Monday, December 9, 2013

Fall Bucket List Check Off

This fall has been CRAZY busy, but it's been a good kind of crazy. We've been doing all sorts of fun things to celebrate the coming of colder weather. Now, I don't LIKE cold weather, mind you. However, I thought that rather than moan about it (too much), this year I would create a "bucket list" of fun things for our family to do together.

Here's what we did during the months of October and November. I accomplished everything on the list except making butterbeer...I'll have to roll that one over to my "Beat the January Blues" bucket list. :)

We drove up in the mountains on the weekend of General Conference in October, and found some pretty leaves...and a waterfall, which Will may or may not have tried to jump in.

We've gone to the same pumpkin patch for the past three years. It's down in Riverton, UT, and they have the best atmosphere. This year, they even had a corn pit, which quickly became Will's favorite part.

See, he's hugging the corn:

We eventually convinced him to get out of the corn pit with the promise of a wheelbarrow ride:

And, more corn...

Another weekend, we went to Cornbelly's Corn Maze (mostly because I still needed a hay ride, and we all wanted to get out of the house). It was cold, but we had a good time. I didn't get a picture of the hay ride we went on, but Will's favorite ride was actually this cow barrel train.

Halloween was a total success. It didn't take Will long to figure out trick-or-treating, and I'm not sure he ate much of anything with nutritional value that day. Ah well, it's only once a year!

The day that Graham put up our Christmas lights, I took Will over to Wheeler Farm to find some leaves to jump in. We succeeded:

And he found their leftover-from-October pumpkin patch...

We made cute pumpkins...

We had a wonderful time this fall! I'm going to continue my bucket list next year, I think. It makes the cooler weather seem so much more festive!

Okay, now I'm ready to move on to Christmas. Bring on the snow! I will survive! Nay, I will thrive by drinking hot chocolate by the gallon and singing Christmas carols at the top of my lungs!

Friday, November 22, 2013

I used to be a clean person...

I like things tidy: my house, my car, my life plan, everything.

I am, after all, the girl who spent most of her recesses in fifth and sixth grade organizing books in the school library. The girl who ordered and numbered all the movies in her house (and typed up a list to keep track). The girl who reorganized the kitchen as a Mother's Day gift in high school. The girl who fought so much with her sister over the cleanliness of their bedroom (among other things) that they had to be moved into separate rooms.

My brother had a sign on his bedroom door for several years that said, "A creative mess is better than tidy idleness." True, but I maintain that you don't have to LEAVE the creative mess for days on end.  

However, much as I'd like to, I no longer live in a fastidiously clean house. Not that I don't try to be tidy. I still try to pick things up and attempt to follow my cleaning schedule so I get through all the basic chores once a week, but I've had to let some things go.

Why? A toddler tornado happened. This tornado is full of giggles and excitement, but he leaves a pile (or piles) of debris in his wake.

As I walked out of Will's room after putting him down for a nap a few minutes ago, here's what I saw:

Pillows all over the floor from the obstacle course we made this morning.

Half of a travel toothbrush holder on a shelf that I think Will found in my bathroom several days ago.

Several remotes piled on top of the entertainment center out of Will's reach so we don't have to replace another one.

The ledge in our family room peppered with the following items, again to keep them out of Will's reach: a pie server and a wooden spoon I found under the ottoman, nail clippers from my last brave a attempt at cutting Will's nails, one lone alphabet magnet, scissors, Graham's wedding ring, our iPad, and a red pen I found Will chewing on yesterday.

Socks and a yogurt-covered tray left over from lunch on the kitchen table.

Assorted dishes in the sink that I would have loaded into the dishwasher, but Will unloads it every time I open it and he's around.

There's more, but I'm not sure I want to admit the extent of the clutter creeping into my house.

