Happy New Year 2019!


Happy New Year! We hope 2018 has treated you well and wish you all the best in 2019!   Well, we survived another year at our house, but just barely. Here is a little update.

     Keith is 54 and I am 52 and we feel old. I even joined AARP, for the free travel bag. Keith refuses. Only a few more years and we can order off the senior’s menu at IHOP!  We also celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in May this year. We feel so grateful to have made it this far without stabbing one another.

    We are also a house full of working adults now. Keith is still at Wayfair and commuting to Ogden every day, which he so enjoys. He also is at Vivant Arena part time working events, mostly Jazz games right now. He absolutely hates it, really a nasty gig.

     Zach is 25. and still works for Precision Technology testing circuit boards. He works to support his Amazon addiction, poor thing. And to help his parents pay the bills. Zach has taken up photography and that took us to Moab for our vacation this year. Per my usual, I fell off a curb into the street wearing flip flops as we walked through the town. Go Mom…but we have some gorgeous pictures!

     Holland is 19 and started working full time for ABC New Beginnings Preschool & Day Care in January of this year as a part time aide. Today she is a full time Co-facilitator of the Infant B classroom. 6 to 12 months old. She is doing great! Holland also has an on-line shopping addiction she caught from her brother, but she also contributes to household bills. Now if we could just get her to learn to drive.

   I spent this year working for Harmons in Draper at the Bangerter Crossing location as a Sous Chef and as a Foodie in Sales and Events. In November, after a year and a half at Harmons….and driving Holland to and from work, I started to get a little restless and began looking for a position where I could combine my Business Management Skills with my Culinary Skills. So, I went to Indeed and the first job that popped up was a Culinary Services Director at The Wentworth at Coventry Independent & Assisted Living & Memory Care in Cottonwood. It sounded like the perfect fit, so I applied. I got a call the next day and an interview two days later. A second interview the very next day and a third, corporate interview 4 days later and then a lucrative offer on the day before Thanksgiving.   Boom! I started on December 10th and I have had few days off since, but no looking back. I really love it!

   True to form for me, as I age less gracefully each year, I had my share and your share of accidents this year. I think I have the record for the most incident reports in the shortest amount of time at Harmons. They know me by my first name at Workers Comp. Trips and falls, cuts and face plants, I had at least one of everything…again. The most recent was just December 23. I had made a whipped jello salad, a family favorite, and was carefully carrying the loose jello through my kitchen to put in my garage fridge. Just as I got to the top of my cement steps in my garage, my jello sloshed. Damn! I was in bare feet and took a step right in the jello and slipped, bam, bam, bam down my garage steps! Covered head to toe in green whipped jello, I banged my right ear on the railing and stopped by hitting my left leg into my chest freezer and sliding on the jello under my car. it was after midnight. So, there you go. I never disappoint. Except no jello for Christmas. LOL!

     Thanks to the fact that we love one another, we make a good team, and the fact that we are heavily medicated, we feel blessed and grateful and certainly sometimes pitiful. But life goes on, so we try not to sweat the small stuff. So, Cheers to that and to a happy and prosperous new year! May your days be merry and bright

 The Beltz Family, Keith, DeeAnn, Zach & Holland     

                                                            Moab 2018




Happy New Year!  Now that I have had a taste of what 2018 is bringing I am intrigued.  Every year is an opportunity for growth and learning for all of us.  This usually comes through the trials and obstacles we face and experience and (hopefully) overcome or begin to successfully resolve.  2018 is proving no different.

Frankly the crap comes fast and furious so be ready.  I have learned the secret to happiness is to go at it with no expectations and maybe you will be pleasantly surprised from time to time!  Jaded! Negative attitude! Some may say…oh no, just the opposite, I choose to meet everything with honest and  fresh eyes, a positive attitude and a choice to be happy, come what may!  Everyday is a gift, that is why they call it ‘the present’.

Even so, the crap, big and small, comes and we deal with it.  It is how we deal with it that counts and that is another choice we get to make.

Sometimes the choices of others cause obstacles and crap we then have to deal with.  I have a person in my life who tends to react to things that don’t go exactly as planned or in the way she wants in a harsh manner.  In turn, she will treat certain people harshly and speak to others rather harshly.  She is not mean or blatantly critical or abusive, just harsh.  I mean we all have our weak moments, that is a given.  However, in this case it is the go to reaction and it is a reflex done without apology.

I try respond to harshness or cynical or negative people as kindly as possible and extract myself from the situation.  But this week the harshness with this particular person hit a record high.  I took it in and did not respond, but waited until I could have a personal conversation with her.  When I did, she offered a hasty apology but rushed to get out of the conversation saying she was busy and would have to talk to me later.  Which has not happened, no surprise.

At the same time this week my beautiful 18 year old daughter started her very first real job.  She was hired as a Pre-School / Daycare Assistant at a local private facility.  She is planning to study Early Childhood Development so we were all very excited for her.  She worked a two hour day and 3 eight hour shifts this week to facilitate some mandatory training and certifications and to spend some time with the children she will be working with.  My daughter is a person with autism, albeit high functioning, but autism still the same.  This being her very first structured job, it became very clear after day 2 that her level of anxiety was running high.  She found out the facility was peanut free and she would not be able to take her beloved (and only sandwich she eats besides grilled cheese) peanut butter & honey for lunch each day and came home in tears.

The Administrators of the facility know she has a diverse-ability and the tears were about more than peanut butter, but none the less, she was feeling the brunt of the cold, harsh, working world and was overwhelmed with the idea of living in it everyday.  I can’t say I blame her or that I haven’t felt exactly the same way.

Again, that word, harsh. Like a quick, hard, slap in the face.  Unexpected.  Surprising. Hard to respond to.  The same as her mother, my daughter, Holland, took the high road, and waited until she got in the car to cry.  Poor kitty.  I gave her some loves and some time to pull herself together and rest and eat.

