Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

Category: blessings (page 1 of 14)

New Beginnings (part 2 of the bell choir story)

As I prepared myself for my retirement from the Bells on Temple Square, I decided that I would like to start a community bell choir of my own. I asked the Highland City Arts Council if that was something I could do under their umbrella, and my contact agreed. I had already been doing a teen chimes group at the arts center building, so this would just replace that. My optimism was bright and shiny as I started writing grants and requests for donations. My friend on the arts council assured me that she would help me apply for funding, and that they had received several grants, and in fact had recently purchased a $30,000 piano with grant money. Wow!

After applying to over 50 businesses, and spending SO many hours writing grants and filling out paperwork, I was just done. All I got back were NO’s, or just no response at all. I came to the conclusion that I suck at grant writing, and that no one believes in or wants to support this project. But I was still determined, so I decided to just beg for money from regular people. I set up a crowd funding project and really just got to begging. Even though I did get about $1000 from friends, it was a bit humiliating to beg, and of course, I took it personally, and instead of just realizing that not everyone has money to give to support my dreams, I internalized it that people don’t like or support me. I KNOW that’s not the case, but discouragement is a tricky tool of the adversary, and if he can get me to doubt my worth in any way, he will certainly do that. I’m working on not taking rejection so personally, but it’s a process.

I did receive word that Wal-mart would donate $500. Hooray! With the money I had raised, along with money from teaching my chime choir last year, I started looking for used bells, since brand new is out of the question. I found a 2 octave set of Malmark bells on ebay that was at around $3000. There was 30 minutes left in the auction, and I quickly looked at the pictures, and just started bidding. Reckless. I was very nervous, but kept on bidding until the very last minute, and I ended up winning that auction with a bid for $3450. Then I got really nervous. What if they were in terrible shape? What if I had just wasted ALL my money? I beat myself up mentally for taking such a risk, while at the same time, I was nervously excited that I had taken the leap and made a purchase! When the bells arrived, they seemed to be in good working order. I started polishing, and was pleased that my money hadn’t been totally wasted. I did have a professional look at one of the bells, and he agreed that they were in good shape. I have discovered that two of the handles are wrong, and one of bells has already needed repair ($70), but I am relieved that they are playable and sound good.

Soon after, I found another box of bells on ebay and I bought those, as well.

So we are now 4 bells short of 3 octaves. Unfortunately, they are the c4,c#4,d4, and d#4, and they are around $500 each. I also haven’t seen any of these bells on ebay, so I’m not very optimistic about finding them used. So, I haven’t forked out the $2000 to buy them. I did receive another $500 in donation from Rocky Mt. Power, so that’s encouraging, but not it’s not enough to justify buying those 4 bells yet.

Sadly, there is much more to starting a bell choir than just acquiring the bells. I realized I needed foam pads, and foam pad covers. That was another $200 and a week of my life spent measuring and sewing the muslin covers for the foam I had bought. I started advertising in on the Highland Arts Council website that we were forming a new handbell choir. I decided on a name and made a facebook page for the Timpanogos Ringers. I started talking up this choir and inviting people to come and “audition”. I had met some people in the play I was doing, “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, who expressed interest in trying handbells, and a few people that I know also seemed interested. I started getting emails asking about the choir, and I had a list of about 10 people who had said they were going to come and try handbells. Things were starting to come together.

The beginning of September came, and I was excited to get started. However, only 4 people came to the first week.
Recruit, recruit!
The next week a couple more people came, but some of the first ones didn’t come. I emailed all the people who had been interested, and I heard back reasons why they couldn’t commit to a once a week activity at this time. It seems that my enthusiasm for something is not enough to compel others to commit. My Wednesday nights were not looked forward to with enthusiasm, but with dread. Discouragement raised it’s ugly head, and I thought about just giving up. Directing a choir is SO different than just showing up each week to play. A friend said to me, “why are you doing this? If it’s for you, and it’s not bringing you joy, then maybe it’s not worth it. If it’s for the community, then it’s a service you are doing.” Another friend said, “you could quit, but you aren’t a quitter, are you?” I wasn’t to the point of quitting, because I had 4 dedicated members who were excited about bells. One of them even asked if he could arrange a song for bells from a piano piece and if we could play it! I couldn’t give up yet. But I did tell myself that I only had to do this until Christmas, and then if I didn’t have enough interest, I would take a break for a while.

