30 December 2011

I Am Team

Darren is in town for the holidays so we made plans to attend the Utah Jazz home opener. When I saw Gail Miller waiting to greet us at the door, I knew this was going to be a good night. People watching was at an all-time high during the game which helped when the Jazz were struggling. BUT, the Jazz did come away with a win and I can't wait to attend another game soon. 

Thurl Bailey and Billy Dean were accompanied by pianist Marvin Goldstein for The National Anthem.

Darren's sister Callee sat by this woman and feared being hit each time the woman spoke using her hands. Please note the green bottle of Febreez in her purse. 

Callee, Darren, me, and Meags

Go Jazz!

I'm Learning

In no particular order, here is a list of things I learned yesterday:

1) Finding the perfect bag and then seeing the $650 price tag makes the $120 bag look even better.

2) Edamame is disgusting if boiled too long.

3) Pinterest really does make me feel like I am crafty. Prepare for future posts about projects in the works.

4) One really can learn to dance. Courage is key. And maybe a small amount of letting go of inhibitions.

5) Movie remakes can be fun and entertaining, especially when viewed with a couple of favorite people.

6) Double header movie nights at the dollar theater rock.

7) Having a friend reveal a secret crush only to find out the crush is a friend of a friend: epically wonderful.

8) The lyrics "I know I've got to let it go and just enjoy the show" has me thinking...a lot.

An Idaho Christmas

The Holiday 'o' Fun activities have helped kindle the Christmas spirit within and for that I am most grateful. I usually dread the drive to Idaho during the holiday season but this year was different. No snow in the 801 and very little snow in B town. Sy and Avy Shae ran into the house, yelling my name and attacked me with hugs which is pretty much the best welcome ever.

I spent time reflecting on some of my favorite Christmas memories which include re-enacting the Nativity with extended family, Grandma B's peanut brittle, sleigh rides and caroling with Grandpa B, singing with the women's correctional center choir and singing with dad at the state hospital, and hiding random items in mom's nativity set on the piano.

 I failed in the picture taking department this Christmas. So much was going on and I obviously was too caught up in the moment to capture the events on film. Between making cookies, watching movies, lunch with cousins, reading, sleeping, viewing Christmas lights, and Harper being born, I took the following pictures of family members wearing Grandma and Grandpa Bingham's glasses and a cousins sleepover: 

28 December 2011

Harper Rae

We were hoping that Harper would arrive before Christmas, but she had other plans. I think(know) that Pip became annoyed with my daily(hourly) pep talks to Harper, encouraging her to join our family. She arrived on December 28th with dark curly hair which was not okay with her older sister. "She has dark tangled hair like you Shae, and I wanted her to have my hair color." Luckily, Avry quickly fell in love with little Harper.

Travis, Avry, Harper, and Syden:

Aunt Shae, Avy Shae, Harper, and Syden:

 Grandma Lucy and Harper:

Grandpa Rufus and Harper:

 I love this picture. Pip was having a difficult time cutting some meat and dad stepped in to help. People may say the Mortensen girls are helpless, but if you really know us, we are fiercely independent and yet we will let down our guard with those we trust and love as represented below:

20 December 2011

Baby Boy B

Ah, I just love spending time with my little friend Oliver and his parentals, Mindy and Jonathan. Mind and I work together and have become good friends while kicking our own trash at Kick Boxing and then baking muffins that taste like donuts and sharing a love for Amazing Race and So You Think You Can Dance. Oliver came a month early and spent time in the hospital but he is home and doing well. 

He's definitely a keeper. 

16 December 2011

I Love You: A Sign

I was leaving a friend's home when I saw this and a smile immediately appeared upon my face: 

14 December 2011

This I Believe: A Calm Voice

The call came that his sister was taken to the hospital and may not live through the night. He arrived at the ICU and found his sister lying unresponsive, yet agitated. Doctors and nurses said she had been fidgeting all day, somewhat responsive to touch, but had not spoken or opened her eyes. The brother approached the bed and began speaking words of encouragement and love and soon the sister's body began to relax and she appeared calm and at peace. Medical professionals noted the difference during this first visit and then subsequent visits and had no explanation.

I believe there is something powerful that comes through a calm voice. A voice one has known and loved for some time. A familiar voice reaching deep within, touching a soul unresponsive to medical care. Stirring memories of past experiences and so richly demonstrating the love which can exist between those whom we call not only family, but also friend.
This I believe. 

12 December 2011

Best Peppermint Ice Cream

Lohra and I have been searching for the perfect peppermint ice cream for several years and while it's been a difficult task, we finally succeeded. And the winner is... Schwan's. I ordered the ice cream earlier in the week and was so excited when the Schwan's man arrived at my door Friday afternoon. He kept asking if he could come back in two weeks in case I wanted something else and I assured him that peppermint ice cream is all I'll ever need. I can't believe I waited until Sunday to have a taste.

