Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feng Shui

*Feng Shui*?


*This is without a doubt one of the nicest good luck forwards (emails) I have received. Hope it works for you -- and me!

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.*

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other. *

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want. *

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.** **

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye. **

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married. **

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight. **

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much. **

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely. **

TEN.. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

ELEVEN.** **Don't judge people by their relatives.** **

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly. **

THIRTEEN! .. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?' **

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk. **

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze. **

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.**

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions. **

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship. **

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.** **

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice. **

TWENTY- ONE. Spend some time alone.


A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart. *

May all of you who touch my heart learn something from this, too.
Jen

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cool Update - Ballet West/UofU Summer Intensive

Ok, like, summer intensives are really expensive (over $1000 for 4 weeks without lodging and food and toe shoes and leotards and transportation and all, in Utah, more outside at bigger companies.). The reason we do them is because they really help Elizabeth become a better dancer, and they help her get into and get scholarships to college, the U of U hopefully in Lizzy's case (one of the top ballet colleges in the country- no biases there, just fact). Well, coming up with that much money all at once in March is a challenge for our family (if it's not for yours, feel free to contact the Elizabeth Billings dance fund, j/k). So I called Ballet West to see if there were any options, I knew there were payment plans and scholarships. Peter (Christie), while we started talking, pulled her file and explained that a payment plan he can send me information on. As far as scholarships, they were for the girls in the highest levels and reserved for girls that Ballet West is interested in bringing into the company or the University is interested in bringing to... well, Elizabeth is just too young.
Ok, before my imagination (and hopefully yours) goes to the same place, he didn't say it, but it certainly sounded like Elizabeth would be a candidate for a scholarship if she wasn't just a sophomore this year. YEAH! They like her, they really like her.
Note: this is all speculation and how I read the conversation and nothing official from the University or Ballet West, but isn't it cool??

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Dedicated to Bountiful's Most Talented Ballerina (IMHO)


To Elizabeth by far Bountiful's Most Talented Ballerina (in my humble opinion - and unbiased too :) ) :

You've danced since you were four. You've been on outrageously superior competition teams before your dance spirit found ballet. You've been a natural in ballet, going en pointe the beginning of your fifth grade year. You've danced as a soldier in Ballet West Nutcracker three years running beating out hundreds of other outstanding and excited dancers. You've danced two years at Mountain West Ballet Nutcracker en pointe in more exciting and difficult roles. This year you survived your foot/ankle being casted 5 weeks to fix a bone irregularity which weakened you so you couldn't even go back en pointe until after the new year with grace and dignity. You still performed in Mountain West Ballet Nutcracker less than a month after your cast came off in a non-dancing role. You've spread your love of the art to other young dancers through assistant teacher for three years now, especially loving your 3, 4 and 5 year olds this year. The only dancing you were allowed with your cast on.

Since New Years, you've determinedly and carefully worked back into classes and took extra beginning pointe classes to get back into shape on your pointe work. Your teachers have worried over you, nit-picked your technique (since you have to re learn it anyway) and watched your strength regather. Slowly you worked from unable to do simple things in technique shoes on your casted foot to pointe to now almost full strength in just almost two months. When you came back you decided that for Valentine's Day, you wanted to try out for Ballet West/ U of U's Summer Intensive program. I talked to your teachers. "Let her try" they said with a shrug when I asked if you could do it. We took the pictures (see the arabesque at the top, not her fav but still good.) and got everything pulled together.

Valentine's Day came and it snowed four inches between 5:30 am and 7:00 am time to leave. We made it to the U, first ones there about 45 minutes before check in, but the snow slowed every one else down. About 50 girls, including one friend who is probably going to Orlando, show up from all over the west, Tennessee, California, Washington, Nevada. 4 hours of sitting with a friend but both of us wondering how our daughters are doing in the extremely competitive tryout is difficult, then they go over by almost 45 minutes, unlike Ballet West on the day of a performance. You come out. Exhausted, hot and thirsty and fully.... unknowing how you did. Since the first of the year you've gone from nothing to triple pirouettes on your right - solid- to doubles - shaky - on your left. But you warned the judges. Will it make a difference? Tuesday the letters will go out. From Salt Lake, letters arrive in one to two days, tops.

