My eyes see red & white

Nutcracker just the thing to bring in the right Christmas spirit... What an amazing opportunity I have to be a part of such a fantastic tradition of colors, of magic, of lights, and friendships.
Those candy canes were absolutely amazing, despite the 3 gals who ended up plagued by the stomach flu! Unfortunately I ended up with it too... and try as I might I couldn't perform the party scene for 3 of the 4 performances! Cute Shane, who does all of this just for me, still held his head up high and performed those 3 performances with my part-saver, instead of myself. He was AMAZING... I would dare say that Shane has more character because of that.
My goodness I love him!
Here are my silly candy cane gals...it was because of their individual strengths that made them absolutely perfect!

Susie, Abbey, Kenzie
Alyssa, Bryni, Emily, Kenady, Claire,
Skye, Ali, Courtney

Our 'Candy Cane' huddle

Hundreds of little bodies in costume, with smiles on each one of their faces... feeling the heat of the lights, hearing the applause of the audience, and sensing the complete joy and magic that Christmas brings.
Already looking forward to next year...


Life and the balance beam

Tonight I was able to go watch my little 6 year old niece at gymnastics. I watched intently as she practiced a series of steps on the balance beam. Slides, jumps, dips, balances on one leg... her cute little body with arms stretched out like an airplane did its very best to keep her on the balance beam. Occasionally she would lose that hard earned balance and fall. Each time she would quickly pick herself up and pull with all her strength to get her body back up on the beam. It looked hard. My muscles ached by just watching her struggle to get back up.

I thought a lot about her practice and how that's just how life goes. We all try our very best to walk that thin line of safety, of happiness, of success... but much of the time we lose our sight, (sometimes at no fault of our own) let go of our strength, and fall off the beam. While sitting on the ground looking at all those who are still walking a perfectly balanced line we tend to think that it isn't worth the difficulty of trying to get back up. It's too hard. But someway, somehow, we find ourselves pulling to get back on that thin line.

Savanna and I hopped into the car and I looked back at her while her quiet, and worn out eyes looked out into the night from the tinted window.

"My muscles feel so tired." She quietly stated.
"I think I need a treat."

Gymnastics is hard...just like life. But most of the time we do our best to muster up the strength to pick ourselves back up, even if it seems impossible.

I think you are right Savanna...let's go get some ice cream.


xoxo Savanna baby. I love you.


Perfect Imperfection

At Nutcracker practices my dancers work hard memorizing their choreography so that once they are on the stage to perform, they can dance it with PERFECTION.

I delight in knowing that my dancers work so SO hard to achieve this goal... it is so fulfilling to watch from backstage as every toe is pointed, every hoop is moving in the right direction, and every sweet smile is in its place.

Today during practice we ran the dance... over, and over, and over again. When a mistake was made, back to the beginning every girl would march, hoping that in the next go around no mistakes would be made. They worked as hard as they always do, and I was impressed with their dedication.

After individual practice we combined with all of the other dancers for finale rehearsal. I knew my dancers would be perfect, because that's what we had worked so hard to achieve. When their turn came to dance, I was astonished at not only the small, but the very large and obvious mistakes that were being made... what was happening? I felt frustrated, and sad. They know this dance! They know their parts! Why is this not perfect like it was 10 minutes ago?!

As I stood around the other teachers feeling fumed, I glanced over at my dancers huddled back in a corner. Each of them looked so content, watching silently as the other dancers leaped and turned all about the floor. I quickly became overcome with feelings of guilt. "They ARE perfect" I thought. "They did exactly what I had asked of them - to dance their very best". To be honest, I wouldn't have it any other way.

After I gave each of the girls a high five and a wink, I drove home contemplating my internal behavior. My thoughts quickly turned to the Savior... the ultimate teacher. He doesn't teach expecting us to come out perfect. He wouldn't make us turn around and start over so we wouldn't make any mistakes. Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ give us the opportunity to make mistakes so that we may learn, we may grow, and so that next time, we can be better. We are only expected to do our best; to TRY to be perfect, not to BE perfect; and I think that's exactly why we all can feel of their love for us. How proud they must feel every time we serve someone in need, or kneel to pray in seeking for direction....

