Saturday, December 20, 2008


"Hey Trina, you just finished singing in Handel's Messiah! What are you going to do now?!"

"I'm going to Disneyland!"

O.K. so I should've written that last Sunday night, since we left Monday morning and came back on Thursday.
We had a day of warm sunshine, then a day of cold biting windy rain and then a day of sunshine. Gotta love California.

It cost about $900 for my family of 7 to go to Disneyland for two days. Luckily, we were using my Mother-in-law's vacation club, so that paid for $500 of it. Still, that is a lot of money. At least we also got to stay at a nice hotel for free and since we attended a sales presentation for said club, they also gave us $100 in Disney money and one free meal and limo ride. So, that was fun.

I told Ravenna she could study the sales tactics that they use. So, she took notes during the whole pitch, unknown to the salesman. He was nice though and could tell we didn't really want to be hearing the sales pitch, so he didn't give us the hard sell. At least we went to that on the rainy day, so we didn't waste precious hours of sunshine.

Incidently, on the tram to the park on the rainy day morning, someone we knew sat right behind us! She was Ravenna's camp counselor a couple years ago. It's a small world after all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Harry Potter, the Tooth Fairy & Santa Claus

Well, I guess I've been busy so far this December, since I haven't posted anything. I confess much time was spent reading the last four Harry Potter books. I'm pretty happy with how the whole series ended.
*Spoiler Alert* (If you haven't read it and don't want to hear more about it, skip this paragraph)
It reminded me of the scripture "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:13)
Now, saying that doesn't give everything away, because all is not as it seems. But, Harry Potter was a true hero and wasn't greedy for the spoils of war, even though a few treasures could've been his.
Also, I was happy that a Mother's love for her son turned out to be greater than her love for the evil leader.
And the double agent hadn't really turned traitor against the good side, even though it seemed that he had and he did have to pay for being in league with evil, by the evil one, not the good ones, which goes to show, "that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell." (Alma 30:60)

Anyway, it was a pretty fun series to read and I've heard that the audio books are really good, too, due to a good narrator.

Geneva lost her first tooth, the morning after Thanksgiving. And we really lost it, left it on the table after breakfast and it probably got swept into the garbage. I'm thinking it's not such a bad thing to not do the tooth fairy thing. That's one of the hardest things to do as a parent. Who's idea was this to have kids hide a tooth under a pillow and then have to sneak it out without waking them up and replacing it with money?! I mean really, someone sticking their hand under your pillow is very likely to wake you up! We felt lucky when the tooth would slip onto the floor.
A good tip for new parents is to have a special place on the fireplace mantel or somewhere visibile to parents, so you don't forget after they go to bed, like an empty candle votive or something. Have them put the tooth in there, then also leave the money in there, that is if you want to carry on this silly tradition with your kids.

Back at the end of Sep./beginning of Oct., Spencer lost a tooth while we were camping, and I didn't have any money with me, except for a few precious quarters to enable us to take very short showers. It was like 2 minutes per quarter. I think after the first night, he put it in one of the pockets of the tent and that's where it still is today.

I know my sister will say, don't fool your kids with lies of Tooth Fairies and Santa Claus, but when you're little it seems magical. Until you get to be about 10-12 and you have your tooth under your pillow for like 2 weeks and the tooth fairy never comes. And it's amazing how many people will ask your kids, "What did the tooth fairy leave you?" Oh, there's a lot of pressure from all sides to be a good parent.
One year when my siblings and I were all teenagers, we stayed up later than 'Santa,' so he didn't come that year. Ha,ha. We didn't think it was so funny at the time, but my parents were early risers, and they couldn't stay up later than us that year.
They always said, "If you don't believe in Santa, then he won't come." They always did something special like adding extra sparkly ornaments to the tree, along with stockings.

A friend of mine has a good definition for Santa that I like; she said, "Santa Claus is just a way for one person to do something nice for someone else, without them knowing who it was." She tells her kids anyone can be Santa, which I think is great.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

New Coughing/Sneezing Etiquette

Help stop the spread of germs:

Personally, I think I prefer a tissue and then an immediate washing of the hands.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Is grocery shopping an adventure?

I'm getting pretty good at remembering to take my non-plastic bags with me when I go grocery shopping. Not so good at bringing them to other stores though. Today, I had 11 bags with me and filled them all plus 2 store bags and I didn't even put the toilet paper in a bag. My goodness, that was a lot of food. The past couple times I've gone grocery shopping the clerks have asked me, "How long does all this last?!" I say, "About 2 weeks." Then, they ask how many people are in my family.

