We will have a perfectly happy picture!

My mother-in-law requested family photos for Christmas.
In an effort to keep the Christmas budget,
we opted for my mad raw camera skills.
Yeah, I took one photography class
so that makes me qualified right?
So very wrong.
Add in
a dog on a leash,
a crappy crappy tri-pod
some cold weather
and a
“as stubborn as I’ll get out”
you have me screaming:
“We will get a perfectly happy picture.
Gosh danget.”
That got some smiles.
We can always count on laughter
to see us through.
And laugh, we did.
Like always.
Here are some good outtakes.
I was trying to test the shot
and I had already set the timer
so they entertained themselves
through the 10 sequential shots.
We got a bunch of great shots
and in about 10 of them
Caroline was sticking out her tongue.

I like to call this one
“Don’t drop the dog.”
The funniest part was that
I had no idea this was even happening.

When we got home, 
Sophia came into my room and said,
“Mom I learned something important today.
You can’t put a dog in the simba pose for a picture
like you can a cat.”
It wasn’t until I went in to edit the photos that
I understood what she was talking about.
Please, don’t eat my head.
 These are the best that we got.
I really like how the scarf pose
turned out
minus Abigail’s expression
and the random blanket
on the grass.
Don’t even worry about the discarded
old fashioned sled.
I really don’t know what I am doing.
We got our perfectly happy pictures.

Merry Christmas Faye.
These will be on their way to you
in your Christmas package
as I know you won’t be able to figure
out how to print them from here.

Oh and sorry,
I forgot to do a pose
with LG.

Maybe next year.



Sophia is at 5th grade camp
for one night.
It’s crazy how
one night away
can make a mom so sentimental.
I love you my
sweet sweet Sophia.
I hope no one ever
hurts you.
One in four
has blue eyes.
One in four
has polka-dots.
Brought on
by the sun.
One in four
so fine.
One in four
so easy-going.
One in four
so patient.
One in four
so peaceful.
Two of four
in line.
One in four
so tender.
One in four
so sweet.
One in four
so witty.
One in four
so kind.
One in four
of my girls.
One in four
so quiet.
One in four
all dad.
One in four
so mine.

But perhaps
my favorite
one in four
are those
on your nose.
So unique.
So special.

Just like
one in four.


I have been feeling super run down this week. 
I am sure it is because of all the 
stress involved with Freedom Week.
No matter why the what is the same:
sit, regroup, and store up some energy.
And so I have.
And it’s in these resting times
that I so enjoy my camera.
It helps me slow down and capture
the miracles around me.
They are happening all the time.
Today they came in the form of snow.
The second snowfall of the year.
And its still Fall.
Thus the title of SnowFall.


leftover halloween pumpkins

the street
Capturing snow with a camera is not easy.
Just in case you wondered.

Freedom Week

To start this post I want to share a photo
that I took with my own two hands.
I am so proud of it.
I caught it when coming out of the grocery store.
I didn’t have a tri-pod,
but apparently I got the camera still enough
to do justice to that gorgeous moon.
I have this amazing ability at getting myself roped into things.
That’s a nice way of saying I often forget to say no.
This year, my big project has been
Freedom Week.
It’s be a beast.
Just enough to remind me to say no
for another year or so.
What a gorgeous view, eh?
Freedom Week
is a yearly week-long celebration
at the girls’ school
that focuses on the freedoms we enjoy
as Americans.
I was originally told that all I had to do
was plan a few dress up days
and line up a speaker for an assembly.
If that is all I had to do
I wonder why it occupied about
80 hours of my time over the past
two months.
Anything for freedom.
Or my kids.
Or because I can’t say no.
I did rope in a few people to help.
My ward’s (Mormon way of saying congregation)
young women
did a great job with the big banner
and small posters for each classroom door.
Aren’t they cute.
I was sad I didn’t get a photo of them all.
They cranked out 16 of these
in about 30 minutes
and no one uses glue and glitter
like young women.
The greatest sacrifice for me
was waking up at 6 a.m.
to hang up the flags outside.
It was dark
and I hate mornings.
I let Abigail drive around the
empty parking lot
as a reward for waking up early.
She was pretty stoked.
Each student got their own personal
American flag
as they arrived to the assembly this morning.
Aren’t they just the cutest?
We lined the halls with red white and blue.
And messages of freedom.
I’d like to think that this is what
I looked like
all morning.
This is me teaching the kids about IwaJima
while introducing Mr. Mason a WWII vet.
But I am sure it was much more like this.
 Props to the school orchestra and choir.
They did amazing.
Two of my perfect children
are singing
about voting
and loving America.
Can you spot them?
The Mayor of Orem
brought along some of his heroes:
A local police officer,
and some firefighters.
You should have seen the faces of the kids
when this guy walked in the room
in full firefighting garb.
It was awesome.
My personal favorite part of the day
was introducing a true
American hero.
He is in the middle of this photo
in the Marine Corps shirt.
His name is
Fred William Mason
and he faught at IwaJima.
What an honor it was to
give the kids a piece of history
and to see them give
Mr. Mason
the standing ovation
he deserves.
(See the bottom of the post
for his story)

Perhaps my greatest gratitude should go to this man.
He is always my technical support and go-to guy.
As you can see by the photograph,
he was perfect
at entertaining Caroline.

