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Friday, 30 December 2011

11 years and counting

Today marks our 11th anniversary.  I am so blessed.  We are still so much in love and have four wonderful children.  We took them to see the new Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked movie. They really enjoyed it.  Then Nana and Papa agreed to watch the kids and we went to see the new Mission Impossible movie, just the two of us. We have been getting over some pretty nasty colds and are still not feeling the greatest.  I'm sure the kids will be getting it soon, though so far it has only struck the adults. 

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

We all woke up around 7:00 this morning. We got dressed and had a yummy breakfast:  breakfast burritos and my Carmel bubble rolls. Yum!  Since all the children here were ours, it really didn't take very long to open presents.  (Good thing, too, as we had to leave at 10:30 for church.)  They all enjoyed their presents.  Tink got a camera for her gift of fun, the Hymns Made Easy for the gift of learning, and a warm animal print blanket for the gift of love.  Bucko asked for a globe for his gift of learning, and he got a spy remote control car complete with video and audio for his gift of fun, and binoculars for the gift of love.  Minnie got a play castle tent for the gift of fun, a princess art set for the gift of learning, and a huge ladybug pillow for the gift of love.  Goofy got Cars Trouble for the gift of learning, a lightsaber for the gift of love, and a remote control monster truck for the gift of fun.  The kids had exchanged names and bought each other a book. They were all great choices too, as they have all been read a lot.  PC and I did not buy each other presents because we had bought our new red couch and a new washer/dryer recently. We had promised not to buy any more presents and we stuck to it.
Church was really good. They had some beautiful music and the bishop shared a great message. He spoke about the gifts from the Wise Men to baby Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  He talked about what these are and how we can give these gifts to Jesus Christ now by sharing the gospel and our testimonies (gold), reading the scriptures (particularly the Book of Mormon) every day (frankincense burns continuously so we must read every day), and paying tithes and offerings (myrrh is the anointing oil).  It was all very inspiring. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Gingerbread Houses

We had a lot of family come in tonight for one of all our favorite Christmas traditions: making gingerbread houses.  Each family had their own house to decorate (though Goofy helped his aunt and uncle with theirs and claimed it was his house!).  There was some wonderful creativity coming through.  Tootsie Roll firewood and campfires with Red Fish cooking over them.  Santa's legs sticking out through the chimney.  A sled with gummy bears.  Uncle M even made a man squashed under his house.  They were all fun! 
Afterwards, PC's neice was warming up to him and he was throwing her up in the air. Of course, Minnie and Goofy had to have turns as well. I was able to capture some of the thrill of it all.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

PC's Birthday!


There was still plenty of snow on the ground, so we took the kids out to the backyard. They all made their first snow angels! Then we played Fox and Geese for a while, but the cold wind and high elevation made it a short-lived game.  Our lungs are definitely still adjusting to the much higher elevation.

We celebrated PC's birthday by going out to this Mexican restaurant down the road called La Mission.  Such good food.  It was great to have him here to celebrate his birthday and to be with so much family as well. 
We then came back to the house for cake and ice cream.  I made the cookies 'n cream cake he loves and got him a fun shirt.  It was a great night. 
That night, a few of us created a blog for the family.  Uncle M kept asking for all the recipes we were making, so we came up with this idea and I think it is just great.  If you'd like to see it, click here.  The cake recipe is on there already!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Cookies and Sledding

PC's brother invited us over to their house to decorate cookies and go sled riding.  We got several inches of snow the night before, so it was perfect.  We all had a blast being with cousins and having fun.  You can tell by the looks on their faces that they were enjoying themselves!
Sledding was a blast, as it was really the first time for our kids.  Tink had gone in WV when she was really little, but that was it!  It never snowed in Texas, of course, and we didn't have sleds in England to go when it snowed there. So this was a great experience for them.  They all LOVED it!  They had built up a little ramp for jumps and the boys (and Tink) especially liked that.  I don't think Minnie even attempted going over the jump, but she loved sledding down the hill.  Thanks to PC's sister, we got some awesome pictures!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Colorado or Bust

