Monday, November 17, 2008

Dinner Guests

When I told Henry that Grandma and Grandpa were coming over for dinner last night, he was confused. My parents filled their car yesterday with Grandma J., Uncle Kelvin and Aunt Amy and Jennifer for a trip to Idaho to see Aunt Pam. I wouldn't allow them to pass by Sandy without stopping for a bite to eat and a quick visit. Aunt Kathy also came from Riverton to join us. We were thrilled to see them! I stuffed them with green chili burritos, refried beans and chips and salsa. (Nathan and I realized later as they piled back in the car that bellies full of beans maybe wasn't the best idea for a 4-hour ride to Idaho Falls - sorry!). I could tell that Henry was enjoying our full house. He came into the living room, opened his arms, and announced, "Ok everyone, who needs a drink of juice?" (He was referring to the huge punchbowl of raspberry lemonade waiting in the kitchen) What a host! It was really fun to see all of them, even though it was for only an hour and a half! That's okay - Henry and I will also meet them for lunch as they drive back through Wednesday on their way back to AZ.

As Nathan and I were watching TV later in the evening, he said, "Darn it. I should have called my parents tonight." I smiled and said, "I don't need to call mine. I saw them!" Pretty cool.

Don't Play with Your Food!

We had BLT's for dinner last week - a kid favorite in our house. Elliot made his own sandwich. See?

Christmas Wish

The other night we drew names for our own family gift exchange. Henry drew Nathan's name. He asked Nathan, "Daddy, what present do you want me to get you?" Nathan responded, "How about a GPS?" Henry raised an eyebrow and said, "That's all you want... just letters?"

Thursday, November 6, 2008

When Fall Meets Winter

I'm sure soon we'll get used to the changes in seasons. Remember the storm that rolled in after Halloween? We woke up Wednesday morning to a TON of snow! It was way more snow than we saw in the Spring right after we moved here. It looked awesome! The kids were all excited.

I thought it was neat too until I realized that I had to drive the kids to school in it.

I had just happened to get my kids snow clothes and boots the night before - in the nick of time! Henry's friend Eli called at 9:30 to invite him to come over and play in the snow. He felt pretty cool in his snow gear. (By the way, this is his new pose for pictures.)

Henry also played in the snow at Max's house too. He came home excited because at Eli's house he had hot cocoa and at Max's house he had hot chocolate. To him, there's a difference. (I know this because yesterday after he played in the snow, he asked for hot chocolate, and when I gave it to him he informed me that I had accidentally given him hot cocoa!) Hopefully I'll get it straight before winter's over!

It was good that the older kids had snow clothes too, because at school, they still had recess! I drove by and saw kids all over the winter white playground making snowmen and throwing snowballs. When Gillian and Elliot got home from school, they both said it was the best school day EVER!

As the day progressed, the snow kept coming and getting deeper and deeper. Our deck railing has been a good indicator as to how many inches of snow we get. This looks like a good 6 or 7 inches, doesn't it? (I pulled out a tape measure before I went to bed Thursday - we did get 7 inches!)

Now I really believe that the Halloween decor needs to come down fast next year! I think that may be a skeleton's knee sticking out of the snow there!

So, here are some of my observations so far about the seasons in Utah:

- Spring tulips only bloom for a couple of weeks. Seems like a waste! You have to have the presence of mind to plant them 6 months earlier in September. And then, after they die, you have to remember where the bulbs are, so you don't accidentally dig them back up when planting summer annuals. (Done that.)

- Summer is perfect. Everyone here seems to like summer best. About half of our neighbors have boats - the other half has a trailer or RV. It's warm enough for boating, swimming, tubing, etc. but the temperature rarely goes over 100 degrees.

- The leaves start to change colors late in September, instead of late October and November like I've always thought. As of now, about half of the trees are already bare.

- I get a little giddy when the leaves start to change red and orange. My favorite colors.

- It's really cool driving down the street in the neighborhood and hundreds of fall leaves are swirling around in the wind. I laugh at people's yards that are covered in 2 feet of fallen leaves - mostly because we don't have trees in our front yard and we don't have to rake!

- The first winter freeze kills EVERYTHING in your yard. Two days ago I had vibrant red and yellow mums (even some roses still). Today it's all black and crispy. It will be 6 months until we have flowers in the yard again. There are two advantages, though, with a winter landscape: super low water bills and no mowing the lawn!