My visiting teachers are coming over in a couple of hours and the missionaries are coming over for dinner tonight, and I'm imagining what they would think if I just left it all where it is. Honestly, I suppose 19-year-old missionaries wouldn't care, and my visiting teachers might just feel more justified in their own cluttered piles at home. So maybe I should leave it there as an homage to "real life." But I probably won't. I know myself.

I may have let go of the need to have a clean house ALL the time; I can sacrifice that for the sake of my son's freedom to play. But I still want it clean when I invite company over. So break out the Windex...I know what I'm doing during nap time today. :)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Times Have Changed

A little over three years ago, I hiked Ensign Peak and saw this view (except it was too dark to take pictures that time):

On a Tuesday evening in October 2010, I stood on top of that mountain and said YES to the best question I've ever been asked.

Last week, Graham and I hiked it again, for the first time since we agreed to marry each other. The hike was still the same in many ways: we found the spot where he proposed, we looked down on the same view of the city, and we even laughed at the stretch of trail where I was hit by an owl.

But things have changed, too. This time, instead of strolling casually up the hill, Graham hefted this little man in a back pack. Instead of the sounds of nature, we listened to Will's squeals of delight from his perch in the pack.

Instead of gazing out at the view together, we took turns chasing Will around the top, trying to make sure he didn't leap off the cliff.

Since our feet last stood on that ground, we've been married in the temple, moved into our first apartment, traveled internationally, changed careers, had a son, bought a house, and had countless little adventures along the way.

It's interesting how revisiting a place over the years makes it into almost a measuring stick of time. I look forward to making that climb again and again, adding to the list of changes that occur between each visit.

It may not have been as romantic of a hike this time around, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I was surrounded by my boys, taking in the adventure of life...just where I want to be.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


It's getting cold around here. I had to turn on the heater last week, I've started wearing socks again (gasp!), and I've put soups back on the dinner menu. Graham even suggested that we put the down comforter back on the bed. So now I know it's not jut me. Fall is officially here.

It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of cold weather. I'd much rather bask in the warmth of summer with all the sunshine and outdoor adventure it brings. But, I've made a distinct effort this year to focus on the good things about fall. I even made a bucket list.

All this changing weather has got me thinking about seasons...not just the meteorological ones, but the seasons of life. Graham and I regularly comment about how fast Will is growing, and how it wasn't that long ago he was just scooting around the house and learning to crawl. I don't always see that progress day to day; sometimes I get stuck in the rut of laundry, sweeping cheerios up off the floor, and just trying to stay alive until Graham gets home. 

Last weekend, during General Conference I was struck by a particular phrase spoken by Elder D. Todd Christofferson. He described a specific woman whom he admired in the following way: 

"The demands on her were many and her tasks often repetitive and mundane, yet underneath it all was a beautiful serenity, a sense of being about God’s work."

I was pierced...and I was humbled. I asked myself, "Is there a beautiful serenity to my mothering?" Honestly...not as much as I'd like. 

This week, I have a new reminder for myself: This is MY season. 

Will is sure to grow up way too fast, and soon he'll be in the season of school, and then the season of learning to drive, and then the season of moving out on his own where I can't be there to protect him from the world. 

But, THIS season, these few years where I have him to myself, this is is MY love him and prepare him for all those other seasons life will bring to him. 

So, I'm embracing this time, in all it's messy and sometimes mundane glory. I'm going to sneak as many kisses as I can, log lots of snuggle time, and get down and play with balls and cars as much as possible. 

Because this season will pass. And then I'll probably want it back.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Seeing the Stars

Here's a little inspiration for the day. I've been playing around with Photoshop more lately, trying to expand my skills.

Here is my most recent creation: 

I love this quote (although I truthfully had a hard time figuring out who said's attributed to several people). It reminds me that there is always meaning in the suffering we experience, even if it's hard to see. Sometimes, we're so stuck in the middle of life that we can't see the stars. But, if we get away from the lights of the city and the pollution of the world (in all its forms), we're able to see the stars peeking through the darkness. We can see the Lord's hand in all things. We just have to look up.

