Thursday, May 21, 2009

...Not Since Kelly

Well, last night we finished the 8th season of American Idol. I admit it I'm a junkie. I've watched every season and loved them all. Just call me a slave to pop-culture. It's ok... I like buying into the hype. I appreciate how each year the judges, the fans and, of course, the contestants become more sophisticated (generally). But one thing hasn't changed and that is, I ALWAYS like the underdog - is it my nature to root for them or do I like things that the rest of America doesn't? Every year I have wanted the 2nd place contestant to win.

Here's a little recap just in case you have forgotten (or missed a season)

Season 1: Kelly Clarkson - winner
Justin Guarini - 2nd place

Season 1 was the only exception to this rule of wanting the 2nd place contestant to win. Of course Kelly Clarkson rightly won. Cuz in the grand scheme of things there were no other contestants. I mean really...

(Just as a side note I heard Justin was trying to get one of his songs into the new Twilight Movie - hmm, who knows, maybe its good)

Season 2: Ruben Studdard - winner
Clay Aiken - 2nd place

I really liked Ruben and I thought he had a great voice. I wanted Clay to win. Clay should have won.

Season 3: Fantasia Barrino - winner
Diana DeGarmo - 2nd place

Well maybe this year didn't count so much... I didn't like either one of these finalists, bleh. In the end though I was still rooting for Diana because Fantasia bugged (and still does). SCREEEEECH!!!!!!

Season 4: Carrie Underwood - winner
Bo Bice - 2nd place

Now here's where I went wrong and I have since repented. I thought Bo should have won. I really liked Carrie but I felt like she did this weird "disconnect" thing with her eyes when she sang(I thought she looked bored or something) . She still does it, but now I recognize it as "effortless singing."

This is a very dumb reason to write her off, and my exact point about becoming more sophisticated in being able to hear, see and judge talent. Carrie is BEAUTIFUL and is one of my top 3 favorite idols, ever! And Bo??? Where exactly is he?

Season 5: Taylor Hicks - winner
Katherine McPhee - 2nd place

This year was another weird year. Taylor Hicks? I mean, come on... He's likable and everything but this year should have gone to Chris Daughtry. Taylor and Katherine were just poor substitutes for the real deal.

Out of the two, I wanted Katherine to win. But she hasn't done much either. Very sad for the both of them.

4th place???? This is absurd! He's a total STAR!

Season 6: Jordin Sparks - winner
Blake Lewis - 2nd place

Here's another one I have repented of. I was disappointed when Jordin won. She was so young and I was afraid of what she might produce. I thought she won because of the song the the 2 finalists sang at the end. It's the same song. Jordin rocked it! Blake did not! It did not fit his vocal style at all. He was robbed.

I now love Jordin's songs. I have them on my iPod. I'm glad she won. Her age had nothing to do with it.

But I still love Blake, where is he? Come on Blake throw us a bone!

Season 7 David Cook - winner, David Archuleta - 2nd

Last year was a particularly tough year. I really liked both the Davids a lot. But in the end, I had to go with David Archuleta. His voice is "like butta". I mean I'm not kidding! I'm glad they both have successful albums. I own them both, I like them both, but I have to say that, even now, I listen to David Archuleta more than David Cook.


So now this brings us to Season 8, the one that ended last night. This is the first season that went just how I though is should. The first 9 contestants going off in whatever order... fine for me. This left us with Danny Gokey, Kris Allen and Adam Lambert.

As much as I love Danny he needed to leave when he did. It made me sad when he had to go though.

This left us with Kris and Adam.

Adam was the popular favorite from the beginning. He is radical, and theatrical and very
talented. He isn't bad looking and he is shockingly humble, despite his dramatic appearance and personality. He grew on me over the season, even though I was a little put off by his
persona, and a little annoyed by his lifestyle choices,
I really grew a little thing for him during the group number that Paula choreographed. He was very entertaining to watch. There is no doubt he has talent on MANY levels. I found him to be quite versatile, quite likable, and quite a good choice for an American Idol.


When Kris came on the scene, it all changed. The first time I heard him sing on the show I was like, "Wait a minute! Stop the presses! Who is THAT?" He is by far the best looking guy this season, he's the boy next door, he plays the guitar AND the piano, he has a cute little crooked mouth when he sings, he has great hands, and my personal favorite; when he plays the guitar and the microphone is on its stand, I love when he stops playing for a minute and holds the mike with his pick hand. He's got his finger all curled up (holding his pick) and it is just the best. I searched high and low for a picture of him doing this but only found one little blurry one. I guess you'll just have to go rewatch his performances.

