Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving and a Little Christmas

My sister Lesa and her family came all the way from sunny Plain City, Utah to spend Thanksgiving with the coolest people she could think of: namely, us. I know it's hard to believe. I mean it's only been 13 years since she last visited. Of course, 13 year ago we lived at the University of Utah student housing apartments. Alex was 1. Yes, I'm serious. She has NEVER been to Seattle to visit her favorite sister. I'm not mad...really. I'm not. Why should I be?

We had so much fun hosting Thanksgiving this year and, if I do say so myself, it was my best feast ever. It was ta-a-sty! I'm getting used to the whole cooking a turkey/items that go along with the turkey. It's not even stressful any more. However, I'm not suggesting that I'm the best cook. It's just this meal I got down, people. Did I get any pictures of this meal...I mean do I have any proof that it even existed? All I have is word of mouth. Ask Lesa, Jeff or Martin and they'll tell you. It was good...the end. And I haven't cooked since. The way I see it is that I racked up enough points to be good to the end of February (this doesn't include the occasional pan of mac and cheese and fish-sticks).

The only pictures I got of us were on top of the Space Needle. See, the thing about a first-time visitor is that they require the obligatory touristy stuff, but we didn't mind. The Wiser's had only a couple of days with us before they had to head home so we spent the Friday after Thanksgiving 500 feet in the air eating a very expensive, albeit delicious meal. I think Martin and I are still in sticker shock from that one. That's what we get for sitting at a different table from the kids. They ordered whatever they wanted including the $9 scoop of ice cream that comes out in a smoking bowl of dry ice. Wow.
After dinner we did the Aquarium. I was disappointed. I'm sorry to say this, Seattle, but the aquarium did not add up to the hype. It's been years since I was last there and I was hoping it would be better. But we had fun, especially when we, get this: purposefully lost Jeff and Lesa and their kids driving home. There is nothing like a good dose of "lost" to top off a vacation. Am I right, sis.? HA!

Saturday afternoon the Wiser's headed home and we were pretty sad. Carson, Isaac's "favoritest" cousin, who fed Isaac a constant stream of sword fighting and wrestling, was gone and the tears on Isaac's face proved it. So we decided to head to the movies to drown our sorrows in burnt popcorn and bad acting. I promised the kids we'd see "A Christmas Carol." I was very pleasantly surprised. The movie was in a word AWESOME. I was worried because a certain young woman, who will remain nameless, said it was "stupid." Quite the opposite is true. I enjoyed the animation, the 3D, the characters and was happy to see they stuck close to the story. It was the way I pictured the story in my head almost exactly. They didn't make it too goofy or use a lot of stupid cliche' humor. They even stuck to the original old English language. I liked Jim Carey's acting as well. Here's a picture of the kids with their 3D glasses on (check out Livi's wild hair) eating their pizza.

All in all we had a great weekend. We continue to be grateful that Perdi didn't eat Lesa's punk-a** dog, Holly. Thanks for making me laugh the hardest I have in a while, Jeff, and thanks to Jeff, Lesa, Maddi and Carson for coming 12 hours in the car to be with us on Thanksgiving. We all had a super time and we won't soon forget it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Halloween '09

This Halloween was kind of drag for the kids. It's too bad because they had awesome costumes...all thought of by themselves. Isaac wanted to be Mario, who is his favorite hero of late. He has several DS Mario games. It's funny what I can get him to do by bribing him with a new Mario game. I've gotten him to read hundreds of books to me this way, when before he wasn't motivated at all. All I have to say about that is: God bless Mario! Isaac was sick the day before Halloween and so he wasn't able to go to his class Halloween party. It was so sad, but he was brave. His favorite part of his costume was his "fat."

Super Mario

Unfortunately, Olivia missed her class Halloween party too due to some hi jinx in her classroom that day (none of them her fault). She came home from school so depressed and upset. It made me sad as well because this was her last year to celebrate Halloween at school. I think she made up for it with her buddies trick-or-treating in the neighborhood. It was her first year to go sans parents and I think she enjoyed the company of her friends Zoe, Lexi and Sofi (all those names end with the same sound...). She came up with the idea of dressing like Hermione (her ultimate hero) but with the twist of being Hermione after she drank the poly juice potion. That's so Olivia.

