Saturday, July 31, 2010

food for thought

A friend of mine posted this quote on FB and I just had to pass it on:

"Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education, and children should be taught music before anything else."

Monday, July 19, 2010

11 months old and going strong

Last week Matthew hit the 11 month mark.  He is a speed crawler and is pulling himself up and walking a little while holding on to the furniture.  He hates to sit still at all- ever.  You can imagine that plane rides and church are especially fun with him.  (sigh)  We have renamed him Mr. Squirmy Pants.  We finally pulled out the baby gates because he is obsessed with the stairs and has taken a few tumbles down the four steps between the kitchen and family room. 
Matthew's most favorite thing to do is play with Daddy and his big brothers.  He is now strong enough to hold one of the pool noodle lightsabers from the boys' birthday parties. He sits there and giggles as he swings it around a little and the boys gently knock lightsabers with him.  Too funny!
Matthew also started clapping last week- he is very proud of it too- and playing peek-a-boo holding the blanket himself!
I can't believe it has almost been a year!  Now all we need to do is get him sleeping through the night... I wish.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Day 3 at long last

Day three we woke up bright and early and took the kids out to Snow Canyon to play on the sand dunes.  I grew up playing out there on the dunes and hiking through the canyons.  It was amazing standing there in the early morning seeing the red cliffs reaching into the clear blue sky.  I felt homesick even though I was standing right there.
Anyway, the kids had a great time.  Mom (who stayed behind to watch Matthew (who does NOT like sand) and do some work) had bought them all their favorite color sand bucket and shovel so they brought them along to dig in the dunes.  TJ spent part of the time tracking animals and looking for "specimens". We had running and jumping competitions and John kept a few of the boys entertained for about 30 minutes by burying an ant and watching it dig itself out over and over and over again.

Grandpa Lew dug some good sized holes in the sand and we buried a few of the kids (lying down) up to their necks.  It was all fun and games until TJ started teasing Henry, who was buried, by stealing his hat and putting a bucket on his head.  Henry was less than thrilled.  He was able to get unburied on his own to chase after TJ.  Cameron and Nathan needed a little help.
On our way out of Snow Canyon we pulled over to take a couple more pictures around the spot where John proposed to me.  I really love this place!
After the sand dunes for a little over an hour (it was HOT!) we went back to Mom and Dwane's and did some swimming to wash off some of the red dirt and to cool off. 

Funny thing about the red dirt, it doesn't ever really come out of your socks.  Today I put on my socks that I had worn to the sand dunes that day and I got sand all over the place.  I had washed them but the sand just sticks around.
In the evening we had another song practice- minus our accompanist who was teaching piano lessons in Las Vegas.  After practice Keri went for a frozen custard run at Nielsons.  Frozen custard is an extra creamy soft serve type ice cream that is super rich and can be mixed with whatever you like.  The chocolate custard tastes a little like Cold Stone's chocolate cake batter.  Yum!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


In my excitement to post about all of the fun things we did on vacation I happened to skip day 3.  I will add it in soon.

last day

For our last day of the family reunion we went boating with Dad and Anne at Quail Lake (known as Quail Creek when I was a kid but whatever).  It was July 3rd, a very hot day and we feared it would be very crowded as well.  Lucky for us the lake was pretty empty.  Dad took 5-6 people out at a time while the rest of us played on the shore.  He had a taco that was perfect for the kids to ride on alone or with their parents.  The adults and older kids started holding competitions for the coolest trick:  standing on one leg, doing barrel rolls, etc.  My boys just held on for dear life (with John or I riding behind them) and prayed that they didn't tip over.  It was really a lot of fun for everyone.  Around 2 or 3 the kids were done so I took them back to my parents' house and John stayed behind with Jared and Steph to do some water skiing.

