Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm So Behind!

Ever since we moved I have become so behind on everything, and on top of all the other duties of life, I always have way more things I want to write about here then I can find time for! My desire to write about every single little thing is mostly for me, since this has pretty much become my only form of a journal. The last time I wrote in a journal regularly was in elementary school and junior high! It makes me pretty sad when I think about all the memorable and fun (or sad or hard) experiences I had during high school, while dating my husband and in the earlier years of our marriage, that I wish I had recorded so I could go back and read about them all now. But, I figure its best not to regret and to just start now! I have felt particularly motivated to be better at journal-keeping since Thomas was born. I remember when I used to get out my mom and dad's old journals when I was young, and I loved to read about me and my brothers when we were born, or about my parents and what they were like as a young married couple. I still love to read their journals now! I want my children to be able to do the same thing someday...to be able to read about themselves when they were young, and to realize, someday when they think I'm ancient, that I was actually young once too!

So anyway...here comes a barrage of 4 entries that I started writing over the last couple of weeks but never found time to finish until now! I know I tend to write long entries, so don't feel bad if you don't want to read it all. =) Here I go...

Lessons in Voice and in Life

One of my New Year's resolutions last year was to start taking voice lessons. I was an accomplished singer in high school, very active in choir, musicals, and lots of other singing ensembles, and singing has always been a big part of my life. I had hoped to make it into one of the auditioned choirs at BYU when I started as a freshman, but I found out I was in a much larger ocean of incredibly talented vocalists than I had been in Montana! So, despite auditioning several times over the years I never made it in. I think it took a bit of a toll on my confidence in myself, and though I've continued singing at church and around the house, over the last couple of years I have really started to miss performing. I decided I wanted to find ways to become more involved in singing again. So in September of last year I started taking private voice lessons for the first time in my life!

My teacher is a great lady named Kerilyn Johnson. She teaches in the Music-Dance-Theater department at BYU, is a former member of the Young Ambassadors (a highly-respected and extremely well-traveled performing group at BYU), and also has experience as a recording artist as one of the members of the LDS women's quartet "Providence." Making the time for voice lessons and starting to really work my voice again has definitely been challenging for me, but I am so glad to be working to make this a part of my life again.

My first recital was last Wednesday, February 20th, and I was terrified! Even back in high school I was always incredibly prone to stage fright when it came to solos...I was used to singing in groups most of the time. So I was working hard all week before the recital not to freak out! When my turn came to sing Wednesday night my legs were feeling pretty shaky, and it just got worse throughout the song! But, thankfully I ended up doing reasonably well, at least for how nervous I was...I did lose my breath and crack at one point near the end, which disappointed me, but I reminded myself it was my first solo in public in a loooooong time. One of my greatest goals in taking lessons is to overcome this fear I've always had of performing solos...I want to gain more confidence and enjoy opportunities to share my talent, instead of always being scared to death!

(I'm totally bummed because I had a photo of Kerilyn and I taken at the recital that I wanted to add to this post, but I accidentally erased it off my camera. Insert sad face here...)

The song I sang for the recital was the classic jazz standard "Someone to Watch Over Me." I have always loved this song. One of my greatest memories is of singing this same song as a solo, backed by a live jazz band, at my high school talent show during my senior year. I wore a red satin dress that I felt like a million bucks in, and I just loved the feeling of singing with the band behind me, playing just for me. I remember feeling more confident than I ever had during a solo before, singing by myself to so many people. I won first place, and I never felt so much like a star as I did that night!

I would love to find that kind of confidence again. I want to get brave, seek out more opportunities to perform, and hopefully with more work and practice I can break myself of my habit of fear!

Ice Fishin' in Wyomin'

Over President's Day weekend (Feb 15th - 18th) we drove up to Wyoming to go ice fishin' with Ryan's parents and Eric and Hayley, Ryan's brother and his wife. Ice fishing is a long standing tradition in Ryan's family, but they don't go nearly as often anymore now that Ryan and all of his siblings have married and moved away from Wyoming. We were excited to go for the first time in a few years, and to take Thomas on his first ice fishing trip!

Ryan, his dad, Eric and Hayley got up early Saturday and drove out to Boysen Lake to set up, but my mom-in-law Kathy, Thomas and I didn't drive in until the afternoon and brought lunch for everyone. I thought it would be fun to take Thomas for a couple hours, but I knew there was no way he would last the whole day out in the cold. Thankfully it was clear and sunny and pretty warm out. Tommy did great and really enjoyed it! It was amazing how well he managed to walk (in little baby-steps) on the ice, and he loved going for rides on grandpa's 4-wheeler, of course! That's what I love too...I don't go for the fishing, I go to ride the ATVs! You can spin a million cookies on the slick ice! We took Thomas out for several rides and only spun some slow mini-cookies with him, but he was lovin' it.