We made it to Colorado, safe and sound.  Well, mostly sound, anyway.  The kids were pretty stir crazy after being in the cars for 3 days straight, and we discovered that Goofy can really get on your nerves after asking "What can I do?" for hours and hours.  The movers came Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  On Tuesday, PC went on a field trip with Tink's class to Nanjamoy Creek, so Goofy and I held down the fort while they packed that first day.  Everything was packed up by Wednesday afternoon and then Thursday was the loading.  On Thursday, all the movers were Hispanic, so PC loved being able to talk to all of them in Spanish. I think he misses that.  After everything was out, we tried to get everything cleaned and packed.  The carpet cleaners came that night and cleaned the carpets.  We all slept in the two bedrooms with hardwood floors upstairs on air mattresses. 
On Friday, we woke and set off.  We made it out of D.C. ok. I was trying to wear my contacts, but was having a lot of problems with them, so eventually had to take them out.  I drove the van, and PC drove his car. We split the kids, two and two, which did make it easier.  We made it to Dayton, OH that first night. We stayed in a Holiday Inn and swam in their pool.  The second day we drove all the way to the other side of Kansas City, KS and stayed in another Holiday Inn.  We had to keep stopping for gas in the van, because we had the cartop carrier and the whole inside loaded down with stuff.  But driving it was fine.  One of my main thoughts while driving was how thankful I was that I had gone ahead and had the surgery on my arm done.  If I hadn't, there would have been NO way I could have driven that far.  The last day was the easiest drive, as we had no big cities to go through and it was just a straight drive through Kansas.  A bit boring, but I'm ok with boring when it comes to driving for several hours straight.  We beat Paul's family home from church.  The kids were so excited to see Nana, Papa, Uncle M and Uncle J.  It was a relief to be done with all that driving.  And I missed not riding with PC the whole way. He joked that I always just read while he drives, but I missed his presence in the car if nothing else. But we are glad to be here and so thankful that his family is letting us stay with them.  

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Temple Lights

Last Friday we met up with Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie K, my brother and his family, and my best friend at the D.C. temple. We saw a handbell choir and walked around the grounds enjoying the lights.  Here is one of my favorite pictures.
We had a good time with everyone, but it was sad to say goodbye. Who knows when we'll get to see everyone again.  But we did convince my brother to stay with us that night. My parents and sister stayed as well.  We took my brother to Chipotle for his first time ever. I think they all enjoyed eating those huge burritos. Then we played a late night game of Balderdash.  Good times. I am going to miss them.

Thanksgiving

I am so far behind! But life has been a bit crazy.  I guess it always is, so right now as my house is in boxes, I decided I better update it!
We went to my parents for Thanksgiving week.  PC went hunting with all the "boys"--my dad, uncle, brothers, and brother-in-law.  PC was the only one to get a deer the first day, but several of them had success the second day.  It was PC's first deer. I think he had a good time. He was using my grandfather's old 30-30 with no scope. But yeah, he's that good.  I was proud of him anyway.  I don't think he liked gutting it, though. Definitely a new experience for him.  This is the only picture that we got. He took it with his phone. It's a four-point buck.
Baseball with the kids
We celebrated Thanksgiving on Wednesday this year actually.  Two of my brothers wouldn't have been able to make it if we did it on Thursday. We all brought the sides and Mom took care of the turkey. Plenty of food. I made my pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, which everyone LOVED.  Not that I blame them!  ;)  We played some baseball with the kids in the morning and after dinner we played the annual family football game. Lots of fun! I haven't been home for Thanksgiving for many years, and I miss playing in that game. Best of all was just being with family. Who knows when we will all be together again for this wonderful holiday.
The whole crew
Football with the "big kids"
 Thursday, we took the kids to see the new Muppet movie.  Grandma, Grandpa, and Auntie K went with us. That night, the town lit up the Christmas lights at the park. They gave out free hot chocolate and donuts. The lights were gorgeous, and though it was really cold, we had a good time and were glad we went. 





Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Thankful

PC had lesson for Family Home Evening last night, so I told him we should do our thankful turkey that we do every year. We didn't want to put one up and do all the work of cutting and pasting, so I suggested just using the dry erase board.  It turned out really well.

One thing that was really funny, though, was that Goofy kept saying he was thankful for chickens! It was the first thing he said and we tried to change it to "animals," but he was adamant that Dad write down "chickens."  Then we'd talk about a bunch of other things we were thankful for, and then he would raise his hand again and say, "I know! I know! I'm thankful for chickens!"   He is such a hoot! (I think he was stuck on chickens because we saw chickens at the farm on Saturday.)  We played "Doggie, Doggie, Who Stole Your Bone?" for games and Goofy cracked us up again when he would do a great job of disguising his voice but would say "Doggie, doggie, who stealed your bone?" and would give himself away. Super cute kid!
We do have so many things to be thankful for.  We could have filled a lot more dry erase boards with thankful things.  This year has been crazy and just continues to ride the crazy wave, but we have floated along.  I don't know how we'd do it without our Father in Heaven's help.  And as long as we are all together, well, then it will just all be ok, won't it?

Veterans Day Weekend

PC's sister, Auntie M, came up to visit us this past weekend. It was great! The kids had a blast playing with their cousins.  On Friday night, we tried to go out to a restaurant to eat, but everything was packed and the wait was too long. So we went back to the house and ordered pizza.  More relaxing that way as well.  On Saturday, we drove down the road a bit to the National Colonial Farm. The weather was gorgeous!  There is a little farmhouse there with a lady dressed in colonial garb. She gave the kids each a piece of cotton and showed them how to pull out the cotton seed.  There were chickens running around and a big black sheep.  Two big hogs, named Rocky and Sally, were fun for the kids as well.  We walked on a trail by the Potomac River and could see Mount Vernon across the river.  Very pretty.  We ended at the fishing pier with a great view of Mount Vernon.
And best of all--it was FREE! 
We went home and got ready for Sunday. Auntie M bought us the new Harry Potter movie, so the adults stayed up to watch that.
On Sunday, we had our Primary Program in church and the kids all did very well. Though they were all so nervous. Tink didn't look up once, Bucko looked grumpy, and Minnie let the counselor tell her what to say rather than say it how she memorized it.  But they all did great and we're glad it's over! Now we can have more fun in singing time in Primary. (Ok, maybe I'm the only one who is excited about that!)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Happy Halloween!

Saturday we went Trunk-or-Treating at the church.  It was COLD! It was rainy all day, mixed with snow at times!  Our first snow back in the States, though it really wasn't snow, per say. Just a bit of flakes mixed in with the rain.  We spent most of the day unpacking, organizing, and cleaning. It is great to see all of our stuff again!  We made chili for the trunk-or-treat party, and the kids were excited to wear their costumes!  Tink was a black cat. Bucko was a ninja. Minnie was a ladybug, and Goofy was also a ninja.  Of course, by Halloween night he wanted to be Batman. I had made a Batman costume for Bucko a few years ago, so we pulled that out and let him be Batman last night to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood. Everyone had a good time, but ended up with WAY too much candy, as usual.  Now they will start planning what they will be next year. 
At Trunk-or-Treating
Halloween night

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Timeless Tuesday

What a day! This morning I made applesauce, applesauce, and more applesauce!  Goofy helped and we filled 6 containers with 8 cups each of applesauce. Yum!  I didn't can any, because I don't have a canner, but we have an extra fridge/freezer in the garage, so I figured I could just freeze them.

The fall colors have been gorgeous and yesterday, PC, Goofy, and I went with a friend down to the Indian Head Rail Trail. There is a little pond along the trail and I really wanted to take all the kids down there while the weather is still nice enough. So we grabbed their scooters and went down there this evening.  Tink took my small camera and took pictures along with me.  Some of them turned out just absolutely gorgeous!  I LOVE them! We had a lot of fun!
This was definitely one of my favorites!
 This is the start of the trail.

