Showing posts with label my history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label my history. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Share your history

On my trip to Hawaii, I read the book Marley and Me by John Grogan.  I was hoping it would make me feel more sentimental about Winston.  I really enjoyed reading Mr. Grogan's feelings, memories and story.   In this book, he has done a fantastic job of recording twelve years of his life.  The details and the sequence of how all the little moments fit into the bigger picture, I was very impressed.

I want to share an excerpt that I thought were very insightful.

"Children serve as impossible-to-ignore, in-your-face time pieces, marking the relentless march of one's life through what otherwise might seem an infinite sea of minutes, hours, days, and years." page 186


                Marley and Me goes in the same category as Gwyenth Paltrow's cookbook and children's picture book The Gardener by Sarah Stewart.  They are all creative ways to share family history.  And this is what I was referring to when I said "the hearts of the children turn to their fathers" is a great way to show your Valentine's love.  This Sunday for our Valentine's dinner, I shared my typed notes with Daniel's family of a few interviews I recorded in England during my last two visits to see his Gran.  
I've also been working on an essay about road trips with my family when I was a child.  
I am sorry it's not quite ready to share.  I actually have a lot of vivid memories related to this subject and I want to present them in an enjoyable way.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Power of Kindness

Once upon a time I was a lost college student, wandering around BYU trying to figure out what I should do with my life.  Elementary Education?  no. Music Education?  maybe, with a Theatre minor?  ok.

The next semester I took Beginning Stage Make-up and Costume Construction 1.  They were small classes in the basement of the Harris Fine Arts Center, taught by one Janet Swenson and a Carolyn Smith.

Janet was funny.  Her desk was in the middle of the room so we could all see her demos and then she could monitor our work in the mirrored  classroom. In her central location, Janet would talk, make funny voices, and joke with all of us before, during and after class.  She knew our names.  I was shy, but Janet still paid attention to me.  Never had I felt so comfortable at the 30,000 student university before.

Carolyn, a spunky, little grandma, who was the Costume Shop's Assistant Manager.  She was so kind and always busy.  Oh, did she work so hard.  Her class was my first exposure to sewing, and the beginning of a life long passion that would rival my music.

That semester changed my life.  I never wanted to leave the love and attention of these two I changed my major to Theatre Arts for Costume Design.  Thus embarking on my life of Creativity, something I didn't know existed inside of me before then.

It turned out to be a great fit for me.  I really dig the psychology within each play,  analyzing the characters' motives and interpreting their effects on the set and costumes.   I enjoy researching different histories and fashion for each production, and then finding clothing and color schemes to match the personalities of my characters.

 Artist: Alfrons Maria Mucha.
I was asked to use these and other paintings as inspiration for my designs in BYU's 2000 production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  

I regret I was inconsistent in my homework. I didn't give it my all.  I struggled with balancing my work and play.  Or really, coming to grips with the fact that University life is mostly work.  Despite my disappointing efforts I was always treated with respect from my professors and Janet in particular was always there when I needed a heart to heart talk.

Since I have left BYU, I have not been involved with the theatre. But I have had the skills and the confidence to create a beautiful home for my family.  I have also been able to send my love to many babies, each with the gift of a one of a kind blanket.  I fantasize about returning to the Costume Studio when I'm older. Whether sooner or later - I have Carolyn as my role model, with a career in her retirement years.  And I have Janet as my inspiration, for the influence one person can have when she cares for Heavenly Father's children.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Memoir Project

My mom recently sent me a book called The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith.   I have been hooked from the very first page.

 My mom is a historian, genealogist, and connoisseur of reading and writing.  So as my mother's daughter, I have been working on my life story off and on since I was in high school.  I was really excited when Marion declared my stories have value.  Value for my family, and for a larger audience, plus value for my creative writing.  Here are some good quotes from her intro and first chapter.

"Right now my life is packed with middle-aged friends engaged in all manner of dangerous behaviors again - the ones they forgot we did in our twenties.  They insist that they are trying to feel something.  I suggest honestly writing about your life.  You'll something, I promise."

