Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Bell Ringing

One of Sophia's teachers at school asks for a group of volunteers every December to help the Salvation Army with their bell-ringing project.  Soph decided she wanted to do it so we signed her up for the first slot of the night.

I took her to the department store where we were instructed to meet and met up with the teacher and another student to start the 30 minutes of ringing.  It was a pretty fun night!

I have a video and two pictures but realized I don't have permission from the other parents to post it on this blog - so just imagine four cute little things wearing bell and Christmas lights necklaces, with Santa Hats and bell-ringer aprons.  :)

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas Boat Parade

We experienced a 'first' last night as we went to the Christmas Boat Parade, hosted by our local yacht club.  The area where we live has tons of rivers everywhere, so being on the water is a big part of life.  We'd heard about a boat parade they've done before but it wasn't until I saw the advertisement in the paper that we nailed down the location, time, and date.  It was a perfect end to Thanksgiving weekend and welcome to Christmas event. 

At a little past 6:30 we hopped in the van, bedecked in our Santa hats, Christmas lights necklaces, winter coats and gloves, and drove downtown to park near the main river that carries larger crafts through our community.  We walked around a little to find a perfect spot.
A sleepy looking Joshua - actually not sleepy, just mid-blink.

We were trying different camera settings to get the lights in their full display, so when we took this one of the girls it was still on that setting.  Bad for still photos, but catches their Christmas attire. :)
The arrival of the boats was expected at 7 p.m.  The parade actually started at 5, but that was down river a few miles, going past other communities throughout our county. 

We soon found a boatload (pun intended:)) of people lining the river.  A popular restaurant in the river had a ton of people awaiting the arrival, too.  The atmosphere was pretty cool.  We only waited a couple of minutes before we saw lights show up around the bend in the river several hundred yards away. 
This is the view of the restaurant, across the river from where we stood

There were small boats, large boats, a few yachts, a couple fire boats, the state patrol boat, and one or two that referenced crabbing, so possible work boats, too.  It was awesome.  The fire boat led the way and did a few donuts in the water - so fun, and played Christmas music.  All were decorated to the hilt with Christmas lights and other ornaments. 
Blurry picture of one of the fire boats

We were at the end of the parade route and so the boats would turn around and start their way back to the yacht club
All in all it lasted only about 15-20 minutes, but it was so fun, with a flair of the local way of life here.  Matt and I are still so awed by the difference of the way we were raised - in the mountains, with wide open spaces - and what our children will remember as the way they grew up - water everywhere, trees everywhere - it's crazy. 

What a fun new family holiday tradition. :)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Philadelphia Temple Open house

Our summer was filled with temple open house and dedication preparation.  I spent many weekends in Philadelphia and in surrounding areas (Cherry Hill - NJ, Valley Forge - PA, Villanova's campus) with the youth of our stake rehearsing the cultural celebration program. 

It was an exciting and exhausting adventure.  So here's a little background...

'Our' temple was Washington D.C., but with the announcement and subsequent building of the Philadelphia Pennsylvania temple, we became part of its temple district.  It actually is about 20-30 minutes farther away from us, but we're at the southern most end of our stake.  The northern unit is only 45 minutes or so from Philly, and so it's a dramatic reduction in travel time for them.  We can pretty much make it to Philly in 2 hrs 40 minutes, with good traffic. 

Matt and I were able to serve two times each in the open house sessions of the temple.  Matt once as an information guy on the temple plaza, pointing people in the right direction for the tours, and the other time he was in the parking garage.  I served both times inside the temple, once as a presenter in the bride's room and the other as the presenter in the baptismal area.  What a fantastic and unforgettable experience!  We saw hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people from all walks of life tour the temple during our times there. 

Finally in mid-August we took the tour ourselves with our children.  The temple is gorgeous and mirrors the historical elements of Philadelphia with architecture, decorating and symbolism throughout. 

We learned through the summer that service and sacrifice make your heart tender for those you serve, and in this case, the temple.  We love the Philadelphia Temple!  And are so grateful for our involvement in its open house, cultural celebration, and dedication.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Little Speedster

Joshua's training wheels broke over the weekend.  I told him I wasn't going to buy another set and he'd just have to learn how to ride without them.  So after about 8 minutes of helping him he got the hang of it and hasn't looked back since.  He's been like a mad man ever since - up and down our cul-de-sac like nobody's business.  As he was learning I told him he'd crash a lot during these first few weeks.  He has his share of road rash right now, but it hasn't deterred him.  When he saw me pull out my phone - with terrible video quality - he slowed down and stared at me like he was the most polite little boy in the world.  Haha :) what a little ball of fire. 