Alex had a great time at a party of friend. (first boy/girl party, I might add). He dressed up like Spock this year (Aunt Jenny and Amy should be so proud). He refused the pointed ears, though. He thinks his ears already stick out enough. He also refused his mother doing anything to his hair. I was lucky to get him to wear the costume. He can't stand me touching his hair and/or body.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Me and Gary Lightbody (oh yeah, and Martin and Alex)

We went to the Snow Patrol concert on the 14th of October. Can I just tell you how long I have been waiting to see them in concert? Do you all have any idea??? Well, just to give you a vague notion, they came in '07 and I remember we couldn't go because the venue was some night club downtown and, if I remember right, it was on a Sunday. A little part of me died that night....Me and nightclubs do NOT jibe, and that's not even considering the fact that it was on a Sunday. So I've waited not-so-patiently for 4+ years for the day to come that they would grace me with their presence in Seattle.

This time the venue was the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle. It's a cool historic old building and the perfect place for me to see SP in the flesh. I got awesome tickets: front row, center up on the mezzanine. I was literally like 20 yards from thee Mr. Gary Lightbody and had a completely unobstructed view. Oh, ladies, he is a fabulous specimen of man. He has a smile that lights up the entire auditorium. And of course, when he sang "Run," I knew he was singing directly to me. (har-har)

The opening act was Plain White T's (eat your heart out Mindy) and they were really the best opening band I've ever seen. Martin agreed. They have this gigantic African-American drummer who just looks so out of place but is so amazingly good.

This was Alex's first concert and I was worried he'd have a bad experience going with his lame-0 parents and all. He is such a great kid, though and he really enjoyed it. He made me promise not to yell and scream and dance around like a fool. Obviously, he doesn't know who he's dealing with. I'm a bit of an introvert. But I do have to admit when it was just me and Gary in the auditorium I may have screamed just a little bit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oh, Summer, Where art thou?

I was looking through our family photos we had taken this summer, trying to decide which ones I want to get enlarged to hang in the house. I got a bit depressed thinking about how warm and sunny that day was and how now it's just stupid cold and rain out of doors. Seriously, though, now that I think about it, that day was freaking hot and I was freaking sweaty and so...good riddance hot, sultry days...hello, cool breezes, pretty autumn colored leaves and yes, rain!

I realized, however, that I never posted the pictures on my blog. Weird indeed. I wouldn't worry about it but every year I make a book out of my blog and I want to have those photos in it.

For those of you who haven't seen the pictures, they were taken by Suzanne Plant of Lookie Loo Photography She lives in the Draper area. Her husband actually used to work for Microsoft. How they lived in Utah but still worked for MS is beyond me but he doesn't work there anymore. Back in Spring I saw some of her photos on a friend's Facebook page, loved them and got an appointment to get our family pics done by her.

We met up at a park with a pond in the middle in her neighborhood. It had a cool burned out bridge that was part of the backdrop. I was really pleased with her ability to capture the personality in my kids. She took the time to really get to know what I was looking for, which I really appreciated. As we were talking she told me that she had been a photographer for about a year! Yep, only a year. For only picking up a camera a year ago, she does some brilliant work. She had some pretty fancy equipment but told me her secret is that she has to do most of the work, not her camera. I have no idea what she means by that as I am no photographer, but okay.

Here are a few of my favorites

Anyhoo, as you can see, my kids are pretty much the cutest kids around.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

First Day of School (Yeah, I'm late. What of it?)

School has started and it's the first time in 13 years that I won't have a little one at home for any part of the day. This = extreme joy. Yes, it's cool but there's a part of me that misses having a little company during the day. The years that I spent with each one of the kids alone, one on one at times, are treasures in my memory, even if the little punks don't remember it!

Alex was oh, so happy to start school as an almighty 8th grader and to be at the top of the pecking order in Middle School. So far he LOVES school. He has always been great about getting himself up and out the door every day but this years seems to be even a bit easier for him. He says he has many friends in each class (for the first time) and has a bunch of buddies in his lunch group. He is getting great grades so far. All in all he is very happy. Look at this smile. It's true. However, he is decidedly against sharing with me whether there is any interest in friends of the opposite persuasion. I am always on the lookout, though and I'll keep you posted (oh, he's going to kill me for saying that).

