Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008, first big Ski day

It's great that Christmas and New Years fall on Thursdays this year. That way, you pretty much have a whole, long, holiday weekend to hang out with family, go out to eat, go to the movies, etc. Unfortunately, we REALLY miss that being out here in UT. The Hardy parents were going out with friends to a Mexican place last night, and we really wish we could have be there. As a small consolation, we got a really white, Christmas snow storm to enjoy. The next morning, I went out to shovel and saw the morning sun hitting Ben Lomond peak which was beautiful.








All the snow also made for a great day skiing on Saturday. Snowbasin is a great place because it is not immediately close to Salt Lake airport like Alta, Snowbird, or any of the Park City resorts. So going skiing during Christmas week wasn't too crowded at all. I was able to walk on the lifts without waiting in line. Esther stayed home, keeping warm with cats and a dog at her feet.



Above: This is how crowded Snowbasin can get Christmas weekend.

Above: This pic is from the top of the Strawberry lift, looking down into Ogden. It was 5 degrees, and I think the winds were going about 30-40MPH. I could only stand it long enough to snap this picture before skiing down low enough to be sheltered by the wind.


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Christmas itself was a blast. Somehow Rascal managed to "wrap" himself. He was parading around in his bow, and we both asked each other if we had put it around him. So I guess he did this himself.




Having our first Christmas together with our dog was also great. I grew up balling up the wrapping paper to throw for a dog to chew up, and Storm proved that doing so is just instinct. She left a perfect Christmas mess on our living room floor.



We hope everybody had a wonderful Christmas. It still is Christmas too. As my mom would say, it's a season, and before you take down the lights, remember that historically, the wise men haven't even shown up yet. :)

Merry Christmas!!
Stay tuned for Happy New Year wishes and what we chose to do for our first Utah New Years....:)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Daily Goodbye

I'm usually the first to leave the house while Esther finishes up breakfast. Each day, this is my last view of the house:






Sometimes it's a cat, Rascal or Harley, but most of the time this is the close-up puppy face I see as I'm pulling away:






The snow piles are growing..... last year they ended up taller than me.... can't help but hope they get even higher this year!

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Snow's been falling almost everyday, and it may snow on Christmas, which we're very excited about.

Friday, December 12, 2008

An Appealing Idea...

Since moving to Utah, the topic of starting a family is raised daily in one way or another. Currently, we are caring for our pastor's 16 year old son while he and his wife are away for a week...so we are overnight "parents" to a teen. This naturally gets us talking about parenting and how we see ourselves as prospective parents.

When we are not housing teen boys under our roof or babysitting
younger children of our friends or talking to our TEEN PARENTS about their kids, we are talking about all of our friends who are starting or growing their families. Since moving here, our friends at home are having babies at a somewhat alarming rate (SO SO sorry to miss all of those baby showers folks ;). And of course, living in Utah, most of our friends here have kids-even our younger friends. Not only do we talk about these things almost daily, but our friends (and family) are known to ask us about our intentions in this area on a regular basis...it seems it is the thing to do.

So, what are our thoughts and intentions?

Well, while the idea of having a baby is very appealing, I have to admit that
the idea of raising a child is not. We have plans to pay off debt, save $ and
travel more before starting down the one-way road of parenthood. Not to mention that my career is just starting and I'd like to have some real experience and make a name for myself before taking time off to be a full-time mommy. After all, how will we ever pay off my school loans if I don't work them off myself?

Ben's take would be only slightly different. He would add MORE SKIING to the list of things we would like to do before parenthood. :)

So, while these are all good arguments to delay starting a family (of babies,
not pets-we are already on that road!), I will expound on the appeal of having a baby. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a mommy. I have wanted to know the connection to the child growing inside...and then watch as that child grows into the person God has planned, using myself and Ben as His #1 agents of love and grace in the child's life...being examples of His love and yet a constant reminder of why His perfection is found only in His Son's life, love and gift of salvation.

