Monday, December 21, 2015

And Then I Wasn't

After I was sick, I got better. And then we jumped right into Christmas. I can honestly say, I didn't mind being sick. I was disappointed to miss Dan's work party and kind of sad to miss the Ward Party and I also had to cancel the Friend's Party I was hosting. And our Annual Book Club dinner at Porcupine Grill. (That was a lot of parties in just one week! In fact, it was all the Christmas parties. It was kind of strange to not have any Christmas parties -- it definitely felt a little less festive than usual.

However, it was also definitely a lot less chaotic. It was kinda nice to lay in bed and watch TV. It would have been even better if I could read, but my brain was literally not capable of thinking. Or moving. On the flip side, I would wake up in the middle of the night and just lay there wide awake, so it gave me lots of time to think over my upcoming talk that I was giving in Church just before Christmas.

Here's what it was like to be so sick: I lay in bed and didn't want to move. Sometimes I'd take Advil to break the fever and sleep better, but then a couple hours later I'd wake up, fever broken, in a lake of sweat from head to toe, FREEZING. I'd have to change my pajamas and move to another part of the bed that wasn't sopping.  When Dan found out I had pneumonia, he moved down to the guest room. That was great because then I had my side, Dan's side, and the middle -- 3 places to move to -- when the bed was drenched.

I coughed so much and so forcefully, I'm not ashamed to say I had to wear Depends. In fact, it was such a relief to have them, I was ever so grateful.

I couldn't eat for days and then started in on soup. I lost weight and wish SOOO much it stayed off. But by the time I was feeling better, I was STARVING. And it was Christmastime, so...

I found out I had pneumonia on Monday. But with antibiotics, by Thursday night I ventured out and picked up Nick from basketball. On Friday I got dressed and ran a couple of errands. I moved slow and took my time. I started lightly exercising a couple of weeks later. But I swear it messed up my brain because I couldn't read a book for quite a few weeks. It seemed too hard!

I watched a ton of TV and really enjoyed it. I don't watch TV that often, but do have shows I like, so I got caught up on them, but soon I got bored of TV.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I. Am. So. Sick.

Thursday the boys were lighting and blowing out Nick's Colonial Day candles he made. I'm seriously super susceptible to smoke (alliteration!). It makes my lungs hurt fast (and I don't even have asthma) and often makes me lose my voice (like that time at Buchart Gardens when all the Asians were smoking and I lost my voice. Or that time on Halloween when Lisa's brother-in-law came trick-or-treating with us and smoked his cigar the whole time. Lost my voice then too.) (I always tell those stories.)

Candles used to not affect me but then I was at Bennions and Tanya said they can't light candles because it affects Jeff's asthma. And seriously, ever since then, regular house candles affected me too. The power of suggestion is real.

So, out of the blue before bed I start to get a little cough. It was weird that it came on so fast. I slathered my special ointment...  I slathered my special, smelly ointment... I slathered my special, smelly ointment suggestively...sorry, no.

I slathered my special, smelly ointment on my neck and chest because that always makes me feel better. But when I woke up the next day, not only was my cough worse, my head felt thick and full and quite frankly, I felt miserable.

But I'd been to Spin class on Wednesday and I intended to go today to "break in my saddle" which is super hard the first week. And I was on a really good roll eating right and exercising. I thought sweating it out might even make me feel better. So powered on by wanting to be healthy, I went to Spin.  And it was hard. I was lacking energy (significantly!... I significantly slathered my special, smelly ointment...) and having a hard time keeping up. But I finished and I got the heck out of there.

(I just thought of something -- I did wipe down my bike. But did I wipe it down good enough? I hope I didn't spread my germs at the gym! But to my credit, I didn't think I had germs at the time.)

On the way home I realized I'd been poisoned by THE CANDLES! That was it! Out of breath, cough, Head cloudy and achy. Same feeling when there were forest fires in L.A.  Now that I knew what the problem was, I knew I just needed to sleep and it would go away.