I've ended up downloading all his songs. He is without reproach (to coin a Jane Austin phrase). I literally can not stop listening to his voice. It does so many cool things. I wish I knew vocal terms so I could tell you what it is I'm hearing that I love. Maybe there aren't words for his little inflections. But to me it sounds effortless. Like he doesn't plan for his voice to do certain things at certain times but it just does it, and it turns out to be the best thing that could have been done at that particular moment. Now, maybe he DOES plan it all out (what would I know) but to me it is purely beautiful.

I know about now you are saying, "Stef, I think you've developed a little crush on that guy." And though I'm a little red faced over it, it's true. I've watched during past seasons as my friends were enamored with the likes of Elliot Yamin, David Archuleta and David Cook. It was funny to me and now I'm as guilty as the rest.

But the point of it all is that the person who won is the one I wanted to win... this has never happened before... not since Kelly.


Friday, May 15, 2009


Thanks to my good friend Annette who reminded me with her blog post, "Finding Joy in the Journey" that I had planned to write something similar back in January. Pay close attention to her quote by Thomas S. Monson. I love it! So true.

Anyway, I took these pictures a few months ago after everyone had left the house one morning. I was feeling a little bit frayed out. I was just tired of picking up after everyone, you know the feeling..."I just got this place cleaned up and here we go again..." Then I walked into a room and saw this...

For some reason it just caught my heart. Brady (already 11) had been playing with his Cars toys ("guys", as we call them). They were arranged in a funny way and I started wondering what he had been thinking while playing with them. Then I realized that these days are short lived. There's going to come a time when he's not going to be caught dead playing with Lightening McQueen. I ran and got my camera... then I started realizing how quickly everything changes and that all the little messes I was annoyed about picking up AGAIN weren't always going to be there and that in reality, I would miss them, at least I would miss the mess makers. I walked from room to room taking pictures of some the evidence that my favorite people were alive and well. It even made me realize that I left messes around too. I guess we're all just human. And I love that!

Who else in our house (besides me) would leave make-up around?

Kelsi has a place to put all her school books and papers when she's not using them, but they still always end up on the washer and dryer, along with empty drink bottles that never seem to find there way to the recycle can without my help.

Brad had been methodically going through the entire collection of Seinfeld episodes to see which ones he wanted to keep. This was a common sight in the weight room for a many months. (He's now moved on to Star Trek, The Next Generation)

Yes, even I had left something out that morning (don't laugh that they are only 3 lbs. I'm sure I was doing something very tricky and strenuous that day:)

Monday, May 11, 2009


I'm sorry if you hang around me very much but my new buzz-phrase is going to be, "Energy In". Feel free to tell me to shut up, but most likely I won't. Let me tell you why.

Energy In #1
Last week, I had the great opportunity to fly to Arizona and take a class from one of my all time favorite scrapbookers/artists/people. Her name is Heidi Swapp. I have had many favorites in the scrapbooking industry, but Heidi has been most consistently my favorite. She has her own scrapbook supply company. And recently started on a new venture called House of 3. Which I love and can't figure out how one person could be so talented. Now, it's one thing to have a artistic talent, but she is much more than that. I'm always impressed with her energy level, her positive attitude and her ability to "get it done". I have had a few conversations with her over the internet (and in real life) and can't believe someone so busy would take/have the time to answer me and do so in such a meaningful way. She has given me some great insight over the last few months (which may be a post for another day) But communicating with her on a personal level hasn't dampened my opinion of her. In fact it has made me more of an admirer. So a the beginning of the year when I read on her blog about a new class she was teaching called "The Energy Journal" I knew, out of all the people I would like to learn about energy from, it would be her. I tried several different options where she was teaching, Edmonton, Houston and another venue in AZ, but none seemed to work out.

Hero Worship! (I'm trying not to be a stalker, lol)

I was thrilled when I got the green light from Brad that I could book a flight and a spot in the class.

Here's what I learned:
-Energy is like a circuit. It needs to be completed to do any good.
-Unblocking your "che" (um, I have no idea what the correct spelling of this word is) makes more sense if you replace the word "che" with the word "energy"
-Energy is the currency of life.
-Your energy can only be spent by you, and only you can choose where to spend it.
-If you choose to spend it only on "energy out" things, it's not going to be long before your "energy account" is depleted.
-The only thing you need to do to get energy in your account is to acknowledge what gives you energy, and suddenly the energy is there.
-"Energy in" items are personal and individual but they are often small and overlooked. (It could be something as small as a new pair of socks or as big as a trip to AZ to take a very cool class;) Remember to recognize Energy In.
-Some expenditures (energy out) are an investment. The return doesn't come back to you until a later time, but it is worth it (possibly something like taking care of your children)
-Gratitude is "free" energy. Anytime you feel grateful for something your energy account gets a deposit.

