Monday, July 16, 2012

Nightside Project

If you have ever had occasion to listen to KSL in the evenings, you may have heard of a little show called "The Nightside Project." Although Coleman has only heard Alex and Ethan a handful of times, he loves them. He was so excited that they brought their show on the road to a Cafe in our town on July 12th. We made a family event of it... it didn't hurt at all that the specialty at the Cafe is dessert crepes. Yum!

The hosts were so kind to Coleman... they were impressed to have such a young fan and they even mentioned him on the air... you can listen to their blurb about Coleman here. (They said he listens every night, but he doesn't, lest you think we don't have more to fill our weekday evenings. The part about Coleman being brilliant, yeah, that was all true :). )

They had all kinds of KSL swag to choose from... and the hosts liked Coleman so much they told him and Olivia they could choose anything they wanted... so they didn't just pick one, they walked away with frisbees, fans, keychains, and anything else that looked remotely interesting. Fun times!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Young Women Camp 2012

When I got released from YW and called into Relief Society I was sad (and I'll be honest, a tiny bit relieved) that I wouldn't be spending an entire week at Young Women camp. I told my friend Jill (the Young Women's president) that she had better invite our presidency up as they have in the past for FHE on Monday night, or we might find a way to crash their party. She graciously invited us to come and we had a blast.

It was the 100 year anniversary of Young Women camp this year! To help the Young Women in our ward catch a bit of the vision of that first camp, we (mostly my cute counselor Jacque, who is next to me in the photo) planned a skit of four beautiful Beehives that attended the camp. We all had names that started with "B" so the photo is (left to right) Beulah, Betty, Blanche, and Bernice. (I was Bernice because that was my great-grandmother's name, who was even a young woman during that era.) We dressed up in period clothes and found hats or hairstyles to look like we waltzed in from Camp Liberty Glen in 1912. We even sang the song "To the Canyon, ho! ho!" and it was lovely. We included all sorts of information from the first camp at Liberty Glen and random facts and lingo from 1912. The girls thought it was hilarious... and we had a game show quiz at the end. It was so fun to be with them... there is such a wonderful spirit at Heber Valley Camp and any time you have a group of girls and leaders gathered there are sure to be lots of laughs. For dessert we served fancy Oreo cupcakes to celebrate Camp's birthday (did you know that Oreos were first introduced by Nabisco in 1912?).

We loved our time at camp!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Family Fun and Funny Faces

While Scott and Kristen were visiting we got together at a park for a family dinner late in June. Sophia would take off any time she was put on the ground without an anchor of sorts (usually me or Ryan holding her). That girl is fast! We loved spending time with Ryan's aunts Denise and Karen and their kids and with Ryan's siblings.

Ryan's cool cousin Richard just got married to Shanae who is a master artist with face paints. She brought her supplies and hooked up the kids. Coleman had a T-Rex on the side of his face, whose mouth opened when Coleman opened his mouth. Sophia wanted to be an elephant (she kept saying "Me Elly!") and Liv got some fancy swirly beautiful things. Faith was a butterfly and Alyza wanted a rainbow. Sam was an awesome pirate, but I didn't grab a photo of him (darn it!). They had a great time playing with each other! Someone brought water balloons (which made their cute painted faces run a bit). I loved that Sophia was trying to dry Coleman off with paper towels when he got drenched. I was just glad she was occupied with something that kept her attention long enough to keep her from running off to the park. We ate homemade ice cream and bacon chocolate chip cookies and played kickball and visited and played at the playground (I finally gave in and just TOOK her there... what a novel concept!) and laughed and felt grateful for each other. And did I mention that I chased after Sophia? Yeah, that too.

Here's a short video clip of Coleman's awesome T-Rex (thanks, Shanae!):

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Birthday Treats

Happy birthday to me! I turned 38 last month. While I don't love the idea of getting older, I do love celebrating with fun people. My week started out great with a visit from several of my cute Beehives... they came to wish me a "Happy Bee-Day" and gave me some yummy treats. I am so glad I was able to serve with these lovely ladies.  Megan took me and the kids to lunch at the Black Bear Diner. The kids thought it was the bomb-diggity and I loved being with Megan. My friend Jodi took me to lunch another day and we laughed when we showed up at the restaurant wearing the same outfit... white shirts with a long, royal blue maxi dress. I had lots of calls and visits from friends throughout the day with tasty treats and great prizes. I got to hang out with my family and eat ice cream cake from Cold Stone and then I got to finish off my day at Book Club! My cute friend Maria hosted and she even hung up a birthday sign for me and Jacque, whose birthday was the day before. Maria and Jacque made delicious food (still waiting for recipes), we had a brief conversation about the book and chatted about a whole lot of other things (as per usual). Despite having to add a year to my age, it was a great birthday! Thanks to all who made it wonderful!

