else's children) and putting things in my path that would calm me and help me to feel love from Heavenly Father and to love and cherish my children when I felt like I had nothing left. My Heavenly Father never ceases to amaze me, it makes me feel as though he is saying, "Celi, I know you. I see you. I'm trying to help you the best I can, but you're doing okay. You can do it! Keep going!" I hope others can feel that same love I do, because I know Heavenly Father loves everyone, not just me. I also am amazed that sometimes my comfort comes from helping others. Just when you think you don't have anything more to give, but you manage to muster something up for someone else, sometimes that is just what you need to make YOU feel better. It sounds like it wouldn't work, but it totally does! How crazy is that?! God is good. There just isn't any other way around it.

I was also touched that my son saw me getting a little teary and he ran up from the pews to give me some tissues! He is so sweet. After I said my testimony, I sat down and my son wanted to go up, so after a few people, my son and husband went up. They were approaching the microphone but then I heard my son say, "No Daddy! You go up by yourself!" My husband, so brave, gets up there not expecting to talk himself, but he is so amazing! He found something to say and it was great. He talked about our hard week and how my son teaches him all the time. He talked about how Sammy's computer restriction taught him about our Heavenly Father and how when we get some of our privileges taken away through our own actions, that our Father has to work harder to help us. He doesn't take them away to hurt us, but to help us be better, stronger. We also can take the opportunity to spend more time with our Heavenly Father and build that relationship with him. For instance, this week we played more games with Sammy and read more books than I can remember doing, simply because we had to take the computer away. It was fun and a great opportunity to get to know our son and enjoy his personality. I was so proud of him for bearing his testimony. I always enjoy knowing what my husband is thinking and feeling. He is a great man.

After that, Sammy didn't want to come down because he wanted to bear his testimony, so they had to wait for other people to go. and when he got up he talked about how much he loves to read the Book of Mormon. I love that kid and he sure does love his Book of Mormon. Sometimes I don't think that I have done much, that it was all pre-wired in him. I hope this continues for him throughout his life.

After the meeting was over we went to our classes and before I knew it the third hour had come around and it was time to practice with the Young Women. We have our performance this upcoming Wednesday and this is it! Unfortunately, something got changed in the music last minute, and I am now having trouble with the transition. The problem is that my music isn't even good anymore, it is just an outline of what to do. I am totally doing this by feel, but I am having trouble feeling this new revision! Hopefully I can get it by Wednesday! I also got teary talking to the young women to encourage them to put their sweet spirits into what they were singing. Sometimes songs aren't impactful because of the notes or music--it's the spirit you bring to it. That's what touches the soul. And as I was trying to explain that to them, their goodness just overwhelmed me and I was all choked up! I am such a cry baby sometimes!

After that, I was asked to share an experience with the same young women about overcoming obstacles. One of my friends, Gina (who I saw the Vow with the previous night) asked me about how I learned how to play piano and she just loved the story. I thought I would share it because this blog is also about music. So here it goes.

I have always loved the piano. I can remember begging my parents to let me take lessons years before they ever got me lessons. They wanted me to wait until I was eight years old. So I begged and waited and begged. Finally, I was able to get piano lessons. A few years after when I was a teenager, my family hit some financial difficulties and one of the things that had to be cut were my piano lessons. I was at a pivotal point in my training where if I could continue, there was a big chance that I could be very good at playing the piano if I just stuck with it, with the right teacher. And man, I had the best teacher! But she was also very expensive. So, we quit and I tried my hardest to keep teaching myself, and it just wasn't going as well as I had hoped. So behind my parents' back I called my piano teacher out of the blue and explained my situation to her and begged her to take me on for free! Looking back, I can't believe I did this! And I am sure she thought I was the craziest kid because that is what I would think if a student did that to me! Well, I guess even crazier than me was the fact that she actually agreed to take me on for free! But of course, there were a few stipulations. First, I had to practice. The moment I stopped practicing and she could tell, the lessons would be over, the deal was null and void. Second she told me that I needed to help those who needed a pianist, whenever I could when possible. So, we continued that way. And then I got a job. She talked to me about revising my deal. She explained that now that I had a way to make money, I needed to pay her. I was worried, because I knew I couldn't afford her price! And then she said that she would charge me $10 a lesson! She told me that she knew my lessons and our deal would mean even more to me if I had to sacrifice some of my hard earned money. It was incredible! I agreed and that is how it went. She kept teaching me until the day I went to college and the first year I came home from it as well. She was awesome, and what an incredible impact her decision to help me has made on my life. I never would have met my husband because I was hired at our work place as a music specialist. I wouldn't be able to work and make some extra money because I can do this job from home and work less because I make more than minimum wage. And the list and list of blessings that have occurred in my life is endless. Music has shaped my life totally and completely.

Of course sharing that story made me teary too! I felt like the biggest crying mess at church this Sunday, but it felt great. I was so happy. After church we had choir and it was exciting and I totally chickened out of singing the solo this week. I will do it next week. We opted to work on the choir parts instead!

Than we went home and made dinner and my sister came over! The food was so yummy and being with family is always a highlight for me! I can't believe what a difference a week can make! I just love Sundays!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Movie Saturday!

