Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feeling Light

I am feeling remarkably lighter today. It's such a good feeling. 80 credit hours of CPE for my semi-annual CPA license renewal is FINALLY DONE! Oh Glory Day! And there are no parties or events or reunions to execute in the near term...No giant school projects...No huge lingering home To-Do's other than the normal upkeep.

If only the taxes were done and the RMB work were caught up...

But still, I am feeling LIGHT and super excited. There are so many things I've been itching to do lately, but haven't felt "justified" in indulging with so many other priorities on my plate. Over the next few weeks I want to:

Play with my new Photoshop I got for Christmas.

Finish a baby blanket I started a month and a half ago.

Stay up late and play hours of guiltless "Take Two" with Ryan.

Read the Twilight series (Barrett read the first three this past month and is half-way through Breaking Dawn).

Teach Easton how to ride his bike.

Rent Zoro and The Notebook and watch them in bed.

Try a new Hip Hob Abs workout.

Download by 2010 runs into my new Garmin software.

Bake some whole wheat bread.

Try to beat Afton at Battleship.

Go to the snow with my kiddos.

Plan our summer vacations.

Play lots of catch and do BP with the girls. (Softball has started.)

And the list goes on...

I am so looking forward to a weekend filled with early morning jogs, time with my kids, a Hale Theatre & dinner date with my hubby, maybe a snow day on Saturday (weather permitting), Sunday morning sleeping in and Sunday afternoon relaxation.

I can hardly wait! And I'm kicking it off tonight with 2 hours of volleyball. It's gonna be a good one for sure.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Garden

Yesterday was a good Sunday. Actually, they are pretty much always good for me. I love that at the end of what typically seems to be a crazy busy week, we get to have a day of rest. A day with no shopping, no errands, no email. A day with the kids all at home with us together. A day to worship and renew. A day of peace without all the normal demands of “life” pulling us in every direction. I am grateful for the precedent set in the beginning with the Creation: Christ created the world in six days, but on the seventh day – the Sabbath Day – he rested from his labors. Truly, the Plan is divine.

Perhaps now that my youngest is four and we are pretty much past the stage of wrestling with restless kids and constantly pleading for reverence, I truly enjoy all my meetings. I don’t always enjoy the hour before church as we hurry to get ourselves ready while working to ensure four peeps are fed, combed, brushed, and polished up in their Sunday best with a few minutes to spare. Miraculously, we’re almost always on time. And sure, we have the occasional Sacrament Meeting meltdown when one kid has usurped the treasured red crayon that the other was using. And there are certainly times when one clever child has successfully snuck candy into their church bag and is refusing to share with the less resourceful siblings resulting in mini-volcanic eruptions. But mostly, mostly, they sit pretty quietly and at least act like they’re listening.

I have always loved going to church. Really. Always. Even when I was a teenager and young adult when some find reason to miss at will, I just always felt like it was the place I needed to be on Sunday. There were times earlier in my life when I wasn’t always walking straight on the path that I needed to be on, but still, I’d be there on Sunday trying to fill my cup and straighten my gait.

Because I don’t have a Sunday calling now (I’m the ward activities director), I get to attend both Sunday School and Relief Society and be a sponge. I’m soaking it up. Our gospel doctrine teachers are both outstanding, so I feel like I am really progressing in my learning. And of course – I love the Relief Society lessons. They are always so good.

But yesterday, I had one of those little tender mercies that made my Sunday a little extra great. My little man, Easton, who is only four, was asked to give the talk in primary. He came home last week proudly flashing his blue slip of paper with the assignment and topic and told me he was giving the talk. Admittedly, I thought to myself, “Great. A talk. This from my guy whose shy streak runs fierce when put in the spotlight.”

So as we finalized his talk on Christ’s Atonement yesterday morning and did a couple of dry runs, I was worried that he’d freeze up and refuse to open his mouth when the moment came. He’s never given the talk before, but even when he was assigned the weekly scripture or prayer, he’s gone mute under the pressure. So I prayed a little extra Sunday morning as we walked out the door that he’d find his voice and have the courage he needed to speak up like he does at home.

When it was his turn to speak, I walked up to assist and helped him step up on the chair so his little frame could peer above the podium. Immediately, his impulse to hide kicked in and his legs seemed to fill with concrete. But as I silently prayed he’d do it this time, he arose with head lowered a bit and one hand clinging fiercely to my back. Then we started. The children were completely reverent. I held his visual aid and he repeated the prompts. Even though his words were quiet at times, with the help of the microphone he was completely audible:

“This is my garden. When I make good choices, my flowers grow. But sometimes, I make mistakes. If I am mean to my sisters, the weeds grow. (He placed some weeds cut from green cardstock on top of the pretty flowers). When I don’t obey my parents, the weeds grow (more weeds attached). When I forget to pray, the weeds grow. If I cheat on a test, the weeds grow.

