Sunday, December 8, 2013


I fell in love with Handel's Messiah when I was in college.  Our choir joined the Southwest Chorale and Symphony under the joint direction of Dr. Kim and Dr. Caldwell, and the grandeur and majesty of the oratorio changed Christmas for me forever.  Since then, no Christmas has been complete without it: we did Messiah sing-ins at BYU, we soloed with Evanston's production, and on years when there was no formal performance for us, we sang along with the CDs.

Coming back to St. George meant coming back to the Southwest Chorale's production of Messiah.  TJ has soloed for the last two years, and I've been in the choir.  And I have to say, the sense of homecoming couldn't be more beautifully complete.  Dr. Kim is gone, but Dr. Caldwell still conducts.  Since he was also my Symphonic Band teacher (and a great one), it is a great thrill performing under his baton again.  And since he still has a knack for making each student feel like his personal favorite, TJ and I both just bask in the glow.

The only thing that could possibly be better than singing about the Savior's birth is singing about the Savior's birth full blast!  Forty-five minutes into the oratorio, your voice is nice and warm, your diaphragm is bouncy, and your vocal and dynamic range is through the roof--and then all those lovely choruses are lined up like desserts on a buffet.  Nothing could keep me away from such a musical treat.  Indeed, I spent all Monday in bed with a stomach flu, and wasn't even sure I'd be able to stand through the whole performance, but I wiggled into my concert black anyway and went.  I was a little short of breath and a teeny bit woozy, but it was absolutely worth it.  Definitely the musical highlight of the year.

TJ's solo was beautiful, although he wasn't entirely thrilled with it.  The Trumpet Shall Sound is an absolutely magnificent duet between solo trumpet and the soloist, and they both did beautifully.  In the words of Kaye Hinton "it thrilled us to our toes!"  I was so proud of him!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Les Miserables

I fell in love with the music of Les Miserables just out of high school, fell in love with the book after my oldest child was born, and was the proud mother of three before I actually saw it on the stage.  That was a red-letter day for me, and I thought nothing would ever compare with the joy of experiencing my favorite play at the Pioneer Theater Company.  I had low expectations last year when I went to see the film--after all, they had opted for big-name actors over experienced musicians.  I was joyfully surprised, however.  The cast of the film version not only did full justice to the grandeur of the story, but to humanity itself.  
It was with some reticence that I attended Hurricane Valley Community Theater's production of the play last night, but since TJ had a student in the production it was a labor of love.  I knew that our friend Brodie Perry, who was playing Jean Valjean, would be amazing.  He was singing with the Utah Opera while he was still in high school with me, and he hasn't wasted his time since then.  I think he could perform on Broadway if he wanted to, and as proud as we all are that he is here instead, I did not know that St. George boasted more than one or two on his professional level.  I was dead wrong.  All the leads were phenomenal, and all the chorus were extremely strong singers and actors.  
"Community theater" has always brought to my mind subpar productions funded and attended by those of us who want to "support the arts."  I have never thought of this venue being one that could hold intrinsic entertainment value.  But the professionalism HVCT showed in this production filled me with joy and hope.  St. George has a great theater company!  And why not?  It was the last thing, in my opinion, that we needed to make this town quite perfect.  
But the true joy of the evening was the fact that the cast brought more to the performance than sparkling talent and hard-earned skills.  They understood the meaning of the play and cared passionately about it. Their hearts shone through every scene of the performance.  Brodie's performance was technically impeccable to start with--his voice was flawless, powerful, and tender; his acting was consistent, heartfelt, and masterful--but most of all he put every ounce of energy into his character.  I had tears running down my cheeks as the cast took their bows, and so did they.  I had a wonderful feeling that I was watching history in the making.

