Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010

We started out our Halloween celebrations a few weeks ago with our yearly pumpkin carving with Ryan's family at Tim's and Laura's house. The kids wore their costumes too! This year our kids were bugs--Liv was a bee, Coleman was a spider, and Sophia was a beautiful butterfly.  Ryan and I were exterminators :).

Laura did so much work preparing so many yummy treats... be sure to click on the collages so you can see the details of the creative way she presented all of her delicious, festive foods.   (Laura took all these pictures and created the great collages!)

 We had a great time with everyone!

Olivia and Coleman spent an fun evening with my brother David and his wife Katty and they carved another pumpkin... Liv did Tinkerbell and Coleman made a three-eyed alien.  The apple? That's mine :).

On Friday Ryan's company invited family members to come in and trick-or-treat at different desks. They had this fun spooky house backdrop for a photo booth and Ryan took photos.

Ryan designed and printed a great new costume (I guess he thought the exterminator costumes were a little lame?)... He was his own Facebook page! He was good enough to put an ad for Harper Extermination on the right side of his page :). He won first prize for the best costume at work.
 Saturday morning Olivia's soccer team had a Halloween scrimmage...

...It was so funny to see the kids playing in their costumes. They had a great time.

Saturday night Ryan took the Coleman and Olivia trick-or-treating--even though it was raining hard and was freezing cold!  He's such a trooper. The saddest part of it all was that he didn't get to wear his great costume because it would have gotten ruined.

Coleman, the scary spider...

...who has been leaving plastic spiders all over the house all weekend trying to scare me. It usually works too, I hate spiders!
Olivia, the sweet honey bee.

Our Sophia butterfly.

I was still an exterminator and even put plastic spiders in my hair. Soph and I stayed home and passed out treats to the few that braved the rain. We had lots of candy and mini card games left over! (I threatened Ryan that I was going to hand out string cheese instead of candy, but he would have none of that...  I just read a friend's facebook status and she said her neighbor's got creative and passed out things like fruit leather, water bottles, notebooks, pencils, etc. I'm going to mull that over for next year...)

**What were you and yours for Halloween?
**Do you think kids would dig a different "treat" or is it all about the candy?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bear Lake 2010

I have finally come to the last post about our summer adventures. I think subconsciously I have put off this post because I am still so grief-stricken about Mikayla's death.

Our week at Bear Lake is one of our favorites every year. Ryan's family began going there when he was one year old and it has become a time to spend with our family, building memories.

This year was no different. We had a wonderful week together. We laughed and we cried together. The end of our week was tragic and unbearable. We have grown closer together through this trial, but if I (or anyone else) could change things, I know that we would. We are still heartbroken but we are trying to move forward with faith.

I haven't known how to post pictures from the week without a dark cloud hanging over it all. In my mind I still can't seem to sort it all out.

All of that being said, I'm just going to do it. I love the relationships that we share with Ryan's family members and the ways that my kids get to bond with their cousins and aunts and uncles... So here are our pictures from our Harper reunion at Bear Lake this year.

Our favorite stop en route to Bear Lake is the Nutrition and Food Science Building at USU. They have the best ice cream in the world (I should know... I spent a good part of my college years there, participating in the taste panels for a free ice cream coupon) and it's a trip down memory lane for me. This year we even walked through campus. I still love that place!

The condos we stayed in (thanks to Ryan's parents!) had a fun playground area. The kids loved it!

Sophia with Ryan's Aunt Karen. Our kids get spoiled at Bear Lake!

Laughing with Grandma--it was so fun to see them get to know each other.

We were at Bear Lake during Raspberry Days and Olivia got to go on this fun trampoline. She had a blast!

Coleman with his haggle-tooth and Hayley. His tooth FINALLY came out during this trip... and the tooth fairy had to scramble to come up with the cash. He got a mix of different coins instead of a crisp bill :).

Cousin Jen did all of our toenails with bright colors and flowers. Can you tell which foot is mine?

One of the things our kids love the very most is the Jammy Walk with Terri and Bruce. It started years ago and has become a tradition. Grandma and Grandpa bought all of the kids sparkly glowy things and took them for a walk in their jams. They loved it!

These cousins LOVED being together.... here they are doing the chicken dance.

We had so much fun just being together... Here are Alyza and Hayley, Kristen, Sam, me, Sophia, and Coleman.

Ryan's aunt Cheri planned a bunch of Minute To Win It games... they were so fun! I thought we had more pictures (the game trying to get an Oreo from our foreheads to our mouths was particularly funny... but I think we all took video instead of photos... oh well!).  I rocked this one!

