Monday, August 29, 2011

Photo of the Week 31

Taken at Point Defiance Botanical Garden in Washington.
I absolutely LOVE the water droplets along the leaves.

Neighborhood Celebrates Shawn's Birthday

At the end of July, our neighborhood block got together to help celebrate Shawn's birthday.  His wife, Aubrey, is a close friend of mine that I've had a blast serving with in Primary.  We all brought something to share for dinner and then started up the BBQ.  I've loved the summer days here in California allowing everyone to get out and have fun with each other!

Shawn blowing out his candles.

Who would have thought that the parking lot would be such an awesome hangout!?  Now if only we could find a good patch of grass...
The Bishop came riding in on his motorcycle to help celebrate the festivities.  His son, Nick, joined in as well.  Like father; like son!
It's no secret that Dallas and I have been trying to start a family.  It's been a frustrating and unsuccessful process, but I have to admit that I have the most amazing friends surrounding me.  They are so understanding about letting me fawn over their children and practice my photography on them.  There were so many opportunities at this party to capture what sweethearts they are.  
Look what cuties I have around me...

I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such incredible friends!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Flashback Friday: Poly Flava

During the summer of 2003, my friends and I threw one of my favorite parties of all time.  I had just recently returned from my semester teaching in New Zealand and I still had a "bit" of the Polynesian Islands on my mind.  What better summer group date than a themed "Poly Flava" one!?
 All of the girls pitched in with the decorations.  It was quite the feat!  We covered all of the apartment walls with light and dark blue butcher paper.  Than we all spent hours cutting out and creating fish and other sea animals to put in our 'ocean'.  The Heimback sisters pretty much took over using their creative genes to come up with some of the most creative sea life.  Becky even made duck butts to put on the ceiling so it looked like we were in the water looking up to the surface...genius!  We made a kelp garden out of brown butcher paper, hung green and blue ribbon and streamers from the ceiling to make it have the feeling of being surrounded by sea weed.  We also had a big bucket filled with sand for people to make sand castles and burning tiki torches.  We even filled an entire kiddie pool inside of our apartment and then put 30 gold fish inside...I'll fill you in on what we did with the left over gold fish later...  In short the decorations turned out amazingly!
 Everyone came dressed in their Polynesian outfits.  It was a good thing I brought back 7 different sarongs from New Zealand so those who didn't have anything to wear could borrow one.  JT even borrowed my coconut bar to wear for the evening, although it was a bit difficult to stay up!
 We started the evening with dinner, Hawaiian Pizza, but since there were over thirty of us attending, several sat outside on the grass to eat.  We then broke up into groups to play games while Polynesian music played in the back ground.  It was a great way to meet new people and have fun with friends.
 In the above picture you can see the kiddie pool along with all the gold fish.  The fish loved all the music!  After games we all packed into the apartment for a fun dance party.  One of my best friends, Whitney, and I ended up getting a little out of control (like usual) and almost fell into the worries though, no gold fish were that point...
 In the above picture you can see Mikey in front of the sandbox and tiki torches.  Thank heavens we had such great guy friends!  They were great about helping us move all the sand the next couple days.
 After dinner, games, and the dance party, we all drove out to the Heimback's cousins' house.  They have an incredible valley in their back yard that was perfect for an outdoor movie.  We all brought tons of pillows and blankets, coated on the mosquito repellent, and then sat back to enjoy our movie.  It was the perfect ending to a super fun date!
Thanks to all those who were a part of this night!  It continues to be one of my favorite memories from the 198th ward :)  Love you guys!