When we had a chance to talk she told me her fears and anxieties.  Individuals with autism are often very literal.  For example, if I were to say ‘hold your horses’ to a child with autism, most kids would ask me to go looking for the horses.  In this case, as Holland read her responsibilities regarding keeping those babies and children safe and adhering to the rules of the facility, such as toddlers keeping their hands to themselves etc. She began to feel self doubt and an inability to do the job because she thought it was her responsibility alone to make sure a three year old didn’t hit a 4 year old…and if that happened she had failed.  Yeah…overwhelmed.

And so, I clarified, kindly, that her responsibility was to ensure the children KNOW the rules and the consequences and that she would have to repeat the rules many times during the day.  I also reminded her that I was a working mother that dropped both her and her brother off to day care at 3 months old.  I told her all I ever wanted was people like her to be loving and kind to my babies until I could come get them.  Yes, keep them safe and fed and clean and warm.  But most important, give them cuddles, tell them they are great, and be kind and loving to them. And that once she got mad and knocked a TV over at her day care at 2 years old.

I told her to focus her attention on those little angels, those children and babies I know she loves.  Leave her troubles at the door and do what you love.  The rest of the week was much less harsh.

Loving kindness, overflowing…❤

Happy Holidays 2017


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We hope all is well for all of you! 2017 has been fast and furious…and yet draggy and frustrating…and even meandering and exciting.  It has been a weird year.  Good, but weird. Thank goodness we are all still heavily medicated! LOL!

Keith has had another year of transition.  He was laid off from Aspen Press in the spring, yeah the beat goes on with us and our run of less than fabulous luck.  However, it turned out to be an opportunity for Keith to switch gears and do something completely different.  He landed an Account Manager position at Wayfair in their growing Business Division.  Hooray!  A few drawbacks, his office is in Ogden and the pay is half what he was making before (heavy sigh).  BUT, it is a fresh start, Keith is doing well and likes what he does and who he works with and…well…it’s Wayfair for crying out loud! Hello, employee discount! Keith is still the golf loving, movie going, yard working, OCD guy we know and love, but happier than he has been in a while!  Another Hooray!  Except the commute, it drains him dry and he sleeps on the couch most of the evening after he gets home…or maybe it’s just old age.  Anywho, the pros far outweigh the cons at this point.

            IMG_1031.jpg            Zach 1

Zachary turned 24 in October and is working full time for Precision Technology in their Testing area.  They are great to him and pay him well and he likes what he does.  With a house full of adults now, Zach has become an integral part of our family team.  I’m sure he won’t be thrilled with me spilling the beans here, but he does dishes and laundry and cleans his room and the bathrooms as needed.  He is kind to his sister and makes sure she gets lunch and a trip to Maverick or Maceys for a snack every day before he goes to work.  I think that makes him a great catch.  {He did not want me to write that…in fact, neither he or Keith think I am one bit funny.} Still, he takes care of our doggy Bayja and his beloved truck, pays his way and is a joy to have around. Zach also bought a new bike this year and is getting to like riding more and more.  Zach usually sports a full beard with his beautiful dark green eyes.  And…per Zach, that is all I can write about Zach, thank you very much.  Good luck and have a pleasant day

Holland 1            20170606_122817_0111165880461.jpg

Now, about our Holland.  What a year she has had!  Holland turned 18 in April and graduated from Hillcrest High School in June.  She had a fantastic senior year and made the Honor Roll 3 terms in a row!  She worked very hard but also had the most social year ever.  She taught at Hillcrest’s Preschool all year and is planning to study Early Childhood Development. We are very proud of her! Let me take this moment to thank all of you that sent Holland a graduation card and/or gift. She is an adult now and responsible to finish her own Thank You notes…so, enough said.  Holland told us she was going to “take the summer to relax”.  Fair enough.  We planned a trip to Mazatlan, Mexico for her graduation and had a fabulous time.   We had parties by the pool and Holland slept all day and stayed up late into the summer nights.  So much so I began to think maybe she was a vampire. And then it was September, and time to join reality; learn to drive and get a job.  Holland would really like to work as a preschool or daycare assistant.  She has interviewed for a couple of positions but no offers yet.  So she is currently helping her Aunt Chris two days a week in her first grade classroom to hopefully get her foot in the door for an aide position.  First grade is like the wild, wild west.  But she loves teaching the little ones.  She also loves movies, reruns of Law & Order and our diva dog Bayja.  And, she has recently taken up knitting!  (I was so relieved, vampires don’t knit, right?)  Beanies for everyone!

Dee grad

So, since I am not getting any younger, I am working quickly to get my Culinary career moving forward.  I graduated with my Culinary Arts Degree and National Honors in January, 2017 and walked in April, 2017.  Big Hooray!  In May I took an offer from Harmons at Bangerter Crossing in Draper as the Sous Chef in their Cooking School.  As much as I enjoyed working for Grand America in Garde Manger, I got ants in my pants and decided it was time to combine my Culinary Arts degree with my previous degree in Business Administration and experience Developing People.  This offer was the best of both worlds.  However, I am still me and my life is full of weird experiences to say the least.  So you won’t be surprised that I have lit a towel or two on fire in front of a class, had an epic failure making soft pretzels in front of a class, fell off a step ladder getting pans off the top shelf, dropped cast iron oven grates on my foot (breaking several toes and cracking a foot bone) and had an emotional meltdown at work that resulted in a “talking to” in the last 6 months. But I love every minute of it!  I am teaching our Jr. Chef kids classes now and it is great.  I like teaching kids and have a knack for it I guess.  Or maybe I am just not above putting candy corn fangs in my lip for a class of kids while decorating Halloween Cookies.  I also launched my own business this year, a catering company, Strong Celebrations, LLC.  I was able to book at least one catering per quarter in 2017 while also working full time.  Each party was customized and successful and at least broke even. Nevertheless, I have put my bookings on hold for now because catering is massively time consuming and takes a ton of work, sometimes in less than ideal conditions…like no running water or no electricity or no refrigeration…no kidding.

