Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Life in the Car

When I was a teenager, my family took a vacation to Sea World.   
Since I was in the self-obsessed, world revolves around me 
stage of life, I don't remember very much of that trip. 
remember my brother and sister getting splashed at the whale 
show.  I remember wearing my brand new letterman jacket 
around and that's about it. However, my most vivid memory of 
that trip was watching a Chinese performing troop do a "plate
spinning" act.  I was astounded as the two performers ran from 
one end of a long stage to the other, keeping the dishes moving, 
sometimes catching one seconds before it began the dangerous 
wobble and crash.  At the time, this was somehow entertaining 
to me, but now that vivid memory feels only too real.  I am in 
the plate-spinning phase of my life.  Mostly this is a peril of my
own creation...I over commit myself and my children; I choose 
to send my children to schools outside our boundaries; I 
purposely chose to have 4 children in 9 years; I say yes when I 
should say no.  Every week feels like a race to just get through 
this "crazy week" in the hopes that next week will be better, 
but of course every week is just as crazy as the one that 
preceded it.  Some days I handle it without pause, and others I 
am hanging on by a thread.  Every once in a while I get a 
glimpse of perspective.  In a few short years, the number of 
plates in the air are going to be sadly fewer as kids grow up, 
grow independent and leave home.  I remember the years 
when I was hostage to preschoolers and nap times and car 
seats and potty training and 10,000 readings of "No, David!"  
And then suddenly, I came through that tunnel and discovered 
I missed those little 3-year-old terrorists.   I know at some stage
that is closer than it feels, I will miss this busy time as well.  
So for posterity's sake, I decided to write down what I did today 
as a fairly typical example of my days so that I can look back 
someday with a mixture of regret and relief.

7:00 am: Get everyone up and out of bed

7:00-7:55 am: Get everyone breakfast, correct Anna's Math 
homework, go through the missed problems with her and help 
her fix them.  Family prayer, say goodbye to Zachary when his

ride arrives, say goodbye to Cory.  Make sure everyone else is 
dressed, has their backpacks and lunches loaded, their hair 
brushed, and is in the car.

7:55-8:15 am: Pick up car pool; drop everyone off at school.

8:15-9:45 am: Gym! 

9:45-10:30 am: Shower, dress, get ready for the day

10:30am-12:30 pm: Color, cut, and design a door decoration for 
5th Grade teacher--teacher appreciation week starts Monday, 
doors need to be decorated on Friday.  Get online to purchase 
and print out a fishing license for Noah.

12:30-12:35 pm: Eat lunch

12:35-1:10 pm: Go to school, assemble door decoration and put 
up on classroom door.

1:10-1:30 pm: Drive elementary kids home from school--early 
release on Fridays.

1:30-3:15 pm: Make jam (strawberries are starting to mold), 
put away laundry that was washed Monday and has been sitting 
in a basket ever since, clean kitchen

3:15-3:25 pm: Help Anna find shoes and piano books for piano 

3:25-3:30 pm: Drop Anna off at piano

3:30-3:55 pm: Run to grocery store to pick up food for weekend 
Scout campout.  Also grab a movie from Redbox to watch with 
Anna and Isaac while Dad and the older boys are


3:55-4:25 pm: Help Noah get packed and loaded for campout.

4:25-4:36 pm: Pick up Anna from piano...they're running late.

4:36-4:40 pm: Run back home to get the fishing license Noah 
forgot to pack with his stuff.

4:40-4:55 pm: Drop Noah off at church with other scouts.

4:55-5:00 pm: Get Anna changed for tumbling, get Isaac ready 
for lacrosse practice.

5:00-5:10 pm: Drive over to pick up neighbor for lacrosse 

5:10-5:22 pm: Knock, ring doorbell, call, track down Mom of 
friend, wait, and eventually give up on friend coming to 
lacrosse practice.

5:22-5:33 pm: Drop Anna off at tumbling.

5:33-5:46 pm: Drop Isaac off at lacrosse.

5:46-6:03 pm: Drive back to tumbling.

6:03-6:35 pm: Sit in car waiting for tumbling to end; type half 
of this blog post on IPad.

6:35-6:51 pm: Drive back to lacrosse.

6:51-7:10 pm: Wait for practice to finish, continue typing.

7:10-7:25 pm: Drive home.  Call my dad to wish him a happy 
64th birthday.

