Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The mass of humanity that is NYC

Well we did it. We tackled the Big Apple. And with three little people in tow! All I have to say is WOW !... wow at how many people can fit on a sidewalk ... wow at building-tall ads and flashing monitors at Time Square ... and Wow at how a city of that size can function at all!

We had a lot of fun, despite some cranky kids, fit throwing, and chilly weather. We were there for only 5-6 hours, but felt like we saw some of the 'main stuff' in the area around Grand Central Terminal.

We trained in to the city, which Wes and Kate thought was awesome! They kept saying, "are we on Thomas?" Thankfully we went 'after peak' hours on the way in, and so there was plenty of space to sprawl out with our cookies and oranges.

Grand Central Terminal is hosting a light show for the next few weeks so as you walk into the main portion (the one you see on posters and postcards), a light show dances on the walls and ceiling every 10 minutes or so. It was pretty cool.

I had printed off a small map from a website, so with it in hand, we took to the streets.

We saw the Empire State Building and Matt said, "it looks shorter in real life." It costs something like $20 to go to the observation deck, so we moved on to some more areas just to browse at the visual buffet of buildings/sites before us.

We went to Rockefeller Center where the famed Christmas Tree is, to which Matt replied, "I thought it would be taller." This trend continued throughout the day, and I agreed that we must make things bigger in our minds than perhaps they appear in real life.

Here's the tree in the distance.

Here's another view of the tree behind the flags, and below is the ice rink (once again, a little smaller in real life, but nonetheless really fun-looking). Throngs and throngs of people were gathered and it was a spot where Wes had a melt down and didn't want to proceed any farther. But there were so many people around, I didn't feel totally embarrassed - most didn't even know we existed. It was so great!

Down the way from the tree is the NBC Studio 1A where the Today Show is shot ... don't know why I didn't get a picture, but once again, camera work on TV makes the area where everyone's standing and waving at their families at home, look a lot bigger. It was pretty cool. They had an NBC store (we didn't dare go in, too many little items for little fingers to snatch).

Down the way again, is one of the entrances to Radio City Music Hall.

We walked past Carnegie Hall (no photo), and into Central Park where I'm sure we only started to scratch the slightest scratch of the surface of how big it is. But it had fun play areas for children - so Matt and the twins played for a while, while Sophie and I hung out and watched everyone. (once again no pictures, I don't know what I was thinking).

By this time we'd gone as far north as we wanted to that day so we exited the park and started down 7th street. Soon we could see the Toshiba Megatron with the 2009 on top, all ready for the big party - the ball wasn't up yet; And this is where I started to be in awe of Time Square! WOW! It was pretty cool. And I can't reiterate again, how many hundreds, upon thousands, upon millions and trillions of people were there! All the while we were pushing our way through the masses with our double stroller :).

Okay, so in this picture there doesn't seem to be a soul around us .. which is totally not true, we just have a magic camera that removes the people... I guess. Maybe it's my imagination about how many people were there (just like how everything looks smaller in real life), but there were truly some intersections where I just plowed through (at a snail's pace) and apologized the whole way for bumping into people and rolling over their toes with the stroller.

I didn't know there was such a thing as an "M&M Store" but there is, and it was Wes and Kate's favorite attraction. We didn't go in, but they sure had plenty to look at from the outside.

So that was basically it. Next time we may be a little more daring and actually go inside some places, but we treated this as our trial run. Since we live relatively close, we're going to try to go at least a couple more times in the coming 8 months. And maybe once without the little ones ... we'll see.

Just for good measure I add this last photo of the girls in their Christmas Dresses ... for documentation's sake :).

They're our little beauties! (Handsome Jack was napping peacefully and thus, wasn't photographed.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Fun

We really had a nice Christmas and have reflected on our families a lot. We're just so glad to have so many great people we're related to!

Each night this week Matt has read us a Christmas story before scripture time and I think the kids like it so much we'll have to continue with it every night.

