Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Stationery card

Our Family Name Christmas Card
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

to be or not to be...

When I was about twelve years old,  my family was vacationing in St. George.  We stayed at a condominium that had a "miniature" tennis court.  It was not regulation size, but had all the vital components...a court, a net, haughtiness and an enclosure.  For some reason, the small sized court worked in my favor, and on that balmy, clear night in Southern Utah, I beat my older sister, Lori, in a tennis match.  I wasn't even wearing one of those cute, little mini skirt.  I beat her without any semblance of a "serve".  I beat my sister!  I won!  Lori was four years older than me and, at least, the third or fourth string singles player on Provo High School's tennis team.  The fact that all her hits whizzed expertly by me and bounced just outside of the undersized court had no bearing on the outcome.  Oh no!  I was unstoppable, a veritable force in the world of tennis.  It was a sobering reminder of my missed destiny.  At twelve, I knew it was too late for me to be developed into the prodigy I should have been groomed to be.  After all, Monica Seles had already won the French Open at age 16!  I would never catch up at this point.

For years, I quietly blamed my parents for not recognizing my tennis prowess, and hiring a Yugoslavian coach to verbally abuse/groom me into the Olympian I knew was hiding inside.  They did the best they could, I would remind myself.  My parents did sign me up for tennis lessons one summer.  I could engage in quite a long rally with a boy my age, who was the star of the class, Chad Wright.  I was good...ish.   But I quit tennis when I found out a certain, not to be named boy, (Colby Stead) had only invited me to play doubles with him because he was hoping to see a little preteen booby bouncing.  Seriously, this happened.  It still creeps me out, Colby.

Anyway, back to my point.  How do parents do it?  How do they begin to know how to navigate the crazy amount of hobbies, sports, musical instruments and activities their kids can be learning and developing into talents?

A friend, just a week ago, told me that Jacob seemed to have some great wrestling moves when playing with her son and that I should think about signing him up for wrestling.  Wrestling!  As in...wrestling on a mat wearing those weird, low cut, men's swimsuits?  You might as well ask me to sign him up for clogging.  I just never thought about wrestling, other than not wanting to mess up his perfect ears.  I don't want to push my kids toward sports, because that's what I tend to enjoy, when there is a whole, huge world of stuff out there I know nothing or very little about.  And music, that overwhelms me.  Jacob wants to learn how to play the piano, the drums and the guitar.  He is seven and already too busy.  Where should I start?  I worry that cute, teenage boys who can play the drums will get a lot of attention from the girls, and maybe want to be in a band...and play gigs....with hooligans.  Piano, let's do piano.

And then there is my little Eddie, who enjoys playing sports but athletics don't seem to come as easily to him as my other kids.  I don't ever want him to feel inferior.  Eddie, at the age of four, once watched an entire Men's Figure Skating routine and then enthusiastically told me "Sign me up for THAT!"  Well, I still haven't signed him up for that.  There is no ice skating rink in this county, or the next.  And I worry because he already falls SO violently and SO often while walking.  I hope I'm not depriving him of something he would love.

What if Michael Phelps mom had screwed that up?  What if she never realized her sons' body was made specifically to swim freakishly fast and dolphin-like in an Olympic sized pool?  What if she thought her sweet, little Mikey's gangly body would be best suited for basketball?  Or what if, in his youth, she lazily thought it would be easier to buy a trampoline than drive him to swimming twice a week and deal with all that sunscreen and laundry.  Honestly, did she luck out in directing her son towards his destiny, did God step in and push her in the right direction?  I want to know, because I am a little worried I will screw this up.

My three year old daughter is at the age when dancing seems like a fun activity.  I would love to watch Saren dance, I think she would enjoy it and be great.  But I cringe to put her on a path that might lead to her eventually booty shaking to nasty rap lyrics during high school pep rallies.  I just don't think I could watch that, because I'm a prude when it comes to my daughter!  And I refuse to put make up on her beautiful face for SEVERAL more years.  Sports, yes...sports it is.  I think I might worry too much.

Today, Jacob told me he wants to have two jobs when he grows up.  He wants to be  a policeman AND a fireman.  I guess sports are a good start down that career path for now.  Eddie still wants to be a ninja.  I hope he can make that into a career.  Maybe we should look into karate lessons.

To Deborah Phelps and Pattie Bieber, I say "Bravo!".  In the meantime, I'm hoping my children will figure out what they love to do and want to do, because it beats me.  I would love to see my kids enjoying any path in life, creative or athletic, dramatic or analytical...I just want them to find their niche and be happy.   I guess I have been able to do that, tennis dreams squashed and all...so I'm sure my kids will find their way too.  At least that's what I will keep telling myself.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

WARNING! Cuteness overload...