How proud I feel every time I see a smile, or witness the beautiful countenance on each dancers face. How proud I feel to be their teacher; to watch them stumble, to watch them grow, and see each of them finding their own perfection.

Perfection doesn't come in pointed toes or turned out legs. It comes in lifting our chins, stepping out onto the stage with confidence, and dancing our very, very best.




There is just something so lovely about...

The smell of clean laundry
The tightness of the sheets at night
New socks
Open doors & open windows
Windex on mirrors
Burning candles
Feeding the ducks
Unique artwork
An organized closet
The sound of the rain
Toast with cinnamon sugar, late at night
Waking up to the sunrise
Letting tears roll down my cheeks without regret

And knowing that no matter where I am or where he is
I have his heart and he has mine

I like that feeling.

I miss you tonight my love...sleep is impossible to find without you by my side.



Some of the greatest things about you:
1. You're incredibly smart! You know how to turn on the lights in the middle of the night in order to wake us up and play.
2. You know how to cool things down. When it gets a little warm in the house, you just flip on the light switch that controls the fan, then lie on your back right underneath it and fall asleep.
3. Your meow is more like a squeak! Duke sometimes we can't even hear you when you need something... we know you are trying to meow because your mouth moves but nothing comes out!
4. Although your voice is quiet, your feet are not. We know exactly where you are in the house, anytime of the day.
5. You're very obedient when it comes to table manners. You always sit upright on the chair, and fold your arms at the counter! What a good boy.
6. You save us money on fly swatters. Not only do you make it incredibly amusing to watch while you body slam flies against the walls, but you also always catch them!
7. The way you snuggle at night, always next to daddy.
8. How you prefer to drink water. I think most kitties drink straight out of a bowl, but you like to drink it out of the tap...while it's running. It's so funny to see water drip from off your face!
9. You also love to play in water! If the sink is full of water, you'll bury your arms in it and then shake off your paws so the water sprinkles the mirror... it's fun to see those water spots, we think of you every time.
10. You try so very hard to climb trees, and your getting better. But you do make sitting out on the porch much more amusing when you run, jump on the tree trunk, then slide all the way down because you just can't hold on.
Duke we LOVE you. We have been ready to build our family for awhile now, but most of the time life doesn't exactly go as we hope or plan. Thank you for being such a joy in our home, you turn every sad or stressful day completely upside down!

You make my heart melt, just like daddy does.


oooooh boy.......

Friends, family, and journal
I am so sorry we have left you in the dust,
How rude of us!
It is now time to attempt to cover up the past few months
With a few words
And some new posts below.

Yes, Shane was accepted to Nursing school for the fall! We are so delighted and couldn't be happier with this blessing.

I finished up another successful year at the ballet school. I taught the cute Bells (cast A), Lost Penny (cast A & B), and Pretty Girl (cast B). All of my dancers worked SO hard and were absolutely magnificent in the recital! I couldn't have been happier with their performance.

After 3 1/2 years as a bank teller and lead teller, I was finally pushed to interview for a promotion. After no preparation I was offered a job as a personal banker. It came as a surprise, but after many prayers Shane and I realized it was a blessing.

The calling to be a Young Women's Advisor is COVETED in the church, therefore I was very sad when I was released! I LOVED my mia maids, as well as the incredible leaders I served with. But I have come to love my new calling as the Primary Presidency 1st Counselor. I am able to serve with three great friends who teach me and uplift me EVERY DAY.

Shane has been working on the 'general team' at IMC for 1 1/2 years. He was recently given a huge compliment and asked to join the 'cardiovascular team'. He is now working in surgery on the heart patients. It is stressful, but he is learning and loving it SO much!

We welcomed our new nephew Nathan Scott, and new niece Emily to the family. Both healthy and both CUTE! Can't wait for 2 more nephews on the way!

BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS, BLESSINGS. We know that we have been in our Heavenly Father's care, and we are so grateful. There are so many who are struggling and suffering with this economy, and our prayers are with you always! We love you!