Church was canceled on Sunday because of the snow, so we decided to go to one of the Episcopalian churches in the older section of town on Christmas Eve. I'd seen in our town circular that they were having a children's nativity program at 4:30. So we got all dressed up and hiked out in the rain to the program. I had a bad feeling about it when we realized it actually started at 5 p.m. (an extra 30 minutes of trying to make everyone sit still is never a promising start to anything). We took our seats and a nice gentleman brought crayons and a book for the kids. The thing about this church was that the pews were not cushioned and so they were noisier than normal and the church was big and open and hollow, accentuating our noisy brood. We had quite a few interested looks in our direction since we were the only family with three little ones so close together in age. But it was a nice program.

At the end Matt took the twins up to the front where everyone was hanging foil stars on a fishing string pulley that was rigged up to the star of Bethlehem. After they'd hung their stars Kate didn't want to come back to sit with us, she wanted to stay with the children at the manger scene. Matt tried to persuade her but ended up hauling her out kicking and screaming, "I want my mommy!!!" ... yep we make good impressions ;). The service was interesting.

We came home had a late dinner and went to bed.

Then Christmas morning Matt and I realized our kids were totally spoiled this year by family! We even withheld a couple of presents we'd bought and will save them for Sophie in a couple of years. :) Thanks to everyone who sent things! We had a blast!

We've loved having Dad home from work for a couple of days! And even though our NYC trip has been postponed at least 3 times, we're pretty sure it's on the docket for next week .. plus we can't wait for Aunt Bonnie's arrival next week too! Imagine ... New Year's Eve in NYC for her ... definitely a journal entry;).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Gingerbread House Night

We were invited to some friends' house tonight to make gingerbread houses. We were all prepared ... the gingerbread made, the candy bought, the decorating bags and tips ready, Matt had even cut out the front, back, sides, and roof of the house to make it correct, from an engineer's stand-point. Then Sophie's nose started gooping up and running like crazy. Her cheeks turned rosy. And I awoke this morning with a sinus head cold. :( So I called our friend and told her we wouldn't be coming to contaminate her home, family, and especially her 5 week old baby. We were so disappointed! But decided to have our own gingerbread house night at home.

Here's the construction.

And here's the finished product. It was so fun. And the first gingerbread house we've done together, in our almost 9 years of marriage!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I've been tagged!

I've seen this on quite a few of my friends/family's blogs and was just tagged ... so here goes!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper

2. Real tree or Artificial? Grew up with artificial, but now am a 'real' convert.

3. When do you put up the tree? Usually get it the first FHE night in December.

4. When do you take the tree down? New Years Day, or soon thereafter.

5. Do you like eggnog? unfortunately YES.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? Raggedy Ann doll my mom had made.

7. Hardest person to buy for? Matt ... it's agony every year!

8. Easiest person to buy for? The little ones.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, a couple of them.

10. Best Christmas gift you ever received? Can't choose just one.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Don't think I've ever received one.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie (s)? Miracle on 34th Street (new version), White Christmas.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? November

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yes.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Eggnog ... uh oh.

16. Lights on the tree? Yes, red and green.

17. Favorite Christmas song? All of them.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Usually travel, except for this year.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Bow.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? Wanting to find that really great gift for Matt, but never accomplishing it ... buyers remorse abounds.

23. Favorite for Christmas dinner? basically a Thanksgiving repeat.

24. What do you want for Christmas this year? Clothes, lotion, an easy way to loose 30-lbs without trying, and books.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Happy Birthday Heidi

My sister's birthday is today and I've just got to acknowledge it somewhere. She's serving a mission with her husband and family in the Buenos Aires North Mission in Argentina. And with that being the case, I can't (well I guess I could) call her and sing Happy Birthday to her (at least not as freely as before).

I can't express how much I miss her. Not being able to call her a couple times a week has really been a lot harder on me than I realized it would be. The last couple of weeks especially, I've deeply missed that luxury of nearly-instant contact. I want to ask her parenting questions, gospel questions, how-she-makes-her-beef-enchilada-casserole-so-good questions, how she manages her time questions (or at least how she did it with toddlers). To me, she is the 'ultimate' in everything. I admire her, I love her, and I'm so missing my best friend right now!