We’ve already over-established what a handful she can be, right?

Here’s the slideshow I made.
I had no idea what I was doing,
so give me grace people.
It was a great way to spend my 39th birthday.
And the day before it. And the two days after it.

We also did a few other things:

  • school-wide speech writing contest (the winners gave their speeches today at the assembly and got $20 giftcards to Wal-Mart)
  • The Cub Scouts officiated at the flag ceremony
  • A student soloist did the Star Spangled Banner
  • A mock presidential election (Governor Romney won with 74% of the votes)
  • Letters from the kids for Vets at the VA Hospital
  • We were supposed to do a donation drive but student council never got it together
  • Each student received a white star to write about what they appreciate most in their freedom. They will each tape them on their classroom door banners. (picture above)
  • Oh and we have dress up days all week.

Monday – stars and stripes
Tuesday – red white and blue
Wednesday – Dress like your favorite American hero or wear a uniform
Thursday – Denim day (jeans were invented in the US)
Friday – School spirit colors – which happen to be blue and white.

* Oh and an added not for future reference. I asked Bella what she liked best about the assembly and with all attitude she immediately responded with, “I hated it when you cried mom, you embarrassed me in front of all my friends.” Maybe someday she will see that differently and be proud of a mom who is so grateful.

Fred Mason’s introduction

It’s my great pleasure to introduce you to one of our great American heroes. He’s a friend and neighbor to us all.  He lives right off 1600 North in Orem. His name is Fred William Mason and I am proud to know him.
Mr. Mason was a corporel in the Marine Corps during WWII. He faught at Iwa Jima.  There is a famous photograph that won the Pulitzer Prize of soldiers raising the American Flag at Mount Serabachi on Feb 23, 1945. Mr. Mason know the soldiers in the photo personally.
IwoJima was a volcanic island and no civilians lived there. Its name means Sulphur Island. It was a very important military spot in the Japanese Territory and it was a critical victory for American strategy. If we hadn’t won at IwoJima we probably wouldn’t have been able to drop the Atomic Bombs and the war may not have ended so fast.
The Battle of IwaJima happened from Feb 19 – March 26 1945. Only 216 of the 21,844 Japanese survived and of the 70,000 Americans who faught 6,821 were killed and 19,217 wounded. Many of those soldiers were friends of Mr. Mason. He served in the 5th Marine Division of the 28th Regiment.
Mr. Mason is 86 years old.
He was born in 1926 in Lexington, KY.
He was the fifth child of 9 kids in his family.
His four brothers also served in the military.
Two also served in WWII
Richard fought in the army at Okinowa.
Earl was also in the army and was taken as a Prisoner of War at the March of Batan in the Phillipines.
Glen and Ernie enlisted after the war into the Navy and never had to fight like their older brothers.
He worked on farms from age 8. Sold veggies at the market.
He wasn’t able to attend school but a few years as he was expected to help provide for his family.
Around age 12, his family got indoor plumbing.
At age 14, he started taking the bus and going to church to every Sunday with his sister.
He grew up during The Great Depression. When I asked him what his favorite food was, he said he was always hungry and would eat anything he could get his hands on. He particularly like his momma’s biscuits and gravy, and was always really happy when he would get a little bit of ham in his beans.
He was drafted in 1944 at age 18.
Went from Lexington to Louisville to join the Navy, but there was a Marine recruiter who snagged him and 4 others in line up to fill his quota for the day.
Went to Camp Pendelton in California for Basic Training.
When he was done he boarded a ship and was told 4 days into it that they were on their way to the South Pacific to fight the Japanese.
After the Battle of IwaJima, Mr. Mason reboarded the ship and remembers many soldiers celebrating. He however just wanted to brush his teeth (they had been in the trenches for over a month) and went to the Red Cross to ask for a toothbrush but was told they didn’t have enough to give him one.
Mr Mason was shipped back to Hawaii, where he served 8 months of occupational duty and was discharged in 1946.
After the war he went back to Lexington where he worked at a Wholesale Food Distrubutor. He delivered food to Colonel Sanders of KFC and says he looked exactly like his pictures. In fact, he can’t remember him every changing from before the war.
Mr. Mason is a hero to me for another reason then his honorable military service, after the war, he taught himself to read. Remember he didn’t have much school growing up.
In 1950 he met Mrs. Mason and they had their first child, a girl named Debi, who is also our neighbor.
Mr. and Mrs. Mason then moved to Indiana so that Mr. Mason could work at a Defense Plant building helicopters. The had two more children. Both boys who still lived in Indiana.
Mr and Mrs Mason moved to Utah 14 years ago.
They have been married for 62 years.
Mr. Mason continues to make a difference for his country by working a Heritage School in Provo. He has worked there mentoring troubled youth for the past 6 years.
Mr. Mason is truly a remarkable person. Tom Brokaw once called his generation the Greatest Generation. I believe they were a great generation and I believe Mr. Mason was one of the greatest.
Please join me and give Mr. Mason and all his friends who fought for our freedom the round of applause they deserve.

