Thursday, June 25, 2009


If we ever find ourselves north of Layton, there is a pit stop that is unquestionably mandatory. It's in Roy. It's delicious. And it's called: THE BURGER BAR. Their burgers are huge (next time I'm going to have to remember to just order a children's size), their onion rings are sweet and crispy, and their thick milkshakes are made with real fruit. So what if their dining arrangements aren't the best (no tables or chairs--but the back of the car worked out just fine and the kids thought it was hysterical).

For Brett it's more than milkshakes and hamburgers. The Burger Bar is tied to his heartstrings as part of his childhood, a collage of special afternoons spent with grandparents and cooling off in the summer heat with a raspberry milkshake.
Look at his face.
It's like he's died and gone to heaven.
Burger Bar Heaven.
Hope Sig1

Monday, June 22, 2009

no more teachers, no more books!

Celebrating the last day of first grade.
Second Grade, here we come!!!
Halle and some of her school friends
Halle and her "idol" Mrs. M.
(remember the pedestal you put your early elementary teachers upon?)
silly faces
angel faces
Hope Sig1

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

what happens there, stays there. THANK GOODNESS--LET IT STAY!

Mid-May Brett had a work conference in Sin City (boy, has it earned that title) with several other co-workers.
All spouses were invited.
Here's some pix from the trip:
We saw Elvis. Actually make that plural: ELVISes. Some were walking on the street and then you had your run-of-the-mill bus full of impersonators. Or were they??? (author cocks head & raises eyebrow as if to suggest one of the jumpsuited men may have been the real deal...) One of the highlights of the weekend was when we saw Jared & Amy, Ethan & Wyatt. Wyatt is brand new, still just a newborn, and so sweet! Ethan made us feel very welcome and at home with his friendly personality. Jared and Amy put together a scrumptiously mean dinner of BBQ sandwiches with CHEESECAKE for dessert. Thanks, guys! Sorry it was so last minute but we loved visiting you! Plus, what better activity could we have found to do on a Sunday in Vegas? We saw Terry Fator. For those who are in the dark as much as I was, Terry Fator won last year's "America' s Got Talent". He is a very talented, indeed, ventriloquist. Some of his jokes were a little colorful for my taste, but for the most part we really enjoyed his show. I'm amazed at how he can have a "conversation" with those puppets and change his voice so fluidly. What did I do while Brett was in meetings? Well...first of all, I slept in, or at least tried to (the curtains would not shut completely, so there was just enough sunlight blasting through the room it made it hard to sleep in too late). I noticed the room service menu was the same exact price as the restaurants down stairs, so it was a tough choice: NOT! (Does anyone say that anymore???) Anyhoo, I stayed in my jammies, orderd me some breakfast in bed, read my People Magazine, and yes, watched "ANGEL" with David Boreanaz. (Don't judge me. There was seriously nothing else on. At least nothing else I could watch and still keep my temple recommend.) It was heaven to just relax. Around 10:00, Melissa (another wife) called and we decided we'd go down the strip aways to a mall to shop and then have lunch. I really enjoy Melissa. She has a great sense of humor and a super-fun personality! We tried to shop, but even at the "ordinary" mall, the stores were way out of our (my) league. So then we stopped for lunch at a cafe at the Venetian. We each ended up ordering the same thing (Spinach & Feta pizza), which was to DIE for, and then Melissa ordered a box of their freshly baked cookies (still hot!). She shared one with me and man, did it hit the spot. Almost as much as water (it was a toasty 98 degrees that day). I had fun being with Melissa, but I brought the WORST shoes. By the end of our afternoon jaunt, I was gimping around rather than walking and my legs and feel were tightly swollen. Needless to say, after lunch I headed back to the hotel to soak my feet and try to elevate them before dinner. They were still miserably sore at dinner time, so as pathetic as it sounds, I made Brett get us a taxi to take us to and from our dinner/show location. Seriously, I could NOT walk. Such a dummy! Walking around Vegas didn't impress me too much (except for the Bellagio Water show, and this guy with this bird--that was cool. And a little creepy). To be honest, VEGAS as a whole does not impress me. Other than getting to spend time with Brett, I couldn't have been more ready to leave. It's such an evil place (at least the strip is). I know good people live there, but the strip is just so dirty and raunchy. Sex is everywhere. That didn't surprise me, but what did surprise me is that it was so in your face. I expected to see billboards with half-naked women, I expected men to be handing out fliers for naughtiness on the street. What I did not expect was to see women in lacy underwear pole-dancing on a platform OUTSIDE. Yes, that's right, you couldn't help but see it because you had to walk right by it. THAT I would have expected to be at least behind closed doors. I was very grateful I wasn't one of the tourists with my children in tow. I did love the Bellgio. It is a gorgeous building and the water show was awesome. I couldn't help but think it is something my mom could appreciate.
I took some video of the water show, but it won't load for some reason.
The first night we were there, we ate dinner at the most unusual and interesting restaurant. It was called Capo's and it was off the strip a ways. The entire restaurant had a MOB/MAFIA theme. The decor (including the chalk body outlines), the New York-accented waiters, the names of the dishes (for example, one seafood dish was called, "The Chef Swims With the Fishes"), all of it was reminiscent of Chicago and New York gangsters. It made it really fun. They kept the lighting very dark so you had to use a small attached flashlight to read the menu. As you walked in the front door you entered a foyer, where a small window was suddenly revealed (kind of like the ones you would have seen at a speak-easy back in the day) and an employee asked you how many in your party. Then, they opened the main door to let you in. That got a good chuckle out of us. Fun! They also had a performer who sounded very much like Sinatra. His name is Bobby Liguori and he was a pretty fun entertainer. Anyway, if you're ever in Vegas, check out Capo's. The outside is not very impressive, but the inside, including the fabulous Italian food, will not disappoint. It's located at 5795 W. Tropicana Ave.