I usually go to a bag-your-own-stuff store and as I'm putting all this in my cart, I'm thinking, "I'm going to have to bag all this stuff!" At least my big kids are big enough to babysit the little ones, so that I can shop by myself and don't have to worry about them falling out of the cart while I'm trying to quickly bag before the next persons' groceries come creeping up on mine.

And sometimes we laugh about our big SUV 'grocery-getter', but all those groceries did fill the back of it! If only I could've fjorded a stream or plowed through a snow storm on the way home, then the 4 wheel drive might be justified.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

"Tolerant" Protestors

So, I got a call this morning, saying that Temple Hill in Oakland is closed all day due to disgruntled Prop. 8 opponents. Supposedly, they picked a day on purpose that the temple isn't open, but there is a church building on the temple grounds where a lot of people have Sunday services. I wonder to where were all of those wards diverted?

I was notified because I'm singing in Handel's Messiah this year! Fun, fun. It is my Christmas gift to myself. It really makes the season and it's so nice to just get lost in the polyphonic parts of the music. It is so beautiful and challenging. Our conductor is really great, too. He's really the best conductor I've ever sung with (Sorry Mom, but you probably agree).
He says this is his last year (though his wife said tonight, "Who knows what will happen in two years?")

Anyway, our rehearsal was diverted to San Leandro, which was fine with me, closer to home. I came into the chapel behind a group of 5 or so women. The conductor and his wife were seated on the back row of the chapel and said as we came in, "Where are the men?"
One lady responded, "Well, my husband was hit by a car last week." We all gasped and asked what happened. She said he had just planted a "Yes on Prop. 8" sign in a median divider and was walking across the street, when a car coming off the freeway, saw him plant the sign and gunned it to hit him. It was a hit and run. They think the car was probably going around 25 miles an hour. Fortunately, he didn't have a concussion or any broken bones, just soreness and bruises. No one was with him to get the license plate number, and of course he was too in shock to do it himself. This was in Sunol, CA.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

One more Prop. 8 post

I'm changing this post, because I like my brother Mike's explanation (from his blog) better:

"The core issue of gay marriage

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Oct. 10 that same-sex couples have the right to wed rather than accept a 2005 civil union law designed to give them the same rights as married couples.

But there was no comparison between civil unions and marriage for Robin Levine-Ritterman and Barbara Levine-Ritterman, who obtained a civil union in 2005 and were among eight same-sex couples who sued for the right to marry.

"We didn't do it with pride or joy," Barbara Levine-Ritterman said of getting the civil-union license. "It felt gritty to be in a separate line."

On Wednesday, however, she proudly held up the first same-sex marriage license issued in New Haven as about 100 people applauded outside City Hall. She and her betrothed, who held red roses, plan to marry in May.]

In summary and plainly confessed, gay marriage isn't about rights, it's about feelings of inferiority.

What do you do when you know you're wrong? One of two things: Change so that you're in the right, or legitimize and justify your position and/or tear down the other side.

Despite all the claims of gay pride and equality, they still have that nagging on their conscience that comes from being wrong. Despite being legally given the same rights as heterosexual couples, they still recognize the illegitimacy of their relationship, and so seek to emulate the ideal."

Mike's very well 'spoken' in his writing sometimes.

I like this guy's video, it might answer some concerns people have:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pretty sunset

On our way home from Utah, we saw this great sunset in Nevada.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

California, Prop. 8

Here is a great poem, written by someone I know and published in the local paper:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Funny Little Boy

Dexter followed me out of the house last night, I was going to put some things in the recycle bin. I knew he was there. All of a sudden, he said, "Whoa, that scared me."
I said, "What scared you?"
He said, "That scared Dexter."
I said, "What scared Dexter?"
He said, "That scared the little boy."
By, then I was laughing, because I knew I would never find out WHAT it was, but I sure have a funny little boy.

Two year olds that can speak clearly say some crazy things. Some things are so illogical that my brain rejects them, no matter how funny, because it does not compute, so I can't remember long enough to write it down.

One Sunday, we were leaving the baptismal room, heading toward the refreshment room and he said, "Mom, you're making me nervous." I tried to get him to explain what I was doing that was making him nervous, but he only repeated himself.

A few days ago we were driving through some winding mountain roads, on the way to the beach, and he said, "Oh no, dangerous curves." I think he got that from Thomas the Tank Engine.

