The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Last Gift of Christmas

Clearly the girls and I can't seem to get enough of going to musicals. One of the Christmas gifts the girls received was probably the least exciting to open but the one I was most excited to do. It was tickets for the three of us to go see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Hale Center Theatre.  I looked forward to it all the bleak midwinter long, and the end of February couldn't come fast enough.

The weather was snowy and horrible, but we made it safely there. The Hale Theatre is really pretty awesome. It's a small space, and the seating is so steep that there isn't a single seat that doesn't have a great view. As I expected my kids were glued to the show. They absolutely ate it up. I'll be honest, with all the fabulous musicals out there in the world 7Br-4-7Br is not my very favorite. I mean, I like it, but the songs don't get stuck in my head and I don't go watch it on my own. However, seeing it live with super engaging actors is SO. MUCH. FUN. My girls developed wild crushes on little Gideon while I myself could have gone back a time or two to see Caleb.... Great great great singing, such amazing set pieces. I wish I could take my family to every musical they do. It will never be enough! Especially since the girls and I have started a tradition of putting on the soundtrack to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as soon as we get in the car and sing along to it as we drive to and from the play. Speaking of...I think Hale Center Theatre is putting that on next year.  Merry Birthday and Happy Christmas, girls!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Dream Come True

Last fall, after we made that zippy two-day trip to St. George to see our cousins perform in the amazing production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, my Bitty fell more deeply in love with theater than ever. For many weeks after that she listened to the soundtrack over and over and now she knows the lyrics almost as well as I do. I truly have the entire thing pretty much memorized, and now she does too. She asked me what other musicals I really love, and I have been trying to think of other musicals I want to share with her. One very prominent musical from my childhood is The Fantasticks - a small-scale musical that played on broadway for over 40 years. It's sweet and charming. My mom (of course, who else) introduced me to it because she loved it too. She made sure to track down any performance of it she could (along with dozens and dozens of other plays, movies, musicals, dances....) and took us to it, no matter if it was a small church production or a professional performance. We listened to the record incessantly. Of course we did! It was us!

I told Bitty a little about the musical, and let her listen to some of it, and told her that if I ever saw that someone was putting on a production of The Fantasticks, I would be sure to take her to see it if it was at all possible. I tried to settle my brain in for a long wait - after all, it's a pretty old show and I couldn't think of who, where or when it would ever happen.

So, when Troy and I were in the Heber/Midway area for our anniversary after Christmas we were walking along Heber's main street and in a cafe window I saw a notice posted that a local company called The Timp Valley Players would be putting on the show in February. I knew that a theatrical company located in the town of Heber would be quite small, but that was no reason it couldn't be really fun.  I kept it in the back of my head and finally last weekend the dates arrived. Troy is so awesome about helping me make sure stuff like this happens. We invited Skippidy too, but she changed her mind. I'm kind of glad - I adore being with both my girls, but I think Bitty really needed a mom-night all to herself, and I think the play was going to be a little late for Skippidy.

So, it was just my Bitty and me. We got an early start, and I'm glad we did - traffic was dreadful plus it turned into a really rainy night. That's ok - the theater gods were with us and all was well with our traveling and arrival. We stopped at Noodles and Company first to get Bitty's favorite dinner - steak stroganoff. Yum! I myself went with Pad Thai. I ate at stoplights as we made our way through the crowded corridors of SLC, singing along to Joseph.

We made it to the theater about 20 minutes before the show - I was really hoping to be there early enough to get a great seat. The building is a very old social hall with just folding chairs on the ground in front of the stage. It turns out that 20 min was more than enough - we got the front row. The front of ...three rows. This little production was tiny. There was probably seating for 50 people. Happily, as Bitty and I sat in our seat and waiting, eating m&ms and popcorn, so many people showed up that they had to add seats. There is always so much of a better energy in a performance with all the seats filled.