For now I am focused on building a career with Harmons and enjoying my family.

We had a fantastic trip to Mazatlan, Mexico in July to celebrate both mine and Holland’s graduation.  We enjoyed a beautiful resort, fabulous beach, coca cola “lite” and guacamole and chips for lunch every day, gorgeous sunsets and mingling in the local culture.  Things we did not enjoy, a very loud and very flat mariachi band that walked the beach from sun up to way past sun down…enough already!   Plus near 100% humidity away from the ocean = very frizzy hair and enhanced hot flashes.  (I think that was just me & my sister actually) But frankly, we had a blast and would go back in a Mexican minute!

So we hope you too have a blast, during the Holidays and in the coming year!  Do more things that make you happy with the people you love!

Be Brave, Be Strong, Be Kind, Be Grateful.

With love, The Beltz Family, Keith, DeeAnn, Zach & Holland & Bayja.





The Dead Sea of my Childhood

So this past weekend I had the opportunity to spend a Saturday volunteering at a local Make A Wish Event.  I am a Make A Wish Ambassador for the Utah Chapter and this is my 3rd year, I enjoy this work immensely.  This event happened to be an ATV Ride held out in the west desert of Utah in Grantsville, which is about an hour or so west of Salt Lake and a little bit west of the city of Tooele (pronounced too-ill-ah).

So driving out to Tooele you get to pass by the south end of the famous Great Salt Lake.  I would like to tell you that it is a wonder to behold, I sure would.  But frankly, and this is my humble opinion, as a person who has lived in Salt Lake all my life, and been to the Great Salt Lake several times, a wonder it is not.  Now, given, in its ‘hey day’ it may have been something.  But those days are gone, my friend.

As I passed the Great Salt Lake, of which I had to really squint to see any actual lake at all, what I saw was barren land with literally no growth anywhere and patches of dirty, standing water which looked entirely void of any life.  Yet, I knew if anything, the West Nile Virus and those mosquitoes that carry it were surely living the high life out there.  In the far distance I could make out a body of water as I drove farther west and, one lone sailboat way off on the horizon.  But that may have been my imagination, I’m not sure.

But then, there it was, the majestic Salt Air palace, restored as a beautiful homage to its former glory and the glory of the Great Salt Lake of the past.  Apparently an Events Center, Museum and Visitors Center for folks to learn and relive the wonder of this anomaly located in the Utah desert.  And from what I understand well worth the trip if you like that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, my childhood memories of horrible elementary school field trips came rushing back and I chose not to stop.   I had a vision of myself parking and then taking a big breath and holding my nose as I ran to the building.  You see, if my memory serves correctly, the lake stinks.  I mean for real, to high heaven stinks.  No matter what time of year, hot or cold, it stinks.  In fact, sometimes we get this terrible snow in the winter called ‘lake effect snow’ and OMG, it’s so bad I get the dry heaves.  I have worked out that way and heaven help me, it’s just awful.

I mean it’s full of salt people!  And it has no outlet…like to the sea.  It is completely landlocked.  It is so salty nothing but brine shrimp and weird fish can live in it.  And the flies, in the summer, oh Lord, the flies and the bugs.  Horrible.  Now, my disclaimer is that I literally have not been to the shores of the Great Salt Lake since I was in Mrs. Mayben’s 4th grade class in 1976.  It was the Bi-Centennial year.  We took a field trip that year to the Great Salt Lake, and about ever year before that.

It was the same song and dance every year; you wore your (one piece) swim suit under your clothes and brought a towel and a sack lunch from home.  We would ride the bus for like an hour out to the stinky, smelly, bug infested lake and eat our lunch on the rocky shores while trying to avoid a brine shrimp crawling up your OP shorts.  Once my sister stepped on a dead fish lying on the shore, it was hilariously gross and provided us laughs for years.

There were a always a few brave souls that took to the water and rode home on the bus awash in a sticky white film.  Even I tried it the first time, the salt made me itch so bad I felt like I would turn inside out all the way back. We were all a little sunburned, on that bus ride back and more than a little ravaged by the mosquitoes and biting flies, but also glad to be somewhere othere than school all together.  But those were fleeting moments, trust me.  Because, as I said before, quite frankly, it stunk, and it was buggy and sticky and hot.

Several years ago, I hired a great guy from Denver who moved his family to Salt Lake in the spring.  After he had been here a few weeks,  a bunch of our team, including him, were sitting at a local restaurant having lunch and talking about weekend plans.  Gregg (his name was Gregg) said something like, “so hey, do you all go out to the beach on the weekends?”   We just looked at him dumbfounded.  “What beach?” I asked.  “You know, the Great Salt Lake!” He replied. The faces around the table pulled back in what could only be described as a grimace, and, almost involuntarily, I blurted out “Oh Gregg, hell no!”  This was followed by the entire table reciting similar memories to those I have shared above.

The fact of the matter is there are countless beautiful, gorgeous lakes, reservoirs, canyons and National Parks in Utah and hundreds of excellent things to do and see.  In your own opinion the Great Salt Lake may be one of them, come take a look for yourself!  As for me, I am scarred from the memories of my youth, but I am a native Utahn and I call ’em as I see ’em.

Happy Trails!


Great Salt Lake 2017

Which one is the evil twin? …Really?

Sharing the following article:  Real-Life Stories Of Twins Creepier Than Any Horror Movie


OK, as a twin, who is not bothered by too much on social media, I am sharing this because it bothers me. The article is fine, but I am tired and a little, not a lot, but just a little offended by the use of the words CREEPY and HORROR when referring to twins and their sometimes amazing and beautiful, and possibly unusual connections. My sister and I experience many unexplained connections that include showing up in the same dress or blouse, buying the same card for one another or for family members on birthdays or mothers day etc., or choosing the same Christmas wrapping paper, all independant of one another.