That afternoon Mom found a random stash of fourth of July novelties in her pantry so she pulled them out for the kids to play with.  Bedecked in red, white and blue we all traipsed outside to watch Tim launch some water balloons on his homemade water balloon rocket launcher.  It hurled the balloons almost 200 feet in the air.  We decided after a couple of test runs from the side yard (and almost hitting the neighbor's BMW twice!) that we had better take the launching to the park so we didn't dent any cars.  On our way to the park our friends from Seattle, Laura (previously seen at Myrtle Beach) and Jeff, called to say they were in town and on their way over for a quick visit.  They met up with us at the park and enjoyed Tim's water balloon launcher as much as the rest of us.  They couldn't stay long (just long enough for Hayley and Sam to reconnect) but it was fun to see them again!
That evening (after John and I finished packing for our early morning departure) we were invited up to the neighbor's house to watch the fireworks from their balcony which had an incomparable view of St George.  The kids (all 11 of them- Ty and Becca and Theo had left for MA earlier in the day) who had been going non-stop all week, dropped like flies during the 45-ish minute fireworks display.  Only the oldest four actually made it through the whole thing without falling asleep or asking to be (and being) taken home. 
It was a peaceful ending to the day and the week as a whole but I was NOT ready to go home.  One week with my whole family is just not enough time!  While we chatted about future get togethers, the majority was pushing for a full out vacation on neutral ground (so no one family has the responsibility of hosting- which is still stressful despite everyone taking turns cooking) with no cd so we could spend the entire time relaxing and playing.  I highly agree.  I just wish we could do it next month!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Day 6

Day six was our scheduled recording day.  Mom made Star Wars pancakes then John, Tracy and Dwane (our non-singing spouses) loaded up the older boys (Henry, TJ, Nathan , Cam, Samuel and James) and took them to the cabin to do some 4-wheeling.  We got some neighbor girls and their mom to watch the little ones and then we took off for the studio.  For this cd we planned an ambitious 5 group numbers and Mom insisted we do a rerecording of "Did You Think to Pray." 
So the thing about recording with my family is that we all get along really well.  Which is a good thing after a couple of hours in the studio!  Some of our family (Jared and Steph) would rather not participate in the cds and are dragged into this kicking and screaming- or by decree from Mom who rarely lays down the law quite as firmly as she does when these cds are concerned.  The rest of us for the most part really enjoy singing together and are willing to put in the work just so we can enjoy the cd later.  When things start getting a little stressful or people start snipping at each other, inevitably, Tim or Jared will crack a joke to get everyone relaxed again. 
We started the recording with a simple song: "How Can I Keep From Singing."  This song was Lisa's suggestion and actually turned out to be our theme for the cd- as much for its pluthera of meanings as anything else.  Our picture for the back of the cd cover is everyone covering each others' mouths (and Ty and Becca kissing - ewwww!)  to keep us from singing.  We took one with Jared and Steph trying to run out the door too, but it didn't turn out as well- too bad!
Around about our third or fourth song "Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel," which is a tough gospel spiritual, we were all starting to get a little tired and frustrated.  As we were waiting for our recording tech to hook up a mic for some drums (yes, our accompanist was multi talented) Tim started changing the words to the bass line to sing about how our week had gone so far.  For example:  "Can someone change the baby's diaper?  Change the baby's diaper?  Change the baby's diaper?  Yes, yes I will."  Things just snowballed from there until we were all taking our parts of the song and changing the words.  If we weren't paying for the studio by the hour we probably would have sat down and written out lyrics so that we could record a silly version of the song as an extra track.  As it was we kept ourselves thoroughly entertained while we were waiting to record some more.
With four songs recorded we took a lunch break (Three cheers for Cafe Rio!!!) as we waited for Dwane to bring Henry down from the cabin to sing with us and I went to feed Matthew.  The last song "Battle Hymn of the Republic" went well and we did a quick one and a half times through "Did You Think to Pray" just so Mom could get it on the cd.  At which point Jared and Steph got out of the studio so fast we didn't even realize they were gone.  Of course, everyone but Tyler and Becca (She had some more recording of her own stuff to do) and Keri (who had a harp solo to do) took off for home to get ready for the next event:  movie night. 
Keri, Lisa, Mom and I are all fans of the Twilight books.  Usually we try to go to the movies on the same day so that we can call and chat about it after the fact.  Eclipse was the first movie that we all got to see together during opening weekend.  Steph, Tim and Anne came with us.  So the rest of the adults in the family took the older kids to see Toy Story 3 at the same time.  While we were waiting for the movie to start, the manager of the theater came in with an Eclipse t-shirt and a couple of Eclipse pins.  He offered them to anyone who was willing to get up and do some sort of talent for the group.  Keri and I looked at each other and she said, "Well, we kind of have to, don't we."  We had been in a recording studio all day after all.  So all of us, (yes, even Steph) got up and did a verse of "Daniel" (minus the tenors who were at Toy Story 3).  We had the audience clapping and everything.  They gave us the shirt and the buttons.  And the movie was fun, too. =)