The peppermint chunks(I dislike that word) don't become all gooey and gross like other brands and the ice cream is peppermint flavored as well. The ice cream is green which is usually a deal breaker for me but I am glad I overcame the fear of unnatural green items(aka green yogurt or any food colored with green food coloring-blech) and tried the goodness. 

I still have one unopened carton in my freezer to be eaten in the near future and there is always the option to buy more. Yum!

Rach, me, Simon, Shanny D, Meags, and Lohra

Best peppermint ice cream...ever

10 December 2011

HOF + Holiday Specs= Magic

There were two Holiday 'o' Fun activities this week with the first one being a movie night. We watched Rudolf and The Muppet Christmas Carol. I will say that the latter movie followed Dickens classic quite well and included direct quotes from the novel. 

This picture was taken just before Simon was saved from the fire:

Tonight we ventured to Temple Square with my Holiday Specs and it was incredible. I stumbled upon these magical glasses a few years ago and I have continued to purchase a set each year as I end up giving several pairs to others enjoying the lights. My Christmas light experience has never been the same since discovering the blessed 3D glasses which allow one to see snowflakes, gingerbread men, Santa, angels, or candy canes in each  bulb of light.
Many people stared.  Some people called us names. Some were nice and we let them experience the magic. One of the best moments was when a girl was taking our picture and we all screamed when the camera flashed and the girl thought she broke the camera. I explained why we screamed and let her use the glasses and she was relieved to know she didn't need to buy me a new camera.

Taylor tried to sing at the Visitor's Center. Good thing the microphone wasn't on:

View of the lights through Snowflake 3D glasses:

Sharing the glasses with others:

Magical Glasses:

The claw or Crouching Tiger which is both ferocious and cute:

We then went to Hatch Family Chocolates for hot chocolate and steamers and spent hours waiting in line and talking to random stranger and then spent hours laughing and discussing all things current events. As we left, we had a nice little chat with the confectioners, Steve and Katie.

Circle Christmas

Most of the circle friendship gathered for our annual Christmas baking extravaganza. We decorated, baked, talked, and laughed. 

Pelos, me, B, Simon


Pelos was an angry decorator. 

07 December 2011

A Capitol Christmas

Each December, a group of individuals from the ACS day program sing at the State Capitol and I look forward to the yearly performance. Lt Governor Bell met with the group before the performance and the singers enjoyed the surprise visit. A couple people sang solos and another wrote and shared a Christmas story with the audience. 

Lt. Gov Bell greeting the singers

06 December 2011

Jose and the Little Lady

Jose and the Little Lady are finger puppets my nieces received at a party over the summer. I may have used the finger puppets to encourage the girls to clean their room while visiting and I made up some amazing songs for the puppets as well.

 As teenagers, my siblings and I would hide objects in the nativity at my parent's home and then anxiously wait for my mom to find the items, which included a glow in the dark frog and a barbie. We decided to continue the tradition while visiting my brother and his family in the Pacific Northwest and hid Jose and the Little Lady in the Christmas decorations.

03 December 2011

Brinner Girl

My parents and I made a trek to the Pacific Northwest for Brinley's baptism and confirmation as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. My mom played the piano for the meeting, I was the chorister, and my sister-in-law Tennille gave a talk on the Holy Ghost. It has been awhile since I have attended a baptism and it was a great reminder of the covenant I made when I was eight and continue to renew each week by partaking of the sacrament. 

01 December 2011

Holiday 'o' Fun 2011

For the first night of HOF, we made advent calendars from little match boxes. It was a grand adventure buying any and all match boxes I could find in Salt Lake as store clerks questioned my need for so many matches. There was a windstorm last night and I was without power the entire day so the matches did come in handy. The calendar was filled with candy and random notes encouraging the receiver to complete a random act of kindness, text a friend a Merry Christmas message, or participate in a Christmas activity.

Filling the calendars

Christmas Tree Fantasy

Mindy and I attended Festival of Trees today and it was fun to look at the trees, wreaths, and gingerbread houses and see several people we know through work. I always call this event Christmas Tree Fantasy because that's what it is known as in my hometown. I have so many memories of singing with my dad and sister as people looked at the beautifully decorated trees. 

A few of my favorites:
Book tree

Charlotte and Lily's tree

Livi's tree

"Yule" Shoot Your Eye Out tree

29 November 2011

First (Professional) Haircut

Allison and the twins decided to stay a few extra days after the Thanksgiving holiday while Ben went back to Colorado for work so there was no way I could refuse Allison's request for me to accompany them while the little ladies received a haircut. I know that I was in CO last month for a visit, but we were well overdue for another one. 

