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May 24, 2018


It felt odd to come out of my orchestra concert last Saturday in time to see the sunset over the State Capitol.  It was a reminder that it’s May and the final concert of my 15th season with the Salt Lake Symphony.  We played the final piece of Mozart’s compositional output, his Requiem Mass.  It’s a piece I’ve long wanted to play, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The string sections were switched around and I got to experience life like a violist with the bassoons in one ear and the trombones in another.  We were joined by the Utah Voices choir, but they were in the loft above us and I couldn’t hear them very well.  I much prefer the sound when I’m sitting on the outer edge of the orchestra, but it was still glorious Mozart!

There are always times when I come back to rehearsal after furiously practicing certain sections and wonder did I practice enough to get it up to tempo, or is our conductor going slower tonight?  Hmmm…

The “Domine Jesu” was noticeably slower when we put it together with the choir, for which we were so grateful!  It was actually playable at that tempo!  It’s always a good feeling when you know you’re capable of playing every note and feel prepared for performance, even though you’ve only had the music for three weeks!   Our last concert was at the very end of April so we had a short turnaround, but it worked out well and was a wonderful experience!


C took this picture for me from his seat in the balcony while we were warming up.

I love orchestra, but I am actually quite glad the season is over.  Last week was especially tough with two rehearsals and a concert, plus hearing the boys sing in their choir concert, and attending the high school orchestra/band concert to hear A play two pieces with the jazz band on the one remaining free night of the week.  I’m ready for summer and more nights spent at home with nothing on the calendar!


Baby S and I took a quick selfie before leaving for the babysitter!  I’ve missed being home with him at bedtime.  He always comes with DH to drop me off at rehearsal and gets Daddy time while I play, but we’re happy to take a break from that for a while.

Last night I turned around and drove back into the city to hear two of my students play in the All-Star side-by-side concert with the Utah Symphony.  Then this morning I got up early and drove C down to Utah Valley University to play with the pipe band for all of ten minutes at graduation, then came all the way back home, ate lunch and picked up everybody else, and headed back in to Salt Lake for our final book club meeting.  So I wouldn’t have to come back again this weekend, we took our usual pinwheels up to the family graves in the SLC cemetery.  I’m so ready to not drive anywhere for days if I don’t have to!


The end of May is fast approaching and we’re trying to wrap up our school year.  Outside commitments are finishing up, and we’re working hard to complete the last of our school work that needs to be turned in for online classes, plus a few things at home.  I’m still contemplating what summer will look like around here.  I know it will include math for just about everybody, but we’re not moving and we won’t have a brand new baby, unlike last year.  I have high hopes for being productive!  Stay tuned!


Happy First Birthday!!!

May 10, 2018

Our sweet little Baby S turned one this week!  I know I say this on almost every birthday for every child, but I can hardly believe how time flies!  It seems like just a few months ago that we were in the NICU with our little 5-pound, five weeks early baby.  And now he is losing his baby looks and turning into a little boy.

Standing at the front door was the only way I could get him to hold still long enough for a decent picture!  Just in the past week he has started to let go of furniture and try walking four or five steps on his own.  He is constantly on the move and keeps us all on the move as well!  He hates to be gated in somewhere when everyone else is coming and going.  He wants to be a part of everything we do.  He’s still hesitant around stairs and really has no interest in learning to climb up or down them.  He loves to be outside as long as he’s sitting on a blanket.  Grass freaks him out although he’s getting more used to it.

He has four teeth and probably several more about to pop through; the drooling has been uncontrollable lately!  He loves just about any food you put in front of him, but chocolate cake may be the new favorite!

On Wednesday we went for the 12-month well-child checkup.  He’s 28 inches tall (2nd percentile) and weighs 18 lb. 7 oz. (10th percentile), but his head is in the 59th percentile!  He’s hit every physical milestone and the doctor is thrilled that she doesn’t have to adjust at all for prematurity any more.  We have a happy, healthy boy.

We had a low-key birthday for him.  We had our regular Tuesday night date together (DH, me, and S) driving me to orchestra rehearsal right after dinner, so we had our celebration on Monday instead.  He still wasn’t quite sure what the unwrapping was all about, but was happy to get a ball, some new clothes, some books, and a puzzle.

The chocolate cake was a huge hit!  He had no problems digging in with his fingers and ended up covered in chocolate from head to toe by the end of it.

Oh, April!

May 1, 2018

I’m not sad to see you go!

