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Penguins at the Symphony

March 19, 2015

Yesterday was the Day of Reckoning, otherwise known as Tuesday.  It’s the day (night, actually) when I go to symphony rehearsal and see how much all my practicing has paid off!

It’s concert week, and this one is a doozy!  It’s also our side-by-side concert where we invite local students to join us for one piece.  I’m not telling the little 8th-grade cellist who’s sitting next to me that I haven’t practiced that piece, which is  Finlandia, at all because the other music we’re playing has taken all of my time and energy.  It’s been several weeks of late night practices again.  Toddlers and practicing during daylight hours just don’t mix! Yet.  Hopefully one day I can practice while the sun’s still up again.

We’re playing Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite, which is mostly ok except for the third movement, the infernal dance of the king something or other.  I don’t know the translation, but it’s infernal alright!  I’m getting closer to playing all of the notes up to tempo, but it’s been a challenge.

Then our final piece is Sinfonia Antartica by Ralph Vaughn Williams, which features some of the music he composed for a 1948 film about the ill-fated Scott expedition to Antarctica in 1912.  (He opted for the Italian spelling to match the word ‘Sinfonia.’  Our conductor says his spell-check gives him grief every time he types it out.)

It is a quite fascinating symphony and really does evoke images of Antarctica.  You can picture the vast barren landscape, and feel the cold.  We get to use the wind machine our percussionist made a few years ago for another concert.  And I’ll swear there are penguins in the second movement.  It’s quite cute and I can almost play it!  This has been a very difficult piece to learn.  Even when it’s in C Major, there is a sharp or flat on almost every note.  I get to the point where I can’t even hear a whole step sometimes.  The tonal center shifts around so much.

It has helped to erase a lot of the previous markings.  Sometimes our music comes to us clean, but sometimes it has a lot of fingerings from the previous player.  I always start with those if I can to save myself some time and effort figuring out fingerings, but this time around, it was easiest to just start over.  Some of the fingerings  were so bizarre.  You just think, “Really?  Of all the possibilities, those were the fingerings you went with??”  I can see why they wrote this helpful little note next to one heinous section:IMG_3325

Although with fingerings like those, I think you’d need more than good luck and a smiley face to get through it!  I think what I have now will work out much better.  I think. Unfortunately I don’t know for sure because I still didn’t quite have it last week and this was about the only page we didn’t get to this Tuesday night at rehearsal.  So I guess I’ll find out on Friday night if my practicing has been sufficient. Then the concert’s on Saturday night.

And then maybe I can get some more sleep.


Anybody that is local and wants to come, it’s at Libby Gardner Hall, March 21, at 7:30 p.m.  I can get half-price tickets for you on Friday night if you let me know.

Note to self: We don’t have to do that again!

March 16, 2015

We used to go to and enjoy the St. Patrick’s Day parade when the boys were smaller, but for the last few years we’ve had conflicts.  It’s either a Relief Society birthday activity, or a Utah Symphony children’s concert.  The aforementioned activities (and more!) are all happening next weekend.  So yesterday was wide open, and as we needed to get out of the house, we ventured downtown.

E has been asking for weeks when we’re going to ride the train again.  So we rode the train from City Creek, along with hundreds of other green-clad people.  Gateway was crazy.  There were so many people.  Little A was grumpy.  She didn’t want to be held.  She didn’t want to sit in her stroller.  She didn’t want to stay with us.  She just wanted to get down and go.  And the St. Patrick’s Day parade really isn’t all that exciting.


The best part of the parade:


I seem to remember them throwing candy and bead necklaces other years, but all we got were some suckers and a couple gold chocolate coins someone handed to E.  Little A almost got a piece of chewed up gum off the cobblestone, but luckily I was able to deprive her of that.  We saw four bagpipe bands, all the mayoral candidates, and a lot of dogs in green tutus.  The Irish and Scottish dancers weren’t even that exciting since they weren’t wearing their dance shoes.  And the parade just kept coming.  I didn’t know Utah had so many Catholic schools.  With no end in sight, we finally decided to leave early, beat the crowds, and head for the TRAX station.

