Tuesday, July 31, 2007

the reunion

This will be a quick one. I have to leave for my piano lesson in about 5 minutes. This, after spending the weekend at a family reunion, with no piano in sight. Wish me luck. I think I probably practiced once. This is one of those relay races that you often play at family reunions. It later turned into a full scale water-fight. If you look for the girl in the black (actually I think it was navy blue) shirt and tan overalls, you can see my new haircut.
This is Eric and Evan just before heading down the alpine slide. Eric had been back from the Comic-con for less than 24 hours at this point.

This is me and MaKell just getting ready to do the same thing (don't look to closely at my hair in this one, we'd just gotten back from swimming, and I hadn't had time to do much more than stick a hairband in it)
It was a lovely lovely weekend, and now we go on with what looks to be a lovely lovely week.
(Eric had an amazingly fabulous time at the San Diego Comic-con, in case you're wondering)

Friday, July 27, 2007


This is a post about hair, and more specifically girls and the struggles we often have making hairstyle decisions. Even more specifically, it's a post about me and my hair, and some of what we've been through together.

For most of my life, I've generally been a long-hair kind of girl. When I was little, I kept my hair long, partially because I liked it that way, and partially because I knew that my daddy liked it that way, and partially because I didn't know how to do it any other way.

When I got into high school I went through this superstitious phase where I thought that if I cut my hair, I wouldn't be able do as well on the track team. Somehow, in my mind, that long ponytail bobbing behind me had the power to demoralize (or hypnotize) my competitors, keeping them safely behind me until my race was over. Besides, I figured that if I had short hair, I might not be able to keep it out of my eyes during races, and that would distract me. So, I had long hair in high school.

About a year or two into college I got my hair cut. It was pretty short for me, chin-length. I basically had it that length until it grew out, which didn't take very long, as it turned out. I also cut it short right before I went on my mission, figuring that short hair would be easier to take care of while I was out saving the souls of Northern Californians.

By the time I returned from my mission and resumed my college studies, my hair was once again long. I kept it that way for about a year, and then debated as to whether or not to cut it. I debated way longer and with more fervor than was really necessary, but that's often par for the course with me.

My big dilemma with cutting it had to do with (what else?) Boys. All the guys I knew said that they liked long hair better than short hair. That didn't hold water with me though, because I would see these girls with a trail of men following after them (you remember the story of the pied piper of Hamlin?), and I couldn't help but notice that the vast majority of them had hair that was more on the short side than otherwise.*

Anyway perhaps because of that observation, I finally got up the courage, and went ahead and cut my hair. I cut it short-ish, and for the first time in my life, I maintained it short for a couple of years, rather than just cutting it once and letting it grow from there. Guess what I discovered? Men may say they like long hair better, but Short-Hair Charlotte dated much much more than Long-Hair Charlotte.

I have a sneaking suspicion that that particular phenomenon had not so much to do with hair length as it did with the fact that Short-Hair Charlotte felt prettier and this was thus quite a bit more spunky and carefree than her more reserved, proper counterpart.

So, since that discovery, I've just felt free to do whatever I wanted with my hair, more or less independent of the status of my love-life. UNTIL last February, when I got this almost uncontrollable urge to cut my hair, but my wedding was only two months away and I just had this feeling that if I had short hair in all my wedding photos, that I'd regret it forever and my life would be totally ruined, also forever. Then once the wedding was over, I waited because I thought that if I cut my hair immediately that Eric (and perhaps others) would think that I had just kept it long so that I would be able to "catch my man", and that now that I had him, I was going to cut my hair and put on 20 pounds and generally let myself go in every way imaginable. I think I actually discussed this little thought with Eric, and got his assurance that he wouldn't think that at all, but by then life had gotten pretty hectic, and hair maintenance had slipped to the bottom of my priorities.

So, I held off, until this week. I made the appointment, and planned to chop if all off. Then, one day before the appointment, I lost my nerve and decided to just get it trimmed. Then, on the morning of the appointment, I found my nerve and decided (again) to chop it all off. Then, at the exact moment when my dear (long-suffering) Laura (pictured at left, although this is a picture from my wedding day, not the most recent cutting experience) asked me what I wanted to do, I compromised, and told her to cut off about two to three inches.