And can I just say, it was an absolute dream come true? I finally got to show The Fantasticks to my daughter. The actors were strong singers, and the intimate setting was just right - Bitty got lots of little interactions and contact with the actors. She laughed her head off at all the right parts - the El Gallo (can't explain - if you know the show, you know who he is) was much more comic than in any other production I'd ever seen, but sweet and sad too, just like he's supposed to be. He had us roaring in several parts.  After it was over, Bitty and I just hugged and hugged we were so happy that we got to share it together. And of course we met the cast and gushed to them our happiness and gratitude for their performance. I love that they are making the effort to keep theater going and alive.

The only bitter sweet part of the evening was how much I wanted to tell my mom about it, how much I wanted her to know that Bitty had fallen in love with El Gallo and Matt and Louisa just as I had. I can't do that. I can sing The Fantasticks with mom and she'll sometimes sing along with me, and she would smile and say she was happy if I told her that her granddaughter had loved it, but it's not really her. I miss that part of my mom just achingly. I almost can't stand it. There's been a lot of painful separation caused by mom's Alzheimer's. And it can be easy to forget the fact that there were simple and beautiful parts of our relationship that were just pure and totally clear. And sharing love of musicals was one of them.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Bleak Week... #thankyoujackbergstedt

A new holiday has been invented, and it is amazing. In all honesty, it was invented about 40 years ago, by one #JackBergstedt. (I faithfully promised his daughter, my dear friend Jane, that I would invent a new hashtag to give him credit for this amazing creation. Because you know, this is going to become a thing, like on pinterest or something, and Jack needs the credit!) His idea was to have an entire week during the month of January devoted to nothing but coping with the bleak and dreary weather. He named it Bleak Week and their family has been celebrating for years. At their house they do things like pick a stay-in-your-pajamas day, and eat out for dinner as much as needed, have a favorite-movie watching day - anything to just sort of pamper yourself after the let down of Christmas and the cold and empty start of a new year. (Can you tell how I really feel about January?)

I told a few people in my neighborhood about this idea and when I did, they got this light in their eye as the greatness of the idea dawned on them. It's pretty fantastic, right? I was thinking along the lines of basically cocooning myself as much as possible for the week; watching movies, enjoying pajamas, stuffing my face, taking baths...that kind of thing. But my husband and some friends had totally different ideas.

For starters, my friend Becca gave me a gift on Christmas Eve - it was a beautiful banner made of little triangular flags of the most brilliant and delightful colors. It was for hanging up in our house after the Christmas deco all came down to bring a little color and cheer. It was so darling. I loved it so much that I made a second one (using my friend's fabric) to give to Jane and her dad for their bleak week. That was fun. Also, people started talking about holding a dance. At first I was confused - how was I supposed to dance when I was in pajamas, wrapped in a giant blanket and curled up in bed? But when I was assigned to make the playlist I got into the spirit of things.

We held the dance on inauguration day, which I felt was fitting. That was a bleak day for me. Becca went ALL OUT decorating the church and we invited a few families to come and dance. Many people came. Some danced, some did not, and some, like myself, shed all fears of self conscious restraint and just danced our guts out. Once again I rather injured my neck. Must remember that head-banging should be left out of future dance routines. OUCH......

My dad came and did a little jiving with Emma and with myself. I'm a terrible partners dancer. Just rotten. Sorry dad!

What a fun evening. We need to have another dance in the summer time. I'm aging, I'm chubby, and yet I can not stop myself from dancing when the tunes start rolling.

 We had a little trouble drumming up the energy for other big events that week, although we did manage to sneak out to a movie together - we saw Sing, an animated kids' show with tons of fun music in it. I have been surprised how much the kids have listened to the music and talked about wanting to see the show again.

For myself, I did find a way to do a little cocooning - I spent as much time as I could with Jane Austen movies and I took a few baths in the evenings. Good week. Which is surprising to say about a week that takes place in January. Looking forward to celebrating even harder (and also softer) next year - #thankyoujackbergstedt!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

A Very Long New Year

What with Christmas happening the day after the kids got out of school, we had 16 full days of break that happened almost entirely after Christmas. We did some fun stuff but I'm not going to lie - it got a little lengthy.

