Saturday, December 12, 2009

It's Cookie Time!*

One month of every year, I look past my bias against baking (which exists merely because I'm not very good at it) and I enter a world of sugary chewiness where I just happen to be Mistress of All. Ok, that is an overstatement. What I mean is I bake a lot of Christmas cookies. And I mean a lot. As soon as I finish this post, I will be heading into the kitchen to make my favorite Christmas cookies, which includes, and is most likely limited to, Chocolate Crinkles (pictured above), Russian Tea Cakes, Shortbread, and Snickerdoodles. This is the first time that Snickerdoodles have appeared on my Christmas cookie list, but I could not resist because they are basically my favorite cookie. Tomorrow morning I will have dozens and dozens of cookies all over my kitchen. So my question is:

Who wants some?

I'm serious. If you live in the Provo/Orem area, let me know if you are interested. I didn't give any away last year and I ate nothing but Chocolate Crinkles for two days, no joke.

*PS This movie inspired the title of this post.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

To Mac and Back

Our little family went to McMinnville over the weekend to see my family. I couldn't leave until Saturday morning, but Sean and Matilda went out Thursday night so my parents could have more time with the girl. I was there for a whopping 48 hours, but I had some good times visiting with my family and seeing people from my home ward. Here are a few highlights:

1. My Dad. When Sean and Tilly walked hand-in-hand through security at PDX for my dad to pick them up, Tilly saw her grandpa and immediately dropped Sean's hand and ran to my dad. This warms my heart so much. Matilda hasn't spent a lot of time with him since we live 800 miles away, so I asked Sean if he pointed my dad out to her and he answered no. I love that Matilda was able to recognize him and got SOOOOO excited about seeing him. Also, we were there for the Mac 2nd ward Christmas party. My dad was asked to sing "We Three Kings" with a group of men and was so nervous about it. He loves to sing, but has never had ANY musical training and has a difficult time singing the right pitches. They sang the song acapella and it sounded great! I even listened hard for my dad's voice and I could hear that he was singing the correct notes! I was so proud of him.

2. Family Dinner. My siblings and their families in Oregon all came over for stew and pumpkin pie on Sunday. There were 10 adults and 10 kids, altogether. After dinner, we watched the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, but with 10 kids running around and making noise, I didn't get a whole lot out of it. I held my 7 week-old nephew for a long time and played Christmas Charades with my nieces. I feel so lucky that even during such a short trip, I was able to spend some quality time with my family.  After everyone left, Sean and I watched the devotional again and were really able to feel the spirit of Christmas. My favorite talk was President Uchtdorf's about humility and "seeing" Christ in Christmas.

3. Going Through Stuff. My closet (can it be considered my closet if I've never actually lived in that house?) is full of my stuff. Old Halloween and dance costumes, American Girl Doll paraphernalia, possessions I have had for at least 15 years that I don't really care about but I haven't gotten around to throwing them away. One of these trips I am really going to go through the boxes, but last weekend I started looking through a box from my senior year of high school. I found my graduation mortarboard and the various tassels and cords I wore. I found some pictures that brought back a lot of memories about the wonderful group of friends I had in high school. And I found my cheerleading uniform. I have lost about 15 lbs of baby weight since August (finally!) so I decided to try on my uniform, although I wasn't very hopeful. It was a little bit tighter than it used to be, especially in the, um, chest area, but it definitely fit! It makes me happy that I finally have the body I'm used to back and I'm able to wear my old clothes again.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December 3rd = Baby Day

L-R: Janneke, Kathy, Gretchen, Sarah, Megan

This picture was taken in August of 2006 when our folk dance team was on our way to Nauvoo, Illinois to perform for two weeks. Janneke and Gretchen were already married, but the rest of us were all married within two years. These girls are some of my best friends, so we always have fun recreating this picture when we get together. It is amazing how many memories one little picture like this can bring rushing back to your mind. We took a picture together in 2008 when we were all married and reminisced about this time in our lives and marveled at how much can change in two years. Now, just over a year later, four of us have children and Kathy is due in January. I was the first to have a baby and then Gretchen had little Hannah about 4 months later. In fact, a year ago today I was visiting her in the hospital, and just now I returned home from visiting Sarah and her baby girl in the hospital. Amazingly enough, Janneke and Sarah both had babies today! That's right. Three out of the five of us have had babies on the same date. Apparently, Kathy and I missed the memo about the third of December. I guess we can try for that next time.

Congratulations to Sarah and Justin and Janneke and Danny and their new babies!