I came home and told my family that I needed their support. I needed 2 or 3 more people to come to bells and play bells, because I can’t direct AND play, even though I’d much rather play than direct. I also asked my sister if she would be willing to try. That night, Ryan came, Amy came, and Jenna and her friend Ryan came. It was awesome (even though I didn’t have enough bells for that many people)! Ryan and Amy actually had fun and have agreed to keep coming. Yay! And Ryan helps me carry the bell boxes to the car and back into the house each week, so that’s also a bonus.

We now have 9 ringers, which is perfect! If all of them would just keep coming every week, that would be great! They sight read very well, they are all good musicians who understand counting and notes because they have all had music lessons of some kind (even if they were kids, it helps!). I do not dread Wednesday nights! I’m having fun, and I think that they are having fun. I took a week off the week of fall break because I wanted to attend the wedding reception of a dear friend, and we are taking off Halloween. But I’ve scheduled us for a concert on December 12 at the community center, plus a couple of parties and the festival of trees. We will not be perfect, but I hope that everyone has fun. I’m hoping to get 9-10 songs ready, but if we don’t have that many songs ready, that’s ok, too.

I will still look for funding options so that we can get those bells we need, but it’s not urgent. I feel like my efforts of the past 10 months are finally starting to pay off and this crazy venture of mine might actually work. Will it replace the choir I’ve loved for the last decade? No. But this will allow me to express my love of bells and music in a new way, while hopefully instilling that love with new people. I hope that as we perform this Christmas and into next year, we will become more confident, and ready for new challenges. I also hope that we will grow as friends in the group and that it can be a safe and happy place for all who come, and that we can have joy in making music.

Sanctuary!

I LOVE community theater!

Because of my commitment to Bells on Temple Square and family and church callings, I can only usually do one show per year, with some years that I don’t get to do any shows at all. This year, I REALLY wanted to do a show. Since retiring from Bells was such a loss, I needed something to help fill that void. But which show?

Last year I did my first show with Lehi Arts. Seussical was so much fun, and I loved the experience. I heard them mention that next year they would be doing The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Wow, I thought. That’s could be fun. Fast forward to spring of this year. I kept an eye on the audition announcements and there were several shows I wanted to try for. Alpine was going to be doing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor dream coat, and I LOVE that show, so that was #1 on my list, even though I knew that I would only be a chorus member of villager. My summer schedule was still pretty full, as I had a bells concert in June, then a trip to New Mexico also in June, and we are going on a cruise in August. So, whatever show I did had to fit within those parameters. That narrowed it down a lot, and I was planning on auditioning for Joseph. However, I saw on the Lehi Arts website that the dates for the Hunchback show were being changed to earlier in July, and auditions would be in April. It now fit into my timeline, and I sent in an audition video (because auditions were nights I already had rehearsal).

I was not called back, but when I looked at the call back list, I was BLOWN AWAY. So many names of so many amazingly talented people! I knew so many of them from other shows and was instantly impressed with the quality of the cast. I was kind of shocked when I read my name on the cast list, but there it was as a member of the choir. At our first cast meeting, I met the directors and the cast, and was impressed. I hated to turn in my paper of the dates I needed off in May and June, and hoped they wouldn’t just boot me out for lack of availability. But they did mention that they understood if we had a few conflicts, but in July, they would OWN our lives. Good. In July I was available. While at that first cast meeting that night, my sweet grandbaby was born. So maybe that’s a good sign.

We started out learning the music, which is VERY difficult, with tons of part divisions, AND it’s mostly in Latin. And there is SO much of it for the ensemble to sing. Sweet. I bought the soundtrack and started listening to it ALL the time, trying to learn these hard songs. And did I mention extremely high? I chose to sing alto because the soprano part was so dang high, and they needed altos.