At midnight on April 1, we were in the emergency room for me.  Three days and one freak accident later we were in the emergency room with DH.  The next Sunday we put in a call to poison control after Baby S may have eaten some dishwasher detergent when the big brother “watching” him while we finished getting ready for church, wasn’t really.

The detergent now lives up higher.  Who am I kidding, everything lives up higher these days.  This child is into everything right now.  He’s mastered crawling on his hands and knees and he is super fast!  I can’t keep up.  He has a knack for finding pencils and eating paper.

The day after the poison control call, I was watching him closely, but he still lost his balance while climbing around the Fisher Price farm set and fell on the open silo tower and split his gum open right where his right front tooth was about to push through.  So much blood . . .

That relieved the teething on that side, but he’s had a horrible time getting the other front tooth to break through.  I ask this with every child, but I’ll ask again, “Why do babies only seem to teethe at night?!”  We lost quite a bit of sleep on more than a few nights trying to help him be comfortable.  Then the poor kid got sick and threw up everything he’d eaten twice in one day.  Literally everything.  Everywhere.  At our house and then again at Grandma’s.  Then he spent the next few days having it come out the other end.  (Just keeping it real!)

DH came home from work at 11 p.m. that Saturday night to find me practically in tears, Baby S still awake wearing only a diaper because 1) he couldn’t seem to go more than 10 minutes before having another blowout explosive diaper and 2) we were literally out of clothes to wear and were waiting for the laundry to finish.

Backing up a little to ER visits one and two–

DH is fine.  He was just buckling Baby S into his carseat after dropping me off at orchestra when a lady who was trying to back out of the same parking lot (and should have been looking over her left shoulder as well as her right) ran into the door of our Suburban with her back bumper and started to close it while DH was standing there inside it.  Luckily she was going very slowly or he could have been seriously injured.  As it was he got squished into the car door frame and we spent over three hours at University Hospital waiting for him to be examined, after he came into orchestra to get me.

My stand partner wasn’t there that night and I was just sitting there, obliviously sightreading Tchaikovsky when suddenly DH was standing right next to me saying I needed to come now and bring my cello.  I was trying to gather my cello and my bow and my bag and my rosin and my rockstop all in one trip and exit gracefully as my music kept falling on the floor.  Fun times.  But he’s just fine.

And as for me–

I’ve had an epidermoidal cyst on my hip that decided to rupture internally the night before Easter. It’s been there for years, just a little squishy lump.  I had one doctor look at it, pronounce it “weird,” and just tell me to keep an eye on it.  So I did.  At one point it kind of doubled in size, but was still just squishy and didn’t do anything else.  Until it did.  I could definitely tell a difference then.

DH and the older boys had gone to the priesthood session of general conference and I started to feel a little achy, but I was making a cake for Easter.  When I finally sat down on the couch and it rubbed against my hip, I could tell something was very wrong.  Looking in the bathroom mirror I could see my hip was red and inflamed, and I could feel that whatever was inside the cyst had spread out a couple of inches, and it hurt to touch it.

So after DH came home and we had put the littles to bed, we went to the ER, which was surprisingly busy that night.  I must have been the least critical patient because it was after midnight before I was finally seen.  The ER doctor also said whatever it was was “weird” (my thoughts exactly) and I had two options.  He could slice me open then and there and try to get out whatever was obviously causing the pain and inflammation, but it wouldn’t be pretty!  Or he could send me home with an antibiotic and an appointment to see a surgeon on Monday.  I went with option B since it was after midnight, I was exhausted, and I had no real desire to be sliced open on Easter.  Plus Baby S was awake again and now with us at the hospital.  So we went home, technically with only a prescription for an antibiotic, which I then had the fun task of finding an open pharmacy to fill it on Sunday morning before conference started again.

I couldn’t get into to see a surgeon until Wednesday of that week, but she and her PA decided surgery would be the best option so I was scheduled for Tuesday, April 17.  It was a quick and easy outpatient procedure.  I had to be there at 7 a.m.  Baby S helped me out by waking me up at 5 a.m.  I nursed him and went back to sleep until DH informed me it was 6:47 and what was I still doing in bed?!

I threw some clothes on and climbed into the car, grateful for children old enough and competent enough to take care of each other and their younger siblings so I didn’t have to wake everybody up and get them somewhere else.  After A’s seminary class he came home and helped get the three little ones to a friend’s house so D could watch his online science class in peace.  I think I came home fairly soon after that, but I don’t remember much except climbing in the car at the surgical center and climbing into my bed at home where I slept for at least the next four hours.