Cody & Melissa
my mafia man
(the live one in the above picture,
not the dead one in the outline below)

Hope Sig1

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Team DaVinci's Secret Weapon:

Yes, that's right.
We have something you don't have.
We have Brandon Hodge.
Hair net and all.
He is our neighborhood authority in all things "food".
His taste buds are connoisseurs in the field of flavor.
After sampling several of our Burger Prototypes,
he offered his invaluable wisdom and expertise.
Watch out, Iron Chef Teams.
Rivals, heed our warning and prepare yourselves.
We've been counseled by the Yoda of Burgers
and are ready to accept our trophy of superiority!
(Last Thursday we tried out various recipes our team
had been considering. It was a BEEF-FEST at the Taft house.
A recipe was selected, a glimpse of glory revealed.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Incidentally, on this night of "Burger Sampling",
who do you think it was that conveniently
appeared at my doorstep?
A SPY!!!!

Some people will stop at nothing in their desperation.
This charlatan arrived just as I
was preparing our smorgasbord of hamburgers.
To be polite, I let her cross my threshold but not until
I'd hidden any clues or information that she may
have tried to take back to her team's headquarters in
an attempt to thwart our expected victory on June 20th.

Nice try, fancy pants...

Hope Sig1

Saturday, June 13, 2009

pinata? why notta? cinco de mayo 2009

our family has something wonderful.
our family has something unique.
our family has an Aunt Heidi.
an Aunt Heidi does stuff like buying a
Dora pinata for her niece and nephews to bust
open on the 5th of May.
just 'cuz.
just 'cuz she knew they'd have fun.

just 'cuz she knows they love candy.
just 'cuz she's cool.
super cool.
Hope Sig1

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Is it Belgium or Belgian?

Alright, I know the anticipation has been mounting.

May I formally present to you all my beautiful,
shiny, YUMMY birthday gift:

TA-DA!!!!!!Isn't it gorgeous? Isn't it divine?
I've wanted one so desperately the past couple years
and now I have one of my very own!
And just to brag a little here...this is the
kind of waffle maker you see at hotels...
the INDUSTRIAL kind!
Here's the inaugural waffle (after this one I learned I needed a little more batter to make the waffles complete, rotund circles). But look how GOLDEN brown it is! Look at the deep pockets! If you could have tasted them...oh, my crunchy and sweet on the outside, but heavenly fluffiness on the inside. And one of the best parts? It gives an audible "BEEP" when the waffle is ready, so the multi-tasking "chef" (I use that word lightly in reference to myself) does not get distracted and burn breakfast.
You want some, don't you?

Thanks, Mom & Dad!

I love it!!!

(So much that I think Brett
may be getting jealous.)

P.S. It's a BELGIAN waffle, which is the most common

type of waffle found in the country of

Hope Sig1

Monday, June 8, 2009

birthday celebrations, mother's day, & reflecting upon a tender mercy...

I'm so late posting about this stuff but I was trying to figure out some technical issues with my camera. Now that I've finally got a bazillion pictures downloaded from my camera to the computer (thanks, honey!) I have a ton to post and brag about.

