Special Friend: Jordan

Last nite I received some wonderful news! One of my best friends from high school (well, actually elementary school to tell you the truth) Jordan Marie Williams, turned Green, announced that she, along with her husband James, daughter Eden and soon-to-be-son (Tyler James?), will be moving to Los Angeles. I AM SOOOOOO EXICTED!! We are both looking in the same area for houses/apartments and I believe it is fate that we are still best friends after all these years. The Greens should be arriving on the golden coast just after the New Year and I am seriously stoked knowing that I will already have a good (the best) friend there only a month after Tyler and I arrive.

Last nite when Jo told me she was moving to L.A. I was so giddy that I decided to do a special friend (haha, Jo you're special) post just for her. Actually, I think I'm going to make this more regular- 'Special Friend' posts every so often (you can thank Gilly for the initial thought).

So here goes -

Background: Jordan Marie Wiliams (Fatu, Hoochie, Jo, Whoa!, etc.) and I met in the sixth grade shortly after my family moved to Hawaii. I have very few elementary/intermediate/high school memories that do not include Jo, and keep in mind that is even with her living in Basel, Switzerland for two of our high school years. Some of my all-time favorite memories of Hawaii involve sitting around Jo's house/backyard wearing boxer shorts and a tank top and doing absolutely nothing (or sometimes trying to watch Steel Magnolias :) Most of the time I think Jo and I are two completely different people in every possible way, but that is perhaps what makes us such perfect friends.

10 things I love about Jo:

  1. Your grandma face

  2. Our awful, awesome match-every-possible-thing outfits in high school

  3. Driving together singing along to Avril or Dashboard in Kaydan or the Ranger (no power steering included)

  4. Your lengthy boy history- only you Jo :)

  5. Sleeping in late in one large bed with you and Li, and someone always ending up in "the crack"- also an important part of The Kate, Li & Jo Show (P.S. I think we need a reunion episode soon.... )

  6. Your poems (my fav)

  7. The way you eat pizza- scrape all the cheese and toppings off and just eat the slightly sauced bread and no, breadsticks aren't good enough

  8. You came from Mama Robyn & Papa Ned (Budge)

  9. Everything intertube, kayak and Hukilau related

  10. You, you, you! I love you!

Um, Jo, we need to get some more recent pictures of us together. I almost had to post some pictures of the nite we took a shower in the hose in your backyard.... Awkward.


One Fine Day. . . .

....is a brisk autumn day, a sweater & a scarf, a boat ride through downtown Chicago, hot chocolate, and Garrett's caramel popcorn from the pier. So many warm fuzzies!!

(Sears Tower.... aka the tallest building in America.)

(Marina City- one of the many buildings I studied at BYU.)

(One of my favorite buildings and a cool reflection of Marina City in it.)

(Sailboats docked at the famous Navy Pier.)

A few things about the architecture cruise:
  1. The Chicago River flows backwards. Impressive.
  2. The Sears (or Willis) Tower wasn't as striking as I expected. Maybe I need to visit the "ledge" to be wowed.
  3. There is a reason Chicago is called the "Windy City." It's soooo cold!
  4. I love the architecture here!


Helen Virginia Akerill

Dear Grandma,

I love you. You have been my only living grandparent since the day I was born, so you're my favorite and I have an extra special place in my heart for you. My earliest memory of you is one of staying at your house in Vancouver and going to church with you when I was very young. I don't recall much more of the experience, except that you wanted Pa to remove a dead possum from your basement, which of course all of us kids were more than excited to go take a look at.

I have fond memories receiving a loving birthday card from you every year with a $10 check in it. It was something we all looked forward to and I still remember your same curvy, signature in it year after year. I also have fond memories of everything leopard print; bedsheets, pillowcases, bathroom towels, curtains, your winter hat and gloves, etc. In fact, even though you are the only living grandma I have, many of my friends refer to you as my "leopard grandma" affectionately. I also remember your love for Santa Claus. Leopard print and Santa Clauses were two things you collected and two things that I love and we have in common (as Tyler will grudgingly attest to).