Then there is the flip side of that appeal-the fear I have of this sin-riddled world and the toll it can take on even the youngest of souls. I witness it daily in the children I encounter in my job and in my own sinful life. Do I really want to bring another child into this world as I know it?

The answer is difficult, yet simple. It is in God's hands. I am not ready to
plan on being Mommy, but I know that God's plan is ultimately what is best and I trust in that. It doesn't mean that I will not be scared out of my mind when (or if) that day comes, but I will find comfort, as I always do, in my God's promises to love me and do what is best for me...and any little ones that He entrusts to Ben and I. He has proven Himself to be my Father, my Mother, my Saviour and Lover of my soul...if He will be that for me, He can be that for my children...if He calls them and they respond with open hearts...

So, this is not a usual light-hearted or silly post about snow, mountains or wonderful pets...but as I said, this is a daily topic of conversation, contemplation and concern in our home and in my heart. And I don't see it changing anytime soon...but please give us a few years to work out some things before we start planning a pregnancy...

Now I am off to read Psalm 139 because it speaks to this topic and to my heart each and everytime my eyes fall on the page.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finally Winter

We had a great Thanksgiving. Katers dropped in to bring family to the Holiday, which we were greatful for! We REALLY miss the big family get-togethers in general, and over the holidays especially.
We toured Snowbasin which had some great fires goin in the fireplace. We enjoyed a great Thanksgiving dinner with Kate, and our buddy Adam.
The cold weather and snow are finally on their way, after a fall of t-shirts and light jackets. Along with the colder weather, the animals in the household have featured some strange "growths" as of late- just in time for the Ogden holiday parade.
It was a great parade, although we were surprised at the reserved nature of those lining the streets. Evidently, if you cheer for the floats in UT, you are an official wierdo and you receive stares from those around you. This is a far cry from the flavor of a parade back home, but it was a really nice parade with great floats- even if people just stared at the cute kids in costume and didn't cheer. To make up for it, we had our recently weighed, 87 lb puppy there to bark and be a general pain in the butt.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Family visit, the Tetons and Yellowstone

A lot's been going on over the last month. Mom and Dad Hardy came to visit for a long weekend, and we had a great visit with good weather. Dad and I got to check out an old dodge at a ranch on Antelope island.



Antelope is an island in the Great Salt Lake connected by causeway. Besides antelope and mule deer, there is a thriving herd of bison that you run into often along the roads. Each year they round them up, count them, and send extras throughout the west to replenish what was once a huge population.




Mom and Dad and the salt lake.










We had a great visit, and miss you mom and dad! Every once in a while, I think about our visit home next summer, how great it will be to see everyone, and how many Hoagies I will eat.
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In late Oct, Esther and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary in Jackson, WY. It's a cool little town, pretty expensive though! Just outside of town is Grand Teton National Park, and just past that is Yellowstone NP. Wow, everything you heard growing up is true. These places are amazing!


One of the hightlights was eating breakfast at a Park Service lodge. My instinct said it wasn't going to be good, being Government run and all! But they really make these lodges special, authentic and hearty. What a great breakfast staring at the reflection of 12000 ft peaks on the lake...


Old Faithful in Yellowstone was awesome, pictures just wouldn't do it justice. Back in town, we found a store that had a mounted, world record Polar Bear that was over 9 feet high. Esther was so busy shopping, she jumped and screamed when she turned around to this guy! We are wondering if this will resemble storm when she is full grown...it could happen. :)


We sure miss everybody. Heard it's cold back east! Been pretty tropical in these parts, in the 50's everyday. I'm a little worried about ski season....

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why we need a condo......

Ok, we really do love this house. But man, so much work! We were marginally lazy this summer, and now that winter is looming on the horizon, we've been cranking out the work, replacing a fence/gate, cleaning out the gutters, etc. But our big accomplishment over the summer was refinishing the floor of the last upstairs bedroom. Since Esther was here to take pictures, we figured we'd post about that.