My Birthday...a month ago

I had a great birthday this year.
It was the day after I got back from Utah, so I spent most of the day trying to recoperate from my week long road trip.  I watched some movies, did laundry, went out to lunch with a good friend, and enjoyed my surprise gifts from the morning.  Dallas surprised me with three dozen gorgeous roses.  They were absolutely beautiful and made our house smell amazing!
I also found this incredible gift from my niece and nephews...
They had snuck over to our house at some point in the night and had "heart attacked" our front door.  Their drawings were pretty creative with a lot of inside jokes.  It melted my heart to see them all!  I love that we live so close together.  Here are just a few of my favorites from the door.
That night a bunch of girls came over to help celebrate.  One of my close friends, Jenny, also had a birthday that week so we thought it would be tons of fun to combine them.  All the girls came over for fun treats and then, since it was Monday night, we watched the Bachelorette :)  It was a perfect birthday!
 Most of our group, some girls came a little later and missed the picture.  (Back Row) Michelle, Stephanie, Jen, Ashley, Jules, and Kenzie.  (Front Row) Rachel, me, Jenny, and Emily.  I am so incredibly blessed to be surrounded by such fun and loving women!  They're GREAT friends!

I have to admit I am feeling a bit older.  It is weird to think that I am officially in my thirties and my gray hair never seems to slow down.  I guess that's life though.  We'll see if I'm still so calm about it next year!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Final Rose Ceremony

My summer has been so full with lots of fun!  Therefore I am spending these next couple evenings trying desperately to catch up with all of my posts before I start teaching next week.  Let's see if I can do it!

I have a guilty pleasure.
I happen to love ABC's the Bachelor and Bachelorette reality TV shows.

It started when I was living in south Provo with roommates Jules, Brittney, and Brooke.  They all loved the show and would record it each Monday night so we could watch it together as an apartment.  No matter how hard I tried (which wasn't that hard) I couldn't help but get sucked into the mind numbing drama.  So here I am four years later and I am still watching each season.  The best part, by far: the girls' parties each week!

Every Monday night a group of us girls would get together at my place and watch each episode.  We would gather and chat about which boy Ashley should choose, what ridiculous dramatic element each of the people were adding to the show, and giggle over the cheesy romance and one liners throughout.  It has been a great way for people to get to know each other and I love any excuse to throw a party and hang out with my girls!

So obviously I couldn't just do the basic for the final rose ceremony/season finale.  I had a lot of fun planning, decorating, and coercing my sweetheart of a husband to execute all of my ridiculous ideas.  First of all you can't have a Bachelorette Party without roses!  Thank you to Safeway for throwing a killer sale on roses that week!  Our house was covered from head to toe in red balloons, white candles, and hundreds of rose petals.  You would have thought it was our honeymoon or something!
Dallas was such a sweetheart and helped blow up hundreds of balloons, cut strawberries and lemons, and do most of the cleaning while I was preparing the party games.  I found pictures of each of the bachelors faces and created a Go Fish deck of cards for the girls to play while waiting for everyone to arrive.  It was pretty funny to hear the girls ask each other, "Do you have Aimes?" etc, "No, Go Fish!"  I also had a Bachelorette quiz game where I would throw chocolates at those who could answer the question correctly.  As people entered the apartment, they voted for who they thought Ashley was going to choose, Ben or JP.  I also had a raffle with fun give aways people put their names into.
The girls brought fun treats to share with everyone, so we were set for the evening.  One thing that you have to know before coming to one of our parties is that there is LOTS of talking, all about the show.  Needless to say when Ashley finally did make her choice there was an uproar from Ben supporters and cheers from JP supporters.  Hopefully we didn't scare my neighbors too badly!
It was such a fun night and I feel so blessed to be surrounded by such fun women.
Thanks for coming everyone!
We will have to do it again soon!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guess Who's the Birthday Girl??

Much to my mother's protests, I am dedicating an entire post to her in honor of her birthday.  Growing up in the middle of a whole bunch of boys, my mother was my ally.  True we had our ups and downs once I hit puberty, like I have mentioned before I tended to be quite the drama queen, but she literally was, is, and will continue to be my best friend.
I have several favorite memories with my momma.
I love coming home and singing for hours while she plays the piano.  We are the best at duets since our voices literally match one another.  There have been countless road trips where we sing along to musical after musical at the tops of our lungs, even conducting the orchestra on the side.