Here's another version of the same quote:

Which one do you like better?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Family Vacation: Part Two - My Favorite Moments in Washington

The second half of our grand adventure was spent in and around Seattle, Washington. My grandpa lives on the Olympic Peninsula, just across the Puget Sound from Seattle. In fact, if you could drive, it would be a really short trip from his house to downtown. Because of the complexities of driving over water, it takes a bit longer. Because the trip between the two takes about an hour and a half, we didn't want to go into the city every day. Most days, we spent our time exploring places closer to his home.

Here are some of my favorite memories of our days in Washington:

Hiking in Olympic National Park with trailblazer Will

Will actually walked by himself for the entire hike back from the waterfall to the car! It was only .2 miles, but he was sure proud of himself!

Port Townsend Park at sunset
It's a quaint little town right on the north eastern tip of the peninsula, and I fell in love. I want one of these porch swings when I'm old. I've always wanted a porch swing, but this one is awesome! You can actually swing it by pushing on a foot board (which got cut off in the picture). So cool!

Will loved the rocks...again.

See, I wasn't kidding. The kid loves rocks. 

There's something magical about the moon rising over the ocean. We would have stayed there until the stars came out too, but our parenting consciences kicked in and we decided Will needed to sleep. 

Oh, but we couldn't leave town without stopping at an ice cream parlor. I did marry a Harr boy after all. So I sent Graham in to pick something quickly that we could eat in the car on the drive home. Boy, does that man know how to deliver! He came back with a slice of chocolate orange ice cream pie. So good. I want to go back to that town just for that pie. 

Pike Place Market
We went there first thing in the morning on a Thursday, so it wasn't super crowded. We ate yummy food, watched some great street performers, and I stared longingly at the gorgeous bouquets of flowers. If we had gone at the end of the day, I totally would have bought some. They were so cheap! A whole bouquet for $5??? Gorgeous.

This picture makes me laugh. This was not the first cute Asian lady to fall in love with Will on our trip. Several times in both Vancouver and Seattle we were asked by a friendly lady if we would allow her to take a picture with Will. After it happened several times, I decided to take a picture myself, too. Traveling with a baby turns many strangers into friends, especially since Will has no concept of personal space or social norms.

Just adorable.

Riding the ferry with Will
 He was completely giddy the moment we took him on deck. See the yellow and black poles in the picture below. He would run to a pole, grab onto it, sit down, get up, run to the next pole, and continue the process down the entire side of the ship! I get a kick out of this boy. It was fun to watch him take in all the new sights and sounds, completely in awe of the experience.

Morning view of the city:

Evening view of the city:

Will trying to jump into Lake Washington
Seriously. The kid would have been in the water in two seconds had Graham not grabbed him. And he threw a tantrum because we wouldn't let him go swimming. And I'm such a good mom that I took pictures instead of helping. :)

Will loved trying to push the stroller everywhere, including into Lake Washington.

Will and Graham playing in a modern art sculpture like it was a playground. 
Outside one of the museums at the Seattle Center (by the Space Needle), Will saw another kid playing with his dad in this sculpture. Of course, he wanted a turn, too. Who are we to deny him?

Playing with Grandpa Wright
It was so great to spend time with my Grandpa while we were in town. His house looks exactly the same as I remember it from twenty years ago (the last time I visited). Perfect. I loved watching Will interact with him. We couldn't ever get Will to sit on his lap, so this is the best we got.

It was a great trip! Will was so exhausted by the time that we got back to Utah that he fell asleep in the car on the way home from the airport (he didn't sleep on the plane). I tried to wake him up when we got home, but even when I sat him up, talked to him, and set him down on the couch, he just flopped over and went to sleep on the couch. Poor boy! 