The next time I remember seeing you was when you came to visit us in Colorado right before we moved to Hawaii. I felt so special because I was the one who got to share a room and bunk bed with you in the basement. At the time I thought you were so strange- you were so much like mom, but different. I loved just watching you and listening to you.

When you came you had this big, pearly, pale, pink purse that I thought was the most beautiful bag I had ever seen, and so when you left you let me keep it. I loved it and thought I looked so classy (just like you) carrying it around. As I grew up I grew to think it was a very ugly bag- much too 90's to ever carry around in public seriously. But every time I saw that bag drug out of the dress up box, the back of the closet, or whereever I always remembered how much I loved it when I first saw it and how you had given it to me. It still makes me think of you and makes me smile.

I must have only been 10 or 11-years-old when that happened and I thought that would be the last time I ever saw you. Of course, it wasn't, although I was already 18-years-old and a freshman in college the next time I did see you. Amy and I spent Christmas with you- watching soap operas, talking about mom when she was little, and eating cafeteria food. It was not like any of the Christmases I had ever spent at home and I hated the food, but I am SO GRATEFUL that I was able to spend that time with you.

This past June was the next and last time that I saw you. Although Tyler and I had a crazy summer planned, I'm so happy that we spent a couple of days in Washington so you could meet my husband and so we could celebrate your 90th birthday with you. When we first got there I was a little timid to come and talk to you because we haven't been able to spend a lot of time together throughout my life, and I wasn't sure what to say. But you knew exactly what I was doing and called me out on it. Talking to you I felt as if we had spent years together. You knew everything about me including the little details of my personality- both the ones I get from mom and the ones I get from Pa. Thank you for being such a wonderful grandma.

I wanted to tell you that even though we never spent that much time together I love you dearly and have an incredible amount of respect for you. You raised my mother and she is as close to perfect as anything I know. She admirers you and loves you more than I can say, and for that reason alone, I love you. Your conversations and inside jokes and clothes swapping with her always make her so happy. I know she is going to miss you so much, but I also know that she is happy to have had you as long as she did and will one day see you again.

I want you to know that I love you so very much, even if I didn't call or write as often as I should have. When I talked to you the other nite for the very last time you told me you loved me too, and it was soooo comforting to hear you say that. I am so happy to be your granddaughter.

Until we meet again,
Your loving granddaughter, Kate.

In Loving Memory of my grandmother, Helen Virginia Akerill, August 13, 1920 - September 23, 2010.


Princess Toes

Saturday morning Tyler went to play basketball with some guys from the ward and developed some nice little blisters on his toes (it's been a while). His dress shoes on Sunday irritated the blisters so he asked me for a couple of bandaids and, naturally, all I had were some Disney princess bandaids. One toe got Snow White and the other got Jasmine. Everytime I looked at his feet for the rest of the day I thought he was wearing man toe rings (gross) and then realized it was just those cute little princesses. Haha, his princess toes make me laugh!

A pretty photo from our Sunday evening walk around the lake. Except for the mosquitoes attacking Tyler 24/7 (and the whining that follows), I am still loving being out of the big city :)

Locks of Love

A couple of weeks ago I finally cut my hair. It had gotten REALLY long, and my awesome friend Jenna did the honors of chopping off a good 12 inches!! We did it all at once so that I could donate it to Locks of Love, since it is all natural (i.e. never been dyed). I only cut it after I had contemplated the decision for months (like since January) and I carefully studied a thousand different short hairstyles to make sure I wouldn't hate the person looking
back at me in the mirror every morning. I finally decided on something similar to Katie Holmes' bob (no, I am not a Katie Holmes fan).

The chop wasn't quite as traumatic as I thought it would be, but of course I already have days where I miss my long hair. I'm still having fun with it short, but I have no idea how to style it properly. I actually bought my first round brush ever (I know I'm way behind), and I've discovered a few new hair products that are helping. Anyways, I just received an email with this sweet little certificate to prove I donated too! And since it is so awkward to take a picture by myself you'll have to do with these for my before and after pics.

And so.... TA-DA!!

(**If you or a loved one were removed from one of these photos, please do not be offended. I still love you!)


Game On!

Tyler and I have decided that after having toured London, Paris, NYC and the other random places we have been this summer, we want to try and live a normal life while here in Chicago. Of course, there are a few touristy things we may want to see, but for the most part we just want to find a happy rhythm and live here.