Photography 101

I just took a photography class.
I loved it.
I hope to find more time to pursue this hobby.
Not that I will ever be famous
or anything
but at least maybe I will be able to capture
some good family shots.

Here are the shots
from class
that make me the most proud.

I know I still have so much to learn,
but I am proud of the things that
I picked up in the class.

I can now
photograph in the dark.
I love the modern feel to this one.
Through glass at sunset.
UVU’s library is so beautiful at sunset.
I want to go back to school 
and study there every night.
I just love that I now know
how to capture the star of my lens.
This would have turned out cool
if I had used a tripod
but you get the idea.
We learned about shutter speeds.
I couldn’t quite get what I wanted here
but still a fun shot of UVU stadium.
The different hues
of lighting.
Supposedly it’s all about the 
amount of heat put out by the light source.
Must take Photography 102.
After I got this shot,
I felt o.k. with calling it a night.
Pretty cool, huh??
And while leaving my last night of class
I had to lay on the wet ground to get this one.
And this one
as all my classmates
walked by.
And this one of the late night dance class.
O.k this one wasn’t part of my class
but I took it on Friday
and I love it.

Be like a Bee

I have a fascination with honey bees.
Remember this old post
when I took my camera into the shower to photograph them?
Good times back in Knoxville.

When M. Russell Ballard
gave this address
Be Anxiously Engaged
during General Conference,
I was delighted to listen.

Today I went outside with my camera
to try and capture something beautiful.
Why not the honeybees across the street?

It’s pretty powerful to think about what we can accomplish when we all focus on the things of God,
even if we, like the bees, each just produce our 1/12th of  a teaspoon it will be more than enough.
On another bee note. 
The BYU documentary that I just saw for the first time on Sunday also inspired me to do more for others.
I love so many metaphors from this documentary but perhaps the one the most lovely is that bees use white clover (a normally discarded weed) as their food-source. The bees see the clover like no one else does.
 If I live my whole life and accomplish all that I wanted it will be in vain if I can’t look at every other person I meet and see the white clover inside of them.

We’re so Utah, just ask the Cafe Rio Pork

Here is a recipe
that screams Utah.
and it’s so delicious.
I made up the recipe
because I couldn’t find one that was good enough.
Yeah, I’m an awesome cook.
What can I say?
I lived in the South for 10 years.
It gives me the advantage.
I also like to keep it simple in the kitchen.
 Throw the following ingredients into a crock pot.
3 pounds pork roast
2 cans cola (you can use diet or regular. I prefer Dr. Pepper but Coke or Pepsi or Shasta or generic is fine.)
About 1 cup and a handful of brown sugar (just go with it,  but you can omit this if you want pork less sweet)
3/4 cup water
2 cubes Chicken Boullion
3 Tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup dried onion
1/3 cup taco seasoning.
Cook for 6 hours.
Shred the pork into the liquids right inside the crockpot.
Cook another 2 hours.
Serve over hot fresh tortillas from Costco.
Try the recipe.
And come back and tell me how amazingly Utah I’ve become.
I didn’t want to do it.
I didn’t want to turn into one of them.
But I have to admit
it ain’t half that bad.
I’m a Utah Mormon blogger.
Well, if you can still call me a blogger.
Since I don’t really blog anymore.
I took the following photo yesterday.
It pretty much tells the story.
I set up the photo myself
on MANUAL settings
because I have just loved my photography class.
You can’t be a good Utah Mormon lady
unless you are are enrolled in some kind of class,
And you definitely can’t be a good
Utah Mormon mommy blogger
unless you know how to photograph.
I took the photo after running into the shot.
My camera was supported by a boulder
on the opposite side of the trail.
And look at us.
We are so cute.
Notice my Utah fashionable hat.
And my frame 35 pounds lighter
because I run every other day.
My kids are perfection.
Even my dog is perfection.
My husband is the bomb.
I love him so much,
and he’s perfection too.
Just for me.
Now, I wonder how many people
I’ve managed to annoy?
What I don’t want to tell you is
I set up the picture to hide my fat butt.
We went to the canyon
on a Sunday
NOT in our Sunday clothes
just to get a picture of the leaves.
Notice the photo
is lack of any oranges or reds.
My kids have rebelled against
family bike rides in the same canyon because
I made them ride all the way
to Bridal Veil from our house once.
Apparently 20 miles round trip is a bit much.
O.k. I don’t think its that far,
but still,
I can’t get them to want to go.
I threw the hat on because I took a photo
earlier that day at church
and my hair was atrocious.
Is that the right spelling of
I guess I have a ways to go
to be the perceived perfect Utah Mormon.
I think they all probably have a ways to go too.

