Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saintly George

On Sunday afternoon we all headed down to St. George, where Eric had to take a medical licensing exam the next day. We figured that I could drive so that Eric could study, and the kids and I could enjoy southern Utah for a day. 
     While Eric slaved away at the (9-hour–long!) test, the boys and I visited the hotel swimming pool, a dinosaur museum, the LDS St. George Temple, and some other interesting places. Throughout the day, I appreciated the historical significance of the city and its natural beauty, but I was especially impressed with the genuine goodness that I felt from the people there. 
     If we end up moving for Eric's residency training, I'd like to move to a city with "the spirit of Saint George," a place where people seem sincerely happy. Have you visited or lived in that type of city? One where strangers talk to you about the new library downtown or raising boys or French toast just as if you'd been friends all your lives?

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Merry Little Christmas

"This was the best Christmas ever!" Jacob told us yesterday afternoon. And maybe it was! Eric finished his residency interviews last weekend, and so he was more available this week (OK, very busy, but in town!). During the snowy days leading up to Christmas, we spent our time mostly indoors together, playing and preparing. Here are some highlights from Christmas week: 
Messiah sing-in, Salt Lake: Flushed but triumphant, Eric and I relax after playing Handel's Messiah last Saturday. It was actually the first time that we had played winds together in an orchestra. Maybe when our kids are older we can establish a Brinton ensemble? 
Nativity play, Nana and Grandpa's house: Jacob played Joseph, Zachary was a Wise Man, and Michael played a fuzzy little lamb. But seriously, don't you think that Eric's donkey costume takes the cake? He even stayed in character long enough to give rides to the boys and their cousins. What a guy.  
Christmas morning, home: The kids comply and sit for a picture before opening gifts. At noon we headed to my Grandma Yvonne's house and enjoyed Christmas brunch and bingo. Grandma prepared traditional favorites from my great-grandparents, who owned a cafe in upstate New York, plus some stuffed French toast from her favorite bed-and-breakfast.   
First time skiing, Tanner Park: Yesterday Jacob tried out his Christmas present--a used ski package we got for a steal at the Ski Truck trade-in store (at the state fairgrounds). We'll definitely be frequenting the rope pulls and the "Ski Free after 3" lift at Alta this season. Brighton also offers free skiing for kids under 10. I can't tell who's more excited, Jacob or his parents!

I enjoy any day with these precious kids, but Christmas with them was especially wonderful (in the literal and connotative senses). We hope that you and your family enjoyed the holiday as well, and best wishes for a happy New Year!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

On the road again...

We went enough miles in this trip to necessitate an oil change (except I should come clean here and reveal that I really only change my oil every 6k--slacka, slacka, slacka).In Ohio we stayed in an affordable hotel with a pool, internet, and hot breakfast. Those hotels.com receptionists are amazing!
We were all interested in visiting Winter Quarters, the site where thousands of Latter-day Saints stayed during the brutal winter of 1846–47. Some Brinton ancestors are buried in the Mormon Pioneer Cemetery across the street from this visitor's center. When I think of them I wonder how they might react to our sometimes casual behavior toward church membership and religious freedom. Would it sadden them to know that we don't think very often about their sacrifices? Who was this Great Aunt Sarah who suffered here? 
For the last night of our trip we went to my sister's, where my brother-in-law Donny told stories about Navy showers, flex fuel, and shopping on Black Friday. The resulting laughter, combined with Sandra's good food, made us wish we could stay longer. Maybe we'll have to plan a trip to CO soon? 

OK, let's face it: road trips aren't all pansies. When we arrived at my parents' house I was so tired that I came within inches of applying dog shampoo to my hair. We were at one point parked in a traffic jam in Pennsylvania for three hours with no food or water (three cheers for my emergency preparedness skills!). We endured six screenings of "Scooby Doo and the Riki Tiki" and that many visits to fast food venues. We emptied our wallets on those incessant toll roads. Oh, and our van smells like fruit snack vomit. 

But it was the greatest experience that this family has ever had, bar none. Jacob suggested that next year we take a road trip to Greece. "What about the ocean?" I asked. After thinking for a second, he brightened: "I guess that we'll have to take a jet ski!"

Friday, December 12, 2008

New York, New York

If there were a crowning prize for our trek across the country, it was the thrill of New York City. I wished that I didn't have to sleep, that I could just walk through the streets taking in the grandeur of Broadway alongside the charm of street vendors (selling roasted chestnuts, no less!).
The kids relax at the Empire Hotel, which sits within an apple's throw of Lincoln Center. The shower door there, in all its artsiness, only had glass on one half of the shower's length. While I try to appreciate modern art, that was just going a little too far (or not far enough?). 

This is the highest point that you can climb up the Statue of Liberty now--we're at the top of the pedestal. Eight years ago, when you could climb to the crown, you would have been able to see far enough to appreciate that the Earth is curved. You would have also been able to see the World Trade Center in the area just behind Eric, in lower Manhattan.

Eric and I went out for sushi with my BYU roommate Leah and her brand-new husband, Yancy. Leah works in PR, serves in the LDS Manhattan temple, and rides the subway anywhere she wants without a map. She's basically coolness, defined. Oh, and also, she used to blast Cats from her dorm room and jump on furniture with clawed hands.  

I have never attracted so much attention as I did when walking with my three boys in Central Park. Inevitably, strangers would approach me, count the children, ask if they were all mine. "So much work, so much work," one woman told me. "They're so much joy!" I responded. Stone-faced, she walked away muttering, "so much work, so much work." I wonder what she would have made of my mother?

Here we are at this year's beauty of a Norway Spruce at Rockefeller Center. We also enjoyed the amazing Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, where we could not keep our eyes from the stage. Even baby Michael clapped enthusiastically along with the audience. After a trip to FAO Schwarz, the trip was a wrap. Not bad for 36 hours in the city. And what a city!  In Jacob's words, "I love New York. It's close to the Arctic and has millions of taxis." 


The first day that we spent at my family's Maryland home, my brother Brian played "Love at Home" on the recorder. This was very sweet, until we all noticed that he was using his nose to blow through the horn. And that pretty much sums up what it's like to be in a home with seven young boys: delightful, in a gross sort of way. Can you tell a Brinton from a Raynor? (Little Mike was missing, probably off chasing the dog as he was inclined to do.) 

One of the things that I loved about growing up in my family is that on Sunday afternoons we would sit around the piano and sing and play for several hours. My sister Michelle continues the tradition with her newfound guitar prowess. 

Here I am with my mom in West Virginia. Isn't it great to be with your mom for a while? There are some things that only they understand. And even though she teaches early-morning seminary and runs a full house, she found time to make up our beds, prepare apple cobbler, and sing at the piano with us.