Friday, August 31, 2007

Founder's Day Dinner

Every year, BYU law school alumni and their spouses/guests are invited to a fancy dinner at the Little America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City for a celebration called The Founders' Day Dinner. It is one of the highlights of our year. We never miss it. When Kulani was a student in law school, we could go for $10 a plate, because generous wealthy law firms helped cover the cost so students could also attend. Now we're part of a law firm, so we get in free thanks to the firm. The first three years we went, they served filet mignon. The last few years it's been not as good, but the speakers have more than made up for it.

BYU law school does a very good job of bringing you into the circle and giving you a big hug. The Founder's Day Dinner, in a way, is about remembering the old timers; the ones who started the school; the fathers. And rather than having us forget about them, they retell stories that make you somehow feel a part of something bigger. BYU in general tries to make their students feel at home by offering devotionals, etc. But BYU law school, with its smaller classes, can do a little better job at it. And last night was no different. Elder Bruce C. Hafen spoke on his memories of the founding of BYU's law school and why the church board okayed such an endeavor. Elder Hafen was only 31 when he and Rex Lee (then 37) tried influencing prominant LDS attorneys and law faculty to take a chance on teaching at BYU's newly formed and not-yet accredited law school. His stories were endearing and personal. I'll share one with you here. He and Rex Lee were on the high council together in a BYU student ward, and during one of the meetings, President Lee had fallen asleep. Elder Hafen leaned over to Lee and said, "They just announced you're supposed to give the closing prayer." President Lee opened one eye and softly said to Elder Hafen, "The first amendment to the Constitution says we have the freedom to choose religion. You worship your way, and I'll worship mine." After being dean of the law school, President Lee went on to be solicitor general to the United States and argued cases before the Supreme Court. After that, he returned to BYU as president of the university.

I didn't get into BYU the way most students do. My acceptance letter was kind of a backwards acceptance letter. It said, "Come to summer school, and we'll let you in for the fall." So I went to summer school. At the bottom of my acceptance letter was President Rex Lee's signature. I have always felt that it was him who personally allowed me come to BYU. Elder Hafen said Rex had a huge fondness for BYU. And in his last welcoming devotional in 1995 before he died, Elder Hafen said he still saw tears form in Rex's eyes when they sang the school song. That's how both Kulani and I feel about BYU.

The following are some pictures of the Founder's Day Dinner. We brought our friends Amy and Ben with us. Ben went to the Universty of Chicago Law School (the same law school Rex Lee and Dallin Oaks attended), and when Ben was there at Chicago Law, he wrote to Elder Oaks to ask if they could use his name in forming an LDS law school society. Elder Oaks gave him the okay. I think their society was called the Dallin H. Oaks Law Society. (BYU's is called the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.) Anyhow, he was able to talk with Elder Oaks last night about the letter, and Elder Oaks said he remembered getting it. I snapped the photo so Ben could send it to his fellow society members (it's dark and blurry because I still haven't figured out how to fix my camera, so sorry about that Ben). The other picture is of me and Kulani with cheesy smiles because we love this dinner so much. My sister Amy was supposed to be there last night, but I never saw her. So Amy, if you were there, sorry we missed seeing you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Summer Days ... Drifting Away

It's been a packed summer for us, and we're kind of sad to see it go. Lilia had her first day of preschool today, and Melissa will be going to preschool in a week. I'd say summer is officially over, but Kulani says we need one more Labor Day barbecue and then we'll officially call it over. To recap, this summer we ...

  • Went to Hawaii for a week.

  • Lilia played on her first T-ball team: the Bears (not so much bad news)

  • Kulani competed in the Hawaii Half Ironman, Provo Olympic tri, Echo Reservoir tri, Spudman tri, and Jordanelle Olympic tri.

  • Cindy did Hawaii Half and Spudman.

  • Lilia ran in the Provo Freedom Days fun run, with me, Lissy, and Nohea chasing after her in the stroller. We couldn't keep up. She got 2nd in her age group.

  • Kulani ran close to Steve Young in the Freedom Days 10K. Oh, if we could only bottle his sweat!

  • Went camping with our new tent a total of five times. We took nephew Hekili with us one time so he could get his Webelos badge.

  • Attended the awesome McEuen family reunion.