Jesus helps me get rid of the weeds. Because he sacrificed his life and atoned for my sins, he can help me get rid of my weeds. (Easton then removed all his weeds revealing the beautiful flowers). This is my garden now. It is beautiful like me. I love Jesus. I love my family. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

It was short and simple and the pure. The spirit was so strong as this small four year old boy shared his testimony of the atonement with all of us. As I left, he beamed his smile at me. I walked late into Sunday School and took my seat with moist eyes and a softened heart. Does it get any better than that?

So I’ve been thinking about my garden and the weeds that sometimes creep in. Metaphorically speaking. I want my garden to be beautiful and clutter-free. I want to get rid of the weeds. I will try harder to take advantage of that most precious gift from our Savior that was so freely given in the Garden and on the cross so many years ago. I will not take it for granted. The price was so high for Him.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sycamore Creek

Last Monday was President's Day, and all our kiddos were off school. And Ryan and I had the day off of work, too, so it was really a vacation day. Ryan started the day out early posting flags around the neighborhood with the scouts, I went on a 5-mile jog, then Ry & Barrett headed out for an early morning movie with Grandma Cheri & Grandpa Bob. While they were gone, Shari called and invited us to join them for an afternoon desert trip. Sounded like fun, so we changed our plans and packed a lunch. We drove to Sycamore Creek (about 30 minutes away), and had a fun kick-back afternoon with our cousins.

We started out the day asking the kids to stay dry - keep their shoes out of the water - but that lasted about two seconds. I should know better. Running creek water is just way too tempting. So they were all soaked within minutes. Good thing we brought extras for the ride home!

Tannerino & Rowan climbing a tree

Our Randi Girl. Isn't she beautiful?

Ryan & Easton practicing their rock skipping technique. It's something every boy should know how to do, right?

It was great day by all accounts! Perfect weather and good memories with the fam.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just Because

No occasion for these pics...just a lovely Sunday afternoon two weeks ago. As we pulled into the garage after church, I looked back at my four beautiful kiddos and was so grateful that we were all together. So grateful to be their mom. So grateful that we had gone to church and that we are working daily to stay on the path...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Top 3 iPhone Pics of the Week

My little man loves to help me out at home, especially when I'm cooking. One of his specialties is shucking corn, so I try to let him do it whenever possible. He feels so grown up. Look at that grin! I was smiling behind the camera too.

Rowan was thrilled with her last Valentine's Day gift from her dad: a set of walkie talkies. All afternoon on Sunday the kids played with them. They wanted "code names" for the airways, and after a bit of brainstorming, decided on Heartbreaker 1, Lovergirl, Roxy, & Romeo. I think Cupid and Juliette were in the running too. Too funny. Anyway, it was Rowan's turn to be in charge of FHE on Monday night, so she asked if I could help. Of course. But she pretty much had it all planned out already. She wanted to use her new walkie talkies and go on a scavenger hunt in teams. So she and I came up with a super fun scavenger hunt that sent the fam on a hunt around the house (all centered around the family - read a paragraph from The Family Proclamation on the wall, read a certain scripture on families that pray together, sing a verse of I Love to See the Temple, tell Rowan something they love about her, etc.), and ended in the living room for family prayer. Afterwards, we loaded up in the suburban and headed to Golden Spoon (picture above) to use our 13th day of Valentines gift cards that Dad had left on each of our beds. What a great night that was!

Ahhhh...and this is last night at 8:30. I was busy making some thank you gifts while multitasking with the Half Pipe Event in Vancouver, Barrett was finishing her homework, Ryan was on his way to softball, and Easton & Afton were sneaking in some TV upstairs. And here lay asleep on the chair next to me, complete with her blackout mask and cheetah blanket. So Rowan. Wish that was me!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My New Do

Yes, this is a super high quality self-portrait taken with my iphone just now at my desk at work. I'm getting ready to leave to pick up the kiddos. But last night as I left Tantrum, Jayme (my stylish SIL and ever-so-fabulous hairdressor) said, "This is blog worthy. I expect to see pictures on your blog." So here it is. The new hair-do. Many many inches chopped and gone. I was ready for a change. Gone are the long locks. Gone is the ponytail. But my hair grows like weeds, so if I decide I want it back again, I could have it long by Christmas. Not sure I'll want it back by then, but nice to know it's an option.