So, now I have shorter hair, although I don't think you could actually classify it as short hair.

Eric told me the other day that he thought I would look fairly decent bald (he's random like that). In light of the dilemmas that I tend to have about hair length, I suppose that is something I could consider.

But then it would grow back, and I'd be right back where I started.

I'd post a picture, but I haven't taken one since the cut. I really don't look that much different anyway. This post isn't so much about my current haircut as much as it is about my past experiences anyway, right?


*Although I was never one to have a trail of men following after me, I did have what I would secretly call my "few but faithful". Honestly though, if you have a few, faithful admirers, even if they are just a little bit more on the geeky side than otherwise, what more do you actually need? Not much. Especially once you've narrowed the "few but faithful" down to the "one-and-only-even-if-he-is-MORE-than-just-a-little-bit-on-the-geeky-side". Once you've done that, you're pretty much set. That's been my experience anyway.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Can you say Enthusiam??

Notice any similarities?

These two pictures just happened to be side by side in one of the albums on my computer. I found them yesterday as I was doing a little but of "computer house-cleaning", and it just made me laugh. (The building is in Harlem, the picture taken on the trip described in this entry . The boy is my nephew, the picture taken at a Corry reunion a couple of years ago)

As far as life, it's good. My mom is in town to see the operas, and some of my aunts and uncles are coming tomorrow. Eric leaves for San Diego tomorrow afternoon (it will be the first time we've spent more than one night apart since we got married), and I leave for Park City on Friday afternoon.

Then we'll all come back home next Monday and maybe, just maybe life will slow down for just a little bit. We'll see.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Just Shootin' the Breeze

I don't have all that much to say at the moment, but when has that ever kept me from posting something, huh?

It was a great weekend. Amy and Adam (Eric's sister and her husband) have been in town and on Saturday we were all able to go to the temple together and witness the sealing of their daughter Cecily. It was great to all be in the temple at the same time again. The last time we were all together was when Eric and I got married, and so being there brought back lots of good memories from that day.

Of course, before and after the sealing, there were lots of family gatherings. Friday we had a gathering with as many of the extended Cantwells as could arrange to come. Then Saturday and Sunday we got together with a group that was a little bit smaller-consisting of Eric's siblings (and their spouses), nieces, nephews, and parents.

Last December, as Eric was describing his extended family to me (as I was preparing to attend my first big family event), he mentioned over and over again how much the Cantwells like to chat with each other. I was glad to hear that, because I'm a little bit on the chatty side myself, particularly once I feel comfortable with the people by whom I'm surrounded.

Well, it's been about seven months since Eric gave me that helpful bit of information, and since then I've been to four different big family events/dinners, and many many more little family events/dinners. Now, I took Eric at his word, and had no doubt that what he was telling me was the truth. But, now that I have a little bit of experience under my belt, I can say of my own accord, that Eric was absolutely right. Those Cantwells are definitely a chatty bunch.

It's absolutely wonderful.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Will my mom disown me over this?

So, about 10 days ago, when I was contemplating the 6 hour drive that Eric and I would be taking to one of my family reunions, I went to our local library and checked out some books on tape. (Eric and I really enjoy talking to each other, but 6 hours? Come on!!) I checked out four books on CD, and one of them was Living History by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

This was not my first bit of exposure to this book. As you may or may not know, I'm a faithful reader of Reader's Digest Magazine, and I had read excerpts of the book there when it first came out. Furthermore, I've actually owned a printed copy of the book for a couple of years now, having picked one up for a buck or two on one of my traveling adventures (this one to Houston with Tayneshia and Delphina). I bought it then for two reasons: First--the price was right. Second--It occurred to me that since Ms. Rodham Clinton was showing up in the news so often, I would probably do well to balance what I was hearing about her from everyone else with what she was saying about herself.