Clear Creek

Olivia and a few friends spent a week at Clear Creek--our school district's summer camp. She loved all of the outdoor activities, caught a few wild animals in the trap she built (sadly--or humorously?--one of the pot guts died a sad death of exposure and/or starvation while in her trap), made new friends, and managed to make it through the week without getting too homesick. I was reminded how much of a helper she is around the house and with Sophia. We missed her a lot and were so grateful when 3 pm rolled around on Friday and we got to pick her up.

Day Camp

Coleman got to attend day camp with his Cub Scout Wolf den. It was a two-day camp that was held at a local park. I got to be a parent helper for a half-day and it was fun to watch Coleman interact with the other boys. They did all sorts of fun activities like parachute games, obstacle courses, build and launch bottle rockets, build catapults, shoot BB Guns, archery, Ultimate Frisbee, and even visit the trading post where nice moms (not me) let their boys purchase their very first pocket knife. Coleman came home with treasures like a rabbits foot, a beaded necklace, and a few keychains. He loves being a part of Scouts!

Baptism Boys

I am so proud of my two nephews who chose to be baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in June.

Evan attends church with my mom and decided all on his own that this was a step he wanted to take. He is a great kid with a strong desire to do what is right.

 My friend Jessica makes delicious sugar cookies, and for many of the neighborhood baptisms she has made cute "8" cookies... I decided to try it out for these special boys and they were cute AND delicious!

Later in the month Sam and his family came back to Utah (hooray!) for his baptism. Sam is a great kid with a  testimony of the gospel.

We were so grateful to be a part of these boys' special day!

I'm a "runner" now

I decided a few months ago that my current state of fitness was not acceptable. I would go walking for an hour several times a week and try to be active otherwise, but it just wasn't cutting it. A few friends and I decided that we were going to take it up a notch and train for a 5K. The lucky race? The Blood Run because or good friend has been involved in carrying this off for several years. Her son has hemophilia and this run is a fundraiser for the Utah Hemophilia Foundation. I decided that I would train on my own, because I am here to tell you that when I run, it isn't pretty. Whenever I use the word "run" please insert air quotes around it as I still do a mix of running for as long as I possible can and then walking so I don't die. I used a free app for my training program which was basically the "Couch to 5K" program. I really excelled at the COUCH part of that program... and almost got to the point that I could run the whole 5K, but I still walked when my lungs were on fire and finished it! My time was nothing to be proud of, but I did finish in under an hour, which was my goal :). And now I have a "personal best" to beat next time!

Before the race... Sara (who is amazingly training for a half-marathon!), Raylyn (who continued to train and run despite severe pain from shin splints and came to do the race even though it was her BIRTHDAY!), Camie (who is already a pro-runner and has done many 5Ks), and me, the novice....
...and after the race. As we were talking about our lovely smell Sara said, "that's the smell of success!" I commented that mine was the smell of survival. I made it!!! The race was at Wheeler farm and at one point the horses (in their corrals) were running with us. There was a whole lot of dust in the air, so during the race we literally ATE DUST. But have I mentioned that we finished? I get a little teary eyed just thinking about it :).

Our friend Jill came to support us and to bring donuts for Raylyn the birthday girl! Jill started out training too, but injured her heel and was told that she couldn't run for many more weeks.

I don't love running. Many have told me that I just have to run a mile without stopping (or was it five?) and then I'll love it. Or I just have to do a race, and then I'll love it. Well, I still haven't found that runner's high, but I'm determined to stick with it, at least until I can really RUN the whole dang 5K.  Wish me luck.