The Art Fart

I really hope Sophia doesn’t decide to read the blog today.
I do believe she’d die of embarrassment.
I must write though
because it’s stories like this that I don’t want to forget.

And I do forget.

I forget as early as next week if I don’t write it down.

LG’s been playing with new camera more than me. I love it.
We finally got Sophia into an art class.
She has shown a real propensity for art since she was a toddler,
and I am so grateful we finally have the means to help her along.
Check out her very first project.
I dare you to say she’s anything less than a prodigy.

And now, here’s a little art fart funny from Friday.
I went into the studio to tell Sophia that I was there to take her home.
She was happily working on a picture of SpongeBobSquarePants in colored pencil.
Next to her was the cutest boy about the same exact age
working on what looked like a tribal tattoo.
They were both having a blast doing the art thing while bantering back and forth.
It made this mom very happy to see Sophia in her element.
When you know something about your kid, you just know.
And I have always known that Sophia has the soul of an artist.

Minutes later Sophia bounds out to the car and we head home.
I zone out thinking about all I have to do
to get out the door that evening in time for
a friend’s birthday party and a choral concert of my nephew at BYU.
All of the sudden Bella and Sophia are cracking up.
I ask them what was so funny.
Through fits of laughter they tell me.

Sophia – Nooooooo, don’t tell her.
Bella – I have to. Sophia likes __________!! (I can’t remember his name)
Me – (Not surprised in the least.) What’ so funny about that?
Sophia – Nothing. Nothing.
Bella – Well, Sophia and _______ were messing around hitting each other and being silly.
Sophia – STOP! Bella don’t tell her.
Bella – And then Sophia…
Sophia – (butting in because if the story is going to be told, she’s going to tell it) We were just playing around, and all of the sudden I farted. It just came out. I couldn’t help it.
Me – Oh my gosh, how embarrassing. Did you just die?
Bella – It gets worse mom.
Sophia – So then the teacher comes in and asks us if we need anything.
Bella – And _____________ says, “Do you have a clothespin?”
Me – Did it stink?
Sophia as red as a beat – “I guess so.”

This may not seem funny to any of you, but it’s moments like this when I just love being a mom. It is so fun to watch your kids grow up and become adults who are embarrassed by bodily functions.

Now, here is something to make it up to Sophia whenever she reads this story.
Sophia brought this home last year from school after the class all wrote down anonymous compliments.
She is one cool kid, even with the gassy gas.

And me, you ask?
How’s the photography going?
Well, it’s going when I squeeze in the time.
Here is one of my practice shots
while I was outside the art studio waiting on Sophia.
We are learning about aperture.
Photography is art.
Maybe I should leave it up to Sophia.
It’s a lot more complicated then I expected.
(That’s why I’ve dragged LG into the hobby,
he’s my scientific go-to man.)
Check out my the website of my super cool teacher.

Here’s a photo of another one of my cool kids.
She’s taking a cooking class right now.
I’ve always known that Bella would grow up to be a beautiful cook.
Shooting action is more difficult
especially without the right lens
but here is our Abigail.
I always knew she’d grow up to be a soccer star.
Notice that she’s reading dad a bed-time story.
At 6 pm.
That’s how it goes around here.

Isn’t he cute?
I do believe my car is in need of a wash.
And here is LG’s latest project.
An expose about the life of a housewife.
Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.
All the time.
Even on Sunday.

Singing in the rain

When it rains, it pours.
I am sitting in the hospital with my dad right now.
He’s been here for 5 days.
He’s on the upswing and I am so grateful.
I am extremely grateful for my wonderful husband
who tells me
“Go, I’ll take care of everything.”
A few weeks ago,
our family lost
my nephew Braxton.
He’s dancing in heaven now,
where I imagine 
he can choose the weather.
Sitting down to my laptop this morning
I am happy to find these old photos.
What a great reminder that
the best time to dance and sing
is when it rains.

Merry Christmas

Check out who was shopping at Target yesterday.

In the words of Mater,
“This here blog is bein’ neglected.”

I am spending lots of time with my family
and loving every minute of it.

Thank you to Jeremy for the reminder
that time is the best way to show love.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Maybe after Christmas, I will attempt
to write a yearly recap.


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