For starters, on Tuesday the 27th, I took Skippidy out for an afternoon date - one of her Christmas presents was to go see a movie with me. She really wanted to see the animated movie Trolls. It ended up being quite the adventure because we had trouble actually finding a theater that was still playing the movie. I didn't think it was that old. We ended up driving both as far north as Bountiful and as far south as Sandy - LONG DAY. And it ended up being too much time away from home, but Skippidy absolutely loved the movie, so that was a good thing.

Also, as I wasn't quite ready to let go of Christmas, the next day I dragged our kids on a little outing to go see the cool displays and scavenger hunt at the Grand America Hotel. The kids enjoyed it more than I expected, and we also for the first time popped into the toy store in the hotel that is located just at the exit of the scavenger hunt route. It was pretty amazing and we had a fun time exploring.

It was just the next weekend that Troy and I celebrated our 19th anniversary. Although we took no pictures to prove it, Troy and I had a lovely celebration. I arranged to send the kids off to spend the night with friends while Troy and I went up to Midway and enjoyed a stay at the Homestead resort - we loved going for a swim in the crater and enjoying the mineral pool hot tub. Seeing as how it was still Christmas break, a Friday night, and the night before New Years, it was really rather packed at the resort. There's an attraction there called the ice castles - an incredible display of towers and tunnels and slides all made of ice. It draws quite the crowd. Troy and I couldn't even get tickets, and I'm actually glad about that. We would have been shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other people, and what we really wanted was alone time. It was pretty funny - we got in the car to head to town to find a place to eat dinner. Everywhere we looked was also crowded. We cruised up and down the main street of Heber trying to find something a little less busy. We found a tiny little Chinese food joint with pretty much no one there. You'd think that would have been a warning of some kind about the quality of the food, but we didn't care. The restaurant was silent, and we enjoyed a very delicious meal of sweet and sour pork and General Tao's chicken. Couldn't have enjoyed it more. We sat laughing at how happy we were to be all alone in that tiny little dive.

Can't believe its been 19 years.

Oh, here's one picture - I took it as we drove back down from Midway to Salt Lake City where the pollution was waiting for us. Yuck. (Although now that I 'm writing this, I have to say that this January was kinder to us than some have been - we had many many stormy days which kept the muck away. Sadly, once a storm is gone it only takes a day at most before the pollution builds up again. Come on spring time....)

Here's something we enjoyed doing: snuggles by the fire with a movie on. That's always good.

A week after Christmas we found ourselves with a valley full of fresh snow, so we pulled on our snow gear and headed to my dad's house where we generally have a really good time sledding. This time we decided to make a jump - remind me never to do that again. Or if we do, remind me to never go off of it myself again. OUCH. I didn't think one tiny little jump could make me take off like it did, and with my bulk, I had quite the landing.  The jump did produce, however, some pretty awesome pictures of the kids.

Best Picture Ever. Skippidy catching air.

The kids have mentioned going ice skating many times - I was kind of dreading going mostly because Skippidy has never been before and I didn't think it would go very well.  I dreaded the idea of her clinging to me while we both fell repeatedly on that rock-hard ice. But my friend Ruth invited us to join them and it turned out to be a great afternoon. Everyone had a really good time, including Skippidy, who was actually a lot more steady than I thought she'd be.

Another event that took place after Christmas was the most wonderful reunion of old friends from our neighborhood who all moved away about 10 years ago - this is my friend Amie, who is one of those types of friends that you remain full-heartedly close to no matter how many years go by. I just adore her, and it was wonderful to reconnect and reunite even for an evening.

We were celebrating the 40th birthday of our other friend Marjorie, and her husband treated us to quite the fancy meal at this lovely little Italian spot down town. Many people were in from the west coast as well as the east coast - we felt like we were running with quite the high society. We kind of were. I wish we could do that once a year at least.

As the vacation began to wind to a close, we all got a little restless and cabin-fevery. We had many kids come over to hang out (I'm becoming aware that it's no longer very cool for me to use the phrase 'play date'). But on one empty day I hauled all the kids into the car, went for a quick visit to my mom, Oma, which was very brief as she was very sleepy and didn't seem to know who any of us were. Sad. That's a topic for another post.

