Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Star Gazing--or "I'm so sneaky I amaze even myself"

So, while we were in Disneyland (California Adventure, to be exact), it came about that Krista and I were waiting for our turn to go on the Soarin' over California Ride, fast passes in hand.  We were hanging out on some benches in a low-traffic area outside the ride, watching over all the too-short-to ride kids in our party.

While we were there, this guy who looked very familiar strolled by.  After a double and triple take, both Krista and I agreed that it was none other than Tim Allen (a/k/a in our circle as the voice of BUZZ LIGHTYEAR!!!!), accompanied by what I can only assume is his child.

Not wanting to make a scene or bother the guy while he was enjoying some family downtime, but still wanting to document the big moment (as in, the first and probably last time I will be that close to a bona fide movie and television star), I made a big show of having little Rachel mug for the camera, so I could take a picture of Mr. Allen, while appearing like I was taking a picture of my niece.  It went off without a hitch, and I thought I had gotten away perfectly with my secret plan.

That is, until I checked out my picture in zoom mode.

Original size.  Note Rachel playing decoy in the bottom center.  

Zoomed in

So, you think he was on to me?  Yeah, I think so too.

So much for Sly Charlotte.

Monday, May 28, 2012

my sister-in-law rocks (my mom's not too bad either)

So, several months ago (right around Christmastime, in fact) , we moved Heather out of her toddler bed and into a big girl bed.  To be honest, she wasn't that excited about it, and actually cried the whole time I was dismantling the toddler bed.

Fortunately, those tears turned to squeals of joy pretty much immediately after I got her new big girl bed and hence, big girl room situated.

The only problem was that Heather's favorite color is pink, and her room is basically yellow, and we had nothing to tie the two colors together, and I wasn't in the mood to shell out the bucks for a new quilt or bed spread.  So, we do what we pretty much always do in this situation, which is call my mom to place an order for some homemade goodness.  (Remember the robe?)

Mom wasn't home, so we left a message on her voice mail machine.

A day later, Heather received this e-mail from grandma:

Dear Heather,
I would love to make a quilt for you, Heather.  Thank you for asking me.  I talked to Aunt Melissa and we found some pretty fabric and a cute pattern.  We would like your Mommy to look at some suggestions and see if both of you like them.  I probably won't be able to get it made until almost summer.  Can you wait that long?  Congratulations on turning your room into a girl room instead of a baby room.  
Love, Grandma

Of course, Heather was more than willing to agree to wait for her quilt.

As things turned out, it ended up that Aunt Melissa made the quilt instead of grandma.  That's because she had some kind of deal with the quilting higher-ups, and she ended up putting together a pattern in connection with a company called The Intrepid Thread.  I don't really understand all the ins and outs of it, but really, do I need to?  When something as awesome as this happens, is there really a reason to ask a bunch of "whys"? I don't think so.

So, anyway, a few weeks ago, I picked up the mail to find a big box addressed to Heather.  It was morning (I had forgotten to pick up the mail the day before), so a very bed-headed Heather opened up the package and immediately started modeling her new quilt with delight.




This one is my favorite

And here's a shot of the quilt in the big girl room, on the big girl bed.

Not to rub it in too much, but I'm tellin' you, if you don't happen to have a master quilter (or two) in your family, you are definitely missing out!

(If you do have a master quilter in your family, or if you are a master quilter, you can find more details on this quilt and even a few links to purchase a pattern or a kit on Melissa's blog here.)


Friday, May 25, 2012

stone, flesh, and wrought iron (Is that the way you spell "wrought" when used this way?)

Remember when I posted the last few California pictures and said that I was done?

I guess that didn't turn out to be entirely accurate.

Here is the last California picture.

Taken at our Quality Inn Anaheim hotel, in April 2012.

Good times.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

sharing the love, and a little economics

When I was little, I was a book freak.  I remember setting my alarm for something like 3:30 or 4:30 in the morning so that I could get in a couple of hours reading before it was time to do the pre-school piano practice.  I remember when my mom found out about that, and we had a little chat about how important sleep was to a growing girl, and she asked me to not get up quite so early.  (I'm sure this was a little hard for her to do, seeing as how I took after her 100% in my love for reading.)

I don't remember too many of my birthday presents when I was a little girl.  I do remember when I was 10, going to the t-shirt store with my mom, and picking something that could be attached (silk-screened?  ironed on?) to a shirt.  I picked a royal blue shirt, (my favorite color at the time) with a sunshine, and the words (sparklified as only the late 70s and early 80s could do) "Beautiful Things Happen When You Smile".