Wednesday, no letter, no big surprise. Thursday, no letter, well for sure tomorrow. A call at lunch from school, no the mail has not come yet. Friday, no letter, surely it would be here by now. Saturday, we head off to the ballet of all places. Dad calls as we get to Salt Lake after lunch. The letter came. We have to wait until after the ballet until You open it when we get home. Jeff reads through the envelope and the boys pick up 2 dozen long stem pink roses and put them on your bed. We get home. You open the envelope. You've been accepted to either the 8 week or the 4 week program, your choice. They want you to come!! We knew they would. Because you are the most talented ballerina in Bountiful!

Congratulations!! Watch out Ballet West/U of U, her comes Lizzy!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Joleen's Challenge

My cute friend, Joleen, had this on her blog. I thought it would be fun so I joined in. The first 5 people to respond to this post will receive something made by me. It will be my choice what I send to you. But...there is a catch...ready?
1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make! (But I hope you do!)
2- What I create will be just for you.
3- It'll be done this year!
4- You have no clue what it's going to be.
5-The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must re post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog! (then come here and post, that you put it on your blog. The first 5 people to do so and leave a comment telling me they did will win a homemade gift by me! Anyone up to the challenge?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Books, Books and More Books

I must be feeling better because my book list is going up again. The list on the blog has been pretty steady but honestly I've mostly been reading Stephenie Meyer because I haven't felt well. But I must be feeling better because in two days I am half way through the Charlegmeign Persiut by Steve Berry (love his stuff) and picked up my new Baldacci Devine Justice. Then I went to the Book Garden, paperback book exchange with Liz on Monday which is always dangerous looking for Pride and Pregidous. Now since I have about $200 in credits and absolutely no control when it comes to books, Liz limited me to three classics which I swear I am going to read soon, Emma by Jane Austen, which I already have started, Wuthering Heights and Scarlet Letter. Scarlet Letter I read in high school and absolutely loved, ok I'm weird, but I wanted to read it again and it was a whole dollar before my credit kicked in.

My doctor has me reading Feeling Good about cognitive therapy which is really interesting and great for my mental health (but not nearly as interesting). And then there's scriptures and Church magazines (January's Ensign had a great article on Bipolar Disorder).

So on top of all of that, I am madly reading everything I can about remodeling and building kitchens and bathrooms and all on the internet. I think I am spending more time reading than anything else. Where do I get the time? Well, I home school Jeff 4th period, so during that time, during homework time, I don't sleep well and I watch absolutely no t.v. The only problem is it's too bad it doesn't get the house cleaned or the dog walked. That will change when it gets a bit warmer.

So the question is, what are you guys reading for fun? I'm always looking for a good new book, and I don't know many outside of the normal classics.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My Husband Rocks!

I got this off of a friends blog and thought it would be fun for Valentine's Day and the fact that July will be our 20th wedding anniversary (wow). Let's see how much I can remember (ps I didn't cheat and look anything up)...