We have even texted each other the same thoughts at the same moment. We have sensed each other’s pain or sorrow and made a timely phone call or visit and once, when my sister was in a terrible boating accident while skiing at a local resevoir and her leg was caught in a boat prop out on the water, I experienced severe cramping in my own leg and a panic attack while sitting back on the dock.

I have never once felt like these experiences were scary or creepy or the stuff of horror movies. I have always felt that it was a natural occurrence due the the sharing of nearly identical DNA and sharing the same womb and resources during our literal development from egg(s) to human beings.

As far as the somewhat strange stories relayed in this article and others I have heard, such as the Sisters not speaking and twins who develop their own language etc. Much of that I believe is a voluntary choice made by those individuals to enhance the very uniqueness felt by being twins. To build on the social stigma of twins being so special and weird, for lack of a better term. I mean, who in their right mind names a twin Damian?? (Or any kid for that matter…sheesh.) A TWIN named DAMIAN. Gee, I wonder which one is the evil one and which one is the good one? And yes, people ask us that all the time!
…my answer?  It depends on what you define as evil…bwahahahaha!

Ask me if I like being a twin, again. My answer, sure! I don’t know anything else. I love having my sister Chris so close to me literally and figuratively. I also love having my kid sister Lezlie close as well. We may not pick the same blouse, but I know which blouse she would pick…and that she would never use the word blouse when choosing a shirt. LOL!

Plus I also have a beleaguered brother, whom I love fiercely, and qho grew up fighting the girls. Bless his heart.

Anyhoo, just food for thought. Twins are not creepy or freaky.  They are cool and amazing.

And everyone is a little weird in their own right. Hooray for that!

Be Brave, Be Strong, Be Kind! Dee

Below, Me on the left and Chris on the right.


Below, Chris on the left and me on the right.

twins 2

Merry Christmas 2016!


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from our house to yours!  Another year has gone by in the blink of an eye it seems…until you start looking back on it, and then sometimes you realize just how much ground you really covered and how far in your journey you have really traveled.

2016 was a lot like that for me, and for our family.  Big changes, challenges, accomplishments and many obstacles put behind us that has led to a lot of learning and growth…and laughter!  Here is a quick update on what is up at our house!

As a family, we had to really pull together as I began Culinary School, full time, in January, 2016 and working nights at the Marriott in their Bistro & Bar.  Zachary, 23, has been ‘adulting’ a good amount of the time, thank goodness, probably more than he cares to.  He is working full time for The Cacao Company right now and is learning all about the chocolate truffle making/distribution industry.  So far, the only down side is the necessity of wearing a “beard net”.  LOL. #notquiteDuckDynastybutclose. One of the up sides to working in confections is bag after bag of the “rejects” he brings home to share with us!  (Just FYI, a reject truffle tastes the same as a perfect truffle.)  Zach loves his truck, going to movies and our puppy Bayja. He takes care of his own business and even better care of his sister.  I think he would be a great catch!  (He is going to kill me for writing that…)

Holland turned 17 in April and is a Senior at Hillcrest High School this year, she will turn 18 in April, 2017 and graduate this coming June.  Yep, you read that right.  Nope, I can’t believe it either.  She still only eats about 5 things for crying out loud!  “Sunrise, Sunset, swiftly flow the years…”  (I was singing and crying there.)  She is also a very busy bee!  Holland is on the Link Crew and in Art and the Husky Club at school.  She is also in an advanced early Childhood Development course where she assists in teaching at Hillcrest’s pre-school.  Holland loves teaching and adores the children and hopes to continue her studies in Early Childhood education after High School…or Web Animation, or Culinary School, or all three, not necessarily in that order.  She is more mature than me.

Keith continues to work for Aspen Press and has been my partner in crime this year, holding down the fort as I attended school and worked 30 to 40 hours a week.  I put in 16 hour days about 3 times during the week with my commute and Keith has been a super Mr. Mom at home, again, probably more than he cares to.  We were able to take a vacation to Palm Springs for 10 days this summer with the Beltz family.  It was the first time in our 28 years together we have traveled with Keith’s family and we had a ball!  I had the chance to practice my “Private Chef” skills and planned the menu, shopped and cooked a brunch and dinner each day in our condo for 7 days of our vacation for our party of 10!  Keith had the chance to relax and have some fun with his brother, our nieces, our kids and his Mom.  He only had one scary moment when he nearly let his Mother drown in the massive pool when she ventured past the 3-foot line, (where did Nana go?), but other than that it was a roaring success!

Finally, my 50th year has been one of massive obstacles, even bigger successes and even more hard work.  As I said, I started Culinary School in January attending Monday through Friday 8AM to 2PM.  I worked nights at the Marriott Courtyard Bistro & Bar from December 2015 thru October 2016.  Although I enjoyed my work and my Team at the Marriott, as I got closer to graduating with my degree as a Culinary Professional, I was unable to secure a full-time position.  I was offered a full-time position as a Chef in Garde Manger (means literally “eat the garden” in French.  I am in Cold Foods, salads, dressings, deli, appetizers etc.) at the Little America Hotel & Resort in SLC in October so I took it and I love it!  I finish school in mid-January and will work days from 7am to 3pm, 5 days a week.  I can’t believe I am on my way!  Yet, I can, because you all know, I do nothing the easy way.  It is in my nature to have several bumps in the road, so to speak, along my way.  True to form, I started my year out with a bang and after only 6 days of school, I slipped on the ice in my drive way early in the morning and did a face plant into the cement, nose first. Fabulous.  I broke my brow bone, shattered my nose and put my teeth through my top lip and bled like a stuck pig, I kid you not.  As I laid face down in the ice, feeling the rivers of blood running down the front of my shirt. I thought “well $#@!, I am still the same old me” and I spit out the blood, rolled onto my back and felt those rivers of blood run through my hair.  #CSImydriveway. Finally, I croaked out “help” and one month plus two surgeries later, I was back to school and had hit my annual deductible.  Geez Louise.  I think it was the blood-letting, I don’t know, but I felt all the pain from the last 2 years evaporate. Happily, I pushed forward.  I have lived and learned…did you know you can fail a roadside sobriety test even if you blow 0%?  and grown substantially over this year.  I have worked my butt off, literally and figuratively.  I have built a new career as a Chef, catered my first wedding, learned to tend bar, to barista, to butcher chickens, a pig, a side of beef and filet an Atlantic Salmon and then learned to cook them all several ways from Sunday.  I can make and bake rolls, cake, cookies and pies from scratch, for 4 or for 400.  I can make 60 gallons of Ranch dressing or Hollandaise for six.  I can slice potatoes, top strawberries or flip crepes for 5 hours straight with a smile on my face.  I have done a zillion dishes and mopped a million floors, and my first year in the Culinary Arts was 200% less stressful than my last year in Executive Banking.  Thank you, Lord.