She and her family are having the time of their lives. They're learning, growing, exploring, and experiencing something truly incredible, and they're making a difference! Her emails are on a different plane than my life, for sure, but I'm so happy to experience what they're experiencing, via email.

They're 1 1/2 years into their 3 year service, and although they're certainly not counting down the time, I have to admit that I look forward to having those bi-weekly phone calls and visits again.

Happy Birthday Heidi! You're the best hermana anyone could be blessed with (or as she would correctly say ... with which anyone could be blessed). I love you!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Cooker Chef K*

I don't know where she got it, but K lately has begun to call herself different names like, Dr. K*, and then she checks your vital signs. But she's also started to announce that 'Cooker Chef K* is coming into the room.' She will always help me when cooking, and it's become great fun! She dons her apron that her Great Aunt Karen gave her for Christmas last year, and away she goes ... cracking eggs, stiring pots, and dumping the flour.

Yesterday I made our first batch of toffee for the holidays, and yes, there was K in the middle of it all. So here are her photos to document the event.

What a child! I love her!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thanksgiving and Birthdays

I get so wrapped up in looking at other people's blogs that I don't take the time to update ours. But I figure Thanksgiving and W and K's birthday should not be missed. Plus I'll add a few other treats.

We spent a quiet Thanksgiving at home. The fun thing about it was that it happened to land on the twins 3rd birthday. This does create somewhat of a problem for them though ... is it Thanksgiving? or is it our birthday? So now K just thinks everyday is her birthday. We hope they won't expect to open presents every Thanksgiving:).

Many of you know that M is quite the cooker (K's word for chef ... "Mom, you're such a great cooker!" she says - so cute), and so I had plenty 'o help for the feast. He took on the stuffing (made in a dutch oven, of course), the potatoes and gravy, the pies, and the veggie tray. I took on the turkey, sweet potatoes, cranberry salad, rolls and the traditional family grape fizzy drink. What a feast for a small family! We loved every bit of it ... and still are? (at what point should you just say - enough of the left overs ... although they're tasty, are they still healthy?)

S loved the pumpkin pie. We posted the 'cleanest of the pictures', because she's just so darn cute!

After a short nap we figured we'd turn our attention to birthdays. We found/remembered that it's hard to show people you're 3. But as long as you have two hands, you can get that ring finger to stay up and keep the pinky down!

Then came the present opening.

We spent a good chunk of the afternoon/evening playing with our toys and found they were very interchangeable. W would play with the doll and K with the blocks - who knew? Then they'd trade back ... could it get any more perfect?

All in all it was a great day. We were able to spend some down time together, and although we missed our extended families, we were able to talk to them on the phone, and have a low-key holiday.

Here are some other random pictures over the last few days/weeks as well.

Playgroup at our house where we made turkey hats.

W just so tired that he falls asleep mid-snack time.

Beautiful S, just fresh from a bath.

W and K playing with the Legos that came for their birthday from Grandma and Papa! They love 'em!

Friday, November 28, 2008

We're Famous!

Thanks to my amazing computer friend in Clinton, I'm now able to present our picture which happily resides on the Logan Regional Hospital part of the IHC website, and on a billboard in Salt Lake (we hear).

About one week after Sophie was born, our friend, who works for LRH, asked if we could come in and take pictures for an upcoming brochure. So we did. It was a stretch though, because you know how much Matt loves the camera! Anyway, they turned out fine and we forgot about them. Then Matt gets a call this week from his sister saying her husband saw our picture on a billboard, going into Salt Lake! So even though we're no longer in Utah, we're there in spirit (and on a billboard)!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sophie's on the move!

Time to move everything from the bottom shelf, up! Sophie's crawling and putting everything in her mouth ... uh oh.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Leaves and MORE leaves!