We're going to miss you too!

Awhile ago, Shane and I were called by our Stake President to serve as a Ma and Pa for our Stake Pioneer Trek. We were so excited to have this opportunity to spend four days with kids from our area up in Martin's Cove...we knew that it would require good spiritual and physical preparation on our part, and we couldn't wait for the adventure.
We planned, prepared, and prayed for months. Shane and I wanted this to be an unforgettable experience for our 'family' on trek. We wanted our 'kids' to have the spiritual experience of a lifetime! The time spent together at the temple and on our knees in prayer was much needed time for the two of us to spend together...it felt so good.
The day before trek after I dropped off our buckets of belongings, I came home to find Dukie like this, snuggled under our already made bed. I'm sure he sensed that we were leaving! My brother Eric and his wife Nina always kittysit Duke whenever we go out of town, so I packed up Duke's things and we headed to their house to drop him off. It always feels so good knowing he is in good, loving hands!

On our 3 year anniversary, July 27th, I woke up at 2:00 AM feeling SICK. I figured I was just experiencing a mix of extreme excitement and anxiety, so I tried to brush it off. We arrived at the church to meet our family at 4:00 AM, and I was still so sick! All while meeting our 'kids' I was in and out of the restroom, hoping that my illness would pass. We all boarded the yellow school buses, and I wasn't quite sure that I was prepared for the seven hours of bus ride we had ahead of us!
By our first stop, I had to get off the bus because I was so sick. I slept in a car for the rest of the way to Martin's Cove, leaving Shane with our eleven (may I say, AWESOME) teenage 'kids'. Once we arrived, I didn't feel well enough to even sit through the video presentation about the sacred ground we were on. Once again a leader escorted me to the car to rest while everyone else trekked for the next 4 hours.
I tried to eat, and I tried to drink but I couldn't! I felt embarrassed to say anything because I figured the sickness would pass. 4 hours later, Shane and the medical crew found me in a miserable state...I hadn't realized that I was as sick as I was. They gave me a shot and hooked me up to an IV and quickly pushed 2000 CCs of fluid in me. I was carried to bed, and sadly, we were taken home the next morning.
Although I didn't have an opportunity to meet our 'family', that's the only thing Shane could talk about for days. Our 11 'kids' were amazing; they all got along with each other, they were prepared, and they kept their prayers with me the whole time.
All I could think of were the pioneers...how did they do it? They were sick, and I'm sure most of the time they felt absolutely awful, but they had the determination and will to push on. Their faith in the Lord kept their heads above water. We all have a little bit to learn about our ancestors, and just my two days of feeling miserable dressed in pioneer clothing, I learned a lot about them. I gained a testimony of their faithfulness to the gospel.

Maybe that's why we were called, maybe that's the answer I needed.

Although we were heartbroken, it was lucky we came home. After eight days of feeling sick, I'm thinking it's just about time to feel better!

Let's play Doctor....

Here are a couple pictures from jaw surgery #6! On March 30th I had surgery on my left TMJ joint during which Dr. Austin found a large bone spur that had worn completely through the tendon. It felt good to finally have an answer, and get it fixed!
Dr. Simmons who is a friend and co-worker of Dad's, and also one of my friend's Dad, was my anesthesiologist, and he was amazing. He cared SO much for me and checked on me so often.
I think I am finally becoming a little more brave when it comes to IVs (I hope!). I went to sleep just fine, but woke up at the end of surgery with the intubation (sp?) tube still down my throat! I managed to stay calm and after just a few seconds (which felt like an eternity) they pulled the tube out so I could breathe. I later found out that during cases that have to do with the mouth or jaw, it is necessary for the patient to wake up completely before the tube can be taken out; otherwise, if the tube is taken out too early and complications arise, forcing the tube back down would damage the entire surgery. I am SO glad I didn't have that!