I'm pretty sure my hot hubby isn't crazy about the new look. Don't get me wrong - he'll love me no matter what and has been doing this married thing long enough to know that you don't tell your wife that she looked better the other way. He's good like that. Still, when I walked in the door last night all glammed up after Jayme's expert blow dry and flat ironing job, his reaction was, "Wow." Silence. "So, are you just getting ready for summer?" And that was it. No, "You look beautiful!" or "I like the new look." or anything like that.

But that's OK. Really, it is. All I really need is to put on some cute jeans and killer stilletos on our next date and he'll be putty in my hand. My man is a shoe man for sure. He loves it when my toes are painted and my heels are on. I get dressed up for just about every date we go on. I think it's important to look pretty for our husbands (and for ourselves of course - that goes without saying). It shows them we love them, that we are excited to be with them, and that going out together is important.

I have never ever ever been one to fuss about my haircuts either. Maybe because I've always had an awesome stylist (Jayme) who I trust completely and who always seems to make me happy. And then there's that whole growing thing again. If it's a little too short, I know it will grow. No worries. But last night, I left saying, "I love it!" and I really do.

Short. Sassy. Blonde. Me.

Pair the new Do with some huge hoops or dangly ear candy, and call it good.

Love...Exciting and New...Come Aboard...

The Hawaiian Island Love Boat Cruise went off without a hitch this past Saturday night. We had sooooo much fun (in case you can't tell by the pictures). I have to say that Ryan was truly a star. He totally dressed and acted the part of Isaac, the ship's bartender. He was mixing up a mean strawberry lemondade and one crazy "mango with bubbles." Everyone loved him! Especially me! Thanks, Ry, for being such a great sport and so willing to make the party great. You were a big hit!

As the passengers entered the building (or more correctly boarded the ship), they were greeted on deck by the whole crew. I had my clip board in hand to log in our passengers and the crew shook hands and introduced themselves to the bunch. Everyone got a good laugh as they came on board. We had it all decorated like a cruise ship with railings and all. It was great. Our ship's awesome activities coordinator, Louisa LeSueur, had a golf putting game lined up just as they boarded and a couple of quick games inside include some Love Boat Trivia.

Pictured above is the whole crew. From left: Chris Colvin (aka "Doc") - he'd ditched the stethescope by the end of the night, but he was doing a mighty fine job making sure our passengers were in good health; Bishop Jim Goodman (aka "Captain Stubing") - he couldn't have been more perfect for the part; Me (aka "Julie McCoy" - the Cruise Director); Ryan (aka "Isaac Washington" the ship's bartender); Drew Solomon (aka "Gopher").

The entertainment was terrific. Thanks to our neighbor, Forrest Tyson, who knows all things Hawaiian, we were able to line up a great Hawaiian band, complete with three hula dancers, to perform throughout the night. They were very professional and played for over 2 hours. They played background music throughout dinner, then did a full show after dinner. It was great. Near the end, they called up a few willing guests (Karen Rowley, Forrest Tyson, and Nicole Barney) from the passenger galley to learn a Hula dance.

Isaac & Julie sneaking a little private time together towards the end of the show (actually, we finally stole away and grabbed a quick bite to eat.) Our dinner menu was Island Terriyaki Pork, Hula Chicken Tenders, Sweet Pototates, Roasted Potatoes, Homemade rolls, Fruits, and Salads with assorted dressings. Super delicious if I do say so myself!

And our dessert bar was just fantastic thanks to our RS presidency: chocolate mousse pie, key lime pie, cherry & blueberry cheesecakes, and pina colada cake. I'm pretty sure no one went home hungry (although I didn't make quite enough pototoes - everyone except for about 6 of us who were on "shift" got plenty of pototates, though, so we were pretty close. I should have made one more pan. And there was no leftover pork, either. Every single morsel got devoured by the end.)

Here is our fearless leader, Captain Jim and his beautiful bride (also my wonderful Aunt Diane), posing for a great shot. A huge shout out to Corinne for being our ship's photographer that night. She got great pictures of all the couples posing with this huge life preserver ring (courtesy of JD's handywork. Thanks so much!).

This is a shot from one of the crazy cruise games Lousia planned at the beginning before dinner. The band lead singer called up six couples. The wives were instructed to smear shaving cream on their husbands, then the competition began. Each wife slung cheerios and the winner was the couple with the most highly decorated husband. Too funny. (I'm so glad Ryan and I were on shift and couldn't participate!)

Our momento from the night.

The turnout was pretty good. We had about 70 people there. During the planning, I was worried about that a little because of people traveling and such over the 3-day holiday weekend. But even with a good number of couples being out of town or otherwise schedule conflicted, it was still a packed house.