We of course realize that living in New England brings beauty beyond comparison in the Autumn, but I think one looses sight easily that leaves = work! For the last two weeks I've been raking about 952,345 leaves a day in preparation for the city's big vacuum to come and suck them up. I went on the city's website and found out that it would come to our street Nov 10-15, and again Dec 1-5. Yes, there needs to be two runs of the beast because there are that many leaves.

So Matt took pity on me one day and went into work a couple hours late so he could help me get the leaves to the curb. After raking for an hour I huffed and puffed and said, "Wow, is this what it's like to rake continuously for 60 minutes?" I'm used to 5 minutes here, then breaking up a tussle between W and K, and five minutes there, then going and taking the leaves out of Sophie's mouth that she's managed to grab while I wasn't looking.

So here's what it looked like ... not as impressive on camera as in real life, but nonetheless, something we didn't experience in Utah. The rain really helped pack them down, so they didn't look as insurmountable as when they were dry. Just imagine the streets lined with leaves ... some people will put up posts with netting in the yards to keep the leaves from blowing all over the place. And Wow! It's nice to see our lawn again! It's been hidden under 5 inches of leaves for the past few weeks.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Follow the red brick line

We took a trip to Boston this past weekend and knew that it would be one of our last opportunities to do some outside site-seeing before the weather's too tough to handle with our crew. So we did the tourist-y thing of walking the Freedom Trail. It's a trail that was created 50 years ago that directs you to a dozen early American History sites across a 2.5-3 mile path (one-way). So we took the double stroller, the child carrier backpack, a lunch, water and coats, and away we went.

Are you ready to see some of the sites?! Lace up your shoes and join us.

The Freedom trail starts (at least if you start at this end) at Boston Commons, a large park with plenty o' trees, playgrounds, and squirrels.

The trail is marked by a red line, or a red brick trail in some areas. This is to show you where to stop and see the sites. Kind of cool.

From here the trail leads to the state capitol where our friend Mitt presided a few years ago. We took a short cut and didn't see it on the way, but caught it coming back (no photo though, I'm sure you can imagine what a state capitol looks like).

One of the first stops is a cemetery where Paul Revere is buried, along with Benjamin Franklin's parents, and Mother Goose ... did you know she was an actual person? We didn't, but were soon educated on the topic.

W and K at Paul Revere's headstone.

And you know at Halloween when we see the RIP, and skull and crossbones on really thin headstones. Guess what, they're based on real headstones of yester-century! We were educated once again.

We learned that it just signifies death and to remind the living that they, too, will die, someday.

I won't post every site, but here's the Old City Hall where Benjamin Franklin went to school.

Below is the USS Constitution, also known as 'Old Ironsides'. It still is in commission by the US Navy and is the oldest commissioned ship in the world.

I'll skip to the end and show you Bunker Hill. This monument was built a few years after the battle at Bunker Hill and has 294 steps you can climb to the top to see outside the small windows. We passed on the offer but enjoyed the view from below.

Below, is a picture of some of the streets we passed while on our walk. Really beautiful in the fall, and pretty typical of the residential areas we saw on the way.

By the end of the 5-6 mile walk/hike, Mom and Dad were tired, but the kids were still smiling (I would too, if I got to ride in a cart and have a nap along the way). We had a lot of fun and expect to be back again.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Two Times is a Charm!

I don't feel guilty about having Wes and Kate be Peter Pan and Tinker Bell again this year. It saved me time and a headache, and they loved it! Okay ... I'll admit I just kept putting off costumes until it was too late, so the Friday before Halloween, and just hours before our ward trunk or treat we pulled out the costume box to see if last year's costumes would still fit. Ta Da! They did, and the kids were thrilled! Heck, they're 2 - soon-to-be-3 and don't remember last year! So this is what they looked like. (Kate was having a minor meltdown, thus her avoiding the camera).

Matt took the twins around our neighborhood, met some neighbors, and W and K were thrilled with the result!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our little girl is growing!

Sophia sometimes fades into the background as we run here and there trying to keep up with two, soon-to-be-3 year olds. So we want to make sure she gets the deserved attention of a post or two exclusively about her.