Dr. Simmons, Dad, Kenzie, Shane
Again, a huge thank you to my family and friends who have prayed for us and my silly jaw! Although it seems to frustrate many people, I have come to realize that I am grateful for having the opportunity to endure through the complications. The patience that I have practiced has been needed for me; Mom always said that patience was a virtue, and even though it took me 22 years to understand that, I think I finally do! These surgeries have also helped me over my fear of hospitals, needles etc. I knew that someday I would need to get over that hump, and I am almost there.


Trudee Peterson....
do you know her? If not, you are sure missing out.
I have been lucky enough to work with Trudee for the past 3.5 years, and every minute has been a complete treasure! She and I would open the bank with each other every morning, so the two of us had at least 30 minutes every day of just US. We would talk, vent, and laugh all while soaking in that early morning sunrise. I cherish Trudee almost as much as I adore my own mother.
A few months ago, and at a very young age, Trudee was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was all heartache and heartbreak, but she didn't let those things get in the way of her amazing attitude. Shane and I, as well as a few of my other co-workers and the Peterson family signed up to run the breast cancer awareness race for the cure in support of Trudee and the millions of other individuals who suffer from this disease.
It was such a neat experience; over 17,000 participants arrived, and feelings of hope and love seemed to be floating everywhere!

Shane, Kenzie, Mike, Rachel, Jen, Darin

As a tribute to Trudee, our shirts said:
"Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to go..."
(no this is not a type-o :) )

Trudee has endured her chemotherapy treatments with a smile, and is now completing radiation. She is doing very well, but our prayers have, and will continue to include Trudee and her family!


For you, my love.

"You did not come into this world to fail. You came into the world to succeed. You have accomplished much so far. It is only the beginning. As you move forward on the trail of life, keep the banner of faith in self ever before you. You may not be a genius. You may not be exceptionally smart. But you can be good, and you can try. And you will be amazed at what might happen when in faith you take a step forward."


Every time I read this quote I think of you my love, and I want to say congratulations on making into nursing school on your first try! We all believe in you and know that you work very hard...you have made giant leaps of faith since that dreadful day 9 months ago.
You are and always will be #1 in my heart...I love you!


surgery number six

Surgery number six,
Now hopefully I'm fixed!
Much to Dr. Austin's surprise,
A bone spur was found right before his eyes.
Wore a hole through the tendon,
So it couldn't do much mendin',
But after surgery and 6 weeks of healing,
Back to normal I'll be...
wow, what a good feeling!

Thank you for your love and prayers in my behalf...I am so grateful that I followed the prompting to get this surgery done as soon as possible.
Much love!


My Mama...

After reading a friends post about being a mother, I was overwhelmed with emotion as I thought about my own mother...
Starting with Monday, the past week has not gone down in the record book as one of the smoothest, greatest, or happiest. It was filled with slimy oysters (yuck), and nipping crabs (ouch).
Thursday was a particularly difficult day and as I was on my way to go home for lunch I called my Mama. She was busy doing this and that, but of course she didn't hesitate one instant to invite me over to eat lunch with her. As I walked in the door I saw sitting on the table a hot bowl of clam chowder and broiled cheese bread with my Mother walking toward me, arms outstretched. She held me in her arms as I shook and trembled with emotion...as we stood next to the table she didn't utter a word, but magically she seemed to take away from me all my fear, my heartache, and my insecurity.
Since that day I have pondered about the hundreds of other similar occasions that my Mother and I have shared. How is it that with one hug, or one look, she seems to know everything? She knows how I feel, and how to fix it...every time.
How grateful I am for my Mama.
I love you Mom,
Always have,
Always will.


More of Ecuador

Here are just a few pictures from our medical mission in Ecuador. I apologize, but they are in backwards order! Enjoy!

The patients are brought here to recover after surgery. Only some of them are able to go home with some medication, and the ones that do get medication only take home a few tylenol. Each guardian of the patient that received the medication was always wide-eyed with gratefulness.

Here is a picture of Dr. Rob Ferguson and Shane in one of many surgeries. In this surgical case they were fixing a deformed hand. Their operating room had no windows, no air conditioning, and no working equipment (including tables). When you walked into the room it looked misty from the amount of humidity that filled it.