I had only gone ice-fishing once before, and I still freaked out a little at the idea of going out on the ice, afraid it would break. Ryan's Dad drilled a test hole and it was like 2 or 3 feet thick and super solid. You can drive your vehicles out on it! Ryan was even spinning cookies in his giant, full-size Dodge truck. So, I got over it pretty quick.

We had a good time sitting around while waiting for bites, visiting, eating and enjoying the fire (built right on the ice!). Eric and Hayley even laid down a rubber mat and took a little nap. I didn't really take part in the fishing, but we caught several pretty good-sized fish. Most of them were caught by Hayley, a first-time ice-fisherwoman! Props to you, Hayley-Bop. =) We cooked up a couple of them for dinner the next day, and even though I'm not usually a huge fan of eating fish, they were pretty tasty!

It was a fun trip and we had a good time just hanging out the rest of the weekend, relaxing, talking, baking, watching movies and playing games. Thomas loves his Grandma and Grandpa Laidlaw and has so much fun going to visit their house, seeing their dog Jasmine and looking at Grandpa's chickens. I enjoy going to visit Ryan's parents in Wyoming because the pace of life is slower there, and you learn to just sit and relax and enjoy being in the company of your loved ones. Its so good for me because I really need to do some slowing-down more often! Here's a photo I love that I took of their backyard at sunset in the fall a few years ago...this image is what I think of whenever I remember the tranquil mood of Ryan's childhood home.

Valentine's Day

We went out to celebrate Valentine's Day one day early, since I had class on the actual evening of V-Day (bummer) and because all of our possible babysitters are married and we didn't want to interrupt their romantic evenings by asking them to babysit! So Wednesday night we took Thomas over to Nathan (Ryan's brother) and Fabi's house in Payson where he got to hang out with his cousin Julia. She is 3 and he's only 19 months, but they have so much fun and are so cute together! And Nathan and Fabi are so great with Thomas.

It was snowing hard and visibility was really bad that night...we had planned to go into Provo but decided just to stay in Spanish Fork and go to the Pizza Factory, which is one of our favorite restaurants anyway. We treated ourselves each to our own favorite specialty pizza (Alfredo, Tomato and Ham for me, Ranch Grilled Chicken for Ryan) and had cheesecake for dessert. Afterward we went to the Spanish Fork movie theater and I was able to talk Ryan into taking me to see "27 Dresses," a chick-flick all about weddings. I love anything weddings, so I loved it! And Ryan was a good sport about it...he even said he thought it was pretty good.

We went back to pick up Thomas and when we walked in we saw the cutest thing...Tommy and Julia laying on opposite ends of the couch, in their pajamas, cuddled under the same big blanket, watching "The Jungle Book." I wish I would've had my camera! Thomas gave us the biggest grin when we walked in...have I ever mentioned I think he's the cutest baby ever? =)

I always write a letter or in a card for Ryan on V-day, and I've started doing the same for Thomas, but I also like to give little gifts for Valentine's. For Ryan I got a box of chocolates and the DVD "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," a classic guy movie (which neither of us has ever actually seen!), and for Thomas I got M&M's, a children's book called "I Love You Through and Through" and the Disney movie "Aristocats"...I'm starting to collect all the classic Disney movies for our kids. Thomas loved the chocolate! He stole a bunch of daddy's chocolates and got a cute lil' chocolatey face. I also love to give balloons so I got them each a huge balloon...Ryan's was a giant heart-shaped tire lookin' balloon, and Thomas' was a silly, giant froggy with a heart that said "Be Mine." Thomas loved both balloons and has been playing with them all week. He likes to pull Ryan's balloon down over his head and around his waist and jump all over it, its so funny! Ryan gave me a card and a beautiful bouquet of roses, gerbera daises and cala lilies, which I loved...he always gets me such lovely and unique flowers!

We had a fun little Valentine's Day...I am so grateful for my two Valentines!

Tommy's Haircut

I got Thomas' hair cut professionally for the first time a couple of months ago, and afterwards I was kicking myself for not bringing my camera (it was in the car...I don't know what I was thinking for not going out to get it!)! Thomas was so great, he sat totally still for the stylist and didn't cry, didn't fuss, just looked into the mirror curiously while she snipped his hair. It was adorable and I was devastated that I didn't get pictures!

So, he was due for a haircut again this month, and the day before Valentine's Day I took him to Fantastic Sam's. I was totally armed and ready to snap a bunch of photos, but I was worried he would freak out this time, throw a fit and endanger his ears. But he was just as patient as before! He was totally calm and easy-going about it. He did move his head around a bit while he was taking in all the interesting objects and "toys" the stylist was using, but he didn't hardly make a peep or squirm at all. The stylist kept commenting on how amazed she was that he was being so good. He looks so handsome with his new spiky haircut!

