Thursday, December 23, 2010

What a Difference 10 years Makes!


This recent picture was taken this evening and I couldn't help but notice right away how much it reminded me of the older picture. So I made this side by side to see the comparison. It is hard for me to believe that it has been 10 years.....and even though Ian would die to hear me say it, he is still my big baby! Even if he is a lot harder to carry.... Love him so much.
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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!!


What a year this has been! Wouldn't even begin to know where to start, but the word "Change" could certainly sum it up for our family. Or maybe "School" would be more appropriate. Both words dominated our familial landscape in 2010 for sure. Two moves would certainly fit in there as well with all of us leaving our comfy house to start an adventure in Family Housing at the University (read: major downsizing). I think this move affected the parents more than the children though! Then a few months later, Denver moved to South Carolina to work for a while with Boeing. This has been difficult of course for everyone, but probably the most for him. Thankfully lots of work has helped to pass the time for him...and of course the kids and I have kept PLENTY busy. Almost to the point of exhaustion and craziness! Now the year is coming to a close with Denver being 3 classes away from his degree at the University of Phoenix and me...well....lets just say I am closer and starting to see that shimmer of light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. As for the kids, well they take everything in stride of course and have been kept busy as well with Taekwondo, Soccer, Dance, Spanish Lessons, Chinese Lessons, and Scouts....oh and let's not forget school... and that was all crammed into the months of August-December! Whew. I am definitely looking forward to less of that now Winter is in full swing.

We lost some loved ones this year too... My Grandma Lloyd and our friend Jeremy as well as 3 year old Anarae Lefau a cousin from Denver's side of the family. Very sad losses all around and they will be missed dearly. I am so grateful to have knowledge of life beyond this one. To know that we will see these people again. I am also grateful for the full life that I have been given and for the many friends and family that love and surround me. My Resolution this year (well, one of them anyway) is to pay attention to the things that matter and put aside the stuff that just isn't important; the clutter that takes away my focus. I've learned that you need to keep the people you love close to you even when it's seems difficult because you never know when they might leave this life and you are left wishing you could tell them how you feel.

I think 2011 will be a great year full of even more change and I say, bring it on! I hope all of you have a Fabulous Christmas and a very Happy New Year too!!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fun with Friends....

I really detest creating posts without pictures but unfortunately I have had a really bad habit lately of bringing my camera and not taking any pictures with it! Case in point: the kids and I spent an evening last week at my friend Karolyn's house. She had her daughters for the weekend and her boyfriend had his kids as well. They surprised my kids with a real treat....2 hours at a place called "Jump on It" which is basically a warehouse of trampolines.

The floor and even some of the walls are trampolines. How fun! They were red faced and sweaty by the time we left and slept like angels once we got home...thats always a bonus!

Karolyn fed us dinner as well and I stepped outside of my food comfort zone and ate Elk and Venison. I about died inside when she told me what we were having but I have to say it was very tasty! Even Ian ate it knowing that he was eating the poor Elk that was hanging on the wall above the fireplace. Yes, they killed it! The whole way home Ian discussed the possibility of him taking up hunting....oh boy. We had such a fun time and I realized that I need to get out more. I really enjoy socializing with friends. But, like I said...didnt pull out the camera once! So, I have resorted to photo theft....this picture above is of Karolyn and one of her daughters, Bryn (sorry Karolyn) which I took off of her Facebook... I really wish I would have taken a picture of the Elk that we ate, haha. I did snap the first 2 pictures above on my phone though so they will have to suffice: Addison jumping on one of the trampolines, and Ian's red face as we were leaving.

Last night I was able to enjoy a nice dinner with my friend Linda. I haven't seen her in so long it seems, so it was nice of her to drive up to SLC and go to dinner with me. We ate at Red Rock and I had a nice Filet Mignon...I eat those so rarely that I couldn't resist it! We had a great time and again, I am reminded that I enjoy having a social life even if it is a small one! But no pictures of course! Here is an old one of Linda from last year; just so I can have one on here :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

End of the School Year and Other Happenings....