7:25-7:45 pm: Feed Anna and Isaac highly nutritious dinner: 
donuts and milk.

7:45-9:00 pm: Watch "Frankenweenie" with kids while folding 
rest of laundry.

9:00 pm: Family prayer, Send kids to bed, finish post, crash.  
Read? Watch TV?

Thankfully since Cory was going on the campout  I didn't have 
to find a way to pick Zachary up from baseball practice at 6:00.  
 I have to laugh whenever someone calls me a "stay home Mom."  
 Still, I am grateful for this time of life despite the frenetic pace 
and I'm grateful that I have a partner to help a little with those 
spinning plates.  We only break a few now and then.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Then Sings My Soul

I'm back but I make no promises to stay on top of the blog.  I found myself
busy and stressed and began avoiding not only writing in my own blog but 
avoiding reading anyone's blog.  There was too much guilt associated with it 
so I took a step back and decided to come back to it when it didn't cause a 
wrenching sensation in my stomach.

Earlier this spring a friend of mine sent me an email about auditions for a 
choir she is part of led by Barlow Bradford--The Utah Chamber Artists.  She 
has talked to me about this choir before and although it sounded great I never
felt like I was in a place to take on a commitment like an audition choir.  
However, having been released as YW President I decided that I might now 
have the time to try it out.  I got audition information and emailed the choir 
president to set up a time.

I then spent a few weeks pulling out my old classical repertoire and choosing 
and rehearsing a piece.  It was wonderful to sing in Italian again! 

My audition date came quickly and I found myself driving to Kaysville on a 
Monday afternoon, arriving way too early in my worry to avoid rush hour 
traffic.  The audition was in the home of Barlow Bradford...the former 
associate director for The Mormon Tabernacle Choir...check out any MoTab 
CD's you own and odds are you will find some Barlow Bradford 
arrangements.  I came in and met him and the choir president and filled out 
a choir experience resume.  Resume?!  This was intimidating since really the 
only choir experience I have had since high school are in ward choirs, stake 
choirs, and other special church choirs.  To up the intimidation factor, the 
two men chatted about the vintage organ one of them is restoring in his 

Then it was time to sing.  I handed my music to Barlow who can sight read 
anything perfectly and started to sing.  Or tried to...I actually started out 
sounding more like an adolescent boy screeching into his changing voice.  
I stopped and asked to begin again.  This time it went better but I was still a 
bundle of nerves and felt sure the first impression had done me in.  Barlow 
was kind in a "don't call us we'll call you" kind of way.  He had me do a few 
vocal exercises, asked me to give him a little more volume on one section of 
the song again, and overall was nice but non-committal.  He complimented 
my pitch, tone, and musicality but made it clear that my talent was raw and 
undeveloped.  He did not have me sight-read anything as I had been told I 
would be asked to do as part of the audition.  I got it...why waste anymore of 
his time when he had other people waiting to audition...singers with vast
experience and probably a resume complete with head shot.   I thanked him, 
walked out and drove the hour back to Draper. 

Overall I decided it had been a positive experience.  It had been a joy to sing 
"secular" music again and had been a life experience that was valuable.  It 
was intimidating but also incredible to meet a musician I have admired for 
years.  It made me decide that I should look into other community choirs in 
the area with more amateur needs.  It really was great to sing again.

Weeks passed and I forgot about my had been self-evident as I 
walked away that I had not made it.  And then I was sitting in church in 
southern Utah with my in-laws waiting for Sacrament Meeting to start.  I was 
expecting an email about Youth Conference details I was planning so pulled 
out my inbox and discovered an email from a name I did not recognize.   I 
opened it and was stunned to discover it was from Jared Gunnerson, UCA 
choir president inviting me to join the Utah Chamber Artists when they began 
rehearsing again in August!  I was so shocked I said out loud "I made it into 
that choir!"  Anna has always been very empathetic and something about how 
or what I said made her jump up out of her seat, run over and give me an 
excited hug.  

After a busy and wonderful summer, I found myself at my first rehearsal at 
the University of Utah sitting in a real recital hall once again.  It was 
overwhelming and stunning to sight sing through a challenging repertoire of 
fall recital music with 39 other talented musicians.  We didn't spend one 
second of rehearsal time playing parts or talking about vowel sounds...we 
worked on expression and color and making music.  The 3 hour rehearsal 
sped by too quickly and invigorated me.  Every song was my favorite.  I felt 
so honored and blessed to be in that alto section.