The decor in the center of our buffet table.

Nedra & Dale Goodman

Karen & Billy Rowley

Corinne & J.R. Berrey

Cadi & JD Winters

Thanks to everyone for making it a super fun night! And a super duper duper huge thanks to my mom for all of her help! I couldn't have pulled it off without her (as usual!) You're the best, mom. We'll be doing the duo thing again this weekend with our Stake Women's Conference. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, February 11, 2010


One of my most favorite lunch places is right across the street. Although I can't see it out my 7th floor window since my office faces east (instead I have a killer view of both Camelback and Superstition Mountains), if I walk down the hall a short ways it stares me in the face.

And lucky for me, some genius finally convinced the City of Phoenix a year or so ago to build a pedestrian tunnel crossing Camelback between 24th and 26th. So now I can just zoom down the elevator, slip out the big glass door, and immerse myself in the sunlight as I walk across the street to the Biltmore. And there awaits my Paradise.

Today, I dined outside. It couldn't be more beautiful. A crisp, but not too cold, perfect February afternoon. My "Choose 2" combo of a half club on a croissant and small Southwest Caesar was just what the doctor ordered. Oh - and the cookie. Yes, the famous Paradise Bakery chocolate chippers. You really can't pass them up even if you wanted to since one comes with your lunch combo. But then again, who would want to? Actually, my girlfriend, Jackie, who works with me once gave me her cookie (she wasn't even dieting) and said she really didn't care for the Paradise Cookies.

WHAT? How can that be?

I have to say that I even though I make a mean chocolate chip cookie myself, there's just some magic mojo in those Paradise Cookies that speak love to my lips. I even succumbed and bought a second one (I mean two) for later (hey, it was buy one, get one free.) I thought maybe I'd bring the two cookies home to share with the fam...but then I thought again. I mean really - how can you share just 2 cookies amidst 5 peeps? You can't even split them equally and make it fair, so really...I'll just save myself the trouble and chaos and eat them myself. he he he. Like I need them. Good thing I've got 5 miles on my running schedule for tomorrow morning.

I’ve often said, I run so I can eat. And I mean that.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Love Boat: Departing 2/13/10

Yes, it's true. The Love Boat is departing on Saturday night on a Hawaiian Islands cruise. The whole crew will be there. At least sort of. Captain Stubing's role will be played by the very talented Bishop Jim Goodman. When I talked to Diane about it a few weeks ago, she accepted on Jim's behalf and said, "Any opportunity to wear a hat is a good one." We both laughed. (In case you don't know my Uncle Jim, he's lacking in the hair department. Actually, he's pretty much bald.) He's such a good sport to be our ship's captain! It's only fitting, actually, since he is the captain of our ward.

Gopher and The Doc will be there too. Yours truly is Julie, the infamous Cruise Director. But I'm afraid I won't have the short brown bob to totally pull it off.

Navy blue suit - Yes.

Clip board - Yes.

Can Do Attitude - Absolutely.

But the hair - not so much.

And last but not good humored husband was cast for the role of Isaac the bartender. (Yes, I know Ryan is white, has no fro, and no mustache. But a good costume can take care of most of that.) He'll be great. Bartending at a mormon shindig - how hard can that be? A little ice water, a little lemonade. Throw in some Sprite and cranberry juice to really get things shakin. Oh yeah. It's party time!

When I was brainstorming in early January about what fun things we might do for our Ward Adult Valentine's Party, I kept coming back to The Love Boat idea. The song ran through my mind the whole commute home from work. Are you singing it to yourself now?

"Love. Exciting and new. Come aboard. We're expecting you!"

Our committee loved the idea, so we decided to give it a whirl. My over-the-top fabulous friend, Louisa, made these adorable cruise tickets for the invitations. And our very talented home teacher and friend J.D. is helping us with our photo prop and costumes. It should be a great night. My mom and I have been busy. I'm pretty sure I couldn't do this activities director calling without her help. We've been scheming, cutting, designing, taping, sawing, painting, shopping. Last night we were hot gluing fools (and I have 2 blisters to prove it). But the decorations are pretty much done and they look great! Friday will be lots of cooking. I can hardly wait for the departure on Saturday night. We've got great decor, great food, and great entertainment all lined up. Now hopefully all the passengers will show up and make it a great cruise!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Backyard Campout

OK, I'm just going to flat out brag. My husband rocks! Seriously rocks.

This morning, for the sixth day of Valentine's, he made me breakfast in bed. Yes, really. But that is not even what I'm bragging about. (Okay, maybe a little.)