I would love to post some of the song tracks once I get a copy of the cd- thanks for the suggestion, Sam.  However, I have no idea how to do that so if anyone has some mad blogger skills and wants to tell me how, that would be great!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Days 4 and 5

July 6th marked Dwane's 70th birthday.  Since we were there the week before, Mom decided to have his party a week early.  She spent weeks racking her brains  to think of something special to do to celebrate and came up with hot air balloon rides.  So REALLY early in the morning (5:30am!) on Wednesday we loaded up in cars to pick up the balloon guy and go to the launch site out in Washington Fields.
It was really cool watching them get the balloon unpacked and set up for rides.  They used two smallish fans to blow up the gigantic balloon.  I would not have believed it would be so easy.  Although it did take them a long time to get the basket unloaded from the truck and ready to go.  By the time the balloon itself was ready to take off we were all wishing we would have stayed in bed for a while longer.
The balloon guy (never got his name, sorry) said he could do three "hops" with three adults each and then a couple of tethered rides for the kids.  Dwane went up with Casey and Chad for the first hop, Keri, Tim and Paige took the second and Mom, John and McKenzi went on the third.  The trick for those of us on the ground was to follow the balloon so we could be there when it landed to switch the passengers.  We felt like storm chasers.  There was this line of 6 or 7 cars that were making u-turns and cruising down rutted dirt paths trying to catch the balloon.  It was very Twister-esque.  And very fun!
After the third hop, they anchored the ballon to the ground with a rope and did two quick up and down rides with Sam and I and some of the cousins on the first one and then Mike and Rebecca and some more kids on the second.  The kids were not huge fans of the rides, mostly because it was super hot and loud.  The fire they use to make the balloon rise combined with the fast increasing temperatures of St George was painful.  I enjoyed the ride but didn't get much of a chance to look around.  One of my little nephews was in tears so I was on my knees holding him for most of the ride.
The rest of the day was spent resting, swimming and recovering from the early morning- after we had cupcakes with Grandpa that is.

Day four was our first day in the recording studio.  First up:  the kids singing the song Lisa and Keri wrote as well as another primary song.  The kids were excited to be in a studio.  You should have seen Henry (11 years old, brilliant and in love with all things electronic) when he walked into the booth where our tech was sitting.  His eyes where the size of plates and his fingers were just itching to push a button or 12.  It took a while for the recording tech to set up so I entertained the kids by playing hot potato with a (clean) diaper.  (It was all I had!) When they were finally able to record, getting them to hold still when they were singing was another matter altogether.  I think my nephew, TJ, only holds still when he sleeps (and even that is debatable) and he was not the only one that had the wiggles, just the biggest.
After the kids, Mom and I and Keri were up.  Mom really wanted to sing a solo.  For my entire childhood, my mom was almost completely tone deaf.  She would sing all of the hymns at church off key despite our best efforts to teach her otherwise.  On school days she used to threaten us with her singing if we didn't get out of bed.  By the time I left for college, however, she was starting to find her way musically and actually joined her ward choir.  Lately she has even been taking voice lessons.  However, she is not 100% comfortable singing on her own yet.  Mom called me about a week before we were to arrive to see if I would sing her solo with her.  I agreed, but with the arrangement she was using we ended up adding Keri in for the fourth verse so the solo ended up as a trio... until we started recording.  We recorded it once and were preparing to rerecord the third and fourth verses when Keri suggested that Mom try the third verse (her favorite) on her own.  Mom was so nervous I actually held her hand to help calm her.  She did a beautiful job and although tenuous at the beginning, ended strong.  I can't wait to hear how it sounds on the cd!  I am so proud of her!
Once Mom and I were finished, we took the kids back to the house for lunch and to get ready for the water park.  Everyone else who had a solo prepared stayed at the studio to record.  The water park we went to was built just a few years ago as part of the Washington Rec Center.  ( Washington is a suburb of St. George- although I use the term loosely.)   The water park had a hydrotube, lazy river, infant area and some smaller slides and other fun water toys.  The best part is that it was shallow enought that Sam could touch the pool floor everywhere so he just took off with his cousins and didn't need a life jacket.  We spent a couple of hours swimming and sliding and floating and generally having a great time.  It was a great way to relax and enjoy the kids before our looooonng recording day on Friday.
Stay tuned... (get it?!  Ha!  I crack myself up!!  Ok, maybe I shouldn't blog when I am tired.)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Day 2