He turns three years old next week and he already recognizes pretty much all the alphabet letters, thanks to this wonderful website:
The top link on that page with the ABC's is great. I would never try to teach letters to a 2 year old, but he learned them, nonetheless. He doesn't know the alphabet in order, yet, and he may forget the letters if we don't keep them fresh. He loves to be read to and has at least 3 or 4 short books memorized.
O.K. enough bragging for now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Milestone

This school year is a momentous one:
We have a daughter starting high school and a daughter starting Kindergarten.
'Course it's a little anti-climatic because the high schooler goes to the same school as last year, since it is an all ages private school, and we are homeschooing the kindergartener.
Nevertheless, it is a milestone.

Note: this event will repeat in two years with our sons.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ode to TJed

In Core Phase we learn good and bad, right and wrong
Our play is our work and our work is our play
Building a foundation so strong,
it will last our whole life long.

We love to learn
We're learning to lead.

In Love of Learning Phase we discuss, read and write
Following our interests wherever we might,
To marvel at the wonders of the world all around,
And find the hidden treasures of knowledge to be found.

We love to learn
We're learning to lead.

Then, we will be ready for Scholar Phase
Studying for hours in classics of every kind,
Learning to analyze, question and decide
Reading, thinking, laughing and crying
Struggling to exercise both body and mind-
Feeling, changing, becoming better than before
And then we'll go out and serve and change the world.

We love to learn
We're learning to lead.

We the rising Hero Generation.
We must work hard to earn our education
to become men and women of conviction
who will stand strong in the face of tribulation.

We love to learn
We're learning to lead.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New look

So, thanks Pyzam for making it easy to change the look of the blog.

But, the text color they had was a lighter turquoise than the background color and I thought it was unreadable.
So I figured out how to change the text color, all by myself!

Thanks to Little Einsteins... two-year old:

1. knows what an outrigger canoe is.

2. has heard of Machu Pichu.

3. thinks that hula dancing is for cooling volcanoes.

4. refers to speeds in musical terms. (my little backseat driver, "Mom, you have to go allegro!")

5. knows some silly words to some great classical songs.

6. thinks little pigs can fly airplanes.

I might add more to this list as I discover what else he knows.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What it takes...

So I'm sure someone is wondering what it takes to audition for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, unless you've already googled it and know all about it.

The first three requirements are pretty easy:

~Be between 25 and 55 years of age (a minimum of 5 years of service is expected and a lifetime maximum of 20 years)
~Live within a 100 mile radius of Temple Square
~Be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in good standing

After that it gets tricky:
~Fill out an application (in July) including a recording of yourself singing a hymn and other vocal exercises
If they like your tape, then:
~pass a written theory test & listening test
If you pass those, then:
~live, in person, audition; part of which is performing a difficult piece they send you and another part is sight reading your part (alone) in a quartet

That all takes about 6 months.
If you make it through all that, you're in!
Except that you have to first spend three months in the Temple Square Chorale while taking a music theory class.
After that you have to pass another written and singing evaluation, then you graduate into the real choir.

Also, as for odds...
Our guy in the choir (Nathan) said that they usually get anywhere from 400-500 applications to fill around 20 seats annually.

He knew one lady who auditioned 4 times before getting in.

Other things I found interesting:
~The choir president was encouraging members to join the recording association, so that they can vote on who wins the Grammys!
~The choir has it's own record label and puts out 2-3 CDs a year and usually one DVD for Christmas.

Here's a link if you want to learn a whole lot more about the audition process:

Oh, also, I thought it was really interesting (if you aren't a member of the church, you may not appreciate this fact, however...)
Once you are in the choir, you are set apart as a musical missionary and it becomes your calling! I thought that was so cool.
That just shows what a big time commitment it is.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I attended the Choral Conducting Academy at BYU last week and it was great fun and a little depressing. The depressing thing to me is that there are soooo many things in which it would help to be an expert and it would sure take time and effort to become one. Singing takes a lot of effort to do it well and there are so many subtlties to being a great conductor, and not to mention analyzing music! I'd rather be the pianist that can transpose at the drop of a hat, but..... that takes so much more time and a different kind of effort.


One very fun highlight of the week was taking a bus (with the other academy attendees) to Salt Lake City to attend a rehearsal of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But, that was not all, no, we actually got to fill in the empty seats and rehearse with them!!!
I think the excuse was so that we could have a good view of the conductor, Mack Wilberg.

The choir was preparing for a concert coming up that weekend, so we sped through a lot of music.
It was pretty hard for me to follow foreign language words with totally unfamiliar music. I think Hebrew was the hardest to follow, but the Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein, was sure neat music.

The first song we rehearsed was in French, but it was a familiar tune, Habañera, from Carmen by Bizet, so that wasn't too hard to follow, even though I had never sung that arrangement before. (I've only sung the melody with Charlotte Church in my car.)

