Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored.  There are games to be won.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Toes in the Sand

The beach beckoned us this summer -- and we answered!  Our little foursome met up with a group neighbor families for a sandy, sunny week at Newport Beach.  We shared a condo with two other young, superfun families, seven kidlets under five years old in a four bedroom space!  The tiny cast:  


I was presented with a four-pak of Sprinkles cupcakes on the beach from some favorite ward members the morning of my birthday.  Could it get better?!  It did!  Our little gang traipsed to The Crab Cooker for a celebratory meal.  Then, we stroller derbied to Seaside Donuts for chocolate with sprinkles (I think we actually did this every day of the trip).  Awesome! 

Most days, we just headed to the sand and stayed there.  Sophie logged the most hours on the beach by far -- whenever anyone in our group headed back for a nap or food or anything, she chose to stay by the water.  The first moment we hit the sand, our genius friend Matt started digging an intricate system of tunnels, which was the key to a successful week -- the kids loved digging and filling with sand, plus the tunnels were deep enough to corral the little ones.  Then, it was all PLAY!

Our cute neighbor, Annie
When we weren't on the beach, here's how we kept entertained:

  • attended church with our dear friends, the Nelsons, where Andrew serves as Bishop.  They so graciously had us over for dinner and catching up after.
  • hit the Rainbow sandals outlet in San Clemente.
  • after the kids pooped out (thank heavens we traveled with other early-bedtimers), the grownups stayed up superlate playing Scum overandoverandover.  We were also joined by our babysitter and YW, Devin, who was staying a few doors down.
  • the guys went golfing.
  • one night, the grownups got a sitter and went out for fresh sushi and a stroll on the pier.
  • the dads created a fort in the living room.  

One day, we broke off from the crowd and hitched up the tandem and trailer to the bikes for a family ride across the ferry to Balboa Island, where we window shopped and devoured the awesomest (yeah, it is a word) chocolate covered Balboa Bars and bananas.  Also hit the carnival rides at the pier.

General consensus: SO glad we did it!  A week of lasting memories, and more than a few pics for my girls' wedding flashback video!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Where We've Gone

Eeeks!  Where has the summer gone?!  I dunno, but I do know where we have gone: the cabin.  Because we take off many weekends, this means we don't get as much blogging done or other family members visited or chores accomplished, but knowing how genuinely happy my little family is in this special place makes it difficult to drag them anywhere else but our paradise.  Still, by summer's end, I'm exhausted!

The girls have loved riding the tube behind the boat.  Only minor hesitations about speed occasionally.  One weekend, we tie dyed t-shirts on the back lawn -- the girls were proud of the results (note: will never tye-die without squirt bottles again; it was so much tidier than dipping in buckets like Girl Scout Camp circa 1988).

We were around when Dutch John hosted their Independence Day festivities, with a pancake breakfast (Mister and I rode our bikes there!) and wagon rides and a petting zoo.  We staked a spot for fireworks early, and Mister entertained the littles with toddler-appropriate card games and bubbles.  In real small town style, there were mule rides instead of ponies, Millie's first ride in a saddle.  While on the subject, Sophie has gone to visit the horses at Red Canyon a few times this summer, made friends with sweet Wayne the One-Toothed Cowboy, and rode on the trail on the requested paint horse.



This last pic isn't our kid, obviously.  He belongs to Michael's sister.  I just couldn't pass up documenting the bed + boat hair.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five Were Wise

Five of Them Were Wise by Walter Rane
While Sophie attended a summer program at Ballet West Academy, I found myself downtown one Monday with a solitary hour.  I almost just sat there in my car and waited, maybe read the news on my smartphone or called a friend to catch up.  Instead, I wiggled a couple blocks north of Capitol Theater to the LDS Conference Center and joined up on a tour of the building.  I've been in the building many times, and I go specifically for the artwork -- all original, varied, inspiring works.  This time, I was drawn to "Five of Them Were Wise" by Walter Rane, with the accompanying description:  

The Parable of the Ten Virgins is about those who have already accepted the invitation to follow the bridegroom -- Christ.  To have accepted the invitation is not enough; they must be in a constant state of preparation and readiness.  Walter Rane has painted a classic representation of the substance of the scriptural passage. (Matthew 25)

It reminded me of this piece by one of my favorite artists, J. Kirk Richards:

The Five Prepared by J. Kirk Richards

I hadn't read this story in some time, so I used the paintings as a springboard for my next Sunday scripture study.  This story, and its message of ever-readiness, is sometimes overwhelming to me, because I don't know which five I'd end up with.  I don't know that I'll ever feel my lamp is full.  I'm always trying, wondering if the little I can do won't add up to complete.  In my car accident, one thought in my mind was "There's still more I must do!"  This nugget from Spencer W. Kimball helped put the story into perspective for me:

“Attendance at sacrament meetings adds oil to our lamps, drop by drop over the years. Fasting, family prayer, home teaching, control of bodily appetites, preaching the gospel, studying the scriptures—each act of dedication and obedience is a drop added to our store. Deeds of kindness, payment of offerings and tithes, chaste thoughts and actions, marriage in the covenant for eternity—these, too, contribute importantly to the oil with which we can at midnight refuel our exhausted lamps.”  President Spencer W. Kimball

And so I'll continue -- drop by drop.