Saturday, October 31, 2009

From Dark to Dark (October 31)

Happy Halloween! Our day started very early as we prepared to take Ian to the Mount Timpanogos temple to receive his endowments. It was a surreal experience. I just don't feel old enough to have a child ready to go on with this step in life. I was thrilled to have the bishop and his wife, my friend, Michelle, come so I had someone to sit with. I couldn't believe how hard my heart was pounding at certain times. An overwhelming morning.

From there, we went to our "Joseph" practice. The performance is two weeks from today and there's still lots of work to be done. This Wednesday we will be doing the play straight through for the first time. John has been asked to be the stage manager, so with the little ones in the primary choir now, it's a full-on family affair. Mags was able to come and learn the song her group is performing in (One More Angel in Heaven) and I even get to participate in that one!

I got back from the practice around 2:30, in time to help decorate our doorstep for Halloween, find costume pieces here and there, and get ready for our Halloween dinner. Ellie went trick-or-treating with a friend, meeting at 3 to get ready for the big event. This year she dressed up in such a way as to be able to use the mask she got in Venice. Quite a stunner, that girl is.

Griffin and John and I went out around 5:30. This year, Griffin wanted to be a "Pumpkin Man." After digging deeper to find out what that entailed, I convinced him to maybe find a different option. While we were out, he saw a Jango Fett costume and decided THAT was what he wanted to be. I used my mask this year, too, and John went as a father forced to go trick-or-treating with his wife and son who would rather be home watching the Phillies game.

The moon rising over the mountains Halloween eve.

It's now after 10 pm, my feet and legs are tired, my blog is caught up, and I have early morning meetings tomorrow. It was dark when the day began and it's dark when it's over. Good night!

Ellie as Cleopatra

Ellie's teacher is great at combining the typical school parties (Halloween, Valentines Day, Christmas, etc.) into learning experiences. For Halloween, they do a wax museum of famous people. This year, Ellie was Cleopatra. She did really well considering she was out a few days with H1N1!
In 6th grade, the classes combine to do a Halloween carnival. Each time I've had a child in 6th grade, I've made sure to be one of the room moms. Part of that includes helping with the class parties. This year was no different. I got to teach them to do witches' hands out of popcorn. It's just the easiest craft around!

Yowza! (October 28)

I have decided that it has become necessary to clone myself. The schedule today consists of the following: work from 8:30 to 11:30, hospital lab from 1:30 to 2, laundry/general housework 2:30 to 4, dinner prep/eat 4 to 5:30, play practice for the primary 5:30 to 6:30, webelos and their parents visit with 11 year old scouts 6 to 6:30, mutual/play practice 6:30 to 8:30, pack meeting 6:30 to 7:30. You may have noticed that the entire evening consisted of constant overlaps in our schedule commitments. Anyone know a good geneticist?

Oink, Oink (October 22)

Maggie mentioned to me that she wasn't really feeling well and asked if I could take her "shift" at the 4-H cheerleading club. By Friday, we had her in the doctor's office. By Friday afternoon, she was diagnosed with H1N1 and was starting on Tamiflu. By Saturday, she was nearly comatose--and continued in that state for over a week. On Sunday, Ellie started with the same symptoms. By Monday, she was on Tamiflu. On Wednesday, she was back to school and Maggie was getting blood work done. Griffin came home with a headache and coughing and by that afternoon, he was on Tamiflu. On Thursday/Friday, he had croup. On Friday, after all the results came back, Maggie, still comatose, was diagnosed with mono. On Saturday, she finally started feeling better, but was easily exhausted. By Saturday the 31st, the count is 3 down, 3 to go.

The Annual Skating Party (October 20)

Every year, our ward has a roller skating party at the local rink, typically around Halloween. We usually dress up, but this year it was such a crazy day that I went as an extremely stressed out mom. It seemed appropriate.

Ellie was determined to learn how to skate this year and worked really hard at it. Maggie had a great time skating with her friends and I was just happy to be back on skates after a post-surgery break. Griffin brought his scooter and was thrilled to go round and round when he wasn't looking at the arcade games.

One thing that was learned: it's really hard to get decent pictures when people are skating in a not-well-lit establishment.

Griffin's a Webelo! (October 10, 20)

Now that Griffin's 10, he gets to go to Webelos. On his 10th birthday, they toured our local fire station where they got to try on their clothes and use the hose.

They were also working on the Scientist activity badge and part of that was building and launching rockets. Since we were out of town while they did it, we put his together the night after we got home from our vacation. And the best thing was that even unpainted and put together with scrapbooking glue, his was the only one that made it through without some level of destruction, so he got to launch it twice!

October 10 through 18: Pennsylvania

I thought that rather than breaking the trip into individual entries, I'd just put them all together and only include the pictures where family was included. We took over a thousand pictures just in the one week (granted, there were four cameras!).

As I noted earlier, we were delayed (with our pleasure) a day flying in, which brought us in Saturday afternoon instead of very late Friday night/Saturday morning. We spent Saturday evening enjoying dinner at Friendly's with the remaining cousins from Chris' family. Mom took a couple of pictures, but I'll just share the one of Griffin and his vol-cone-o treat.

