May 20, 2014

Favorite Esther Moments: Age 3


  • Esther went on an almost 3 mile bike ride with Chris, attracting many stares and comments from passers by.  At one point Chris called up to ask, "Esther are you going fast?"  She responded with classic, Esther-like enthusiasm: "Yes I am! Yep! Yep! Yep!" I love that girl. 
  • "Let's go on the heeter totty" (Pretty sure she means teeter totter but I won't be the one to tell her that.)
  • For some time now, Esther has been taking clothes from her dresser drawer and moving them to a different drawer in the other dresser.  It wasn't all her clothes, just her skirts, leggings, and a few shirts. I find this frustrating since it's usually right after I've folded and put her clothes away neatly. One day as I was watching her move the clothes to the other dresser she explained her methods, "This drawer (where she was moving the clothes) is for my beautiful clothes. Those (pointing disdainfully to the first drawer) are my clothes that are not beautiful." 
  • Her candid assessment of the smily-face the Costco clerk drew on the back of our receipt: "I don't like it. I'd rather have a snake." 
  • While helping me wash the dishes Esther was measuring her height against mine.  As she finished, she declared (with such assurance that I have do doubt it was premeditated): "When I am big, I will drive the car and you will sit in my seat." 

May 6, 2014

Ukraine Travels: Part I

Before moving to California, we took the kids to spend 2 weeks in easter Ukraine. Why Ukraine during riots and winter? Well, my mom and dad live there while serving a mission for our Church and since they can't leave the country, we went to them.  The trip was almost called off due to the civil unrest and warning emails from the State Department's travel advisory.  If we didn't go we had 2 weeks of homelessness since we had to move out of our Washington house on March 11 but couldn't move in to our California house until the 27th. We considered a long road trip through California, but 2 days before our scheduled departure and after talking it over with my parents, we decided to go.

We finished packing up the our stuff in a POD which left for California, then we said goodbye to Washington and drove to the airport for a 20 hour flight. It was a big day!

I was nervous for the flights and had packed loads of food, sticker books, kindle, crayons, etc but the kids did really well, or at least, better than I had feared.  Esther especially loved watching movies on the flight.  We flew from Seattle to Paris (so hard to get on the next plane) to Kiev to Donetsk.  Once we left Paris I didn't see any other American travelers.  No surprises there. I was a little worried that we would be a target since there has been some Anti-American sentiment in the area, but we didn't experience any at all. The only rebuke we got was from the Ukrainian women who were worried that our children weren't dressed warmly enough. They gave up their seats for us on the bus, let us board the airplane ahead of them so the kids could be warm.  Everyone was very kind and I think it was largely due to the children. My mom said that the Ukrainians tend to all be very involved in raising the children and that there is not violence against children.  

Once we made it to Donetsk, and discovered that our bags never left Paris (Esther: "Our bags didn't come out!") it was SO happy to see my mom and dad.  We hadn't seen them since the previous June when they left on their mission, before that they had been living in Moscow for 3 years, so it's always a special occasion to spend time with Grandma KLynn and Grandpa Bob.  They met us at the airport with their driver, Brother Vladimir who is an exceptionally kind person and takes very good care of my parents. I think my mom and I both cried a little and Sam was quickly passed  over to his grandparents and I barely held him the rest of the time we were there.

Our first day there my dad was interviewing the missionaries from Donetsk so we sat in the kitchen as my mom baked fresh bread to give the missionaries while they waited for their turn to be interviewed. I loved getting to know the Elders and sisters that my parents have come to love so much. It was an outstanding group of people and they were so full of energy and enthusiasm. Esther tends to be shy around strangers but there was one missionary, Elder Bingham, who got her to open up and by the end she loved teasing the missionaries.

The next day was more interviews, but this time we traveled down to Mariupol which is down on the Sea of Azov (just east of Crimea which had recently been annexed by Russia).  I was again struck by the difficult living conditions of the people.  The apartment buildings are in the Soviet block style  and seemed like they could crumble in at any moment. The church building stood out dramatically with it's simple but pretty landscaping, nice rod iron fence, and well built/maintained structure. It was about the only new, clean, inviting place I saw in the entire city. 

At the church we met a long-time member who knew my brother-in-law Joshua when he was a missionary there over 15 years ago. She invited us in and took us to the primary room where she got toys for the kids and we all sat on a carpet and she told us about when Joshua was a missionary. She has 3 daughters, two of which are married and live in Texas. She just wept when she saw my kids and was so happy for my mom to be able to see her grandchildren. I felt so sorry that she didn't get to see her own grandchildren. It was clear when talking with her (even though it was through a translator) that she was one of the stalwarts in Mariupol who was helping to keep the church going. She was full of life and full of faith. I loved spending time with her and left wanting to be a better person. 

A few other people, in addition to the missionaries, were coming and going at the meeting house. One of them was a favorite of Sam's who only wanted to be held by this brother and would cry when we took him away.

After the interviews, we all walked along the sea and on the boardwalk. There were men fishing even though the water was dark and murky because of the large coal mines. The air quality is so bad that missionaries only spend a couple of transfers there so as not to damage their lungs. Yikes!

These two ladies are such dear friends already. Esther loved following grandma around, laughing and playing the whole time. So thankful for grandmas! 

December 19, 2013

Merry Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas to all! We love this time to reflect on the Savior and our Heavenly Father's love. 

Esther has taken to using my iPad and watching the Mormon Channel. Her favorite is this Christmas Mormon Message that I'll share with you. 

We recently moved from our "barn" into a real house.  Apart from having a place for both my kids to sleep uninterrupted, and a ceiling tall enough for Chris to stand up tall, and enough windows to know whether the sun is out or not, the BEST part of the house has been getting it all decorated for Christmas. 