Luckily I have a high pain tolerance level and really haven’t felt any pain from it at all, just some vague discomfort after the anesthesia wore off completely and itchiness as the stitches have dissolved and the skin heals.  I’ve been really worn down though, (probably not just from that!) and it was a good excuse to take it easy for a while.

Because then C was sick this past week. . .

I hope May is just a nice, calm, boring month!



Adventures in the kitchen with E

February 26, 2018

Now that E can read fluently, he should be able to read and follow a recipe, right?  Right??

He thinks so.  And every once in a while he surprises me.

I’ve had the older boys take turns making breakfast for ages and E has been asking for his own day to be in charge of breakfast.  So he now has Friday for sure, and no one else is sure what day they have.  (Changing their seminary classes to 8 a.m. this semester has really thrown a wrench in the “who cooks breakfast” routine.)

The first Friday after this change, I was awakened by E at my bedside saying, “I need help with the eggs.”  That was a disconcerting way to start my day.  Those waffles were so good, though! He measured everything perfect, and really only needed help with the eggs.  He’s made pancakes a couple of times now too, although I’ve realized that I need to rewrite my recipes with very very specific instructions on what to do: which ingredients, in what order, in what bowl, etc.

This afternoon he wanted to make cookies, but no one wanted to supervise him, including me (something about a 4 a.m. wakeup call from Baby S finally catching up to me…) He was determined to make snickerdoodles all by himself, and I thought, why not? The first snag was the fact he wanted to double the recipe and we were running low on butter.  He’d already measured out the sugar and mixed it with half the butter, so there was no turning back, so I helped him scrape butter off the butter plate that was out on the counter and eyeballed another ¼ cup, without too many toast crumbs.

I went back to whatever it was I was doing, and a few minutes later I hear, “I think I put in too much vanilla…”

“How much did you put in?”

“½ cup.”

½ cup???  It’s supposed to be ½ teaspoon!

Note to self: Buy more vanilla.  And butter.

It really was funny at the time, but I had to pour off the excess vanilla while trying not to pour out too much of the melted butter because we had no more to work with.  He wanted to keep going, so I told him to add everything else in and I’d come check the texture.  He added everything.  Literally.  Including the cinnamon and sugar that he was supposed to roll the cookies in.  That’s when we realized he was just following the list of ingredients, and not the actual recipe directions.

In his defense, the waffle recipe just says to add all the ingredients together and blend well.  Most recipes have a few more steps though.  Now he knows.

Why did I let E have free rein in my kitchen?  Frankly, I was too tired to care.  After some extra flour was added, we baked his vanilla/cinnamon cookies.  Not quite snickerdoodles, but they tasted great.  Even the baby loved them.

We breed an independent streak in our children.  We were just retelling the story of how A, at age 2, made brownies one morning all by himself . . . in the dog’s water dish.  Luckily he hadn’t gone for the eggs and oil yet, but he’d measured out flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt and mixed it together .  We never could get some of that . . . cement . . . off the wallpaper.

Add this to our story collection–½ cup of vanilla! (I should have taken pictures.)







Simple Woman’s Daybook

February 19, 2018

For Today: Monday, February 19, 2018, Presidents Day

Looking out my window: 26 degrees and Snowy! (which I would normally enjoy except that we’ve had a few too many tastes of spring weather.  It’s hard to go back to winter.)

I am thinking… about all the things we should be doing but aren’t, and just how drained I feel from still not getting a good night’s sleep in forever.

I am thankful… we found enough candles to get by last night when the power went out, and that it was only out for a couple of hours during the snowstorm.  We’re especially grateful for C’s solar-powered inflatable camp lantern.  (Small children and candles don’t mix.)  I think we’ll be buying some more to keep on hand.  We definitely could be better prepared.

One of my favorite things… apparently Ravensburger puzzles and games judging by the pile in my kitchen.  Scotland Yard is our newest favorite game.

I am creating… flyers about cello lessons for our Music Teacher Expo meet-and-greet next Monday night.

I am wearing… my favorite comfy jeans, a gray turtleneck sweater, and red striped wool socks.

I am reading… the latest Inspector Rutledge mystery and the readings for the Mothers of Influence group I’m a part of.

I am listening to… my two oldest enjoying their holiday from school by sightreading piano duets.

I am hoping… that my cello students play well at their various Solo and Ensemble events and college auditions coming up, and that my new orchestra music for the March concert isn’t too difficult because honestly, practice time is at a premium around here lately.

I am learning… how to use my InstantPot. We had a church activity two weeks where everyone swore it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to them in the kitchen, but there’s a learning curve (at least for me) and I haven’t completely figured out all of its wonders yet.