Traci, Terri, and me.

We can't miss the raspberry shakes... we like to get the at the Quik-N-Tasty... raspberry lime is the preferred flavor... and we love eating in the wagon. We usually go a few times during the week.

Bruce and Terri rented these fun surreys that we rode into town for yet another milkshake. There is no such thing as too much ice cream.

We had a great family home evening together and shared some wonderful family experiences and testimonies.

Out of the whole family, only two cousins were missing. Pretty impressive.

Meals were always fun... we took turns cooking and scrounged up any tables we could find so that we could sit together.

We had lots of fun treats.

We also made a stop at the Bear Lake Pizza Co. All of the other cousins went in on the "Old Ephraim" 28 inch pizza.

We opted for a smaller pizza on our own... it was delicious! We had Ry's cousin Brooke with us. Our kids love, love, love their cousin-aunts and uncles (Ryan's cousins).

Of course we spent as much time as we could at the beach. The weather was a little chilly the week we were there and included a few rainy days with threats of lightning, but we enjoyed the sun while we could!

Uncle Eric brought up a boat (thank you!) and took the kids on some fun rides on the water weenie.

Liv decided she was done, so she bailed...

...and the boys kept on going. I think they would have ridden all day long if they had been allowed!

John and Cheri brought up their jet skis... another Bear Lake favorite.. Liv wanted to drive on her own, but that won't happen for a good few years :).

We always take a lot of pictures at Bear Lake, but this year we felt really strongly that we should do family photos. We even tried to color coordinate (sort of :)).  Ryan was great to take so many, and we had a great natural backdrop of the lake and the mountains. The sky even cooperated and gave us some interesting clouds.

Ryan's parents and all of their cute grandkids.

Dogpile on Grandpa!!!

Ryan's parents and their four kids... Traci is on the left, Scott and Ryan in the back, and Tim on the right.

Ryan's family---parents, kids, spouses, and grandkids.

I have put our great family photo as the new blog header... but I thought this one was funny. Bruce is a photographer too... so we thought we were in good shape having him snap the photo.  Loved his hand, the trigger, and the tripod leg in the frame.

Most of the little girls... we missed getting Alyza in this, but these girls are so cute!  Sophia, Faith, Olivia, Lucy, and Mikayla.

And finally, our whole group.  I mentioned above that we were missing two of Ryan's cousins (we missed you Kimberly and Justyn!) but otherwise the whole family was there.  I am so grateful that we got these family photos.

Most of the group went home on Friday, and we (Ryan's parents, his siblings, and our kids) planned to stay until Sunday.  Saturday around noon Mikayla's accident occurred.  We ended up packing up quickly to come home and be with Tim and Laura.

Bear Lake will be forever changed, as we are forever changed by what happened. I am grateful to know that during Mikkie's last week she was surrounded by so many people that loved her so much. I don't know what future trips to Bear Lake will be like. I am sure they will be hard, but I believe they will also be full of good memories and opportunities to feel gratitude for the time that sweet Mikayla was with us.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Airport Insanity

Just when you thought you'd had enough of our summer adventures... I have another little story to tell.  This story doesn't have photos (thank goodness) but hopefully you'll get a little laugh out of my adventure. It's not the first airport adventure, nor will it be the last.

During our family reunion it became apparent (for the umpteenth time) that I am the uptight one of the family. There are other adjectives to use to describe my uptightness, but we'll stick with that.

We decided as we were planning our summer that Sophia probably wouldn't do well on a long car ride, so we booked a plane ticket for me to Portland and then home from Spokane (which is a couple of hours from my sister's house and the closest airport). Ryan loaded up the van and Olivia and Coleman and picked us up at the airport. Sophia did great on the drive between Portland and Spokane, so as the reunion was coming to an end, we talked a lot about just driving home and saving the ticket voucher for another flight.  It came down to the last minute, and I decided to stay the extra day with my family and send Ryan and the kids on their way.

My dad kindly offered to take me to the airport, even though it would mean leaving pretty early in the morning. My plane was supposed to take off at 11:05 and it takes at least two hours to get to the airport from Lauren's house, so I thought we should leave around 7:30 am. Everyone thought that was too early... who needs an hour and a half at the airport? It was hard for me, but I wanted to show them that I didn't have to be so uptight all the time... so I conceded and we thought we'd leave at 8:00, which still should have given us plenty of time.

