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Sunday, December 28, 2008

It's been a crazy year....

I'm feeling a bit sentimental today, so I thought it might be a good time to do a recap of the year and remember all of my blessings. I have much to be grateful for.

January: Dean's birthday is January 1st, so we start off every year with a dual celebration. I'm grateful for my husband. He's a wonderful man. I know that people always tell me that he is luck to have me, but they don't know the real secret...I'M the lucky one!

February: Dean and I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was a wonderful trip in the sand and sun, and we still talk about how lovely it was. I'm grateful for my job, the great people I work with and all of the many places I've been.

March: We celebrated an early Easter this year, and we took the kids to Moab, Utah...one of my favorite places. I'm always amazed that it is the simplest things that they love the most. They loved climbing on the ROCKS! And let me tell you, there are some major rocks in Moab. I'm grateful for God's creative hand and the phenomenal beauties of southern Utah. I'm also grateful for our kids. I drive them crazy most of the time, but they tolerate me!

April: Disneyland! We finally made it there, and it was awesome! We had a few great days in Anaheim at the parks, the beach and Hollywood. I'm grateful for California! I've spent a large part of my professional career working there, and I love the people (from north to south), the climate (from north to south), the food, the culture, and pretty much everything about California. It's my second home! Hopefully, someday it will be our permanent home!

May: The girls all played softball for the first time this year. April and May were packed with softball games. I love watching them play, and they are so talented. I'm grateful for any parent who spends their time coaching kids sports. It's truly a labor of love. Our girls were blessed with some talented coaches this spring, and some coaches who really cared! I'm grateful for them!

June: June is about the time that it gets really nice in Utah. It's not too hot, and the cold is typically gone. June reminds me of when all of my neighbors are out and about grooming their yards. I LOVE MY NEIGHBORS! All of the people in are circle are wonderful. I love our conversations as we meet in each other yards. I love that they are our friends. I'm truly grateful for my neighbors! They are the best!

July: I travelled A LOT this summer. Sometimes the summer is a slower period for me, but this summer was busy. I'm grateful for TaLaisa and Brittney who watched my girls for me on the days that I was out of town. You can't trust just anyone to watch your kids, and these ladies were great! I'm grateful that they agreed to take on the challenge!

August: Bradley started playing fall baseball this August. He is such a great ball player, but more than that, he's a great person! He stayed on at Westridge just to play baseball, and we're glad he did. He and the Westridge Eagles gave us so much joy this season! I'm grateful for Bradley, the boy he was, the young man he is, and the man he is becoming. I'm so proud of him! I love you, Bradley!

September: I think I said it best when I said in church, "If you listen carefully, you'll hear the "Hallelujah Choir" singing...because the kids are going back to school this week!" I'm always grateful when school begins! I'm also grateful for middle school teachers. Why anyone would actually want that job, I don't know, but I'm grateful for dedicated teachers who love our kids.

October: We had a rocking Halloween party this past October. I think Halloween is such a fun time for kids...they candy...the dressing up....it's one of my favorite times of year, too. I'm grateful for our friends in our ward, and we hosted the party for them and their children.

November: November is a busy month. First, Bradley went back to public school! Yea! Second, Dean and Bradley got to go to Oklahoma to see a phenomenal football game where Oklahoma creamed Texas Tech. Third, it was Thanksgiving. There is so much to be grateful for....but I think I'll choose....college football! We all love watching a good college football game. Oh, and did I mention...that the University of Utah not only went undefeated...but killed BYU! Oh, yeah....lots to be grateful for in November!

December: This December I was home for MOST of the month. I think the last day I traveled was December 9th. By the time I travel out in January, I will have been home almost 4 weeks...which is practically unheard of! I'm quite grateful for that. I'm also grateful for the time of the year when we celebrate the birth of the Savior. I'm so grateful for HIM! When I stay close to Him, my life is good.

I'm so blessed! It's been a wonderful year, and I look forward to another great one in 2009!

Exciting News

...for anyone who thought the first sentence of this post would be, "we're having a baby," GUESS AGAIN! In fact, if that ever were true, you probably wouldn't read about it...because I'd be crying so hard that it would probably short out my keyboard. (And...I mean sobbing, crying....in a BAD way!) We have four lovely children and are quite pleased with the challenge they provide. But I digress...this is not about me, it's about DEAN!