The Goose is Getting Fat

On Sunday night, I stayed up until 1:00 AM writing a new post about some things that I have been thankful for lately. What started out as a few thoughts about some events from the past few years of my life, and how I have overcome them, turned into a lengthy, journal-like personal essay. I was reluctant to post it because it delved into some very intimate emotional territory, so I have decided to put it on hold indefinitely. Just know that I am grateful for many things this holiday season.

Thanksgiving is over, so here comes Christmas! I got out all of our Christmas decorations the morning after Thanksgiving and our house (really just the living room) looks beautiful in all of its red and gold glory. I have a few more things that I want to do and I haven't gotten our Christmas dishes out yet, but I was so late decorating last year that I wanted to be sure to get our tree, stockings, nutcrackers, and nativity up early this year. I think Matilda has inherited my love of Christmas. She loves watching the classic cartoons, such as Rudolph and the Grinch, and we watched Elf last night and she loved it, especially the beginning at the North Pole. She also loves the Christmas tree. I put our 6 foot artificial tree on our coffee table in the corner of our living room (with a nonslip pad underneath, of course), so Matilda can get a nice and close look but her short little arms can't reach it. She loves the lights and her favorite ornament is an Ariel ornament that my parents got for me in 1992, when I was obsessed with the Little Mermaid. Like mother, like daughter.

Even though she loves the tree, I think her favorite decoration is a giant Nutcracker snowglobe that my parents gave me in high school. It plays the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and has different scenes from the story circling around a Christmas tree with glitter floating around. The base has characters such as Drosselmeyer, Clara (or Marie, whichever you prefer), the Mouse King, the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum Fairy situated beautifully among Victorian architecture. Matilda loves to watch the globe and dance to the music. In fact, Matilda came to me while I was typing to get me to wind it up. It makes me so happy watching Matilda dance, especially to Nutcracker music.

I admit that I totally love the non-religious parts of Christmas, but I also love the true meaning of Christmas centered around Christ's birth. My mom collects nativities and my favorite part of Christmas while growing up was setting them up around the house. We only have one nativity so far, which is Willow Tree so Tilly is not allowed to play with it, but I would love to have one that she can touch and play with, and that we can teach her the story of Christmas with. Any suggestions?

By the way, since I grew up in places where it didn't snow very much (except for one winter in Park City), I haven't had very many white Christmases. But ever since coming to BYU, snow has started to be a crucial part of Christmas for me, at least in Utah. I still don't need snow in Oregon to feel like Christmas is right around the corner. Anyway, there hasn't been a substantial snow in Provo yet. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope it snows soon.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Paris, Je T'aime...

I have an intense desire to go back soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why don't my pictures stay centered when I publish them? I format them centered, I promise! Anyone who can fix my problem will get a prize. It will most likely be candy or ice cream (if you are in Utah).

A Literary Halloween

It is late, Sean is in Florida, I am cold, I have a stats test to study for all day tomorrow, so what do I decide to do? Blog. It has never been in my nature to do a sensible thing like go to bed when I should. On a side note, for those who knew me before I got married when I seldom went to bed before 1 AM, I am usually in bed by 11 now, although I try to go to bed by 10. It helps to have a baby and an 8 AM ballet class. Right now, at this very moment and for the subsequent moments that will occur as I type, I am going to write about Halloween! This actually won't be very word-heavy, because really what is there to say? We dressed up and went trick-or-treating. Sean came up with the genius theme for our costumes.





Sean's costume was the hardest for people to get. Some kids asked if he was a cake. Most people thought we had something to do with the Wizard of Oz and that Sean was some bizarre wizard. They would say, "Let's see...a lion...a witch....OH OH THE WIZARD OF OZ!!" There were a few people who figured it out and everyone thought it was very clever when we told them. By the way, yes, Sean is a wardrobe. In fact, he is a rather girly wardrobe. He borrowed the costume from the Hale, and it is the costume worn by Madame de la Grande Bouche in Beauty and the Beast. Trick-or-treating was a ton of fun. We went around Sean's parents' cul-de-sac in Orem, which took us about an hour. It was hard for Sean to move around, plus Matilda was a little slow, both at walking and at grabbing a piece of candy and putting it in her bucket. In the end, we ended up with peanut M&Ms and Snickers galore! And then we went home and watched half of The Shining before deciding we were too fatigued to finish it. Here are some more pictures from the day:




Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Graduation Agitation.

It has been close to two weeks since my last post, which is much longer than I was hoping to go. The problem is I keep getting ideas of subjects I would like to write about and then I get overwhelmed by so much writing, similar to how I react to cleaning my entire house. The solution to this predicament is the same as for cleaning: just take care of one thing at a time and eventually I will be caught up.