Then, we sang in Latin. Requiem - Sanctus, by Verdi. It was arranged for 2 choirs, so that was really interesting trying to follow along. The director said that it is an opera without costumes or scenery.

Next up, was the Triumphal Chorus from Aida, also by Verdi. If I remember correctly, this one was in Italian. The director said he was letting the choir get away with a lot tonally, because "It's an opera, it'll sound funny if we sing it too refined. It needs some spa-GHET'ti to it!"

Finally, we sang some in English:
'Going Home' based on Dvorak "New World Symphony" (much easier to sing in English!)
Danny Boy, arr. by Joseph Flemmerfelt (I think they had to memorize this one to sing as an encore)
Shenandoah, arr. by Mack Wilberg
An American Songbook, written for the Tabernacle Choir for the 2002 Winter Olympics
God Bless America (they also had to memorize this for the encore)

All those songs were for the Sun Valley, Idaho, benefit concert ($250-$500/ticket!).
Then, they rehearsed a couple for the Deer Valley concert the same weekend:
Psalm 86, by Gustav Holt
Amazing Grace, arr. by Wilberg
and the Chichester Psalms (that I already mentioned).

On the bus back to Provo, our tour guide, Nathan, told us about the choir.
It was really interesting.
He said that there are currently 397 members and 363 seats in the choir loft at the Conference Center.
There were emptly seats, because there is only a 75% attendance requirement.
Nathan said he goes for 3 weeks and then takes a week off.

I'll write about the audition process in another entry.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Things I Learned at Girls Camp

1. Dirt can become a part of your fingerprint.

2. Great Dane dogs are the size of small ponies.

3. Stars are really pretty away from the city lights.
(I guess I already knew that, but it's nice to be reminded.)

4. Martinez is pronounced "MARTIN-ez" in Ohio.

5. If you get tired of your kids saying "Mom" all day, change your name to a bad word, so that they can't say it.

6. If you can't decide whether to call a short play a "show" or a "skit," you better make up your mind quickly or a bad word might come out instead by accidently combining the two. (This didn't happen to me personally, but I witnessed it. Luckily the girls were not nearby to hear, Scandalous!)

7. It's hard to have whole days with NO free time. Sure we were anxiously engaged in good causes, but sometimes it's nice not to be commanded in all things and to be able to do many good things of our own free will and desire.

8. I can put up with lots of annoying behavior knowing that it's going to go to it's own home at the end of the week.
I think it's the ~knowing how long I have to endure~ that makes it easier to be cheerful in the face of a trial.

9. Talking with the other leaders after the girls go to sleep is great fun!

10. If you want to take a picture of the fascinating witches with the stimulating stiches on the britches of the boys who put the powder on the noses of the faces of the ladies of the harem of the Court of King Caratacus, you're too late, they just passed by.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Forever Lily" Quotes

I love this quote from the book "Forever Lily" by Beth Nonte Russell:

"Mindless practicalities always seem to get the upper hand over beautiful but unrealistic visions. Just once, I would like to see it go the other way." (p. 138)

and this one:

"We choose, we choose and then events confirm; events confirm and we choose again, a never ending process of creating our realities. Eventually those choices form a pattern of a life, and that pattern exerts an irresistible force upon all subsequent choices. It becomes more and more difficult to make a true change. And yet, it can be done. I have just lived it." (p. 123)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One of life's great questions

Why does my nose always itch when my hands are wet while washing dishes?

I think I must be allergic to that chore.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

From an Orwell essay

The next time someone insists on using "politically correct" language, think of this quote from George Orwell:

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Kids say the darndest things

We were driving in the car, yesterday. It was a warm, sunny day and we were outside for the first time that day. We were driving through the city with the windows rolled down, and I said, "Isn't it nice to have some fresh air?"
Dexter (age 2) said, "No, how 'bout pizza?!"

Another time we were driving along and passed a business that had a gate with bars. Geneva (age 4), said, "I can fit through that. Dang, little girls are smart!"

Last week, Ravenna (age 14), put a pricetag on her forehead and said, "I am no longer priceless."

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Proverbs and Edison Quotes

I like to think of these two proverbs together:

“He who fails to plan, plans to fail,”

“We plan, God laughs.”

I also like these quotes from Thomas Edison:

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

"Restlessness and discontent are the first necessities of progress."

"It is astonishing what an effort it seems to be for many people to put their brains definitely and systematically to work."

"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."

Friday, April 4, 2008

Things to do before I die list...

Anyone in favor of such a list?