After his first day of success yesterday he scolded me by saying, "Mom you should've known I couldn't ride my bike until I was 5!"  (Last summer I tried to get him off training wheels)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The best road trip EVER

I've cut and pasted this account from an email sent to my padre.  Some day I might edit it to provide more detail, but with the way I blog these days, I figured I'd better just get it in or else it'd go by the wayside like so many things we've done in recent years has.    I will add more pictures, since I'm missing NY, Boston and the CT temple, but that will have to be for another day.
When we plan little get-away trips we usually get pretty detailed about it, but this trip we were very fly-by-the-seat of our pants -ish.  It turned out to be one of the most pleasant and fulfilling trips we've experienced as a family.  I don't think it will become the norm, but it was nice this time.

We left Wednesday morning and made our way to NYC - about 4 hours.  Actually we parked in Secaucus, New Jersey and trained into NYC.  It has been our girls' dream the last couple of years to go to an American Girl Doll store.  They worked hard this summer doing our little side business of delivering phone books and saved up money for the trip.  So our first stop was at 47th and 5th Avenue.  I was expecting the store to be a little more glitzy, but Kate and Sophie thought it was pretty amazing.  Kate bought a flute set (she plays the violin but chose the flute set because Amelia has the violin set:)), and Sophia bought a pair of glasses for her doll. They don't have AG dolls, but similar ones from Target which the accessories fit just fine.

We then went to the Museum of Natural History - which is nothing like what is shown on Night at the Museum.  It was pretty awesome although we never found Dum Dum.  We actually could've spend a couple more hours there but after being in the congestion of the city, the subway transfers, and walking, we were done. 

We made our way back to New Jersey, took a breath of fresh air and drove to Stamford, CT to stay the night.  Connecticut is such beautiful country.  The trees, rolling hills, it's just beautiful.

The next morning we drove to Boston, parked and started on the Freedom Trail.  Wes, Kate and Sophia haven't done that since they were three and one, respectively, so it was like an entirely new experience.  There was surprisingly little complaining as we followed the red brick line throughout the city.  It probably helped that we stopped, read information, and bought cannoli's along the way.  We didn't make it all the way to Bunker Hill, but did everything but that and 'Old Iron Sides'.  We got back in the van and drove to Scarborough, Maine. 

The next morning we drove the last three hours to Acadia National Park.  To say that we enjoyed the park would be a huge understatement.  In fact, we are seriously considering renting a cottage next year for a week so we can go off-grid, hike, kayak, shop, fish, and everything else that area provides.  It's the only place on the East Coast that has cliffs meeting the ocean.  Mom/Grandma would've had a heart attack at how close our children were getting to the edge - I had a mini heart attack myself - but it was simply stunning.

Maine rarely gets above 80 degrees during the summer and the humidity wasn't as high as we have in Maryland, so it was like heaven.  Matt said he'll start looking for jobs there in the fall.  ;)
Our kids loved the rocks.  There were trails and look outs everywhere. 
John D. Rockefeller funded a lot of Acadia's infrastructure including many stone bridges - most of them are along the roadways which you travel under, but this is an example of one along a trail.
This area is called Sand Beach.  The water is typically 55°, but that doesn't stop people from playing in the water.  It's the only sandy beach in the park, the others are all rocky.
In this picture we're looking at Thunder Hole.

This description is from www.acadiamagic.com ... Thunder Hole is a small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks, where the waves roll into. At the end of this inlet, down low, is a small cavern where, when the rush of the wave arrives, air and water is forced out like a clap of distant thunder. Water may spout as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar! Hence the name: Thunder Hole.

We waited for about 45 minutes but the tide and surf didn't create the effect that it will some times, but it was fun anyway.
 Above is a picture of one of the visitor's centers that talked about the terrain and wildlife of Maine.

 For dinner that night we went into Bar Harbor and experienced the sea fare of Maine. 

We spent half of two days in the park and then spent the last couple hours shopping in Bar Harbor, or Baa-haa-buh, as the locals call it with their accent. :)  It was such a quaint, touristy, town and we loved it.  I'll attach the break we took outside of Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium.  Joshua's cone might've been too big for him. :) He had chocolate river stains all down his arms until we got back to the van to wipe them up.
We finally said goodbye to Bar Harbor at about 2:30 on Saturday and started to make our way south.  We pulled into Worcester, Mass that evening and spent the night in a downtown hotel, not far from Holy Cross hospital, so we heard plenty of sirens. 

Sunday morning we left at 7:30 and drove in to our old Hartford Ward parking lot at 8:50 for church.  Wes and Kate said they recognized it a little, but it was pretty much a new experience for them again.  The Bloomfield Ward met at 9 a.m. and since we needed to get on the road we decided to attend their church rather than Hartford's at 11:30.

