Thursday, April 25, 2013

April happenings

Some of the excitement we've had this month:

Brandon was inducted into National Junior Beta Club.
 It is similar to Honor Society
Brandon calls it the club for smart people.
 Way to go, smarty pants!

He's not the only smart kid at his school.
Beta club is new this year, so they had to induct
all the 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
Looks like girls are doing better than boys in middle school these days.

 Nice photo bomb, B.

General Conference
One of my favorite weekends of the year!
The kids did an AMAZING job of listening this year.
It was incredible.
I think they sat there listening and taking notes for 6 of the 8 hours.

I was especially impressed with Caroline's notes this time:

 [the first vision]

The Young Women's basketball team finished off their season.
 They lost in the tournament, but gave it a good run.

 Andrew and the ballers.
 Group hug!

We celebrated Shelly's 40th birthday!
 She was thrilled to enter the new aDOLEscence. :)

 Yummy cupcakes!

 Trying to figure out how to work those shakers.
(Man, I look like a GIANT next to Shelly!)

Party girls

FREE Panda Express???
Yes, please!

They came out with a new dish and offered it free--
one per customer one day this month.
 It was surf and turf, so I donated mine to Andrew.

He, B, and W LOVED it.
 A random video clip

Caroline knows how to hula hoop!
Since I can't do this, I was blown away. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Celebrating Whit

Someone special had a birthday this month!
Whitney's big day started off with freshly baked (from the can)
cinnamon rolls. We learned that the bottom of the candle
will melt when placed in hot cinnamon rolls.  Mmmm...melted wax rolls.

As a family, we let her choose dinner.  
She picked her very favorite place where we hardly ever go:  
Golden Corral.  
 That place works well for our varied family tastes.

 The kids' favorite part?
Unlimited dessert!

 Cotton candy unicorns

 At home, we opened family gifts.
Whit's always great for expressive reactions.  :)

We had a small party with her friends a few days later.
These are her three best friends from school.
They are all in the same class and get along great.
It was SO fun and easy to have them over.

 We didn't really do a theme this year.
She said she wanted to have pizza, a movie, and time to play.
We decorated the breakfast nook table
for the four of them.

We sent them on a treasure hunt for their goody bags.
 Andrew came up with some tricky clues.
 But the girls were up for the challenge!

Then we went outside for a photo shoot.

Little cutie patooties.

  Then it was time for cupcakes!
The girls decorated their own.
They went WAY overboard and then could barely eat them.
But they loved the process.  :)
 Whit got to light her own candles.
And then proceeded to blow them out
before we were done singing.
Sneaky girl.

 They played outside for a little while.

We gave each other manicures.

Then we watched (most of) a movie before the girls went home.
Such a fun evening.
I'm so happy that Whitney has such good friends.

Finally, I took her out for her annual photo shoot.
She's a great model.  So cooperative.
 A few of my favorites:

 LOVE this sweet girl.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Break part 2

After we had decided to visit New York, I was looking at a map.  Dangerous. I saw all these little states up in the corner of the country that I'd never visited.  I started scheming.  I figured out that we could leave first thing in the morning, take a 12 hour road trip and hit every single one of those states in a day.  Crazy, right?  Right.  A little too crazy even for me.  I realized that yes, I'd be able to say I'd been to those states, but wouldn't even be able to step out of the car in most of them.  So, we decided to just take a day trip and hit *most* of them.

Destination:  Sharon, Vermont.  Birthplace of the prophet, Joseph Smith.  We figured after spending most of our time in the big city, it would be nice to enjoy a peaceful day in the middle of nowhere.

Welcome to Vermont!

Where they still have three foot high snow banks.
In April.

I think this was the first time we've ever
had a snowball fight on spring break.

 After stretching our legs at this rest stop, we were on our way to Sharon.
It is a quaint little town.  Exactly as I'd pictured it.

We saw trees with buckets for maple syrup.

Then we made it to the visitor's center.

A sweet senior missionary told us several stories
from the prophet's childhood.
Here we are standing on the actual hearthstone
where he crawled around as a baby.

Also in the center they had a theater where we watched a short movie about families. You exit the theater into a room with a collection of books, a statue of Joseph Smith, and a wall with Brandon's favorite scripture on it.  The sister missionary asked Brandon to read it out loud for us.  I'm so glad she did.  It was one of my favorite moments of the whole trip: "And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!" Powerful scripture.

Then we headed outside to see the memorial that was placed there in 1905,
when Joseph would have been 100 years old.
You can't tell in the pictures, but it was snowing while we were outside.
Big flakes.  Crazy.
I hope I never have to live in Vermont.
But I'd love to go back and visit in the summer.

It was 38 1/2 feet tall, one foot for
every year that the prophet lived.