When the light turned for us to cross 3rd West, we started into the crosswalk when an SUV suddenly decided to turn right, utterly oblivious to the pedestrians.  E and D kept walking and I thought for sure I was going to lose my 5-year-old right then and there.  And it was like I was glued to the pavement and couldn’t move.  I could not get to him in time to pull him back.  After what felt like forever, the SUV stopped and E stopped and we were all safe.

Then since that car stopped, the car heading towards us decided that now would be a great time to finish her left turn into our same spot.  The lady walking next to me was yelling at all the drivers (“You idiots!”) and waving her arms.  It’s not like you couldn’t see the twenty or thirty people all trying to cross the road right then.  It was like the world all went mad at the same moment, and I’ve never been so happy to cross a road in my life!

Although Little A was still not happy as we wouldn’t let her get down and run around while waiting for nine minutes for the next train.


Tell us how you really feel!

We’ve all decided we never need to do that particular activity again.

Then since we were out, I decided why not treat them to lunch and go see the LEGO Americana Roadshow which is out at Fashion Place Mall through next week.  Lunch was good.  (Jason’s Deli)  Then we drove around for a very long time looking for a parking place at the mall, which should have warned me about the mobs of people inside.  Why?  Why do we do these things on a Saturday?

Reason #58749 to homeschool:  we can avoid crowds and go places during the week when everyone else is in school!

But we persevered and actually had a good time, and most importantly, didn’t lose anybody!  And the legos were pretty cool.  But there were so many people everywhere.  Even more so because of the Legos.  They were also handing out free Lego sets for building a mini-Supreme Court building, but the line was about 800 people long and even though D wanted to wait, there was no way the rest of us were going to.

We saw everything but the Liberty Bell.

The Old North Church:


Independence Hall:IMG_3345


The White House:




Statue of Liberty:IMG_3339

Detail on the Lincoln Memorial:


There was even Lincoln himself on the inside:


The Jefferson Memorial:


I’m still fascinated by how you make round domes out of square legos.  This one is even more impressive:



March 9, 2015


I picked up DH on my way home from Kindermusik with E so we could go to Costco together.  We also got gas and dropped by the Utah Symphony box office.  The three older boys went to walk the dog.  When we got home almost an hour later, they were all outside.  Or should I say still outside.  They remembered the key to get the dog out (it’s a friend’s dog) but forgot our house key.  No phone either!  Luckily it was nice weather.  They were just wishing they could go inside and eat lunch.


Among other house projects, DH finally got around to installing the key pad deadbolts that have been sitting here for weeks.  No more getting locked out of the house!  Now we just have to remember the code.


I was running late for church.  Yes, even though we go at 11 a.m.  Everyone else was already there when I finally made it out the door at 10:59 carrying Little A and our two bags.  I shut the door.  It should automatically lock.  It didn’t.  I opened it and waited for a few seconds. I shut it again.  Yes!  It locked!  I made it to the front gate and realized I was still wearing my slippers.  I thought I was a little too comfortable there.  Back to the door, punch in the code, run through the house to find my shoes.  One day I’m not going to live half a block from the church and I’ll really need to be more on top of things on Sunday morning.

On the plus side, no one had to wait for me to open the front door when we came home from church.  C let everybody in and I said, “Oh good, you remembered the code.”

Then E said, “I have my own code.”

What?  You have your own code?  Apparently he was the only one who wanted his very own code.  So he’s the only one that got his very own code.

And that’s probably a good thing since the door code for everyone else is the same as the password for the computer which E doesn’t know, and we don’t want him to know.


Aside from door adventures this weekend, DH and I got out on a date with Utah Symphony tickets from Mom and Dad.  We heard Beethoven’s Piano Concerto #5, the Emperor, Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, and his Third Symphony.  Andre Watts was supposed to play the Beethoven, but he was sick with the flu.  At the beginning of the concert, someone came out to announce the change in soloist and said that on Friday night, they’d asked if there was a doctor in the house, and there were over 100!  It was Healthcare Night at the Symphony.  Of course Andre Watts was in New York City anyway, but it was funny.  Ironically, Conrad Tao, who filled in for him, also filled in the sick soloist on short notice two years ago, once again on Healthcare Night.  Even with only two days’ notice, he was electrifying.