Got an hour nap before picking up Chris at noon. Took him shopping for goggles and helmet (good deals!) and then got home to take another nap before picking up Nick's carpool.  By then I was freezing. The kids saw me putting on my 3/4 length parka and asked -- are you sick? Why yes, I think I am. I started to suspect that it wasn't the candles after all.  I put on the seat warmers and felt ok.

Had another nap before we took Marty and Thomas to our annual symphony night at dinner at Texas de Brazil. By then I was FREEZING. I couldn't eat a thing, but I didn't want to miss the evening we'd been looking forward too! It was actually fun, but I was relieved when I could climb into bed that night.

The next day I was out all day. They day after that too. All day Monday too. And then I went to Instacare Monday night and discovered it wasn't the flu after all (or the candles), but pneumonia.

And that's where I am today. Still sick.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

The First Week of Christmas

I am so proud of myself because I decorated the house for Christmas BEFORE we left to Hawaii. That way when we came home we could slip straight into Christmas season! 
Sometimes I make myself so happy!!

The rest of the week I could just do my fun regular life stuff -- laundry and strength training on Mondays, scripture class on Tuesday and lunch with Jenny and Carol after, Nick to the allergist for his cough, Aunt Marge to the airport, Kids practicing and Homework, The Good Wife with Dan at nights (we just got into that show -- and now we get to binge 7 seasons!), Spin Class on Wednesdays, walking with KT on Thursday, a renewed commitment to no sugar and no white flour (I can't let my good work last year get undone!).

View from mine and KT's walk -- Front house down

I had fun decorating the front porch, sitting with Dan stuffing and stamping the Christmas cards (thanks to Dan who licked them all!), listening to Christmas music each evening, putting finishing touches on decorations.

And then...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving in the Land of the Sun and Warm and Beach and Palm Trees and Relaxation

When we realized we couldn't take our annual trip to Maui in January (EC's big 80th bday celebration in Arizona!), we were sad for a second. And then we decided to go over Thanksgiving instead. That meant Courtney couldn't come because she's in Bristol. So we were sad for another second. And then we weren't, because we were going to Hawaii! And Courtney will be fine. (You're fine, right, Courtney?)
Our hotel and beach.
Our plan was to not have a plan. If we decided we wanted an excursion, we'd take one. But we wouldn't plan ahead so that we didn't have to go anywhere if we didn't want to. Except for one thing. Booking dinner at Mama's Fish House. Everyone wanted to eat there. Of course.

We got the kids out of school a bit early on Monday and arrived in Maui at 9:00 their time, 1:00 a.m. our time. It's always a little late, but everyone powers through because we were waking up in Hawaii!

Chris came prepared for the flight with an extension cord so he could plug in if there were any adaptors in the waiting area. Oh, Chris. This cracked me up and made me think of the time on a road trip that Courtney brought a pencil sharpener. Great thinking. And then we busted up when suddenly she whips out the pencil sharpener and we hear a motor cutting through that pencil. She'd brought the big electric one!

Tuesday morning, Dan and I took our walk to Makena. We take the same route every time and we love it. Warm, blue skies, lush vegetation, beautiful homes. At the end of our route, we walked up to the bluff to look out over the ocean.

Below on the beach a group of people were standing around with beach bags and cover-ups on. It seemed a little peculiar that they were all gathered there.

And then the catamaran pulled into the bay. What?! A way to get to Molokini crater without having to drive 30 min. to the boats? Molokini crater with an hour cut off the boating time?! We found our Wednesday activity. And the boys were game.

But Tuesday, after Dan and I got back we all went down to the beach and swam in the ocean, swam in the pool, jumped in the plunge pool and headed to lunch. All within 1 hour. While I was on the phone with Courtney. The rest of the day we relaxed.

Wednesday we got up early to take our catamaran tour to Molokini crater. The snorkeling was fun, waves were a bit rocky. Chris and Marty practiced their free-diving. I saw a jelly fish. Also an eel and a long needle-type fish that I didn't find described in the "fishes of Molokini" book. We also snorkeled at turtle town and saw a couple big turtles.

Can you see the turtle?

Mama's Fish House Dinner

He must have his picture with the tiki man
Thursday we played down at the beach for a while and the boys made sand cities. We watched the Cowboys game for a while and then got our Thanksgiving meal... heated up.

