Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Grandma Yvonne

Last weekend my beloved Grandma Yvonne came out to visit. She and I oversaw a fun tee-ball game with my brothers and sons, in which Grandma became Michael's heroine for keeping him warm and everyone else's for finding a lost baseball (and ending the 15-minute search for it!).
Later we played games, talked about our latest travels, and played with the boys. 

Now if you've read my previous post, you'll know that last weekend we went with the Brinton visitors to Old Ellicott City. Obviously I didn't get my fill, because yesterday I suggested that we go again with Grandma Yvonne! The place has so many different things to see that we were able to have a completely different experience there. Of course, we walked Main Street again (witness my taking advantage of having Grandma and Grandpa along!),
took a look at the Historical Society Museum
(where they let me play the 100-year-old, 700-pipe organ!),
and enjoyed each other's company.
Oh how I miss my grandma! This year has been the first time that I've lived away from her since I graduated from high school and went to BYU. I loved walking in beautiful Ellicott with my parents and grandma. I feel like I'm gearing up for summer, when we'll be off to Wisconsin on our own. Will anyone still visit me even if I don't live in a beautiful town with a picturesque downtown district? My grandma said that she would.
P.S. The pipe organ was (of course) originally built with a manually-powered bellows. The curator allowed me to crawl under the organ and see the bellows and the concealed pipes. Also, when the "Swell to Great" was pulled, the swell keys would actually depress when the corresponding great keys were played. I have never played such an instrument--what fun! 

Brinton visitors!

Last weekend Eric's parents were in town, and we took them to Ellicott City's downtown district ("Old Ellicott City"). Ellicott City, founded in 1772, has a beautiful main street lined with historic buildings and other points of interest (the first American railroad station! century-old stone chapels! Civil War trails! the first Maryland governor's false teeth!). Wikipedia it and be amazed: Ellicott City. Also here.
If the history isn't enough for you, maybe you would enjoy the vibrant shopping scene, including charming garden shops, antique stores, and more. Doesn't this lovely boutique look like it was plucked straight from France?
Oh, how we love it! The only thing better than visiting Old Ellicott City is doing it with visiting family:
Having Grandpa and Nana along made the parent-to-child ratio just ideal, and we enjoyed a good meal

and a pleasant walk through the city.
Later we spent some time with Eric's sister Stephanie and her husband, Lindsey, who also stayed over a night. The kids were excited to go with them on a misty-turned-rainy walk through the woods in our neighborhood (non-Old Ellicott City). I neglected to take any pictures--we'll have to remember it in our hearts. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Career day

Yesterday Jacob's school had Career Day, and the kids were asked to come dressed up as their future, working selves. Jacob wants to be "a dad and a doctor." I thought about buying a scrubs set at the toy store, but later decided to $AVE A NET EIGHT DOLLAR$ by sewing it myself. Thrifty, right? After I managed to sew one leg on inside-out, both armholes shut, and the collar on backwards, it eventually worked out:
Oh, how sewing humbles me! This set is higher-quality than a store-bought costume, though, and it matches Eric's. Plus, life skills, right? Jacob left for school looking pretty professional:

The classmates performed some snazzy numbers onstage,
presented individual job reports,
and enjoyed each other's enthusiasm.

And here's a smile from our buoyant junior resident:

Thursday, April 15, 2010


This afternoon a friend and I were rehearsing a piece for church as our kids played downstairs. When we went down to retrieve them, we found that they had been "shopping" in my food storage shelves. "I'm the husband," Zach told me, "and we're shopping at the store." I'm only sorry that I didn't get a shot of Zachary's darling wife. Here are their selections:
Apparently matrimony has been on his mind lately. Yesterday he told me that he is disappointed that his other friend Mary is moving to Chile. "What?" he exclaimed. "But I wanted to marry that girl!" As long as she can handle Zachary's insatiable curiosity (Some kids you can just tell "don't touch the stove," and some kids need to try it themselves! It's starting to heal.),
Zachary's wife is going to be just about the happiest lady in the world.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring break!