The way rehearsals work for this choir fits into my life so well.  We have 4 
concerts a year so we rehearse twice a week (Sunday nights and Thursday 
nights) for about a month until each concert.  Then we take a month off.  
There is a nice long summer vacation as well.  It is perfect for me and makes 
it possible to feel like I'm doing something remarkable for myself without 
burdening my family too much.   In addition to our planned concert in 
September, we were invited to do an hour long live concert on KBYU radio  
that was broadcast nationally.  Very cool to listen to yourself on the radio!  
And most exciting of all, the choir is preparing to go on tour to Germany, 
Austria, and Czech Republic in June 2014!  Cory has already committed to 
come with me and we have started making payments for travel expenses.  
We will be able to sing music in Europe in some of the very places it 
was composed.

Our first concert was 2 weeks ago.  We performed at the Cathedral of the 
Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake.  The venue is stunning in its own right.  
The stained glass, sculpture and art are spectacular.  The acoustics of the 
vaulted ceilings are astounding. The guest musicians were "The Fry String 
Quartet"--an Internationally acclaimed group.  As part of the concert, each 
piece is performed in a different part of the cathedral.  There is a lighting 
designer who essentially "choreographs"lighting to enhance the music.  
There is no applause until the very end of each half so the music moves 
seamlessly along.  You never know where the next sounds will come from.  
As choir members we had to wear slippers to make our movement around 
the building silent.  We sang around the font, on the front marble, behind 
the bishop's screen, around the piano and the corner pews.  There was in 
addition to our songs and the quartet, a full string orchestra, a harp and 
flute duet, and a solo vocalist.  The theme of the concert was "Light and 
Shadow" and the selections reflected the lighter and darker sides of music.  
I found myself almost moved to tears as I could see my own awe reflected 
on the faces of the audience.  Even my children loved hour and a half 
of sublime music.  When we finished I felt a sense of regret that I had never 
known about this annual concert.  I would have come to listen every year we
 have lived here if I had only known.

I still feel a little out of my league as I look forward to my month off.  I 
assure you I don't say that lightly or in any way to be self-effacing.  To be 
among singers of this caliber is humbling to say the least.  Although our time 
off  is definitely a needed break, at the same time I will be missing my weekly
lift.  I can't wait to be in the choir seats again.

Our final song was an arrangement done by Barlow Bradford, "For the Music 
of Creation."  It is sung to the same tune as "Come Thou Fount of Every 
Blessing" but with a different text that Barlow discovered.  It's a testimony
and prayer of gratitude for the gift of music.

For the music of creation,
For the song your Spirit sings,
For your sound's divine expression,
Burst of joy in living things:
God, our God, the world's composer,
Hear us echoes of Thy voice.
Music is your art, your glory;
Let the human heart rejoice!
Psalms and symphonies exalt you,
drum and trumpet, string and reed.
Simple melodies acclaim you,
tunes that rise from deepest need,
hymns of longing and belonging,
carols from a cheerful throat,
lilt of lullaby and love song
catching heaven in a note.
All the voices of the ages
in transcendent chorus meet,
worship lifting up the senses,
hands that praise and dancing feet;
over discord and division
music speaks your joy and peace,
harmony of earth and heaven,
song of God that cannot cease!
      Shirley Erena Murry

Friday, December 9, 2011

Photo Catch Up

I keep waiting to get Cory's pictures so that I can post the events of the last few months, but it's not happening, so I will at least post the pictures that I have and try to download his eventually. Maybe when my kids have all graduated from college.

Cory turned 38! on October 15th this year, but unfortunately was out of town on a Partnership retreat and had to celebrate with us late this year.

In October, I took the kids to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Panguitch during their Fall Break. We hiked in Bryce Canyon and Anna turned out to be an enthusiastic hiker! No one was more surprised by this turn of events than Anna.

For Halloween this year, Anna wore an adorable Rapunzel costume made by Grandma Talbot. The frying pan was a hit on the trick or treat route, although we were careful not to let her actually hit anyone with it.

Isaac was a dementor from Harry Potter. He has been obsessed with the series over the last few months and is finishing the last book right now.

