Salt Lake City

Yawlin text to Huh:  “Earthquake! I broke my leg.”

Hub text to Huh:  “Earthquake! Me and the dog are fine under my desk. Your mom is upstairs naked and screaming.”

My text to Huh:  “Earthquake! Hub and I are at home.  Hub and Max are both safe under his desk. I stubbed my toe.”

Huh text to me:  “Hub mentioned you were naked mom.”

Huh text to me:  “And screaming.”

My text to Huh:  “Well…ya know…”

Squid text to Huh:  “AAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!! I got my leg broken by a pissed off 40 pound swan after a fallen tree crushed its crib!!”

Mack text to Huh:  “Earthquake. I’m fine. In an outhouse in the woods.”

Shroom text to Huh: “Earthquake. I’m at school. I tore some ligaments in my shoulder but I can still walk.”

Momo text to Huh: “At school. I’m okay.”

My text to Huh:  “K, what you are supposed to do now is send me a text letting me know the status of everyone you have heard from.”

Huh text to me:  Yawlin and Squid both suffered broken legs. Squid’s leg got broken by a pissed off swan. Shroom has torn ligaments in his shoulder and can still walk (why would an injured shoulder make it so he can’t walk?).  Mack is okay in an outhouse in the woods.”

Hoob text to Huh: “Earthquake.  Actually, I died.”

Huh text to me:  “And Hoob just text me saying, ‘Actually, I died.’ So there you go.  Have not heard from Juju.”

My text to Huh:  “OK.  Maybe we assume Juju died??  Did you hear from Momo?”

Huh text to me:  “Yes. She is at school and okay.”

Juju text to Huh: “Earthquake. I died, but then I got better.”

Hut text to me: “Juju died, but then she got better.”

And so went our very first family emergency drill.  Our state held a statewide “Shake-out” a week and a half ago to see how prepared we all would be if the “big one” hit.  Because I had read that it is good to have a contact person out-of-state to contact in case land lines get tied up in an emergency, we chose Huh to be our contact person since she goes to school out-of-state.  We also chose to text her rather than call her because I also read that sometimes cell towers get jammed with all the emergency calls coming in but that texts sometimes can get through easier.  The shake-out was set for 10:15 a.m. on April 17.  Schools, places of work, churches, emergency services personnel all participated.  We instructed our kids that as soon as the drill started at their school it was time to text Huh.  They could choose to make up an injury if they wanted.  As you can see from the above text exchanges, our family members personalities shone through loud and clear in their texts.

There are two purposes to this post.  The first, and most important one, is to get families thinking about emergency preparedness and perhaps about having a similar drill.  It IS wise to have a contact person out-of-state who can get details from your family members if you all happen to be away from home in various places when a natural disaster hits.

The second purpose is to announce that I have a break from school until June 5 and so I might be able to visit Blogland a few times during my break.


There are carpets to scrub.  And windows to clean.  And baseboards to wipe down.  There is a youth conference to plan for my calling in my church.  There is a girls camp to plan for my calling in my church.  There is laundry to do…daily.  Dishes.  The dreaded grocery shopping.  And the typical mommy and wifey things I do each day.

So, maybe I will be able to post a few times during my break.


I’ve missed Blogland.


Starting graduate studies has forced me to rearrange my schedule, drop certain activities, and really look at my priorities.  One priority that I insist on making number 1 is my family.  I don’t want my family to ever feel that I put school, or a future job made possible by school, before them.

This week’s dilemma?  Hoob’s 16th birthday.  How do I make it special for her and still meet my school, church, and other family obligations?  Hoob’s birthday is on Friday which also happens to be a full-day youth conference for our stake (group of congregations in our church).  Here are my ideas to make the day as fun as possible for her:

*I had her choose the shoes she wants for her birthday from and we ordered them last week.  They should arrive before her birthday.

*Even though we will be visiting four historical sites in SLC during the day with other youth and leaders from our stake which makes it hard to celebrate her birthday, I have arranged with one of the ward (congregation) leaders to buy a birthday cake.  We will keep it secret from Hoob until we break for lunch and then we will pull it out and have the youth and leaders from our ward sing happy birthday to her and then share the cake.

