July 31, 2009

Play Like a Kid Again

As my kids get bigger I sometimes am reminded that their bodies are big but they are still kids. We went to the zoo and everyone enjoyed a good frolic.

July 29, 2009

Pit Fall

Tonight for dinner we were kept company by Christian's marching band section. We had chicken Enchiladas and turtle bars with ice cream. I loved the energy and laughter. All 11 members of the "Pit" were well mannered and several asked if they could come live here. This picture is after they ate about 30 enchiladas, a 9x13 pan of turtle bars and a half-gallon of icecream. The best compliments of all came during the ride back to the school, there were lots of thank yous, 2 boys claimed they loved me, and one called me Mom.

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July 26, 2009

The trip is officially over

I had this idea for our trip to make it memorable... I printed photos all along the way on our grand adventure and each kid made their own scrapbook of the trip while we drove. I thought that Christian and Truman would think it was a dumb idea, but a week into the trip I heard Christian proclaim that his scrapbook was the coolest. I was hoping that the books would serve as life long reminders of the great adventure that we took, partly because I don't know if we would ever do it again. The books are that, but there was also the unexpected benefit that the books took hours and hours to make. Hours and hours that could have been spent fighting or complaining, they were busy cutting, taping and writing. I am making the scrapbook idea near the top of my "Good ideas I've had" list.

Today most of the kids put the finishing touches on their books.

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Anybody looking for a Hero?

Ian (my brother) gave me (it is mine, I wrote my name on it with a sharpie) a Playstation 2. When I arrived home from the trip I let the kids work in the morning and they play Guitar Hero in the afternoons. I didn't give any time limits with the hopes of letting the younger kids get better than Dadd, Christian and Truman. It worked. Now that everyone is home there has been a lot of piano practicing and house cleaning going on so that the heros can battle. I am sure that there has been a great leap in the eye hand coordination around here. The kids were laughing pretty hard thta Kenneth had to practice the piano and mow my lawn yesterday before he could get on stage.

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Silly Spider Girl

I really love my Hazel... She has at times been quite a challenge for us, she has taxed my patience as well as my parenting skills. 2 years old was truly hideous, 3 years old was better. Now as birthday #4 approaches, I am catching the vision of what kind of person she might be... Funny. Funny is what she is. After all the struggling to get it right, it is great have some comic relief! Here she is in all her Spiderific Glory.

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July 16, 2009

My Trip it has 4 Corners

We stopped at 4 corners monument. We intended to play a game of four-square, but there was quite a line just to stand there. So we didn't play our game. Bummer. Here we are standing in 4 different states.

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July 14, 2009

Home at Last

Today we made the last leg of our Journey. The house was still standing. There is another litter of feral kittens in my yard. Nate fell asleep before I could make any dinner. I am happy to be washing the sleeping bags and even more happy not to be sleeping in mine tonight. Kenneth Christian and Truman went home with Kenneth's parents. They claim to be going to help build a shed, I think that they are just trying to get out of cleaning the van out. It is really scary after 3 weeks on the road!

July 13, 2009

Mesa Verde Take 2

We went into Mesa Verde again today. We saw the park in much the same way we have seen many other places on this trip. Sunrise to sunset. We really saw a lot. The kids all completed the junior Ranger program too. We took two of the guided tours, one unguided tour, hiked a 3 mile loop to see some petroglyphs and most of the viewing spots along the road side. The funny moment was Hazel, as we were approaching the unguided ruins she looked around and asked suspiciously, "Where are we going?" Answer "to those ruins right there". Hazel "Are we going to have to listen to the ranger talk a long time saying boring things?". "Nope" "OK! Lets go!"

We took Jacob and Noah (in the backpack) on the tour of Balcony House. They were both real troopers. The location is not easily accessed. We had to climb a 3 foot ladder, descend 100 stairs, and crawl through a tunnel. The ranger said that visitors come to see the Cliff Palace but remember the Balcony House. I think it is more memorable because of the adventures in accessing it.

July 12, 2009

Faux Birthday

Today we celebrated Sydney's 11th birthday a little early. She picked shishkabobs and Corn on the cob for her birthday dinner and for her cake Jacob made a dutch oven black forest cobbler cake. It was really good.