Here's the real reason I'm tootin' his horn tonight:

Last night, he took the kids camping. In the backyard. They have been stoked about it all week long. First, it was dinner and dessert at Nielsen's Frozen Custard, then they came home and set up a huge tent out back. They pulled every conceivable blanket and sleeping bag we owned out of the closets and shelves, and made killer beds. Unfortunately, they had technical difficulties with the movie set-up (and I was at the office working so I couldn't come to the rescue), so they skipped the movie and had more treats. Oh by the way - he gave each of them a glow stick too. And if you have kids, you know there's something magical about that little glow stick. It's just a stick of pure happy.

No one wandered in during the night. No one wet the bed. No one was cold. At 7:00 am, the troops came inside and made breakfast. Success. if that weren't enough, Ryan said that they could do it again tonight! They have been so excited again all day. He took them to the dollar store (one of their favorite treats) and to Blockbuster to choose their flick for tonight. We got through dinner, baths, teeth brushed, potty. Now all four of our peeps + one terrific Dad are outside, zipped inside the tent, watching the latest Ice Age movie (I lost track of which number we're on. Maybe Ice Age 3?) And their movie set up is awesome. I hooked up my laptop this time and we connected some extra speakers for that in-theatre experience. Movie theatre style.

So as I zipped them all in and blew them some kisses, I got a bunch of thank you's and I love you's from the crew. They are so stinkin' cute.

And I am married to one incredible guy.

P.S. If you are wondering why I am not in there camping too , I'm trying to catch up on life and tackle a couple of projects that have been on my plate for too long. But I couldn't resist the urge to sneak in a quick blog first. Gotta run!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Moms shouldn’t be hard to shop for. Especially my mom who loves most of the same stuff that I love. Clothes, shoes, jewelry, house stuff, etc… But for some reason, I often have a hard time picking out the perfect gift for my mom. Maybe because I love her so much and want to really let her know that, I feel like I’m always on the hunt for the perfect thing and nothing quite seems to do. Of course, I made the homemade picture calendar again this Christmas, and that is always something I love to do. I think she loved it too. Who doesn’t love looking at their gorgeous grandkids plastered on the fridge every day, right? And I found a cool pan she wanted (maybe not exciting to all, but to us kitchen lovers it was cool.) But still, I wanted to do something else. Something fun. Something out of the box.

Then I decided that really, the best gift I could give my mom was the gift of time together. So I googled (what I always do) and researched and found a handful of great shows that we could go see together. Finally, I narrowed it down to a couple and then decided on Riverdance. My mom had mentioned a few times in the past that she would love to go see it or Stomp or a Chorus Line or some other Broadway show like that.

This past Tuesday night was our night. We headed to the Mesa Arts Center for a 7:30 pm showing of Riverdance and were not disappointed. Oh my goodness! It was so amazing! Truly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any dancing that compared. The synchronization was perfect. The talent was unbelievable. The house was packed, we had great seats, and both of us were just overwhelmingly impressed with the caliber of the production. Sooooooo fantastic! And what a fun time to spend with my mom! No cameras were allowed, so unfortunately we didn't get any pics. But go see it if you get a chance. I think this is the last year of their world tour. You will love it!

Time To Blossom

I just thought I'd forward this link in case anyone is interested in signing up their daughters for this fun Young Women's Conference. It's at the Mesa Hilton June 14-18 for girls age 11-16 (must be 12 by 12/31/10). Barrett and a couple of her cousins are going and are soooooo exicted!

And since I'm talking about Barrett, I just thought I'd post one of my favorite scrapbook pages of her and Randi, together last spring at our house. So cute!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Day 1

On the first day of Valentine's, my true love gave to me...

a box of sour jelly bellies!

The first year that we were married, Ryan started the tradition of doing the 14 Days of Valentine's with me. That year, I was surprised to find a little purple cut out heart on my bed on February 1st. I had no idea what it was all about, until about 3 or 4 days into February when it hit me that I was getting a little something special every day. Sometimes it was a small gift, some days a small act of service. Some days a fun date or a massage or foot rub. But every day, Ryan made an effort to do a little something extra for me to let me know how much he loved me. Isn't he romantic? I think I'll keep him :)

Well...14 years of Valentine's Days later, and the tradition is still alive. He hasn't missed a year. My friend at work, Richard, jokes that all of the guys hate Ryan because he's making them look bad. I just smile and tell him to step up. Make your wife grin ear to ear this Valentine's Day. Do something out of the ordinary to let her know how much you love her.

That's actually good advice for all of us gals, too. Let's step it up this Valentine's Day and let our men know that they rock our world!