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Saturday, May 7, 2016

Nathan and Daniel's Spring UVMCO concert

Nathan and Daniel had the memorable experience of performing with guest artist Jenny Oaks Baker in the utah Valley Millennial Choir and Orchestra this week. I absolutely love this group!

The conductors are mindbogglingly talented and write most of the music that UVMCO performs. Nathan was in the coir last fall, and their Christmas performance was so inspiring and felt literally heavenly. I can close my eyes and it feels like I can almost see the heavens opened and angels singing the strains of praise.

After seeing the top-notch quality of the Christmas concert, I was very interested in letting Daniel join their children's choir. So for the past several months, Nathan and Daniel have been driving to Provo for weekly rehearsals that last late into the night. Nathan gets off work early and rushes home to pack a portable dinner for the two of them, then they whisk away. After the children's choir is finished singing, Daniel waits in the lobby during Nathan's rehearsal, so he brings along his homework, a sketchbook, and a novel to pass the hours. It's been such a fun weekly outing for them.

I've been looking forward to their Spring concert for months! Daniel has grown so much in his singing ability, and he was so eager to perform in the world-class venue Abravenal Hall. It's remarkable to me that a children's choir can have such a notable exposure to professional performances. This concert was also performed with Jenny Oaks Baker, a famous violinist. What a unique opportunity!

The music was selected to testify of Christ, sing praises to the Lord, and invite the Spirit so the audience would feel their testimonies strengthened, and find peace and healing through the message of Christ's loving Atonement. It was remarkable how well the music communicated this message for over two hours. The Spirit was uncommonly strong in the concert hall, and the performers put their hearts into the music. I cold see many musicians playing their instruments with such passion that tears streamed down their faces as the power of the music touched their soul. It was so memorable. I was so touched, and my own tears flowed freely throughout most of the concert.

The UVMCO group has several choirs of various ages, and in order to let them all perform together on the combined numbers, half of the choir would need to fill the balconies. I was surrounded on three sides with powerful songs of rejoicing, and it made my heart thrill. I wished so strongly that I could sneak a picture of it- the sheer numbers of participants is noteworthy. And they were so polished in their performance. It was such fun watching the conductors, since they led the music with such passion and unbridled joy, turning constantly to conduct the orchestra on stage, then the singers in the balconies on the left, then the singers on the right. It was like a mesmerizing dance in itself.

Words just can't express how powerful this evening was. I've seen performances by professional symphonies, operas, ballets, and more.....but the UVMCO performances bring a bigger thrill to my heart while still being comparable on the level of professionalism. It's even more remarkable when one considers that all the participants are volunteers. It's such a dedicated group! (A group picture will be posted here as soon as the official portrait is released for purchase.)

There were multiple times in the evening when a musical number would conclude to the roaring applause, whistles, and standing ovation of the audience shouting, "Bravo!" Truly, I haven't seen anything like it anywhere else.

After the performance, we made our slow exit through the crush of nearly 3,000 bodies. To celebrate Daniel's achievement in the choir, we took him out to eat on the way home. It's a rare treat to eat out, and he was so excited! We spent a lovely hour at Chili's enjoying delicious food. Our favorite way to eat out is to have everyone order something different, then we enjoy it family-style so everyone gets to taste a variety of foods. We finally made it home after midnight, and were happy to fall in bed savoring the memories of the evening. I am filled with such gratitude that we have access to such a high quality choir that has power to convey such powerful messages to build testimony.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Family Reunion, July 4th

Too far behind, and too much to document. Yikees. I'm not posting much text with this one, since it's the typing that makes me fall so far behind. 

Here are glimpses of our wonderful July 4th and family reunion with MaryAnn and Bliss Roberts before they left on their mission to South Africa. My heart was full of joy nonstop. Heavens, how much I love these people!! What a perfect day this was! I can't say enough how happy I am that we live close enough to join in these memorable days. 

This pic needs a bit of explanation. I caught this candid moment because Adam and Nathan were entertaining themselves by watching the ceiling fan pull chain oscillate and analyzing the math equation that would explain physics to the movement. Smart men are so incredibly attractive! I'm so happy to be married to a nerd!


This past November we hosted Thanksgiving at our place and actually had relatives close enough to join the feast! It was such a treat to have my Mom, brother Robert, brother Randy and his kids all come down from Idaho to stay for a few days. I'm afraid I was enjoying myself so much I didn't really take pictures of their visit. We enjoyed playing games together and eating yummy food for days. They also helped me with some Days For Girls service projects (I haven't really mentioned it on the blog, but I volunteer regularly with Days For Girls now and am a board member for our chapter. It's such a treat to volunteer with wonderful women!). The kids helped trim, fray-check, fold, and package liners destined for Haiti. It was really fun and my niece Gracie raved how much she enjoyed it. I really love doing service projects with family or friends. It's so fun to laugh together and chat while engaged in a good cause, and I absolutely love the idea of doing service on Thanksgiving Day. It's such a good way to express our gratitude!

(Unfortunately  my pics of the project didn't usually tun out- they were mostly too blurry to use. I'm so bummed I didn't get a good pic of the cousins together!)

Matthew has really enjoyed cooking this year, and is an eager student in the kitchen. He was Nathan's sous-chef this year. He took such pride in helping with the pies in particular. I'm so happy he enjoys cooking- he is often baking yummy breakfasts for the family on Saturday mornings. I keep telling him that his college roommates will love his cooking, and it's an important skill to have in place before he leaves to serve a mission. 

Nathan took a day off from work Wednesday so he could spend a full day cooking for the feast. He always looks forward to Thanksgiving with such delight. I'm SO grateful he enjoys cooking, since it's such a big part of most holidays and I really don't enjoy it. It's such a blessing to our family! 

I forget our official headcount this year, but I think we had between 35-40 people here for the Thanksgiving feast. We had tables set up all over the house! The food was delicious, and it was such a pleasure to spend the day with so many relatives. We were blessed to share the feast with my Mom, Robert, Randall and his kids, Blena (Ben and Elena), Dambi (Adam and Aubbi), the Zimmerman family, and a bunch of Elena's relatives. 

We were so busy I didn't get any pictures of the feast or guests....we'll have to settle for this picture of the dessert table:

After the Thanksgiving feast, lots of girl cousins sat by the fire and worked on cutting ribbon and threading bags for the DFG project. They threaded 75 bags! What hard workers they were! 

 We ended up having the Zimmerman cousins spend the weekend with us for three days. The children had SUCH fun playing together every day and staying up late giggling every night. They were a delight to have over, and it didn't seem like we had an extra 10 children around. They are such good kids and were always offering to be helpful around the house. We loved having them over!

Joseph decided it was a fun game to wash the dishes, so he was a great help in the kitchen (for about 10 minutes until he decided something else was more fun- but I'll take any help!) 

 It was such a blessed weekend filled with delicious food, games, late night movies, playing at the park, and lots of laughter. The last day of the weekend, a yucky stomach bug made the rounds through the children. Our upstairs was like an infirmary. I had a sick child quarantined in bed in 4 different rooms as we tried to contain the spread of illness. I admit, there was an element of fun to 'making the rounds' through the rooms checking on everyone and delivering more drinks and crackers. If I pretended to be a nurse, it was a lot more fun and less drudgery. Luckily the bug passed relatively quickly and children were back to normal in about 24 hours.