Appetizers & Cowboys. But look at the view!

Lots of Skip-Bo and Rummikub to make Mom happy!

That evening Dan and I walked down the beach path and looked at all the hotels having their Thanksgiving buffets and Luaus and were VERY glad we were not stuck at one.

Thanksgiving night lights down the coast. View from Grand Wailea.
Friday morning, the jellyfish had come to town so the beach had the warning flags up -- so we hung out at the pool instead
Can't complain about relaxing here today.

In the afternoon the boys went golfing.  This is how I spend several hours of free time:
Bed, book, magazines, treats, phone call to Courtney.
That night we were bummed that Nick's Fishhouse was already booked, 
but we took our annual photo anyway. 

Saturday the jellyfish flag was still up and it was time to pack up and go home. But!!! the flag came down! So we went down to the beach for our last hour.  Then it was time to go home. 

So long sun! We will miss you!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Rest of the Week

Friends out hiking in the snow... Andrea joined us, but it's getting a bit snowy and slippery.

Thursday night we were all sitting around at home. It feels like that never happens. And then someone had the bright idea to go over to the Haven House and break windows and walls and graffiti it before the real demolition crew got started.

The boys were in heaven. It was hilarious to watch and a teeny bit nerve-wracking. Nick fired an arrow at a window but the arrow bounced off and nearly came back and hit us. Marty hucked a baseball bat at a big picture glass window and the BAT bounced off and broke in HALF!  Next, Marty chucked a brick at the window. The BRICK bounced off and left DUST on the window! It was crazy and proving to be practically indestructible!

Watching a video of their destruction.

But of course where there's a will, there's a way. Marty and his friend, Ethan, brought a sledgehammer and that made some breaks in the walls--but not without a lot of work.  We had to instruct Chris not to try to kick a window out because if his leg went through, he'd be in big trouble -- as in his leg might get severed. Fortunately Marty was there to back us up. Chris doesn't always believe what we say, but Chris trusts Marty.

We thought we'd gotten it out of the kids' systems, but really we just ignited the fire. For the next two days the older boys took their friends over and broke out windows, graffitied and basically fulfilled many dreams that generally kids don't (or shouldn't) get to do.
Big Spruce that was in front of the house on the far right is gone.
Enormous Spruce on the side yard (where the pool is going to go) gone. It was REALLY leaning.
Friday night Marty had a little performance of his own with the High School Dance Company. It was the "first date" dance and the beginning of the dance required a cute boy to walk his date to the door on stage and then give her a big kiss! We didn't want to miss that, of course. It's not every day you get to watch your teen kiss somebody! He did a super job.

Then after Dan and I met Jeremy and Cooper at Nitro Circus. It was pretty fun to watch the biking stunts. We were going to go as a family and then Marty had his "performance" on the same night and Nick got invited to a birthday party and Chris was happy to hang out with his friends (because he's 14). So we went without them. Cooper was loving it.

Saturday night Lexie got married! She looked gorgeous and it was a FUN reception! I'm so happy for her! Can't believe that little girl is all grown up! Well, I actually can. But it's fun to "remember when."

Sunday was our last Ward Conference of the year. Feels like "the season" is coming to an end with all the Primary Programs done and Ward Conferences finished. Now the planning begins for next year.

Oh yeah, did I mention that we saw Mockingjay on Wednesday? It was reeeealllly gooood. And fun to get a sneak preview courtesy of Adam Nugent! Thanks Foresight!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Two more talent show pics...

Luke (who did a "fabulous" job (as his mom would say) MC'ing the talent show) and Chris.

And Dancing Man. Who is a Holladay icon. Been dancing on city streets for the past year (or two) in his colorful outfits, waving to the passers-bys and generally putting everyone in a good mood.

Chris, Friends & Careless Whisper

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Last year Chris decided he was going to put together a band to play "Careless Whisper" 
in his school talent show.
(Yes, the George Michael, Careless Whisper. Apparently it's made a comeback.) 
 He  started learning the song on his saxophone.