June came, and my last concert with Bells was wonderful, and terrible. Wonderful because it’s probably the best concert we’ve done to date, and terrible because it was my last. We had a retirement “party” where they presented me my plaque for serving for 10 years, and I got lots of pictures, and cried. At the concert, my dear friends were there offering hugs and commiserations that they would miss me, and I just couldn’t even talk about it, because I knew I would be crying, and it’s hard to play effectively with tears running down the face. But the world did not stop turning, and I’m trudging forward. About that time, I got a message from the director asking me if I’d like to play a saint in the show, because several people had dropped out. Absolutely, I would! I didn’t really know what the saints would be doing, but I knew they were the statues that are around, and that they sing. I had just been learning my ensemble blocking for Topsy Turvey, but I would gladly trade that part to be a saint.

In this show, the saints do a lot of standing really still. And then sing–while standing still. There is NO dancing, hardly any blocking, a lot of standing. SWEET! I learned that standing perfectly still is a lot harder than it sounds. But learning the new songs and a few lines was awesome, and the show was coming along.

In July, we moved the rehearsals from inside the air conditioned arts center to the hot parking lot. Yes, we rehearse in a parking lot. Because that’s where there is space to build the amazing set.

We also participated in the Lehi parades to create interest in coming to the show.

The cast was coming together! The saints were all told to choose an actual saint that is really on the cathedral at Notre Dame. Since most of the saints had already chosen their people, I choose St. Clotilde.

24 Dec 2009 — Sainte Clotilde statue in Sainte Clotilde church, Paris — Image by © Philippe Lissac/Godong/Corbis

I liked her long braids, and it’s been fun to try to emulate her.

But this show, this story, has meant so much more to me than just a play. The message of acceptance has been taken to heart by ALL the cast. There are no divas (even though these people are CRAZY AMAZING TALENTED), no drama, no exclusions. It’s beautiful. Quasimodo is someone I’ve come to love and care for, and I am heartbroken over his sadness. It’s been a way to heal my broken parts, and remind me that life goes on. I’m so thankful for everyone involved in this show. They have poured their whole hearts and energy into making this a project to be proud of.

Our Director, Colleen, said it perfectly.
“It is in fact, the most beautiful show we’ve ever produced. The cast is perfection in every way. They have all changed me in some way or another. There were more than a few times I was uncertain of our vision, preparedness, and felt very out of shape directorial wise. We had a handful of core players who believed in us and actively worked to keep the cast confident in us. To our cast, thank you for trusting us.
I love this story. It is more dramatic than the cartoon, but completely relevant to our day. Sometimes our exactness in a belief system creates harshness, piety, and an inability to truly hear and see others who do not share our beliefs. Feeling as though you are an outcast can be the loneliest feeling there is. Seeing people for who they are and loving them perfectly is the most important lesson from this show, and the greatest lesson ever taught by Christ. I am grateful to have been trusted with sharing it in our community. It has changed me. I hope you can see it, it will change you too.”

Thank you, my hunchback friends.

Larissa!

It was so great to see our former exchange student, Larissa, in Germany. It was a bit out of the way, but since we were traveling from Amsterdam to Dusseldorf anyway, we just took a train to Osnabruck where she lives first.

She came to the train station and picked us up, and it was wonderful to give her a great big hug! She took us around town to show us some things, and we walked through the square.

It was very cold and we were getting hungry, so Ryan and I ordered a hamburger from this stand. Larissa is eating vegan, so she didn’t want any.

We looked at and went in 2 amazing churches. It seems every block there’s a HUGE magnificent church.

We even asked a stranger to take a picture of the 3 of us, not just do a selfie.

And I wanted a picture with these fine people, as well. They also gave me candy.

Then she took us to the house where she lives with a bunch of other college students.

It’s a group of buildings on a little farm.

All too soon our time was up and she brought us back to the train station to catch a train to Dusseldorf. It was wonderful to see her and bring her some love from her American Family.

Museums

If I were traveling with my family, and we were in Europe, I would be very particular about which museums we went to. At $15-$25 a ticket, that’s a big chunk of money to spend on one activity. And they might not appreciate spending a few hours looking at art. BUT, since I was mostly by myself, I could afford such a luxury. I’ll just include a little bit about each museum I was able to look through, even though there’s so much to elaborate on!