After that we continued to head south until we made it to the campus of BYU where there is a very cool (and free!) museum called the Bean Museum.  Skippidy thought we were going to go see various displays of beans, I kid you not. Instead, there is a huge collection of taxidermied animals. It's slightly weird but also pretty cool.  I mean, seriously, an elephant. Also giraffes, lions, hippos and tons of other animals. It was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

I'm not going to pretend like the kids were excited to go back to school, but even they have to admit that getting back to a regular schedule and seeing people and getting out of the house was good.  I don't know, maybe they don't have to. But I sure was ready.  Oh...I forgot to mention New Years Eve! Guess what we did? NOTHING. It was actually pretty awesome. It was on a Saturday night with regular church meetings the next day, and no one, not ourselves and not our neighbors, felt like doing anything. So, we ordered pizza, invited my dad over, and watched Return of the King. Sometimes I really long for company and getting together but this made for a great night. Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I wonder if far in the future people will still look back on 2016 and remember it with as much pain and vehemence as they seem to be doing at this moment. A lot of crappy stuff happened in 2016. I think much of this doom and gloom was the fact that it was an election year, and was just about the most divisive election I have ever known. And the winner was this guy whose name I don't really want to say. He's yucky. And many people feel like the world just might end. So, you know, there's that.

Also 2016 seemed to reap more than its fair share of celebrities. It began with David Bowie in January and continued on through Prince and Alan Rickman and Gene Wilder and Glen Frey and Gary Shandling and Florence Henderson and Zsa Zsa Gabor and Anton Yeltchin and Mohamed Ali and George Michael...I mean, it started to feel like my childhood companions were all disappearing to heaven. Certainly none of those hit quite as personally as the ones just after Christmas - Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher, died three days after suffering a major heart attack on a plane.  I was in total shock. And that shock was heightened the next day when her mother, Debbie Reynolds, also passed away. She had a stroke and followed her daughter...the very next day. To lose the women from two of my all-time favorite movies, Star Wars and then Singing in the Rain....well, my childhood did suffer some losses.

I know there were other crappy things too - by the end of December I seemed to hear that from lots of folks around me. "This year just sucks!" and "I hate 2016!" And it was a hard year for me in some ways too - mostly focused around my mother's health and my dad's subsequent difficult time trying to cope with it all. Moving my mom into her village in February was hard, and the months of her going steadily down hill since then. My sister moving away was another challenge. Troy's job was no picnic either, though I'm happy to announce that he's starting with a new job next week. Fingers crossed and prayers being uttered for his happiness and success there.

I kind of feel like sticking up for 2016. It wasn't her fault it was such a hard year, right? I guess I feel like 2016 needed to be a year of grace, of getting through hard things. And there were many beautiful and good things too. 2017, here's to you, may you be the year of strength and momentum that I feel you could be.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Very Merry Christmas

Christmas was quite the whirlwind.  I give the credit to the SLC School District. They decided we needed to stay in school until Friday the 23rd. That means we were busy with homework and waking up early and doing all that stuff all the way until the day before Christmas. I did not like that. At all. Earlier in the year I had a scheme to just not go to school those last two or three days but my weird kids actually wanted to go. They didn't want to miss out on the class parties and things like that. That was fine, but I expected the teachers to lighten up on homework or something that week. They totally didn't. Oh well. 

Christmas Eve was a very big and busy day, and we had a lot of fun.  For starters, Troy and I were in charge of his family party this year and when we looked at the calendar, we wondered if we could convince the family to get together for a Christmas Eve brunch. It was a Saturday, most of us don't have regular plans on the 24th, so we thought we could pull it off.  It was a great success - everyone except Tonja's two kids were able to be there.  I don't think we've all gathered like that in quite some time. I'm realizing we didn't manage to get a picture of all of us together.  Oh well.  

We met at our church building which has a big massive kitchen.  The night before, our family went up to the Church to decorate - I really wanted to make it look nice and show that we put some effort into making a cold empty church into someplace a little homier.  Luckily I was given a bunch of extra decorations by two different friends and I think we were able to make the space at least a little bit fun.

I tried my hand at making gingerbread cookies so the early arrivers could have some fun decorating.  I think the cookies turned out cute and the kids and even grandma had some fun decorating them but I didn't see too many nibbles taken. I think I need to try a different recipe next time. 