I finished up the semester finally on Tuesday and believe me, it wasn't a moment too soon! Still waiting on the final grades but so relieved to be done for a month. The kids didn't get out of school for their break until yesterday so I had a few days completely to myself and will have another full week of bliss in January after they go back and before I start up again. I put my free time to good use finishing up Christmas shopping and running errands....not exactly the vision of bliss I had imagined (read: sleeping in, laying around and watching movies, etc) but it was nice being able to shop alone! In the middle of this the boys both had school performances for me to attend. First was Evan:

He and a partner worked on a report about the endangered Monk Seal and then their assignment was to use this fun program on the computer to create a documentary which they narrated, inserted pictures, and chose background music for. It was a fun project for them and I was excited to see it. Here is a picture of Evan with his teacher Mrs. Norton.

She is super nice and Evan really likes her. Now if only I could get him to do his homework, 3rd grade would surely be a big success!

Next was Ian's piano recital. His school is the only one in the district that has piano lessons once a week and now that he is in the 4th grade, he also has a violin lesson once a week! I love love love this music program and the fact that he is learning and I don't have to force him to practice. Here he is waiting for his turn....sitting next to Josie, who I am not allowed to tell you about; wink wink. At the very end of this post is the video of Ian's performance.....

So, now they are out of school until January 3rd and there is a lot of excitement with Christmas coming up and Denver coming to town....in fact it's all they talk about!

Unfortunately we received some really sad news this week. My mechanic, who also happens to be a pretty good acquaintance of ours passed away. It's a long story but basically we met him and his family when they moved into the first house we rented in Sugarhouse when Addison was just a few months old. We only moved around the corner so we still saw them on occasion and would take our cars to him for cheaper repair. Eventually they were baptized into the LDS church and were attending our ward as well. Jeremy had his struggles but he was always so kind to us and very fair with our car repair. We trusted him and he charged us so little compared to what we would have to spend at a regular shop. Even when he was out of work and needed the money so badly he didn't charge us much. In recent months he has fixed my poor van at least 3 times or more and was scheduled to fix one last thing next week after Christmas. He was going through some really personal trials lately including being out of a job for nearly 9 months and it was clear that he was struggling emotionally. Sadly, it got the best of him and he took his own life on Sunday. I attended his funeral on Friday. It was heartbreaking to look at his 3 children and see what they are going through. I cannot even begin to comprehend that level of sadness both on his part where the hopelessness was so intense or on his children who now have to come to terms with how their dad left them, not to mention just the fact that he is gone. It was a horrible experience. I hope I never have to experience it again. My heart is full of love for his family and I pray that they will be able to reconcile this and move forward. It has hit me much harder than I thought it would....I'm still just struggling to understand why.

But, now it's on to Christmas and a brand new year full of possibilities. I am sure thankful for whatever comes my way, good and bad, because it is a reminder that I am alive and experiencing all that God intends for me....what could be better?
video

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dancing Queen....

Ok, so the last 2 attempts at a dance recital that we have made with Addison have resulted in major meltdowns, screaming, crying.....and yes, disappointment. So, this year when Addison said she wanted to dance again with Miss Julie (we just love Miss Julie, pictured with Addie below)
I decided ahead of time that she would go to classes but not participate in the recitals. It was just too traumatic for her and for me! Fast forward to this month and it's all Addison has talked about: my dance recital, my dance recital! I asked her if she was going to be able to do it and she announced that she would be going up on stage with her friend Abby....pictured with her below

Ok...well, I guess we will try it again I said. I am happy to report that this time, Addie did it!!! I am so proud of her for overcoming her fear of being on stage. The first number was the tap dance and she started to get watery eyed and was just staring at me the whole time. She really didnt dance a step of the whole dance but she managed to stay on stage and not have a meltdown. I was ecstatic for that. Toward the end we even managed to get some smiles out of her and a little toe tapping. Next was the ballet number and by this time she was ready to go. She danced the entire number from start to finish!!! Yay!!! It was a big day in the Shannon house today. Her brothers were some of her biggest supporters and could be heard yelling for her when she finished....she was so excited to hug them when she got off stage.