May your days be Merry & Bright!  With all our love, The Beltz Family

-Keith, DeeAnn, Zachary & Holland

Geez Louise!

So I spend my days in a kitchen now, a pretty big and busy kitchen! I work with a very large and diverse staff from countries and cultures all over the world and its fabulous. Well, mostly it is. Many various languages are spoken in our kitchen and English is definately only one of them. Coming from a long line of English speaking family, indigenous to Salt Lake City, Utah, with only my 6 years of Junior High and High school French, I am at a distinguished disadvantage when it comes to clear communication at work.
As Chefs working together, good communication is essential in the kitchen. In fact, now that I think about it, good communication is essential in all aspects of life. But currently, for the sake of my career, I am saving up for the Rosetta Stone. All I have to do is decide which to learn first, Spanish, Bosnian or Vietnamese! Any of them would be a good start.
Today was a little slower day than most Saturdays in my kitchen, but it is amazing how ‘not speaking the same language’ can put a snag in an otherwise smooth service. There were just three of us on my station today. Mama Than is my supervisor, a tiny little bit of a person that carries a big…knife. She is Vietnamese and 71 years old, she speaks, and understands, almost no English. Luisa is from Argentina, she speaks Spanish and Portuguese. Luisa speaks a little more English than Mama, but understands about the same. So my chances of misunderstanding them and vice versa, are huge. Also, at 5’4″ I am probably a foot taller than Mama and a good 4 inches talker than Luisa. I am like the jolly green giant of Garde Manger with them. So as the newest member of the group, I am often feeling like the big, obnoxious, American. Like I said, fabulous.
Anyhoo, here is todays riddle, how many little chefs does it take to find the horseradish? Mama asks Luisa to make creamy horseradish, but Luisa comes back and says she can’t find any raw horseradish. Mama misunderstands and again, tells Luisa that is why she needs to make the horseradish. I am watching and listening to them go back and forth, round and round, and it reminds me of the old ‘whose on first?’ routine. I am understanding the disconnect here. I jump in to try to clarify. Luisa is nodding furiously at Mama as I try to explain her problem. But Mama doesnt understand me either. So she throws up her hands and walks off saying something in Vietnamese, with Luisa trailing behind her, speaking in a very fast Spanish. I go back to what I was doing. Then Luisa reappears, calling my name. After a minute I get that she wants me to come help her out with Mama and the horseradish. I walk back to the cooler with her to find Mama climbing the shelves looking for horseradish. Suddenly they are both talking to me loudly, in their respective languages. I say, in my best American, “geez Louise! Its like the United Nations back here. How many chefs does it take to find the horseradish!” With that, they are both quiet, looking at me. And then, Luisa says in her cute little Argentinian voice, “Dee, what geezy leweezy?” I begin to laugh. Soon we are all laughing. I find the horseradish and we all go back to work.  Crisis averted.
It seems that laughter is the language we all understand. Thank goodness and…Bon Appétit! (…there’s that French!)

Becoming Bing Bong

Inside Out

About a year ago my family and I went to see an animated movie called “Inside Out”.  Now usually I am not a big fan of the animated stuff on the big screen, especially if you have to see it in iMax and wear the paper 3D glasses to watch it.  Yeah, see that is the road to vomitville for me anymore so I tend to shy away.  Last time we were at Universal Studios Hollywood I didn’t want to be the old lady Mom, so I rode ‘The Simpson’s’ and ‘The Minions’, both iMax and wearing the plastic glasses with my kids.  I am telling you, if I end up in hell, it will be with Homer Simpson spinning in 3D with the Minions choir singing the banana song while I am stuck in those glasses, nauseous and trying not to hurl.  But, as usual, I digress.  As for animated movies,  like most folks, if it is by Disney or Pixar and it peaks my interest, we will go see it.  I had heard good things about Inside Out so we saw it,  and I loved it and have seen it many times since.  If you haven’t seen it, it is well worth your time and money.

One afternoon a month or so later, while with my kids enjoying the fall sunshine, everyone’s nose in their phone, I came across a Facebook quiz asking “Which Inside Out Character Are You?” Naturally, I had to make everyone take it including me.  We laughed as my teenage, angst ridden daughter came up as Disgust, and my brooding 22 year old son popped up as Anger, and my bubbly sister as Joy.  Finally I took the test and I came up as…Bing Bong.  Bing Bong is the Imaginary Friend found in the recesses of the main character’s mind.  An obnoxious pink elephant that served as a happy, silly, yet invisible friend at a very young age.  Well of course, wild hilarity ensued.  I admit, even I was laughing right along with everyone else.  Mostly because, well, it was damn funny.  We laughed until my kids were holding their sides and my sister and I were crying and it was the running joke for the rest of the day…hell, it is still a running joke and it is pretty funny.