We learned that some rental places have MUCH better equipment! Using this sander was way better than the last one. Unfortunately, there are plenty of horizontal lines left in the floors of some of the other rooms from the beat up drum of the last sander.



When you're done with the drum sander, you get a really well-defined edge along all walls. That's where the edger comes in!

This thing is fun to use, but after bending over around the periphery of the room, it's really hard to straighten back out. Definitely the hardest part of the job.

Staining is the most rewarding. You get to see the floor dramatically change to the color you like (hopefully).

Ahhh... the polyurethane.... They say you should use one of those really good filtration masks, the kind that really protect you from the chemicals you're breathing.... I do highly recommend those. But my limited home-repair experiences have been short on the protection side of things. So learned that if you don't use the proper mask, ever 200 square feet or so of spreading polyurethan is like 1 beer. Last summer, I did about 1200 square feet while Esther was away.. .and felt it!

And yeah, we forgot to get one last picture of the room complete. We'll get it on here someday. It's great to have this room done and really feel like we're in a bigger place than our 1 bedroom apt in good ole Lafayette Hill PA!! We miss everybody. I've been able to take in some of the Philly sports action at Iggy's sports bar in Ogden. I ordered a beer there, and when I finished it, the waitress came up and said, "If you want another beer, you'll have to order food. I was able to serve you the first beer, because of your 'INTENT' to order food".... Ahhh Utah. Mind you, this is 3.2 beer, limited in alcohol content. So silly.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Great October Utah Snowstorm

Woke up this morning to quite a snowstorm at our house.











Storm and I went out on the trails to hike around, and got to see some of the aspens that still had their leaves. This was the trail that we hiked. (Esther stayed home and drank warm things!)







Storm loved it, and now it's obvious that she's not quite as white as we thought.


It is a little wierd to get all this snow, and we haven't even raked up leaves or had Halloween yet. I had to go out and pick the last tomatoes before tonight's hard freeze, which just felt wierd. We ended up with about 6 inches of snow. Fortunately, we didn't lose power with all the leaves still on the trees. Our last big rose bloom looked great in the snow. We'll miss it!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Hangin with the locals

So, it's been great that Esther's been able to keep this blog up and running. Through the long, Utah summer, Ben kind of went off the radar. So I'm figured I'd jot a few thoughts down. It was a good summer. We re-finished the last upstairs bedroom floor, got the room painted, and then filled it in with all the stuff that got thrown into the guest room. So it feels really good to have an upstairs that is functional, and is actually bigger than the 1 bedroom apartment we left in Philly!


And we just had our first big fall storm, that brought snow down to 7500 feet. Always exciting! Which brings us to.... anticipating.... Ski season!! Snowbasin, the big ski resort next to Ogden, didn't fair too well according to Ski Magazine's rankings this year. It was listed as the 30th best resort in the country. 30th???? Are you kidding? They said it had a lot to do with the fact that it only features skiing, and there are no on-mountain amenities like hotels, bars, or places to hang out with locals. Apparantly, they failed to notice the warm and comfy confines of our home here on good ole Van Buren ave. We have to say "ave", like you would if you were talking about NE Philly. It just feels better.



Anyway, should you feel motivated to visit Ogden, and the ski resort that inherits the basement of Ski Magazine's rankings, we must point out that there are lots of crazy, interesting locals here to hang out with in town for your complete apres ski enjoyment.

As follows:

Harley: Kind of a tease, tickles you with his feather-duster tail, but he's all heart and likes beer. Well, he sniffs the cap when you pop it off.




Stella: Well, if you even see her, she'll have the most attitude. Which will make Philly people quite at home. She's not Utah-shy, and well, we won't comment on her driving. She's really enjoying the ongoing remodeling we've been up to.





Rascal: He will purr at 80 decibels, and then (affectionately) BITE you.


Storm: She will sniff your crotch.