It was a great morning. Ballet West here she comes! Here is the video of her ballet number..be sure to turn off music player at bottom of blog so you can hear the video:


video

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

New Pictures....


You can always count on a post like this 2 or 3 times a year! I just love having the kids pictures taken. School pictures just don't cut it for me. Now that I have found a fabulous, affordable studio (click here for FotoFly) to take them to, it's just fun to keep going back! Here is the latest batch although this is just a snippet of all the great pics they took. I don't know how I am going to choose which ones to print this time around! Sorry there are a lot but I couldn't narrow them down so you have to see them all! (if you click on each collage the picture should come up larger)

December....

December is a great month for many reasons. The obvious of course being that it is Christmas. You wanna know why I think it is GREAT right now?? Because in one week, this semester of school is OVER!!! This has been a tough one for me. I'm not sure why but I had a couple of classes that have been downright miserable. One with a teacher that is impossible to please no matter how good your paper is....and another who doesn't believe in giving A's. Thanks to these two teachers my 4.0 gpa is about to take a big dip and I have been very bummed out about it. But, it is what it is....I have to deal with it and move on and I am soooo ready to move on. After this semester, I only have 11 classes left until I graduate. Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel.

In the meantime, it is December and so we started off the month getting our Christmas tree. I love the look of my home when there are Christmas decorations up. It is so warm and comfy....

We don't have a lot planned for this month. I think for once it will feel nice to just stick around here and not have to be running from one place to another. Denver will be back in town on Christmas Eve day through the 5th of January and the kids are beyond excited to see him as I am sure he is just as excited to them.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Thanksgiving....

I hit a breaking point in my stress level a couple of weeks ago when my car broke down. Normally I maintain my stress level pretty well and manage to wiggle through it unscathed but I think this time it got the best of me. If there is one thing I cannot do without, it is a car. We thought it was the transmission and were making plans to try and buy a new vehicle which was going to be very difficult at best. Thank heavens for miracles...it turned out to be a minor issue and it is now fixed.

Due to the car issues, I chose to rent a car to drive to Reno, Nevada for Thanksgiving. Me and the kids went to my parents' home to celebrate along with Jeff and Nicola. I am ashamed to admit it but I didn't take a solitary picture the whole weekend except this one:

I'm not sure why but I just didn't have the energy to take any. Oh well...we had a wonderful time and the dinner was awesome, as usual. My mom, Jeff, Nicola, and myself all went to see Harry Potter one night while Grandpa watched the kids. Another night just my mom and I went to see the late night showing of Inception, which I LOVED. Never mind that it took me about 20 minutes after the movie ended to be able to actually say that. Its a mind blowing kind of movie. It was just a nice escape from school and life and none of us really wanted to go home, but alas... reality was waiting for us and we had to leave. I'm so Thankful for my family....I never get enough of them when we visit and feel so fortunate that we have such a great relationship with each other.

We drove home on Sunday and arrived in Salt Lake City to a Foot of snow; I kid you not. It was crazy! I cannot believe that we didn't hit one drop of snow for the majority of the trip. As soon as we got to the Tooele exit (which is on the outskirts of SLC) it was like crossing over into another world. Weirdest thing ever. Dry roads and then suddenly snow packed roads...almost immediately. It was beautiful until we had to lug 4 rolling suitcases through the un-plowed parking lot to our apartment. Gotta love Winter!

Friday, November 12, 2010

My 4th Grader....

I'm still in denial that I have a 10 year old. Even with his new school picture that makes him look 13, I refuse to believe that he is 10. I will probably remain in denial until he leaves for college....and even then I may shut my eyes to the whole business. Love you Ian!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Veterans Day!