Resting up for the next adventure.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Family Vacation...With a Toddler

Parenthood has changed my life in a lot of ways. Most of them wonderful; some not so glamorous. One of the difficulties we've encountered as parents has been planning vacations. It turns out that kids thrive on routine, and when you upset their routine, the world sometimes explodes a little bit. So, Graham and I debated whether we really wanted to go to the effort of planning a big vacation this year. We both love to travel, and we haven't gone many places since Will joined our family, so we wanted to plan something this year. We wondered though if it would really be worth all the time and money since we didn't know how Will would react to plan rides, sleeping in strange places, and basically having his whole schedule blown to pieces.

Adventure won out in the end, and we booked tickets to Seattle, Washington.

I'll write more about Seattle in my next post, but this time I want to focus on the first half of our trip, which was actually spent in Vancouver, B.C.

We flew into Seattle on Saturday and drove up to Graham’s uncle’s house, where we spent our first night. They were incredibly hospitable (especially considering that that they were total strangers to me) and were super understanding of our crazy busy child, even when he pulled a glass pan of newly made dessert off the counter and broke it. 

They live in a town called Surrey, which is right next to White Rock. Their house was literally on the border of the USA and Canada. If you walk down the street, you can actually just hop a little ditch across the border (but we were told not to try it…apparently they have pretty sophisticated technology that monitors the borders). It struck me how artificial the lines between countries are. Just a little ditch, and you’re in a completely different country.

On Sunday, we went to church with them, and then walked along the coastline in White rock a bit. Will LOVED playing with the rocks on the beach (a trend throughout the trip). 

We had dinner with a bunch of Graham’s cousins and uncle, then we headed up to West Vancouver where we stayed for a few nights with his cousin.

I didn’t really know what to expect of Vancouver. I knew it would be wet, green, and have some big buildings downtown, but I didn’t know what there was to do there. We found some awesome places to visit though, some off the touristy path, which I love. 

Our first stop was Whytecliff Park. You can walk down to the beach and at low tide (below) you can walk out on the peninsula to a little "island". 

There were tons of star fish and mussels, and even a couple of harbor seals lounging on the rocks! See that cute little guy on the left below? He was super calm, even when I got close to take pictures.

Will loved riding in the hiking backpack. It's a pretty great view from up there, after all. 

Next, we drove to Lighthouse Park. It was a beautiful hike through a quintessential Pacific Northwest forest complete with moss covering just about every surface and ferns blanketing the ground. I found this giant leaf that Will became intrigued by (Graham liked it a little less after Will wiped its dirt all over his sweatshirt...oops).

Eventually, we got to a view point of a lighthouse, the first one Graham had ever seen in person. We could also see across the water to a nice view of downtown Vancouver.

After lunch and a nap in the car for Will, we headed to Stanley Park in Vancouver itself. What a cool place! I know most big cities have a large green space (ala Central Park or GOlden Gate Park), but this one really stood out to me. It's basically an island that they've turned into a great community gathering place. There is a petting zoo, trails that criss-cross the island for bikers and pedestrians, along with several other attractions, including an aquarium, which we visited.

Here's a GIGANTIC plant we passed on our way to the aquarium.

At the aquarium, Will enjoyed the touch tanks, trying to touch the fish on the other side of the glass, and playing in the kids' play zone they had (a welcome break for Mom and Dad).

By the end of the afternoon, we were all ready to take a break. We had a nice evening with Graham's cousin, before heading out in the morning for our final day in Canada.

Tuesday, we went to Lynn Canyon to see the suspension bridge there. Super cool! I felt like I was in Costa Rica or something (except it was way colder).

Then we spent a little time waking around Gastown in downtown Vancouver. We found this neat steam powered whistle clock (think cuckoo clock, but bigger and with steam and whistling sounds coming out instead of a bird). There were lots of tourists, including some cute Asian ladies who wanted to take a picture with Will, not the only time that occurred on the trip. :)

We had lunch, and waved goodbye to the city, looking forward to returning again someday.

Stay tuned for part two, where we survive a 5 1/2 hour drive to Bremerton, Washington, where we stay with my grandpa for the rest of the trip and explore the wonders of Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula.