Monday, July 28, 2008


We were so thrilled to have my grandparents, Nonny and Bob, stop in Logan on their way to the Utah Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City! We always love to see them and it seems like our visits come too far between.

They arrived on Friday night, so the boys visited them for a lovely evening of swimming at the RV park and visiting together. The boys LOVE Bob, especially because he will let them climb all over him!

Any time you throw a pool into the mix, my kids are happy. So happy, in fact, that it's difficult to get them to hold still for a picture!

On Saturday morning, my mom met us at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, just West of Brigham City, where we had arranged to go on a guided tour of the refuge. For those of you near this area, I would highly recommend this activity. Right now, they are doing construction on the road into the refuge, so we didn't get as complete a tour as we normally would have, but it was still great. The tour is currently offered twice a week and you go in an air-conditioned van (an absolute must-- and don't forget your sunscreen) to an area of the refuge that is off-limits to the general public. The tour lasts about 3 hours and you see some incredible birds. Plus, the education center is only a couple of years old and very nice, and the whole thing is completely free (they do accept donations, of course). It's a very fun, very educational family-friendly activity.

Anyway, back to our day: we had a great time! My mom and Nonny decided to dress alike. They said it was unintentional, but you never know. ;)

The boys LOVED looking through the binoculars! We brought our own little cheapies, but Nonny and Bob had some fancy Swarovskis, and the tour guides had some even fancier scopes. The really nice scopes were mounted on tripods and everyone took turns. It was very cool.

This picture doesn't do an awesome job, but you can kind of see the vast amount of birds feeding on the marshes in the refuge. I haven't been a birder to date (though I could see how you could get into it), so I'm not sure if I remember everything we saw. I do know that we saw a lot of funny avocets, spindly stilts (my favorite-- they're so cute!), snowy and great white egrets, pelicans, blue herons, white-faced ibises, grebes, and Canada geese. I'm positive I didn't mention everything!

Nonny and Bob, who are expert birders, were thrilled to see some baby coots at the end of our tour-- they had only seen adults to this point. I'd say our adventure was a success!

The construction is supposed to be complete in October of next year, and according to Chris, who did a feature story about the refuge last year, the best time to go is early in the morning in the Spring. We've been talking about planning an early morning bike tour of the 12 mile loop in May of 2010-- a long way off, but I'm still excited about it!

Friday, July 25, 2008


Chris set up a little oasis for us in the backyard: the whale pool and umbrella for the kids and another umbrella and a lawn chair for me. Even though it is crazy hot (well, not to you AZ people, but to everyone else), it is actually pleasant to be outside with conditions like this! Yesterday I got a tiny bit of reading done in my cozy chair, but mostly just relaxed with my feet in the water.

It's almost deep enough to swim, especially if you're wearing your googles.

Sweet relaxation!

I think the 24th of July is the funniest day. Before I moved to Utah, I thought this was just a normal day. Sure, we acknowledged the pioneers' arrival into the Salt Lake Valley with primary activities where we dressed up and sang that song about walking and walking and walking and walking and walking... but that was about it. Then, as a newlywed living in Salt Lake City, I was surprised by the fact that not only did I get the 24th off from work, but that they were actually going to hold a parade and fireworks even bigger than on the 4th! What? Sweet! Why? Oh yeah, the pioneers! Huh.

Sadly, the company I work for now is not based in Utah and therefore, I went to work yesterday. And of course, we know the whole "newspaper never sleeps" thing, so if Chris isn't getting Christmas off, he certainly isn't going to be home on Pioneer Day. But he was home in time for the fireworks, which we could see from our front porch.

Our next-door neighbors watched the fireworks with us and the little girl kept saying, "beautiful", but in her little girl voice it sounded like "pitiful." The show really was fun, but I had to laugh because the 4th of July fireworks show in Idaho Falls just spoiled me rotten. Comparatively, everything else really does look like an amateur attempt. "Pitiful," may be a bit strong, but it was no Freedom Celebration!

Before the fireworks, we brought out the sparklers left over from the 4th. I tried to mess with the shutter speeds on my camera (which I know absolutely nothing about) and I thought these ones turned out kind of cool.

One more thing about Pioneer Day-- for some reason, I can't help but remember this stupid camp song I learned at Pine Basin when I was in 5th grade...

If I had the strength of a pioneer, pioneer
Into the wood I would fly, WOULD FLY!
There to remain as a pioneer, pioneer
Until the day that I die, I DIE!

The song was so annoying that I still get it stuck in my head! Ha!

Oh, and yet another self promotion for my design blog (if you can't self-promote on your blog, where else can you do it?)-- another freebie and a comment contest!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Digi Scrapping Stuff

I just put a few updates on my design blog (Elise Hansen Designs), including a new FREEBIE & a link to a site with awesome tutorials on how to get started as well as advanced scrapper Q&A. Quite a few of you have asked for tutorials, and frankly, I'm just guessing half the time myself!

Also, I'm thinking about offering to do blog design-- probably have three or four free designs, then charge a small fee for custom blog layouts. Would people be interested in that? And, if so, what do you think would be a reasonable fee for a custom layout? Just throwing it out there...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

My Missing Virtue

I know I said recently that I don't usually share very personal things on this blog, but I've been working with this issue in my head the past few weeks... okay, years... and tonight I just feel like venting. So, skip this post if you want... I mostly just need to get my thoughts out of my brain.

I am not a very patient person.

I've felt this particular facet of myself very sharply in the past few months. There are certain things that I think need to happen for me and for my family, and these things, both big and small, have not happened the way I would like them to. When I was a teenager, my dad would often remind me that the world does not revolve around me, and I lately, I feel that teeth-grinding phrase sneaking back into my thoughts, another reminder that even though I'm an adult, this concept still holds true.

A few weeks ago, our Stake President spoke in our ward. He started out by going through a survey he had taken himself of people in this area on what they don't like about people in the church. It was really funny, and I have to admit that almost everything he said was something I had complained about at one point or another, except for gum-chewing, which Chris and I both do. As he went on, the comments became less funny as it started to hit home to me how critical and unforgiving I was being, both of others and of myself. He then spoke about what I believe should be the essentials of a spiritual person: love, acceptance, and patience. He told us to ease up on ourselves and each other, and to try to speak, act and think with love as the primary motivator. It was an incredible message and I felt very personally changed and challenged, and not in the way I was expecting. I came home resolved to be more loving and patient with my family and myself and the world in general.

Well, the weeks have passed and I feel my old self creeping back in. And then I feel frustrated that I couldn't just change overnight. It's the patience thing again-- the weakness I need to work on is gaining patience, and the only way to do that is to be... well, patient.

Tonight I was googling around to try to self-diagnose a little bit, and I came across a pretty good site ( if you want to check it out yourself) that had a description of how you feel when you're being impatient. It actually made me laugh out loud, because it's pretty much a description of how I've been feeling:

How do you feel when you are impatient?
burned out
over stressed
ill tempered
over responsible

Kind of funny, huh? And blah that I've been feeling like that! And even more blah that these feelings are all due to my own impatience!

The site has a couple of good exercises that I'm going to try, and hopefully these will help me relax a little bit and find joy and satisfaction in small, everyday progress.

The truth is that I do have a great life and I have so many incredible blessings. I just need to focus on being appreciative of the simple things and know that everything always works out for the best in the grand scheme of things. And stop checking my e-mail every two minutes. Sigh.

Okay, okay, I'm done for tonight. Back to fun stuff tomorrow! ;)

Little Updates

Thanks to Chris for digging this out of storage! It's not deep at all, but our funny whale pool manages to provide hours of entertainment on hot summer days for the boys. I like that I can just sit on the porch with a glass of icy water and not have to get into a swimming suit myself.

I am quite positive that the day will come (and much sooner than I'd like) when my boys will not be willing to dance in front of me, let alone for the camera. Until then, I'll keep taping as many of their impromptu jam sessions as possible!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy Birthday Becca!!

HAPPY, HAPPY Birthday sometime this month (I don't know the date for sure) to my dear friend, Becca Renfroe! First of all, if you've ever read The Renfroe Scoop, you will know why I adore Becca. She really is one of the coolest people on earth and I wish I was more like her! Becca and I were friends in high school, though I wish we would have spent more time with her then. She is one of those people who, when I think about my memories of her, I can't help but smile. She is one of the best, truest people I've ever known, and I hope she knows how much I've looked up to her. I love now that our boys could be carbon copies of each other and that we can swap funny stories about them. Our hubbies are also very similar (although hers is more generous with the x chromosomes) and it's been awesome to be in touch with her again! Yay for blogs!

Happy Birthday, Becca! I hope it is/was marvelous!!

What have we been up to?

Oh, you know, summer stuff...

Like eating ice cream sandwiches on the front porch...

Growing our hair out long enough to look a little, um, freaky? Haircuts tonight, I think!

Getting a fun visit from Grammuh!

Shame on me for not taking a bunch of pictures lately! Some activities, like swimming at Logan's lovely aquatic center, require me to leave the camera at home, and other times I've just forgotten. We've been having fun, though-- the boys are loving the warm weather and the opportunity to get outside every day. I've been loving our air conditioning and So You Think You Can Dance. Chris has been loving trying to figure out why the sprinklers don't hit all of the lawn (just kidding, I think the sentiment is opposite of love, actually). I wish we had big news, but at the moment, things are pretty low key. I love a lazy summer!

I'll try not to be quite so lazy and blog a little better! ;)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Happy Blog-iversary to Me!

Two years ago this week, I decided to start blogging. It's funny how time flies when you're sharing it with whoever happens to stop by your page! I love blogging and I love that I can honestly say that I keep a regularly updated record of our lives. Although I will probably never be one of those people who can just put everything on my blog-- I mean all of the mundane, or sad, or heavy things that happen to us humans-- I do think I've gotten better over these two years in sharing actual pieces of me. So, in that spirit, I thought I'd share a few two year old pictures that you won't already find on this blog.

Ah, Gordy, my little devil! In the past two years, Gord has grown into a kid, but he still has crazy hair!

Thomas has always been our more serious, sensitive boy. He is becoming more and more outgoing-- in fact, this past year, Chris and I had to try hard not to be thrilled when Tom's teacher reported that he had a problem being a little too social in class. From the little boy who cried every morning for the first two months of kindergarten, we thought that was a great improvement!

It's hard to believe that Chris and I have been together as long as we have, because I still feel the same way I did the day we took this picture on our 8th anniversary. Actually, I still feel like we're the same two stupid kids we were when we decided to get married. I'm glad that there are some things that haven't changed at all.

Thanks to all of you who read this blog regularly-- I love keeping in touch with you!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


We really like to gear up for events at our house. For example, on July 1st, Chris said, "Guess what I'm going to do next month? Watch college football!" I came home today to the Utes homepage on our monitor and Chris calling his mom in Salt Lake to discuss which home games he could think about attending.

Chris also likes to print up menus for restaurants that we may be going to in the future. He has already planned what he will order at each of our eating stops on our trip at the very end of this month, as well as some options for our anniversary on August 21st.

Yesterday Thomas handed me a hand-written note, which I quickly discerned was his Christmas list for this year. Um, it's JULY, buddy. Also, haven't I been the kind of parent to discourage that kind of materialism? Apparently not. Since it is a pretty cute list, I thought I'd share, with his spelling in tact:

1. Mario, Luigi, YoShey, BowlZer, Peach toys wearing Christmas hats (no, I don't know where he came up with that one)
2. Mario Kart set up with two mario Bros.!
4. Piano
5. Golf balls and some golf corses
6. A colering Book!
7. Christmas Blaknet!
8. Yo-Yo!
9. Compueter!
10. CamerA!!

There are only a couple of items on this list that are within the reasonable gift realm, so it looks like we're going to have to do some major PR work between now and December.

But what I am I talking about? December?!?

First we have to get through the thing that I am anticipating: the birth of this child! I think Chris is a tiny bit bummed that this event may take place during one of the previously mentioned college football games, and that it takes precedence over any and all sporting events.

I went to the doctor today and everything looks good, so I thought I'd do another pregnancy update. I can't really believe that I'm already in my third trimester-- it seems like this one has gone by so quickly! I feel pretty good for the most part and still have not gained enormous amounts of weight, although I am definitely not feeling very lithe these days. I make sure to groan when I have to get up and move around, just so Chris can appreciate my pain. :)

As far as my prenatal craziness goes, I did have a perspective-changing experience (which I may or may not write about) that has reminded me that things are really not so bad and that I should just turn down the wattage a little bit. I am sure everyone, particularly Chris and the boys, appreciates this!

I don't know if I have ultra strong cravings (as in, if I don't get what I want, I don't freak out or anything), but I have been eating a lot of corn dogs lately, which is really just disgusting if you think about it. The best one so far was at the Art Festival, but the one from Big J's in Preston was not too shabby.

The little dude has a nice heartbeat and moves around quite a bit now. I'm not sure what else to share about him except that we have decided on a name and that I hope his pre-life preparation included self-defense from rowdy older brothers.

I guess that's it. Oh what fun...

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Fantastic 4th!

July 4th is one of my favorite holidays, and spending it in Idaho Falls makes it that much better. IF puts on an incredible fireworks show every year and it seems like that spurs the residents to be extra patriotic. Add that to the great weather, fun people and of course, tasty food, and this holiday was one of our best yet!

Chris had to work on Thursday and Friday, so I took the boys to Idaho on Thursday afternoon. That night, I met up with Becky, Elena, and Stephanie for a fun girls dessert night. It's always fun hanging out with just the girls!

Becky, Steph, me... Elena not pictured, but she was there! ;)

On the 4th, we went down to Freeman Park along the Snake River for a picnic and lawn games before the fireworks. I think I can safely say that Bocce ball is the new DeArton fave.

My dad made that yummy cream cheese and onion dip and we blind-taste-tested which chips are actually better: Wavy Lays or Ruffles. Ruffles won by a landslide, which was no surprise to me.

Jake tasting one of the chips...

We've been dressing in patriotic colors for quite a few years now, and this year, several other family members did the same. Ann-Michelle's family definitely won the award for best-dressed-- she and Brynnie even had light-up hair things!

Cute kiddos: Gord, Tom, Brynn & Graham

Ann-Michelle in her awesome dress. Too bad I had to stick with lame maternity wear.

Allison and the sparklers.

One of the most fun things about the 4th in IF is that everyone (and I mean everyone) congregates at the river. We ran into several old friends and neighbors and it was so fun to catch up.

After the insane anticipation of the huge fireworks show, this is what happened to poor Gord just a few minutes before the first firework:

He did end up waking up halfway through, but mostly just whimpered rather than enjoyed the show. Luckily, the next night, my dad did a small scale fireworks show in my parents' backyard, so Gordon's firework dreams were realized.

On Saturday, my mom and I woke up early to drive to Provo to pick Caitlan up from EFY, then through Logan to pick up Chris. It was a long trip, but we had a fun time just talking and spending time together. We had the family over again on Saturday, but I managed to not take any pictures. I did, however, get this shot of an unplanned BYU/Utah-clad Caitlan and Gordon, looking oh so sporty in their team gear. See kids, Utes and Cougars can get along!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

A {little} hike

One of the things I absolutely love about living in Logan is the close proximity of mountains and the fun outdoor activities that come with them. A less than 20 minute drive on Tuesday took the boys and me to the entrance of Logan Canyon and the River Walk hike, which runs just along the Logan river. The hike is very easy and stays on a pretty flat plane, so we can go as far as we'd like. It's the perfect summer evening activity!

Our hikes consist mainly of Thomas and Gordon running as fast as they can until I yell, "I can't see you anymore!", after which, they run as fast as they can back to me. We repeat this pattern for almost the whole hike, until one of them decides that he is tired and thirsty, then we all stop for a break. My view the entire time pretty much looks like this:

Gordon's favorite thing to do, whether we are hiking or just walking down the street, is find rocks and sticks and other things to throw in the water. This particular hike is nice because the river is within throwing distance and the rocks are big and plentiful. Both boys had a fun time throwing the rocks and cheering at their big splashes. I was able to pull them away long enough to take a couple of pictures, but you can tell by their expressions that these are courtesy smiles so they can get back to rock-throwing.

I really should just come to terms with the fact that my children are not the least bit interested in having their pictures taken.

We're heading to Idaho Falls to celebrate the 4th with my family, so I won't blog again until we return on Monday. Hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday weekend!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Weekend Fun!

We had a great day on Saturday in Salt Lake City. The boys always love visiting "the brown house" (Gramm & Gramp's) and we had a full day of fun.

We started by meeting Grammuh and Grampuh at the Century theatre to see Wall-E a movie we have been talking about for several months. The boys were very good and they absolutely loved the movie. It really is such a cute show-- I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

After the movie, we headed up to the Hansen's to eat lunch and play while we waited for Emily, Jon & Abby to arrive from Colorado. This was their last visit to Salt Lake from Colorado before they move in a couple of weeks to Michigan. We've been spoiled having them so close and it was fun to see them again.

While the kids played, Chris and I got further acquainted with our little camera...

It was nice and toasty in Salt Lake, and lucky for us, Grammuh had the pool set up! The boys LOVE swimming-- especially Thomas-- and they enjoyed cooling off in the water while I ran a few errands.

I think this picture of Thomas jumping in the pool is hilarious. Scrawny little thing!

After the Hales arrived, we packed up and went downtown to the Salt Lake City Art Festival. I always enjoy seeing the eclectic mix of art at these shows, and it was fun to get Jon's (he just graduated with a Master's in Fine Art) perspective. Chris took the boys over to the kid's art yard, where they were able to make some of their own art.

Gordon was very excited to show off his creation-- so excited, in fact, that you can't tell what it is in this picture! Oh well, at least he's cute!

One of the highlights of the kids area was a setup with a bunch of musical instruments.

We ate a tasty dinner (the best of my four corn dogs this week by far) and had fun watching the kids play together. Abby is such a sweet little thing. We're excited for their new adventure, but sad that they won't be within driving distance!

Thanks again to Gramm and Gramp for giving us such a fun Saturday!