I forgot about his plans, but he didn't. A few weeks ago he got his friends together and they started practicing. They've been very dedicated to rehearsing, figuring out their name, costumes and making plans.

Let me just say... It was awesome. And hilarious. I just love this kid and his fun friends!
Look closely -- Chris doesn't pass up a chance to flex.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Colonial Day

The Colonial Day Costume
"Riding Pants" from Savers, my boots, a ruffly shirt from Target and later a vest found at Savers.
Chris & Nick's colonial hat is authentically from Colonial Williamsburg.

Four kids, four colonial days
Can you believe they each used to be in 5th grade?
And that some day Nick will be in Jr. High, then High School, then college?
Can't believe how fast time seems to go when looking back!
George Washington -- does anyone else remember who they represented?



Look at cute Lexie one the right who is getting married tomorrow!!

I got to help make the silouhettes -- look how cute this kid is!

Colonial Games while waiting for silouhettes.

I love helping at Nick's school. Everything is so organized and well-run.
No reinventing the wheel each year. Teachers save the projects, materials and instructions.
Room Parents call the volunteers and give instructions
and we just show up and do our thing. So refreshing!

After a long Colonial Day, Nick had basketball, Pack Meeting,
then went to Parkour with Chris and Marty. I was completely exhausted by the end of the day!
 Nick thought it was great!

Even though we haven't got too much snow in the valleys, the mountains do have some.
I think we're off to a better start than other years.
Chris is getting excited! Opening day at Park City on Saturday!

Just checking out the equipment.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kinda Perfect Day

Sunday night I broke out with 3 cold sores. I can deal with one, but any more than that and I look and feel like a troll. So after getting the kids off to school and driving carpool, I came back home and tucked myself back into bed. I fell fast asleep until 10:30 a.m.!

I expected that when I woke up we'd be having a snowstorm -- snow had been predicted to start Sunday night and snow all day Monday. When we woke up on Monday, the ground was dry, the forecast still predicted an all-day storm, but in the end, we got nada. Toole got 9 inches. Sheree got a bunch. We got nothing. So sad.

Nevertheless, my long sleep-in and the predicted storm set the tone for a cozy home day. I did the laundry, tried a couple of concoctions in my diffuser, made a variety of "clean" treats and listened to the Alto versions of The Messiah. It was quite nice and what I wish every day was like. Or at least one day a week. Actually three days a week.

It's not so bad folding socks when they're such Happy socks!

I diffused DoTerra's Holiday Joy for a while. But then switched to Cassia with some Wild Orange mixed in. Here's the recipe: Cassia filled to the imaginary line between the two "s's" in "Cassia." Add Wild Orange to the "a" in "Cassia."

My clean treats:

Homemade Chocolate Magic Shell
1/2 C dark chocolate chips and 1T coconut oil
microwave and stir every 30 sec. until melted. It really worked!
(Coconut Bliss ice cream is my favorite and doesn't have sugar or carageenen. Sweetened with Agave)
You can do the same thing with peanut butter...
Store in a cupboard -- not in the fridge.

Date Caramel
These don't really taste like caramels. But they were an okay treat.
Soak dates for 10 min. in hot water. 1 C dates & 1/4 C water in blendtec or food processor to make a paste. (Took forever. Not sure if having more would make a difference. I tried both ways of blending and had to keep scraping the sides over and over. Must be a better way.)

Roll into balls and freeze for 20 min. Drizzle with homemade magic shell peanut butter and freeze for 10 min. Dunk in magic shell chocolate and freeze.

Eating out of the freezer makes them too cold. But in the refrigerator they seem too soft. Pretty good for a sweet treat. But they didn't amaze me.

And while I'm listing recipes, Dan requested "My Salmon" for dinner. As opposed to "His Salmon." His salmon is on the grill and is the best salmon you've ever had. And the simplest. But I don't grill. So when I'm in the mood for salmon, I make it in the oven. It's also delicious, but totally different, and totally easy.

Dijon Salmon in tin foil packs
Preheat oven to 375*
One filet of salmon placed on tin foil.
Sprinkle salt, then at least 2 tsp of Dijon (or spicy) Mustard.
Top with a few slices of lemon and lots of onion slices.
I also like to add spinach into the pack. But my kids don't.