But later that night, after everyone had gone home and my kids were in bed, I thought about Bing Bong.  Now, I take a lot of those quizzes on Facebook and I know that my Hippie Name is not necessarily Jagged Star, mostly because I am not a hippie, and my Spirit Animal is probably not the Blue Dolphin , logically, since I am not a Native American (my sister’s was the Sea Cow…LOL).   I take them for fun along with the majority, I hope. But this one kind of started to get to me.  It was not quite a year ago, November 2015, about 2 months after I had lost my job for a second time.  I had spent 28 years at this company and was used to seeing many people I considered my friends, at work, every single day, doing business, traveling, socializing etc.  Last year I spent most everyday alone, looking for work, trying to make connections and holding everything together financially and otherwise at home.

My friends from work had long stopped calling or emailing to check in on me, not because they didn’t care, but because they were busy at work and at home themselves.  Maybe I was becoming like Bing Bong, and so were they, like imaginary friends.  I mean, I still existed and they still existed, and surely I could reach back to them anytime I wanted and contact them as they could me.  I did reach out and many friends did respond, and some did not.  I know those people are still there and I shared real experiences that were happy, fun and even silly.  Yet in my alone-ness I wondered,  am I becoming Bing Bong to those people I thought I would have lasting friendships with?  Am I Bing Bong to those friends I think I have close relationships with but don’t see or talk to anymore on a regular basis?  Am I just an imaginary friend that served as a fun, happy and silly co-worker for a time?  Am I just a memory?  Well, the answer to that is yes and no and, more importantly, it is up to me, isn’t it.

So first of all, yes, sometimes I feel like the imaginary, forgotten friend/co-worker and to some, I probably am.  Poor, pitiful me.  And that is enough of that.  And, yes, I was, and still am a happy, fun and silly friend that shares  great memories with many, many wonderful friends that I still hear from and see and many that I don’t.  But the fact remains, we have that memory that we share together and we get to have it for.ever.  God willing, I choose to remember those good times because they are actually ties that bind us together for the ages.  These experiences are not imagined, they are valuable and precious memories not easily forgotten. I have tried, to forget, that is. The hurtful ones. But I can’t. Not the wonderful memories, nor the hurtful ones either.  Not yet anyway. It would hurt less if I could in some cases.  But I think it is our mind’s way of protecting us while we are still vulnerable.  It is that little voice that whispers to you “remember the minions ride”  before you buy a ticket to the next iMax in 3D animation movie.  And you go see Finding Dory on the regular old screen instead, and there is no nausea or vomiting, just enjoying and remembering.

Speaking of Inside Out, my favorite emotion is laughter.  Specifically laughing so hard you cry at the same time. I love it. If you can, think about the last time you laughed so hard you cried at the same time.  What was it over, who were you with, where were you?  Was it something occurring right at that moment?  Or was it the re-telling of a previous experience?  A memory.  Take a beat, remember it as clearly as possible.  I hope you are smiling or even laughing to yourself.  It is a memory now.  A treasure.  Keep it close and at the ready, for when you need it. Even better, collect more, new ones! Reach out, make time.  Experiences like these are fleeting, but the memories stay with you for ever.  Even if you tragically lose them for a time,  God will give them back to you.  I believe that.  I have to believe that.  I know that I can sit with my Dad, who is ailing from fairly severe dementia, and recall a hilarious story from my childhood and have him laughing and crying at the same time.  I doesn’t matter if he really remembers, we just made a new and precious memory and we will take it.

So maybe I am Bing Bong.  That is okay.  Friends are important to Bing Bong and family, friends and relationships are important to me.  The Facebook quiz told me that there aren’t many friends and people like me and Bing Bong in the world anymore.  People that truly want those around them to be happy and well.  Like I said I don’t live or die by what a quiz on Facebook tells me, but this time I think it hit the mark.  So Bing Bong it is.

Now, just for the record, my aura is Blue, the natural wonder I am like is a Cyclone,  the movie character I am most like is Princess Leia, the Toy Story character I am most like is Mrs. Potato Head (don’t get me started),  the car that best suits me is a Land Rover and the word that best describes me is:

STRONG…I kid you not.   ps. Strong is my maiden name.

Bing Bong

How I Was the Brady Bunch Lamp

Yes, I will seriously date myself with this post, but here I go anyway.  In the last few months I have been concerned primarily with completely re-starting my personal career.  The need to do this was predicated by the traumatic loss of my previous career of 27 years with Wells Fargo Bank in 2015.

The loss of my job and my livelihood was unexpected and complicated and unfair.  I spent an entire year struggling to keep a career I had built over my entire adult life and that provided the income needed to take care my family.  It has been an
unfortunate roller coaster ride that crippled me and my family financially and emotionally. 
Many friends and loved ones sent their good wishes and words of encouragement to me during the year and they were greatly appreciated.  One of the messages I received repeatedly was “One day you will look back on this experience and laugh because it was all for the best.”    Okay, so currently, I  am about halfway there.  I am laughing at the situation because #1, it feels better than the alternative and B, it makes me feel stronger and braver as I move ahead into new territory.  Make no mistake, the loss of my job and all that came with it in 2015, broke me into irreparable pieces emotionally.  Pieces too small to put back together in the end, so I had to build something new to be able to walk away.  But also, in the end, I have always been able to find the humor in most everything that happens to me.  I refuse to let that part of me be lost too.