I was so impressed with my little man! I really am blessed with a pretty laid-back kid...I need to remind myself of this on days when he's givin' me that extra dose of toddler attitude! I love my baby boy. =)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Snow Penguins

I have been wanting to take Thomas outside to play in the snow for awhile, and especially this week since it has been so sunny and clear. I had been putting it off because I myself don't have much fun going out to play in the cold (Montana winters ruined me for it), but when I noticed yesterday that some snow was starting to melt, I panicked and decided we better go for it before it was too late! It was pretty warm for a snowy day, and I knew we might not have many of those days left. Even though I don't love it, I want Tommy to have fond memories of playing in the snow during the winters. And its always cute to see him all bundled up, ready to go outside and romp around! My 12-year-old brother, "Uncle Jared" came out to play with us too. Jared is great with kids and Thomas just adores him! They are so cute together.

When we got outside it turned out Thomas couldn't romp that well! The snow drifts here in Spanish Fork, where we're living temporarily, get crazy huge because of the wind coming from the nearby canyon. My parents whole back yard is a drift probably about 4 feet tall at the deepest point, and that's what we were trying to play in. Thomas was so light he didn't really sink much at all, but he felt pretty unsteady walking in the snow and wouldn't go anywhere unless one of us held his hand. We had fun sliding Thomas down the side of a drift that sloped perfectly like a little playground slide. Thomas would laugh when he got to the bottom and try to climp up again.

The other thing I've been wanting to do is make snow penguins! Okay, so where did I get this idea? Well I'm a sucker for any kind of innovative, creative or unusual child product or toy, and when I was Christmas shopping I found this little kit online that came with parts to make "snow penguins." I thought it was so funny and cute I had to have it! So we finally made our two little baby penguins yesterday. Thomas wasn't super interested in helping build them, but when they were finished he went up and started talking to them! It was so cute. They turned out pretty cute too, and were easier and quicker to make than a full-size snowman. If you're interested, I got them at www.onestepahead.com.

Well my little guy will be lucky if his mom takes him out to play in the snow again...I'm about through with it! This has been the coldest, snowiest, yuckiest winter that I've ever experienced in my 7.5 years in Utah. I am soooo ready for Spring and Summer...no coats, short sleeves, flip flops, green trees and long, warm, sunny days!!! Gimme Hawaii!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Saying Goodbye to the Little Red-Brick House

I was so stressed out all during the month of December, I couldn't wait for the usually very calm month of January to arrive. Well, January was anything but calm! Hence my latest disappearance from the blogosphere. Anticipating the completion of our new home this spring, we listed our home in Provo for sale by owner starting in the summer, so we would have plenty of time to get it sold at a time when the real estate market is shaky. We almost had a sale a couple of times, but neither time worked out and we kind of took a break trying to sell for awhile. We decided to relist the house in December and we had a certain young married man inquire about the home right before Christmas. He was very enthusiastic about it from the get go. He decided to go for it, and so began the process of working toward actually closing the sale...again. He was very difficult to work with in that he was extremely slow to contact us and let us know the status of things, and we could never get ahold of him either. But at the same time, every time we did speak he kept insisting we close extremely quickly. In the usual week-long periods during which he wouldn't contact us, we would always convince ourselves he was going to back out. To make a long story short, after a whole month of this kid driving us nuts, he finally came through and we closed on the sale of our home last Thursday, January 31st. And so ended the very stressful month of January!

I will miss our little "love cottage," as I always called it...we lived there almost three years and we have many wonderful memories there. I will always cherish that house because it was Thomas' first home, because Ryan planted me beautiful rose bushes, because we lived next to the Provo River and a beautiful green, tree-filled park, and of course because of all the wonderful friends we made while we lived there. I hope that house stands for many more years so we can drive by and show it to our children someday!

Even though I have felt very sentimental about saying goodbye to our little red-brick house, it feels soooo good for that period of wondering and waiting to finally be over! We are so glad our home is sold and we won't have to worry about any mortgage overlap when we finish our new house in Saratoga Springs. We were very happy with the appreciation on the house and the profit from the sale, especially because of all the time and money we put into remodeling it back in 2005...it was great that all the hard work paid off! Now we are looking forward to putting all our energy into the new house. It won't be finished for another month or two, so we spent the last couple of weeks packing, putting a lot of our things in storage and moving temporarily into the basement apartment of my parent's home in Spanish Fork, Utah, about 15 minutes South of Provo. Its hard to be in such a period of limbo, knowing we're going to have to up and move again so soon, but we are grateful we didn't have to worry about finding an apartment or having to sign a contract. My parents' basement is very nice, new and spacious and has its own kitchen and everything, and we are very grateful for their generosity. Thank you Mom & Dad!

It is a little hard not to have a place that's truly my own for awhile, but I won't have to wait much longer! Our house in Saratoga Springs is totally framed, the roof is on, the windows and insulation are in, the plumbing, electrical, and heating all installed and now comes the drywall. This stage will go quickly since Ryan's own company will be doing it. I am so excited to see my new home continue to take shape! It is beautiful and I am constantly dreaming of the time we will finally get to live there...its all I can do to try and be patient!

Many family members have been asking to see photos, so here they are, finally!