Oh--there I go, tangenting off again.  The point of me starting on the birthday presents is that I do remember one of my birthday presents pretty well.  It was a lamp that would clip on the side of my bed.  It looked something like this:

image courtesy of

With the lamp, there was a note that said, "From one reader to another.  Love, Mommy"

So anyway, I was a reader.  Some of my favorite books growing up were the Wizard of Oz Series, the Anne of Green Gables books, anything else by L.M. Montgomery, the Great Brain books, Harriet the Spy, anything by Beverly Cleary, and of course, Charlotte's Web.

But, my all -time favorite books, the ones I collected above all, the ones that I would devour again and again and then discuss and analyze with my best friend ad nauseum were my Trixie Belden books, written by Julie Cambpell and Kathryn Kenny.  That spunky Trixie with her naturally curly hair was a master sleuth like none other.  With her best friend Honey at her side, Trixie would crack cases, uncover secrets, and unmask villains, all while enduring the teasings of her big brother Mart.  If that's not quality, I don't know what is.


Turns out, one of my nieces is an avid reader as well.  So, for Christmas last year, I gave her the first book in the Trixie Belden series with instructions that if she liked it I had about a hundred more (not an exaggeration) that I could lend her.

Turns out, she loved it, devoured it, wanted more.  True to my word, I pulled five books out of the attic and dropped them off the last time we were at her home.  Can I just say how much I am loving sharing the joy? Totally loving it.


And this is just a little "when I was a kid I could go to a movie for 25 cents" story  (note:  I couldn't.  My dad could, apparently).  You'll see below that the books that I bought or received for gifts in my younger years could be purchased for $1.50.  Now, it's a little more steep.  Try seven buck-a-roonies.  Now granted, my old ones are paperbacks and the new ones are hardbacks, but still.  A dollar fifty?  I didn't know I had it so good.


This is where I use the classic phrase, "Back in those days though, a dollar fifty was a lot of money!"

And with that, I leave you.

 (the old fogey)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Our 5th Family Birthday

So, just over a month ago Eric and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary with an overnighter in Salt Lake City.

We dropped Heather off at Grandma and Grandpas, and went back to our old favorite, the Metropolitan Inn.  We love the beds there, as well as the general location, as well as the ultra-frugal price.  The last time we went, I was happy to note that we had a very unique print from the Wizard of Oz featured prominently in our room.  Turns out, that wasn't as unusual as I had thought.  We were in totally different room on a totally different floor this time, with exactly the same print.  I'm beginning to think that all the rooms feature a little bit of Oz.

(But I'm okay with that.  Where else can you sleep in downtown Salt Lake City on a Tempurpedic bed for $70?  Hmmmm???)

We had supper at P.F. Chang (Eric's choice, but I was good with it), and strolled around the Gateway for a bit, which is code to say that Eric browsed around in Barnes & Noble for a hour or so while I did some people- and water- watching at my beloved fountain.  Then we walked home, chatting and laughing along the way like we were a couple of kids on a date, instead the two middle-aged parents that we are.

The next day we were planning to head downtown and take in the new City Creek Center.  However, while I was in the lobby filling up on english muffins and bananas while simultaneously reading some publication geared for antique hunters, I learned that the Salt Lake Library just happened to be having their semi-annual mega-book sale that day.  Having been to one of these before, (Hi Lyn!) I knew that this was something worth noting, and proposed it to Eric.

We ended up ditching the City Creek Center and hitting the library, where we made a killing.  

We paid around $40 for ALL THESE!

My favorite purchase was this Babar book.  I have fond memories of my parents reading this very book to me when I was a child.  Come to find out (through a few nights of reading said book to Heather), It's freaking long!  No matter.  Nothing can dampen my love for Babar and His Children.  And, having read it through now, I have even more respect for my parents.


Getting back to our story, after the library sale, we strolled around looking for a random place to eat lunch.  We walked by the Market Street Grill, and since neither of us had ever eaten there and since we both love seafood, and since it was lunchtime (less expensive than dinnertime generally) and since it was our five year anniversary after all, we decided to stop and splurge.  Best crab sandwiches either of us have ever ever ever had.  Eric can't wait to go back.  (this makes me a little concerned about our future dining-out budget (shocking, I know), in light of the fact that prior to this, Eric's Salt Lake restaurant of choice was Hot Dog on a Stick.)

After lunch we booked it back home, picked up Heather, had supper (leftover crab sandwiches for us, mac and cheese for the muffin), and started our FAMILY BIRTHDAY PARTY!

(Which family party consisted of eating this cake and opening a gift bag full of family birthday books, purchased earlier that day at the Salt Lake Library.)