*I will make sure to take pictures of the cake activity.

*Tomorrow afternoon I will put homework on hold and I will take Hoob shopping for new capris and flip-flops–the rest of her birthday presents.

*I always give my kids a chance to go to lunch or breakfast with me on their birthday for some one-on-one time with me.  Because of the youth conference starting early, making it necessary to eat a quick breakfast at home, and then including lunch and dinner as part of youth conference, Hoob and I will, instead, go to see a movie together that night as our one-on-one time.  The movie she has chosen?  “Green Lantern.”  Once again, homework will be put on hold.

*Of course I will wish her a happy birthday on facebook so that others can know it is her birthday.

*Hoob, or course, is anxious to get her driver’s license.  With Friday’s schedule being what it is, we will go Monday afternoon as soon as I am done with class to pick up her license.

I am hoping these ideas will help Hoob to have a special day.  Hoob is so good-natured, I really don’t have anything to worry about, but it really is about…

…making family #1!


We were running out of time.  Hub had been expressing his desire to see the ice castles in Midway for about a month, ever since he read an article in the newspaper about them.  Another article, and Hub made an executive decision that this family was going to drive to Midway for Family Home Evening this week because it is the final week for the display.  So, even though the drive is two hours round-trip, and even though it is cold, and even though the kids had homework, we went.

And everyone decided it was worth it.

Yes, we did have hot chocolate afterwards.

****Ice Castles were made using pvc pipe and sprinkler heads.

The Event – The Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Concert

Guest Singer – David Archuleta

Performances – Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday morning (a shortened version of the concert for “Music and the Spoken Word”)

Tickets – Free (distributed lottery style); Four per household allowed

Seats in the Conference Center – 21, 000

Seats available for the four performances – 84,000

Requests for tickets – 1, 515, 963

Requests for tickets – From all 50 states and 57 countries

Number of requests that did not get tickets – 1, 416, 000

Did we request tickets?  Yes.  Did our household get tickets?  No.  But are Hub and I going to the concert?  YES!  We, along with my parents, get to enjoy tonight’s performance because one of my sisters got tickets and gave them to us.  We will meet another sister and two of her kids for dinner in downtown Salt Lake City and then walk to the  Conference Center to enjoy the show.

Last year we got to see the Sunday morning performance with Natalie Cole as the guest singer.  It was excellent!  These performances always are. 

Do we consider ourselves lucky, blessed, fortunate to have tickets tonight?


“Does it take a long time to get there?”  My son didn’t want to be in the car too long.

“No, Yawlin, it’s only about fifteen to twenty minutes away, depending on traffic.  Don’t you remember?”

We were on our way to visit the SLC Library.  I recently took a test at the library and mentioned to the kids how cool I think that particular library is.  Yawlin asked so many questions about it that it was clear he didn’t remember the library.  He’d been there when he was younger, but must have forgotten the visit.  Since Yawlin is off track, and I wanted one final outing with him before he goes back on track, I decided that a trip to the SLC Library was in order.  We live equidistant between two county libraries, and we usually split our time between those two libraries when we need books or other library materials, so we rarely visit the SLC Library.  After Yawlin and I visited there earlier this week, I’ve decided that we need to get there more often.

Yawlin was struck with the architecture of the building, especially the inside.  He enjoyed riding the glass elevator to the top floor, and then again when we visited the other floors.  We visited the children’s portion of the library and Yawlin explored the “attic room” and the “arctic room.”  He also used the computer to look up some of his favorite books.  On the fourth floor of the library Yawlin got to create a sticker craft and play with some “bendy” craft sticks.  We also visited a mini gallery on that floor and Yawlin chose his favorite piece of art.  On the main floor of the library we perused the used books and movies to see if there were any we wanted to buy, and then, because it was lunch time, we visited one of the eateries in the library and shared a panini and some banana crepes. 

