Saturday, December 21, 2013

1943 Army Jeep

Our neighbor and good friend Brent Jensen took the kids for a ride in his son's restored jeep.  It's engine is original and has less than a thousand miles on it.  Very Cool!

Snowman train track


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Best Babysitter Ever!

Eliza, almost 10, drew the nativity, (characters about 6") and then had her younger siblings color them.  They were so proud when we got home that they had us close our eyes till we reached the fridge where they had posted them.  We were proud too!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Partners in crime!

These are the most unstable bookends we've ever owned!
They said they we're bunnies and they wanted to sleep there tonight.  Cute little boys!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The End of the World as We Know It

AKA Snow in St. George.  Snow that sticks to the ground for more than an hour!  Yippee!
Since we do home school, we hit the park first thing in the morning and found the snow completely unsullied. There's a great hill at Larkspur Park, and we took full advantage with the Woods and Heyers.  So fun!


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!

Thanksgiving in Snowflake

We spent Thanksgiving weekend in Snowflake with TJ's parents and with his brother, Jonathan's family.  David and Chantel also came out for a day, so we got to meet their new baby boy.  The drive down was even more gorgeous than usual because there was snow for a lot of the way.  While we were there, we enjoyed lots of downtime (which meant I polished off a whole Georgette Heyer novel.)  The kids watched movies, played legos and pool, threw hatchets and shot arrows.  On Thanksgiving day, we took dinner to the church and ate there.  Afterward, the kids enjoyed making their traditional gumdrop turkeys.  Thomas and Isaiah missed the memo about the photo shoot, so you can see they started right in eating theirs.  :)  Friday morning, TJ's parents were volunteered to watch the kids so Cherie, Jonathan, TJ and I could go to the temple, which is visible from their house.  We drove home Friday night so we could rest up before Messiah performances Sunday and Monday.  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

A Christmas Carol

Reading a radio version of Dickens' classic as a family tonight before bed was kind of magical.  Ezra was a very cantankerous "Scrooge," Eliza's supporting roles always had good English accents, and Naomi's bit parts, although haltingly read, were done in the best dramatic voice you can imagine.  We promised only a half hour but were swept up in the drama together, and the kids went to bed late.  I love this life of mine.

Shoulder Angel

Lately, Isaiah has taken to climbing onto TJ's shoulders, and saying "Poof!"  
Hmmm, have we been watching too much Studio C?

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!  


 Our boys are cute.  'Nough said.
Sometimes I wish there were less parties.  I was whining on the way to a homeschool co-op party, and so TJ made the extra name tag so people wouldn't talk to me.  

October Was Beast (and so is this post)

October was a wild, wild month for us.

We started the month with our fall Lieto concert.  This choir is directed by Norm Lister, who was my (phenomenal) high school choir teacher, and singing under his direction again has been an absolute thrill.  He has fantastic taste in music, and I love being a part of something so big and so beautiful again.  It doesn't hurt that I get to sit with my mom's best friend, Patti Tippetts, and Natalie Cripps, a good friend from high school.  We were blown away by the show of support: Grandma Monnett, Uncle Harley, Mom, Georgia, Spencer and Kris came.  We felt so loved.

Since Spencer and Kris were in town, TJ's overnight hike of Zion's West Rim turned into a one-day thing and he had a lot more takers.  Mom courageously insisted on taking my kids and Spencer's, so Spence, Kris, Taylor, Lawson, Eliza, Ezra, TJ and I all got to go.  It was fourteen miles of the most gorgeous terrain on--seriously--the most gorgeous fall day.  The fall colors were out in full force, and there was tons of sunlight and a nice cool breeze.  Then there's the fact that we got to see Zion Canyon as few ever do: from the top. Simply the most fantastic hike of my entire life.