Last Winter Semester, the College of Health and Human Performance announced that it no longer exists, meaning Dance was now a part of the College of Fine Arts and Communication. Instead of receiving a Bachelor of Science from the CHHP when I graduate, my degree in dance will now be a Bachelor of Arts. It is a change that should have happened a long time ago, but I did enjoy my time in the College of Health and Human Performance. Sean always thought it was quite a conundrum that I would graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Dance, while he received a Bachelor of Arts for Political Science. Anyway, all of this information is just to setup the story of my application for graduation. Because of the change of my college and the fact that CHHP are still offering some services right now, I was not sure where I needed to go to apply. Here is my annoyingly long adventure of graduation application (warning: this is a bit of a rant):

Me (in the dance department office): Where do I need to go to apply for graduation?
Student Worker: Vacant stare. Slow blink.
Me: Do I need to go to the HFAC (building on campus which houses the college of fine arts)?
Student Worker: Um, yeah....
Me: Do you know the room number of the advisement center?
Student Worker: It is D.......4........4........4.
Me: Ok thanks.

So I went up to the HFAC where I encountered two more student secretaries.

Me: I need to apply for graduation.
Student Worker #1: Smiles. Ok, what is your major?
Me: Dance.
Student Worker #1: Smile fades. Um, ok. (obviously doesn't know what to do.) Are you sure this is where you are supposed to go?
Me: The secretary in the dance office told me to come here.
Student Worker #1: Ok. To Student Worker #2: Do you know who is meeting with the dance majors?
Student Worker #2: Heather. (I don't remember the exact name, but #2 definitely said it with confidence)
Student Worker #1: Ok, I can make an appointment for you for Monday at 9:15.

I proceeded to give her my name and phone number and she gave me a little reminder card, like what the dentist gives you, only without the cartoon teeth wearing bow ties. I went on with my day, only to have Student Worker #1 call a few hours later to tell me that I actually needed to go to the advisement center for CHHP in the RB (building in which I spend all of my time. It is my home). Now, anyone who knows the campus layout of BYU knows that the RB is located at the bottom of a hill, down below most of campus, including the HFAC. The parking lots that I use are also at the bottom of the hill, which means I am able spend all of my time in the same general area with out climbing the 6-8 flights of stairs that lead to campus. I actually get a little annoyed when I have to go up to campus, where there are so many people and they all wear real, matching clothes rather than a hodgepodge of whatever clothes are most comfortable to dance in. In the end, I went to the advisement center in the RB and finished my application in about 5 minutes. The adviser I was working with told me it was the easiest application he had done all year.

This story ended up longer than I was expecting, kind of like the process to apply for graduation! I was really just agitated that I wasted about 45 minutes doing what I was told to do (making Sean about 30 minutes late for work), when what I actually needed to do added about 5 extra minutes to the walk to my car after ballet. Would it really have been so hard for the girl in the dance office to say, "I'm not sure, let me ask someone who knows"? In the end, it doesn't matter because I have officially applied to graduate in April 2010. Go me.

Trivia: Did you know the HFAC was designed by the same architect who designed the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Re"may"nder of May. Ha.

You would think that the rest of May would have been boring compared to our trip to New York, but it is truly the most spectacular of months with bountiful occasions for celebration. The day after we got home from NY was Mother's Day, and Matilda (and Sean) surprised me with a bracelet I admired from the window of a jewelers in Huntington. They got me something extra special because it was my first Mother's Day.

May 25 is Sean's birthday and mine follows soon after on May 30 (my dad's birthday is May 9 and Sean's mom's birthday is May 21. There are a lot of May birthdays in our family). I got Sean a raclette grill and some artisan cheeses, and then made him a delicious dinner using these things before he had to go to Singin' in the Rain rehearsal.


I decided to just make one cake for both of our birthday's because I knew we couldn't eat two cakes in one week. The candles say "273" because Sean turned 27 and I turned 23. I have a lot to learn about baking. This cake is ugly. Although I consider myself to be a pretty good cook, I am not delusional enough to think I am much of a baker. 

 My birthday fell on a Saturday this year, so Sean took me to breakfast at Guru's (one of my favorite Provo restaurants), after which we saw Up at the theater. The movie was wonderful and made me glad to have someone like Sean in my life to have adventures with when we grow old. That night was Sean's opening night in Singin' in the Rain, so we had an early dinner and went to the theater. Sean's main gift to me was the entire series of Seinfeld on DVD. We love it!