1-Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. A must see. And only 10 for adults, so not terribly expensive. Everything was in both English and Dutch, so we could read each display, listen to the audio presentations, and really see where she and her family lived. There were many photos of her and the family, and some of the walls still have the original posters and pictures she had taped to the walls. You have to buy your ticket online before, or else there’s a long stand-by line.

2-Van Gogh Museum. 17 Euro, or about $19. Really a wonderful museum. I loved learning about about Van Gogh. What really impressed me about Van Gogh is the family connection. Vincent’s brother Theo, an art dealer, supported him in every way. He encouraged his brother, sold paintings for him, and helped him financially. When Vincent died in 1890, his brother Theo died only 6 months later, in 1891. His wife Jo published the brothers’ letters. She, as well as her son were largely responsible for Van Gogh’s popularity. She had over 200 of his paintings and donated or sold them to exhibits. What a study in family history! If she had done nothing with those paintings, who knows if we would have them today. You can’t take pictures in the museum, but I had to snap a few in the gift shop.

3-Rijks Museum. I wasn’t sure if I was going to go to this museum, but decided on my last day in Amsterdam to go. Wow. So glad I went.

To see original Rembrandts and to see how amazing and big they actually are was quite awe inspiring for me.

And the Waterloo painting is HUGE! I can’t even imagine working on something like that for SO long.

And the paintings and art just went on and on. I was glad I was by myself so that I could just wander, sit and look at certain things, and then wander some more. I went out to the lobby and ate my rice cake and cheese that I had packed for my lunch and then went back to see some more amazing works of art.

In Northern Germany, we were there more to visit people, so we didn’t spend time in any museums, but we did look at so much street art and churches.


We saw these two churches in Osnabruck with Larissa, and even saw a wedding celebration.

In Dusseldorf we were also looking for architecture.


4-We also went up the Rhine Tower and looked down. (Not really a museum, but I’m counting it) The view was incredible.
It’s similar in height to the space needle in Seattle. I remember as a missionary that we went to the government building right by the tower, but I don’t think we went up the tower. Probably $10 seemed expensive to us at the time? I don’t know.

This little kid had no problem getting so close to the window.

5-In Milan, we didn’t have a lot of time, but I knew we needed to see the Duomo.

Amazing doesn’t even describe this cathedral. It took 600 years to build, and they are still working on parts of it all the time. Inside it’s SO huge! And elaborate details EVERYWHERE. Our favorite part, though, was that they let you go up to the roof, and you can walk around up there ON THE ROOF!
So you can get a view of the city, and a close up look at the beautiful details. If you ever get a chance to go to Milan, you MUST see the Duomo.

6-The Sforza Castle Museum in Milan

This amazing museum of art and antiquities is INSIDE a real castle. They even had mummies in the basement. I went to this museum on recommendation from Juan Pablo, one of the guys Ryan was working with that day. So glad I did.

7-In Munich, I happened upon a toy museum. Why not, I thought. I’ve seen so much art, that toys will be fun to see.

So fun! I learned the history of the Steiff bears and animals, tin toys, Barbies, doll houses, and so much more. This is one I would totally take the kids to, if they had been with us, and it was only 4 Euro.

8-Dachau Concentration Camp

I took a very sobering tour of Dachau on a cold, dreary, rainy day. Our guide was German, but did our tour in English, and I appreciated his not leaving out the bad details.

You can read more about this sculpture and others here, if you wish.
I took many pictures, but they don’t really convey the awful feeling of gloom and sadness, and really a reverence for the people who were kept and tortured there.

9-Bavarian Museum. Ryan went with me to the Bavarian Museum in Munich. We really only had an hour to cruise through, but we did it anyway. The basement housed a whole display of Nativity scenes, and it was amazing! After my day at Dachau, it was nice to see so much of Christ’s Birth and life in these scenes.

10-Neu Schwanstein Castle
Our last day in Munich we drove down to see the famous castle of King Ludwig II. It really is as amazing and picturesque as you think it’s going to be.

Because it was snowy, the bus wasn’t running, and we got to hike up the steep hill. So many people were there, that even though we got there at 10:45, our tickets were for 2:00.