Breakfast was waffles with all the toppings, fruit, sausage, fried potatoes and juice.

Oh look, I did get one picture of us - not a great one - but here it is!

The present exchange was really fun this year. Bitty got this awesome hat and Yoda flashlight, Skippidy got a Shopkins craft kit, and Cap got a lego kit. Troy and I got a panini press, which I had used multiple times since then. We enjoyed giving gifts like a Luminoodle to Rick and earrings to Tonja, Hufflepuff gear to Alyssa, an R2D2 t shirt to Curtis and gift cards and beauty supplies to Annika.

It really was a fun morning together. At about noon we hopped into the car to drive to Crystal Hot Springs - I thought it was a brilliant plan, actually.  Sam and Kathleen invited us and we were super happy to go. Christmas Eve, as I think I have mentioned before, can sometimes feel a little empty.  We don't have big family traditions on that day and all the other parties and celebrations seem to be over by then. I loved having an outdoor activity with family. We took zero pictures. We were too busy enjoying the mineral-filled hot water. It was awesome.

What was challenging was getting home. I was also in charge of the evening celebration - dinner and a movie and gingerbread houses with my dad and Troy's parents. I knew we were going to be late - I almost didn't go to the hot springs due to a completely messy house and no food being ready at all, but it felt lame and sad to stay home for the big Christmas Eve activity of the day. And of course that's when the big classic Christmas Eve storm hit - the roads were pretty scary as our days of rain started turning into a big slush storm.  We were very glad to make it home safely. And indeed, Troy's folks were there waiting when we arrived, but oh well.  We got everyone settled and I started to get food ready. We did a ramen bar - one of our favorite things - plus beef stew for Morris. I thought Carol would go for the stew as well but she really enjoyed the ramen. That made me happy. We ate warm simple food, watched A Christmas Story, which our parents all love because it's so full of great memories for them.  The kids made really fun gingerbread houses - that might have to become an annual Christmas Eve tradition as well.  It really kept them busy and was very festive. I missed having the houses around for the whole month of December to help add to the decor but this was a great idea. 

All of the grandparents headed out after the movie. I had planned a big dessert but didn't get to it - and everyone loved raiding my giant platter of treats from the neighbors. That was another great thing - a great way to enjoy the neighbor treats!

As we were getting ready to start getting the kids settled and ready to read some stories and scriptures, it was time to set out the cookies and egg nog for Santa. Bitty let me know that she wanted to give me my present early. We had drawn names for family gifts this year, and Bitty was really excited to give me mine, because it was something that was better used on Christmas Eve than Christmas. She was so excited for me to open this Santa plate - she knows that I love Santa, I collect Santas, and was so happy to add to my collection with this plate that we can use for his cookies every year. I thought it was super sweet and clever.

The best part of the night came after the kids were in bed. By then, the snow had started falling in earnest. We had a lovely fire crackling in the fireplace. We put our favorite carols on the stereo. The presents were all tucked under the tree. Troy and I snuggled up on our big chair under an absolutely amazing blanket that my friend Jane had given me for Christmas. Fuzziest, hugest, warmest blanket ever. We sat there until midnight, enjoying the quiet and peace and holiness. Possibly my favorite moment of the entire season.

Christmas morning finally came with all its chaotic wonderfulness....I think the pictures say it all.

We spent the evening at my sister's house with her girls and my dad. We enjoyed Mexican food and watching home movies. My surprise gift to all my family members was finding an old video tape of all our childhood home movies and getting my friend The Becky's husband to help me get them digitized. I really enjoyed doing that project and sending a thumb drive to everyone. My dad watched it on Christmas morning as he was snowed in and solitary - I was really glad to have given him something to make his morning special.

Epilogue -

Both of the girls had asked for roller skates for Christmas. I was super happy about that request. And Skippidy picked up on it faster than I expected.  That Christmas Eve storm really dumped on our valley - it was freezing cold and there were many inches of snow. We were a little snowed it. But the girls totally bundled up and enjoyed skating around the back porch. That was pretty cute.

It was a great Christmas, and I miss it already.