Sophie is our little angel. Matt was worried the other day that she favors her Mamma. So he's pointedly tried to win her over these last few days, and it's WORKING! He's played with her and teased her, and she loves it. Now when she's sitting on my lap she'll purposely look at Daddy and try to get his attention just so he'll start to make funny faces and noises at her.

She's getting to be so big and interactive now. We absolutely love this stage! She celebrated her 7 month mark this week and it's amazing how fast time goes by.

She's such a blessed addition to our family!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Joseph Smith Memorial

It was another travel weekend for us last weekend. This times destination ... Vermont! Can you just picture an autumn drive to/thru Vermont. It was everything we thought it would be, and more!

Our main destination point was the Joseph Smith Memorial in Windsor County. So after putting the address in our trusty Garmin, we saw that it would take us about 2 hrs. 45 minutes. So off we went.

We got there around 11 and went to the town of South Royalton to take a break and let the kids run in the park, and then looked for a place to eat. This was pretty poignant, I think, for Matt, because his dad served his mission in this area some 40 years ago. A few times we said, "wouldn't he love to see it now!" (We just hope they can make the trip to visit us while we're here!:)) South Royalton is the home of the Vermont School of Law - and a tiny town, but you should have seen their campus. I'm covetous of an atmosphere like that. The buildings on "campus" look are probably listed on the state historical registry. They look like large homes that are very well kept. This first picture is one we took from the park.

We had lunch and then drove the 2 or 3 miles to the memorial, which greets you like this ...

Isn't that gorgee-oso!!! Ohh we were excited. So here is the memorial with visitor's center.

We went inside for a tour and watched the Joseph Smith movie (we hadn't seen it before). It was so great and we felt the spirit. So then we went outside and got a couple of great family shots.

It was a great day! To all those who want to visit us, we'd sure love to take you there!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Apples, Mystic, and a Country Drive

I'm getting so far behind on my posts that I'll post what we did for fun last weekend and then have to update our jaunt this weekend at a later point.

Many of you know that we're using this blog as a journal, of sorts, while we're here in CT for what may be only one year. Matt and I decided that if this does turn out to be only a year appointment, we'd better get out and see as much of New England as we can ... which basically means being on the road every weekend. So far we've done that, minus one weekend where we were fed up with boxes and decided we HAD to stay home and get more organized. So what you're witnessing in our weekend posts is our travelogue. We hope it's not viewed as extravegance on our part, or bragging either ... we've just been documenting our adventures and sharing them with friends and family. So ... here goes ...

Our Saturday last weekend was absolutely gorgeous. As Utah was receiving its first snow in places, we were enjoying clear, blue skies with highs in the 70s. So we took advantage of the weather and went apple picking as a family with some friends.

Our friends were in charge of picking the farm that we'd visit and boy, did they pick a doosey. This farm was a serious one with the tractor guy stopping and yelling out "Jonathons, Galas, and Empires," and people would hop off the trailer if they wanted those kinds of apples. Then he'd continue on and yell out 3 or 4 other varieties. We stayed on until the last stop and found the most beautiful apples!

On the wagon.

Wes in on the action.

Rows and rows and rows.

Autumn beauty at the Apple Farm.

Then it was off to Mystic, CT, where Bogie and Bacall's honeymooned in the 40s. It's a beautiful shoreline town with the distinction and rich history of maritime activities. So we checked-out a museum pass at our local library and got into the Mystic Seaport Museum. It was such a fun place with a Lagoon-Pioneer Village-feel, without the rides. It's basically a small village that's been restored to look like what it might have looked like in the early American settlement with houses and ships you could tour.

Wes and Kate on one of the docks

A lighthouse in Mystic Harbor.

One of the three ships you can tour.

We also took a short boat ride, but decided against renting a row boat ... mainly for fear that K and W would decide to take a swim.

All in all, it was a great day. Beautiful, educational, and we ended it with a drive up one of the small highways in eastern CT. So beautiful with fall colors and small towns, barns, churches, just everything New England-ee you could imagine.