I wish we could take pictures inside, but no. The story of the castle is amazing, though, and Kind Ludwig was obviously troubled. He built this huge castle and wants to be alone. No family, no visitors, no parties. Alone. The castle was not even finished completely when he died (or was murdered). Amazing history and story, and I’m so glad we got to see it.

There you have it! 10 museums in Europe!

Wonderful Surprises

This week we had a chance to feed the missionaries in our area. Since we are in Utah and one set of missionaries is responsible for 2 stakes, they aren’t at church with us very often. And we don’t get the opportunity to feed them more than 2-3 times a year, so when it’s our week, we try to volunteer.

As we were getting food ready, the kids were all enlisted to help, since the missionaries only have an hour to eat, usually between 5 and 6 pm so they can get to their evening appointments. Kate, our exchange student from Russia, said, “How do we even know the missionaries, anyway?” So we explained how these missionaries don’t get to choose where they are sent, but they turn in their papers and then go where they are assigned.
“Maybe there’s a missionary from Russia!” she said.
I hated to dampen her enthusiasm, but I told her that there were probably not missionaries from Russia coming to Utah. There probably aren’t that many LDS members in Russia, and out of those members, therefore not a huge amount of missionaries, and why would they send a Russian missionary to UTAH, of all places?

So, we finished our meal prep, making waffles, scrambling eggs, and cooking bacon.

At 5:00, the Elders arrived. Right on time, what a surprise! We answered the door and welcomed them in. As they were taking off their coats, we asked, “Where are you from, Elders,” Elder Kentish is from Nashville, and Elder Fairbanks said, “I’m from Russia.”

NO WAY!! Kate’s face (all our faces, really) had the expression of total shock.
“You aren’t really, are you?” I said.
“Well, I was born in Russia,” he said, “I was adopted by an American family when I was 4.” But he could still speak Russian, and Kate was completely floored when he asked her how she was doing in Russian. As we asked more questions, we discovered that his parents had adopted 12 children, and he and two siblings were from the same orphanage in Russia. When we asked where in Russia he was from (Russia is such an amazingly huge country) he said Vladivostock. That could NOT possibly be true. Kate and I both let out little screams of shock. That’s where SHE is from! That’s not exactly her town, but that is the closest big city to where she lives. That’s also not exactly his town, but that is the city closest to where he is from that people might recognize. Kind of like saying that we are from Salt Lake City, even though we don’t live in Salt Lake City, but to people who are not from Utah, it’s close enough.

elder

What an amazing experience! We felt like we had an instant connection to this Elder. I even felt a little bit bad because we were asking him so many questions, so we had to ask equal questions of his companion.

I know this was not a coincidence. Our ward mission leader hosted these same Elders earlier in the week, and knew we had a Russian exchange student. He even mentioned it to these Elders, so they came knowing that much about our family. But for us, it was such a blessing. For Kate to meet someone from her part of the world, so far away from home, was amazing. She got to speak Russian and learn that the there are even Mormons in Russia.

The Lord knows us. He watches out for us, whether we are members of this church or not. He loves us.
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missionaries

Gifting

There is a stack of gifts in the front room. We brought home a car load of gifts from the reception and they have been sitting there waiting for the bride and groom. As the week has gone by, more and more people have brought gifts over. Cards have arrived in the mail.

People are SO generous!

We laugh about some of the gifts we received for our wedding. I don’t remember people being quite so generous. One of our gifts was a blender. There was a card with it, with about 10 names on it. We just laughed. The blender can’t have cost more than $25, and if 10 people went in on that gift, they each gave $2.50? Ok. Another gift was a dishware set for 4. Brown glass plates from the 70’s. Sort of like this. plates

There were also cups and saucers, I believe. The best part was that the box had been opened and taped back up. Was this a gift for their wedding back in 1979 and they regifted it to us? Don’t know. We laughed about that one and thought we would keep that until we had a cabin someday. But my dear friend, Tess, saw that set of plates a year or two ago when she was in our basement for some reason, and she really liked them. So, I gave them to her. Someone might as well use them.

We also got a multitude of Coleman coolers. Popular gift back in 1992.

Some of our gifts got returned, some we kept, but have not used. I still have several fancy bowls still in the boxes. I thought I would have more of a need for fancy glass bowls than I do.