1. Where did you and your husband meet? At a party at my best friend's house, they were dating at the time (She got married first though and we stayed friends).
2. How long before you kissed? Ok, this is complicated. We met on his birthday in December, we did things together as friends and never really dated until we kissed so it would be our first date in September.
3. Who kissed who first? He kissed me twice before I kissed back (shock, I guess).
4. How long from the time you met until you were engaged? October, so 10 months.
5. How did he propose? Well, he really didn't. We just sort of talked about it and then announced it.
6. Did he pick out the ring or did you? He designed it, picked out the stone and had it made.
7. Do you still like the ring? Love it! Added an eternity band to it our 10th anniversary, but otherwise it remains the same.
8. Where was your wedding and reception? We were married at the Salt Lake Temple, and we had our reception in the Lion House gardens.
9. How many bridesmaids did you have and who was your maid of honor? I had 3 bridesmaids, and my sister, Stephanie, was my maid of honor.
10. What color were your bridesmaid dresses? Floral with an off-white background, we brought out the roses in them by having the bridesmaids carry long stem roses.
11. What was your bouquet made of? Roses, Stargazer Lillies and something white (I don't remember).
12. Who gave you away? N/A.
13. Did you cry during your wedding? Nope, too excited.
14. What style was your dress?Well, it was a custom so I could go into a lot of detail, but it was a lace with sequins and beads covered bodice and sleeves with a satin full skirt and train with hand beaded lace on the bottom (thanks mom). Very 80's, but I loved it!
15. Was your wedding kiss sweet or sexy? In the temple, sweet.
16. Who caught your bouquet? Never threw it.
17. What flavor was your cake? Spice cake.
18. Did you smash the cake onto each other's faces or feed it to each other nicely? Nicely, Rob was threated with his life.
19. What was "your song" that you danced to at your wedding? Didn't have dancing at our reception just classical guitar.
20. What did you serve your guests to eat? Quiche, fruit, and something sweet and punch... cake was cut way too late for most of the guests.
21. What did your friends do to decorate your car? We hid our car at the Marriott and walked away from the reception.
22. What was your favorite wedding gift? 20 years later, it's the long case clock Rob's work gave us that still hangs on the wall in our home, then it was the TV my grandparents gave us.
23. What was the worst wedding gift you got? Electric frying pans (only because we got like 8 of them - one will out live all of us, it is wonderful, still have it).
24. Where did you go on your honeymoon? Jackson Hole & Yellowstone, WY (we camped), had a riot.
25. Looking back, is there anything you would have changed about your wedding? Yes, lots.

It's amazing how much you put into your wedding when you're there, but what really matters 20 years later. We officially got engaged (ring and all) just a few days ago 20 years ago and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Happy Valentine's Day to the world's best husband!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Battle of the Bands - Billings style

Welcome to a quiet evening of homework in the Billings home. Wait, did I say quiet? Silly me, what I meant to say was... WELCOME TO OUR HOUSE. Yes the yelling is needed. There are three different songs playing out loud and audible in the front room. Liz is on the Mac facebooking, I mean doing AP European, and listening to Taylor Swift's Love Story, Jeff is downstairs on his laptop playing Boston at the top of the speakers capability while he discovers the ins and outs of xubuntu, and I am, of course, listening to a cd,(don't be scared they are these disks that we used to use for music that are round and shinny) while Rob and I talk after work (Twilight Soundtrack today). Yes, there is a lot of music in our little house and there are only a couple of rules, 1- Mom's music always wins, 2- no rap, 3- only country with permission (sorry Joleen), and 4- when in doubt, refer to rule 1. Sundays are the only day when the piano or classical or Mo. Tab. are heard at any volume (well, most of the day at least). Now, don't get the wrong idea, this is encouraged, not discouraged. We are a musically inclined family as it is.

My children from the time they were in the womb learned to listen to all types of music, and at all levels. Jeffrey let us know at an early pregnancy age which music he liked and which he didn't. Robert and I have mixed tastes in music. He grew up with the harder rock edge that I received when we were sealed, and he got my softer rock side. Our music catalogue ranges from some of the hardest rock to Jazz, classical to pop and almost everything in between. Our children both had tape players with microphones when they were toddlers for music and singing. Rob learned early in his teenage years that he inherited from his dad a love of clear, LOUD music. He now works in audio, although not music.

My children inherited from their grandma an amazing ability to play music. Both kids play the clarinet and tenor saxophone. Jeff also plays the bass clarinet and Liz also plays the piano, mostly self taught (I always meant to bring her for piano lessons, really). It's an important part of their lives. So may the battle begin, again, tomorrow.... I think I'll win, I pay the power bill.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sweetheart Dance - Feb. 7


