Wednesday, October 29

a story

This morning Music of the Heart was winding down on TV while I was lifting weights. I'd only seen it once when it came out, and thought it was a little over-the-top cheesy. Boy, did I cry this time! It made me miss teaching soooo much. All morning I've been thinking back on some of the good memories I have from the past year (and believe me, there are bad memories as well!).
One of my favorite students was a little 6th grader named Caroline. Caroline is blind, and this was her second year learning the violin. She learned every song by ear and every new technique we did by feel and touch. It was such an incredible experience to teach her and adapt to her learning style. She was amazing and never once fell behind - because she was always one step ahead!

One morning I got to the classroom early and as I sat down to the piano I saw this:Later in the school year we had talent shows in each class. Caroline asked if she could play a piano solo. After a morning full of dance routines and goofy jokes, I helped Caroline to the piano and her little hands felt their way to these home keys. She started to play and her fingers flew around the piano. I'd never heard a Tarantella that lively before, and with such amazing accuracy! It was a piece difficult enough for a piano performance major! When she finished the class rose on their feet and erupted with praise, and I saw a big smile on Caroline's face as we walked back to her chair.

The next time we had class I took my camera to take a picture of the piano, to make sure that I never forgot that talent show. I can't imagine how much time it took to master that piece, but she did it with such flair. I hope I can think about Caroline more when I get a little impatient with myself, when things don't come as easy as I'd like.

Monday, October 27

a longish post.

First...
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM TURNER!
Taylor's mom turns 29 today (almost 30!).
Okay, I've written a novel and had to edit it down in order to not get too mushy-gushy on this blog. We'll save it for the phone call.
That being said, we still need to brag about her a little bit. Anyone who has met Mary Anne Turner can attest to the fact that she is THE most creative person around. This is a picture of a doll she made me for Christmas right before Taylor and I were married. She makes at least a hundred of these almost every Christmas season. All hand-done. She is an incredible artist, art collector, decorator, gardener, whistler, traveler/family travel agent (she planned the Russia/Ukraine adventure perfectly), chef (family dinners look like pages out of Martha Stewart Living), you name it. Oh, and she would want me to mention that she ran a marathon. :) Add to all of this her spunky personality and fun sense of humor (I'll never forget her laughing inside the tomb of Lenin). I think some of my favorite parts of our trip were wandering around her favorite shops in Paris (oooh and the Valentino exhibit!) and hitting the Moscow markets.
Over the past two years I've seen how much she puts others before herself - causing her to lose a lot of sleep, I'm sure! She is so loving and supportive and can make anything fun. I just hope she does something for herself today!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
We love you!
We can't wait to celebrate with you this weekend!
Look in the mirror today and say to yourself "I am terrific!"

*As part of our gift we made special contact with Tim Russert, who also wanted to convey his admiration and express his deepest regret in not being able to celebrate with you this year. He will be there in spirit.


Alright, continuing on...
Behold, the week of the sugar craze:
Taylor's mom sent a box stuffed with all kinds of candy (okay, 6 Skor bars?! 3 kinds of Toblerone?!) and Count Chocula, congratulating him on the Bar.

We finally made the recipe I cut out of a Martha Stewart magazine in 2003. Pumpkin-Chocolate tart (click for recipe). It was amazing (Taylor totally ROCKED the crust). These are the leftovers the next morning.

Last weekend we had a baking contest at Anthropologie, and one of the managers requested I make her some white chocolate cupcakes for her last day of work. I took 2 dozen over, and forced the rest down the throats of my Beehives yesterday. I don't know who won the contest, but my vote was for my friend Shauna, who made mini caramel apples (using a melon baller) - so cute! I stole a picture from her blog...Yes, she is amazing. She's also an incredible painter - check out her Etsy shop!

Last night we enjoyed pumpkin cupcakes and coconut cupcakes filled with dark chocolate at Bob & Leila's house for dinner. Yum!

What else... Sarah Palin came to Henderson to speak, wearing a fabulous $1575 Versace pant-suit, Hermes scarf, Louis Vuitton heels, and a stellar Birkin bag (just kidding).

We got really excited about being Costco sample people for our ward trunk or treat. Except... we thought it'd be awesome to do little sample cups with some sort of Costco product. We love the Kirkland Trail Mix, so that was our choice...
Bad decision!
And I quote,
"Ew! I hate peanuts!"
"Oh, you guys don't have candy!"
"I'm allergic to nuts!"
"Trunk or treat! Uh... nevermind..."

Yeah, don't hand out trail mix in small sample cups at a Trunk or Treat. Sample cups full of nuts and raisins don't work in a pillow case or plastic pumpkin. Kids want pre-packaged candy... I think parents prefer it too. We kind of laughed when we drove away, thinking it probably looked pretty sketchy handing out sample cups of trail mix in the dark. Oh well!Luckily we got a re-do. Saturday we went with my cousin Melinda and her kids to their trunk or treat and carnival. We had the BEST time! Melinda and her husband Jason live in North Las Vegas with their 4 kids: Jack (a.k.a. Spiderman), Dallin (a.k.a. Power Ranger), Cameron (a.k.a. Batman), and baby Carson (a.k.a. Superbaby). Jason left in early September on a medical deployment to Afghanistan, and will be there until January. Melinda is honestly Wonderwoman (her Halloween costume, very appropriate), taking care of these 4 boys - the oldest in Kindergarten, the youngest only 5 months old. On our way back to Henderson, Taylor kept saying, "I don't know how she does it!"