It was our first year getting a Christmas tree and Washington is definitely the right place for that.
Here I am with Sam at the little tree farm where we could choose any tree to cut for $20. Not a bad deal.

The winning tree and a very blurry photograph. 

The tree skirt.
The stockings, nativity, and advent wreath

The cute little lady in last year's dress that finally fits. Guess who loves Christmas?!

Esther LOVES Christmas music. Her favorite songs are: Jingle Bells, Rudolph, Frosty, and Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and Mister Grinch.  She loves opening up a new Christmas book each day.  She is a bit worried Santa is going to eat her (not sure why).

Happy Saint Nicklaus Day!

On the night of December 5th we set our shoes out for Saint Nicklaus to come a "check on us" to make sure we're being good before Christmas.  Esther was worried he wouldn't leave a present because we forgot to leave carrots for the reindeer, but the next morning we found a new hot chocolate maker on our doorstep along with some other surprises in our shoes.  After that, Esther kept asking if we could set our shoes out for Santa. Clever. 

October 4, 2013

Happy 30th Birthday

Celebrating 30 Years of Chris

We took the entire day to celebrate the momentous occasion and it was delightful! Chris is embarking on a new decade of life and in order to set the tone for the day/year I woke him with the music of "The Best is Yet to Come."  The rest of the day proceeded as follows:

-Breakfast: German pancakes, berries, and even bacon- something rarely seen in my kitchen
-Gifts in the form of maple syrup, homemade granola, and a few other yummies from Trader Joe's
-Exercise: take the kids to the YMCA so we can work out together. Feels like we're already on a date. But then we go home to change, take the kiddos to the (blessed) Dyers, and we drive to Seattle for the real date.
-Date: Sailing! So fun to be out on the Sound and experience the quiet movement of a sailboat. Bliss! Definitely a favorite. Chris is considering taking it up as a new hobby.  
-Dinner: Walk through Seattle to get sushi. Yum!
-More Gifts: We put our mother's gifts to good use as we purchased a pair of much needed running shoes and two desperately needed white shirts.  Thank you parents!

-Cake: German Chocolate, of course, which we decided to wait and eat with the Dyers. That way we could enjoy their company and ensure we didn't eat the entire goodness ourselves. :)

Without the kids we feel so young...which is ironic since we were supposed to be celebrating his advancing age. It was a wonderful day with a wonderful man!

August 27, 2013

Deception Pass, fishing, and other adventures

We got to spend a night camping with the Dyers and other friends from their ward up at Deception Pass. The combination of islands, beaches, lakes, and forests make this place absolutely stunning and sadly the pictures do not do is justice. 

Esther's favorite games while hiking (and every other time) are galloping like a horse and playing hide and seek with daddy. Can you find them?

Apparently, the Salmon run up a river near us so we (meaning Chris with my full support) are taking up fishing! I was surprised by how fun it was for the whole family.  Esther explores along the river and, inevitably, gets soaked in the water, Sam sits with mom while I read, and Chris does the actual work (naturally) of fishing , and we all get to enjoy being outside in a pretty place. Now we just need to make it out to the river this week since the fish are actually running!

Snohomish River

Up the road from our house is a pasture with miniature donkeys that are SUPER cute. Esther and I have had to pull over on several occasions to admire them. So when we learned that one of those very donkeys would be at the Snoqualmie Ice Cream - o - Rama (what exactly is an O-Rama anyway?) we knew we had to be there.  We met Little Red Man, but Esther who was in desperate need of a nap, didn't get her usual thrill out of the donkey.  We also got to see some goats, a miniature horse, chickens, and best of all, some Alpacas which are very cute and apparently quite lucrative since their fleece can be sold for up to $30 an ounce. Who knew? Chris is considering them as a future pet for our kids since they fairly easy to maintain AND they are an income producing animal unlike dogs, cats, and especially goats. (The Hardy can understand.) 

August 4, 2013

Utah Trip Part II

Our second week in Utah, while my parents were at the MTC, we got to spend a couple nights with my sister who just moved to Salt Lake from Chicago.  We had a picnic at Sugar House Park, played games, ate gelato, talked, played with cousins.  Love having them closer!

 We even had time to visit with some dear friends. 

Adrianne and Rachel from High School.  They are even more amazing as they were back then.

Meredith and Brittney  - wonderful room mates from BYU.  These two women taught me so much about obedience and commitment to the gospel.  Love them! (Since I forgot to get a picture with them, I stole this from Facebook since it was only taken a couple weeks later at Brittney's wedding. Wish I could have been there!)
The Hansens were our dear friends in North Carolina. Luckily we both were visiting Utah at the same time so we got to spend a lovely afternoon at Aimee's parent's house. I love how Aimee incorporates regular gospel teaching in her home.  She is one amazing momma.  Love this family!  
We're keeping this picture for when Grant and Esther are both at remind them to be friends. :)

Wednesday, we went back to Kaysville to welcome my parents back from the new mission president's seminar. They had just spent 5 days being taught by living apostles of Jesus Christ along with other church leaders, and when they walked in the door we all noticed a visible change in them. They were radiant! They were both so excited to get going. It was a special evening to sit and listen to them tell us of their experiences. The whole family is starting to catch on to the missionary spirit.

We spent the next day just enjoying be together one last time. 
Sam and my grandma Beth who will be 95 next month. She is amazing!

Then early Friday morning we all donned our Cyrillic "I love Ukraine" tees and went to the airport.  
There were smiles...

...and even more tears.


Away they go!
(To this day, Esther still thinks grandma and grandpa are at the "air fort.")

Goodbye mom and dad. We'll pray for you every day until you come back.