We spent a total of two hours at the library.  Yawlin said that that amount of time was “Just right.”  As we were walking down the stairs to the underground parking to get our car Yawlin said, “That was fun.  Thank you, Mommy.”  He said it again in the car.  I thanked him for being willing to come with me to the library.

The most important thing about the outing was that we were spending some one-on-one time together.  Yawlin got to visit someplace “new” to him and I got to watch his reaction as he explored the library.  I think it is important for parents to seek one-on-one time with their kids.  This was a simple, inexpensive activity that my son considered fun.  If parents will look around, I’m sure they can find outings such as this that their kids will enjoy.  It only takes a little effort, and is worth the memories created.

The view when you look up from the children's library at SLC Library

The view when you look up from the children's library at SLC Library


One view from the 4th floor at SLC Library

One view from the 4th floor at SLC Library


Another view from the 4th floor of the SLC Library

Another view from the 4th floor of the SLC Library


I never knew that my blog would get so much traffic just because I wrote about my daughter’s experience with David Archuleta last Saturday.  Mine is a simple blog.  I write about our family and our experiences.  Family is most important to me.  Because we are a blended family with seven kids, six who happen to be teenagers, we create some interest from those searching for camaraderie in dealing with their own blended families.  But, I have never received the traffic to my blog like I did on January 28.

My post, “Still Just David”, received 793 hits and was posted on several David Archuleta fan sites (I never even knew there were so many David Archuleta fan sites!).  My previous highest post had received 108 hits on a day back in August.  793 hits blows that previous post out of the water.  My highest viewed writing over-all (until the David post) has been “A Peek Inside the Kastle,” which isn’t a post, but a page describing our family.  It has received 431 total hits.  My highest viewed post (again, before the David post) has been “Letter for Mom,” with 273 hits.

My purpose in starting my blog almost a year ago was to reach out to other step-families and any others who desire to promote the importance of family life.  If I come across any great ideas that pertain to families I like to share them here on my blog.  All of the attention received from my post about David Archuleta has gotten me thinking.  What would happen if I mentioned David Archuleta in all of my posts????  David could help me spread the message of family to so many more people than I have been able to so far.

Think about it.

If I am dispensing advice about building a stronger relationship with your biological kids who happen to be struggling with the whole blended family concept as I did in my post, “For Michelle,” I could say something like, “Make sure to spend one-on-one time with each of your kids, just as David Archuleta fans would each love to spend some one-on-one time with him.”

Or, if I am sharing ideas for teacher gifts to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day like I did in my post, “Teacher Appreciation Day,” I could say something like, “David Archuleta loves books, so buy the teacher a supply of books for his/her classroom.”  (I have no idea if David Archuleta loves books, but I’ve got a 50-50 chance here.)

Or, if I am posing a question about love and commitment in marriage as I did in my post, “Love and Commitment,” I could ask, “Does David Archuleta think love or commitment is more important in a relationship?”

The more I mention David Archuleta in a post, the more traffic it will get.  And if I bold David Archuleta every time I type it, maybe that will generate even more traffic.

I dunno…it’s a strategy worth exploring!

When my daughter, Huh, was in the 7th grade I remember her occasionally coming home from school and talking about a David that she’d met.  It was exciting for her to be meeting kids who didn’t go to the same elementary school that she had.  She, of course, met lots of  kids and settled into Jr. High life quite comfortably.

I kept hearing about the David who could sing.  Whenever there was a school talent show David was the favorite act.  Huh would come home from school and tell me what a great singer she thought he was and how the whole school cheered whenever he walked onto the stage.  I tried to keep all of her friends straight in my mind, but it was difficult because, at that time, she wasn’t the type to bring her friends home with her.  I just had to hear about them when I asked about her day after she got home from school.  

There were a few Davids and I kept getting them mixed up.  She would have to correct me, “No, Mom, David Z. is the one who we played basketball with after school, David M. is the one who always asks me to do the “Running Man” and David Archuleta is the one who can sing.”