Michael Buble

A few days before Mother's Day this year, I got a call from my newlywed sister, Nikki, and her husband, Derek.  They were planning a special Mother's Day surprise for mom--a hot-air balloon ride--and wanted to know if I wanted to pitch in.  Well, you have to know the Monnetts to understand just how completely unprecedented such generosity is, which is not to say Mom didn't deserve such an awesome gift.  But having already spent the allotted five bucks on Mom's present, I wasn't able to contribute.  Well, it turned out that the hot-air balloon guy would only let them buy two tickets at a time, so the ended up buying one for Grandma, as well.  Four hundred dollars later, Mom had a sweet, thoughtful present that she wasn't sure she could even accept from struggling newlyweds.  They were adamant, though, so Mom worked on getting an appointment set up with Grandma and the balloon guy.  Grandma kept stalling, and eventually decided she really didn't want to do it.  Mom was wondering what to do, when this handsome face popped up on her computer screen:
Michael Buble was coming to Salt Lake City!  She did some quick research and then called Nikki and Derek to see what they thought about Mom trading in the hot-air balloon ride for concert tickets.  Of course, knowing how much Mom loves concerts, Nikki and Derek thought that was a great idea.  They figured they could get tickets for the three of them on the ground floor, or get nose-bleed tickets and include Georgia and me.  Luckily for me, they are very generous people.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  Georgia and I farmed our kids out, mom borrowed Dad's CNG car, and we headed north.  There we met Nikki and Derek, Kendall, who had driven down from Logan, and Spencer and Kris--all at a Greek place for a special "birthday dinner" for Spencer and Ty.  Then we chilled at Spencer's place for awhile, and then headed to Energy Solutions Arena for the concert!
Buble was AWESOME!  He was funny, sweet, humble and a terrific show-off.  His voice was just as amazing as on his recordings.  He took time to try and translate a fan sign from Spanish with hilarious results. He stopped the concert and had all 10,000 people in the arena sing "Happy Birthday" to an 83-year-old woman on the front row.  He talked about the joy of being a father, and about his immense gratitude for us, his fans.  


 We had such a great time!  The lights, backgrounds, and effects were totally amazing.  My favorite part was "All You Need is Love," during which the amazing lights show was complimented by billions of tissue-paper hearts being launched into the air.  Guys with huge vacuum thingies attached to fans shot them back into the air once they reached the ground.  It was awesome!  We all took some home as souvenirs.

The band was incredible.  Several came from the Julliard School of Music.  He also had a strings section, which, as he said, "came all the way from .... Salt Lake City.  I think a few of them are even Mormons. Raise your hands if you're Mormons."  Half the strings raised their hands. "What a minute," he said, turning to the audience, "how many of YOU are Mormons?"  At least half of the hands went up.  "Oh, man," he said, "I feel so left out!"  Mom was ready: "It doesn't have to be that way," she yelled.

"Burnin' Love"

The opening act, an a capella group named
Naturally 7.

 "It's a Beautiful Day"

 After his bows, he came back and did a half-hour encore.  He invited some kids up on the stage to sing "You've Got a Friend in Me."  And my favorite part was when he took out his earpieces, ditched the mic, and sang "A Song for You."  Ten thousand people in that room and we all heard him clear as a bell.  It was amazing.

After the concert we hung with the rest of the family until way too late, talking singing and laughing.  Then Taylor, Mom, Georgia and I spent the night at Serenity's.  The following morning we had a birthday breakfast for Nikki, who turned twenty that day.  Then we headed home!  

Friday, November 22, 2013

I don't know what we did differently, but last night the dinner hour was kind of magical.  We were all tuned in, you know?  We laughed a lot.

Isaiah who is just starting to put together full (ly adorable) sentences, kept pointing to the floor and saying, "I dop my tahtoes."  I kept laughing and repeating it because I thought it was the cutest thing, and the kids joined in, imitating him.  Paul had compassion on his little brother and went and scooped up the dropped potatoes while the rest of us were still giggling.

Later in the meal, Naomi's plate full of food somehow slid straight into her lap.  "Naomi, what did you do," I said.  Without missing a beat, Ezra chimed in, "she dopped her tahtoes."  We all hooted with laughter.

Elder Uchtdorff is always urging me to live in the moment and to see my loved ones for the miracle they are. Once in awhile, just once in awhile, I'm able to do that.  Would I could always see the magic that occurs in my daily life.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It has been a good week.  But let me backtrack about two weeks to a less-good week.