  • We put our American Fork Fitness Center membership to good use by going swimming often (see video)

But now we are bushed. We enjoyed spending the summer with those of you we did. In general, we didn't have as many visitors to our house. Perhaps we haven't been hospitable enough. Please forgive. We are anxiously awaiting the coming of BYU football season. We can smell it in the air already. We got family season tickets thanks to Kulani's "faculty" status. Our seats are near Uncle Fred's and Amy&Nate's. Soon, our family will dominate the whole south end zone. For now, it's time for a nap.

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Study in Psychology

Kulani took an introductory class in psychology when he was a freshman at BYU. In the class he learned of a study involving pictures of newborns. Participants were asked to match the pictures of infants to pictures of their supposed biological parents, both father and mother. Some low percentage of the people were able to match the baby to the mother, but a large percentage of people were able to match the father with the infant. In other words, babies come out looking like their fathers. Pyschologists could say there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon: 1) It helps the father to better bond with the baby. Oh, he/she looks like me! I love him/her! (2) It helps establish who the father of the baby is. (Think Maury Povich's voice: You ARE the father!)

It's an interesting study, and one that is easy to determine between Kulani and me, since we look very different. The following are pictures of my three girls just days after they were born. You be the judge. Do they look more like me or Kulani? To refresh the memory, here's a picture of Kulani and me:

Baby 1 (AKA Lilia):

Baby 2 (AKA Melissa):

Baby 3 (AKA Nohea):

Now when Kulani goes anywhere with the girls without me around, he sometimes illicits funny stares: People think he's kidnapped some blonde-headed couple's kids. My girls look most like me now. It's still left to be seen how Nohea will turn out. So far, she still very much looks like Kulani.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A fond farewell to Cousin James

Today is President Faust's funeral and it will be televised on BYUTV, and I hope to catch it. President Faust is a distant relative of mine. He's my grandma's first cousin once removed. This picture was taken near the gravesite of both my mother's and President Faust's great-great-grandma, Eliza Lyman, in Central Utah. They were both there after a large Lyman family reunion. My daughter Lilia is the baby in my mom's arms. My mom was taking care of Lilia that day, so I could get some chores done and errands run in Provo.

I'll remember President Faust for a few things: 1) He gave a great talk at BYU Law School's Founder's Day dinner about serving others. He was a lawyer before he became an apostle, and he spoke about some of the pro bono cases he took while a lawyer. (2) His last General Conference talk on forgiveness. I'll never forget how he broke down in sobs as he told of the admiration he had for the Amish people's capacity to forgive. And (3) he grew up in the same family tree as my grandmother. I feel as though I have a window into the type of family he must have grown up in, and the type of family he most likely also raised. From stories of my mother and grandmother, my grandmother's family were good cooks. They lived a real farming lifestyle near Delta, Utah. The men would have a big breakfast before heading out to the fields, then they would come in for a big lunch complete with homemade bread, and then they would have family dinners at night together, complete with fresh vegetables from the garden. It sounds idealic.

Monday, August 13, 2007

McEuen Family Reunion '07

Every other year since 1982, my mother's family--the McEuen's--get together for a 3-day reunion. As I get older, this reunion gets better and better for me. My mother has three other siblings, and they rotate taking turns for the family reunion. My mom's dad was an engineer in southern California for Grumman aeronautical. Because of his good 401-K plan and also because of my grandma's nice penchant from the state of California (she worked at the DMV for 22 years), my grandma has a nice little retirement nest. Grandpa died in 1993, but before he died, he took the whole family to Disneyland. And my grandma likes to treat us all during the reunion, and this year was no different. Uncle Pat and Aunt Vivi (from Redding, CA) were in charge of the festivities this time. They did an excellent job. On Friday night, we ate a nice dinner in the Skyroom at BYU. I've always wanted to eat there, but never got the chance while at BYU. It's a beautiful place with windows that look out to Y mountain. We also had greeting games, which turned out to be so much fun. I always start out greeting games with anxiety, but by the end, I was approaching relatives left and right with questions like, "Can you swim a mile?" Then if they could, I cross them off on my bingo chart. You know the drill. There was also a talent show that night. I was able to get my 4-year-old to dance her one-minute hula dance. Very proud moment for her ol' mom. I was amazed at some of my relatives' talents. The next day we went to Lagoon and then rented out the Davis Aquatic Center all for our family later that night. All the food was also provided. The next day was Sunday, so we saw the Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast early in the morning, then had Swedish pancakes (Uncle Pat's specialty) afterwards. If you're keeping track, all of those activities equal lots of money, but kind Grandma (and I'm guessing Uncle Pat and Aunt Vivi) footed the bill for everything. It was so nice! Muchos appreciated. But even if we didn't have the money to do all of those fun activities, just being together and talking would have been almost as great. I love visiting with my family. The turn out was really good. All of my Aunt Kathy's kids made it. All of my Uncle Fred's kids made it. All but one of my Uncle Pat's kids made it. And all but one of my mom's kids made it.