"After you learn how to truly observe the life you live, the result may be excellence - in both writing and in the living."

"One of the things I know for certain is everyone has a story."

"When you write memoir, you'll be writing what you know."

"Let us into your story by shedding light on our own dilemmas, fears, happiness, or wide-eyed wonder."

Marion's formula is "this is a story about x and the illustration is y".  For example:  This is a piece of humor, and the illustration is that day at the proctologist.   Topics can be anything, such as pity, freedom, tragedy, redemption, mercy, patriotism, etc, etc.  And the illustration has to be small enough to capture.  But the neat thing about this formula is "it makes room for the reader."
The book is made up of 112 pages and filled with engaging and very useful help for aspiring writers.  I am still working my way through it, but I am really looking forward to sharing with you my first attempt using her method.

Here is a lick to an NPR interview
Here is a link to Marion's blog with even more ideas for your writing.  Are you as excited as I am? 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mum's Birthday

I am blessed to have both a Mom and a Mum.  Terri has always treated me like a daughter, for which I am very grateful.  She has taught me how to take care of myself, take care of others and take care of my home.

I vividly remember scrubbing the hard water stains off the windows with Terri when we first moved into the house across from the Provo Temple.  I wasn't wringing out my washcloth enough, Terri showed me how much water was still in that cloth by tightening her hands around it as hard as she could.  I think about that lesson every day when I'm at my kitchen sink.

Another time when I had moved houses, this time to Springville, I was preoccupied with decorating the inside of the home and neglected cleaning the rafters on the front porch, which were covered in spider webs and dead bugs.  Terri taught me that the porch is the first impression for all those who come knocking on my door, representing me and my family.

Every time I put my duvet back into a freshly washed duvet cover, I think of my mother 'n law and remember how she helped me make my bed as a young, newly married girl.  These examples are all of a practical nature, but I appreciate how these lessons keep Terri close to my mind and heart as I go through my days, tending  to my tasks.

Over the years Terri has schooled me in making a home, preparing for a baby, safety and well being in childcare, relationships and entertaining; I am grateful for all I have learned.  Not having daughters of my own, the thought has occurred to me a couple times, "I hope my future daughter 'n laws will allow me to share and help them", continuing Terri's knowledge and traditions through their generations.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mom's Birthday

Sometimes when I look in the mirror to wash my face or put on make-up, facial features will pop out at me reminding me of my mom.  A couple times when this has happened, the transformation is so real that I feel I am not Kimberly, I am Susan coming to live in another generation.

This experience has also happened when I'm not looking in the mirror, but when I am working in the kitchen.    When I make potato salad, I become my mom.  I like feeling this close to her.

For this reason, I love all things that remind me of my mom.  Happy Birthday!

Monday, July 9, 2012


After I had been dating Daniel for several months, he brought me over to meet his family.  My social skills were not up to par at the time, so it took quite a few meetings before I began to form a friendship with my future family.

One day after visiting the Bridal Dress Shop with Terri, Helen, Sarah, and Emily, they invited me to come back to their place for the evening and watch Evita with them.  Once the film began, the girls decided that everyone would get a turn to sing a song with Madonna, we'd rotate, so we should have gotten several turns since the entire show is music.  But, half way through, someone just couldn't not sing when it wasn't her turn.  There began to be some playful bickering, and then we all sang all the songs for the rest of the film.

What a fun, funny family Daniel belonged to.

Evita, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, was created in 1976 and tells the story of Argentina's beloved first lady of the 1950's, Eva Peron.  Over the years, the lead roles have showcased Elaine Paige, Patty LuPone, Mandy Patinkin, Antonio Banderas, and of course Madonna.

This spring a new production has opened on Broadway starring  Elena Rogers and Ricky Martin.  Here are two clips today introducing you to the new cast - a short commercial for the musical and a longer behind the scenes for the soundtrack.  Enjoy.