I have one of these party balls in the basement. Never been opened. Maybe I’ll give it to one of the kids to take to college or something.

party bowl

But these cute kids came back from their honeymoon and we had a little present opening party last night at Emily’s house.
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There were piles of presents! It was like Christmas, but all the gift were for them.
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I am blown away with the love and generosity. So many gifts! So many cards, gift cards, and money. I am amazed. And I feel like I need to step it up personally in the gift department. I always buy things when they are on sale, sometimes even with a rebate. I do not spend $50 on wedding gifts, unless it’s a group gift for a niece of nephew. But so many people have given gifts of $25 and even $50 in cash or gift cards. One couple from our ward came up to us at a play before it started and we were chatting for a minute. He pulled out his wallet and said, “We won’t be able to come to the reception, but give this to them for us,” and handed Ryan some cash. $50. Wow!

Yes, it’s been a while since we got married, so I do understand that things are more expensive now, and we live in an area where there are a lot of well off people, but still, I was shocked. And thankful.

The gifts they got the most of? Pyrex dish sets. I think they got 5 of those. And bowls. Plastic bowls, nice glass bowls, heavy ceramic bowls. Lots of bowls. I didn’t, however, see plates. Maybe they already got some plates, or maybe that’s one of the things they will have to buy. They did say they were going to buy a portable AC unit with some of that cash/gift card money, so that’s a good thing. Their apartment is quite hot with no air. They did get a garbage can and a dustpan, which I thought were nice and useful, even a whiteboard and a bookshelf.

I also learned some good wedding gift tips. Write what your gift is inside the card, or even on the envelope. That way, if the card gets separated from the gift, the happy couple can figure out who gave it. Or, one person had stamped their name and address on the outside of the card, so that no one has to look up their address to write a thank you note.

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And even though they registered, they still got multiples of the exact same thing–from the registry. I guess it doesn’t keep track of things bought if they don’t scan it and say it’s from the registry.

As I looked over the pile of presents, I thought, “What would be a really unique gift?” A fire extinguisher. A hammer and tape measure. A level. Command strips. A drill.

Maybe next time.

But, if you sent or brought a gift for them, please know how much we all appreciate you! It’s so nice to see this cute couple get started as a couple and to have the basics.

So much love!

Fun for Easter weekend

Easter Weekend!

Both Cole and Megan have birthdays around Easter, so it’s a lot of celebrating in a short time. Saturday, between mowing the lawn, celebrating Cole’s birthday, and getting the suburban water pump fixed, Ryan and I drove down to Snow College for a quick visit with this girl.

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This is her standing in front of their puzzle wall in her apartment. Pretty cool, don’t you think?
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Megan and Sarah were heading down to St. George for their spring break to work at the Tuacahn theater. They get to spend the week working stage crew. I’m sure it will be a great experience for them. But I couldn’t let them NOT celebrate Easter, so we took a couple of Easter baskets for them.

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I also got to try out my new little camera. It’s a Nikon Coolpix s7000, similar to what we’ve used before. But so far I’m impressed. I took this picture while driving on the I-15.
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Here’s our driving selfie.

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And another random house.
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When we got back home we got out the eggs and dye for the coloring of the eggs.
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I think they got tired of just coloring, so they brought in a friend. This is one of the 6 week old chicks we have in the garage. She’s the calm mellow one.

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But when they brought in Speckle, things got a little crazy.
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We had chicks on the counter, running, flapping, and soon one was on the floor. We managed to contain the mess and put them back into their cage in the garage.

After cleaning up the eggs, it was time for dinner, then celebrating Cole’s 22 birthday! He didn’t really have a lot going on for his day, although he and Emily went to lunch. Dinner was casual and we had a cake, and he had a few friends come over for games.
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He and Emily had too much fun popping the bubble wrap.

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Easter Sunday was busy as well. We were singing in our sacrament meeting in the choir, so there was a choir practice, then run home and grab a few things and head right over to the church to get a half hour of practice in at the church with the organ. The program went beautifully.

Ryan and I skipped out on Sunday school, however, to put the ham in the oven and assemble the potato casserole.