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July 11, 2009

Mesa Verde

Today we went to Mesa Verde with my brother Jacob and my Nephew Noah. We all had a great time (Except Noah who was just a good sport about looking at old buildings and having a diaper rash). We had a picnic and came back to the campground and went swimming.

On the trail.
At one of the ruins.
In the ruin.

Having a look see!

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July 10, 2009

New Mexico

While we were driving across New Mexico, We decided to stop in Albuquerque. For old times sake I took my family to Mac's Steak in the Rough. My Mom and I used to go there together.
I made sure that we all had lime-ade and onion rings.

Here we are outside the restraunt. It is a drive-in but we were all tired of sitting in the car so we went in to eat.

Here are the kids watching an old episode of Knight Rider on the Ipod, this is our last resort of entertainment when boredom and fighting overtake us. I think it is pretty impressive that we made it this far in our travels before we had to use it!

On the Road Again

Tuesday Morning we left Paul and Julie's House. They were great hosts and we hope they recover quickly from our whirlwind stay. We intended to visit the birthplace of Davy Crockett but I misjudged where it was and we missed it. We camped a night in Tennessee. The next day we drove across Tennessee and stopped at Graceland, we looked at the mansion from the street, and visited the giftshops/museums. We did not pay the $100 for our family to take the tour (we aren't that big of fans). We did buy charms for the girls and magnets or pins for the boys. We stopped for dinner at an interstate BBQ just off I-40 in Mississippi. The food was good, Kenneth had discovered the restraunt on previous visits to the Memphis airport. We camped just west of Memphis, about 50 yards from the freeway. The campground had the most mosquitoes I have ever seen, the air was so thick it was hard to not kill them. We made short order of getting into the safety of the tent and in the morning we got out by 7:30 AM. (A new record for us) Yesterday (Thursday, as far as I can recon) we drove and drove and drove. We drove across Arkansas, across Oklahoma, across the top of Texas, all the way to Tucumcari New Mexico. Tucumcari has a nicer campground, with cows and horses in the field nearby. Our hearts are cheered by the almost desert that surrounds us After almost 3 weeks on the road we are longing for that beautiful desert that is our home. We do have one last stop... Mesa Verde. We are going to spend the weekend with my brother Jacob and my nephew Noah.

July 8, 2009

I'm going to Graceland

I'm going to Graceland... Graceland... Memphis Tennessee.
This stop was one that I never thought I would see. Graceland, Home of Elvis Presley. Now that we are here and the tickets to tour his mansion are $25 per person, I find that I don't love Elvis that much. I think that it was good to stop because of his status as an American Icon, but that seeing the property from the street and visiting the giftshop/museum area is enough to satisfy my dream of seeing Graceland.

The kids and a cadillac, which they were very disapointed with because it is not pink. (You had to pay to see the pink one.)

The mansion as seen from the street.

A more committed fan, paying his respects.

Nate signed the wall infront of the estate.

July 6, 2009

Last Day in D.C.

"So, this week started with the National Holocaust Memorial Museum. It was a very interesting exhibit. 4 floors worth. When the exhibits dealt with large generalities or large groups of people did not have the same emotional impact as a couple of the exhibits that discussed individuals and their lives. I went in asking the question, “What would bring a nation to behave in such a manner?” and, “What would make a group of people so susceptible to a charismatic leader?” The answer I think was a sense of unrest, that the national pride had been insulted, general dissatisfaction, and being under-educated. Thus the need to provide education to all people is underscored in my mind. I was most impressed to read about the groups that resisted in the ghettos and in the concentration camps. I had always hoped that there was someone who resisted and fought back and tried to preserve their own lives. They were not ever successful on a large scale, but they are a great inspiration to me, restoring faith in the human spirit. The fact that gypsies (Roma), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and political enemies were killed along with the Jews is also glossed over in the history books. I was also very impressed with the number of non-targets that assisted underground movement to help people escape. There was a whole wall full of their names, sorted by country. How embarrassing for countries like Russia that only had one name on the wall. I had also never realized how much of a role our own country played with its informed inaction." From Kenneth's Sunday Letter

I thought that the Holocaust Museum was very well done and was interesting as a study of history as well as an opportunity for introspection. What kind of person am I? Kenneth and I took Christian, Truman, Sydney and Abby. (Paul met us after lunch) At home, before we left on our trip Abby expressed interest in coming and I had my doubts so I told her she had to read books about the Holocaust so she knew what she was asking. She read quite a few and still wanted to come. I think that she found it interesting. I can't say enjoyed it because that doesn't do the depth of the impact justice. We were all glad we went.