Tink took this one. I foresee a budding photographer. Gorgeous, huh?
I am so blessed to be the mother of these four beautiful children.  They make me so happy, and I love having them be a major part of my life.  They make me smile every single day.
Speaking of things that they do which make me smile......Goofy still adds an "h" sound to the beginning of words that begin with a vowel. So airplane becomes "hairplane" and ipod becomes "hi-pod."  He recently has been fascinated with "powices" (police).  He just learned that the "powices are the good guys."  He kept telling PC after we had talked about how the police catch the bad guys.  Just too cute.
Last night, Bucko was saying our evening family prayer and he prayed that we might be safe while we prayed.  Tink and I both thought he must have misspoke and asked him why he said that when he was finished.  He said because Joseph Smith had an evil spirit come and try to stop him from praying that he wanted us to be safe when we pray.  How sweet and insightful children can be!  It amazes me! And again reminds me of just how truly blessed I am.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Time Out for Women

Have you ever planned something fun to do only to have everything seem to fall apart? Then it becomes this huge stress added to your life and you wonder why you ever even thought you could do it in the first place?  Over a month ago, I planned on going to Time Out for Women with some family and friends. I was SO excited because I have never gone and always wanted to go.  PC was supposed to take the Friday off of work and no worries.  Then, of course, he gets told he'll be part of an exercise and will have to work every day from 1-9 pm, including weekends. Now my fun weekend has turned into a mess.  I was angry at first.  Bitter. I know I took it out on him, even though it was undeserved.  I wanted him to fix it!  But what do you do? Well, you can do what I do and just ignore it.  Well, guess what? The problem doesn't seem to go away when you ignore it? Why is this?  If I can just pretend that it isn't there, can't it just become reality?  No, sadly, the answer is no.  Last weekend I was so sad and depressed about it, I didn't want to do anything. I tried to go running Monday morning to relieve stress, but I was seriously so sad, I couldn't run. I made it a mile and then turned around and went home. I was done. I'd had enough! 
So then I decided I had to take action.  I found a babysitter! First one I called actually, and my first choice. So why was that such a big deal?  Well, I think the answer lies in the fact that Satan does NOT want women to know that they are of great worth, play a vital and important role in their families, and can become who they are meant to be.  That was the message most profoundly relayed to me this weekend at TOFW in Richmond. I enjoyed every minute of it. The Holy Ghost was strong and I was recharged.  Not only that, but I was able to see my best friend in the whole world (other than PC, of course, he's my best BEST friend!) which would have made the whole trip worth it just for that.
The presenters were amazing though. As I just quickly glanced over what I wrote above, I remember one of the speakers saying that our trials can make us bitter or better.  I'm not so sure I handled this little "trial" to attend very well.  Hopefully I have learned to put my trust in my Savior, Jesus Christ, and next time try to allow for some more faith and allow myself to become better rather than bitter.  Another one of my favorite quotes from this workshop was "She who is too busy to pray is busier than the Lord wants her to be."  And one last one: "We become what we want to be by being what we want to become."  I have so many great examples of how to be an amazing woman, mother, friend, daughter, etc.  I have been truly blessed to have known some very special people.  It helps me to know what kind of woman I want to become.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Apple Butter Weekend

On Friday, we went down to Grandma and Grandpa's house to make apple butter.  I had taken a bushel of apples back with me and made them into sauce earlier in the month. They had the kettle going and we added our sauce to the mix. PC and Tink took turns stirring.  Apple butter making is done a lot in West Virginia over a big open kettle outside.  I remember doing it at church when I was younger, and also going on a "trip" to the vocational school across the street to stir the apple butter when I was in elementary school.  I have missed having apple butter for several years.  Tink remembers it and loves it, so she was happy to be a part of it too. (And she had a peanut butter/apple butter sandwich for lunch today.)   Not all of my siblings were able to make it, but we did make quite a bit. Each family took home 14 quarts! So excited!
On Saturday morning, we celebrated my niece's sixteenth birthday. She is the oldest grandchild on my side of the family.  Crazy to think she is 16 now!  She wanted PC next to her all day, so he obliged for the most part.
In between General Conference sessions, my older brother had set up a trip to the fish hatchery in town.  So we took the kids down and saw over 150,000 newly hatched trout.  The golden trout was created in this fish hatchery.  They stock all the fish in WV.  Bucko really enjoyed it.  They were even able to feed them.