Anyway, as I said, I got the book a few years ago. However, I never made the time to read it. So, when I saw the recorded version at the library, I checked it out, and Eric and I listened to it for a few hours en route to and from my family reunion. Since we've been home, I've kept the CDs in my car, and I've continued to listen to it as I've gone to and from work each day.

I must say, it's been an interesting experience. I come from very very conservative roots, to say the least, and I'll admit that I tend to lean to the conservative side much more often than I lean anywhere else politically. But, I've found the book interesting, and at times some of what she says resonates within me. At other times, what she says is very much against my own feelings and viewpoint. Because of all of this, I haven't determined definitively what to think about Hillary Rodham Clinton. Perhaps I never will. Eric knows of a biography of the Clintons that appears to be at least somewhat unbiased, and so when we're finished with this autobiography, we're going to see if we can get ahold of that one.

And then maybe I'll have a better idea of where I stand.

(This from a girl who has already contributed-however meagerly- to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign)

One thing before I close. This is not a political blog, and I have no intention or desire to turn it into one. (I'm not interested enough in or smart enough about the issues to try to attempt that) The preceding entry is not meant to be political, just to share an experience that I am having right now. It has been my experience that there are very few subjects that engender as much passion, misunderstanding, and stubbornness as politics, and when those things take over, I feel badly inside.

With that in mind, I just say one thing. If you have any comments that are open-minded, thought-filled, or contemplative (or just plain non-inflammatory), please feel free to leave them here. On the other hand, if this is one of those subjects that you feel very very strongly about, and you happen to have comments that are angry, accusatory, or might be unhelpful in other ways, if you would go to this site, you should be able to find any number of blogs that do focus on political issues. I would think those places would be a much more welcome location for that kind of commentary.

I guess I could probably say this best by recalling the old saying from that greatest of all classics, Bambi.

"If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

Have a glorious weekend.


And no, I'm pretty sure that my mother will NOT disown me over this. I might get a stern talking-to though.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Good times

Well, things are fine. Last night we had a gathering for many of our friends in the area. I thought it might be kind of overwhelming, since we're in the middle of the opera season, and we had just got back from camping. But, it turned out just fine. Have you ever read the book "Stone Soup"? That's kind of how I feel about parties with our friends. (If you haven't read the book, you can check out the link above. It pretty much tells the story.)

Anyway, Eric and I basically provided the location for the party (our town home), and I made a bunch of crepes (4 batches, to be exact). Everyone who came brought different items for crepe fillings, and there ended up being plenty and to spare. Even better, we had some good conversation and good laughs. Eric was able to show off the Robot Room, and I was able to use the crepe-maker we recieved for our wedding.

So really, what's not to like about all of that?

Otherwise, things are good but pretty much the same as ever. This weekend we'll be hanging out with the Cantwell clan, and then next weekend Eric is headed to San Diego for the Comic-con, and I'm off to yet another family reunion. It's been a crazy summer, but it's all good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

An Attitude of Gratitude

I don't remember too many intricate details about my mission, but I do remember one talk that my mission president's wife (Sister Nelson, pictured at the right) gave at one of the zone conferences. She spoke on thankfulness and gratitude, and several times in the course of the talk, she asked us to have an "Attitude of Gratitude" while we were out there, doing missionary work. Missionary work can be very discouraging at times (to say the least!), and one of her points was that if we would find a way to be grateful for the little things, we would have more joy in our lives, and enjoy our missions (and the rest of our lives) much more, not to mention being better missionaries.

I believed her then, and I did try to find more ways to feel and express gratitude for all that I had. But, I must admit that I didn't really take her counsel all the way to heart at that particular time.

However, about a year and a half ago, a friend of mine (she was actually my visiting teacher) gave me a small notebook, with the suggestion that I take a few minutes each day and write down one or two things for which I was grateful. I'd heard of doing this before, and considered doing something along that line, but had never done it. This time, I decided to go ahead and try it.

The results were miraculous. It only takes about 2-3 minutes each morning (I'm too tired at night), and I just write a sentence or two. Sometimes I write silly things like, "I'm grateful to have long, pretty fingernails", or "I'm grateful that the snow has finally melted". Other times I make more in-depth entries, describing people I met up with that day and how they made me feel, or realizations I had of how impossibly and unbelievably blessed I am with regard to my job, my family, my talents, my childhood, or whatever.