For those who haven't kept up, last night was the Sweetheart dance, and Liz's first date, too. She was asked by a really nice, cute guy - Ben Perry. For those who are not up to the newest traditions, dances take on a whole day meaning. They started out the day at 11:30 am with the "day activity" which was karaoke and pizza for lunch. They had a blast. Liz and Ben took video on Liz's camera and it was pretty funny to watch.
Then they drop her off, about 3:30/4:00, to get ready for the dinner and dance. SO much planning goes into these now. Anyway, Liz downloaded her pictures, then started getting ready, not exactly sure what time she was being picked up - 7 pm she thought. Gel, curling iron and hairspray later her hair was done curls with a rhinestone headband and rhinestone/pink stone barrette to match her necklace and earrings. The crystal necklace and earrings are heirlooms from her great, great grandmother, so really fun to wear. About then the phone rang (6 pm). It was Ben. They were picking her up at 6:30. So on went the make-up, jewelry, dress, ribbons and shoes. She was ready with about 10 minutes to spare (or it was because they actually ended up that late). She looked gorgeous. That really is an unbiased opinion. Look at the pictures and see for yourself. The dress is one we made a year ago for her cousin's wedding where she was a bridesmaid. The shoes are 3" heals. Thanks to ballet, she walks beautifully and dances fine in them. And luckily, Ben is tall (like over 6 ft.).
We got some obligatory pictures of Liz before Ben got here. When Ben got here, Liz had a beautiful calalilly for him, but threatened, seriously, to put it on with a staple gun - thus the picture of him looking scared to death. I thought he was considering making a run for it. Liz worked on putting it on him, then had to give up and let me do it, but it was only because we didn't have the right kind of pins. The picture of her looking shocked as she's trying is when she stabbed herself. Ben was cute and worried whether she was bleeding. Then he gave her a beautiful pink roses corsage. We took a couple of obligatory pictures where he looks tortured

in them (next time we will force the guy to smile). And off they went.
Dinner from Olive Garden at a friend's house with a bunch of other couples. Dance at the main building at the Utah State Fairgrounds (apparently it was beautiful). And a lot of fun from the stories we've heard.
She was home before midnight and had a riot and couldn't say enough until Mom finally just passed out on her. This morning she was too tired for stories. We'll get them out of her eventually. But the dance and first date was a success. May there be many more to come. =)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Happy Groundhog's Day!

Happy Groundhog's Day! For those of you who missed it, it was Feb. 2nd. And bad news, 6 more weeks of winter according to the groundhog. Well, I'm optimistic. It's been so lovely, even with the snow we have had and the snow forcasted for the dance Saturday, that I think that we will have a mild next 6 weeks. It didn't even snow on my birthday, and that has always been a better indicator in years past.
I am SO looking forward to spring. Good weather is just one of the reasons. Good weather means some major changes in my life this year. Jeff graduates (scary, I'm really not that old). I get to start biking again, this time on a road bike - oh, don't worry, you'll hear all about those adventures. And the biggest, if everything comes together, we'll be putting an addition on our house (fingers still crossed - financing not finalized yet, but looks good).
See, Jeff, as most of you know, is my oldest, and is looking at employment after graduation before he goes on a full time mission for the LDS church. I am so proud of him. He's already been accepted to Weber and is waiting back on some others for after his mission. He's so smart. He aced the ACT with a 29. I am looking forward to working on the house with him nearly full time.
Ok, biking. I used to bike, a lot, when we lived up at the U of U on a cross over bike (part mountain/part road). I loved it. But got out of the habit some years ago. Rob picked it back up in earnest last year biking to and from work at the International Center by the airport. It brought back the fever. So for my birthday I asked for bike shoes and cleats (Rob has clip in pedals) so I could try it out again. I haven't yet, but I am SO excited to. I'm afraid we'll be fighting over the bike this spring.
If we get an early spring, then there is a lot that we need to do in the house and yard before we can get the subs in to work on the house, like cleaning out the rooms that are going to be majorly affected. We also have a bunch of yard work to do. So everyone pray for an early and sunny spring.
Well, you heard my reasons for looking forward to spring. I hope you are too, except you skiers. Maybe the groundhog will be proven wrong. Still any reason to celebrate, so Happy Groundhog Day!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Update - Sweetheart Dance Answer












Liz answered Ben "Yes" about the dance. As you see, she got a puzzle. Took it apart. And then... made an advertisement for other puzzles with her answer on it to go with it. She took it over to his house wrapped with a note that told him his answer was in the box. We hope he figured it out. Lots of fun!