She is the definition of Super-Mom, and the most hilarious person. Of course every time I go to their house it's spotless, the boys are happy and entertained, and last week I showed up to find her making HOMEMADE BREAD.

Everyone have a great week! We're headed to Salt Lake City (finally!) on Thursday to celebrate Halloween and Nevada Day.

Thursday, October 23

encore!

Yes, we got this in the mail today - we threw away the other SEVEN ads, but this was too good to keep to ourselves. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 22

Who would YOU vote for?

Yes, we live in a swing state.
Sarah Palin was here yesterday, across the street from my work - people lined up for HOURS to see her.

Locally...
Politics in Nevada are officially ridiculous. The streets have been littered with campaign posters from the time we were looking for a place here (in APRIL), and make for very scenic morning runs.

Over the past SIX days, we have received several DOZEN fliers (yes, 36+) in the mail, supporting or opposing candidates running for local office. That's an average of 5-6 a day.

Because these relentless attacks have become so commonplace, Taylor and I actually look forward to getting the mail each day - we've started collecting them. Every piece of propaganda is a new surprise! Take a moment and enjoy some of our favorites. Click on them for greater detail.

Naughty, naughty Dina!

Who is the REAL Sean Fellows?
Maybe I'll vote for the guy who supposedly "shreds the Constitution" - ?
This one came tonight. Taylor will vote for Sisolak merely because of his genius in putting out an ad like this:My cousin in North Las Vegas hasn't received nearly as many ads as we have in the mail. We must be in a hot local-swing spot!

In other news, Tally has taken upon herself a new stage name. The name debuted this past Friday at the Henderson Symphony concert... (viola section, click to enlarge)I guess having red hair threw them off.

Thursday, October 16

For Mom & Dad and Mom & Dad

We were originally planning on Taylor being sworn in toward the beginning of November, but the firm wants to put him to work right away.

So he got signed in TODAY.Tell if this isn't Divine Providence:

The Judge who swore in Taylor was on the 1984 BYU football team (ahem... National Champions). Four of the partners from Taylor's firm came along and we sat in the courtroom talking about BYU/Utah football for at least a half hour. I sat there thinking, "Of all the judges in Las Vegas... a BYU football player!" It was perfect for Taylor.So he's officially an attorney! If any of you have legal needs, you know who to call.

Tuesday, October 14

HALLELUJAH!

Taylor can now say he's an attorney.

He PASSED the Bar!

He called at 3:01, after the longest afternoon ever, to share the news.

He still can't believe it, though we all knew he'd pass.

I've been teary-eyed for a half hour!

HE PASSED!

Looks like we don't have to eat at McDonald's tonight!
(that was our plan if he failed)

In other news, we enjoyed some Barack Obama burgers last night. Very tasty. Here's the recipe. Next week we'll try the McCain burger. Get excited for tomorrow's debate!

Friday, October 10

Letter to the Editor: Errata

Dear Editor,

I have two simple corrections to make after reading your recent blog post:

1. I have never and will never "root" for the University of Utah. My blood is blue, my Cougar roots are deep, and I can never forget the persecution I endured growing up a Y fan so close to the U. Though I did attend the Fiesta Bowl (we were in town for my cousin's wedding and my uncle got tickets), I remained a neutral spectator throughout. The only reason I didn't cheer for Pitt outright was because of their BCS arrogance. I distinctly remember attending a big party during high school to watch the Utes play Kentucky in the national championship game. I was the only one cheering for Kentucky (always in Utah's bracket, always triumphant). Sure, I can appreciate that it's good for the conference when Utah beats a team like Oregon State, but that doesn't keep me from secretly hoping for a meltdown or finding it humorous that the crowd rushed the field. I'll admit that Utah has a better fight song and I can't defend a lot of things Cougar fans do or say, but I will stay true to BYU sports forever. I respect Utah programs, and even enjoy watching their events at times, but I will never turn to the dark side and root for the U.



2. Yes, I have terrible handwriting, but I take offense to the claim that it's the most illegible ever seen (though this may just be hyperbole).


Besides that, you know me quite well.

Sincerely,

A concerned reader

facts in five

Enjoyed a wonderful Thursday night with Taylor's parents here in Vegas. We showed them Wayne Newton's house (I think he's in our stake), got some excellent Italian food, visited the Fashion Show mall, and introduced them to the wonder of Yogurtland. We loved having Taylor's parents down here - they're a hoot. They're already on their way back to to check on Grandma Lewis, who's now up in Salt Lake getting her speech back.

I got tagged by my darling friend Halsey (yes, very cute name), but instead of it being about me, I'm doing it about Taylor because he is the best, and this blog has too much Tally all over it. Here we go.