It's weird but I never really thought at some point in my life I would ever reflect on Veterans Day with as much pride as I do now. I wasn't in the Air Force for any real length of time...6 years is all. But, they still call me a Veteran and I almost feel guilty claiming that title. I joined the Air Force for selfish reasons really. Not with the idea that I would be proudly serving my country, but as a means to end. I wanted to get my student loans paid off and then finish school while I was serving. Perhaps even get a job with the FBI when I got out. I never realized that I would ever get to the point where I could truly feel pride when I told someone I had been in the Air Force. I didn't understand that concept at all. Now here I am, some 15 years later and I'm lucky if I can get through the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem without bawling. I learned a lot while I was selfishly serving, but I think the most important lessons that I took from the experience were these:
  1. I came to know exactly what Patriotism means and why it is so important to pass on to my children.
  2. I became associated with true Patriots and Veterans who chose to selflessly serve our country for the right reasons and loved/love doing it. I think of these people often, especially during this time of war and wonder where they are; but I know exactly what they are doing and I feel much love and gratitude for these soldiers/airmen/seamen/marines.
  3. I learned a lot of lessons in patience, strength; both emotional and physical, perseverance, and even more lessons in self awareness.
  4. I learned that despite its flaws, we live in a pretty great country.... and I understand fully what it means to be "Proud to be an American".

So, on this Veterans Day I guess I not only want to send out a cyber 'Thank You' to those who have served and continue to serve but I wanted to also express thanks for my experience in those 6 short years and say that even though I didn't physically fight or even sacrifice much, I am very proud of what I did give and even more proud to tell those stories to my children. I love that they are proud to tell their friends that their Mom was in the Air Force (even though they are really just excited to tell them that I shot guns...Hoo-Rah!)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

ESPN & Pizza...(and a flat tire)

Seems like a strange combination for me, I know. But, here is the story... Today was the boys' last soccer games for the Fall season. Thank heavens. I dont know that I have ever been so glad to have one of their activities be over with. Not that I don't enjoy watching them but this was a crazy Fall and truthfully I never really got to watch much of any game completely due to running back and forth between fields!!

After Ian's first game at 8am, his coach cooked up pancakes/sausage/eggs...I brought fresh fruit and we all enjoyed a great breakfast before they played a second game at 10:30....after we ate, I had to run Evan over to his field for a 10am game. Sadly, when I got up to the van, the back tire was completely flat. It has a nail in it. I didn't have time to do anything so a nice mom took us over to the game and then another mom from Evan's team drove us back to the other field to deal with the tire. Ive never changed a flat tire before so I figured I may as well learn how! I got the van jacked up but was having major trouble getting the lug nuts off. They were on soooo tight. I was completely floored by the number of soccer Dad's who walked right past me as I sat on the ground struggling with the tire, and didn't so much as look at me let alone offer to help. It actually became quite comical and the boys even were in on the joke. I took the opportunity to point out to them how important it is to offer help when you see someone in need. Hopefully they will remember it. Ian did announce the situation once we returned to the apartment to one of the women in our court....obviously the whole thing made an impression on him. But, I did get the tire changed all by myself and I felt accomplished for doing so!

When we got home, we had planned on watching some of the Harry Potter movies but a friend of mine from the choir that I sing in called me and asked for some help.

She is friends with Trevor Matich who is an announcer for ESPN (he played football at BYU and then the Redskins in the NFL).... she wanted to stop by and say hello to him since they were set up at the University of Utah for the big game today (which the Utes lost miserably).

She lives in Provo though and wanted to know if I could drive her to where he was because she isn't familiar with the campus up here. It was fun for the boys to watch the live broadcast of ESPN and then get to take pictures with Trevor Matich.

Ian kept saying "I cant believe I am watching this live!" Afterward, we all went out for pizza. It was a good time...I'm so glad she called me. She has really become such a great friend! Here are a couple of more pics.....

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween....

Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I hate to admit that...It seems so stuffy and lame of me. Im not sure where my dislike came from...especially considering my own Mom was so obsessed with the holiday. She made it so much fun.... (this is her in costume circa 1981)


but... I just cant get into it. Cant figure out why. This year, however...I seemed to have found a small bit of enjoyment out of it at the last minute. I dont know if it was the fact that my children all chose relatively simple and inexpensive costumes...