Tink's Paragraph of the Week

A couple weeks ago, Tink received an assignment to write a paragraph about her favorite relative. She picked Auntie K and did a great job. I wanted to share:

I have an aunt who is energetic, fun, and super awesome.  She is my [Auntie K].  She is funny, and she loves music.  She has three ipods and sings and dances like a professional.  Sometimes she even dances in the kitchen.  My [Auntie K] is very caring.  For example, she let's me come in her room.  This always cheers me up and I feel better after I've talked with her.  My aunt is like a superhero.  She is super fun and spontaneous.  One time she wanted to go swim in the river at the last minute.  Our family went with her.  My [Auntie K] is the most super superhero that ever lived.  She is the best, most awesome, most fun, greatest, loving aunt anyone could ever have.

Now isn't that special?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

D.C. Temple


Last weekend we met up with my parents and sister-in-law at the temple. We brought lunch and had a picnic at the park down the road.  It was fun to take the kids to the place we were married almost eleven years ago!  "They" say time gets faster as you get older, and it appears that "they" are right again!  It was very exciting for the kids. The Spirit was strong there and the girls had a special moment of going up and touching the marble walls.  I remember when I was little and touched the walls of the temple for the first time. I knew I didn't want to get married anywhere else. I'm so glad that I didn't fail in that dream.  And thanks to my PC for making it happen! I couldn't have found a better man.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Greenland Gap

PC made it in on Thursday. SO nice to be together as a family again. For the weekend, we went down to see my parents. My sister was there and we decided to go to one of our favorite swimming spots growing up: Greenland Gap.  The water is always cold there, and there are cliffs to jump off.  I didn't feel like swimming, but I waded in and watched the kids at the edge. PC and Auntie K both jumped from the cliffs.  Minnie was really worried about them and cried until she saw them jump safely into the water.  It started to thunder a bit, but no rain luckily.  The expressions on the kids' faces when they got into the water was priceless.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

First Day of School

Today was the kids first day of school, since yesterday school was cancelled due to hurricane Irene.  There were a lot of trees down and some still without power. The kids were very disappointed that their first day of school was cancelled!  I was too, because I had to take them to Lowe's with me to buy a washer and dryer!  But all is well! And they had a great day of school.  Minnie was very nervous, actually they all were a bit nervous, but it all went really well. Even through all their nervousness, they were still excited!