Then after church we had an Easter dinner with family. We ate delicious food, then had the traditional egg hunt, and some games.

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It was really a wonderful day.

(Sorry for the picture dump)

What can you do with that container?

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The Styrofoam leftover container.

It presents so many possibilities.

If only you had one of those containers, you could fill it with your leftovers. You could take that single serving to someone who lives alone and they wouldn’t have to cook dinner. Better yet, you could take it and eat with them. Talk to them. Think of all the people you could serve if you just had the right container. I’ll bet there is someone near you that would really appreciate a dinner, a treat, a surprise. More than that, though, they would know that you were thinking of them.

So get a container–any container. It could be a special leftovers container, it could be your old gladwear or rubbermaid containers, or it could be a simple paper plate. It’s not the container that matters. Fill that plate with food. The dinner that you made too much of, the cookies that you want out of the house, or the bread you made this morning.

Now think for a minute who around you could use some love.
There’s someone who just had a baby
Someone had surgery.
Someone who’s mother is dying and they haven’t had time to think about dinner.
There’s someone in your neighborhood who feels isolated and alone,
Someone who lives in the neighbor’s basement apartment and doesn’t think anyone knows they are even there,
Someone who is sick,
Someone who is caring for their aged spouse and can’t leave the house much,
Someone who’s pregnant,
Someone who is worried about their teenager.
How about the neighbor whose missionary just came home?
One of your neighbors is having trouble at work. Maybe their business is going badly, or maybe their small start up company is booming so fast, they don’t have time to think.
Someone just lost their job.
What about that neighbor who doesn’t come to church,
Or the family who just moved in? They have boxes all over, and haven’t even thought of how they are going to feed the family tonight.
Someone’s oven is broken. Again.
Someone’s in the middle of a painting or remodeling project.
Someone is alone, thinking of the spouse that they loved who has died.
Someone is surrounded by three kids under 5, just wishing they were alone.
There’s the neighbor whose car is in the shop, so she couldn’t go out and get groceries this week. She’s looking at the cupboard wondering what she’s going to make with tomato juice, macaroni, and canned peaches.
Someone’s husband is out of town on business, and she is feeling overwhelmed.
Someone is trying to figure out the taxes.
Did you know that your neighbor has had three kids get sick in the past week? I’ll bet she wouldn’t so no if dinner showed up at the door.
Someone is battling depression and doesn’t feel like she can even step outside.
Someone just found out they have cancer.
Someone has given up hope.

Wouldn’t they love to know that you were thinking of them?

If you are saying to yourself, “I’m a terrible cook. No one wants to eat something that I made. I was just going to go pick up a pizza for my family tonight.” Then pick up extra. Drop one off at that neighbor’s house. Ring the bell and say that the delivery is here. Give them a hug, and leave. Or pick up cookies from the grocery store. No judgement on your cooking skills.

It doesn’t have to be wrapped fancy. It doesn’t even have to be food. Do you have a book you loved and you think a friend might enjoy it? Drop it off with a note letting them know you were thinking of them.

Don’t want them to know it’s from you? Do the doorbell ditch. Leave the package on the front step, ring the bell, and run around the corner. It’s exhilarating. It’s fun to not get caught. (Just make sure someone is actually home or the stray dog might find your goodies.)

Afraid to go to the neighbor’s house? Write a note. Mail it.

If you read that list above and think…That’s me! I’m experiencing one or two of those difficult situations! Someone should bring me something!
Don’t think you are exempt from service. You need to do service now, even though it’s hard. Nothing will make you feel better about your situation than serving someone else.

Too many people are alone, or FEEL like they are alone in their situation. All of us feel that way sometimes. Why not share? Share your food, share your leftovers, share your cookies, share your time, share your LOVE.

You can make your world a better place just by filling up that container, and showing someone else how much you care.