So yes, I am old enough to say I watched The Brady Bunch on TV when they were not reruns.  If you don’t know anything about the Brady Bunch, I am sorry for you and you will have to Google it.  For everyone else, remember the one where the boys were told, “Don’t play ball in the house” and they did anyway?   And then what happened? Yep, they broke the lamp in the living room.  That is me!  I am the broken lamp!  See, if they had done the right thing in the first place, the way they had been trained to do, it never would have happened.  But instead they did exactly what they wanted to and CRASH!  Broken lamp, broken me! 
I was as broken as that damn lamp when I lost my job.  I did not see it coming and was stunned when it did because everyone knows that Mom always says, “Don’t play ball in the house!”  Because I knew the rules and I followed them.  But then, do you remember what those boys did after they broke the lamp?  Did they come clean and tell the truth?  NO!  They tried to glue the freaking lamp back together so no one would know and put it right back where it was and acted like nothing happened. 
Like I said before, that is exactly what happened to me!  There I was broken to pieces, and suddenly I had to put myself back together and go right back to where I was at Wells Fargo and act like nothing had happened.  But no one came clean, and no one told the truth…except me.  And just like me the Brady Bunch lamp ended up telling the truth, because in the end, the covered up, and glued together version gave way and fell apart.  Now here is where I was different than the lamp, I held up, I was strong…until I was hit again.  More ball in the house!  And this time, I was smashed into pieces that could not be put together again.
But I fell apart where no one could see.  So at Wells Fargo, they are still playing ball, in the house no less.  It took several weeks to realize that I was the Brady Bunch lamp.  But where those boys had to come clean and tell the truth, Wells Fargo and those that played a part, still refuse to do so. But Karma is a constant watch man and as I have been told many times, “the truth will always out and you will reap as you sow.”  Take it from the Brady Bunch Lamp.

That said, I had to rebuild and create a new life for myself and my kids. Because just like that stupid lamp, they look to me to light the way.  As their mother, I want to be an example of strength, integrity and resiliency for them.  I want them to know that we can weather any storm, especially when we take the high road.  It starts with changing your mind and letting go of the past to start over again.  So I did.

It is the hardest work I have ever done both physically and emotionally.  I see a therapist for both.  The good news is that I find myself happy and under so much less stress than before.  My health has improved as well.  The bad news is that financially, progress is slow.  When you start over you start at the bottom and work your way up.  Trust me, I have done it before and I pray I can do it again now. 
The fact is I am not 22 or even 32 this time around.  I am 50 next month and believe me, I feel every single minute of my age.  I am putting in 9 to 15 hour days on my feet in the kitchens. Training to become a chef, and actually being a chef are two very different things.  I come home and flop into bed with the jimmy legs and already half asleep.  I wake up  the next morning with nothing short of rigor mortis setting in.  I crack and limp my way around like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz.  But this is the path ahead.  I am committed to see it through.

Life rolls on, you see.  It is full of unexpected joys and sorrows.  Your current situation can change in a moment.  You have be willing, if not ready, to roll with it or you will be left broken on the side of the road. Don’t let anyone put your light out, be brave and take the high road…and please, don’t play ball in the house. 

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Happy Holidays 2015!

Joyous Holiday Blessings from the Beltz Family!

Hello!  We hope this finds you and your family healthy and happy! As for us, we cannot wait for this year to be over. You know, some years seem to just fly by.  While others feel more like you are slogging through cold mud, with someone holding on to the back of your shirt the whole time. I know, right?  So yeah, good bye 2015!

Actually, we did lose one of our own tribe when Keith’s Dad, Laverne passed away from heart failure in April of this year. We miss him and love him and GO UTES! It wasn’t pretty for the Red in the end, but a win is a win. We know Papa was there in spirit and letting the expletives fly!

As for us, I lost my job at Wells Fargo in January 2015 after 27 years.  I fought it and was re-instated in April 2015.  Then Keith lost his job at Hudson after over 25 years in June 2015.  He found a new job in August 2015.  Then I lost my job again, (yes the same freaking job!) in September 2015.  Then Zachary decided to quit his job at Hudson in October 2015. At this point we decided to move to Disneyland!  As it turns out, you can only visit there, you can’t live there.  Bummer.  So we stayed a week and came home.

So Zach is 22 and thankfully has found a new job with Tele-Performance in their Customer Support / Gaming Area.  I knew all those video games had to pay off some time!  He has enjoyed having the Holidays off to relax and experiment with his beard growing abilities. It takes him about a week to grow a full beard. That kid had hair down his back and on his back from the day he was born!  Zach has started attending the Singles Ward on Sundays. (Thank you Lord!)  He will become an Elder in January, 2016. Zach is a good egg.  He is a Chicago Bears fan, a Utah Jazz fan and bleeds Ute red like his Papa!

However, Zach and Keith made a foolish mistake while living in Disneyland this year.  They chose to eat the BBQ Chicken skewers at the Bengal BBQ in Adventureland, across from the Jungle Ride. Fair warning to all, the both of them spent the next day with a case of the rumbly tumblies along with violent diarrhea.  They missed our visit to Old Town in San Diego and had to stay close to the porcelain throne in the air conditioned condo.  It was too bad really because it was a beautiful day in Old Town and Holland and I had to spend several lonely hours browsing the fabulous boutiques…all by ourselves, alone…with no one standing outside the shops tapping their toes and waiting to leave. Poor diarrhea stricken, sick kitties.

Speaking of Keith, after losing his Dad in April and leaving his job at Hudson, it took a little bit to get up and move on. But he quickly found a new position at a competitive printer and was able to join Aspen Press in August.  So far, things are good for him and for us. Their summer party was a paid and catered day at Lagoon, a local amusement park, and their Holiday Party was a private showing of the new Star Wars movie with drinks and popcorn provided!  We believe the Force is with us at Aspen Press.

Our Holland turned sweet 16 this year!  One day this summer she announced she was ready to learn to drive…with Mom.  Mom?!  Why Mom? I am the worst driver I know, except for maybe my sister Chris. Never the less, the rite of passage began, as it did with many of us, at the church parking lot.  I have to say, I was as cool as a cucumber and so, very, patient as a coach.  I swelled with pride as she hit about every other curb.  I am a curb hitter myself, as many of you know.  She takes after me.  At one point she asked for a tissue and I looked over to find her drenched in sweat with a droplet about to fall from the end of her nose.  I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, she is more nervous than I am!’  So we took a tissue break and soldiered on.  After more than an hour in the church parking lot practicing her driving skills, we decided to head home. I told Holland she could drive us home, it was just down 7800 S. and around the corner on 1000 East. She was mortified.  I told her she would be fine and she was feeling more comfortable so she agreed, and I am an idiot.