I had been looking forward to Saturday all week! I had made plans with two of my favorite ladies to go and see The Vow, a movie I had been wanting to see. I even got up early out of bed on Saturday--that rarely happens! The kids, Arnie and I were all ready and we went to Lowe's to go look at seeds to plant. My son, Sammy has been asking when we could plant seeds for ages. I don't know where he got the idea--Little Einsteins or preschool--but ever since January he has been talking about planting seeds and giving them love and sunshine. That is what a garden needs, love and sunshine. I will admit, I am excited to have our own garden here. When I was a kid we had a big garden at my grandparents' place and so many memories were made there. So many funny stories and a lot of hard work. I want my children to have good memories of hard work and how fun it could be. And especially in a day and age where most people have never planted something in the ground and watched it grow and actually eat from it--I want to give that to my kids. I just hope I don't kill the plants or forget to take care of them!

So to Lowe's we went. I actually like Lowe's. As a parent and a person who is taking care of a home, I find Lowe's exciting, a place of possibilities! I could turn m home into something awesome with all the things Lowe's can offer! Too bad I need to learn how to do a lot of those things! I am learning and I think that is exciting as well. What was really funny was that we went and some friends from our ward were there! We didn't even hear them calling our names or talking to our kids but when we realized they were there it was pretty obvious that we had been completely oblivious. I really enjoy our friend Andy and his sweet kids. I really liked watching their kids and my kids run around and have fun in the store while we were talking with Andy.

Then we headed to the gardening section. We bought gloves, some shears, and three packets of seeds. I know that you can't plant these seeds until May but these were things for sure on my list--cilantro, basil and Sammy chose Sunflowers-- and I really didn't want to walk away empty handed! I need to do some research and figure out which plants need to be planted Mid-March and so on. I am getting excited. I know that it will be hard work, but I say bring it on!

When we were loading into our car, we ran into another one of our good friends. It was so much fun!

After we bought our things from Lowe's I headed to the music store in the mall! I was so excited to buy another book for my voice lessons! And it helped that I had received some payments for piano lessons--I love the beginning of the month! This book is the The Standard Vocal Library Mezzo Soprano Standard Repertoire. I am excited that I am a Mezzo-Soprano. It made me feel real special when my voice teacher told me that my voice is naturally breaking where a Mezzo's would. It's not very common to be a Mezzo. But, I still need to learn how to sing higher than I am used to doing!

After that we headed home, fed the babies and put the girl down for her nappy. I was going to take a nap but I tried and then my organ lesson got moved up. I had scheduled one with the older sister of my teenage sisters. It was a good thing though, I really enjoy teaching those girls! So I hopped in the shower and got ready for the movies before the lesson because I would need to come home and go after my organ lesson was finished.

Again, this girl did incredible on the organ, especially for her first time! I remember feeling as though my brain would split in half because it was a little discombobulating to separate your feet from your hands and to separate the bass clef notes so that half were played by the left hand and the other half with your feet! And then to make everything sound legato--smoothly, connected--with only your fingers instead of a damper pedal! It is a lot to take in. I have been trying to prep the girls as best as I could and I think I might have done something right because these girls made it appear as though it wasn't a big deal at all! I am so proud of them!

After I got home I pretty much got picked up right away. We went to pick up the third member of our party and she was not quite ready so I got to talk with her kids about piano. They even performed songs for me. I don't care if kids are even my students, I love to encourage those who even have a small interest in music in any way I can. I was happy to give this kid an opportunity to play for someone other than his family. And he did a great job. Music is amazing.

So we head to the 4:30pm showing of The Vow. When we got there I felt lucky to have the Cinemark weekly email coupons because I got $2 off my large popcorn! Score! I was also glad because it was at this point that I realized that I was starving! The Kettle corn flavor is rather tasty, if I don't say so myself. And the other thing I loved about it is that when it cooled it still tasted the same, whereas butter kind of tastes grimy when it congeals a little. I was also glad I bought the popcorn because I ate the most! Whoops! I guess I should have eaten before I got there!

The Vow was pretty good. I really like Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams. I thought they did a great job of portraying the real life situation in the story. I don't want to give much away, but my biggest complaint was the ending. It was not as resolved as I would have liked. Not that I oppose the ending, it could have used a little more resolution for my taste. Oh and the brief bum shot of Channing Tatum. I just felt like they just put it in for no reason. It was not an important plot point or even that long. Or that funny. The joke could have been explained just as well as the visual. But that's just my opinion.

One thing I really appreciated was the way they portrayed marriage and divorce. In a world where most movies talk about divorce as a normal occurrence or something you do when you get tired of marriage it was nice to have the characters fight for their marriages even when it probably would have been easier to just let it go. Now, I don't believe that you should stay in a marriage where serious problems like physical and severe mental abuse to a spouse or children and I am sure that there are other instances that I can't think of off the top of my head. But I do believe that marriage is important and not something you get into or out of on a whim.

Another couple in the movie had a fidelity issue. And the wife told her daughter that she was going to leave after she learned of her husband's infidelity but chose to stay when she realized that she would not be breaking up her marriage but the life her family had created. She chose to stay not for the one thing her husband did wrong but for everything else he did right. I just thought it was a cool thing to think about. I feel extremely lucky because my husband and I have a great marriage, but it definitely takes work. I know he is constantly working hard to make sure that I am happy, and I work hard to make him happy and it takes a lot of effort and unselfishness, but we make it happen because we love each other. And we have two other reasons for doing it--our little babies who love us and whose world depends on our marriage working. I guess I was just happy to see that marriage wasn't a big joke or punchline in the movie. Again, these are just thoughts and I hope I don't offend anybody.

After I got home we hung out and then put the kids down for the night. We had Sunday to get ready for! And then I was still craving a burger so my husband let me go get some burgers for us since our kids only wanted sandwiches and leftover popcorn for dinner. But, ssshhhhhh! Don't tell our kids we had cheeseburgers after they went to sleep! And yes, they were from Burgers Supreme!