Saturday, November 22, 2014


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At first glance, doesn't this look like Africa? It does to me. I looked out my car window and did a double take. I could see a few cars driving down the road way off in the background, but they could have just as easily been gazelles or giraffes running across the savannah. This picture was actually taken as we were leaving the airport in Champaign, Illinois earlier today - a far cry from Africa, to be sure. 

It just so happens that I have an "Africa Fund" where I've been saving my pennies and dollars for about 2 years now. I'll get there someday. In the meantime, it was fun to get a little glimpse of what it might be like. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014


David Archuleta sings a song called "Glorious" in the movie, Meet the Mormons. They ran a little contest of sorts, inviting people to submit their own cover of the song for possible inclusion in a supercut video. Savannah submitted a video and, while she wasn't selected as one of the few for the supercut, I think her version is especially beautiful and I wanted to share. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Studio C - One of the Greats

This video from the most recent Studio C episode went from a little over 500,000 views around 5:30 this evening to over 900,000 only four hours later. Crazy! 

I seriously haven't heard Jeff laugh this hard in a long time. I think I laugh more at Jeff laughing than I do at the video - I guess people getting hit in the face just isn't my thing, but I once had a friend who would die of laughter whenever she saw someone fall down, so I get it. Anyway, a lot of people think this is quite brilliant so I thought I'd post it here for your viewing pleasure. 

Studio C is in its fifth season and I must admit it's a good one. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Another Teenager

I have a theory. I've decided that terrible toddlers grow up to be delightful teenagers and vice versa. So far my theory is holding true.

Meet Sterling, the terriblest toddler.

Yes, those are scissors in his hand...oh dear! It's a good thing he's cute. There were days, many days, when I didn't know if we'd survive Sterling's busy-ness. He was never malicious, but he had more energy than my oldest three put together. We literally had an alarm on our front door so we'd know when he escaped!

Fast forward a few years. 

This is the (adorable) face of one fantastic teenage boy. Yep, still cute! But now he's focused and driven. Sterling excels in school, he's a great friend, an amazing violinist and he has the craziest imagination! He even has perfect pitch. Oh, and he's super funny! He has the best sense of humor. Sterling is kind and he loves to please. He is very conscientious and has a strong sense of what is right. What more could you ask for? :) Sterling is the whole package. 

I'm so glad we survived Sterling and that he is starting out his teenage years as such a remarkable young man. 

Happy 13th Birthday, Sterling. I hope this is your best year so far!


Friday, November 7, 2014

Big Hero 6


We're not big moviegoers. We're usually content to wait for the DVD and then watch from the comfort of our living room.

But once in a while, we just can't wait. And once in a great while we can't even wait past opening night. (And when I say "we," I mean Soren. Soren has been anticipating the opening of Big Hero 6 since he saw the first trailer months ago.)

What we loved and learned:

  • You'll never think of fist bumps the same again. (ba-da-la-da-la)
  • Being a smart nerd is very cool. 
  • The trailers didn't give away too much. Plenty of surprises!
  • It didn't condone violence (though there are a few scary violent parts.)
  • Friends look out for each other.
  • Bad things happen when anger takes over.
  • Baymax is so lovable. 
  • Family is important.


    Five stars from us! 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


We've had one of the longest, most beautiful transformations to Fall. The trees changed color so gradually this year and it seem the leaves stayed on much longer than usual. Even just running errands or dropping the kids at school has been an opportunity to view the brilliant and changing display.

Fortunately, the leaves are not the only things changing around here.  

Illinois has been in trouble for a while. Wherever you happen to live, you've probably heard the dire reports about Illinois and the huge mess we're in. You probably know that our governors have a track record of going to prison after their tenure in office, but by then the damage has been done and we are left to deal with it.

I'm not a fan of Chicago. Simply looking at area, Illinois is overwhelmingly rural and conservative. Then there is Chicago. Sadly, Chicago ends up making all the big decisions and having the final say in elections simply because they are so big. Fortunately, this time they just weren't big enough. Or maybe it's just that Chicago is fed up with the way things have been going and they are ready for change, too.

I am hopeful that Illinois can change. The election of a new governor yesterday is a huge step in the right direction. The race was a nasty-name-calling-finger-pointing ordeal, but it's over.  I'll admit, I feel a little bit sorry for Bruce Rauner. I have a feeling that things might need to get worse before they can get better in order to clean up this mess, but I'm optimistic that things can improve. I look forward to many positive changes just ahead!

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Piano Guys

It's Halloween and October is coming to a close. It's been a great month with a lot of great memories, but I don't want the month to slip away without posting about one of our favorite evenings.

Way back last May, I bought my birthday present -- tickets for our family to see The Piano Guys on October 18 in St. Louis. Sadly, the date meant Sam wouldn't be joining us. (I was pretty sad about that, as was he, because he's one of their biggest fans!) I tucked the tickets away for 5 months and opened them on my birthday, October 8th. The kids were so excited!!