Yes, that is half of a cake, thank you very much.  We don't need a whole cake around these parts for the three of us, so I made one 8" round and a bunch of cupcakes, which we froze for future family home evenings and neighbor gifts.  Then I cut the round in half, stacked one half on top of the other, and frosted it. I misjudged the ratio of frosting to cake using this method (there was waaaay too much frosting on those flat-side pieces), but other than that, it worked great.

This will probably be a big shock to you, but Heather chose the words that I wrote on the cake.

Happy Birthday to Cantwell Family 2012 from Charlotte on Vimeo.

All in all, a fabulous way to celebrate a fabulous day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Last Sunday our next door neighbor knocked on our door to ask if we would be willing to help out with an activity for our ward youth.  Once we agreed, we were told to be at Maceys (our most local grocery store) at 7:10, in disguise.  Once there, we would be given a piece of paper containing some of the words of a scripture.  If/when one of the youth found us, we were to give them our paper.  The youth then met in a lounge area to put the scripture together and have a little lesson/discussion on it all.

Eric and I decided to go a little nerdy on our disguises, (although I do wish we still had our groucho marx glasses).  You can't tell it from the picture, but Heather had flowers all over the back of her hair.  That's because she was in disguise as Rapunzel (Rapunzel in sunglasses, but still).

At any rate, we had a great time, and those cute kids in our neighborhood seemed like they did as well.

Note my pink sparkly Minnie Mouse watch.  Heather gave me that for Mother's Day.

Speaking of Rapunzel hair, that's been a fairly common occurrence around these parts lately.  A week or so ago, I was at the house of one of the other Primary Presidents in our stake to pick up some baptismal clothes, and Heather was with me.  This woman had a daughter a year or so older than Heather with long blond hair that was braided in one french braid down the back of her head, and decorated with flower clips from top to bottom.  As the mother and I talked "Primary shop", the girls played in the other room while Heather slowly and steadily became completely enamored with her Rapunzel hair.  The next day (and the day after that, and the day after that), guess what hairstyle Heather requested?

Heather was pretty adamant that every single one of these flowers be used.




In other news, I've had a cold lately, and so my Hulu/DVD consumption has doubled, if not tripled over the past few days.  I've watched part of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, after which I spent 45 minutes looking at juicers and vitamixes online until I convinced myself that this was probably just a whim and I should try my hand at making more green smoothies in my perfectly adequate blender before I committed the money and counter/cupboard space to yet another kitchen appliance.  I also watched three episodes of my current favorite crime drama, The Closer.  I ended it all (for now) with an oldie but a goodie, Send Me No Flowers.  That trio of Rock Hudson, Tony Bennet Randall (thanks Carol) and Doris Day is an absolute classic, I don't care who you are.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

on sticking out, and fitting in

I've realized something lately.

A little background:  When Eric and I got married, I was apprehensive about leaving my singles ward, where I felt like we were all in the same boat, accepting of one another, more prone to look upon a person's heart than a person's appearance, etc., etc.  I fretted that as I went from that very safe (if very labor-intensive) environment to the more typical environment of a regular (a/k/a a "family") ward, I would find myself the proverbial square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

To put it a little more bluntly, the fact is, in rural Utah there just aren't a whole lot of forty-one year old Mormon women who have been married for only five years, and have one child who is a preschooler.

I remember one day when Heather just a baby, reading on Facebook.  We had just started solid foods the day before.  It was spring, and one of my high school classmates was posting about her daughter's graduation from high school.  Another posted about her son receiving his mission call.  I chuckled to myself as I imagined our posts side by side.

Jeanette:  I'm so proud of my little boy.  He's off to serve a mission for the Lord!  It seems like just yesterday he was a little baby, crawling around the floor.*

 Me:  I'm so proud of my little girl.  Today she started eating rice cereal!  I seems like just yesterday she was just a little baby, cooing and gurgling away.  Oh wait.  It was just yesterday.  And today.

I still laugh at that memory, but the truth of the matter is that for quite a while, I felt like I didn't fit in anywhere. I was no longer single, so my previous niche seemed suddenly closed to me.  As to the LDS marrieds/mothers, I was too old to hang out with the other mothers of toddlers and preschoolers, but I didn't have enough kids (or kids the right age) to hang out with most of the women of my own "era", so to speak.  Furthermore, with the way that being a Mormon tends to be more a way of life than a simple religious choice, I felt that I couldn't possibly have enough in common with the local women (of other faiths) who like me, had married later and had their children later and in lesser numbers.