My mom has held me through all of my hardest moments in life and constantly lends a listening ear.  When I taught full time, she would drive all the way down to Utah a couple weeks before school started just to help set up the classroom.  Any teacher knows how crazy those few days before school starts are!
Mom is a perfect example of love.  She loves so opening and freely; family, friends, neighbors, ward members.  Her constant example to love and serve those around you is inspiring.  Both she and dad have emulated throughout the years unconditional generosity.  No matter what their circumstances, they always find ways to give to others.

I loved shopping for the wedding with my mom.  I remember standing in the mirror swishing my puffy white wedding gown back and forth with my mom.  We both were so excited to have found the princess dress of my dreams.  I loved having her in the temple with me, in the bridal room, putting together the finishing touches.
Dallas jokes about how touchy my family is.  I realized a long time ago that my love language is touch, but Dallas pointed out how each of the siblings, when we return home, tend to fight over who can sit close to mom.  He said it's pretty funny to sit back and watch us casually get closer and closer, stealing eachother's spots, so we can be closest to mom.  We lay on her lap, have her scratch our backs, play with our hair, etc.  It says a lot when your six children, even those in their 30's, are still trying to get snuggle time with their mother!
Mom, I love you.
Your children love you.
Your husband loves you.
Your family loves you.
Your friends love you.
I'm sure the owners of the 5th Avenue Theater and Paramount Theaters love you.
That's a lot of love.
Hopefully you feel very blessed!

Happy birthday, mommy!
I hope you had an incredible day celebrating.

Seattle: Les Miserables

 When I was a little girl, I remember my mother first introducing me to the music of Les Miserables.  I would lay on my bed listening to the cassette tapes and sing along reading the lyrics as I went.  There were even times I would act out different scenes from the play in front of the mirror.  I was quite proud of my Fantine and Eponine death scenes in particular.  (If you couldn't tell, I was quite the drama queen...)  I remember my mom getting the sheet music for the piano and quickly we made it a tradition for me to sing with her as she played the accompaniment. 

I vividly remember seeing Les Miserables for the first time in Seattle.  I was around 10 years old and couldn't get over how beautiful the 5th Avenue Theatre was.  From the time the orchestra started to play to when the conductor cut off the final note, I was mesmerized; literally enchanted by the music, voices, and talent from the stage.  Tears streamed my face throughout the evening to several of my favorite songs; "I Dreamed a Dream," "On My Own," "Bring Him Home," "Little Fall of Rain," "Stars," "One Day More," and "Do You Hear the People Sing."  Throughout the years the magic never faded.  I was able to see Les Miserables another three times, twice in New York and once in London, all with the same emotional outcome.

I was lucky to have music surround me growing up and was blessed to have parents put forth such an effort and priority in exposing us to the beauty found within musicals, specifically Les Miserables.  So you can see why last month, when PBS reran their 25th Anniversary Concert program of Les Miserables (staring my absolute favorite of all time--Lea Solanga as Fantine) I found myself sitting 'on my own' in front of the television sobbing my eyes out singing along to each of the songs.  I quickly called my mom in tears giggling at my obnoxiousness.  It was during this conversation that she told me she and dad had gotten tickets for both Dallas and I to attend the 25th Anniversary tour coming through Seattle this past weekend.  It was the absolute PERFECT birthday present!
 From my family: Mom, Dad, younger brother Stuart, younger brother Richard and his wife Leisha, Dallas and I.  We also met up with our "extended family," Ben and Kim.