Sunday was church and we got to enjoy an Eagles game in the home town! We all put on our jerseys and cheered along with my dad.

We spent Monday morning sleeping in and relaxing a little, then headed out to Peddler's Village, a local outdoor shopping center, to enjoy their Scarecrow Festival. Some of our favorites included:

John also got a good shot of the family on the gazebo and then a random occurrence:

It was a cool morning, so we returned back home, had lunch, and then John and I took Ellie and Griffin to a local park called "Kids' Castle." It's one of their favorite places to go, even if the day is a little chilly.

That pretty much wrapped up Monday. I was pretty tired and chilled through.

On Tuesday, we hopped on the train and went to Philadelphia for the day. Last time, we were really only able to see the Constitution Center. It was pretty expensive and didn't warrant a second trip in my opinion. This time we wanted to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. Not only did we get to see them, but we also went to the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier and the US Mint as well.

It's amazing to me how spiritual an experience it is to tour Independence Hall. There's a palpable feeling of reverence inside that building. Everyone who tours is quiet, reverent and respectful. The Liberty Bell tour is so much better than it used to be. Years ago you would wait in line, approach the bell, stand behind someone really tall rendering you unable to see it, and then be escorted outside. Now you can stand there for as long as you want, ask questions, tour the building, go back, look at it from all sides, and then leave. The tomb is located in a park where people had gathered for lunch. There are approximately 2000 soldiers buried in that square. Amazing.

On Wednesday, we toured Valley Forge and Washington's Crossing. When I was a little girl, I toured Valley Forge with my grandfather, Ba. We went to the memorial arch and located the name of one of our ancestors, Griffith. Having shared this story with Griffin, he really wanted to see it himself. Unfortunately, after much searching, we could find no names. We read on a nearby plaque that the arch, having fallen into a state of disrepair, was restored by the Masons. In the process of that restoration, they covered all the names. Fortunately, they left the symbol of a capital G within a compass in several places around the arch. He pointed out to us that his grave was marked by the big G! We agreed and moved on.

Washington's Crossing was another spot that's just humbling. The sacrifices that those men made for our freedoms were unbelievable. I'm so grateful that my children have the opportunity to see these places and appreciate what was done for them.

Unfortunately, we were unable to do much more touring because two nor'easters hit and made it difficult to do anything outside in the cold, windy rain. We spent lots of time enjoying Phillies' games, hanging out with the Chris Hopkins family, and relaxing at Mom and Dad's house. We had Yum Yum Donuts, Nat's pizza, another trip to Friendly's, and Devil Dogs (a personal favorite).

I am so grateful that I grew up in such a historic place. I am grateful that my parents (and brother's family) still live there and give me an excuse to go back east. I loved our vacation and am thrilled that our kids chose this over Disneyland for their fall break. It will probably be the last before Ian leaves for his mission, so I'm glad we were able to spend so much time together.

I Know, I Know. It's Been a While.

It's time to play "catch-up" once again. We've had so much going on in our house that it's been difficult to find the time (or energy) to sit and write. So I'll start with the Pennsylvania trip and take it from there.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

"A Wish Can Become An Adventure!" (from "Into the Woods")

Yesterday afternoon we began our journey back east. When I confirmed our reservation on Thursday, I saw that the flight had been oversold and thought to myself, "I wonder what kind of deal you get if you offer your seat?" Since it was the start of the vacation, we thought we'd find out when the deals were offered at the gate. Although we faced disappointing the kids and making them wait another day before heading out, we got the sweetest deal! For our six seats, we received $400 flight vouchers, three-star hotel and food vouchers for two meals, and an upgrade to first class seats on the next flight out!

We were given two rooms at the new Hyatt Place Home just three miles from the airport and they are beautiful! The food was excellent with huge portions and the best part was that Snowflake wouldn't be there to wake me up at 3 a.m. like she has for the past week. (I'm writing this around 5, though, because I couldn't sleep anymore. I guess she got me into a new habit.)

As we gathered for family prayer last night, we talked about how even though this didn't turn out the way they expected, this was another adventure they would never forget. Another essentials kit (a la our Italy trip), but something they would remember forever! And now, instead of just getting to Philly and going to bed, we get to go to Friendly's for dinner! Yippee!

As for the flight, having never been in first class before, I can't wait! John said it will be the worst thing that ever happened to us because we'll hate coach from now on. I'm almost hoping the flight home is oversold too and we can try to get another deal! Maybe that's what we'll do from now on!

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Since Griffin's birthday is mid-week and John's is while we are in PA, I decided that today was the day to celebrate them both. Griffin had his party between conference sessions. It was a "Bakugan vs. Star Wars" party with my friend, Cherise, once again decorating the cake. She truly is gifted! Although she will say it was a team effort, I only baked the cake and filled and frosted it. She handpainted it with the characters and molded the fondant on top into Darth Vader.(Okay, Blogger and I are having a tug-of-war uploading pictures, so they are all in the wrong order.)

John was taking pictures of the cake with my camera and I just couldn't resist the opportunity to give him his first present: a Canon Rebel. He started snapping his own pictures around the house while I coralled the kids in and outside and then prepped the cake for candles.

He'll get his second present tonight after I pick it up from Salt Lake. Here's hoping he likes his second one as much as the first!