Fortunately, as I recently took stock of my life and my circle of friends, I've found that just the opposite has turned out to be true.  To my surprise, I've found that the glorious flip side of not having nearly everything in common with one group of people is that I generally have something in common with almost every group of people.   I'd forgotten the critical fact that when all is said and done, people are pretty much people.  I've found that I can still remember/relate with my single friends, and with the other women my age I can laugh about how we're all slowly but surely turning into our own mothers.  With the other young mothers (which I define as "mothers of young kids", since I don't think I can honestly classify myself as "young" anymore) I can trade crock pot recipes and playdates, and laugh about the time that little Clayton took a brand new roll of aluminum foil and wallpapered the kitchen with it.

Perhaps most gloriously of all, I've found a wealth of wisdom, laughter, and understanding with the friends I've made who are in my same situation with regard to age and children, but are in a  different situation with regard to the details of faith.

In short, it's worked out well for me.  As is often the case, what I thought was an inconvenience or a burden originally has turned out to be nothing less than a blessing, the means of giving me a richer, more interesting, more enjoyable life than I probably would have had otherwise.  Lucky.  That's me.

*Not her real post.  Not my real post either, come to that.

images courtesy of ePublicist and mikecogh

Friday, May 18, 2012

Random Photo Friday--Hawaii, Schmawaii

So, awhile back, Bountiful Baskets offered the opportunity to buy 20 pounds of Pineapples for something like $15.

How could I pass that up?  I couldn't.


And thus, for about a week and a half, our kitchen was transformed into a tropical pineapple garden.  Good times.  

(I made pineapple leather, dried pineapple, and some pineapple smoothies.  By far though, we got the most enjoyment out of these guys when we ate them fresh, room temperature, and plain.  Mmm-mmm, Deeeelicious!)


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Still on the Wagon - part two of two

So, the last time I checked in with the blog on my whole fitness and diet progress it was the first part of March, I'd lost two pounds and several inches, and I was pleased if not exactly ecstatic about my progress.

You'll notice I didn't check in at all in April.  You know the old saying, "No news is good news?"  Yeah, not so much in this case.

See, in case (by some miracle) you've forgotten, my birthday is in March, and I have a propensity to celebrate my birthday for at least the week before and the week after my birthday, if not the whole month.  When you consider the fact that for me, celebrating has often involved some form of edible pleasure, you can perhaps imagine how healthy and low-fat/low-sugar my meals were in March.

Yeah, not a great month.  The first part of April saw me losing no weight, and no inches.

April wasn't stellar either.  We went to Disneyland, where our free continental breakfast included a delectable selection of donuts.  Have I ever mentioned here how I love donuts?  They are seriously probably in my top five foods.  And donuts for breakfast?  Who thought that up?  Heaven!  Sure, they mess up my blood sugar and give me headaches within 30 minutes of eating them half the time, but yum-a-yum-a-yum-a, head pain never tasted so good.

Anyway, between donuts and A LOT of other general lax-ness in the eating department, the first part of May saw me again losing no weight and no inches.

I started to get discouraged.  I even started to wonder if it was worth continuing with my new plan that didn't appear to be working at all.

But, a week or so after my weigh-in, I'm not all that discouraged anymore.  I got thinking about my general health before I started exercising more consistently and eating better.  Back in those days, I would take either Tylenol or Excedrin nearly every day (and sometimes multiple times a day) for headache pain.  That has stopped.  Back in those days, I was nearly always dragging by the end of the day, to the point that I would almost count the minutes until I could curl up in bed for the night.  Not so anymore.  Back in those days, I tended towards losing my temper or frequent bouts of feeling overly discouraged, definitely making life more difficult for me as well as anyone "fortunate" enough to live with me.  If Eric can be trusted, it would appear that even that has lessened considerably.

In short, I feel much better than I did in 2011.  I may not be much smaller physically, (although I haven't gained back anything that I've lost, let alone anything else, so that's encouraging) but there is no denying that my life is richer and more enjoyable now than it was before I started along this path.  Not to be too too blunt, but the fact is, I'd be an idiot to give that up just because I'm not making perfect progress, you know?  So, I'll continue on.  I think I've managed to get myself in the regular habit of more consistent more intensive exercise, and I pretty much never eat after 8:00 p.m. anymore, two habits that were problems for me that are now essentially non-issues.

From here, I think I'm going to strive for more consistent food journaling, and to be more honest with myself about the amount of fat and sugar that I eat.  I think the two will work hand in hand, which is to say that the better I'm eating, the easier it is for me to write it all down, and conversely, the more I hold myself to writing down my food intake, the less likely I am to eat things that I don't want to write down.