Noah had the coolest idea for a costume this year...he went as Chuck Norris! Chuck Norris jokes are all the rage right now, so I thought this was clever.

Zachary stayed home and gave out candy, but he did help us carve our jack-o-lanterns!

In November, Noah turned 12! He got to go on a special trip with Dad to Sea World where they took lots of pictures and had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures to show you here.

A week later Cory had surgery to repair his achilles tendon. Again, we have some cool pictures on Cory's phone, but maybe it's better for the squeamish if I don't post them on my blog.

We hosted Cory's parents, sister, and a friend for Thanksgiving. I made 10 pies! (2 chocolate cream, banana cream, coconut cream, mixed berry, blackberry sour cream, crumb-top apple, pumpkin, sweet potato, and lemon meringe) I'm pretty sure we will not have that many pies ever again.
Our other big family news is that on the day before his surgery, Cory was called to serve as the 1st Counselor in our Bishopric. This will mean some big changes for our family...and hopefully some blessings too.

Anna is once again participating in the Children's Nutcracker this weekend. This year she is in 2 dances...she's a soldier and a Chinese dancer.

We are looking forward to the holiday here, and enjoying the time we have to spend together!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cathartic Journaling

Back in the way long ago of my intention to write more consistently in my blog, I talked about an essay about journal writing. It was a really fun discussion about different styles and forms of writing, written by a Louise Plummer for a class she was teaching about different methods of expressing yourself in your journal to make it more interesting to read. I think it's time to investigate suggestion number two...cathartic writing.

Cathartic writing is basically a form of venting on paper. It's blowing off steam or exposing your frustration or challenges in an unapologetic way.

Boy would that make a blog more interesting to read.

Maybe a little too interesting

Here goes...

I have had it with the geniuses who peddle junk to my kids in the checkout line of every grocery store in America! Who thought it would be a good idea to put candy at eye level with toddlers? I want to take that Market Research moron on a shopping trip with me someday. He can push the cart and try to keep track of my wandering, bickering, complaining children while narrowing down the best deals on chicken thighs, enchilada sauce, and fabric softener. Then he can escort one of those kids to the bathroom because they have to go RIGHT NOW and come back to find that a well-meaning employee has now put away all the items you painstakingly had placed in your cart before the unscheduled break. Then he can find a way to satisfy the tastes of 4 different children as you make your cereal selection. While he stands in an endless line of carts waiting for a turn to explain the different headlines your curious 1st grader is asking about from the cover of this month's "Cosmo," I think I will sit and watch while I luxuriously drink a carbonated beverage. I will play a game where I tally the number of times he has tell one of my children "No, you can't buy that!" The final count will be the number of times he will be required to now load all the groceries into my car, and unload and put them away at my house.

There, that feels better.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What I did last summer

Summer oh summer where have you gone?
The shorts and the flip-flops we no more can don.
With events crowded in from beginning to end,
It seemed you flew by my old fair-weathered friend.

In June I spent two weeks driving down to the Y
For Zachary's math camp, where he learned about pi...
And bubbles and code-breaking, and his Rubik's cube,
Welcome alternative to surfing You-tube.

There were things going on with the rest of my crew...
Cub Camp, ballet, name just a few.
And Zachary enjoyed Provo and campus a lot,
So he tried EFY and was spiritually taught.

The first week of July I was in charge of Girls' Camp.
Which meant giggling and staying up late with a lamp.
We went for an imaginary trip on a boat,
And came back with testimonies, crafts, and good quotes.

Just in time to get ready for Pioneer Trek,
Where "Pa" Cory prevented a tragic cart wreck.
From rugged Rocky Ridge to quiet Martin's Cove,
The lessons we learned are worth a true treasure trove.

Back home we were busy with more summer fun.
Camp-outs, river rafting, shooting a gun.
Even Anna got into the firearm drama,
Shooting targets, (or trying to) with Grandpa and Grandma.


I made a dash South with some girls from my book group,
To catch "The Bard's" plays performed by an acting troupe.
Although Richard III was my favorite play yet,
I also truly enjoyed Romeo and Juliet.

We snuck in a quick Frey Family retreat.
To see cousins play nicely together was sweet.
We did Tahoe, water slides, and a 3-legged race,
Not to mention smashing an egg on my face.