Ezra's birthday party came next.  For the big 1-1 we decided on something a little different.  He invited his buddies up to Baker for a zip-line party.  My dad came with Lawson, and Ezra and TJ loaded our van with most of TJ's former Webelos troup.  It was just like one of the outings he always planned for them.  They had an awesome time roasting marshmallows, eating cobbler, and zipping to their hearts' content.  Ezra's such a lucky boy--lots of kids his age have parties at Jumping Jack's, Lazer Mania, or at the aquatic center, but Ezra's dad is cooler than all of those things put together.  I was especially happy that the party was outside, and all I really had to contribute were the invitations and shopping for ingredients.

Soon after Ezra's birthday came the Primary Program, which was my responsibility to write and direct.  We had a practice at the church the Friday before, which was, as always, an exercise in patience for all involved.  Also faith.  It takes lots and lots of faith to believe that the chaos of a Friday rehearsal can become a beautiful testimony of the gospel born by your Primary children.  But that is exactly what they did.  I was so grateful for our sweet and patient teachers, as well as the rest of the presidency.  And so very grateful at the end of that Sunday, that it was all over!  Here is Eliza's artwork, which I can without a trace of nepotism state was the best-qualified to grace the cover of the sacrament meeting program that day!

A few days after the Program our presidency was released, so maybe we should have done a better job.  :)

Are we still in October, you ask?  Why yes, we are: we still haven't gotten to Halloween!  Halloween has grown into a big, scary beast as the kids have gotten older.  No more digging costumes out of the box the day before.  This year we started planning and rounding up supplies right after Halloween 2012.  Since Ezra was such a good sport about going along with the Incredibles, we let him choose this year's theme; hence the Star Wars costumes.  We bought Ezra's Luke costume on clearance for something like five dollars.  He was a little too big for it this year, so we had to get a little creative with the high water pants.  Paul's we also bought on clearance, and it came with a pretty good mask--however, Mom had an adult-size helmet complete with a voice box on the chest.  We decided that the bobble-head look was just too good to pass up, and surprisingly, Paul wore it for most of the night without a single complaint.  He couldn't really see, but that didn't seem to bother him very much!  I made Isaiah's Yoda hat and cloak from scratch, and he wore them over some nondescript clothes.  He hated the idea of the hat, so we worked him up to it by telling him it was a "doggy hat" and by bribing him with candy.  He was the cutest little Yoda ever!  Naomi's Leah costume was a white dress borrowed from Georgia, paired with a cloak I made from some old curtains from a yard-sale.  We did cute little buns with her thick but short hair, and they looked surprisingly awesome under the cloak.  For Eliza we had to get really creative.  Since girl characters are so scarce in Star Wars, we chose Barriss Offee from Clone Wars.  Don't know who she is?  Neither did we!  She's a girl Jedi, though, so she fit the bill.  I bought a black shirt to go with her black pants, and found the perfect fabric for her cloak at Wal-mart.  Then we painted her face slightly green and did the diamond makeup with black brows and lips.  Her hair we wrapped up in a black hijab. Out of all the costumes, I was happiest with hers. My own costume was pretty cool, too.  I found some amazing sheepskin-like fleece and made it into a cape. I made white pants and paired them with a new long-sleeve shirt, topped off with armbands made with laminated aluminum foil.  Did you know you can laminate aluminum foil?  Neither did I, before my brilliant mind told me!  Okay, I'm just a teensy bit proud of that one.  TJ took care of his own costume this year upon my request.  I bought some leather-like fabric which he used to make a vest.  Then he made a tunic out of an old sheet, and paired it with a belt and some black pants.  I did bestow the crowning glory of his Annakin costume, though.  I cut off my own hair to make him a braid, and we super-glued it to the back of his head.  Yeah, I know.  We're crazy.  Actually, in the midst of all those preparations--I can't remember if it was before or after the sewing machine broke down in the middle of a costume--I told the family that this is our last themed Halloween.  Next year we're pulling costumes out of the box like normal folks!

The day after Halloween marked the end of October Madness, and I headed for the hills with my mom and sisters for a break.  More on that later.