 The 5th Avenue theater has always been one of my favorite theaters, probably due to all of the childhood memories.  It is gorgeously decorated with intricate gold and silver Chinese designs and has an incredibly detailed ceiling.  All of the below pictures were taken from various sites on the internet.
 We were extremely spoiled with INCREDIBLE seats eight rows from the stage.  (Thank you again mom and dad!!)
 It is a family tradition to get together during intermission and compare/discuss what we think of the production.  I love to talk with mom about the different voices and compare them to past cast members we have seen.  There wasn't much to say except praise during this intermission!  They all had such incredible voices, especially Jean Val Jean.  His rendition of "Bring Him Home" was to die for; flawless falsetto.

For the 25th Anniversary Tour all the sets have changed.  I loved the new additions.  They used a great mix of modern technology yet still stayed true to the original feel of the play.  The orchestration was also revamped, adding lots of new and interesting instruments to the mix.
Once again, Les Miserables did not dissappoint!  I swear I could see this play another 30 times and still feel that same tingle down my back lifting the hairs on my arms every time that opening chord plays from the orchestra pit.  It continues to be my favorite musical of all time.

Thanks so much for the amazing weekend, mom and dad.  We love you both so very much and feel constantly spoiled by your extreme generosity!

Couldn't help but share two performances from my favorite Broadway star of all time, Lea Salonga.  I first fell in love with her when she starred in Miss Saigon.  She later starred as Eponine in the 10th Anniversary Tour of Les Miserables and as Fantine in the 25th Anniversary Tour.  After all these years her voice remains incredibly pure and powerful!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Photo of the Week 30

Dallas and I just got back from an incredible weekend in Seattle visiting family and seeing the 25th Anniversary touring cast of Les Miserables.  Needless to say it was an amazing weekend and I can't wait to post all about it!  The photo of the week captures two of my little nieces enjoying the cold water in the Pudget Sound at Point Defiance beach.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Utah Trip

As the summer is coming to a close, I look back and am in awe of how quickly it flew by!
Do I really start teaching in a couple weeks?
I was told that as you get older the years fly by faster and faster.
I look in the mirror and see the gray roots coming in and the smile lines visible next to my eyes and can only imagine how fast the years will continue to fly by!

In July I spent a week in Utah visiting friends and family.  It was a last minute decision to drive out for a few days and was unfortunately not able to see several dear friends due to the limited time.  If you were one of those friends I wasn't able to get in touch with, I'm so sorry and hope to be out there again soon!

The main purpose of my trip was to spend some time with my new little niece, Brynnlee.  Brynn was born in February and I couldn't wait any longer without meeting her!  I spent the first couple days of my trip hanging out with my sis-in-law, Ashleigh, and getting as many snuggles in as possible with little Brynn.  Anyone who knows me, knows that I tend to be a little obsessed with my nieces and nephews and Brynnlee is no exception to this rule!  Within seconds I fell in love with her sweet smile and heart melting laugh.  It's so much fun to see Ashleigh and Robbie as parents.  They are so proud and excited, how could they not be!?  Ash and I had tons of fun going out to lunch at Kneaders and then spending the rest of the day shopping.  I may have had some fun buying clothes for little Brynn.  My only wish is that we lived closer and we got to see them more often.  The good news is that we will all be together for Christmas this year in Wyoming.  Can't wait to see our Perkins family!

The second day in Utah I met up with some of our closest friends, the Aydelottes.  I wish I could put into words how good it was to see them.  They recently moved from California to Utah in April and it has been so hard to have them gone.  Tammy was my first friend I made when I moved to the Pleasant Hill area and they quickly became a permanent fixture in our lives.  It was a serious "pick-me-up" getting to catch up with them!
 Stella had just barely turned 2 when Dallas and I moved to California, now she is a big 5 year old riding a bike!  I can't believe how old she is getting.  She was so excited to show me her new bike and tell me all about her upcoming year of Kindergarten.  My favorite: she would come up behind me and jump on my back giving me a big hug and say how much she missed me.  The feeling is mutual, Stella, the feeling is mutual!
 Ruby was born on New Years and is probably the chunkiest little girl I have ever seen!  I loved going over to their house before they moved and spending hours simply snuggling with little Ruby.  She's such a sweetheart and so kissable.  Don't you just love all the fat roles?  To say we miss you guys would be a horrible understatement.  We love you guys so much and can't wait to see you all again.  We are counting down to New Years!
The Aydelottes: Ruby, Glenn, Stella, and Tammy