When we got back to Paul and Julie's house, they had prepared a fun Brazilian BBQ dinner. We lit some of the fireworks that we had bought in Illinois. Some of them weren't legal in Virginia.

We had a great visit.

July 5, 2009

I love to see the Temple

What I love more than seeing the Atemple is seeing my Family at the temple. I am so thankful for the temple ordinances and the opportunity to have my family sealed for eternity.

After we took a picture outside we went into the visitor center to see an exhibit of photographs taken from the Hubble Telescope. All I have to say is that trying to understand the absolute immensity of space about Knocked me over!
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July 4, 2009

Independence Day

This trip has really brought home to me all that I hold dear. I have been so impressed with our kids. They have been great travelers and fabulous tourists. I have also been reminded of the great heritage that is ours, our pioneer ancestors and our founding fathers. What a great debt I owe to so many who have given so much so that my life can be wonderful.

Today we celebrated our Independence in our nation's capitol. We got to The Mall early, Paul and I saved seats for the parade while some of the kids, Julie and Kenneth went to the National Archives to see a dramatic reading of the declaration of independence. The we watched the parade and had lunch. We walked the mall all day and saw all the monuments that we cared to. I particularly enjoyed Lincoln. Hazel had her photo taken on Einstein's lap because they have the same hair. Sydney read a book about Eleanor Roosevelt and so had her picture there.

We were all tired and went to the metro station only to find that they had closed that station so we had to walk 4 more blocks to the next one. The kids were real troopers and didn't complain.

After we viewed the monuments we had an adventure trying to find a good spot for viewing that had available parking. Then Julie had an adventure trying to find us. We had a great picnic dinner and really enjoyed the fireworks!

I would highly recommend the 4th of July on the Capitol Mall!!!

July 3, 2009

Adventures with Ann

After the morning chasing rockets and a nice lunch with Paul and Julie, we went to visit my cousin Ann in Baltimore. I have been reading her blog for a while and have been jealous of all the fun her visitors have. I have to say that our visit was everything that I had hoped it would be. It should have been a 1 hour drive but traffic made it take almost 2 1/2 hours. When we finally walked through the door we were greeted by hot cookies and milk, Yummy! Then we played frisbee in the park behind her house while we waited for the traffic died down. Then we drove into Little Italy to play Bocce Ball. Rebekah wowed us all with her amazing bocce skills. There were even some league players watching who commented on how good she was. After playing ball we needed some dinner. Kenneth asked about seafood, seeing that we were on the coast. Ann had a great idea and we went to Bo "something" (sorry we can't remember the name) for some crab. Kenneth ordered an oyster for each person and this was recieved with mixed and often humerous results. Then he ordered 50 "dollar crabs". The dollar crabs are missing a claw or light in weight , basically they are reject crabs. The table had paper on it and the crabs are steamed and spiced with "Old Bay", and dumped on the table. Everyone had a hammer and we were given a lesson on how to disassemble them. We managed to eat 42 of the crabs. They were delicious. Hazel and Kenneth ate the most. Hazel had a really hard time picking apart the crab so Ann most graciously sat and picked apart crabs for about half an hour and fed them to Hazel. We think Hazel ate at least 5 crabs.

Hazel eats an oyster (kind of... It came right back out)

Nate eats his oyster.

Abby makes a show about eating her oyster.

Waiting for the crabs to come, with a fine view of the Chesapeak Bay.

Ann and Hazel and the Crabfest.

Truman feeling "Crabby"

Sydney feeling "picky".

Rebekah and Ann and a claw.

Retrevial is the best part

We put museums behind us for the day and went to a park near Paul's house to shoot off some model rockets. The best part was when one of the rockets landed in a tree and the men and kids spent 30 minutes freeing the stranded rocket.

Paul explains the trajectory that is expected

Prepare for launch.

Kenneth uses Truman and a stick to try to free the rocket.

Kenneth and Paul use Truman, Evelyn and a stick to try to free the rocket.

Kenneth and a bigger stick.

Kenneth, Paul and a small tree being used as a stick.

The kids bringing all the big sticks they can find.

Kenneth and Paul comparing really big sticks.

Running to chase another rocket after freeing the first rocket.