On Saturday, Dean got a call from our Stake President, and today he was called to be in our newly formed bishopric. He will serve as second counselor to our new bishop. He's quite excited and nervous all at the same time, but mainly, he just wants to do a good job.

We're very proud of him! We'll miss sitting with him on Sundays most of all, but it's a small (and hopefully temporary) sacrifice.

He's a great father and husband, and now we just get to share him with the ward members who are sure to love him as much as we do!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A few Christmas Pics

Well, it's come...and gone....Christmas, that is. It was a good Christmas for all. Except me (Wendy), I developed a cold on Christmas Eve, and spent nearly all Christmas Day in bed :-(
Other than that, it was great!

Christmas morning...waiting to go downstairs...all decked out in new PJs.

One of the whole gang...with Dean and Wendy also outfitted in new PJs


Diving into stockings...and yes, Mariah is wearing footed PJs..



This picture makes me laugh. Dom loves wearing eye masks. That began one day when she couldn't sleep with the light on. I use eyemasks all of the time when I travel. She has a stash of them; this is a new one that Elle got for her for Christmas.


This is our good friend, Julian and Bradley trying to dig our car out of the driveway. We got quite a bit of snow on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the day after.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Our House at Christmastime

It's important to me to make sure the house feels cozy and welcoming at Christmastime. Each year, I switch it up a bit...depending on how I feel. Here are some pictures of our home this year.

This first series of photos is of my display on our bookshelf. I had the idea to use the tiles from my bathroom tile job and make a beautiful display. I chose some of my favorite sayings from Christmas songs. I think it turned out to be very beautiful..much more so than I expected.




This is our tree. It looks much better in person. It's hard to get it right with the light/flash.

This is on our coffee table. I love this beautiful container. I put some filler and some simple ornaments in the container. I think it looks lovely.


I had a momentary lapse in judgement and decided to tackle Christmas cookies. It actually went much smoother than I thought it would. All of the kids love to help, and they are happy to do the baking if I'll do the cleaning. It works out pretty well. Here is a photo story of Bradley making my favorite Christmas cookies: Spritz...with the favorite "cookie gun."





This is one of my favorite spaces to decorate. It's in our kitchen. We have an oddly large space behind our sink because of the way it was built, and it serves nicely for displaying things. The two pictures are art that my mom made when I was young...as far as I can remember, we've had them. The trees are creations that Elle, Domi and I made: candy, Styrofoam
and a glue gun. Viola!

I hope you have warm Christmas memories of your home!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Elle's Tae Kwon Do Testing

Periodically, Elle tests for advancement either within her belt color or to another belt. Today, she tested for her Brown Belt Decided stripe. She did very well! She's been doing Tae Kwon Do for about three years now. She has been at this academy for about a year..or a year and a half.

This is the Brown Belt Form.

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Holding form until they are allowed to break


Elle also has a sparing element that she does for testing. This is her all gussied up in full on combat gear!



This is Elle setting up her boards that she will break.



Breaking her boards!


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Elle receiving her stripe

We're VERY PROUD of Elle! (And she just turned 13!!! Yikes!)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dominique's Holiday Concert

This is the Elementary School holiday concert. Dominique just started playing the violin a few months ago, and it's really quite impressive when you think about it! New violinists are precious folk. This first video is "Jolly Old St. Nicholas."

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This is a quick shot of the junior violinist listening to a duet. It was hard to get a shot of the kids...but this is a pretty good one.

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This was the final act: Jingle Bells....applause and all....

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This is the choir...and boy are they cute...singing "Deck the Halls."

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This girl is SO cute....and the back up singers aren't that bad either :-)

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bragging on Bradley....

Well....consider this the electronic version of "My Kid is an Honor Student at Westridge Academy" bumper sticker. Seriously, Bradley worked very hard to achieve good grades, and he is quite deserving of the accolades.


This is his official certificate from the Deseret News naming him to the All-State 1A Baseball Team. It's quite an honor, and we're very proud of all that he's done.


A holiday message from Dominique to all those we know and love...


Bradley's Newspaper Article on West Ridge Academy Baseball



My "cans project" made the Salt Lake Tribune


Click here to see online:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mele Kalikimaka: A Polynesian Ward Christmas Party

I'll let the videos speak for themselves....