And that's where it all stands now.  I'll check back again in a month or two.



image courtesy of scribbletaylor

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Still on the Wagon--Part one of two

So, remember my new years' resolutions?  How I was going to recommit myself to scripture study?  How I was going to take better care of my body?

Here's an update:

My ward did a big "read the Book of Mormon in 100 days" for the first 100 days of the year, and I joined in with that.  It definitely got me in the habit of reading every day, and I'm glad that I participated.  However, I'm also glad the 100 days are over.  I've found over the years that I get much more out scripture reading when I set aside a certain amount of time to read, and don't worry so much about the number of pages or chapters that I can plow through.  This experience re-confirmed that to me.  So, now that the 100 days are over, I'm setting aside 10 minutes each morning (hopefully at some point that will grow to 15, but for now, I'm just glad it's not zero or five) for scripture study.  I've found that time to be especially helpful since I've started with the whole Primary President thing.  It's like for those few minutes I almost have a direct line with the Lord (not really, but you know what I'm talking about, right?) and I can make sense of situations and issues and concerns that at other times of the day seem to elude me much more.

So basically, things are going well on that front.  I'll take it.  

quirky 5-12

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

the last sputtering sputter of California pictures

I thought I was done with the Southern California posts (and so did you, right?).  However, my sister-in-law ShaLiece sent me several of her pictures after I had already begun posting, and since I love them so much and since I don't scrapbook anymore, I'm posting some of my favorites here.  Don't feel like you need to go through them all if you don't want to, kay?

This fine sculpture was mere feet away from our very conveniently located hotel.  Unfortunately, the staff of said hotel messed up our reservation and gave us all double beds instead of queen beds, but I guess it couldn't be a completely perfect vacation now, could it?
In line for the Indiana Jones ride.  One of my nieces (not pictured) was really nervous about the ride (not a big thrill-seeker, you know), so I distracted her by telling her the story of Raiders of the Lost Ark to the best of my memory (and skipping over the super-scary parts).  That's the story behind that intense look on my face.  

Woo-hoo!  This specimen can be seen by anyone waiting for the Pirates of the Caribbean.  

At the beginning of a lovely, if cool-ish day at the beach.  

In my single days years, I would head to Denver once or twice a year to spend time "playing mom" with these kids.  They were practically babies then, and now here they are, all grown up.   Sigh.  Good thing I haven't aged any at least! 

We left Mark & Krista with the little (short) kids for about 20 minutes while the rest of us went on Splash Mountain.   When we returned, this is what we found.  (Krista was in a gift shop with the conscious ones.)  


Monday, May 07, 2012

'cuz everyday for me is like a day at the spa

So, a few days ago, for our family scripture study we were reading the parable of the talents.  For some reason (and for a change) Heather was really interested in the story, and wanted to simultaneously talk about it and hurry to the end to find out how everything turned out.

After we had read the story, we got talking about talents, and Eric explained that talents are things that a person can do really quite well.  This is what followed:

Eric:  Heather, what talents do you think you have?
Heather:  Well, I can dance!
Eric:  Yup, good one!
Heather:  And, I can sing really good!
Charlotte:  You're right, you can sing really well.
Heather:  And after I take swimming lessons, I'll be really good at swimming too!
(Note--I love the unbridled optimism here.) 
Eric:  Right!
Charlotte:  Now, what talents can we think of that daddy has?
Heather (thinking):  ???
Charlotte:  Well, daddy is really good at making robots, isn't he?
Heather:  Yes, he is!
Eric:  And I'm really good at fixing things.
Heather:  That's right!
Eric:  What about mom?  What are some talents that mom has?
Heather (thinking) :???
Charlotte:  Well, I'm pretty good at singing too.
Eric:  And mom is good at making food.
Heather:  Yup!
Eric:  And mom is really good at getting me and you to do the things she wants done in our house, like emptying the dishwasher and cleaning the bathrooms.
Heather:  Yah.  Mom is really really good at that talent!

heather 5-12

I tell you.  The things I put up with in this family.  Outnumbered, that's what I am.

(Obviously I need to get someone to take pictures of me doing chores!)

Saturday, May 05, 2012

as promised

So, on Sunday during sharing time, our second counselor was teaching the kids about how trying to emulate Christ helps us feel our Savior's love.  At one point in the lesson, she read them the scripture in John 13:15, which states:

"For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you."

After reading the scripture, she asked the kids what that scripture reminded them of (hoping for someone to say  "the golden rule").  After a few seconds pause, one kid innocently and thoughtfully answered,


I had to turn my back to the wall, I was laughing so hard.


Friday, May 04, 2012

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