 We have some kittens in our home!  Our sweet, gentle, good natured and slightly loose kitty, originally named "Jacob's Hair" and now known as "Hermione", got knocked up and had herself some babies.   The kitties are all healthy and adorable and really
good with people and ready for new homes in the next week or two, says Dr. Thayne.  You can have one at the bargain price of only $100.00 per kitten!!!
Ok, they are free to good homes, but don't you feel like you are getting a good deal now!  Come visit if you want to see them in person.  Please!   Jacob thinks we are keeping all FIVE and he cries every time I mention them moving away from home, but I'm pretty sure there is a county ordinance or two about cat farms.

Look at that face!

Jacob has already named all five kittens...you can change the name if you want to take one home.  Jacob, very politically correctly, named them....are you ready?  Blacky, Whitey, Tiger, Popcorn and Spot.  You can probably figure out which one is which.  There are 2 boys and 3 girls.

As far as the kittens mom, Hermione, is concerned, she is the BEST cat ever.  She followed us home from church one week as a kitten and we have had her ever since.  She is really patient with kids.  She is sweet and affectionate but not annoying or clingy.  She is a great mouser!  I've seen her catch lots of mice outside but she NEVER brings them to the porch as "gifts".  You can't teach that people...you have to inherit that kind of awesomeness.  Hermione also has a college education, is musically inclined and an amazing athlete.  She is a gem.

We don't know much about the kittens Dad, but we are pretty sure he is super good looking and came into town for the rodeo.  Sigh...cowboys!  Call or stop by if you are NEED to see one of these cuties.

Friday, January 13, 2012

happy birthdays...

Da na na na na na, you say it's your birthday!
Da na na na na na, it's my birthday too yeah!


It's that time of year in my house.  It's insanity, but we survived.

Jacob is SEVEN...

Saren is THREE...

I am (gulp) THIRTY-SIX...

 and Eddie is now FIVE...

In all the birthday preparation this year I discovered pre-packaged fondant, which allows even a hack like myself, to make some pretty cute cakes.  This was a good thing as my kids were pretty specific about what kind of cake they had in mind.

Jacob wanted a Gryffindor Harry Potter cake.  I stole the idea from this lady.

Saren wanted a "Jack Sparrow" cake.  On a side note, I am hoping her obsession with grungy, disheveled, non-conformist men ends before her dating years.  Anyway, I managed to talk her into pirate cupcakes...and ended up with these.  She was happy.

And Saren is the type you don't want to disappoint...or you get this look.

Eddie, was inspired when he saw a cake my cute cousin Lindsey posted on Facebook.  He was not going to settle for anything but an equally cool,  Angry Birds cake.  I'm not sure if I achieved one as professional as Lindsey's, but this is what I came up with. 

I kept having to make more birds, because Eddie wanted "the bomb one" and "the little blue one".  I had to explain to him I am not a Pixar animator, because he also wanted a score board to show him his points and one bird that could fly over the cake and drop an egg.  Despite not having those elements, Eddie loved it!  He even said, "This is awesome Mom!  You're the best!".  Mom SCORE!  

The other birthday surprise was that we had lots of family show up to party.  We rarely get a lot of company, so that was a lot of fun.  The kids loved seeing their cousins and I loved the company.

By the way, in true Merril fashion, my Dad saw this last picture and said "Look!  It's Lynda, Saren and Tom Selleck!"  Pretty solid.  It's been a fun two weeks.  And now I can relax, kind of.  I already told Dave, no theme cakes for his 40th in May.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

my literary year in review...

I read 47 books in 2011.  Mainly thanks to my thoughtful husband who gave me a kindle for Christmas one year ago.  I love me some kindle.  It is amazing.  I love being able to take EVERYTHING I am reading everywhere.  I love being able to download a new book, when I'm in the mood for a certain kind of read, immediately and having access to a bazillion choices.  It is so fun.  As gratifying as reading is, you can never really quench your book thirst because there is an endless supply of more...and the kindle just makes that beautiful fact about literature all the more apparent.

One thing I have learned by using a kindle for reading is to not judge a book by it's cover...because I actually never see it's cover.  It was a humiliating occasion when I come across a book I read via my kindle and found out the cover looked like this.