"Mango, Watermelon, Orange"

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Getting Warmed up for the Solos

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"Fred's" Solo

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Stan being a really good sport!

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Your daddy may "Rock 'n Roll", but this bishop can't dance!!!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Elle's Christmas Concert

One of my absolute favorite things about being a parent is watching the kids' performances. I don't know why, but it always makes me get teary-eyed. As I realize that the days of elementary, junior high concerts are few (the high schoolers don't play instruments anymore)...I get even more sentimental.

Tonight, Elle had her first ever band concert. She just started playing the clarinet in August, and after a few months, it's pretty impressive that the junior band can pull together a concert. God bless band teachers everywhere!

The problem with band concerts is that the lighting is horrible. Even though we were up front, the picture was still grainy, so I prettied it up with a program, and now we have "Abstract Elle."


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Monday, December 1, 2008

Our Thanksgiving 2008

Well, I have to start somewhere, so this is my first post. I've temporarily retired one of my blogs (for the Jr. High), so I have some bandwith to manage a family blog...in my spare time ;-)
We spent this Thanksgiving at home...just chilling....

Elle took on the task of folding napkins...she just followed the instructions from a book...she's very good at that!!

This is the end result. Bellisimo!

Domi insisted on wearing her bonnet. Okay, an explanation is in order. In Utah, we celebrate Pioneer Day on July 24th. A few years ago, I got all of the girls bonnets. This year in 5th grade, Dom has been learning about Pilgrims and Indians, and the bonnet reminded her of a Pilgrim...so, this is her tribute to the Pilgrims. She kept calling the Pilgrims, "Pioneers." Oh well!



This is our turkey. See that little red button? It's supposed to pop up when the turkey is done. It was defective. Yep, we cooked our 16 pound turkey for 6 hours. Thankfully basting made it very tasty and not too dry.

This is Dean posing for the camera...he wasn't really fighting the turkey ;-)

In years past, we've done a much fancier table. This year, it was linens, our best silverware, our best plates, some candles and the traditional sparkling cider.


A Thanksgiving Day Smootch.



Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Quote I like...



"Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath." Michael Caine

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

20,130 Aluminum Cans

I'm so proud of my middle schoolers at Mount Jordan Middle School. For about 7 weeks, we've done a targeted recycling drive to raise money by collecting aluminum cans. Unfortunately, the metals market tanked when the stock market went haywire. What started off as 65 cents a pound in September ended up being 28 cents a pound by November.

In the end, it wasn't about the money raised, it was about the cans. We kept those cans out of the landfill, and that was what was most important.

In the process, I learned a lot about how to run a recycling program. I learned that middle schoolers are motivated by candy! I learned that a $100 grand prize was enough to motivate a small group of students to bring over 1/2 of the total amount of cans.

We'll do it in the spring, but for now, I'm relieved that the can project is over...and was successful.

Check it out on http://cansformountjordan.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 31, 2008

I Heard Obama and Clinton Speak in Florida


This past week, I was in Orlando, Florida at a conference. Florida is a pivotal state in the election, and all of the candidates are spending a lot of time and money there. On Wednesday night, Clinton and Obama appeared together in Kissimmee, Florida. Two of my co-workers and I took a cab to Kissimmee and waited in for 5 hours before anyone spoke. Then we stood for another hour while we listened to several speakers.

The night was capped with Clinton giving a great speech. Then Obama spoke. It was a great experience, and I'm glad I went. I was dead dog tired, and I felt like my feet were going to fall off, but it was worth it. No matter what happens on Tuesday, this is an historic election. I loved Clinton as our President. I know he slept around with many women and had an inappropriate relationship with Lewinksi. I don't care about any of that...I really don't. He was great for our country. He was a great President, and I only wish he could be again.

Obama was just like I've seen him dozens of time on TV. He's dynamic. He's personable, and people LOVE him.


Make sure to vote.

Here are some pics from the rally on October 29, 2008.






Sunday, September 14, 2008

Our 9/11 Pics

Old glories as the sun is setting on 9/11/2008



Dean, Domi and Elle walking through the field.


Bradley and Mariah


Our 9/11 Cake


Our 9/11 Rememberance with all of the kids

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

7 years ago tonight....

I was in New York City with good friends having Hungarian food on the upper east side. It had been raining that night, but by the time we finished dinner, the rain was a light sprinkle, and it was a wonderful night for a walk. And walk we did...from about 85th Street to the Empire State Building.