It sounds like such a little thing, but actually taking the time to make these short entries has done wonders for my attitude, helping me to realize just how much I have. When I realize that, it's simple as pie (there we are again with that pie analogy--maybe someday I'll do a blog post on just how UN-simple making pie has been for me) for me to shift my focus from the things in my life that I don't like to the things that I really really do.

Perhaps I'm thinking about this more now because I've spent the last 3 months writing thank-you cards for our wedding gifts. I only write two notes per day, so I've yet to make a dent in the stack (which is why many of you haven't received your notes yet), but writing all these people has brought home to me again and again how fortunate Eric and I are. We are loved and cared for by literally hundreds of people. As I write the notes, I remember the people to whom I'm writing, and experiences I've had with them, and the things I love about them.

It's a great experience. Maybe once I'm finally caught up with all these thank-you's (like in 2009 or so), I'll see if I can't make it a habit to write a couple of thank you's per week.

Maybe . . .

Monday, July 16, 2007

whipped topping, chubby babies, horned toads, and kayaks

Well, we've opened the opera season at work, and Eric and have gone to and returned from the Corry reunion. As you might imagine, I have about a million things to do right now, so this will be a quick post with a few random pictures from the reunion. Perhaps I'll give more details later, and maybe I won't. It's all a gamble, isn't it? The first night we had Dutch Oven ribs, cooked by Dishboy, with help from Scullery Maid and some of my other brothers. We also had cobbler for dessert. After everyone had eaten, there was extra whipped cream, and my mom went around the camp, squirting whipped cream into any mouth that would open for her. I think the oldest mouth that was willing to open up may have been mine.
These are my three youngest nephews. They are approximately 5, 7, and 4 months old respectively. If you click on the picture, it will take you to a bigger copy, and you will notice that these boys are all more on the chubby side than otherwise. I don't know what that's all about.

These next two are horned toad pictures. Scullery Maid found one, but was nervous about picking it up. So, it was Uncle Eric to the rescue.

This is the most random picture of the bunch. I mean really, how often do you see a girl in a pink tutu, surrounded by dirt and dust and wild grasses with a horny toad crawling up her chest? Not often I bet.

(The tutu was part of a costume for our family talent program, which took place approximately 30 minutes after this picture was taken)

And this is Eric in a kayak with Marian. My dad made the Kayak along with four others years ago. We take them on the lake every year, and it's one of the highlights of the summer for me. My arms sure get tired paddling though!

And that's it for now. In two days we are hosting a get-together for as many of our friends who will come. Heidi and Phil are in town, so it's partially for them, and it's partially because we've missed seeing all our friends in our home since we got married. So, that should be fun, provided that I can get rid of the 4-5 piles of laundry that are currently spread out throughout the house.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Mmmmm-mmmm, DEEE-licous!

I'm sitting here, reveling in eating a piece of delicious chocolate cake with whipped topping frosting. Mmmmmm-mmmm.

I had just finished reconciling the main checking account for the opera company, which is always a big ordeal. In June, July, and August, we spend the vast majority of our 2 million+ budget. So, the reconciliations for those months typically have more checks than in other months. As it turns out, in June we had between 300 and 400 checks clear, for an amount of just about a quarter of a million dollars.

Anyway, just as I was finishing up, Gregorio dropped by my office and told me that there was cake in the kitchen. I was in the kitchen within 5 minutes, and back in my office with the cake a few minute later. Give me about 5 more minutes, and I'll have the piece finished.

Would that I received such a fine reward every time I finished a difficult task.

. . .

Of course, if I did, I'd either have to stop performing difficult tasks, or buy a whole new wardrobe to fit my chocolate-cake-inflated thighs. I suppose it's just as well that things are as they are.

Friday, July 06, 2007

More Random Photos

Well, it's time for four more pictures with four more explanations, and then we'll be on our way to the weekend!

The first shot is of four of my nieces and one nephew. They are sitting on a log, watching a riveting horseshoe match. Perhaps in a week and a half or so I'll do a review of the Corry Reunion.