(Addison in the costume she wore last year)

(Evan chose to be a skeleton, wearing the cloak he wore for his last years costume..and I had already bought the face paint last year when Halloween items were on clearance!)

(Ian chose to be Indiana Jones..in his own clothing with uncle Nates fly fishing hat and a leather jacket we found at the D.I. for $20...the whip was from scout camp...)

Maybe it was the fact that I was just too dang busy to stress over everything like I normally do, but whatever happened, I really had a good time tonight! It did start out kinda miserable though with the rain...

but thankfully, by the time we actually went out to trick or treat, it had mostly stopped. We went to Nate and Alisa's first to show costumes and ended up trick or treating with Soren. That was fun...I love that age (2-4) when holiday's really start to become THE MOST EXCITING THING IN THE WORLD to the kids. Soren was having a ball! We left there after hitting a few streets and went back to our old neighborhood to finish up. It was fun seeing all the people from our old ward/neighborhood. The kids made a haul of candy that ought to last them 6 months but will actually only last about 6 hours....ugh. I, of course felt obliged to eat all of Ian's "peanut" items. Darn that peanut allergy!
(Here is Ian "re-creating the cover of the Indiana Jones DVD cover...can you tell he was really into this costume? )

After being home for about 20 minutes, I noticed that I hadnt seen or heard from Addison...this is how I found her. Completely Sacked out!

10 Years Ago....

I gave birth to my first baby...Ian Kenneth Shannon.

It was not an uneventful birth. After my water broke early, the contractions stopped and 19.5 hours later I was finally ready to push. Unfortunately, due to an epidural that never completely "took", I was forced to push without much pain medication.... it took 2.5 hours of pushing to finally hold him in my arms. 2.5 hours of pushing, puking on the nurse, and tearing....a lot. Lets not forget the fact that the doctor had to twist him a full 3 times to get his gigantor shoulders out. "Here is your future football player" the doctor said... all 9 pounds 13 ounces of him. Well, guess what Doc.... Football player he is not. What I got though, was the most lovable, squeezable, kissable, teddy bear of a son that a mother could ever hope for (and he would probably be mortified that I wrote that :) I cannot believe it has been 10 years already. It feels like it was just a couple of years ago..... Words can't express how much I love this kid so I wont bother trying. I am so proud of him....my little Alex P. Keaton :)



We promised him a big birthday party for his entrance into the "double digits". He has been very excited to hit this milestone...much more so than I have - that is for sure. So we invited his entire school class since they have all been together since Kindergarten. I figured half might show up.... out of 24 kids, we had 18 come to the party! It was a smashing success. I rented out the bowling alley at the University of Utah for 2 hours and let the kids go for it. Self contained entertainment....it was awesome, and loud, and crazy but totally worth it. Ian was on cloud 9. Denver was in town for a visit too so that made it even better for him. Also, my mom was in town helping my brother with his boys since Alisa had been out of town on business....it was fun to have her at the party as well.

Here is Addie striking a pose for the camera since she wasn't doing much "striking" on the bowling lanes!

And here is Ian methodically explaining the scientific facts about bowling and how to properly pick up the ball and throw it down the lane.....

Here is my nephew Soren, "secretly" assisting his big cousin in the gift opening department ;)

If you know me, then you know I love to make my kids' birthday cake from scratch each year. This year however, Ian was kind enough to allow me to purchase his cake from Sams Club #1. because I would have had to bake 3 cakes to feed all the guests..... and #2. between my school and our weekly chaos, I would have never had time to do so. It killed me to do it but I have to admit it was such a huge relief!!! By the way, I have to say that for store bought cake, this was pretty dang good...and I am picky.

He got a lot of really fun gifts and his friends were all so cute...they were huddled so close to him while he was opening the gifts that I thought they might literally smother him. It was Awesome....he had such a great time :)