* First...MOTHER'S DAY *

Brett and I are excited about the new tradition he's started. This year, he wanted to spend some one-on-one time with his mom and grandma, so he took them out to dinner. I got to thinking about this new tradition and how I'm sure I will love my children's spouses and my grandkids, but that I hope I will have opportunities here and there to have some quiet conversation, alone with my grown children. Anyway, Brett loved it! He mentioned it at least once for every one of the several days following. We hope LaRee & Dixie had fun, too. (That frame Dixie's holding is what we got her for Mother's Day. Her father, Hugo, passed away earlier this year (February). Back in September when Brett's brother, Tanner, left for his mission, I overheard Hugo & LaRee saying their goodbyes to him. Hugo used to be such a talker, but as time had gone on, he became more and more quiet. Sometimes he forgot people or conversations. So maybe it was wrong of me to eavesdrop (kind of hard not to when I'm sitting right next to him at Tanner's setting apart), but I couldn't help but wonder what Hugo would say. His memory had become so poor, did he even really understand what was happening? Instead of being confused, Hugo had never seemed so clear and I experienced a tender mercy as I observed him hugging his now MISSIONARY-grandson as he said so wisely, "Make us proud. Work hard. Do your best. Have no regrets. We love you." And that was it. That was all he said. But something within me said write this down. I took out a gum wrapper from my purse and scribbled it word-for-word, thinking someday Tanner might want a reminder of Hugo's advice and final goodbye. Later, when Hugo passed, I was so relieved I'd listened to the spirit and written it down. We sent a letter to Tanner, telling him the story and the quote. I don't know if he remembers Hugo saying that, I suspect he does. But I hope hearing it again brought comfort at a time when a missionary would long to be with family. When Mother's Day rolled around, we wanted to share this story with Dixie, this experience that had been so close to our hearts. We had Hugo's words engraved on a metal plate and attached them to the green frame. Inside the frame is a picture of Hugo, looking handsome and smiling so warmly. I couldn't help but think that Hugo's words may ring similar to what we as spirit children may have heard as we left the pre-existence: "Make me proud. Work hard. Do your best. Have no regrets. I love you." Such simple advice, but I think very profound and all-encompassing.
Here we are outside after a delicious (and filling!)
Mother's Day dinner:
the kids LOVE their cousins!
trying to get a shot of grandparents & grandkids
was a bit of a joke! the kids wanted to play rather
than hold still and "smile"...
Earlier that day, I'd awakened to the smell of something yummy coming from the kitchen. Brett treated me to his killer FRENCH TOAST (seriously, you've got to try it sometime...soooo good!) and a beautiful bouquet of pink roses that lasted for a very long time. My husband is incredibly thoughtful and romantic!
You can see in the picture below the remnants of the kids' surprise: homemade Mother's Day cards with stickers and crayon drawings.
Is there anything better???

* Second: My birthday*

Then, as if the month of May hadn't already started out so sweet, I had this fanTASTic birthday! It was all the more special because my parents came into town for me and I had my piano recital. I was completely on CLOUD 9!!!
I love my dad. He's the best hugger.

We went out to dinner with Joey (nephew), Cal & Wendy (brother & sister), and Nathan (another nephew) to Outback Steakhouse. I look so smokin' hot in the above picture because during afternoon hours before this I'd been in the middle of baking cookies for my recital refreshments when a pipe upstairs began to leak. After dealing with that fiasco (I now know where to turn our water off...would have been nice to know that beforehand...) and finishing up with the cookie mess (thanks again, Mom (and Halle)! You're still finishing up my cookie-making!), I was to a point where I just did not CARE how I looked and I'd run out of time to clean up really. So yeah...this is me saying, "I'M 29 (for the first time, mind you) AND A MOTHER OF 3 AND A PIANO TEACHER GETTING READY FOR A RECITAL AND MY FLOORS ARE TORE UP GETTING NEW TILE AND OUR HOUSE IS LEAKING WATER, SO IF YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE WAY I LOOK WHEN I GO OUT TO DINNER, STUFF IT!"

Wyatt was hungry and ready to eat.
The best thing about my parents is how much
fun I have when I am with them.
Suffice it to say we laugh.
We laugh hard.
And a lot.
They're the best!
* Next up: my totally awesome, use-it-every-week birthday gift from my in-laws. (It deserves it's very own post. Coming soon to a blog near you.)
Hope Sig1
"The democracy will cease to exist when you TAKE AWAY from those who are willing to work AND GIVE to those who would not."

Thomas Jefferson