The two Copland pieces were amazing as well.  They are both some of my favorite works and are so much more exciting live than on a recording!  I loved the energy of the symphony as well.  You could tell many of the musicians were having a lot of fun, and that always makes it more enjoyable to be in the audience.  So thanks, Mom and Dad, for the tickets.

8 years ago

February 28, 2015

I started blogging.

Technically, it was eight years ago yesterday.  I’m just keeping with the “fashionably late at posting everything” theme I have going right now on the blog.

Actually I did remember yesterday, but we were gone all day, and then WordPress didn’t want to work for me last night.  So I went to bed instead.

Aside from a few glitches here and then (and on the blog anniversary, how rude!) I’ve really enjoyed my time here with WordPress.  I know I say it every year, but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by all the wonderful friends I’ve made through this thing called blogging, and I’m grateful for all those who stop by and share in our adventures.  Well, when we used to have adventures . . .

This is actually one of the first pictures of the three boys to show up on the blog, way back in 2007, from an adventure out to Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake.


My, how they’ve grown!

Just to illustrate–


That’s about how all my pictures are turning out these days.  There’s always someone who doesn’t want to hold still for the camera!

We still have a few adventures here and there, but I just can’t seem to put them into words lately.  I used to write much shorter posts much more often.  I need to get back in the habit!

So to start, in honor of 8 years of blogging, here are 8 quick snapshots of us:

  1. My kitchen still smells fabulous: I made creamy roasted tomato basil soup tonight.  I haven’t experimented with a new recipe in ages and this one was so good.
  2. I’m so tired of washing fingerprints off of walls.  Nothing more to say there . . .
  3. I’ve actually been reading a lot lately.  And I will definitely post some book lists here soon.
  4. I knew this day would come: I’m spending my evenings doing algebra so I can keep ahead of A.  Thank you ACT score that got me out of math at BYU, but that makes it 25 years since I’ve taken an algebra class.  It’s coming back to me.  Mostly.  And it’s great fun!
  5. Speaking of fun, I neglected mentioning this on the blog, but last October marked 30 years of me playing the cello.  Wow!
  6. I feel like I should do a “speaking of school” post . . . we’re up to WWII in history and wondering what to do next year.  I feel like we’re at a huge crossroads right now with so many options to pick from.  I mentioned one to DH and he said, “That sounds good.  Do that.”  Which is not how I function at all. I need to write out every option, listing all the pros and cons of each, so I know what my decision will entail. DH says he always trusts me implicitly to make the best choices regarding the children’s school, but sometimes what I really want is someone else to sit and hash out all the details with me.  Any takers?  What are you doing for history next year?  Any major changes?
  7. And that’s just regarding history.  I recently read another blog post of a mom who has the entire first year of high school all planned out for her daughter.  My son will also be in 9th grade next year and am I that on top of things???  Not even close.  I’ve still got to survive this year.  Even thinking about next year is daunting.  I’ll have a high schooler, 7th grader, 5th grader, and a kindergartner.  Oh, and a two-year-old.  Oy.
  8. For now, Little A is still one, and terribly cute!  She weighed 17 lbs. 8 oz. at her well-child check, which put her in the bottom 10th percentile for growth.  That’s pretty normal for this household.  She’s very happy too . . . except for the one day I scheduled her to get her picture taken.  She was grumpy and didn’t want to hold still or smile one bit!  Of course, by the time we got home I noticed that she was feeling very warm and she actually ended up with a 101-degree fever by bedtime.  Just my luck!  Now she’s back to happy; maybe we’ll try pictures again another day.  I feel thwarted.


Rootstech 2015

February 23, 2015

Last weekend at Rootstech, Donny Osmond told us that practically his entire life has been recorded (since he’s been in show business since age 5) and then asked us if our life history had been documented, and if not, why not?