That morning, I got up and got Sophia and myself all ready.  We were ready at 7:40--so was my dad--but we sat around and chatted for several minutes and got into the car at 8. Lauren said that her sweet mother-in-law wanted me to check something out on my way out (she lives up the street a ways) so I thought it would be a quick stop. We got there and she invited me in... "Come in, I just want to show you a mock-up of what we designed for you" (she has a wonderful business doing vinyl). I was happy to take a look.  Then she told me she needed to turn her computer on... and it took several minutes to boot up... so I was a bit nervous, but still trying to stay calm, acted like it was no big deal.  She showed me what she had made and I loved it... and told her I probably needed to go.

Finally, we got on the road around 8:15. I was starting to feel nervous, but didn't want to let it show.

8:30 meant a stop to fill up the car, and a quick bathroom break for my dad.

Around 8:45 we got into Sandpoint, and we stopped (again) for some breakfast for my dad.  Did I want anything? Yes! I wanted to get on the road and make my plane!

But, I stayed calm.

We got to the T in the road where you can go left or right. We had driven in from the way on the left, but the sign to the right said "Spokane" and my dad veered to the right. I wanted to blurt out, "No, it's the other way!" but since my dad had also come from Spokane a few days before and had in fact LIVED in Spokane (when I was very young) I told myself that he probably just knew a better way.

Twenty minutes or so into the drive, it became apparent that we were taking the back road... the long way... and going through many small towns, so the speed limit fluctuated from 20 MPH to 45 MPH (instead of the 70 or so that is allowed if we had taken the other way).

I was really starting to sweat it, but I stayed calm.

My dad started to wonder if we had taken the right road? Hmmm???

He tried to fire up his GPS on his phone, but reception was spotty.  We finally got enough cell service to call Lauren.  I was calm and asked, "So, if we took the back way to Spokane, we'll still be all right, right?"

Her response did nothing to calm me down on the inside (on the outside, I was still the picture of calm... I didn't want my dad to feel bad).

She told us that we were in trouble and we would now have to drive through the whole city of Spokane to get to the airport. There wasn't a link to the highway, and we were too late to turn around.

We kept driving, and I stayed calm.

She called again to tell us about the options with other flights and was trying to get a hold of someone at the airport.

We finally reached Spokane and it was going to be close. The GPS said we should arrive 25 minutes before the flight.

I was worried that I only had a small amount of extra milk for Sophia.  I had to make that flight!

Traffic was bad enough that we arrived at the airport at 10:55 am. Yes, 10 minutes before the plane was supposed to take off. I was resigned to the fact that I was going to have to figure out another way to make things work.

I grabbed Sophia (who had a messy diaper) and all of our stuff and calmly said goodbye and thanks to my dad... who was not as calm as I was... I ran to the counter and said, "I'm here for the 11:05 to Salt Lake... I'm not going to make it, right?" The kind woman smiled and said, "No, probably not, but you can try."

She called the boarding agents and said, "I've got a runner... with a baby..."

She hung up and yelled at me, "Run! Run! Run!"

So I did.

With a stroller and a carry on and a purse. I ran.

We made it through security (and of course I forgot to remove my bottle of water, so we took a few extra minutes) and we were haphazardly running, again.

We made it to the boarding area and got through... I folded up the stroller (and left Sophia's milk in the bottom of the stroller) and in a very flustered way boarded the plane.

I must have looked as crazy as I felt, because a really nice guy offered to help me with my bag.  He asked where I wanted it, and I told him to put it anywhere it would fit.  Then he asked where I was going to sit, and I realized that the only seat left was in between him and another man.  Lovely.  Sophia was stinky and starving, but it was the only option.

Both men turned out to be very, very nice and accommodating so I could nurse squishedly between them.  It was a tricky to not hit either one of them with the babe or an elbow, but it worked. Sophia was so good during the flight and didn't need any extra milk (thank goodness, otherwise I would have had a new wave of panic when I couldn't find her milk!).  We kept that blanket wrapped around her to prevent any leakage.

When it was all said and done, it turned out to be one of the most pleasant flights I've had. Both of the men were very nice (one was a dad of three, from Germany, so he was very supportive of my nursing... the other was a single professor who had a god-child and was pretty informed about kids needs) and we had a great conversation for the 90 minute flight.

Our first stop at the airport? We changed that baby's diaper!

I still can't believe I made that plane.

I don't think I mind being the uptight one in the family.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Family Photos

What do you get when you have a rainy fall morning, a drive to the canyon, a few really good looking kids, some breaks in the rain, and one fabulous photographer? Look for yourself!