Not really a writer, just pretending sometimes

I’ve been in the Bells on Temple Square for 10 years- almost 11, now. After our first concert, someone I didn’t know came up to me and asked me a few questions about the concert. She said she was from the choir’s newsletter, and could she email me? The choir has a newsletter? OK, Sure. That led to them asking me if I would write an article for the “Keeping Tab”, which is the Choir’s biannual newsletter.
me and liz
Here’s me and my dear friend Liz.
I didn’t realize at that time that it was a permanent thing. But every 6 months, I would write one or sometimes two articles about what the Bells on Temple Square were up to. After a couple of years of doing this, they invited me to be set apart for the magazine staff. I got to go meet President Mac Christensen in his office in the Tabernacle. I invited my family, and they thought it was pretty cool to go backstage with us and President Christensen (Mr. Mac to those of you not familiar with him) and he set me apart as a member of the writing staff.
Mac-Christensen-2012

The Choir has lengthy articles about their latest tour and concerts, and I’m all like, well, we did a spring concert, and a fall concert, and several music and the spoken word broadcasts in between. And we rehearse every week. Hmm. So, I would try to come up with other things to talk about. I wrote about our summer parties, about how many people in Bots were related, about what it’s like to play bells, backstage at the Christmas concerts, etc. Some articles were better than others, of course. My favorite part of the magazine is always the “mint slippers” or the funny things that the directors say in rehearsal. Thankfully, I have a helper, Theresa, who has always written those down for me. I write a few down, but she has a more comprehensive list. Larry, our associate director, is now always saying, “Oh, don’t write that down!” because he says such funny things in rehearsal.
concert1
Me with some dancers backstage at a Christmas concert

It’s been fun to write the articles, but as the deadline rolled around and I had been newly called as Relief Society President, I wondered if it were appropriate to be asked to be released from the writing job. It’s not like it takes a ton of time, but even a couple of extra hours when you have a lot to do is a bit much. And shouldn’t someone else get the opportunity and blessings, as well? I spoke to my director and she agreed that it was fine to be released, and suggested someone to take my place.

A few weeks after that, I got this presentation at rehearsal one night. A thank you for my service of writing for the newsletter for 10 years.

keeping tab

In case you can’t read the small print, it says “Keeping Tab Pulitzer Prize, Best Literary Articles, Paige Erickson, For making the star studded directors look almost human, and making the ringers look more important than the directors.”

We don’t take ourselves too seriously, obviously.

It’s been an honor and really a lot of fun to be on the writing staff. When my days in the choir are over, I will look back at all those keeping tabs and smile as I read about our concerts and adventures.

You take the the good, you take the bad, you take them both…


Kind of a wild weekend here. Full of ups and downs. But in each “bad” we can also see a “good”.

Natalie and her friend Maggie slid off the road in Heriman on Saturday morning on their way to a debate tournament and had to be helped out of the snow.

They took first place in duo at that tournament.
natalie trophy

I twisted my ankle in the parking lot of the stake center for our Women’s conference. I grabbed onto the side view mirrors of two cars. Thankfully, I did not break those mirrors.

It was a wonderful conference full of great speakers and fellowship and I’m so glad I was there.

Jenna’s parakeet flew out of the house at the end of her party when two of her friends went out to get into the car and flew away from us when we tried to find it. We tried to catch her, but she kept flying away and landing in higher and higher trees, until she flew over the house and we lost sight of her.

jenna friends

Jenna’s friends all came outside to help us look. When we couldn’t find the bird and Jenna was in tears, all of her friends gathered together to say a prayer. Even though it was freezing outside, those girls were out there, some without coats, searching the neighborhood for that bird. It was dark and getting late, and I had to take them home, but they didn’t want to go. They all wanted to keep searching for that bird because they knew how sad Jenna was to lose it. Those are some good friends.

Megan drove home from our house back to her apartment on Sunday night. Roads were very slick and she had to go quite slowly. I was worried when I hadn’t heard from her, even though it had been over two hours since she had left.

Megan’s roommate had also been traveling back to school, when she slid off the road and hit the barrier. She was able to drive her car to Nephi after the accident, where Megan picked her up and took her home with her. Later, the roommates insisted she go to the hospital to have her injuries checked out. Minor concussion and bruised rib, but she’ll be ok.

jenna presents

Things happen. Good things. Great things. Horrible things. Annoying things. But even in the bad, I think we can still find some good.

Life is all about perspective. The sinking of the Titanic was a miracle to the lobsters in the ship’s kitchen.

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