In my kitchen . . . Roasted Tomato Basil soup tonight (it’s definitely a day for soup), Orange-ginger chicken in the InstantPot tomorrow, and banana bread sometime since nobody ate the bananas I bought last week.

In the school room . . . we’re finishing up Marco Polo and Kublai Khan and moving on to medieval Russia with D and E, getting ready to start reading A Tale of Two Cities with the older two.  A is also preparing for the ACT test next Tuesday.


A moment from my day: 

This girl loves the snowy weather!

Quote from the January Ensign: “…every single time I’ve gone to the temple, I have been blessed. Whether we are granted an immediate blessing or our efforts accrue toward later blessings, every bit of time we spend in the temple results in some personal increase.”  ~Sister Jean B. Bingham

Our Stake conference yesterday focused on temple attendance and the blessings that follow.  I’m looking forward to Stake temple day this Friday and the opportunity to worship there.


Read more Daybook posts at 

Family History Quest

January 30, 2018

There is a new Family History Quest in the Friend magazine this year.  Each month there will be a different activity to complete that will help us learn about our family history.  January’s activity was to decorate a binder or box to keep all of our activities in.

I finally remembered to pick up some binders last week and on Sunday afternoon we really needed a fun activity after six of us stayed home with head colds or the possibility of being sick.  (Only C and D went to church.)

I told them they could print out anything relevant to our family history: pictures, maps, census records, etc.  C found a map of the Isle of Bute and printed out Stuart of Bute tartan for his and D’s binders, but mostly everyone was interested in pictures.  I had a huge amount of prints from the studio portraits we’ve had taken over the years.  The 8x10s have largely been framed; smaller copies have gone to the grandparents and great-grandparents (although my grandma has a habit of compiling photos given to her and giving them back to us in albums every couple of years. Probably a good idea with over 60 descendants now–she’d be drowning in photographs otherwise!) But I have so many wallets and smaller prints of so many different photo shoots left over.  It’s amazing really.

So I dumped them all out on the table.  It was covered.  But we had so much fun sorting through them all!

Some observations:

  • A is the only child who had regular photo sessions at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months old.  Perks of being the oldest?
  • We used to get family pictures taken a lot more regularly.
  • It’s much easier to get three children all smiling together than six.
  • The days of the matchy-matchy outfits are over.
  • All of my babies look remarkably similar!  We can especially see Baby S in D’s 4-month picture, A’s 9-month picture, and E’s newborn photos.
  • There is one photo of E at 3-months-old that does not look like him in the least!  We’re pretty sure it’s him though from the outfit.  Very odd.
  • As we were sorting photos out by child, I had to keep asking the boys whose pictures were whose because honestly I couldn’t always tell!  I think I asked C about the same photo of him about 11 times.
  • Daddy has aged quite a bit over the past 20 years; on the other hand they all thought that Mommy has hardly changed at all!
  • We have way too few printed photos of the younger three.  In fact, all of the photos of Little A were printed off the computer on Sunday.
  • Speaking of Miss A, she was born for projects like this!  If you want to keep her occupied for many hours, just get out the glue, scissors, pictures, and paper, and she will go to town with them!  She cut all of these out herself (and was so excited about “Pink Paper!!”):

A declined to decorate a binder.  He sorted out his scout merit badge stuff instead.  I hate to say it, but he’s growing up and outgrowing some of our activities.  Everyone else had a fabulous time, though.  C said, “That was fun! We should do this more often!”

I may just take him up on that.  9:00 church with the afternoon free has its perks.

Here’s a look at the finished products:


New smile!

January 30, 2018

Fall 2013

January 2014

January 2018

It’s been a long four years, but last week C finally got his braces off!

I tried to find a representative picture of his smile when we first started orthodontia, but couldn’t find a photo that really showed just how crooked his smile was!  I should have saved the original photos the orthodontist took, although it was really the x-rays that tell the whole story.  His teeth were basically growing in a (crooked) V-shape, instead of a nice curved semi-circle.

He started out with a screw/widener that we had to turn periodically to widen his jaw.  First I could never remember how often it needed to be turned, so we’d have to go another month to get it where it needed to be. (In my defense that was when I was horribly morning sick with Little A.)  Then I was accused of turning it the wrong direction (which is basically impossible) because unbeknownst to us, C would play with it with his tongue and move it back a notch.  When we got that figured out, we finally started seeing some progress!

Apparently it’s a whole lot easier to play the bagpipes without braces, so he’s extremely happy!  And we’re so happy to see his beautiful smile!


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