We got to spend a whole week with the Harper family at the amazing Cliff Lodge at Snowbird in early June. It was a great way to start out our summer! Ryan's parents came from Connecticut, his sister Traci and her family came from Washington, Tim and Laura's family and the two local families (ours and Tim and Laura) drove less than an hour! We had so much fun, but daily missed Scott and Kristen and their family who couldn't make it because of work conflicts.  Ryan's parents were so generous with everything. Our condos were wonderful and the activities that are at Snowbird are so much fun. They kids loved being with their cousins and grandparents! We took turns cooking which I loved. I only wish I had five or six other adults to help with meal prep and clean up all the time! I love the picture below of Bruce reading to his girls. Sophia loved to grab a book and snuggle on his lap. The photo on the bottom right was funny... four Harpers, at least four Apple devices and other gadgets, and not one word between them. We love our gadgets!

Ryan's parents planned a very fun Family History game with all of the names of our family members including maiden names. They brought so many fun prizes for the kids AND adults... we are still enjoying ice cream from Cold Stone :). It was fun to see that our kids know the names of their family members. They tried to give challenge questions about great-grandparents and in-laws and we all learned a few new things :).

We took a walk up to the overlook that showed a beautiful view into the Salt Lake Valley. You can see Sophia's latest tactic when she doesn't get what she wants in the second photo down from the top left. She did NOT want to be in our family picture! She loved riding on Grandpa's shoulders though and thoroughly enjoyed "reading" the nature facts along the way. She also found that picking up pine cones to throw or leaves to distribute to the adults was fascinating. She thought it was so fun that she didn't want to pass by ANY pine cones without picking it up (at least once) to throw it.

 There was a fun playground a short (1/2 mile) walk away.

Each day the condos hosted activities for the kids... games, treasure hunts, and these cool t-shirts. They had colored t-shirts and all sorts of foam shapes and letters. The kids designed their shirts by laying out the shapes and then they were sprayed with 100% Clorox bleach. After sitting for a couple of minutes they washed their shirts for them and wrung out the water. In just a few hours, each kid had a wearable work of art. We loved this project (and have ideas for many future holiday t-shirts).

One of our favorite traditions during Harper family trips is the Jammie Walk. Bruce and Terri started doing this when they were babysitting Olivia and Coleman one night many years ago... they wanted to go for a walk but had already changed into their PJs, and thus, the Jammie Walk was born. Sometimes they include books or stories and sometimes they have a fun light toy or flashlight for the kids. The last Jammie Walk was two years ago at Bear Lake with sweet Mikayla, and Terri wanted to help the kids remember her. She read a great story about candlelight and they gave each of the kids an electric candle to carry with them. The kids loved this so much! The building had all sorts of neat hallways, staircases, and mirrors for them to explore.

Aside from all of these great activities, I got to read a few magazines (cover to cover!), we celebrated Olivia's 11th birthday, we attended a great sacrament/testimony meeting, I finished listening to Jane Eyre (why, oh why did it take me so long in my life to read this?), we watched the fabulous BBC movie of "Jane Eyre" (Olivia and Coleman especially loved it... Coleman thought he had the mystery figured out..."I know, there's a vampire in the house!"), we played a lot of blocks and games, spent some time in the hot tub and pool, and I tried to keep up my training for the 5K (which was not easy in the mountain air... who am I kidding, it wasn't easy because I am out of shape!). We loved Snowbird!


This lovely lady turned 11 last month! We were up at Snowbird with Ryan's family (post to follow) and we got to spend the day in a beautiful place with the people we love.

She got spoiled rotten, as per usual, and had a great day. Her buddies J.D. and Anna even got to spend the afternoon with us. She requested German Chocolate Cake (that makes TWO times in one year I get to make that lovely labor of love) and Cafe Rio salads for dinner. We invited my mom and Mike to come up to celebrate and eat with us. We loved sharing Liv's day with so many people that have been important in her life.

Olivia is thoughtful, responsible, intelligent, funny, caring, faithful, and she does so much for others, without being asked. I feel so grateful that she is a part of our family and love that she loves being with us too. She is already on the countdown to being in Young Women's! We know this will be another great year for our Liv.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Surprise for Heather

My cute sister Heather graduated from San Diego State University at the end of May!  A few of my sisters and I decided it would be fun to show her how proud we were of her and surprise her for her graduation!