So it’s February 22, and I realize I’ve written a total of two blog posts this month.  I don’t know if it’s that fifth child that has sucked up all the time and energy I used to give this blog, or if it’s just that I’m still not much of a writer and writing is tedious even if it’s only about us.  Plus my good camera died, so I don’t even have as many good pictures to share.  But as I’m coming up on the 8th anniversary of the blog this week, I’m recommitting to the documenting of our life’s story.  I may not be a writer, but I do consider myself a family historian and I need to do more on that score.

I seem to remember feeling this way just about every year around this time.  It must be the Rootstech effect.

So let’s talk Rootstech.

I love family history.  And I love that the world’s largest family history conference is right here in Salt Lake City, or else I probably wouldn’t be able to go, at least not in this season of my life.  Although after last weekend, I’m really starting to fantasize about leaving town for a conference where I could just focus on family history for a few days.  As it was, I was still trying to be the mom, and the cello teacher, plus get what I could out of a genealogy conference at the same time.  And that might explain why I was so exhausted this past week!

I’m grateful that Rootstech streams quite a few sessions live online, including the keynote sessions.  Thursday morning we ate breakfast in front of the tv while we watched the opening keynote together.  I’m thankful the boys were about as excited as I was and got it all set up for us, because I was locked in the bathroom when the doorknob died and wouldn’t turn enough to open the door.  I was also on the phone with my dad (who was in the hospital) at the time, and E was outside telling me he needed to come in.   A was able to get the doorknob off, although I had already finally crawled out through the side laundry room door that opens up over the stairwell.  (There’s never a dull moment around here.)


I drove downtown to catch one class in person Thursday morning before dashing off to teach music lessons all afternoon.

On Friday I got up early and made it to the keynote in person because I knew they weren’t streaming Laura Bush’s speech, at her request.  She’s a fabulous speaker and was very entertaining as she talked about life in the White House and the importance of family, and putting family first.  I think my favorite story was about how her father-in-law was babysitting her girls the night before he had a presidential debate and instead of preparing for the debate, he and the Secret Service agents were outside the Vice Presidential mansion with flashlights looking for the stuffed cat, Spikey, that Barbara had lost and just had to have to go to sleep.

I was surprised (although I guess I shouldn’t be) to hear the boys had also turned on the keynote again at home and were able to hear Josh Taylor talk about his ancestor who was sentenced to Australia for stealing seven pieces of cheese.  They really enjoyed that story.

After one class, DH and Little A met me at the Nauvoo Cafe for lunch so I could nurse Little A.  She was very cute when she realized it was me waiting at the table.  She’d been to Kindermusik with E and I don’t think she quite realized that I was gone all morning.  I went back for a full afternoon of classes and wandering the enormous exhibit hall.

It never ceases to amaze me how some hours, even with twelve classes being offered, there’s only one I’m really interested in.  Then other hours there are four or five I’d love to attend, and in one case I don’t think I made the right choice.  The one I sat through (and I don’t know why I didn’t get up and leave) was not all that inspiring.  The rest were good though, and I made sure I chose others from the ones that were being streamed online.  I can catch up on those later.

Then I had to go home and be mom again while DH worked from six to midnight.

Little A didn’t sleep well at all Friday night, so I barely crawled out of bed in time to watch the keynotes at home again and we enjoyed hearing from AJ Jacobs, who’s organizing the world’s largest family reunion this June, and Donny Osmond, who picked up genealogy as a hobby in his hotel rooms while on the road with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  He even sang a bit between stories and the crowd went wild.

After that, the three older boys went with me to the LDS Family Discovery Day classes.


A wanted to know why we had to come when we could have stayed at home and watched it streaming online.  I don’t know why he was such a wet blanket, I mean who wouldn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day with 20,000 other people and Studio C?  Yes, Studio C was a huge incentive to go to Rootstech (the boys bought Scott Sterling t-shirts at the BYUtv booth in the expo hall) and they debuted a hilarious sketch about interviewing Grandma.  But I think the boys all got something out of the other speakers as well (including Al Fox Carraway, Noelle Pikus-Pace, Elder Andersen, Elder Foster, and Elder Cook) and now I need to figure out how to capitalize on what we learned.  It was a long day though and we left a little early, missing out on most of David Archuleta’s singing.  We’re not really into pop music anyway, but did enjoy his new music video that he produced for FamilySearch to draw in Latino youth to family history.