My third day in Utah I drove from Ogden down to Salt Lake to have lunch with one of my New Zealand girls, Ashley.  It had literally been since 2005 that I had last been able to see Ashley.  After our semester teaching in New Zealand, Ashley and I decided to travel back to NZ two years later for a month of adventure.  The below collage is just a few highlights from our second trip to NZ together.  It was SO good to catch up with her.  Ashley is one of the most genuinely kind people I have ever met.  She is such a dear friend and is so beautiful, talented, and loveable.  As you can tell, I could go off about how incredible this girl is, but I will refrain for the time being.  Needless to say, lunch was so much fun seeing her again and reminiscing about old adventures together.  I love ya, girl!  We totally need to have a girls weekend asap!
 After lunch in Salt Lake, I drove down to Provo/Orem and up the Provo Canyon.  I lived in Provo for 10 years going to school at BYU and then later accepting a teaching position in south Provo.  It brought back so many memories revisiting my old stomping grounds and feeling so blessed to have met such incredible people along the way.  I absolutely love living in California now, being so close to the ocean, but I do miss the Utah mountains.  I had a gorgeous drive up through the canyon and down memory lane.
 After my drive up the canyon, I picked up Cammi for a fun girls' afternoon.  I started mentoring Cammi back in 2004 until I got married in 2008.  I love Cammi with all of my heart.  She is one of the most brilliant and creative people I have ever met.  I used to call her my little Camstar, but when I picked her up, I quickly realized she is not so little any more!  She is now in high school, wearing makeup, and talking about boys.  It was SO much fun to hang out with her and catch up!  We went and got pedicures and then out to dinner.  She is such an amazing girl and I am so excited to see all that she'll accomplish in her life.  I love ya, Cammi!  Thanks again for the fun afternoon!
After my fun afternoon with Cammi, I drove down to south Provo and spent the night with my good friend Tracy.  It turned out to be a rather long night, since my air mattress I brought kept deflating and I ended up on the hard ground.  If I were smart I would have just moved to one of Tracy's couches...but that would have required me to be coherent in my decision making.  When she left for work the next morning, I drove out to Spanish Fork to meet up with one of my best friends, Janelle.  Janelle is my sister, or the closest I can get to a sister having all brothers!  She has been such a strength throughout the last 7 years that I've known her.  I love her so much and count her friendship as one of the sweetest blessings I've received in my life.  We spent the morning chatting and then we went out to lunch at one of my favorites, Cafe Rio.  Many a night I've dreamed about the grilled chicken salad with fresh pico, lime, and cilantro.  It was a perfect relaxing afternoon of talking and eating.
After our lunch we headed over to Jason's house.  Both Jason and Janelle taught with me at Sunset View Elementary for several years and have continued to be two of my closest friends.  They've both been out to visit the bay area twice a year since I moved, so our crazy adventures continue.