It took a lot of planning... Heather knew that my mom and Mike were going with Megan, but she had no idea that Erin and Lauren and I were going to come. My dad and Heather's friend Serena plotted to preserve some tickets for us and they planned the "big reveal" at the Buca di Beppo restaurant in downtown San Diego. We got assigned the Pope room... complete with a bust of the Pope in the middle of the Lazy Susan on the large round table. I have to be honest, it was a little unsettling :).  Heather expected to have dinner with my dad and Ruff, my mom and Mike, and Megan. She wasn't super excited because of possibilities of tension... but she was a sport and went anyway. She was shocked to walk in and see Serena and her parents and another close friend... but it took her several minutes to register that Erin and I were there. She was crying and smiling and laughing. I love surprises like this! We ate (and ate and ate and ate) and had a yummy celebration cake.

The next morning I got up early and met my mom and Mike for a temple session. The San Diego temple is beautiful! They only have sessions each hour, and we just so happened to be there during a Spanish session. I was happy for that, but my mom and Mike needed headphones for the translation. My mom kept wishing for the gift of tongues (maybe the headphones ARE the gift of tongues for these days?).

After the temple I went to the swap meet... fun shopping and people watching there. Then I went to the beach by the Hotel Del Coronado. Someday I want to stay there... but during this trip we just got to hang out on the beautiful beach and soak up some rays. This was the site of the big reveal for Lauren's arrival. It was glorious! I love the beach, particularly when I can snooze or read a magazine without having to chase kids, it was so relaxing! We all missed our kids though, and Erin inspired the "Miss You" message to send our families.

That night we ventured to Old Town for dinner. Once again we tried to eat at the Old Town Mexican Cafe, and once again it was so busy, so we crossed the street and ate at Fred's. Once again, it was delicious!

Can you tell I got a little bit of sun? I really am good at protecting my childrens' skin, just not so much when it comes to me. My face and neck are red... but you should have seen my legs. They hurt for many days. I always say I will do better next time... we'll see.

Mike was smiling! We had to capture that image.

The next day was Sunday, and Lauren and I went to church before the graduation. It was almost comical as we drove around. Lauren lived in San Diego many years ago for awhile, so she mostly knew her way around. I was driving and trying to listen to the GPS while Lauren tried to tell me where to go... it made for a confused and frustrated driver and passenger. Eventually we got there (after turning the car around many, many times) and got to witness Miss Heather receive her Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies from the College of Education at SDSU. I'm so proud of Heather! She has worked hard and long to finish this degree.

We went to Balboa Park for a lovely lunch. Heather opened some gifts (the beautiful denim quilt was made by Grandma Cole) and read letters from all the siblings. It was the day of the solar eclipse... some kind, science-inclined people were there with glasses and a telescope that he let hoards of people use to look at the eclipse.

We ended the night at Sunset Cliffs. We had hoped to see a great sunset, but it got really cloudy and overcast. It was still soothing to be near the water again. My family was laughing at my dress because it was so flowy so I started spinning around and it made my mom laugh so hard. I am sure these photos don't capture the hilarity of it all, but it was funny. We stopped for a milkshake at Hodad's. Heather and I cracked up when a youngish, drunkish guy stopped in front of me and looked me up and down and then asked, "How you doin'?" Heather texted "Lisa just got hit on" to Ryan who later told us that he read it and thought it said "Lisa just got hit by a car." I still think it's funny that Ryan finds it more likely that I would get hit by a car then get hit on by another guy...

We had such a great time. Heather was so grateful that we made the effort to go. I loved that Ryan and a few good friends took care of the kiddos so I could escape for a few days. I loved that driving to California in our Prius costs so little money that we could do it! I loved that Heather was so happy that we were there and that we could share her special, amazing occasion.

The Great American Challenge

Olivia worked really hard with a handful of other fifth graders to earn the 
Great American Challenge Award

They had to memorize the Pledge of Allegiance, the Preamble to the Constitution, the Star Spangled Banner, all fifty states and their capitals (and spell them correctly), all of the U.S. Presidents (in order), and finally the Gettysburg address. The last one was pretty difficult for a lot of the kids. Olivia worked SO hard on it and finally nailed it. (I would like to say I memorized it with her, but I am pretty sure my brain cells have atrophied to the extent that memorization isn't so easy any more.)