I've always been very connected to family. I'm grateful to have a little family of my own, too. And being a parent is probably the most joyful thing I've ever done. It's especially great sharing the responsibilities with Kulani.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Concerts in the Park (and other venues)

If Kulani and I are two pieces of bread, the peanut butter that keeps us together is made up of sundry items--items that may seem inconsequential to some, but are like glue for us. One of the first things that attracted me to Kulani was when he said he liked Morrissey and the Smiths (and BYU football and that he came from a small town and big family, etc.). A guy once told me, before I was married, that I couldn't marry anyone unless he had the same taste in music as me. I wouldn't think I was as shallow as that, but gosh, there's probably a little bit of truth to that. Listening to my iTunes as I write this has reminded me of some pretty good concerts Kulani and I have seen over the years. Let me share a few with you ...

Our first concert together was Morrissey on Halloween at Saltair outside of Salt Lake City. We took Greg Riche along with us. (Greg Riche is the Godfather of Kulani's biking world. He was going through a messy divorce at the time, and we thought a little concert might help get his mind off of weightier matters.) It was amazing, as I thought I would never see Morrissey in concert in my lifetime. It was a pretty sandwiched show, as we were very near the stage and people from all over were pushing to get closer; to possibly feel his sweat land upon them as he sang, "You've got to hold onto your friends." We've seen Morrissey two other times since then. Once in Nampa, Idaho. Yep, Nampa. Needless to say, the show did not sell out. We took my little sisters Mary and Hetty to that one. And then earlier this year we saw him again at the E Center in West Valley. He still really makes me smile, even more so now that he's greying (like the British spelling?) and getting ponchier.

Another early concert I remember is a tour (I can't remember the name now--was it Horde?) that had Barenaked Ladies as the lead group (oh, and Ben Harper and the Criminals, but we didn't stay for that--what were we thinking?). I remember Kulani's friends from Blanding being there: Casey, Jeremy, Dave, etc. But maybe they weren't and my memory is failing. If you haven't seen a Barenaked Ladies concert, they're pretty dang good and they like to inject a lot of humor. A couple years later I managed to procure some BNL tickets to the show they played at the Olympics Medals plaza in 2002. I got four tickets; one for me, one for Kulani, one for our best concert going sibling AKA Lani, and one more. Who should I give it to? Let's see. How about little sister Hetty? She's in town. I'll call her up. Hetty, would you like to go to the BNL concert with us tonight? Biggest scream I've ever heard in my life coming from the other end of the phone line. I guess that's a yes. That concert was worth it just to make Hetty's day. She'd been trying feverishly to win some tickets to the show by calling 107.5 every 1/2 hour or whenever they played a BNL song for weeks.

Kulani and I have both seen Depeche Mode seperately, Kulani seeing them the most because of his brother Lani, but we saw them together at the Delta Center a few years back. After the show we ran into cousin Meredith. Sister Mary came with us, as she was unmarried and a student at the time (I think we were students too). Sister Mary is also a very good concert-going mate.

Last year was a bit of a banner year, since I think in total we saw four concerts. We saw Tori Amos last fall and took niece Leilani, a newish BYU student with a penchant for feminist rockers. We saw Deathcab for Cutie in October at the McKay Events Center in Orem, me being well with child. Kulani nearly got into a fight when someone pushed me from behind and almost knocked me over. We also saw Pet Shop Boys with Lani and Patrick, a treat for Lani's birthday. And then Morrissey to cap it off.

Other groups we have seen: 1964 (a Beatles tribute band), the Cure (Kulani only), 10,000 Maniacs (sans Natalie Merchant), that guy in Chicago when we visited Ben and Amy (can't remember his name, but he played at the House of Blues--that was pretty cool), Kulani went solo to Cake two times (well, not solo, but without me--he really loves their shows), the Diddy Bops (an opener for Cake, but Kulani bought their CD and I really like their stuff too), and Creedance Clearwater Revisited on the grass of Springville High School (two of the original CCR band members reuniting to crowds of hundreds--Kulani and I still argue whether CCR is from the South or from Southern California--quick Google search says "Though hailing from the Bay Area of California, the group was influenced by the swamp blues genre that came out of south Louisiana in the late 1950s and early to mid-1960s."). Oh, and the MoTab. I'd better include them for me brother-in-law Nathan's sake.