I thought this was a great side trip.  The kids thought it was too far to drive and wished we had just spent another day in the city.  But we have now been to Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire. (Only missed Rhode Island and Maine in that neck of the country.)

Passed the NBA Hall of Fame in Springfield,
but didn't have time to stop.

On Tuesday, we took the train into the city.
It was an easy form of transportation, but we ended up
in seats that were backward facing and they kind of made me sick.
I tried not to look out the windows much.

We ended up in Grand Central Station.

We walked down to Rockefeller Center.
 Still ice skating in April.
We'd had enough cold in Vermont, so we skipped this.

 Andrew needed his 30 Rock moment.

We took the elevator to the "Top of the Rock."
It was awesome!
Check out that view!

 It was chilly and windy, but we loved this
vantage point of the city.
At least Brandon and I did.
Andrew's and Whitney's fear of heights
made this one of their least favorite stops.

I had to convince Andrew to step outside for
just a moment for a photo op with me.

One of our favorite random moments at the Rock was this little room that had light up tiles all around.
 The lights would somehow recognize you and follow you around.
 We had fun trying to figure out the patterns and mixing our colors.

We checked out the Lego store.
The kids liked it.
I thought it was overcrowded and
didn't have a fun place to build like
many big Lego stores do.

Then we found Nintendo World.
That was fun.
 We spent some quality time trying out the 3DS.

And upstairs they had vintage Nintendo gear.
 This Power Pad brought back lots of memories.

Next, we walked down to Times Square.
That place is awesome!

The kids had a lot of fun at the huge Toys R Us.
 They have a ferris wheel inside!

Christian and Mandi and their girls met us there
 and we went for a ride.
The height didn't seem to bother Whit.

They have a giant Wonka candy section.
Love Caroline's sweettart canon.
 And on another floor,
they have a huge Candyland section.
A kid's dream!
(A dentist's nightmare.)

We had some real NY pizza for dinner.

 I wanted a quick photo with all four adults.
Too bad I was talking.
Then we sent the boys home with Izzy,
so the rest of us could go to a show!

I picked Matilda the Musical. My first choice was Mary Poppins, but it closed at the end of March.  My second choice was Annie, but it was going to cost $820 for the five of us to sit way at the back of the theater.  Not gonna happen. So, that led us to Matilda.  It is a show that is a big hit in London and is just now opening on Broadway.  Because of that, there aren't a whole lot of reviews out there.  But from what I could find, it sounded good.  So we went.

 The scenery was awesome.
There were some really fun songs.
I liked a lot of the choreography.

That's about all the good I can say about it.  I didn't like the show.  It made me uncomfortable.  I hated how mean Matilda's family and the headmistress were to her.  It was a little intense at times and I wished our 4-year-olds were at home with their dads.  But, Whitney and Caroline actually loved it.  It was one of Whitney's favorite parts of the trip. She was the only one who had read the book by Roald Dahl beforehand.  I wish I would have and maybe I would have been better prepared for what to expect.

Wow, that was a long, eventful day!
One more to go.

On Wednesday, Brandon woke up with strep throat.
It was our last day in NY, so I gave him some Tylenol and
asked him to just hang in there for one more day and I'd 
get him the doctor in the morning.  He did great!

We attempted to visit the 9/11 Memorial and had a bad experience.  Brandon saw the long, snaking Disneyland-link line to get in and decided he couldn't stand for that long.  Poor guy. Andrew took him to find a place to sit down.  I took the girls and got in the line.  We waited.  And waited.  They were being so good.  After half an hour in line, I started having second thoughts.  The girls weren't going to get anything out of this....Should I just leave?  But then we made it to the front of the line...45 minutes later.  And when the ticket-checker looked at our passes, he pointed out that I had printed passes for THE WRONG DAY.  I guess this visit was just not meant to be.  I was upset that I had wasted that 45 minutes, but we decided to just move on with the rest of our day.

We walked past Wall St.
Cool photo op for Business Boy.  

Then we caught the Staten Island ferry.
I was so glad that Mandi recommended it.

Both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are closed right now because of damage from Hurricane Sandy.  So, this was the closest we could get.  The ferry goes right by Lady Liberty's free!

It's a 25 minute right to Staten Island.
Then you get off the ferry and take a 25 minute ride back.

What a special place.
(But she's smaller than I thought she'd be.)

You get a cool view of the city, too.

We wanted to head to Chinatown to do some shopping, but Brandon was really done by this point.  So we hopped in the car and headed home.  We had originally planned to get a hotel in Maryland, halfway home.  But instead we drove the whole way, arriving around 1 am. Not bad. And we got B in to the doctor the next morning and on his antibiotics and he was feeling better within 24 hours.

What a wonderful trip.  I'm so glad Andrew could take the time off.  And our amazing friends let us stay with them.  And the kids were so good.  Caroline asked me just yesterday, "When are we going back to New York?"