I was vacationing with a dear friend of mine from Croatia. It was our second to last night in the city, and he'd never been to the Empire State Building and never seen Manhattan at night. He REALLY didn't want to go. It was getting late, but I brow beat him into it. I never tire of the view from the Empire State Building, and at night, it's magical. Mercifully, the lines were minimal. It was a Monday night. It was September 10, 2001. There were fewer tourists in the city than there would have been only a few weeks before. We had no wait in line as we went to the top of the building.

I remember standing there on the south side of the building looking at lower Manhattan and admiring the monolithic twin towers. They were so beautiful to behold and completely defined the financial district. Who would have known that about 12 hours later that they would be gone.

I remember that night. I tried to teach my friend the rules of American football. The Giants played that night, and the game went well into the night. We drank sodas from the overpriced minibar and watched a movie after the game. I fell asleep in my bed on top of the covers still fully clothed.

The next morning, my cell phone rang. It was Marija; I'd been to dinner the night before with her and her husband. I didn't answer. My hotel phone rang. I decided to answer that. It was Marija telling me to turn on the TV. I looked at the result of the first plane that went into the WTC. I was very confused and unsure of just how big that scar on the building was. I convinced myself that it was a corporate jet...probably small...that accidentally hit the building. The night before at the Empire State Building, the tour guide told a story about a small plane that crashed into the building there 60 years before. The building remained intact, and only a few people died. I thought that this was going to be a scenario like that.

I called work to let them know I was ok. I was on vacation, but everyone knew I was in New York. I watched the coverage on the Today Show and on local news stations, and I saw an explosion at the other tower (on TV). Midtown Manhattan is several miles from the financial district, and I didn't see or hear anything in real time. I watched it on TV like the rest of the world. The angle of the shot I saw made it appear as if a helicopter reporting the story may have gotten too close and clipped the building. It was several minutes before I realized it was another plane.

Panic started to set in. In my hopeful mind I was wishing for a horrible accident. When I heard about the plane crash into the Pentagon, I completely lost it. I "freaked out" in every sense of the word. I started making panicked calls to people in Chicago, LA, San Francisco warning them to get out of tall buildings. My Croatian friend thought I was overreacting.

My cell phone had no reception, and the outgoing lines at the hotel were down. I could hear the ring indicating that I had messages received, but I had no way to access them. My mother was in Peoria working at the VA clinic, and she was in a panic. I received several calls where friends and family said, "I know you're probably not in New York, but if you could just call and let me know that you're safe...." As soon as I could I called everyone I could. My sister was awesome and acted as a contact person for family members so that I didn't have to tell the story again and again.

I felt helpless and desperate to do something. I prayed...a lot....I freaked out...a lot more. I never cried because I knew that if I began that I would not be able to stop.

There are many, many emotions that I have about 9/11. I am so proud of the people of New York City. They were ALL wonderful. This horrific tragedy brought the best in human kindness, charity and service that I've seen in a long, long time.

I hoped with all my might that people would be rescued from the buildings. As we now know, few were.

Seven years later, 9/11 is an important day to me and my family. We try and celebrate by watching a film or documentary about the people of that day. We always go to the Healing Field in Sandy, Utah where thousands of flags are put up in honor of those who died. Tomorrow, we'll make a night of it with a special dinner, a documentary and a visit to the memorial.

I want my kids to know what happened, why it happened, and what we all need to do about it.

I'm so grateful for the fire fighters, NYPD, the city government, the port authority...and all of the first responders. My heart still ache for those who lost loved ones in NYC, PA and Washington, D.C. Tomorrow is a day of remembrance for me. I honor those who lost their lives by remembering that day with my family. I hope you will do the same.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gordon Binter Hinkley, one of my heroes, Passes this Earthly Life

I am melancholy with sadness at the passing of President Hinckley. I hope there is peace for his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know that he is now with his beloved wife, Marjorie.

Oh, how I love the messages that he taught to this ever changing world population. I remember with deep respect and reverence his messages of love and acceptance. I am grateful for his dedication to temple building. I am privileged to have sat with my daughter, Mariah, at the General Young Women's Conference and hear him speak. I know he was God's prophet because I felt it in my soul.

I will miss him deeply.