These are the doors to the operating rooms. Every door in the hospital looked very similar to this! From the inside of the doors bunches of peeking eyes could always be seen through the broken glass.

The little girl wearing pink pants (Derineya) was able to have surgery done on her cleft palate during the medical mission in 2009. She and her family were at the hospital all week giving love to families there. One afternoon Derineya came searching for me in the hospital...once she found me she took my hand and led me outside. She then pointed to a drawing done with the sidewalk chalk I had given her. It was a big heart and inside it she had written, "KENZIE, LOVE YOU". Her mother said in Spanish that it had taken her all afternoon to figure out how to say it in English. Words can't explain how that made me feel!

On the first day at the hospital, hundreds of patients line up outdoors waiting to be seen by our team of doctors. This picture is taken outside the door to the clinic with one of our anesthesiologists (Dr. Butch Parker) walking out. Notice how tiny all of the Ecuadorians are!

We were so ready to get to work! This was our first day, getting ready to head to the hospital.

Our first few days we spent in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Quito actually marks the center of the world, and here Shane and I are standing right on the Equator! It really was amazing.

This is outside one of the cathedrals in Quito. All of these people are homeless, waiting for food from the church.

Outside the presidential palace we came across this sweet little fellow! We asked for a picture and he willingly said yes :) Again, look how little he is!

On one of the days in Ecuador we took a day trip to a city in Otavalo with our friends, Dr Rob Ferguson and his wife Andrea, and also Heidi and her husband Dr Butch Parker.

Otavalo presents a big market every Saturday and Sunday. They sell a ton of homemade goods like necklaces made from acai seeds (above), carved gourds, weaved bags, wooden nativities, vegetables, meat, etc.

This was our view outside the window of our hotel room in Quito. Check out that traffic!

We made it to Ecuador! This was taken right as we arrived at our hotel in Quito at about 1 in the morning. We had to take those two blue bins which were stuffed with medical supplies with us on the airplane.

Thank you for your prayers while we were in Ecuador! We miss it and can't wait to go back.


Medical Mission Ecuador

For ten beautiful days we were captured by the pure happiness of the Ecuadorians.
Hundreds of children, teens, and adults all traveled miles hoping to be cured of their deformities by our team of magnificent doctors...and even though only a fraction of those people were able to receive surgery, all considered themselves blessed to simply be seen by our American staff.

How is it that we can have everything, but have nothing at the same time? My heart was in shock as I watched those sweet, happy, pure, and respectful Ecuadorian people meander throughout buildings and roads without shoes, without food, carrying loads of goods to sell or babies on their backs...they are people with nothing, but have absolutely everything. The best part about it is that they know they have everything...they have a family, everyone is a friend, they have the sun, the rain...what else matters?

What else does matter I ask? Our fancy homes, the ten (or more) pair of shoes in our closet, the water that comes out pure and clean out of every faucet?
Not to the Ecuadorians...
LOVE everything.
keep a PRAYER in your HEART.
find a FRIEND in everyone.
discover a BLESSING everywhere.
be HAPPY for who you are.

As I step back and take a panoramic view of my life it is clear to see that material things tend to cloud cover the important things. Without needing to utter a word, the people of Ecuador have taught me numerous lessons... I will always be grateful for that.

keep love in your hearts...xoxo


Our little Dukie...

We have a kitty that has MANY talents...
He climbs into Daddy's arms while he's praying...

Tests out the sleeves of Daddy's jacket to be sure they're warm enough...

Stays out of Mommy's way while she vacuums...
(Duke was so terrified of the vacuum that he hid underneath every pillow on the bed!)

Protects Mommy's make-up EVERY MORNING...

Sleeps like a CHAMP
(If you can't tell...)

And loves to bask and play in the sunshine every afternoon.

Shane and I love Duke so much we can't even believe it! It is going to be so difficult to leave him for ten days...I can't imagine how all those mothers feel leaving their children for even a couple of hours!

We love you Duke!


We ain't done yet!