We Survived HurriQuake Week

I forgot to mention that we had an earthquake last week! When we were still at Mom and Dad’s house.  I believe it happened last Tuesday, maybe Monday. I can’t remember.  Anyway, I was in their library doing something to get ready to move and Michael was in there with me.  All of a sudden, the floor shook.  I yelled, “MOM!” and then the floor kept shaking, so I yelled louder—“MOM!!!” I thought that someone had run into the house at first, but when the ground kept shaking I thought “It must be an earthquake!” (Oh, it was Tuesday, because Monday night there was an earthquake in Colorado, which was why I even thought that it was an earthquake, though I did doubt it since we never get those on the east coast.)  Anyway, Mom and Tink were outside, so that is why they didn’t answer when I yelled. But they came in and I told them what I felt and Mom thought I was crazy! Seriously! Well, she believed me that I felt something so we checked outside and even went down to the basement to see if anything had fallen  and made it shake, but when we didn’t find anything, she just joked that I must be losing it!  Then about an hour or maybe less than an hour later, someone from their ward called and asked if we had felt the earthquake! Mom couldn’t believe it!  So we turned on the news, and sure enough, an earthquake had hit in Mineral, VA, which is about halfway between Charlottesville and Richmond.  Crazy, huh?  It was felt all the way up to NYC. 
So this weekend ended up being pretty crazy as well.  After we moved into the house and got the kids registered, we had Meet the Teacher on Thursday and then Kindergarten orientation on Friday.  The kids’ teachers all seem wonderful. I don’t think we could have done better.  With Minnie, we saw our Father’s love in everything!  Both of her teachers she had met while they were waiting in the foyer while I registered them!  I couldn’t believe out of 10 kindergarten teachers, the 2 that she met were HER teachers!  What a blessing!  They are very lovely a well.  So nice!  Another blessing was that we found that there are 3 other kids in her class that are also in her class at church!!   I told Minnie that Heavenly Father must surely love her a lot to help her out so much with school. 
But on Friday, it seemed like the hurricane that was threatening the east coast (Irene) was going to hit pretty hard. So Mom and Dad suggested we come home and spend the weekend with them. We were all ready to go on Saturday morning, but by then it looked like it wasn’t going to be as bad as they originally thought. So rather than drive down and back so quickly, we decided to stay.  They canceled church for Sunday though, so we knew it would be a long weekend.  It rained all day Saturday, but it didn’t get scary until bedtime.  Then the wind was outrageous!  It seriously sounded like a tornado. The kids all slept in my bedroom except Goofy who fell right to sleep in his room and Tink who realized it was louder in my room than hers.  We really should have all slept in the basement, but I hadn’t thought about it until bedtime b/c I thought it wasn’t going to be so bad. I kept praying and felt like it would be ok, so we stuck it out and were find. But the strain and stress of being in charge of four sweet children and the house made me shake and I felt pretty nauseous as well.  I finally fell asleep, sure that no trees would fall on our house and we’d be ok.  Thankfully, the Lord answered our prayers.  There were SO many trees down in our area!  Our next door neighbor has a big tree that fell down onto the sidewalk and one across the street had one blown over as well.  There were a few people in the ward who had trees fall into their houses and a few with some flooding in the basement.  We were truly, truly blessed.  And now I can say I have been through an earthquake and hurricane all in the same week!!
We’ve met several lovely people in the ward so far. The bishop and his son came by on Sunday to check on us. They seem so nice and learned all the kids’ names right away.  Love the family all ready! Then a family just a street down brought us cookies. They are actually moving farther away, but still in our ward.  They had some couches that wouldn’t fit into their new place, so they are letting us borrow them until our stuff arrives. It is SO nice to sit on a couch again.  The kids were so excited to see them when they came home from school today!  It’s the little things in life that are so appreciated sometimes.
So yesterday was supposed to be the first day of school, but because of trees in roads and some power outages still in the area, they canceled.  So today was their first day of school.  They all did so well. Minnie was so brave.  She had a kind of worried look on her face when we got to school and I asked her how she was doing.  She smiled and said she was fine.  I asked if she was scared or worried, and she shook her head no.  I got a little teary eyed then. I was so proud of her and I was so sad to leave her. I have always hated the first day of school, ever since Tink started going.  (I loved it as a kid, though, and am glad that my children love it as well.)  They all did great and seemed to have had a good day when they came home. They talked and talked and told me all about it. But now that it’s bedtime, Minnie has been struggling. She is worried about going back.  We talked and cried together. I told her how proud I was of her and how the second day will be easier because she knows what to expect.  She seems better, but it’s now almost 9:30pm and she’s still not asleep. 
We bought a washer and dryer yesterday at Lowe’s. They were delivered today. Another thing I am so grateful for!  What fun it was to do laundry!  Tomorrow we will get tv, internet, and a home phone line set up. Yay!   I bought a tv today so they could hook it up.  Well anyway, I better get off to bed as well.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Fun in the Sun

video
Everyone has been enjoying the sun in West Virginia.  When we got off the plane, I pointed to the sky and asked the kids if they knew what that was up there.  They were a bit confused at first, but then I told them I was talking about the big, bright, HOT sun!  The two older kids have been perfecting their swimming skills at their uncle's house, while the two younger ones have been braving the diving board (as long as they wear the floaties!) and loving every second of it!
video
We also did slip and slide with cousins at Grandma and Grandpa's house on their huge plastic tarp. They had a blast.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