Monday, June 25, 2012


One of my very favorite people during my high school years was Clayton Cornelious. We loved loved loved to sing together, and he was always so fun to be around. Clayton and I performed together for our Senior Recital singing "Tonight" from West Side Story.

Last year he was cast as the Caterpillar in the new Broadway musical Wonderland. His song "Advice from a Caterpillar" is very jazzy and he sounds so great. His voice is very familar, yet I can hear how strong and rich its become over the years.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day

My prominent childhood memories of my Dad:

 Waking up at 4 in the morning with my brother Andrew to go see Haley's Comet.

My ninth birthday party, my Dad showed off his rollerskating skills.

Peeking into the family room to spy on my dad and his Barber Shop Quartet  practice around the piano.  They were such fun men - singing and joking.

When we lived in Connecticut, my Dad worked three jobs, including a newspaper route.

    My Dad likes cherries, cherry yogurt,
    and cherry cobbler.

I love my Dad. And my Mom, but it's
Happy Father's Day.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Calee Reed

Recently I asked my mom what talents and tendencies she had hoped her children would possess.  I know when ever I hear George sing, I stop and wonder,  "will he be my musical one?"  Really, I have decided my three big goals for my children are:

1. Receive answers to prayers
2. Make smart money decisions
3. Be a great conversationalist

 But back to my opening statement...thinking about it some more, I can see how my mom was influencing us- me and my siblings. Going to the library was a steady occurrence in my childhood. We'd go for story time and then enjoyed  the freedom to wondering thru the stacks, twists and corners, searching for known and unknown treasures.  The library - any library is a happy cozy place for me,  I am so fond of those earliest memories.

We were always listening to good music, in car and in the house; "Four Seasons" by Vivaldi, the soundtrack to Out of Africa, Barry Manillo, Les Miserables, James Galway, the Beach Boys, the list goes on.

My mom exposed us to a wide range of cultural arts.  I remember as a little girl, going to see the Lamanite Generation perform, now known as the Living Legends.  I was blown away, and declared that was what I wanted to do when I grew up, as she tucked me into bed that night. My mom is still introducing me to new books and music all the time with her frequent gifts in the mail, and her magazine clippings that she thinks I will appreciate.  I do.

My mom is the most well rounded person I know.  She is always up to date on politics, sports, Hollywood, Broadway, classical musicians, authors, and she is my number one go-to for spiritual advice.   Though I enjoy a wide variety of topics with my mom, hearing her testimony, is what is most special to me.

This whole post was inspired by Calee Reed's song "She Put the Music in Me", a song written about her mom.  I echo her sentiments.  You can enjoy the music video just below this cover art.

Here is Calee's webpage where you can listen to samples of other songs on her album.  I really like "Time to Love".

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Little Night Music

My senior year in High School Mrs. Lorene Ritzel became my choir teacher. I was smitten right away with her beautiful voice and sassy attitude. For Opera Workshop that year she broke from the traditional Gilbert & Sullivan, and introduced us to Stephen Sondheim. My life would never be the same. We performed selected songs from three of his shows: A Little Night Music, Company, and Sweeney Todd. I devoured these shows and went on to study the rest of his repertoire; checking out sheet music and cds over and over again from the Carnegie Mellon University Library, which was just a 20 minute bus ride from my home in Pittsburgh.

I was cast as Anne in A Little Night Music and performed the song "A Weekend in the Country". Our costume designer dressed us all in creams, very similar to the Broadway revival production in 2009 with Bernette Peters. When looking for a video to post I discovered a film version was made in 1977 with Elizabeth Taylor. There are many great actresses who have played the part of Desiree and sang the song "Send in the Clowns"; Patti LuPone, Catherine Zeta-Jones...Judi Dench was especially great.  An fun fact about this show is every song is written in 3/4 time, perfect for waltzing.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Good-bye Mr. Chips

Last November my neighbor Robert Earnest Williams passed away.  He was the most cheerful man, who always blessed my family with kindness.  The boys and I still talk about him regularly, even though his widow has since moved away.   Not only was he a special neighbor, but he was also the song leader in Primary for three years.  All the children adored him.  He would wear his utility belt and construction hat each week when he taught the Primary song "I am a Builder."