The minute she turned onto the ‘real road’ my mind voice began screaming at me, ‘MISTAKE! MISTAKE!’  There were cars coming at us, cars parked on the CURB…curb hitter!  Left hand turn!  Pedestrians!  Now I needed a tissue, and a Xanax and possibly an adult diaper.  I began sweating profusely and my ‘cool mom’ exterior melted and ran down my back and my front in rivulets.  Of course, we made it home and Dad was standing there, waiting in the driveway.  Holland jumped out of the car and proudly announced, “Well Dad, I know how to drive now!”  I gave him the big thumbs up, walked directly into my bedroom, took that Xanax and ate a Hagen Daz ice cream bar before I got the vapors.

Holland will be a senior at Hillcrest in the fall.  She enjoyed her first Prom this year and is a member of the Husky Club and an excellent artist.  She also went to Girls Camp and had a great experience, especially with her Mom as the (now retired) Camp Director.  Her favorite things are cheese dogs from Hot Dog on a Stick (New! Hooray!), her iPhone and iPad Mini, Scary Movies, (The Visit…hello!?) and her puppy Bayja, the princess diva dog.  Holland is a beautiful light in our home.

And at least our lights our still on…LOL!  Kids, you CAN afford to contribute to your company’s 401K or an IRA. 30 years of contributions saved my family’s behind during this year of unexpected and unpleasant surprises. However, it will not save your sanity.   Fortunately, we have the Light of Christ and our Faith in God to help and guide us. Not to mention the four of us are still, heavily medicated.

For me, the roller coaster of this year of unemployment, re-instatement, unemployment again and finally the loss of my career has been a lot like a ride my sister and I took at Lagoon this year. We affectionately refer to Lagoon as Galoon in our family, so we will go with that.  This year at Galoon, we rode the brand new roller coaster called ‘The Cannibal’.  When I was fired the first time from Wells Fargo, there was a long and painful process of sending resumes and applications and then waiting…and waiting,  for a response. As it was with The Cannibal, we had a long wait in line in the hot sun, fretting about it. And then I was given my job back. Time to get on the Roller Coaster. As I stepped into the Cannibal and rode the elevator stories high into the air, I felt excited and afraid for this new adventure.  Then, the elevator stopped and the doors opened to I could see the valley of the Shadow of Death, or it may have been Davis County.  I believe I caught a glimpse of the waving cowboy in Wendover.  It was exhilarating, for about 3 seconds and then I realized I was about to drop off the end of the track I thought I was on.  I looked wildly at my sister and she looked at me and said, “Mistake, big mistake.” I turned to the 7 year old sitting to my left and said, “I believe this to be big mistake on my part.” And then we sailed off the end of the world and down the Cannibal’s throat.  And I walked right back into Wells Fargo’s Executive offices.  Just like The Cannibal, it was scary at first and I thought I had made a mistake.  In hindsight maybe it was, but I trusted this Company, just like I trusted Galoon.

Going back to my job was kind of like the corporate version of “Lord of the Flies” and I ended up on the sharp end of the stick. Pun fully intended. Once the ride was over and I struggled to stand on jello legs and make my way to the Cannibal’s exit, shaking and crawling along the handrails. Dry heaving and having a hot flash all at the same time. I look up to see, by the grace of God, my sister, with both hands on the trash can sweating profusely and dry heaving just like me. And I am not alone. I realize sometimes you just need to sit one out with a cold drink before moving on to the next thing.  Just do something  benign, like squirting water into the clowns’ mouth until you win the BIG prize or grow a salad garden.  Then you must start over.  Which is what I have done.  I will start Culinary School in January, 2016 and I am working as the evening Catering / Bistro Associate at the Courtyard by Marriott in Layton. Either way it is costly, but will be rewarding in the end. I will not be returning to Wells Fargo or The Cannibal, anytime soon.

So before this gets too sappy, which would fly in the face of the point of this annual Holiday letter, let me share a recent, classic “DeeAnn” experience.   Just after Thanksgiving I had a bout with Bronchial Pneumonia. I thankfully recovered relatively quickly, but during this time I had an incident. I was about to eat a bowl of Coco Puffs one morning and as I took a bite of cereal I had a coughing spasm and actually choked on my Coco Puffs. I was in my room, silently choking and turning purple, Zach and Keith were down stairs. I could not breathe or speak. I finally put my fingers down my throat and was able to vomit. But I began coughing violently and could not get a breath. There was a terrible pain in my right lung. But at least I was loud enough to get them to come running. Again, I could not speak and I was covered in tears, puke and snot all over my face. A pretty girl, is like a melody… The pain in my lung was incredible and I realized I had aspirated the freaking Coco Puffs into my lung. The coughing was hard and unforgiving and to make matters worse Keith was smacking me on the back like I was a two year old choking in their high chair. I managed to croak out ‘911” and then help was on the way.  Keith carried me out to the living room, but all I could think of was that the cast of Backdraft was coming to my house and I was covered in puke and snot and I wasn’t wearing a bra.  I am telling myself ‘DO NOT pee or crap yourself now!’  Anyhoo, they came, they helped and the Coco Puffs dissolved and, like I said at the beginning, we survived.

So Life is good!  But you will also get a lot of unexpected line drives right to the face. So keep your mitt up.  I will be sticking to protein shakes for breakfast and… starting over.  But it is about enjoying the climb even more than reaching your destination.

We wish you a Happy New Year, with fresh starts and new adventures! Have a fabulous holiday with those you love and care about the very most!

With all the love and joy we have to give,  The Beltz Family
Keith, DeeAnn, Zach & Holland & Bayja.

                    2015 Pic