Angel's Landing

5 things Taylor loves:
1. Family
2. The Gospel
3. Sports (BYU, Utah Jazz, ESPN)
4. Music (I never knew how much until I married him!)
5. Outdoors

Taylor after interviewing Kyrylo Fesenko, the greatest Ukrainian to play the game.
Taylor looks like a 2nd grader next to Fes.

5 things on his to do list (those I could read from a scrap of paper on the desk):
1. Turn in application to the Utah Bar
2. Pick up bike pump from REI
3. Prep for Nevada Bar application in case he doesn't pass (we find out Tuesday)
4. Home Teaching
5. Invite friends over for dinner this weekend

Taylor's Anderson Cooper face

5 favorite snacks:
1. Dinya (Ukrainian melon)
2. Chips & Taylor's special salsa (salsa w/cottage cheese)
3. Popcorn
4. Quakes (the most addictive thing ever)
5. Mrs. May's almond clusters

Workin' the grill.

5 things you might not know about Taylor:
1. He has an amazing singing voice.
2. He gets really, really hyper (on occasion).
3. He often switches between ESPN and Food Network, even when I'm not there.
4. He has rooted for the University of Utah (also on occasion).
5. His cooking skills rival those of Bobby Flay or any Iron Chef.

My favorite missionary picture of Taylor.

5 places Taylor has lived:
1. Salt Lake City, Utah
2. Provo, Utah
3. Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine
4. Moscow, Russia
5. Washington D.C.

5 quirks of Taylor's:
1. He refuses to wear ankle socks.
2. He has the most illegible handwriting I've ever seen.
3. He is very talented at speaking in several different accents. When we were first married we challenged each other to not speak in any sort of accent for a week, and neither one of us could do it.
4. He refuses dessert. No Oldroyd would ever refuse dessert.
5. When he dances to music his feet don't budge. It's awesome.

Christmas 2006

5 people to tag (and do it on your husband!):
1. Janae Pew
2. Kamala Sloan
3. Marianne Cutchins
4. Marina Stanton
5. Heather Severson

Tuesday, October 7

Fall...

Spent the Conference weekend in St. George with the Oldroyd family. Ah, Conference. I loved it. For the third time in a row the congregation sang my favorite hymn "How Firm a Foundation" - I cry every time!
The highlight for my family was hearing Elder Marcos Aidukaitis mention Grandpa and bear his testimony (did you recognize the picture?). I knew that at that very moment Grandpa was hearing the same testimony and rejoicing with Marcos' father, Antony Aidukaitis. Didn't you love Elder Aidukaitis' accent and smile? Conference went by way too quickly. I absolutely LOVE fall, because I love fall cooking and flavors. I hope you all made that pumpkin bread, because I've made like 6 loaves of it! Fall cooking & baking is the world's best pick-me-up!Last night we made the most delicious butternut squash soup from the Jr. League of Salt Lake City cookbook - I have to share it. It has apples and pears in it! Delicious, super healthy, and super easy... and it tastes like FALL. :)

Butternut Harvest Bisque
(p. 124 of Always in Season Jr. League cookbook)

1 3-lb. butternut squash (peeled, seeded, cubed into 1" chunks)
1 large onion, chopped
2 1/2 T. butter
2 large tart apples, peeled & chopped
1 large ripe Bartlett pear, peeled & chopped
3 1/2 c. chicken stock
2 t. fresh thyme (try and use fresh - it makes it so much better!)
1 t. fresh sage
1/8 t. nutmeg

1 bay leaf
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/2 to 1 cup half-and-half (we used cream)


Sauté the onion in butter in a large pot over med/high heat for 4 min. until tender.
Add squash, pear, apples, & chicken stock.

Add the thyme, sage, nutmeg, bay leaf, salt and pepper to the pot.
Bring to boil over med/high heat, then reduce heat.
Simmer 20 minutes, until squash is tender.
Cool 10 minutes.
Discard bay leaf.
Purée in food processor, blender, or with hand blender (we used a hand blender for less mess).
Stir in half-and-half, adjust seasonings. Heat slightly - do not boil.
Garnish with walnuts.

Eat a lot and you can still have high self-esteem because it won't make you fat!*
*Not a guarantee.

Friday, October 3

The latest...

Grandma Lewis had yet another stroke yesterday, which scared us to death. She's back in the hospital and has much more energy than she did with her last stroke, but we won't find anything out until later today.

Many of you have been to her home for Sunday dinners, bridal showers, and graduation parties, and know how giving she is. She is always thinking of others before herself -- we're constantly getting cards, clippings from the newspaper, and little notes from her in the mail.

This past April I was driving past her neighborhood one afternoon and found her walking down University Parkway carrying an armload of tupperware containing fresh banana bread and her famous gingersnaps. She was on her way to visit the Bishop and a sick woman in her ward - and these people lived more than a few blocks away! I offered her a ride, and went around with her for the rest of the afternoon. I had the best time with her on these visits, seeing her serve the people around her. She is an incredible example of service and love.

Well, we're off to St. George for Conference, family time, and a birthday celebration fit for a king. I can't wait for General Conference. Every session I hope that we'll sing "How Firm a Foundation" - I think it's happened the past 3 Conferences - it's my favorite hymn, and I cry every time. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday Dad!