This spring break we planned a course through Virginia and North Carolina, where we enjoyed some history, some beaches, and some good times! Seriously, if we could live in a Winnebago on a permanent road trip, we would! These kids are pro travelers, and we're all up for roadway adventures.

Attraction number one: Jamestown, VA
The National Park Service has created stunning displays to describe America's first permanent English settlement. Walking along the shore of the James River,  we visited the beautifully preserved/restored buildings and viewed hundreds of artifacts. I was interested to see a collection of rounded buttons that look similar to those on one of my favorite blouses. It struck me as odd that the button hadn't been through any major transformations in at least 400 years. I guess that if it works, it works. 
During the first several years, the colonists suffered a drought--the worst in eight centuries!--that caused all but a handful to die. Skirmishes with the Powhatans and failed economic projects made the colony seem hopeless. Why did they stay? 
It felt sacred to be there, hearing about the colonists' lives. What sacrifice. What moxie!  

Attraction number two: the hotels!
Is there anything more fun than a hotel pool?
Zachary's hooked on swimming. He even convinced me to go with him at the OUTDOOR pool at the next hotel. It was 75 degrees outside, so I said okay. He squealed when I cannonball splashed him--then he braved the water himself!
And here, witness a moment of boyhood bliss: they're eating corn dogs, at bedtime, while watching a monster truck rally. Living it up!

Attraction number three: Outer Banks, NC beaches
The kids had never been to an actual ocean beach before, but they ran right up into the water as if they'd done it every day of their lives.  

We did the normal beach things: 
swimming (yikes! Eric wins the bravery award, because the ocean was much cooler than the pool!),
more digging, 
and, finally, de-salting.
I wasn't expecting such nice beaches, but these were Florida-esque!

Attraction number four: Wright Brothers Historical Monument, Kitty Hawk, NC
Learning about the Wright Brothers makes you proud to be an American, as you have some stake in the gutsiest, most enthralling endeavor in modern history. The NPS visitors' center describes the Wright Brothers' experiments in some detail. Jacob was earning his Junior Ranger patch there, so we attended a lecture about the brothers, too.
And here, these brothers stand at the landing spot to the fourth and longest flight on the day that the Wrights flew the first airplane. After this flight, the wind took up the craft, along with a bystander who tried to save it. He struggled with the plane, eventually crashing down again. As he tells it, there were five flights that day--and he earned the distinction as the first person injured in an airplane crash.

Attraction number four: Yorktown, VA
We did another Junior Ranger program here, rode the trolley throughout the town and battlefields, and even climbed up on some of the Revolutionary War earthworks. For the third time in that many days, we're awestruck over the history of American bravery.
We love being in these places together, and we're already looking forward to future adventures on the road! 

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter weekend at Grandma and Grandpa's

For Easter/conference weekend, we headed to my parents' house. I love this picture of the boys lining up with their uncles for an Easter egg hunt. Don't Matthew (my brother, on the top left) and Zachary look like brothers?
And they were off! Jacob and Zachary knew just what they were after.
Michael's still catching on.
And Adam's just happy to be doing anything.
We also celebrated my brother Nathan's birthday, when, much to the pleasure of every boy in the house,  he received four Nerf guns.
Battle time!
Easter Sunday was perfect: we enjoyed many beautiful conference messages, accompanied by the traditional cinnamon rolls and fruit plate: 
Later we had our family Easter devotional, then fish and honeycomb for dinner. We loved every minute!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Harpers Ferry, WV

Yesterday the kids had school off, so we decided to take a day trip over to Harpers Ferry with my family. What a gem! We have never been disappointed with a trip to a National Park, and Harpers Ferry is as great as they come. After a short stop at the visitor's center,
we took a complimentary shuttle to the lower town,
where we learned more about John Brown's raid,
saw the historic B&O railroad, 
hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail,
and relaxed near the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers.

The adults loved: 
the extensive information posted around the city
the gorgeous stone walls and spring flora surrounding the historical buildings
the variety to Harpers Ferry's significance: its role in the Industrial Revolution, Civil War, Lewis and Clark expedition, and much more!

The kids loved:
the shuttle ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains
the perfect skipping rocks near the Potomac
the "touch anything" policy throughout the town
the day out with their uncles/nephews!