We also enjoyed the expo hall together and especially liked FamilySearch’s Replace-a-Face computers where you could insert yourself into historical photos.  My skill with the camera attached to the computers was not the greatest and we crack up every time we look at the result!

Rootstech photoThere were a lot of people waiting to try this, or we would have tried again.  It was fun.  It was a fun day!  I’m so glad I could go this year.  A and C went to the youth day last year, but I had to miss out because Little A was just a few weeks old.

February 11, 2015

My mom asked if we were getting lots of school done today.  I should have said yes, because we spent a good part of yesterday finishing up our bookclub book instead of the work I had scheduled. But in reality, I had a very hard time getting going today, although I think the boys did everything I had planned for them.  They worked hard.  Maybe they sucked away all of my energy.  Or maybe it was the toddler.  She’s full of energy and is on the move!  Of course she fell asleep at both breakfast and the lunch today, but when she wasn’t buckled in to her seat, she was go, go, go!

But somehow I was not.  And then I discovered a crayon had gone through the wash.  I caught it before it went into the dryer, but of course some clothes were still affected.  Mostly mine.  Sigh…

And then I discovered the ticket the van got from the parking meter lady for not having a current registration.  Someone’s dear husband registered the car, but forgot to put the new sticker on.  So ten days past the end of January, we got ticketed.  Another sigh…

But at least I got out of the house (by myself even!) to buy ink for the printer so I can catch up on all the printing I’ve been needing to do.  Then I didn’t even print anything tonight.  I didn’t do much of anything tonight!  It was just one of those blah days!  I can’t even blame it on the usual February weather.  (We’ve actually been having quite lovely weather.  It’s really weird, actually.  I’d think I’d prefer snow to 60s at this point in the year.)

As the boys pointed out, this week is rather busy and maybe just thinking about it is tiring.  Today was homeschool and scouts; Wednesday is homeschool and book club.  Thursday is Rootstech and then cello lessons.  Friday is Rootstech and movie night (and someone has to get E to Kindermusik), and then Saturday is Rootstech again.  So there’s my week in a nutshell.

And Rootstech doesn’t even look very exciting this year.  I missed Rootstech last year because Little A was just a few weeks old, but there’s hardly a single class I’m really looking forward to in this year’s sessions.  I hope something turns out to be inspirational.  I’ve hardly looked at our genealogy in months, but would like to get back into it.

Here are two funny things I can end with–

  1. E wanted to know if pineapples come from pine trees.  I love the logic of 5-year-olds.
  2. I just looked over the pictures A took today.  He took two photos of our science experiment (which was the intended subject) and about 17 of his little sister.


Tomorrow is another day, but let’s hope it’s a better one.

The Glorious Flight

February 5, 2015


E (who, typically, was trying very hard to get out of the above picture) has been doing a Five in a Row unit on The Glorious Flight, which is about Louis Bleriot’s 1909 flight across the English Channel.  I promised him we would go to the Air Force Museum at Hill AFB for a field trip sometime, but due to recent episodes of un-fun life at the moment, I forgot all about it.

But on Saturday, which was the third Saturday in a row Daddy was working, I decided to chuck the rest of the cleaning and errands and head out somewhere fun for a change.  So we had an hour or two of airplanes.

A Douglas C-54 like the Candy Bomber flew (It has even been repainted to commemorate Gail Halvorsen’s “Little Vittles” flights.):


A Wright flyer up above, and a WWI-era plane down below.


I wish Hill had a Bleriot, but they don’t, so we’re looking forward to seeing one at Wright-Patt AFB if we can get out to visit Nana and Grandpa in Dayton, OH, sometime soon.




Little Miss A was very happy to get out and about.  Of course she’s pretty happy no matter what we do or where we go.  She’s just one happy kid!




It was a good day.



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