So there you have it. Don't be fooled by any shallow journalism. Snowbasin rocks, and hopefully will be blessed by another banner snow year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

our weekend in Philly


Ok, so some of you may not have known we were home in Philly for a weekend...that is because it was just a weekend and we were focused on visiting with family and celebrating Ben's sister's wedding. Sorry we couldn't fit any friend visits in on this trip...hopefully next time! Stacey and Chris were married on Sat Sept 6th and although the weather was INSANE, the day was lovely. See our Flikr site link below and to the left for pics of the day.









Stacey, Chris and company planned an elegant and fun day. The dancing did not stop...even when the DJ said the night was over...and the guests were really fun. Congrats to the new Mrs. & Mr. P!


Another highlight of the trip was our visit with Logan...our 13 month old nephew! He is crazy cute and has the sweetest personality. I was really sad when he was shy at first b/c he doesn't know us, but he quickly warmed up and we were new best friends for two days! He is not just walking but climbing and running...he is working on talking and I was blessed to hear him say "moon" when we were standing outside just the two of us and pointing to the sky. He is such a delight and I am so proud to be his aunt! I will post one of my favorite pics of him and a video that is just so cute.


This is Logan with Uncle Travis...they will obviously be lifelong friends...so cute! Enjoy!!!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

politics....hmmm

With this being an election year, and being married to a man who enjoys following politics, and living in Utah where everyone thinks Mitt Romney is the only man for the job, I cannot help but pay attention to what is going on. I was surprised but not shocked when McCain announced his running mate yesterday...fascinated is the better word. Ben & I were laughing together as we discussed yesterday how a year ago we would have thought it so strange that a woman would be a hunter/fisher/moose burger eater. Now, it just seems barely out of the norm but certainly acceptable. I have heard a lot of commentary on "McCain is too old, he'll die in office" "Obama will have to up security while he is in office" "I'd vote for him just to have a first black President", etc. I don't follow much of the early campainging because it makes me sick. They seem to have no character and just be out for one another's blood. So, when a friend posted this video on her blog, I thought, "it's not worth the time. these things are always editorial anyway." But, like any good blog reader, I pursued. I'm not sorry that I did. I do not believe that any president, pro-choice or pro-life will make any major changes in our laws for better or worse. I think it has to be more local than that. But, I do beleive that how a politician votes on these matters shows what he believes are core values. And how life is valued is very important in a world leader. I should say that I believe in everyone's right to life and that no one should have a right to compromise that life at any age or stage from conception to deathbed throws. I believe in the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and (now more than ever, that I live in Utah) the seperation of church and state. I believe they can all work together if people would stop pushing agendas and start looking at what is best for our society and others and stop thinking of ourselves first.

Ok, enough of the soap box. Check out this video on how Obama has voted in relation to abortion. You will be shocked. I hope you are scared and sad as well, but this is important, not because of what he will do about this issue as President, but because of how he values life, the lives of American people and soldiers and how he values lives of countless unknowns who he will effect as a powerful world leader.



Monday, August 18, 2008

Where to start...

A lot has happened in the last month. We have been busy...and it isn't going to stop anytime soon. I want to blog about the Dog Park, Storm and the Cats, my new job, remodeling the last upstairs bedroom, other fun summer things like the Raptors Baseball game, the Hot Air Balloon Festival and the upcoming camping trip this weekend....



So for now I will tell you about my new job. I love being a school counselor. My new school is Lakeview Elementary in Roy, UT and it is a Title 1 School, which basically means we have a majority of low income families in our community. I love my new Principal. Her name is Cami and she is so fun and really cares about the students...and wants the staff to be connected and working together to create a safe and fun learning environment. The staff is amazing...I am so excited to actually have my own school and staff this year...instead of moving around like a gypsy. They have all been really supportive and friendly. I think I am going to have a great year!