London One Last Time

I went with a few friends down to London one last time before we leave.  My friend M from BYU just moved here and it has been SO much fun to see her.  It is so neat to see someone I knew in my younger days happily married with four kids just like us.  And it's like no time has gone by at all.
I had never been to St. Paul's Cathedral,  and since the tube stop was on our way, we got off and took pictures.  (This is the one in Mary Poppins where the old lady is feeding the birds.)  Then we headed to the Creperie to meet another friend. We were close on time so took a taxi down to the Ambassadors Theatre to see Stomp.  Very good, though the theatre was very small and seats super uncomfortable.  It was loud though! But lots of fun! And I made it home before 1 am!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Potted Potter

We went to see Potted Potter in Bury St. Edmunds today.  It is these two guys, Dan and Jeff, who condense all the Harry Potter books into 70 minutes.  It was loads of fun.  They are very comical and we laughed through the entire thing. At one point, they play Quidditch with the audience. They split us up between two teams, Gryffindor and Slytherin, of course.  And then they pick people from the audience to be the Seekers and guess who was the Gryffindor seeker? Our own little Bucko! And he was hilarious!  He's made for the stage. He's always cracking people up, so it was perfect. (And I may be a bit partial!) And funny enough, our neighbor and friend was chosen as the Slytherin seeker!  So I had to dig out my camera, even though I'm sure I was allowed to take pictures, and snapped a few. They didn't turn out the greatest b/c I kept the flash off, but you can get the general idea.
My kids have been quoting it ever since.....One of you shall LIIIVE, and one of you shall die.......Where's my good wizard?  Grrrrrr...........I'm Ron Weasley, I'm da bomb---pwhowww, I'm on fire----sssssszzz, I'm wicked---cuz I'm defying gravity (singing the song).  Such fun! (There are a bunch of youtube videos if you want to see part of the show.  Good times.)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Alnwick Castle

So I bought our tickets online and paid for parking online as well, but when we arrived in the town of Alnwick there was some construction going on and we couldn't find where we were supposed to park. Not a big deal, right? Well, Goofy had drank hot chocolate at breakfast and then a CapriSun in the car. He had to use the loo SO bad!  We tried to get him to go in the trees, but he just refuses.  We finally get to the right parking area and I take him and run for the entrance.  He has to go so bad though, he can't run, so I have to pick him up and carry him. Yeah, not so good for my recovering arm, but we get to the toilets and see a LONG line in the ladies room.  I'm thinking "No way!" I glance over at the men's and of course no one is there, but there is no way I can send a three-year-old in there by himself. Then, hallelujah, the handicapped toilet becomes available and we made it!  What a relief! 
Then we head into the Alnwick Gardens which is a really neat garden with loads of water displays.  We had fun running up the steps to the top and discovering different sprinklers.  The kids liked the front loaders, but it was a scramble to get ahold of one.
After the gardens, we headed over to the castle.  It was pretty. The kids were just so excited to see "Hogwarts."  And it was a bit surreal to stand in the field where Harry, Ron, and Hermione learned to fly on their broomsticks, to see the statues at the top of the castle and find the one the bludger went through when Harry was learning about quidditch, and to try to find where Neville must have gotten caught and fallen.  We saw a little "show" with Hagrid and Dumbledore.  Funny.  The best part for me was the pork sandwich we got at lunch. Oh my--sooo delicious!  They put stuffing and applesauce on it--yum!  Tink did end up getting a broomstick. Bucko got Voldemort's wand. Minnie got a necklace, and Goofy bought a sword.  He loves it too!  He kept holding it the whole way home and saying, "I wuv my sword" and then he would hug it and kiss it.  He did carry it around the castle and would pull it out of his belt loop and look like he would slash anyone who got in his way.  Too cute. 
We were only an hour from the Scotland border, so we had to drive up there.  We just stopped at the border for some pictures and then up to a town on the sea.  It was pretty and the kids loved chasing the waves, or rather, running from them.
We did enjoy our trip, though it was a bit bittersweet to think it was our last trip while living in the UK.  Who knows if we'll ever make it back, but we have definitely enjoyed it while we have lived here and look forward to the next adventure.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Woolsthorpe Manor