Silly me for never being able to keep them all straight.  When American Idol became a big hit Huh and a few other girls told David Archuleta that he should go on the show.  He always said no.  He was so shy.  At 9th grade graduation Huh pointed out her friends to me so that I could finally put a face to the names.  “That’s Austin.  That’s Whitney.  That’s David–the David who can sing.”

Huh didn’t realize at 9th grade graduation that that would be the last time she would be with her group of friends in a school setting.  I had remarried during the summer break before Huh’s 9th grade year and we had moved.  Both Huh and Mack had chosen to stay with their old school, but after one year of a twenty-five minute commute they both decided at the last minute to switch to the schools closer to us.  

Huh kept in touch with most of her friends from her former school, though that contact became less and less as she got involved at her new school and made new friends.  One day she came to me and said, “Mom, remember David Archuleta?  The David who can sing?  He’s on American Idol!”  We had watched the show a few times, but it wasn’t something we tried to watch regularly–until David Archuleta was on it.  Suddenly it became our new interest.  It makes it more interesting when you know one of the contestants.

Huh watched it in the beginning with us.  She even sent David a text that said, “I thought you said you would never go on that show.”

The answer back:  “Well…ya know…”

As time went on Huh became more and more disturbed by all of the attention David was receiving.  She even stopped watching the show with the rest of us, but would still ask us the results after each evening.  She kept worrying that David would change, that all of the attention would go to his head.  She remembered the shy kid who was nice.  She didn’t want him to become some stuck-up teen star. 

 We followed the show to the end and got caught up in the voting frenzy.  Everyone in our family called in votes.  I even phoned in one vote just so I could say that I had voted.  Then it was over.  David took second.  Our lives got back to normal, but David’s life was forever changed.  He was a star now with a huge contract and a very busy life.  He no longer attended the high school.  There was no more contact with David.

Fast forward to last Saturday night.  Huh was asked to her former High School’s Senior Ball by one of the kids she knew there.  Dances here are big deals.  The kids do a “day” activity as part of their date before getting ready for dinner and the dance in the evening.   The “day” activity for Huh’s group consisted of meeting at a church (to use the gym inside) for various games.  It turns out that David Archuleta was in town and had asked a date to Senior Ball and was a part of the group.

David arrived a little later than everyone else and was greeting those in the group that he knew.  Huh stood quietly waiting for him to notice her so that she could greet him too.  She wasn’t sure he would recognize her because she has changed her hair style since switching schools.  He glanced at her and then continued greeting others without saying anything to her.  She waited until he was finished then punched him in the arm and said, “Fine, don’t talk to me, jerk!”

David looked at her, then his eyes got big and he said, “Oh. My. Gosh.  Huh!  C’mere!”  And he pulled her into a big hug.

After the hug Huh decided to be accusatory, “Thanks for disappearing on me!”

“Me disappearing?  You’re the one who disappeared!  All of a sudden you moved and everybody was sad.”

The group had a good time playing the games together–basketball, dodge ball, Apples to Apples, and musical chairs.  David was, of course, in charge of the music for musical chairs.  And when they played dodge ball, if David got someone out he would sing, “I got you out,” instead of just saying it.  David was unable to attend the dinner with the group but he joined them again at the dance.  Because of his contract he couldn’t be in the group picture with them.  Huh is unsure if he was even able to have a picture taken with his date.

When Huh was recounting her date to me later I asked her if David had changed.

“Well, he’s trendier now.  He dresses trendier.”

“But, I mean, how is his personality?  Has he changed in that area?”

“No.  He’s still nice.”  She reported that he is still pretty shy too.  When the DJ at the dance played his song “Crush” everyone turned to look at David but couldn’t find him because he’d disappeared.  He was uncomfortable having people stare at him.

Huh is pretty certain there will continue to be no contact from David, he is living his dream right now.  But she is content that, at least for now, he hasn’t changed.  He hasn’t let all of the attention go to his head.  He is still just David.

Every year we try to get to Temple Square to see the lights.  Last night we had no other plans, so it was the perfect time for us to go.

And my favorite shot…the nativity in the reflecting pool…