Here's the girl in all her fashion-forward splendor. Let it be said that she HAD to have this hat to begin school. Annoyingly enough she has worn it twice: this day, and to the Miley Cyrus concert. Yep, that's Livi. She's all about style when she's making an entrance. After that, she couldn't care less and very seldom will she comb her hair or even put her clothes on unless I remind her. She is enjoying 5th grade more than anyone should legally be allowed, but what can I say? She's a brain like her dad and the social aspect of school is like air to her (where in the world did she get that?). Whenever I see her at school she is running to greet a friend she hasn't seen for like 5 minutes or yelling 'hello' to another friend across the playground. She is such fun. Her teacher told me the first day that everyone was waiting and asking, "Where's Olivia?"

Here she is posing at the bus stop with one of her bff's, Sofi, who lives across the street.

And last but not least...the Cuteness. He lost all his front teeth gnawing on some stiff french bread (his favorite). I really had a hard time sending this adorable kiddo to the 1st grade. He's the baby so that's my excuse. Martin almost had to intervene to get me off him so he could get on the bus. Isaac likes first grade well enough. I don't get much out of him except a "fine" or "good" when I ask him how school went that day. He has already lost his back pack, lunch box and 2 jackets somewhere at school. He can never really remember where, but I usually have to go in to school every few days to collect his things from the lost and found. The "lost and found" concept completely eludes him so I have to go find them for him. He is a crack up and so just "la-dee-da" about life. That's what I like about him, but it's also the thing that makes me consider taking up smoking weed to relax. The other day he had his best buddy, Solomon in the car and, while talking to Sol, he actually had to pause and ask "What's your name again?" This is especially strange because a) he sits by Sol on the bus every day, b) they have had several play dates over the past year, c) they were in the same class for a year and d) Sol is in our ward. Everyone in the car busted out laughing at that one. That's just Isaac.

Well, that catches everyone up on the goings on of the school year at present. I hope everyone is having a great year so far. I miss all you family members and friends and think about you often, especially now that I'm off Facebook. The upside of me being off FB is that I am a better mom and I am less distracted by and large. I wish I knew how to figure out how to control myself better and not have this "all or nothing" mentality, but for the moment it escapes me. So, you'll have to catch up here with us on the blog for now. Ciao!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Orcas Island 2009

We went to Orcas Island again this year over the Labor Day weekend. We stayed at the same place we stayed last year in Eastsound. It's a little condo. The place has a pool, hot tubs, tennis court and is right on the beach.
It's beautiful and we wished we had a boat so we could use their slip. This is the view from the North end of the Island facing West. Way beyond the furthest mountain is Vancouver BC. I love this little island. If I could live here I would, but I don't see that happening any time soon...ahhh, well.

We did some fun things this year. We went swimming every day even though the water was freezing. That never stopped Alex who, it would seem, has an affinity to pain. Isn't he so cool in this picture? Totally awesome, right?

We went hiking and I was so thrilled to be able to join in. This is the first time I could do it in 6 years, since my feet have been bad. My feet didn't hurt! Yay, for Dr. Blahous!! I even wore my flip-flops and was fine even after 3 miles! I've come full circle it would seem!! This is my feet after the hike. Dirty, I know, but I'm wearing my sister Jenny's shoes that I found at my mom's house this summer and then stole. It was fun to think she was walking there with me. She would have loved it there. Sorry Mom (but not really)!! Isaac was his typical self on the hike. We had to do so fancy talking to get him to finish it. He was not impressed, but we had fun! He looks like he's in pain here, because, according to him, he is in pain.

Olivia, Isaac and I did some beach combing. Livi loved finding shells, cool rocks and other interesting things.

We also went whale watching again this year. I think I'm addicted the adrenaline of seeing them in the wild. While we were on the boat watching a pod of whales forage for salmon, all of a sudden a female orca came up and swam directly under the boat! When she came up for air just 10 or 15 feet from where I was standing I was able to get a quick shot of her swimming away. The captain of the boat, who's been doing this for 20 years, said he has only seen that happen once or twice. She literally came out of nowhere and it was really surreal to see her body so close underneath the boat. It was amazing!

I can't wait to go back next summer. It's kind of our family tradition we started and I hope we can do it for a long time. Here's some more pictures of the trip:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Trampoline Fun or (as we like to call it) An Insurance Agent's Worst Nightmare

We always have so much fun on Grandma's trampoline. The funny thing is I don't think my mom has ever been "on" the trampoline, but it's at her house, so she gets the rights. We always had a trampoline growing up and I remember spending hours and hours every day jumping on it and when I got older "laying out" on it.