THE HORROR!  I am a snob.  I'm sure this isn't news to most of you.  I would NEVER read this book!  But I did, because I liked the books description, it was free to download, fairly well reviewed and it was classified as a "Historical Fiction".  But, mostly, I read it because I never saw this awful cover.  Notice the tiny stone building in the background...it's HISTORY people!

Although I can't say I loved it... (insert shameful pause)... "A Knight's Enchantment" was actually an enjoyable read with characters I liked and a goodish story line that wrapped up nicely.  After a nerdy book like this, my snotty nature makes me seek after something gritty and intellectual and completely disturbing...which is why I read "Midnight Cowboy" by James Leo Herlihy.  It was definitely a palette cleanser.

Anyway, after 47 books (and 5 still in my current reads folder)...these are my favorite from 2011, in no particular order.

Diary of the Displaced by Glynn James.  This book was amazing.  It was fast paced and surprising and just the right amount of confusing at times.  I loved the main character, I loved the ending.  I want to see the movie...someone make one.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.  This is an actual historical fiction that gives you a glimpse of the lives of Japanese Americans during World War II.  This story was BEAUTIFUL and tragic but satisfying because of the characters resilience and humanity.  I think about this book all the time.  I loved the dialogue - bare with an underlying complexity.  Don't I sound smart now?

In this Hospitable Land by Brock Lynmar, Jr..  Another historical fiction about wealthy Jews who fled into France during World War II.  This book made you think and feel without trying too hard.  Lynmar's writing is never preachy, it never pushes you toward a certain conclusion.  He just tells a story, about people who lived through extraordinary circumstances during an extraordinary time.  Lovely.

A Cruel Harvest by Paul Reid.  A love story that I loved but you cannot read this if you are one of my nieces.

A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin.  I admit I had to take a break from this book about halfway through.  It was a little stressful, and long and has at least 100 characters to keep straight.  Although, for me, the ending brought everything together and compelled me to read the next book in this series.  Besides, I need something to talk about with my nerdy brother and brother-in-law.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett.  The movie was well done and I really enjoyed it but please don't just see the movie.  This is a great read, you will laugh and cry.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  I will never forget this book!  This is a true story about a young soldier who survived World War II against all odds that will amaze and inspire you.  Side note, why do I read so many books about World War II?  The only way I can tolerate reading about the horror and atrocities of war is to be equally amazed by the relentless pursuit of life by people who have had everything taken from them.  This story makes you cheer for the human spirit and makes you feel you have the capacity to endure anything.

There they are...my favorites.  What were yours?

Friday, October 28, 2011

goblin valley....

We have a new Halloween tradition.  Goblin Valley.  What better spot for a day trip before the spooky holiday to enjoy the last little bit of nice weather and hiking for the year?  This was my first time there and it was amazing.  Next year, we will have to camp and stay a little longer.

The kids went bananas.  They can run and climb and dig and jump and hide all day and never run out of new things to see. They loved it.

It was a beautiful day!

Here is a picture of me and Gene Simmons at Observation Point.

After a picnic lunch amongst the goblins, we on a little hike through Carmel Canyon that the kids loved.  It gives you a good view of the "Three Hoodoos" formation and ends with a miniature slot canyon.

 We ended the day in Green River where we picked out pumpkins for Halloween, stopped by the museum and I made a few awesome buys at the thrift store.   Of course, we stopped for burgers at Ray's Tavern.  You have to eat at Ray's...they have been on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, I think.  And even if Guy Fieri hasn't been to Ray's to spazz over their cheeseburgers and fries, I still love the place.  To cap off all the fun, Jacob opened the bathroom door for a stranger who wanted in while I was literally hovering and peeing for the entire Ray's dining area to see.  It's been a while since I've been so devastatingly embarrassed.  Good times.

Anyway, Goblin Valley is amazing and beautiful and it's a good, deserty place to go if you need a break from all the beautiful colored fall foliage along the Wasatch Front.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

she is growing up...

 Baby Saren is growing up.  It's such a cliche, but my little girl growing up is amazing and fun and heartbreaking and tragic all at the same time.

She used to be so tiny, with (it's hard to believe) just a little bit of beautiful black hair.

This week Saren had her first REAL haircut so we could brush through her beautiful  hair with a few less tears.

 She used to look up at me with those wide baby eyes full of wonder...

Now, she stares me down menacingly over the barrel of her shotgun.  This may be my favorite picture EVER.

 We used to need duct tape to keep Saren's diapers on  her little body...

Now, we are done using duct tape, and Saren is done with diapers.

I love my little, sweet daughter.  If anyone knows how to stop time or even slow it down, let me know.