Day two in Utah- still outrageously hot- we spent most of the morning indoors.  The last few times we have all gotten together, my mom wrangled us into recording a cd.  My family grew up singing and Mom has always been our biggest fan.  She loves these cds so that she can listen to us whenever she wants since we aren't there in person.  Before this vacation we had done two previous cds:  one of Christmas music and another of showtunes.  This year after much debate (via email and phone) we decided on spiritual music.  Keri, our family organizer, ordered and sent out music and practice cds a month or so ago so that we would be prepared for our first rehearsal. This morning was our first practice.
Almost 3 hours later...
The kids, non singing spouses and even most of us singers were beyond done. The kids jumped in the pool to get rid of some extra energy while we got lunch ready then it was off to the dinosaur footprint museum.

Several years ago one of the local landowners had been turning over his land getting ready to plant and had discovered the single largest group of dinosaur trackways- so now there is a museum in St. George.  James is totally obsessed with all things dinosaur so this was a special request from us.  Of course, when you think of a museum you think of several floors and wings where you could spend days getting lost looking at all of the amazing artifacts, art, etc.  Nope.  This is a small building that takes about 20 minutes to look at all of the prints on display; perfect for the attention span of our group.  It was pretty cool, though.  After the museum we headed back to the house and the pool.  After a couple hours of swimming we got the kids cleaned up and fed and the adults headed up to the Utah Shakespearian Festival in Cedar.

I have been going to the festival since I was a kid.  This was my first time back in about 10 years.  Before the evening performances there is a Greenshow with singing and dancing and juggling and jokes while strolling vendors sell fresh tarts and fancy programs.  My sister, Lisa, actually performed in the Greenshow when she was in college- it was an internship that she had set up through Bryn Mawr.  The Greenshow has definitely been downsized since I was last there.  Instead of the traditional three stages of performers with live musicians.  There was only one stage with prerecorded music and a fiddlist hooked up to a mic.  Still fun though.  The play we saw "Much Ado About Nothing" was spectacular.  They really played up the physical and literary comedy of the show and Benedict and Beatrice were perfect for their roles.  The guy playing Prince John (a role played by Keanu Reeves in the movie) was wearing a black leather coat straight out of The Matrix.  It cracked me up!  The play was performed in the outdoor Globe Theater: a replica of Shakespear's famous Globe Theater in London.  John was even impressed- which really says something.
On the ride home from Cedar (about a 45 minute drive) TJ and Henry, my two oldest nephews, were riding in the car with Mom and Dwane and Lisa, TJ's Mom.  Henry was telling jokes and reciting silly lines from the show to make TJ laugh.  Just as TJ took a drink of water Henry told a perfectly timed line.  TJ choked on the water and threw up all over himself and the back seat.  He spent the rest of the time trying to blow chunks of raspberry tart out of his nose.  Lisa and my Mom spent the rest of the drive trying not to crack up while Dwane drove the car ever faster with each noise from TJ (who was sitting right behind the driver's seat I might add).  Mom, Lisa, Keri and I had a good laugh about this after we all got home (and cleaned the car out).  Actually we were doubled over laughing until tears rolled down our cheeks.  I love my family!