Five sugeries down but one more to go
this darn recovery is moving so slow!
Please jaw cooperate, let this one work
Because at this point I'm going berzerk.
Don't misunderstand, I love my new bite
but this little joint just isn't quite right.
March the thirtieth is the day,
I hope this is it, oh I plea and I pray!
Open it up, clean it all out
Then sew me back up without any doubts!
Pretty Please?


What's your excuse?

For the past three years, I have been a big supporter of public transportation. After Shane and I got married, he too jumped on the boat with me on the subject. For my birthday in 2008, I got a bike to ride to and from work...not only would it save some money, but I would be decreasing the amount of harmful chemicals that plague our earth today. Shane and a few fellow employees made use of the awesome carpool lane on the freeways on their commute to Murray and back. Shane also uses the Frontrunner train and UTA buses to and from school, all in hopes of making the small difference in improving our air quality. Shane and I also love to walk to church...just one more small way to prove that we don't NEED our personal vehicles.
This past sunday was cold. And foggy. And the air was filled with pollutants. And we were almost late for church. "Can we please take the car to church today?" was my plea to Shane. After just slight hesitation he agreed...with that crappy air it wouldn't be good to walk anyway. We hopped in the cold car and as we pulled out of the driveway we saw our friends, Marianne, Chris, and their adorable baby Camden, all wrapped up and WALKING to church. Shane and I looked at each other and knew we both had the same thought in mind... what was our excuse for driving to church? We live ONE BLOCK AWAY...it takes just as much time to drive as it does to walk! We complain about the smog filled air...well what did we think we were doing? Our friends live at least triple the distance away from the church, if not more...I hope they realize what an awesome example they have set for Shane and me. They walked to church when Marianne was overdue with Camden, they walk when it rains, they walk when it's hot, they walk when it's foggy, snowy, and cold.
We have NO excuse...
Help us reduce harmful carbon emissions...walk, bike, carpool, and make use of our public transit systems. We all want a healthy world to live in!


Surgery number 5...are we done yet?

(Shane & I decided that it would be good to have this post for our records - not for sympathy votes! Thanks!)

JUNE 2007: Wisdom teeth are removed to open space for jaw surgery incision
DECEMBER 2007: Braces are put on to begin realignment of teeth
MARCH 2008: It is discovered that a tooth implant will be required to have complete function of mouth but there is not enough room for the gum advancement. A gum graft is required.
APRIL 2008: Gum graft on lower four teeth accompanied by a tongue clip is completed
JUNE 2008: Advancement for tooth implant begins
FEBRUARY 2009: Gum advancement is completed, date of surgery is set.
MARCH 2009: Tooth implant is fixated into lower right jaw bone; upper jaw is separated, shaved down, and fixed back into place with 4 titanium plates and 18 screws. Mouth is wired shut to help with healing.
MAY 2009: Return to work; begin to chew soft foods; upper teeth, lips and cheeks are still numb.
JUNE 2009: Braces come off!
JUNE 2009: New braces are put on...
JULY 2009: Beginning to regain normal smile.
OCTOBER 2009: Braces come off, again!
NOVEMBER 2009: MRI completed on left jaw joint to research why it is locked.
DECEMBER 2009: Left jaw joint is operated on to remove excess fluid.
JANUARY 2010: Jaw therapy begins, to be continued twice a week for the next six weeks.

While in recovery from my last surgery I supposedly requested a picture with my amazing oral surgeon, Dr. Blaine Austin. I have felt so blessed to have Dr. Austin be the one working with me...I will be very honest, the hardest part about all of this is having someone work on my FACE; my IDENTITY. I had so many questions...will I ever look the same? Will people still recognize me? It was difficult to put my trust into someone who would be dealing with the precious parts about ME. Before I went in for my maxillofacial surgery, I realized that Dr. Austin cared just as much about who I was as I did. I have been able to see Dr. Blaine Austin for almost 3 years now, and I feel lucky for that! He made a promise to me that he would try to calm my childlike fears of surgery and make me feel comfortable with the subtle changes in my face, my smile, and the way I can eat...I think the only thing that needs some work now is my fear of surgery!

Thank you to all of those who continue to support Shane and I in this seemingly endless recovery!