The two and a half hour drive was no match for our excitement to see our favorite group. The marquis outside of The Fox Theatre announced that the show was sold out!

They weren't kidding. Every seat in the house was filled.

You can tell by the above picture that we didn't have the best seats in the house. In fact, we may have had the worst seats in the house.... We were on the back two rows of the highest balcony. But, like I told the kids, we could either be in the same room as The Piano Guys, or we could be at home. We all agreed that it was much better to be in the same room, even if that meant the nose-bleed section! :) Fortunately, our seats were fine and the show was amazing. Some highlights of the evening included singing along to Love Story Meets Viva La Vida (we were singing along starting about the 3:40 mark), and I was thrilled when they played one of my favorites, Bourne Vivaldi.

I could go on and on about all the songs they played. The show was amazing from start to finish. Jon Schmidt and Steven Sharp Nelson are so funny together. They had us laughing throughout with their banter back and forth. Their music was flawless and the audience was completely engaged. We gave them a well-deserved standing ovation at the end, so they came back and played another song. Then we gave another ovation and didn't stop clapping until they came back on stage again. That's when they brought on the other two guys on their team (Paul Anderson and Al Van der Beek) and they played the crowd favorite, What Makes You Beautiful. Oh, it was so cool!!!

We've been fans of The Piano Guys from the start. What a treat it was to see them in concert. Hopefully someday we can do it again!
Some happy faces just waiting for the show to start

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Keeping Others Warm

When Jeff and I were cleaning out the upstairs during our remodeling project a couple of months ago, we realized we had way more blankets than we will ever be able to use. Jeff knows someone who works at the local women's shelter so he asked her if they might have a need for blankets. She said that, in fact, they happen to be low on blankets right now and could really use more. Jeff asked her how many they need -- and would it be okay if we asked around at church to possibly gather more than we had on hand? She said they would use whatever we could give.

A little over two weeks later, after an overwhelming response from our church friends, we made a donation of almost 50 blankets.

It warmed me right up! :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

Costumes in a Pinch

Last minute costumes are the best! I love what my kids come up with on the spot. It's not like Halloween sneaks up on me, but it's not my favorite holiday so I just kind of ignore it until I can't ignore it any longer. Sterling plays violin in the University Orchestra and they all dress up for the Halloween concert. Soren and Sterling also sang in the concert with their school choirs. And Sadie dressed up so she could be part of the costume parade. Take a look at what we were able to pull together within a couple of hours of the show --

Oh my, this is the cutest Grandma ever!

Her big bottom (pillow) cracks me up!

Soren is the scientist whose experiment literally blew up in his face!

Sterling is a Jedi. Surprise, surprise. :) He did a great job pulling this costume together by himself.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Utah Stuff

I just realized I never finished posting about our girls' trip to Utah. It would have helped if I took more pictures, but we were too busy shopping and hanging out with family to worry much about the camera!

On our way out, the girls and I dressed pretty casual for our long day of travel. I laughed when my brother, Rob, picked us up and the airport and he and I were wearing the same shirt. Definitely related with our weird sense of humor. :)

Probably the most frustrating part of our trip was the BYU game. We were supposed to win! BYU was favored and we started off with a bang, but then our Heisman-worthy quarterback, Taysom Hill, received season ending injuries. The game was pretty pathetic after that. Sadie fell asleep on my lap somewhere near the end of the 2nd quarter and slept until we left during the 4th. I would have preferred to sleep through that game, too, but it was fun to be there in a sold out stadium and cheer for my team. Go Cougars! Maybe next season...

I wish I'd thought to get a picture of a quick pre-game reunion under the stadium with a friend from our Columbus, Ohio days. So great to see my friend, Jennifer. A lot has happened in the 14+ years since we both left Columbus, but she and I can always pick up where we left off. :)

The girls and I were pretty excited before the game started. (We didn't look so happy at the end.)

Arguably, one of the best parts of our trip was meeting baby Lane. My younger sister, Amy, had her fourth child and first boy just a couple of weeks before our trip. The girls were so excited to meet and hold their newest cousin. Usually new babies in the family are months old before we ever get to meet them so it was a treat to cuddle newborn Lane.

Isn't he the cutest? We couldn't get enough.

I wish I had pictures of the family gathering on Saturday night. The girls had so much fun with their cousins. It was fun to catch up with my siblings and their families. I wish you could have been there to see Savannah at the piano playing every song in the "Frozen" songbook with 6-year old Makenna sitting next to her on the bench singing her little heart out.

Here's a video of them together. The picture quality is the pits, but the sound makes it worth watching. :)

I wish I had pictures of Savannah saying goodbye to her cousin, Jake, knowing that she might not see him again for 3 1/2 years. Actually, that picture might break your heart so maybe it's a good thing I didn't take one. Jake left this week to serve a mission in Puerto Rico for the next two years. It's possible Savannah could be on a mission herself by the time he gets home.

We made some great memories!