This is the class room. Look at how cute it is. Talk about Energy In!

Here are a few shots of my journal. It is supposed to be a work in progress, so this is just the bare bones. I can't wait to start adding to it. Can you see how it works? It is a "gate" opening (opens from the center). There are pages etc. to put "energy in" quotes and/or photos and more. I told you!... totally cool!

Energy In! #2
My sister Suzie lives in Gilbert, AZ. I got to stay with them while I was there and it was just the nicest thing ever. We got to talk all we wanted about life, love and life's challenges. I played with some of the cutest neices and nephews in the world. We got to eat out at Famous Dave's BBQ and Black Angus. And after I took my class, we were able to "unblock" some energy. Suzie and I cleaned and reorganized Suzie and Michael's Bedroom. I found it totally fun and energizing (much more exciting than cleaning my own room).

Famous Daves! Oh man I was so full! But it was oh, so good! Energy In!

Julia ALWAYS wanted to have her picture taken, she loved the idea of picture messages on cell phones and wanted to me to take lots of funny face pictures to send to cousin Afton. Catherine was grumpy in this photo because she was ready for a nap, and Collin was just making a point..."no pictures for him!"

This is my favorite photo!

Me and my Suzie in her clean and organized room (really! we are the same height, what is up with this photo - midget)

Energy In! #3
When I got home on Saturday I found out that Brad and the kids were taking care of Mother's Day Dinner the next day and had invited my parents down for the feast. We had Tri-tip, artichokes, mashed potatoes, jello and chocolate lava cake for dessert. I also got breakfast in bed and the chance to go for a walk in the beautiful weather with my cute doggies and my even cuter husband.

(See, I told you he was cute)

Thanks family, you're the best!!

This is our serious look (Brady=tired, Brad="genuinely" serious, Stef=angry - typical, Kelsi=confused, Afton= "acting"serious)

This is our goofy look (notice how Brad looks the same in every picture - I purposely deleted the picture where he was yawning:)

Me and the cutest kids EVER! I can't believe such cuteness is related to me.

As I continually struggle to be the kind of mom that kids are glad to have (and often failing miserably) I am lucky to live near my mommy. She is such a consistent example of patience, service, organization, positive attitude and insight. I don't have a natural ability at these things like she seems to, but I am glad she lives close so I can study her talents. I just hope my kids selective memories and then maybe someday they might think of me half as highly as I think of my mom. I could live with that.

I love you Mom!!!

BONUS - Energy In!
The day before I left for AZ. I was able to have lunch with my favorite Mogul friend Dianne and her adorable daughter Annie. They moved away from San Jose to Utah about 9 months ago. I miss them terribly! It was great fun and I was extremely sad it had to end. We ate at Mimi's Cafe (a tradition stemming from the old Mustard Moon days) and then drained our wallets at Home Goods afterwards. Can you say cha-ching? Dianne, you are the greatest!! Love you a ton!

Annie told us to laugh. Really? No problem there!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

...or fireworks

The weather around here has been very pleasant the last couple of weeks, ahhh, Springtime. But something happened on Friday.  It was a rainy, cold day.   Kind of a miserable day.  I had some errands in the morning so when I got home I let the dogs outside.  They seemed to be enjoying themselves, so I left them out there.  An hour or so later I had to go pick up Kelsi from school.  I looked outside and couldn't see the dogs. It had just started sprinkling so I assumed they had gone in their dog house.  I thought, "They've been cooped up all day.  I'll be back in 40 minutes, they'll be fine out there."  Well, 40 minutes later when I got back I took the garbage cans from the street to the back of the house.  No dogs came to greet me.  I went in the house and they weren't there either.  I started getting worried. Where on earth would they have gone? I checked for open gates or holes in the fence. There were none.  I went to the front and looked and called. Nothing.  I knew if they had gotten out they could have been gone up to 2 hours.  They could be anywhere.  By this time it was raining pretty hard.  Brady and Afton got on their bikes and I went out in the van.  We went all around and couldn't find them.  Chase and Macy  have microchips but no collars, I started thinking about someone picking up those poor, wet dogs and not knowing where they belonged.  I called neighbors, who hadn't seen them. I called Brad, but really, what could he do? I considered making "LOST DOG" flyers (how would the papers stay dry in this weather?) I got to a higher vantage point to look around and started realizing that even if they were within view (not likely) their coats would make it difficult to see them, they would be camouflaged. 