At first, Rosie was happy sitting in an airplane and watching a movie:

And then the hair cutting began and the tears freely fell:

Evie was checking out her surroundings and watching Elmo before the cutting:

 And then she appeared to be more concerned about her sister which ended up being a good distraction:

25 November 2011

Black Friday

I awoke Thanksgiving morning and Pip and I went to pick up newspapers with the Black Friday ads. After procuring the ads, we went our separate ways and I made rolls while my mom alphabetized the ads for me. No, I did not ask her to do this but it sure made life easier when plotting the night of shopping. Pip is eight months pregnant so she opted out of the shopping so I went with my Aunt Joyce and we left home around 11p and returned the next morning at 8:30a, just before the freeway was closed due to high winds. I love Idaho! I will admit that by the end of the night/morning, the lack of sleep was kicking in and I should not be held responsible for anything that happened while in stores. I like to think that the other patrons and clerks enjoyed my singing and dancing. 
Making plans

Starting the night at Target

Waiting in line to pay for items

22 November 2011

Genuine Giving

The lady next to me at the gas pump got out and began talking to the gas station attendant and I overheard the following conversation:

"Can you help me?"
"Sure. Would you like me to pump the gas?"
"That would be great. You see, it's been awhile since I have done this."
"No problem. We're here to help."
"Thanks. It's been 17 years since I have pumped gas. My husband usually does this for me."

At this point, I had finished filling up my car and began to drive away and thought about the conversation. I checked to see if the woman was from Oregon aka the state where you don't pump your own gas but she was definitely a Utahn. It's certainly possible that she is from Oregon and was driving a family members car but that doesn't make much sense. Why would the woman who hasn't pumped gas in seventeen years volunteer for gas duty? Whatever the reason may be, there she was, doing something that someone else usually takes care of.

The one thing I do know is that this woman's husband loves her and it reminds me of my parents. I can't remember the last time my mom filled the car with gas. Sure, my mom could take care of this but it's just one of many ways my dad shows my mom that he cares. And I think it takes courage to be on the receiving end of such simple acts of services as well. I see it almost daily in my own life. I can be a fiercely independent person and know that I really trust someone when I allow them to pump gas, or change light bulbs, or switch wiper blades, or make meals, or let them be privy to not only my joy but also my sorrow.

20 November 2011

Grown-Up Christmas List

I realize that the title of this post may cause some distress. I have not forgotten about Thanksgiving but I must write about an event I attended today wherein no pictures were taken. Seriously, what has happened to me?

Last month I was invited to a small dinner group and we talked about everything from our Christmas wish to favorite activities to embarrassing moments. We decided to have another dinner and to exchange Advent calendars(I love chocolate) and drink Jones Soda and that is what happened this evening. I was hoping for Turkey flavored soda but settled for candy cane, pear, gingerbread, and sugar plum. I couldn't decide which one to try so I sampled them all which seemed like the most logical option. The small dinner group turned into dinner for eighteen and let me just say(write) that the conversations were most entertaining. We will be starting a Scholastic book club and are now accepting applications for other members.

To end this post, I leave you with a few things on my Christmas list*:

no more lives torn apart.
that wars would never start.
and time would heal all hearts.
and everyone would have a friend. 
and right would always win.
and love would never end.

*Bless songwriter David Foster for these words.

18 November 2011

Mini Barn

I remember walking to the Mini Barn as a young child with my mom and some neighborhood friends to buy candy while my dad played softball nearby. That little red barn was a part of my childhood in Idaho and then something horrible happened and it shook our small town. A man abducted and killed a store clerk and then killed two more people in the span of three weeks. The judge ordered an execution for two of the murders and a life sentence on the other. I admit that I do not like seeing pictures of this man in the news because he looks so evil. He was executed this morning which is Idaho's first execution in the past seventeen years. I could write all my thoughts and feelings on life in person vs death penalty but instead choose to think of the victim's and their families on this date.

17 November 2011

Best Buddies

I attended the Best Buddies Giving Thanks for Friendship celebration last night. Best Buddies is similar to Big Brother Big Sister programs and connects individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities with one-on-one friendships. BYU has the largest chapter in the entire world which was not a shock to me because Cougars are givers. My friends and I enjoyed dinner and a talent show which left me with hurting cheeks from smiling so much. I know several individuals who benefit from Best Buddies and think it is a great program to support.
Rachel and Angie
Don't Stop Believing 

You Make Me Smile lyrical sign

Scene from Oklahoma

Playing the harmonica