Wrap up the salmon in a tin foil packet -- folding over tops and edges.
Place each pack on a cookie sheet and bake for approx. 25 minutes.

It was a complete homemaking day. Top it off with Dan leaving out of town that night and I watched a couple more episodes of The Good Wife after the kids were in bed. I really shouldn't have without Dan. But it was soooo good! And actually, afterwards I remembered I actually should have watched Call The Midwife. Dang.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Friday, Saturday & Sunday

We have had lots and lots and lots of weekend nights with a houseful of teenagers. They are cute teenagers, but they do require some supervision. So Friday night we stayed home again. But this time Dan suggested we do something different and something he knew I'd love. Play Rummikub. I love Rummikub and I don't think I'll ever get tired of it. Dan beat me twice. Which was good, because I've learned--as I've matured--that no one wants to play with you if you win all the time. And I'd rather play than win. See how mature I'm getting?

While we snuck out to get a treat, I texted my friend, Debbie who knows all the good TV shows. We do watch The Mindy Project, but it's kind of boring this season. And Dan doesn't want to watch Call the Midwife and I don't want to watch Blacklist.  Debbie suggested "The Good Wife," so we watched the Pilot that night and love it.

Saturday was leaf-raking day in the ward for the elderly neighbors. While the boys raked, I grabbed one more bike ride. It was still crisp and clear and no snow until I hit the canyon, but I wore shoe covers and they made a little difference in keeping my toes warm. 

This photo just can't capture how pretty it is to be riding with a dusting of snow and the light!
Dan made a little project of sanding down our HORRIBLE concrete kitchen table from Restoration Hardware. Even a water cup leaves a permanent ring. A family dinner leaves it covered in stains. We HATE this table. In addition, it weighs 10,000 pounds so can't be moved. We are dying to get rid of this stained behemoth. Every week I try a new solution to try to get the stains out. So Dan thought he'd give it a try by sanding it down. It was an impressive effort for sure. But no luck.

That night we had been invited by our cleaning lady, Nancy, to her mother's home for dinner. They served us a true Mexican feast -- posole soup, tamales, sweet tamales, and chocolate. It was so delicious! What a treat to get to know her mother and see their home after all these years and when she knows us so well from our home.

She insists we do it again when Courtney is home from college!

Sunday was my final push to finish the Book of Mormon. It took me exactly 2 weeks. I loved reading it whenever I could and as much as I could -- like I would a good book. It brought the characters more to life for me. I've always been aware of Nephi and Enos. Alma, Ammon, Mosiah & Moroni. But reading it all at once made me so much more aware of the heartbreak when righteous people would begin to forget how good the Lord had been to them and turn away. And over the 1000 years of the Nephites and Lamanites, it happens again and again and again. I've always thought it was sad, but it was so much more poignant because the characters felt so much more close to me and I cared about them more as I read their stories quicker.

I was also much more aware of how similar their joys and sorrows were to ours. And how similar human behavior is. I don't think it ever changes. 

Friday, November 13, 2015


Saturday morning I got in probably my last bike ride of the season -- my toes were FREEZING when I got home!

But the day was beautiful and we were able to get 15 bags of leaves raked up. Nick mowed for the last time. Sprinklers are off. I pulled all the perennials. But look how the trees are still FULL!  We've got lots more work cut out for us.

Sunday I had 2 baptism programs to watch (including ours! Go Nick!  His part was, "I feel the spirit when we read scriptures together as a family.") and a ward conference where we taught sharing time.

That evening we went to Grandpa's house for Family Home Evening. Dad (Grandpa) had assigned everyone parts -- prayers, play a hymn, lead a hymn, share a scripture or share a thought. It was fun to all get together and have all the kids participate in a more structured program. What a sweet spirit.

Sheree shared from a talk about Experimenting on the Word -- something I've been thinking about lately. And also how her testimony developed. Something I think about all. the. time. as I'm in the throes of raising teenagers. It's pretty cool for our kids to hear testimony from other family members -- not just mom and dad all the time.