I knew our next door neighbor would have called if she would have seen them out, but I decide to go knock on their door anyway.  As I was standing there I turned around and saw Chase coming out of the weeds in the field across the street from our house.  But, no Macy!  This gave me hope that no one had picked them up, but it was bad news because Macy is very timid and young and, most likely, not able to get back home on her own.  I took Chase back out into the field hoping she was out there somewhere.  The weeds were knee high in some places and I knew if she was laying down, there was no way I'd see her even if I was close to her.  I was relying on Chase to show me where she was.  It soon became apparent he was more interested in rousting birds out of the weeds.  I think he did want to find Macy, he perked up whenever I said her name, but he really didn't know where she was.  I got the kids out on their bikes again (thank heaven's for cell phones) and we canvased the neighborhood (again).  We were all drenched, cold and miserable.  I was just glad we still had light.  Probably a 1/2 hour later I got a call from Kelsi saying she found Macy outside of our neighborhood, on her way toward the highway, in a field, but she wouldn't come, she just cowered and looked confused.  As I stood there wondering what to do (Because I was on foot I was 15 minutes away from where Kelsi was, and 15 minutes away from home where I could get the van)  Just then I looked up, and Brad was driving in.  I immediately sent him to go retrieve Macy (and Kelsi).  A few minutes later he came driving down the street with a drenched, pathetic, cold, scared, and very sad Macy.  It was so pathetic, poor baby.  We got the dogs home. Dried them off, got them inside, warmed them up, and helped them feel comfortable. But not before we took pictures. Brad say's he wishes he took a picture of Macy and Kelsi when he got to them. There they were crouched down in the field. Kelsi hugging a wet Macy, Macy whimpering, and the rain just pelting down on them.

Just as a side note, to get to where Macy was, Kelsi had to go down the biggest hill in our neighborhood, knowing she would have to come back up it later. She almost didn't go. Then she said she just had a feeling she should go at least look.  Later she told us that the night before she had prayed that she would be able to recognize the promptings of the spirit better.  And then this. What a good girl.

We were glad to have those puppies back.  Chase's paws were bleeding and he was walking crazy.  But we decided he just needed to rest and was good enough that we could go to Chevy's to celebrate finding our babies.  The balloon man also made us 2 balloon dogs while we were there, in honor of our victory.  It was fun but when we got home we realized the trouble wasn't over. Chase had puked-up more than I knew his stomach could hold.  He was shaking and seemed very, very sick.  I was afraid we were going to have to take him to the emergency vet (the only time our pets ever get sick is after hours)  As he laid on his pillow I saw a strange look come into his eyes and then without much more warning he spewed all over the carpet that had been cleaned less than a week earlier.  Brad, the trooper, pulled out the carpet cleaner and got to work.  Chase threw-up a couple more times outside (yes, still raining) and in his kennel overnight.  The next morning he seemed a little bit better, I gave him rice to eat knowing it was easier to digest.  He seemed to hold it down just fine.  By evening he seemed almost back to normal.  He and Macy had been out back visiting the neighbor dogs through the fence, Brad went outside and soon realized that there had been a skunk in the area and that at the very least the dogs had walked through the stink. Good heavens... what these dogs don't put us through.  

Now that I've convinced all of you fence sitting potential dog owners why you shouldn't get a dog, let me just say that I can't imagine not having either one of those critters here messing up our yard, our house and our routines.  They are the CUTEST and SWEETEST!

Also, I know you've been wait patiently to hear why this post is called "...or fireworks".  Well, your patience shall be rewarded.  While we were driving to Chevy's we were, of course, discussing the lost dog incident.  We were talking about Macy and how nervous she is.  Brad made the musing, "I wonder what Macy would ever do if there was thunder and lightening?" We all smiled and nodded as we lapsed in to a silence, pondering the concept.  Then I said, "or fireworks"  Kelsi and Brady echoed this sentiment by wistfully repeating my exact words with my exact tone, "... or firworks".  Someone pointed out the echo and we started laughing about it. This turned into a 10 minute interchange of us repeating some version of  "...or firworks."  It's only been a couple of days but the phrase has been brought up several times already.  So if you ever hear the Meyer family saying, "...or firworks" you'll know what we're talking about.  I would recommend that you just nod and smile and quietly repeat, "...or fireworks", and just leave it at that.