My favorite Matilda picture from May:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New York State of Mind

At the beginning of January, Sean's older sister, Erinn, moved to Huntington, New York, located on Long Island. She works for Ikea and hardly ever has time off to come home to Utah, so we went out there to visit.

Trip Highlights:
  • Spending time with Erinn. She introduced us to her new town and was able to spend a lot of time being a wonderful aunt to Matilda.
  • Sean and I spent three days in Manhattan, twice with Tilly and once without. We love New York. We went there on our honeymoon in January 2007. Who chooses New York for their honeymoon in the middle of winter? We do. 
  • Broadway. We got some discounted tickets at the TKTS booth for 9 to 5 and Exit the King. 9 to 5 was ok, not great. It did have some amazing choreography, though, and Allison Janney was hilarious. We were really hoping to get tickets for In the Heights, but there weren't any discount tickets available for that. Exit the King, starring Geoffrey Rush and Susan Sarandon, was truly amazing. I was a bit nervous at first about going to a play because I have so much more experience with musicals (after seeing 10 musicals on Broadway, this is my first play), but the extraordinary talents of Geoffrey Rush, who won a Tony Award for the role, made it incredible. Our seats were in the second row on an aisle, which gave us the perfect vantage point when King Berenger (Rush) hopped down from the stage to deliver a soliloquy while meandering through the theater. For at least a minute, he stood within inches of Sean's seat and made eye contact with us. He was spitting so much while he talked that some of it fell on Sean. That is right, Sean has been spat upon by an Oscar winner. Anyway, it was a beautiful, poignant, absurd play that revealed the emotions of learning how to die when one does not feel ready to do so. Also in the cast was Andrea Martin (who played the crazy aunt in My Big Fat Greek Wedding). I love her. 
  • Sean and I love museums, so we went to two. We went to the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were both excellent. At the Museum of Natural History, there was a special butterfly exhibit that was pretty cool. My favorite exhibit at the Met was the modern art.
  • After trying to decide if we wanted to take a day trip to Philadelphia or Boston, we chose to go to Philadelphia to visit Sean's great-aunt, Rosemary. She is the last living Murphy of her generation and Matilda is the first Murphy in her generation, so it was great to have them together. Rosemary lives in an apartment on the edge of Washington Square, with the Liberty Bell just a short walk away. Unfortunately it was raining so we didn't do a lot of sightseeing, but it was wonderful to be able to visit with Rosemary. Matilda actually crawled for the first time in her apartment!
  • In Huntington, there is an old bookstore called Book Revue that regularly hosts book signings by many significant authors (Julie Andrews was there a few weeks ago). One evening while the three of us were walking around looking for a place to eat, we noticed that retired NBA All-Star Bill Russell was at Book Revue signing copies of his new book, Red and Me, which is about his relationship with his coach and life-long friend, Red Auerbach. My dad is a huge basketball fan and actually played in college. Bill Russell is one of his heroes, and with my dad's birthday just 4 days away, we decided to get a signed copy of the book for him. We waited in the long line for a long time, but luckily Tilly was sleeping in her stroller. She woke up by the time we got to the table, and we discovered that Bill Russell is a very nice man with large hands and feet and a great laugh.
These are just a few highlights of the many wonderful adventures we were able to share as a family. We were so grateful to be able to spend time with Erinn, and we absolutely fell in love with Long Island. So now for some pictures:

Matilda loved her newly discovered trick of standing up in her carseat:

Matilda and her Aunt Erinn:

American Museum of Natural History:

Getting ready to eat at the first pizzeria in America, located in Little Italy:

Meeting Bill Russell:

In Philadelphia with Aunt Rosemary:

Metropolitan Museum of Art:

Miscellaneous New York pictures:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One more thing.

When I posted about April, I completely forgot about the most exciting event! I have seen it on the West Coast (Portland) and Sean has seen it on the East Coast (New York), but finally we were able to meet in the middle(ish) and see it together. On April 26th, we went to Wicked at the Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City! We love love love this show, and it was even better watching it from the SIXTH ROW. One of the first times that Sean and I were really attracted to each other was when we were driving up to SLC to attend a tanchaz (a Hungarian dance party, we are cool) and we belted along with the Wicked soundtrack, not caring how good or bad we sounded. The other people in the car thought we were crazy. So yes, Wicked is very special to us, so we were elated to finally see it together. In addition to that, it prepared us for our trip to New York a week later, but since that occurred in May, you will have to wait to hear that story.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

April showers bring...not a whole lot for the Murphy's.