Dad shared from the OT and Elijah (or Elisha? I always get confused) and how his servant came running in fear because a huge army was waiting for them on top of the hill outside their city. Elijah wasn't worried because his eyes were "open." He prayed that his servant's eyes would also be "open" and it was then that the servant saw armies of angels ready to protect Elijah. Dad has a great way of relating scripture stories in a way that everyone understands and of course he throws in a joke here and there and captures everyone's attention.

In typical Dad fashion, before FHE he: #1 went to buy pizza for dinner for all of us. On Sunday. #2 got to chatting with a guy who held the door open for him and looked familiar. #3 realized it was a BYU football player who now is an announcer on a sports program on TV. #4 Invited him to come to FHE.

The guy actually came. He was cute, had a huge smile, charmed the kids and the sports fans and was so fun to get to know and have him with us.  At the end, also in typical Dad fashion, he invited this guy (I can't remember his name) to share his testimony or a mission experience or something. He shared about a football player who struggled in church after they lost a football game. Everyone would want to talk about it and dissect it and criticize. Soon he went less and less. Not it's been 8 months since the last time he went to church. And then today, he held open a door for an old man at Little Caesar's Pizza, and the old guy invited him to Family Home Evening.

We were all a bit stunned (except Marty -- he said he saw it coming).  His testimony is that God never gives up on us. He's going to keep trying to give us experiences and opportunities and people in our path that remind us of his love for us.  Super cool.

Monday Chris & Marty went to their first Strength & Agility clinic for lacrosse. Right after was Chris' piano recital. And then we went to Training Table.  Marty was figuring out how old Nick and Chris will be when he comes home from his mission. Nick will be in 8th grade and Chris will be a Senior.

Tuesday was Reality Town at the Jr. High. AND, it was snowing when we woke up! Reality Town is super fun to be involved with because it's easy and you get to see the kids in their "natural habitat" with their friends. I was at the Pet Store where the more serious kids contemplated if they had enough for a pet and others bought two of everything. It was hilarious.
Before the Jr. High'ers arrived. All is calm.
Chris begged for me to check him out after 11:00 am when it was finished; but seriously, I can only take a houseful (and I mean there are 10 downstairs right now with 2 girls and it feels like a SMALL group) of boys one day a week -- Friday. We don't need extra early days added in.
Chris' school picture -- he's really excited he pulled off the Thug look.

Plus I was looking forward to going home, sitting by the fire and getting more of my Book of Mormon reading in.  And bonus, Chris ended up getting 10 extra credit points for being in 7th period.

Tuesday night Chris and Marty had Parkour again and I had book club. And Dan was out of town. Nick was by himself for 30 minutes at night, but didn't seem worried.

Our book club book was Just Mercy -- a true story written by a lawyer defending men who are unjustly on Death Row. Some are just children. At first I wanted to stop reading and not believe this could really happen. But I kept reading. It was a great book. Very eye-opening and lending itself to the longest Book Club discussion I think we've ever had that's actually about the book.

For Veteran's Day I got my permanent crown on. So glad that's over. Counting down the 7-10 days until it won't be sensitive anymore.  Marty & Chris had Strength & Agility again and then a Veteran's Day program and dessert for Young Men's with Veterans of all ages in the neighborhood. Marty played America the Beautiful on the violin. They got to sit with the Lynch's and loved getting to talk to them.  Laura was blown away that Marty is 18 -- she didn't even recognize him. It's probably been 5 years since she saw him regularly!

We had a long meeting to finalize construction drawings yesterday and I think they're getting submitted to the city today! Tear-down begins around Thanksgiving!

Our Stake Primary Training was last night on Teaching by the Spirit. And Nick had his first basketball practice!
Nick's on Flag Duty!

KT and I went hiking today. It was cold and the snow was compacted and icy in many places. A bit treacherous in spots, but worth it to get to exercise, chat and hike together!

Currently Nick is on a Scouts field trip to the fire station! He's wondering if they still have fire poles. And if they use them. And if it hurts their hands.

He's home: Yes. Yes. No (they mostly use their legs!)