One of the things that I am doing with this new job is to have my own blog, so you can check out Mrs. Hardy's Happenings at http://blog.weber.k12.ut.us/eshardy/



I don't know how often I will write, but if you are interested in what I am doing at school, that will tell you! Of course if you want to hear the "good stuff" (all of the stories of crazy things kids do), you will have to keep checking here. I hope to have lots to tell about this year. K-6th grade promises to be fun and exciting everyday. The students start on Monday the 25th and I can't wait...although there is plenty to be done before they arrive! I don't have a real office yet. I have a conference room with no desk or office furniture yet...but I am excited to get set up and make things fun and kid-friendly. I'll let you know how that goes and try and get a couple of pics when I get things up and going. My first counselor's office! :):):)

Ok, so the Ogden Raptors Baseball game we went to a couple of weeks ago was kinda boring the first few innings, but it quickly picked up and was tied at the bottom of the ninth by a 3-run homerun. 3 innings later, the Raptors pulled out another homerun to win the game. It was a late night, but seeing everything so close is always fun and then the view is just incredible as you watch the sun set and the light hit the mounains and slowly disappear.




This baseball stadium was ranked 1st for best view of minor league parks...not hard to understand why. We enjoyed a really nice evening with our friends the Ooseterbans, the Fikkerts, the Kraffts and Ashley & Duane (who are getting married in November!)


And I cannot believe I almost forgot about this...




If you have never been to a rodeo, I highly recommend it. It is so fun...and hysterical. They actually have kids ride on sheep for as long as they can and call it Mutton Bustin'...yep, crazy! And seeing all of the animals and riders...it is very impressive, especially for us "city folk". This was the 2008 Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo the week of July 24th. Utah celebrates Pioneer Days as the days the pioneers settled the valley and it is bigger than the 4th of July...with events like parades, rodeos and all kinds of stuff going on all week. You wouldn't believe it! Anyway, this was our first ever rodeo and now I am hooked. One of these days I'll actually get on a horse myself. I hope!

One of the biggest rodeos in the US is in Cheyenne, WY every summer...maybe we'll hit that one in the next few years...that would be so fun...anyone want to join us?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

What I did on summer vacation

  • Natta visited and we saw some really cool Irish Dance


  • There are always the Mountains with the gorgeous wildflowers
  • Took Storm to the Dog Park


  • Drove from Ogden to Manhattan Beach, CA


  • Sat on the beach and played in the Pacific Ocean





  • Visited with Grandma, Grandpa, Katers, Jake, and a bunch of other Hollers!


  • Saw a horizon of fireworks on the 4th (cause we were too late to find a parking spot to see just one show up close...oops)


  • Spent Katers' 25th Birthday with her at Redondo Beach and the Hermosa Saloon. We definitely observed some middle-aged drama...as my cousin Rhea likes to put it. :)





  • Drove from Manhattan Beach to Las Vegas and stayed a night on the Strip in the Stratosphere!



  • Drove from Las Vegas back to Ogden to see my 3 cats and puppy!!! The desert is HOT


  • Took Storm to the Dog Park...again and again and again. :) (we see everything from toy greyhounds to st. bernard's, it is SO FUN)


  • Had an Ice Cream Party with our Church


  • Went to the first Ogden Farmer's Market of the summer!


  • Taught about original sin in Children's Church...yep, 4 year olds don't quite grasp it, but what are you gonna do? haha

  • LOGAN MARK HOLLER turned one year old on July 11th!!!!!! (we were so bummed to miss it)


  • Took Storm to the Vet to be spayed...no worries, she is already back to normal after only 2 days...that's our girl!







  • Went shopping with Jamie and her kids Micah and Lydia (Lydia is 2 and learning to talk and her name for me is Atu...hehe)


  • Clean the kitchen, Laundry, Vacuum, Costco run, the usual stuff for Esther when not working...also hanging out with "My Friends"












  • Ben is working on painting and refinishing the floor of the last upstairs room! yay!
  • Reading lots of books like The Kite Runner, Ragamuffin Gospel and the Narnia series
  • Only turning the AC on from 4 to 9pm! LOVE the dry climate!!