"....My Heavenly Father sent me here, and He knows I can be,
Strong and righteous, as I build my Eternal Family...."

 For his funeral I was asked to be in charge of one of the special musical numbers.  Robert's favorite male friends from Woodland Hills were chosen to sing "Did I Fill the World With Love?"  and I arranged the practices along with accompanying them on the piano.  Yes, Brother Williams, you certainly did.

 This piece of music came from the movie Good-bye Mr. Chips. I love the earnestness of the school boys singing  in their school assembly and the passion of Petula Clark who can't resist belting it out.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Lilacs in the Garden

I totally judge a book by its cover.  When I was in fifth or sixth grade I decided to give Nancy Drew books a try.  The first book  I choose from the series was Mystery at Lilac Inn.  I liked the picture and I thought is sounded romantic.  It was good, and I was soon back at the school library picking out another.  

Every time I see a lilac bush I have a little blast from the past, remembering how cozy I felt reading those books.  This year the lilac bushes in my garden have produced more blossoms than ever before.  I think its because we cut down some the trees last year that were keeping them from receiving direct sunlight. What a treat.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Summer

This summer I have worn my coral sandals everyday, which matches the Vera Bradley bag my brother Michael gave to me.

The temperatures have been mild enough for the most part that we have not had to use the air conditioning. I love having the windows and doors open! I have been using an extention cord so I can iron out on the top deck.

I have learned how to surf off of our boat. It's a bit un-nerving at first because you are so close to the back, but then it is nice because you can talk back and worth. Also the boat is only going 10 miles an hour, so it doesn't hurt when you fall. As I am the family photographer, here is a picture of Daniel and Arthur.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


One of my first vivid memories with my mother is Sunday afternoons, we would sit on her bed while we wrote in my journal together. She was following the words of the prophet. Spencer W. Kimball was the leader of our church during my childhood, and he had a passion for journal writing.

I have just looked up his talk from 1980 and want to record some of his words here.

"Your journal will tell of problems as old as the world, and how you dealt with them....What could you do better for your children and your children's children than to record the story of your life, your triumphs over adversity, your recovery after a fall, your progress when it all seemed black, your rejoicing when you had finally achieved?"

"Your story should be written now while it is fresh and while the true details are available....The truth should be told but we should not emphasize the negative."

"Begin today and write in it your comings and your goings, your deeper thoughts, your achievements, and your failures, your associations and your triumphants, your impressions and your testimonies. This is what the Lord has commanded and those who keep a personal journal are more likely to keep the Lord in remembrance in their daily lives."

This principle that I learned in my youth has stayed close to my heart.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My History and Heritage of Sewing

On my fifth Christmas my mother made me clothes for my Barbie. Wow! Can you imagine sewing around those armholes? Throughout my childhood my mom made dolls, bedding, costumes and clothing for me and my family. She learned how to sew from my great grandmother Gerda, her mom's mom. Gerda sewed for work throughout her life and when retired, she then sewed for an orphanage.

As a child I was never keen to learn how to use the sewing machine. It wasn't until the semester at BYU when I took Beginning Stage Make-up and Beginning Costume Construction. My professors Janet Swenson and Carolyn Smith showered me with so much love and attention that I decided I never wanted to leave the theatre department. Thus began my life as a creative person. Once that side of my personality was opened I instantly had a strong desire to make gifts for my family at Christmas time. Looking back at some gifts, my flubs are a bit embarrassing. But this year I have been really pleased with my projects. Here are some photos to share.

Also, here is a photo of my mom's handy work. This month Arthur and George turned four years old and my mom made them six foot stuffed snakes. The boys are thrilled with their gifts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ellen Tibbets part 2

The main portion of Ellen's story is about her relationship with her new friend Austine.

"The nicest part of all was knowing Austine. She thought they were best friends, but she wasn't quite sure. Austine hadn't said anything about being best friends. But the two girls were always together..."