The kids had an awesome water fight this year on it. Here's a few shots:

I also got some shots of the kids jumping. They always make me laugh when they're jumping. I hear a lot of "Heather, watch this!" and "Heather, look at me!" It's always so much fun and thankfully no body has gotten seriously injured, which is a miracle because there is always 5 or so kids on it at once. Man, when I was growing up there were just 2 kids at a time allowed.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Our Trip to Utah Part ....(oh, who cares?) Putting Up Corn

Every year in Utah I'm lucky enough to be home just in time for the corn harvest, which is great, because I love me some corn. However, the bad part is it's time to for the annual "Putting Up of the Corn," a Higley family tradition. You'd think I'd somehow be smart enough to get myself out of this one, but no. I never see it coming. Ha! Just kidding, Mom (sort of). I actually don't mind it. Over the years we have gotten quite good at this chore and have made several stream-lining changes to make the process more efficient. Trust me, guys, we know how to do it.

It takes a lot of corn....a LOT of corn. I was shucking for probably an hour and a half straight without stopping and there was usually another one or two people doing the shucking with me. I should some day count how many ears of corn we do, but I always forget. But trust me when I say it was a lot.
After the shucking, we boil the corn. We used to do this in the house which was murder back when we had no air conditioning and after we were done with the whole process the entire kitchen had a sticky film. So about 20 years ago (or more) we started moving everything to the outdoors. We use camp stoves to heat the water and coolers to blanch. It works a lot better that way and then mom can just spray down the patio with the hose when we're done.
Mom blanching the corn. Erin "helping."
After we blanch the corn we cut it off the cob (with electric knives, of course) and put it into freezer bags. We have lots of fun talking and goofing around while we work and it's fun for the kids to get involved. We had a great time this year and ended up spending about 2 or 3 hours and yielding about 70 quarts of corn....that's 70 sides dishes for my mom's roast for Sunday dinners! It tastes so good that I refuse to buy frozen just doesn't compare!

Dad "helping"
Olivia looked after Oakley

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Our Trip to Utah Part III (Oquirrh Mtn. Temple)

We were so lucky to get a chance to go to the Oquirrh Mountain Temple open house, which is in South Jordan. It was great for the kids to be able to see the inside of a temple before it is dedicated. They actually enjoyed it very much and Livi is planning to get married there (a little prematurely??). The Cuteness especially liked the mirrors that went on forever and stood in front of them making all kinds of faces and pretending like he was Indiana Jones stuck in some kind of eternal video game (I honestly have no idea where he gets these ideas). He is already planning on using these type of mirrors in his upcoming movies. I think he feels they are a great way to incorporate some cheap special effects. Ahhhh, my Isaac.

The temple had beautiful murals and wood work. The chandeliers were all in the shape of stars and they were stunning. I also was impressed by how they used natural lighting throughout. The celestial room was lit almost entirely by the light from windows. Also I was excited to see the endowment rooms were split into 2 parts, I think for live sessions. The beginning room had amazing, beautiful murals of the wilderness painted on the walls. They were much smaller than the rooms I'm used to in Seattle. It was a fantastic day and I felt such peace and love while I was sitting there waiting to go inside. I'm glad I could spend that time with my family.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our Utah Trip Part II (Our House in the Middle of Our Street)

This is our house. Okay, technically it's my parent's house. I grew up here though, so that should give me some sort of right to it. I can at least say it was my first home and I still refer to it as "home," even though I live 800 miles away. I spent my whole childhood here and I have great memories. I love that old house!

Our house was at one time one of only a few on the street called Higley Road, named after my Grandpa Higley. The land on Higley Road was mostly owned by him and it is where he had his farm. After he died, it was left for my dad to farm. Now there are houses and houses and more houses being added. Every time I go home I'm amazed to see a few more houses going in. It is a good thing I guess, but I can't help but remember the land as it was when I would go help dad hoe beans, bail hay or irrigate. It was more untouched, more a part of me. Now it's just some stranger's house. That depresses me a little bit.

Anyway, I got to spend a lot of time with my nieces and nephews which is the joy of the vacation for me. We went swimming and played on the trampoline, had water fights and rode the four-wheeler. It was such a blast! Here's a few pictures of the kids swimming at my sister Mindy's Mother in Law's pool. She was nice enough to let us crash all day at her house! Thanks, Grandma Laurie!!

These are my favorite pictures from the day:
Alex looks like such a dork!!

Cute Livi!

My adorable niece, Oakley