We have it every year in the mountains of Southern Utah. It's a big deal in that it's been going on for more years than I've been alive, and that the number of people who come is regularly in the 100+ range. It's a little deal in that keeping that many people entertained and happy doesn't involve much more than arranging for everyone to take turns cooking meals, and assigning someone (usually my dad) to make sure there's a fire going when it gets cold enough to need one.

In addition to eating and sitting around the fire though, there's a bunch of visiting and playing that goes on. The playing would include the annual men's horseshoe tournament, and (see picture below) the never-planned but also never-absent hour when all the "big boys" get together to match their catching/receiving skills (playing "500").

These other two pictures are of trips taken to areas a little further away. The one above is in Bangkok, and the one below is from the cruise that Tayneshia and I took to the Bahamas. Both of these pictures were taken a couple of years ago, back when I traveled every chance I could, assuming that the day would come that I wouldn't have the time, resources, or desire to travel so much.

I think that day may be on its way.

At least for a season.

It's all good. How does that scripture in Ecclesiastes go? To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven? I imagine I'll be able to put travel on the back burner for a little while, with the hope that a second season of travel will come around at some point in my (our) future.

Happy Friday.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Thank goodness for journals!

So, if this is your first time reading this blog, you should probably read the post that precedes this one. Otherwise what you're about to read probably won't make much sense. Also, if you don't happen to be quite familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you might want to skip this entry all together. I usually try not to use to much "Mormon vernacular" in these posts, but there's a whole bunch in this one.

Eric and I met in a singles ward. At the time we left that ward, I'd been a member of it for just over two and a half years. When I joined that particular ward, it was the easiest transition I had ever made. By the time I actually officially joined, I'd been attending ward activities, Family Home Evening, Enrichment Meeting, and even singing in the ward choir on occasion, all for over a year. As you might guess, actually moving my membership record and becoming a bona-fide member of the ward was easy as pie. I had friends galore, and immediately felt like I had a place and belonged.

(Why do we say "easy as pie"? Have you ever tried to make pie crust? I have. There is nothing easy about it!)

Before I joined the singles ward, I was in a family ward for over three years. I LOVED it. It reminded me of my parents' ward in Cedar City, the ward I grew up in. I had faithful, thoughtful, go-the-extra-mile home teachers AND visiting teachers. I had callings that I loved (Young Women Secretary, Laurel Advisor, Primary Chorister)(I was also assistant camp director and camp director once each, and I didn't love either of those so much). I felt surrounded by fun, quirky, good-hearted, lovable people of all ages and life situations. I was so happy there that when Heidi (who was already attending the singles ward) wanted us to move from our apartment complex, I stalled her for about a year, just so I could keep attending church with these people.

In fact, I made so many good, true friendships in that ward that when Eric and I married, (two and half years after I moved, remember), at least 50 or so of them came to our reception and stood in line for 30 to 60 minutes, just so they could shake our hands (or get a hug), and eat a piece of pie. Amazing.

Well as it turns out, in addition to having an overactive (some might say hyperactive) imagination, it appears I also suffer from selective amnesia.


Two days ago, I was reading in my journal. I read some entries that I had written back in say, 2000 or so, which was coincidentally the time that I had just started attending this new family ward. Lest you forget, this is the ward which ended up being full of all those great reception-standing, pie-eating, (wedding-gift-giving) people.

Guess what?

I didn't feel like I fit in there. I felt like I was hopelessly different from all those people, that they didn't understand me, and that I probably would never be able to understand them. I felt isolated and alone.

Funny how that works, huh?

Monday night I went for a jog/walk around the neighborhood. As I saw people that I vaguely recognized (but couldn't remember or haven't learned their names), I waved and smiled, rather than pretending I didn't see them. This morning as I left for work, I saw a female neighbor out on her front porch with one or two of her children. I don't know their names, and I was late, so I didn't run over and start a conversation right then. But I waved, and she waved back.

And I feel better. Much much better.