I am very fortunate to be close friends with my mother, my mother'n law, my sister and my sister'n laws. Their friendships have sustained me for many years.

In the past I have been best friends with three non-family girls - Kristin Solomon, Fara Anderson, and Julie Bowman. In my sixth grade year I was doubly blessed with Kristin at school and Fara at church. Once we moved from Connecticut (at age 13), I never had one, constant friend again until Julie at BYU. There is definitely an added spark to life when you have a someone you know you can confide in and have fun with.

Enter Jaime Turner in August 2007. I met her at dinner one night at Sundance. She was animated, entertaining and interested in me. I had a great time but never suspected she would become so important to me. Gradually our contact with each other increased, until I found myself feeling like a school girl as I wondered "does Jaime consider me her best friend?" Just like Ellen I "thought how lucky" I was to have Jaime for a best friend once she "had said it so herself."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ellen Tibbets part 1

A childhood favorite that remains on my bedroom bookshelf is "Ellen Tibbets" by Beverly Cleary. My copy of the book was published in 1985 and I love the cover picture, which I am sorry to say I could not find online to show you. This story has stayed close to my heart because I related to Ellen's character in several ways.

First is Ellen's admiration of her third grade teacher. Not only was Miss Joyce "the nicest teacher in the whole school, but she wore the prettiest clothes Ellen had ever seen". Throughout the story Ellen tries her best to impress her teacher.

I too loved my third grade teacher more than any other year - Mrs. Hanns. She was pretty, cheerful, good, and introduced me to many greats books. One time Mrs. Hanns gave us a hundred question test on our multiplication. The reward for the top three scores was ice cream after school with my favorite teacher. You can believe how dedicated I was to my studies in order to win the prize. And I did it!

This fall I have been volunteering in Henry's first grade class one morning a week. I have been smitten with the children and enjoy helping in the small ways I can. I am looking forward to many years of volunteering.

I have included a picture of my first elementary school.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Happy Pioneer Day!

I am a sixth generation descendant from Morten Pedersen Mortensen, who joined the church with his family in Denmark during 1855. I have in recent years discovered how fun and interesting it is to study my family history.

Morten's son married the grand-daughter of Eliza Chapman Gadd. Eliza was born in England and immigranted to Utah with her eight children, which happens to include twin boys, Issac and Daniel. She settled in Nephi, a small town about thirty minutes from where I live now.

Here are a few paintings from the artist Julie Rogers. I enjoy the emotion that comes through her brush strokes.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Summer Reading Contest

The beginning of summer time as a growing girl was always filled with anticipation. My mother was the best at structuring our time and I was so excited for all that I would do and learn. One year I remember learning how to cross stitch. But mostly I remember visiting our local library every week, which supported our most famous tradition from the Mortensen home: our summer reading contest.

For every book we read, we would record the number of pages and add up all the totals at the end of the three months. The winner was inevitably my brother Andrew who is eighteen months younger than me. He is such a speeder reader! Even still, every year I was enthusiastic about my chances of winning, and thoroughly enjoyed the books I found along the way.

I have just finished Coming Home by Rosamond Pilcher. I has taken me ten months to get through the 726 pages. The description was so full of detail it truly played like a movie in my mind, and I really enjoyed the historical side of the story as well.

Next on my list:
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by e.l. Konigsburg
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hot Air Balloon Season

When I was growing up, I spent four of my formative years in Alberquerque, New Mexico. It is the location of the world's largest hot air balloon festival. I remember waking up early and going with my family, and who ever else would come into town that year, to watch them all blow up and fly away.

Ever since Henry has been old enough to notice the large, colorful objects in the sky, I have been taking him to the local balloon festivals. Each spring I look forward to these few mornings with glee.

First up is Art City Days in Springville: June 12th and 13th at 6:30am, located at the Junior High behind Ream's Grocery Store.

Next is the bigger production for the Freedom Festival: July 2nd, 3rd, and 4th at 6:30am, located at the open field across from UVRMC Emergency Room.