Enter the Game On! Diet Challenge. Now before everyone freaks out, "You're too skinny to be dieting!" "You look fine! You shouldn't be starving yourself!", let me explain- I KNOW. This isn't your average no carb, don't eat, work out 23 hours a day diet. Basically you form a team for 4 weeks and then you get points based on your meals, your habits, your exercise, your sleep, your water intake, and your support for teammates and opponents. If you don't complete one of the things you don't get the points and there are also penalties for things like snacking or tricking an opponent into losing points (too bad). We are supposed to eat 5 small meals a day that are balanced (fruit/veggies, carbs, proteins, etc.) and we are allowed 100 calories a day of whatever we want (28 M&M's are my fav). We also get one day off from everything each week, and an additional meal off each week. Not bad eh?! So basically we just start eating better which gets me to cook more and gets both of us to try new things :) And trust me, you get more than enough to eat so it's not a starve yourself diet. On the first day Tyler and I almost didn't want to eat meal 5 because you've already had plenty to eat and LOTS of water. We are supposed to drink 3 liters of water a day, and since I never drink water, I am now spending the majority of my day in the restroom. Pregnancy prep is what I call it :) Tyler calls it looking like a fool in front of all of his co-workers- maybe he should explain so people don't think he's sketch.

We decided to give it a try because I think it will help give us a nice balanced schedule that we can hopefully keep up after a month. So far it has only been 2 days, but already it is so nice to get up early and workout and then be ready for the day. The other aspects of the plan are great too. Because of all our traveling and crazy schedules we've kind of dropped the ball on our daily scripture reading and prayers, so we have each chosen one of these to be our good habit points. I also like having a set bedtime so we aren't staying up late doing nothing and then sleeping in just because we can, and it's nice to have someone there to push you along (mostly for Tyler because we all know how hard it is for him to eat veggies), but also give you some friendly competition.

Of course, you need to pick a prize for the winner too; which is the best part! We have decided that if Tyler wins he gets my cell phone upgrade in October (because he can't possibly wait for his own upgrade two months later.... ) and if I win Tyler has to finally give in and take my to the ballet; specifically The Nutcracker this Christmas. Yay!

The new contents of Tyler's brown lunch bag. P.S. The flowers were Tyler's house warming gift to me when I arrived- so sweet!!

Anyways, I'm not advertising here, just chronicling my life cause I'm pretty excited to see how this next month goes. You should all probably cheer for me now :)

Oak Park

Tyler, Kelly and I went to visit Oak Park on Labor Day to see some of the houses Frank Lloyd Wright designed, including the house he lived in and had a studio in. All of them were pretty unique and the neighborhood was beautiful. It was definitely a breath of fresh air from all of the cookie-cutter homes you see being built these days. Here are a couple of my favorite houses:

As you can see, there were trees and foliage everywhere and it was a gorgeous day. Chicago actually has a long history of famous & unique architecture, most of which I've studied in the past couple of years. I'm looking forward to seeing more and I'll be sure to keep you posted on my musings :)


Road Trip!

So, I know I have been a little MIA recently, but I do have a good explanation. Kelly and I have just completed Road Trip 2010 and are finally chilling in mine and Tyler's one-bedroom, extended stay, Marriott hotel room. We have already started our Chicago stay out right by going to Wrigley Field for a Cubs game and then grabbing some delicious Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza for dinner.
P.S. The rooftop stands outside of Wrigley Field are really pretty cool!

Just a little re-cap though, our road trip began in Los Angeles, CA and ended in Chicago, IL. We never drove more than 9 hours in one day and spent the nite with various friends in various cities along the way. A big thanks goes out to Ashton & Brad Kelley, Jordan & James Green, Monica Stewart & the Edgley's, Stacey & Monte Fiala, and Emily & Ryan Johnston for a bed, food and good conversation. I would also like to thank the London Crew, Chelsea Turner, and Kevin Kelleher for additional good food and conversation. Kelly and I had a great trip and are lucky to have friends and family in so many places!!

Total hours driving: 33
Total miles covered: approx. 2,540