One of my other main reasons for visiting Utah, was to attend the midnight showing of the last Harry Potter movie.  I know, I'm in my thirties and I planned a trip around the opening of a kid's movie, but the Harry Potter series has been a huge chunk of my life the past few years.  I've spent years teaching in the classroom, using the characters developed by J.K. Rowling to show the value of friendship, bravery, creativity, forgiveness, love, etc.  Wonderful memories have been shared with friends reading the books, attending the movies, and even traveling to Harry Potter World.  As teachers we would attend the midnight opening movie and then go into school the next day for work.  I thought it was only necessary that I make the journey out to Utah to attend the midnight showing one last time with my dear friends.
 Janelle, Jason, and I decided that the perfect way to warm up before our midnight fun was to watch the first of the Harry Potter Deathly Hallows movie.  Jason has quite the bachelor pad, so we lived it up on his leather couches, surround sound, and massive projection screen. 
 Janelle and I got the job of getting to the theater early to save seats for everyone.  We thought it would be smart for us to grab some dinner to sneak in while we waited.  My other favorite restaurant in Provo: Gurus, where they serve the absolute best cilantro lime quesadillas ever!
 Provo Town Center was crawling with thousands of crazy Harry Potter fans.  It made for the perfect evening of people watching and catching up with friends.  Gregg and Julie met up with Janelle, Jason, and I for the evening's festivities...and yes I brought my Elder Wand I bought at Harry Potter World.  It was an incredible night.  The movie was great and I thought did justice to a priceless series.  I was pretty tired by the time we got home at 3:30am, though!
The next morning Janelle and I slept in and tried to recuperate from the previous night.  For lunch we met up with our dear friend Suzanne.  She used to teach at Sunset View as well and quickly became an incredible mother figure.  She was even able to attend Dallas and I's temple sealing, so it was so good to see her again.
That night I met back up with Tracy.  Tracy has been one of my closest friends since we started hanging out in 2006.  We met through mutual friends and quickly became inseparable.  It's been hard living in California and she in Utah to not have our weekly movie and lunch dates, but we've still been able to see each other.  She's been a great travel buddy over the years as well, going on our Mexican Cruise and our recent trip to Florida.  While Tracy and I were in Florida we spent an entire day at Harry Potter World, so it only seemed fitting to see the last Harry Potter movie with her as well!  We met up at the movie theater, took fun pictures with all the posters after, and then went out to dinner.  We spent hours talking about boys, future plans, and old adventures.  I love her so much and wish we could see each other more often!
 Saturday morning, Janelle and I woke up early to go out to breakfast with some of the teachers from our old school.  It was so much fun to catch up with them and laugh for hours.  I couldn't have asked for a more perfect teaching experience in Provo.  I made some of the best friends, learned from some of the most talented teachers, and made incredible life changing memories.  Thanks everyone for making time to see me and catch up!  It was so good to see you all!
 Saturday afternoon I drove from Spanish Fork up to American Fork for a small Devonshire Reunion.  I previously posted about my experience living in the apartment complex, Devonshire, while attending BYU.  Dallas laughs at how often I talk about my "Dev" friends and how I would literally do anything for them, but it's totally true!  My three years living in the Dev were some of the most memorable, loving, and exciting years of my life.  I made my best friends there.  It was so good to see some of them and spend the afternoon catching up on everyone's lives.  Thanks so much Jill, Alex, Lindsey, Ashley, Cory, Don, Jeff and Stacy!  It was so much fun to see you all and feel that Dev love again!  Can't wait for our next get together!
 After the BBQ at Jeff and Stacy's house, I met up with my little Kelsey.  Kels became a close friend of mine while she was living with her sister (my neighbor) in California.  She and I went on some pretty interesting adventures, hiking and exploring San Francisco.  She has been attending BYU-Idaho and drove all the way down from Rexburg when she found out I'd be in Utah for a few days.  Boy, do I love this girl!  She is such a sweetheart and so full of life.  We had so much fun hanging out at the Provo River trail.
 Kelsey drove down from BYU-Idaho with her roommate, Crystal, who was also a doll!  We got Jamba Juices and then walked along the Provo River Trail.  I'm not sure how it all started, but before long Kels had managed to dunk herself in the freezing river water.  Have I said that I love this girl!?  Luckily I had a blanket in my trunk to wrap her in for the ride home.
As you can see I did A LOT in my five days in Utah.  I feel so blessed to be able to see so many of my dear friends.  It was a perfect week full of laughter, hugs, pictures, food, and catching up with some of the greatest people in my life.  I love you guys.  Thanks so much for taking time to meet up with me!

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