It was pretty moving to watch this group of children (three of them are Olivia's closest friends) recite from memory the Gettysburg Address (below): 

Sophia endured the assembly well (mostly well, thanks to the help of my friend who pulled a fun toy out of her magic hat). So proud of my girl Miss Olivia!

Dance Festival 2012

The end of school came before we knew it. The kids always enjoy the dance festival... and I am always glad when I find where they are in their group so I can watch. I am always more glad when Ryan gets to come so he can take good photos!

The fifth graders wore their Hope of America shirts and dressed up like islanders for their Beach Boys songs.

Olivia did a great job!

The second graders did the Monster Mash and Coleman wanted to be a vampire... he wore his teeth around for several days after the dance festival (yuck!). 

 Loved this last photo... it's a great monster pose!

Spring Break 2012

Back in April we surprised our kiddos with a trip to San Diego for Spring Break. It was so hard to keep it from them! But it was worth it. Ryan checked them out of school a little early and told them to come home and pack their traveling bag (we packed their clothes and other needed items). They were perplexed! All along the  way we kept putting them off and finally told them after we crossed the state line into California what our plans were. We stayed for a night with the Reis family (why, oh why did I not take any pictures of our close friends???) and then continued south.

We stayed in a hotel in between my dad's house and Heather's apartment... and Sophia was enamored with her crib. Until she had to actually go to sleep that is... then she loved that she could get out of it. I thought it looked like a sad little jail, but it all worked out :).

We love visiting Balboa Park. They had a group with exotic birds and Olivia got to hold one! I loved this picture in the middle of my cute family with my dad while they were looking in the pond. We spent an afternoon at The Nat (the Natural History Museum) in Balboa Park. The picture on the top left is what I spent my time doing (chasing after Miss Sophia) but we had a great time! They had an interesting display to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic which was fascinating.

It was warm enough to go to the beach! The last few trips we've made to California have been in the late fall or winter months, so we were thrilled for seventy degree weather. The water was FREEZING but that didn't stop Coleman and Olivia for developing a love for boogie boarding. WE loved being at the beach together and ended our day for yummy milkshakes, fries, and onion rings at our favorite beachside joint Hodad's.

We were there on Easter Sunday and visited a ward somewhere that started at the time we wanted :). Ryan took some cute photos of us in our cute new Easter clothes.

I asked my dad if he and Heather could plan an egg hunt for the kids... they went crazy and hid so many eggs! The kids loved searching for eggs in his lovely back yard. Sophia wanted to open every one and eat the candy right there. I loved the expressions on their faces!

Coleman LOVES Legos. We decided this was the year to make the trek to Legoland since Sophia was still free and Olivia still qualifies as a "child." I know there are fans of this park, but it wasn't our favorite place. It was expensive (despite finding some good discount tickets), the lines were long, and the rides weren't the best. There were several rides that we "got" to power ourselves. I'm not in any way against exercise... but if I pay so much money for an amusement park, I really don't want to hoist myself up and down a tower. Coleman loved it though... and the displays of Legos were rather amazing. We were excited to be there for the new Star Wars mini-land. Despite not loving the park, we still had a good time together and there was great people watching, especially while I sat on the bench and held napping Sophia for an hour and a half.

We reprised the seashell t-shirts(we made them with my dad when I was young and again with Liv when she was little... the photo on the bottom left shows them off ) for our day at the San Diego Zoo.

We went to Old Town for dinner and tried to eat at the Old Town Mexican Cafe... but as the wait was way too long, we ended up across the street at Fred's. Dinner was delicious!.

We did a lot of fun things while we were there, but most of all we loved spending time with my dad and Heather. Sophia calls Heather "Helly" and it is just adorable. Even now she pretends to call her on the phone and have funny conversations with her ("Hi, Helly. Yeah, right. Giggle, giggle."). We made gourmet quesadillas (apples, pepper jack cheese, and pepper jelly; pesto and mozzarrella; etc.) and met Heather's fun friend Serena. We spent our last morning at Cabrillo National Monument and the kids got to see the low tide and the lighthouse. We even incurred international roaming charges because it juts out into the ocean enough that our cell phone company thought we were in Mexico.

All in all it was a great trip and so fun to surprise our kids. I highly recommend it!