Now we're well on our way into a new school year.
My head's filled up with schedules and plans ear to ear.
I've neglected my blog in a scandalous way,
But my life is so full with both work and with play.

There you are dear sister...I hope this satisfies the requirement.

Monday, August 1, 2011


I recently read a collection of essays by writer Louise Plummer, titled "Thoughts of a Grasshopper." They are delightful...funny, uplifting...a boost of positive thought and energy. One of the essays is a talk she once gave about writing journals. She talked about a number of different approaches to use in journal writing. I was completely motivated and decided I will try to implement some of her ideas on my blog, starting today.

Her first style of journaling was "description." This is my typical writing style...I describe a vacation, a day, a life experience. She recommended describing the types of things your posterity would love to know about you someday.

Here goes...

My first memory:

We have been at an evening swimming party. I remember Mom and Dad and older sister Larissa there, but not my baby brother who I assume would have been around somewhere. I have spent most of the evening sitting on the very top step of what I remember being the pool of someone from church. I am timidly splashing the couple of inches of depth. Every once in a while, Dad carries me out into the bigger, deeper areas of the pool and I am equally parts thrilled and terrified. My more adventurous sister seems to be everywhere at once. Eventually the party winds down and I am fascinated watching a rolling, tarp-like cover stretch out across all that blue. Mom has dressed me in a green jumper with enormous pockets and is now distracted...I think with a barbecue or one of my siblings. I stand at the edge of the covered pool as my curiosity flows. Finally, I leap into the air and land on the pool cover only to discover I am sinking. I don't have enough time to feel any fear because in a matter of seconds, someone pulls me out and I have only had time enough to wet the pants of the green jumper. I am in the bathroom with my mom who is soothing and drying me simultaneously.

This memory is so vivid in my mind, but I still am not one hundred percent it really happened or was just a dream. I have asked my parents about it, and they say it sounds vaguely familiar, but can't fully corroborate. If my facts are right, I would have been 3 years old at the time...the memory is so full of clear detail that I think it must have really happened.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pioneer Teenagers Sang? As They Walked

I'm back, but only briefly...I'm gearing up for Trek next week where, with the help of my husband, "Pa," I will shepherd my family of youth across the plains and ridges of Wyoming. I think it will be fun. This is one of those youth activities that falls perfectly within my mantra, "I can do hard things."

Here's our Pioneer Trek experience by the numbers:

8: The number of youth ages 14-18 who make up our "family"...3 boys, 5 girls.
11: The number of buckets that will be loaded into the handcart that we'll work together pushing and pulling along the National Historic trail, Rocky Ridge, and Rock Creek Hollow.
36: The number of miles we'll cover on foot in 3 days.
98: The number of pages in the notebook/guide/journal given to all 400 participants of the if nothing else, we're covered for toilet paper and firewood.
6: The number of times I have run to Wal-Mart this week to "pick up a couple more things for Trek" even though I was officially packed last Saturday.
52: The number of neck coolers I have sewn this week only to find out that the forecast for next week is predicting cool temperatures.
15: The number of pioneer skirts I have made or helped make in the past month.
1000: Roughly the number of dollars I have spent outfitting Zachary, Cory, myself, and my Ma and Pa bucket for this event.
12: The number of months our stake has been having planning meetings to prepare for our 3 day excursion.
3: The number of weeks the real Martin and Willie handcart companies spent preparing for their 1300 mile journey...including building many of their handcarts.
11: The number of first aid kits within a 3 foot radius that will be available at any given time.
5 1/2: The number of hours we will be traveling on buses next Tuesday beginning at 5 a.m.
11: The number of catered meals we will be enjoying during our week...just like the real pioneers. (Are we talking about a re-creation of the experience or recreation? hmmmm...)
6: The number of miles Cory says it will take to walk the "whine" out of our teenagers.
20: The number of times I will laugh at Cory during the Wednesday night "hoedown."
9: The average number of hours we will be walking day 2 and day 3.
6289: The number of times we will have to answer the question "How much farther?"
1500: The number of pages of preparation reading we were assigned.
1100: The number of pages I actually read. (Hey...I still have 4 days!)

So why do we do this all? Why do we spend a vast amount of money, time, stress, and volunteer hours to pull this off?

200: The number of lives sacrificed in the Willie and Martin handcart companies so that a posterity could enjoy the blessings of worship free from persecution. We're here because they believed.