I was stressed.  I was tired.  The old S.A.D Monster was rearing its ugly head and threatening me not only with an ugly winter, but with total personal failure.  (Depressed people aren't known for their great sense of perspective.)

SO I prayed.  I went to the temple.  I talked with loved ones.  And I made a chart of all my favorite crazy-busting weapons, along with boxes to check off every day.  Here they are, in no particular order.

Up at 6AM
Read Scriptures
Free Time
TJ Time
Essential Oils
Temple (Weekly)

I haven't been able to check them all off, not even once.  But I feel so much better just for hitting a few every day.  They're all biggies, but I'd say the temple and free time and essential oils they're all biggies.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Karen Dick is unber arest and will be put to eating ice-cream.
This is rotten milk!  (soon)
Eliza is pretty
Naomi is crazy and she screams a lot

Sunday, September 22, 2013

My Inner Gypsy

I've gotten in the bad habit lately of sitting at the computer during breakfast and lunch, catching up on email or e-errands while the kids eat at the counter.  This bugs me, not only because mealtime is supposed to be good for connecting with family, but because I know I'd be irritated if my kids did that to me.  So this week I decided to start serving and eating meals at the table.

I wasn't expecting any dramatic results, but I had a sweet moment with my kids at lunch on Thursday. Naomi started speaking in tongues, and Eliza started "translating," telling me my fortune.  Usually this is the kind of silliness that drives me deep into cyberspace, but this time I embraced it.  I taught the girls how to read palms, and we spent the rest of the meal practicing on each other.  "You have a strong life line," we always began.  The fortune always went downhill from there:  "These twelve lines mean that you will have twelve children someday--all girls.  You will also have a goat.  You will be bitten by ants sometime this week.  You should never purchase cheese from someone who has dirty nails."  We had a good laugh together.  And I ended the meal thinking how grateful I am for those cute girls.  My chances to connect with them that way are numbered, and I intend to make them count!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Taste of Things to Come

Two lovely beginnings today.  This is the first crop from our apricot tree, planted two summers ago.  There was about twice this, but the birds got it before we could install our lovely fake owl.  And...the inside of the fruit is a little brownish.  But it's a start.

I want fruit trees in the worst way.  If I were in charge, we'd cut down everything on this lot to make room for more.  As it is, I'll have to do it by degrees.  (This year, the desert willow is coming down to make room for a fruit tree.)  

And if you want to know about the other new thing, ask my sister.  :)

Brian Head

TJ and I went to Brian Head last week for our (belated) anniversary.  Just getting the kids ready and to Mom's and Georgia's houses completely wore me out, so I slept on the way up.  Then we stopped at Milt's Stage Stop in Cedar Canyon and gave steak its best shot to impress us.  We still can't see what all the mania is about, but it was good, especially with sauteed mushrooms; and the smoked trout with crackers and cream cheese, the amazing salad bar, and the hot, fresh bread and butter bowled us over.

We took a short, sunset hike around the rim of Cedar Breaks and discovered a stand of bristlecone pine trees, some of the oldest living things in the world.  This was a very pleasant surprise, since I've been wanting to see one for a few years now.  These ones are estimated to be 1400 to 1600 years old, but there are some in Nevada that scientists guess are closer to 4000 years old.

It was getting dark, so we headed for our hotel.  TJ surprised me by booking a very nice room at the DoubleTree in Brian Head.  We love that place not the least because they provide four pillows of variable height and fluffiness--and TJ let me have first pick.  (Chivalry is not dead.)

We stayed up late and slept in as long as we could without risking our continental breakfast, which was divine.  Then we did a few more hikes, and checked out the cabin and surrounding area for next week's family reunion.  There was a lot of driving, and TJ did it all so I could have plenty of time to read.  My requirements for a successful vacation are as follows:

Time alone with my best friend
Comfy accomodations
Beautiful surroundings
Amazing food
Lots of time to read

So this one passed with flying colors.  Thanks, TJ.  And here's to many dozens of years more to come!