Matt and I left the last 30 minutes of combined RS/Priesthood (where they were talking about the logistics of volunteering in the temple open house, the cultural celelration the night before the dedication, and other temple details) and sneaked into the back of  the chapel to see the first few minutes of Hartford's sacrament meeting.  We spotted a lot of old friends and then slipped out to meet our kids coming out of Primary.  One of our friends saw us leave and came out to talk with us in the foyer.  She told us lots of Hartford news, some of it good and a lot of it really, really sad, but it was good to talk with her.

We ate our sandwiches on the way to see the Hartford temple and were so surprised to see that it's directly across the street where our old pediatrician's office in Farmington is.  It's really beautiful!  One level, other than a basement I assume, with a huge Angel Moroni on top.  Maybe he looks so big because he's usually higher in the air, but it's quite impressive. 

After that we drove past our old house in Wethersfield, drove down through Old Wethersfield where General George Washington met with French Lt. Gen. Rochambeau planned the Siege of Yorktown, (thank you Wikipedia).  Old Wethersfield's motto is "Ye Most Ancient Towne in Connecticut" and is the state's largest historic district, spanning two square miles and 1,100 buildings, dating back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. (again Wikipedia, I can't just spew these facts from memory:))

After that we hit the road Jack, and made it to our house by 9 p.m.  We all weighed in that night and had each gained at least a couple of pounds.  That's what happens when you have a cooler in the middle of the van full of snacks - even when most of them were healthy.  :)  We learned how to travel long distance after our mega road trip last summer.
 We left our hearts in Maine.

Monday, June 27, 2016

If I Lived In The Woods By:Sophia B.

If I lived in the woods I would build my own cabin and make my own garden. Also, sometimes I will go hunting for deer,bears,foxes,and wolves. I also would want a pig and three chickens because  the chickens  would give me fresh eggs and when the pig is fat enough I can go kill it so I would have bacon and sausage for winter. My cabin will have  a fireplace,windows with curtains,a wide open kitchen,a small dining room,three bedrooms,three bathrooms,and a living room with a pull down attic. The food I would have for winter would be bacon, sausage, cucumbers, onions, squash, fish, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, apples, oranges, lemons, deer meat, bananas, pineapple, peaches, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and cherries.
(background)  We're reading Little House in the Big Woods again, but this time I asked everyone to write about what it would be like if they were in the woods too.  Sophia included a picture ... high-heeled boots, leggins, and side ponytail.   ;)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

100 days wiser

I don't remember ever celebrating 100 days of school during the school year while growing up, but it certainly is celebrated every year in our kids' schools.

Sophia is pretty reserved about most things and is always the Bailey child that hangs back when the others are hugging everyone and making their presence known.  So I was really surprised when she said she wanted to dress up for her class 100 days party.

I have some old glasses I don't use any more and told her she could use them, as long as she didn't really look through them.  :)  So here's the outfit she orchestrated.

Love that girl!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

You know it's love when you spouse gives you something for Valentine's Day and it has nothing to do with flowers, chocolates, jewelry, or any of the typical stuff, but he gives it because he knows you really want it.  That's what Matt did this year, and he scored some major points!

First off, he knew I'd be traveling for a ward conference today and that it wouldn't be a typical day, so he gave it to me yesterday.  He was so excited to give it to me that I was really curious as to what it was. 

He came in from outside where the gift was hidden and at first it wasn't registering to me.  It was a photo album and a stack of pictures that had just been developed.  But when I opened the pictures I was so excited! 

Matt heard me talking over the last few weeks that we really needed to get a photo book for Joshua.  The poor boy doesn't have anything to look at when everyone else pulls out their baby books.  I have felt really badly about that.
So there it was!  A photo album with about 100 printed pictures from Matt's computer of Joshua through the first 2 or 3 years of life.  It was so thoughtful and I was so happy he did it.

I've just finished getting them in chronological order and in the book.  Now I've got to print everything else and get it in all the books.  We have things online, but we really like to pull out books and look through them.

By the way, Matt did give me chocolate too.  Ghirardelli Dark Salted Chocolates.  They're pretty blissful.  :)

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hot Chocolate - Take 4

For the fourth year running we set up our hot chocolate stand to benefit Jump Rope for Heart.  The tradition is less and less thrilling to me but the kids really enjoy it - so on we went. 

There wasn't snow but it was cold enough to enjoy a nice cup.  Our first year we had a ton of publicity and support from the school.  It has definitely waned, but we raised in the neighborhood of $75.