- There is much to prepare for before winter hits: draining all hoses and irrigation pipes so they don't freeze, covering trailers/patio furniture/AC units/BBQ grills, etc., buying a snow shovel and salt for the sidewalks.

- It takes twice as long to get the kiddos ready to go to school in the snow - boots, warm socks, snow bibs, gloves, coats, hats and scarves (I can't get the phrase "I can't put my arms down!" out of my head as I get them dressed). Then when I drop them off at school and watch them drudge off to class like a pack of marshmallows, I cross my fingers and hope that all of those boots, warm socks, snow bibs, gloves, coats, hats and scarves will find their way home in the afternoon!

- The seasons are so short! It seems like we just barely watched all the trees blossom - now they're bare! The trees only get to keep they're leaves for 4 months!

- The cool thing about 4 distinct seasons is that there enough good things about each of them that you miss a season when it's over, but are excited for what the next season brings, and then can look forward to doing them all again the next year!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Halloween was pretty low-key this year, which was really nice. We were excited to get to stay home and pass out candy. For the occasion, I decorated the front porch for the first time.

I made chili for dinner, as usual, and then I took the kids out trick-or-treating. I guess we got pretty lucky with the weather. We've been told that in Halloweens past, the weather was cold, snowy and miserable. For us, the temperature was fairly mild and we only had to endure some light sprinkles of rain. The kids got tons of candy (Gillian filled her candy bag more than twice!) The girls then went to a Halloween party and sleepover and the boys came back to house and dumped and sorted their candy. Overall, it was a relaxing holiday. Here are pics of the kids in their costumes:

Captain Jack Sparrow

Indiana Jones (also named Henry)

High School Musical Cheerleader (Sam's own creation)

Witch (I think this is the third time Gillian has been a witch - she makes it work!)

In the future, I'll need to take down the Halloween decorations the DAY after Halloween, because the next day, a storm rolled in.

The heavy winds blew everything to bits, knocked over several pumpkins and took our gravestone away completely. It's now "resting in peace" in some other yard (or town). We get some really high winds at our house, because we live on what locals call "the bench". Our neighborhood is situated higher above the valley, which produces weather similar to what's in the mountains, but also gives us great views of the city.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Quick Getaway

Our friends, the Summerhays, invited us to join them for a one-night getaway the night before Halloween. Andrea's family has a cabin in Midway, which is only about 45 minutes away, on the other side of the mountains. Sounded fun to us, so Nathan took Thursday afternoon off, and we headed for the hills. The cabin is really neat. Andrea's dad is responsible for all of the decorating. It's very rustic - complete with a moose head, pine log furniture, and elk antler chandeliers. And the weather was fall-perfect.

After dinner, the kids played in the jacuzzi for a bit and then watched a movie before retiring to the "bunk-bed room". We arose EARLY the next morning the make it to school by 9 am for the big costume parade. Elliot also had a classroom Halloween party that I had volunteered to help out with. Samantha was also part of the the sixth-grade dance, Thiller. I'm glad I didn't miss that!

Then I had to run home to start making Halloween chili and cornbread!

Pumpkin Carving

We carved our pumpkins 2 days before Halloween. The kids picked a pumpkin from our "pumpkin porch" and we got to work. As usual, they didn't like pulling out the stringy goop - it's that way every year. Henry made multiple comments like "that's gross" and "oh, great - now I need to wash my hands".

Our kids are more interested in getting to the final result. So, as Nathan and I carved, the kids ate caramel apples.

In the end, the kids got what they wanted - tons of sugar stuck in their teeth and their Halloween jack o' lanterns.

Where's Samantha's pumpkin, you ask? Well, she has always been too cool for pumpkin carving - she sat in the kitchen reading a book the entire time!

Gardner Village

I thought that Gardner village was so fun that I had to take Nathan and the kids there two nights later for FHE. The village hosts a Witch Scavenger Hunt for kids every October. I downloaded the list before we left and the kids had a great time hunting for witches. For example, they had to find a "witch wanting a kiss", and a "hula-hooping witch".

The sign says "kiss the cook"

There were a dozen witches to find in all, and when the kids were done, they got to turn in their finished lists to the bakery for a cookie!

When we were heading back to the car, Gillian said, "Thanks Mom, that was fun." Oh, it's so nice to be appreciated!

Apparently, Gardner Village does the same thing at Christmas time, only with an "elf" hunt and hot cocoa for a reward. So, I guess we'll be going back in December!