(p.s.--Happy independence to you all! I've been re-reading the Constitution in honor of the season. If you can find about 30 minutes or so, it's really quite a good use of that time. Or you can do it like I am, and read for 5-10 minutes 4-6 times.)

(okay, now I'm really signing off.)


Monday, July 02, 2007

Highs and Lows

So, it was kind of an odd weekend. Friday and Saturday were great, and Sunday was a bit of a trial. Since I want to end with the good stuff, I'll write about Sunday first.

You know how I have that over-active imagination? The one that makes me think I'm getting hypothermia when I'm really just cold? The one that made me think I had West Nile Virus when really I'd just eaten too many chocolate-dipped strawberries? The one that makes me think that there could be robbers downstairs in our laundry room, when really it's just a little bit of rain on the back side of the house?

Well, yesterday, Eric and I didn't end up getting into the chapel until about a minute or two after our Sacrament Meeting had actually started. Our ward is such that there are far too few pews in the chapel to seat all those who come to church. So, anyone who is even a minute late is consigned to sit in the gym, and even as far as half-way back in the gym. I had already been to choir practice that day, and had felt a little lonely there (this is a new ward for us, remember). I think those two things probably combined and resulted in what happened next. As the meeting went on, I just started feeling worse and worse about being there. I started getting more and more sad, and feeling more and more isolated. I started feeling more and more like I didn't fit in there, which then led to me feeling more and more hopeless.

I conveniently forgot about the little fact that Eric and I have been out of town or visiting other wards for at least 1/2 of the Sundays since we've been married. I also conveniently forgot the fact that since we were in that "state of newlywedded bliss" for many many weeks, we really haven't been cognizant of the fact that there were more than two people in the world, which has definitely decreased the amount of "reaching out" that I have personally done.

What I did NOT forget was that the last time I had been in Relief Society, I had sat alone. There were also a few other memories (that I won't write here, because this is the world-wide-web after all) that I let run through my mind, memories of perceived slights, and unkindnesses, or just thoughtlessness that had come my way since we had joined this particular ward.

By the time Sacrament Meeting was over, I was in a grouchy mood. By the time Sunday School was over, I was on the verge of tears. I didn't even bother going to Relief Society (shocking, I know). Instead I went to a grassy spot across the street and sat under a tree alternating between feeling sorry for myself and trying to get a hold of myself.

The rest of the day was marginally better than that particular hour under the tree, but only marginally. I was still in a sad mood when I went to bed last night, and I wasn't even exactly chipper when I woke up this morning. (Poor Eric. He was GREAT through it all. He tried to help me be a little more rational about it all, and when that didn't work, he just hugged me and told me that he loved me. Again and again and again. Sometimes I wonder if he's taking "relating to females" classes on the sly or something)

But, I'm feeling better now. As I've been going throughout this day, a whole different set of memories have been running through my mind. Memories of kindnesses I have been shown by new neighbors. Memories of phone calls that I've received by people I hadn't even met yet. Memories of conversations that I have enjoyed--conversations that were started by someone else coming up to me, in spite of the fact that they didn't know me. In short, memories of times and ways in which other people (in this terrible ward that is so mean and heartless and unkind) have actually reached out to me.

And I'm thinking that perhaps I just might have possibly over-reacted yesterday-just the teeniest, tiniest little bit.

Good thing I don't do THAT very often!


This post is already long enough, so I'll quickly cover the good stuff, and then that will be it for today.

If you'll remember from a post from the past, this past weekend was the sleepover for two of my nieces. We had a fabulous time! We played dress-up (with Big Emma and her siblings), and watched movies and cartoons, and had pillow-fights and tickle fights (which is what that top picture is all about), and made German Pancakes, and went to the water park, and had a dance recital, and sang song after song after song. And we laughed. Boy did we ever laugh! It was just absolutely lovely.

And that's the news from these parts. The next week or so looks to be fun. Eric and I have tickets to the new Transformer movie on Wednesday night, and the next Wednesday night the opera season opens with Il Trovatore. Transforming-fighting-robots and Italian-singing-gypsies-who-accidentally-throw-their-own-babies-into-roaring-fires. What's not to like about all of that?
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