And the only big regret is the following conversation only two months after we were married:

Kulani comes home with neon wrist band. "I have a chance to get tickets very close to the stage for INXS."
Cindy: "We don't have money to go to INXS."
Kulani (defalted): "But this might be the last time they come on tour."
Cindy: "There'll be other tours."
Kulani rips off neon wrist band.

A month after INXS comes to Utah, we're driving around listening to 107.5, when the DJ announces the death of INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.

Kulani: "Other tours, eh?"
Cindy: "Good thing we believe in that whole life-after-death thing."

Sunday, August 5, 2007

What's for dinner?

There's a Cab Calloway song that has become the Fisher Family motto: Everybody eats when they come to my house. There's nothing like breaking bread with people in their own home that brings people together. A favorite meal for us to host with people is a crab boil. When crab goes on sale, we stockpile it in our freezer until such time as we can host a decent crab boil, bring close friends around the dinner table, dump the hot crab, corn, sausage, potatoes onto newspaper in the middle of the table, then everyone start cracking and eating and talking. People talk when they're eating crab. I guess it has to do with the laid-back atmosphere; no utensils allowed.

Another favorite meal is Kulani's dry-aged beef. Only select friends get invited to those because you must love steak, and you must be able to eat steak between medium and rare. No well-done or even medium-well. If you want that, Kulani will cook you a piece of chicken. Because in Kulani's mind, you will not be able to distinguish the subtle differences of a dry-aged steak if you take your steak well-done. And since Kulani has lovingly babied the beef for three weeks to get the beef aged to perfection, you will take the steak as he specifies. It is quite simply delicious. It tastes better than most of the high-end steak restaurants in the state. He buys a big tenderloin from Costco, then wraps it in towels and places it in the bottom of our refrigerator. Every night and morning, he removes the towels and reapplies fresh-clean ones. By the end of three weeks, he has marbled, mouth-watering beef.

We also host a yearly luau. Kulani loves to treat people to his "comfort food." We've had as many as 120 people at one of his luaus. The neighbors have come to expect it. We try to feed people in waves. Family comes between 1 and 2 p.m. Then friends come around 3 to 5 p.m. And last comes all the neighbors. It is a time-consuming and labored ordeal, but Kulani wouldn't have it any other way. Occasionally, we even kill a pig and cook it in our back yard.


I love it when a friend introduces me to their blog. It opens up whole new layers to a person you might otherwise would have never known. So this is my "business card." This site is dedicated to the business of my life: my family. Get to know us a little better. Now for the important part: pictures!

This is our "No-No." She is the newest member of our family. She is also lovingly known as "the Duck." Fish likes to give all his girls a nickname of an animal, and she is a duck. She is off-the-charts on both weight and height. More of her to love. She turned 6 months old today. She gives big smiles first thing in the morning. So far, she may be our only dark-haired one.

This picture best exemplifies our middle child Lissy. If she doesn't want her picture taken, she'll hide behind things like the curtain. You can't make Lissy do anything she doesn't want to do. Potty training has been extremely unsuccessful up to this point. Lissy's personality varies from headstrong to humorous. You never know what your gonna get from day to day. Ask her what her name is and she'll say, "Lissy the toad." She is the toad.

Lili is our oldest. She is affectionately known as "the Bear" because she knew how to growl long before she knew how to talk. She is a people pleaser and easy-going girl. She started swimming lessons this year, and loved it. She has also tried T-ball and ballet, but she hasn't liked those as much. She attends preschool at Deerfield Elementary. She gets frustrated when Mom and Dad don't understand what she's saying, but we're getting better at understanding and she's getting better at talking. She loves to talk.

This is a picture of the whole family taken outside a little restaurant in Waimea, Hawaii (Big Island). We took the trip in June for two reasons: To immerse the whole family in their Hawaiian heritage (Kulani's side), and for Mom and Dad to compete in the Hawaii Half-Ironman. On the way home from our trip, the flight attendants served us Pineapple-Guava drink. My oldest said, "This tastes like Hawaii." Kulani's heart melted into pieces. It may become our yearly vacation spot. Next time we'd like to visit the places Kulani's dad grew up.

So that's us. You'll be hearing more from us. We're noisy neighbors.