April wasn't the most exciting month for us. Sean kept going to work and I kept going to school. In fact, Winter Semester 2009 was my last full-time semester, which is exciting, but also sad because I love my dance friends and teachers, and especially because I love Brigham Young University and learning. Education is one of the most important things in my life, which is perhaps why I am more interested in the pedagogical aspects of dance more than the creative facets. I hope Tilly and the rest of our kids will value it as much as Sean and I do. I am planning on doing a post about these topics sometime in the future, especially defending dance as a major (you cannot imagine the reactions I get unless you are a dance major yourself), so I will go ahead and continue reporting on the events of April.

Sean and I both auditioned for performance opportunities in April, Sean for Singin' in the Rain and the Hale, and I for the BYU International Folk Dance Ensemble. Unfortunately, only one of these auditions concluded with favorable results, so I will begin with that one. The Hale Center Theater Orem held the real auditions for Singin' in the Rain at the end of March, after which the show was cast. Sean did not go to these auditions, so obviously he was not cast. As it ended up, several of the men who auditioned and were cast could not or did not want to be in the show. So why did they audition? I have no idea. Anyway, because of this shortage of men, one of Sean's bosses asked (told) him to come to a mini-audition because she knew he had some dance experience. He went, he auditioned, he conquered. That is, he was cast as one of the ensemble members.Between work and rehearsals, Sean was a busy boy. I was so proud of him for stepping up and auditioning even though the only experience with musicals he had had was playing trombone in the orchestra. The show didn't open until June, so I'll write more about it later.

On to less happy news, I auditioned for folk dance again, but this time I did not make it. I was on the Performing Arts Company (PAC) of the International Folk Dance Ensemble back in the 2006-2007 school year. It was a great experience and I discovered that I am in love with the dances of different cultures around the world. There is a folk dance concert every year called Christmas Around The World that is held in the Marriott Center, so when you are on PAC, you are the star of the show. Unfortunately, I broke my ankle on October 26, 2006, so I was unable to dance in the show, which was the first week in December. Naturally, I was devastated. I was also unable to audition for the dance major, but that was less devastating because my teachers loved me and petitioned successfully for me to be accepted without auditioning. Anyway, you can understand how my experience was marred by the fact that I could not dance. By January, I was allowed to dance again, so I still had great experiences going on tour to California, Italy, and France. Long story short, in the spring of '07 we decided to have a baby, so I did not do folk dance the following year. We first found out I was pregnant in September, but that pregnancy ended with a miscarriage in November. I mention this because I had all sorts of thoughts about giving up folk dance to have a baby, and then I wasn't having a baby anymore. Luckily, I became pregnant with Tilly right away after the miscarriage, so those thoughts went away. Since I stopped doing PAC, Sean has seen how much I miss it, so in February of this year, he suggested that I talk to Ed, the Artistic Director, about auditioning. At first I didn't think it was a real possibility, but we decided that I should talk to Ed and just see. I talked to him and he was happy to consider me for the team again, but in the end, I did not make it. Ed asks for a two-year commitment from his dancers, so I like to think he didn't take me back because there wasn't enough room on the team for a one-year dancer, but it could be because of my skill/performance level or any number of reasons. It was, and still is, hard to accept that I'll never perform on a folk dance team again. There have been many things I have auditioned for that I haven't gotten, but dance isn't one of them. I have gotten everything I have auditioned for in dance. I know this is a great growing experience for me, but I would have rather been on the team. I know I should feel like this was what was right for everyone involved, but I just don't feel that way yet. So, yes, that has been on my mind a lot the last few months. Sean has banned me from BYU folk dance concerts for a while because I seem to have a breakdown after each one.... All this said, please do not think that I am deeply depressed or anything. I really am as happy as ever!

So, apparently, even though we didn't do a lot in April, there were still many things going on. The post is a lot longer than I was expecting. Thank you for reading the whole thing if you did. Now here are some pictures from April!

Matilda loves to take baths with her turtle washcloth. It matches her turtle towel.

The Exer-saucer was Tilly's favorite toy for a few months. At least until she started crawling.

Sean fed Matilda some prunes one day and waited a little too long to clean her up. By the time he wiped her face, the outer edge had dried, leaving a prune goatee.

Every Sunday we go to Sean's parents house for dinner. On this Sunday, I took a nap while Sean and Tilly went on a walk with some of his family members. Family friend Justin Wright snapped these awesome pictures. Having Tilly stand on his hand was Sean's favorite trick for a while, until she learned how to sit down from standing.

Apparently we didn't get any pictures of me in April, so instead here is a picture of our house on April 16. That's right, that much snow in the middle of April! I'm still not used to all the snow here.