I can think of one or two things to put on it:
learn drumming of some sort, I have my eye on taiko drumming
go skiing or snowboarding or both
take dance lessons - ballroom, clog or tap

Quote by Thomas S. Monson:
"It is necessary to prepare and to plan so that we don't fritter away our lives. Without a goal, there can be no real success. One of the best definitions of success I have ever heard goes something like this: success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Someone has said the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never cross the goal line...
I want to state here and now that wishing will not replace thorough preparation to meet the trials of life. Preparation is hard work but absolutely essential for our progress."

So, I guess my 'things to do before I die' list is more of a wish list than a goal list, since I don't have a plan right now for doing them, but I don't think they are essential to my eternal salvation, so it's probably o.k. if they are just wishes for now. It reminds me of the movie "Elizabethtown" with Orlando Bloom and Susan Sarandon, where her husband dies and she starts doing all these crazy things that she wants to do before she dies, because his death was a wake-up call to her. (The rest of the movie was kind of dumb)


I'm averaging about 1 post a month, that's more than some bloggers I know... but certainly less prolific than I thought I would be when I started this.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Wisdom from Benjamin Franklin

I was just going to post the first one here, but all of these are so good...

"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."

A longer version of the same quote: "If a man empties his purse into his head, no man can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

"As we must account for every idle word, so must we account for every idle silence. "

"Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of."

"If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be the greatest prodigality. "

"How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them."

"If you desire many things, many things will seem few."

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing. "

"It is a grand mistake to think of being great without goodness and I pronounce it as certain that there was never a truly great man that was not at the same time truly virtuous."

"It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them."

"It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it."

"Keep your eyes wide open before marriage, half shut afterwards."

"Many a man thinks he is buying pleasure, when he is really selling himself to it. "

"Speak ill of no man, but speak all the good you know of everybody."

"You may delay, but time will not."

I got these quotes from:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

church sign

There is a church in my neighborhood, on a corner, that has a sign on which they post funny things sometimes. Right now it says, "God so loved the world He didn't send a committee."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Fun with the Dad of the family

I grew up in a family that could sing in harmony, if we so desired. But, with the 'Happy Birthday' song especially, it was usually most fun to see how out of tune and tempo and loud we could be. It just made it seem more festive to sing with gusto!

Now, in my little family, we have a nightly tradition of kneeling in family prayer, and we sing a song to let the children (or parents) know that it is time to gather in a circle. My husband is blessed with perfect pitch. I'm blessed with being able to sing out of tune and enjoy the 'interesting' harmonies. (Or should I say dissonance?) He used to join me in whatever key I happen to be singing in. I like to sing alto and that song is in the soprano range.
When he is the one to start the song, (hardly ever!), then he sings it in the right key.

Lately, he tries to sing it in the right key no matter what key I sing in. It's actually become quite fun for the kids and I to watch his pained expression as we are all singing whatever notes we want, while he tries hard to stay in the 'right' key.
Good times.

He compared it to living the gospel, trying to stay on the strait and narrow, while the world goes wide and crooked.
Good analogy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

37 Books in 2007

I'm posting this here for my own record. My sister-in-law inspired me by writing down every book she read in 2006, then set a goal to read more in 2007. So, I started keeping track at the beginning of last year, to see how many I read on average. Now that I have a baseline, I can set a goal to read more, or whatever. Most of these are kids books, because I like to know what my kids are reading, but I got a few classics in there. (Although I didn't write down every little book I read to my kids.)

Here is my list:
The Anybodies, by N.E. Bode
Shepherds Why This Jubilee?, by Jeffrey R. Holland
Man of the Family, by Ralph Moody
each little bird that sings, by Deborah Wiles
Beauty, A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & The Beast, by Robin McKinley
Just Ella, by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Becoming Naomi Leon, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Messenger, by Lois Lowry
Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, by Steven Covey
The View From Saturday, by E.L. Konigsburg
The Final Farewell, by Patricia Wiles, A Kevin Kirk Chronicle
The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
Ultra Marathon Man, by Dean Karnazes
Doll Hospital #1, Tatiana Comes to America, by Joan Holub
Walden; or, Life in the Woods, by Henry David Thoreau
Fairest, by Gail Carson Levine
Austenland, by Shannon Hale
What Child Is This, A Christmas Story, by Caroline B. Cooney
Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
Pretties, by Scott Westerfeld
Doll Hospital #2, Goldie's Fortune, by Joan Holub
Specials, by Scott Westerfeld

Hans Brinker, or the Silver Skates, by Mary Mapes Dodge
Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites Series #5-10
A Short History of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson
The Story of My Life, by Farah Ahmedi
109 East Palace, Jennet Conant
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho
Around the World in Eighty Days, by Jules Verne
Black Beauty, by Anna Sewell