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!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Love Notes

Sometimes Jeff leaves notes for me on my laptop.

"If I had a nickel for every girl as good looking as you, I'd have 5 cents."

I know, it made me smile, too. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

General Conference In Person

I mentioned in my last post that the girls and I attended General Conference on Saturday, October 4. I'm so glad we went! We loved being there.

Below is a view of the Salt Lake Temple peeking through the trees as seen from our walk to the Conference Center.

Here is Savannah outside the Conference Center. I think she's super cute and already looks the part of a Sister Missionary!
I'm kicking myself for not getting pictures of Sadie or the rest of our group. We went with my brother, Rob and his adorable girlfriend, Jenny. We met up with one of my missionary companions, Karen Betten (a.k.a. Larsen) and another sister from my mission, Delisa. We laughed a lot and had a great time catching up! Savannah also met up with a friend. Our plan was to get pictures outside after the session ended, but somehow those plans fizzled and died. Rats.

Here's our view from inside the Conference Center as we waited for the General Authorities to take their seats and for the meeting to start.

As I've listened to the other sessions of this Conference, I've been so impressed by the timeliness of the messages. One of my favorites, Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence, by Elder Jörg Klebingat, is below. (To read it, click here.)

Elder Klebingat's message reminded me of a meeting I attended as a missionary in Scotland. Elder Kenneth Johnson, who was a member of the Seventy at the time, spoke to us. He said that number one on his list of virtues was to be able to stand with confidence in the presence of God. At any given moment, we should be able to ask ourselves, "Right now, could I stand with confidence in the presence of God?" If the answer is no, we need to repent and make the necessary changes.  I feel that Elder Klebingat went a step further and really narrowed down what keeps us from feeling that confidence and what we can do to feel it again. Good stuff!

Friday, October 10, 2014

General Conference: Missionary Medley

I've been trying to catch up on General Conference this week. The girls and I attended the first session on Saturday morning and it was awesome! We loved being in the Conference Center and hearing our prophet and other leaders speak. There were some amazing talks that really touched me and inspired me to be better. (One of my favorites from that session is found here.)

Today I listened to some of the Priesthood Session from Saturday evening. Again, some really great words of counsel. Each talk was specifically addressing the Priesthood holders in the church, but most of it can easily be applied to all members of the church. I know it gave me much food for thought.

One of my favorite parts of the Priesthood Session was a medley of missionary songs sung by a missionary choir. I love the arrangement, and I love seeing all those missionaries!

Wasn't that awesome? I love it! I can't wait to listen to the rest of Conference. :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Counting My Blessings

The girls and I had a great weekend! We traveled to Utah and loved every minute of it. (Well, except for the disappointing BYU game...but it was fun to just be there!) I'll post more about our trip later, but for now I just want to say how grateful I am that we made it home okay because we almost didn't...

On our way to the airport Sunday afternoon, we were in a car accident. We were going through an intersection on a green light and we plowed right into a truck that ran the red light.

It was terrifying! The scariest part for me was the thought I had after I realized I was going to be okay. 

My girls are in the backseat.

I turned around afraid to see what I would find. But in an instant, we were all asking each other, "Are you okay? I'm okay. Are you okay?" Then we all opened our doors (a miracle in itself that our doors could open on their own) and got out of the car. 

We're sore. We have some pretty impressive bruises. It hurts to breathe deeply, laugh, sneeze, or, heaven forbid, cough. (Ouch!!) We missed our flight. My brother's car is totaled. And somehow none of that stuff seems to matter much.

Since the accident, I've been a little nicer, less concerned with stuff, more grateful for the people in my life, and just overall aware of my many blessings. It may take a little while to work out all the aches and pains, but I'm okay. My brother is okay. My girls are okay. 

We're counting our blessings!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Before and After: The Boys' Room

I finished up the boys' room redecorating project at least 2 weeks ago, and I'm finally sitting down to show you. I love how it turned out - super simple, bright and calm. That was my goal from the start: Calm. I wanted a room they could walk into and feel at ease; one where they could relax and feel at peace at the end of the day.

Now when I show you the before pictures, don't judge. It was particularly messy on the day I took these before pictures because I knew I was going to be tearing the room apart so I hadn't been on the boys to keep it clean. Don't get me wrong, it was usually busy and dark and cramped which is why we wanted to give it a makeover, but it wasn't usually this messy. I mean, I usually require that their beds are made! :)


Spencer's corner.

Sterling and Soren's bunkbeds.

Sam's loft bed over the dresser (we'd already removed the mattress).


We got rid of all the beds, but kept the mattresses. We bought new beds with drawers. I love the look of the beds and I love that the boys have a place to put their stuff instead of on the floor. We painted the dark blue walls a soothing gray. I made them new comforters, adding a splash of color to each to personalize them a bit. We hung a mirror, clock, and pictures on the walls. The room is much simpler and yes, it is calm! I love it. The boys love it. Success!! :)

These are the two doorways that lead into the boys room and this dresser was beneath the loft bed.

One view of Spencer's corner.

Looking toward Spencer's corner from the head of Sterling's bed. One of the boxes at the end of Spencer's bed will hopefully be sorted through and gone soon.

Sterling's bed sits where the bunkbeds were originally. The magnetic strips under the windows might be used so I left them up.

Soren's bed is where the loft bed used to be. Ignore the upside down random family in the frames...
That's better. The final touch was to put the boys' pictures up.

Sweet dreams!