On our way up to Alnwick (pronounced Ann-ick) Castle, we stopped at Isaac Newton's house, Woolsthorpe Manor.  It was very neat to see THE apple tree from which he sat under and watched the apples fall, contemplating the world and in the end, explained gravity.  They had a short film about his life and all. Inside the house, we went into his bedroom and we saw his makeshift "office" with no windows so he could have complete darkness and study the properties of life. We saw his telescope and other scientific instruments.  The kids enjoyed the house because they had hid a mouse in every room.  In the kitchen, they had even placed a stuffed rat which they thought was great fun!  They also enjoyed the hands-on activities with magnets and geometry.  We bought Tink and Bucko some magnets in the gift shop which everyone has enjoyed playing with.  We tried to convince Goofy and Minnie that they would want some too, but they were decidedly against it, so Minnie got a baby chick toy and Goofy a pull back wooden mouse.  They were happy, but later admitted that they would have liked to have their own magnets, since they are always asking Tink and Bucko if they can play with theirs. C'est la vie!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Proud Parent Moment

The other morning as I was doing the dishes and other normal morning things, I noticed Tink, Goofy, and Minnie were also running around with seeming intent. I go in to check and see what they are up to and I find this:
So, ok, you may think, they are playing a game, right? Well, yes, but not just any game. Tink has made up a game for chores! Yes, chores!  It's a memory game, so when they match up a chore (think 2 "make bed" pieces) then they run off and do that chore. They had so much fun and I was so impressed with her creativity and gumption to just do it and get her little brother and sister excited about it as well!  It was a proud moment as a mom.  What great kids!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Surgery

It finally happened. I had surgery on Thursday, July 7.  PC took the day off from work and drove me down to Cambridge. I went under general anesthesia and they cut open the back of my elbow to perform a cubital tunnel release.  They said all went well. Obviously, I don't remember anything of it.  I checked out around 1pm and we made our way home.  PC has been a huge help.  My arm hurts, as I knew it would, but more than that, I am wiped out. Just taking a bath and getting dressed in the morning wears me out.  This morning Goofy sat on my arm and I thought it was going to rip apart.  Yesterday, I took a 3 hour nap after helping a bit around the house and getting dressed.  My left hand is getting trained to brush my teeth, put on deodorant and makeup, and do all the necessary things that my right hand is used to doing.  I have to keep this bandage on for 9 more days, so I'm sure I'll get better as each day passes.  The first day I had it in a sling, but I don't have to wear that anymore thankfully. So here is a picture I took with the webcam so you can see how big the bandage is.


Monday, 4 July 2011

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!  We scrambled to get ready this morning as we convinced the kids to go down the road to start off the celebrations with a 5-K Fun Run/Walk.  It was hot and the kids got worn out.  We only did half of it because they were so tired and hot. PC ran the whole thing and even placed 3rd with a time of 21 minutes!  He amazes me!  I pushed Goofy and Minnie in the jogging stroller, but they ran/walked most of it, which was good because my wrist was hurting and the race was on grass which made it a lot harder to push anyway.  So we had a good start to the day.
Then we came home, showered, and got ready for a bbq with our neighbors/friends 3 doors down.  I made this yummy red, white, and blue pie from Pampered Chef. SO good!!
We headed down to where they had all the carnival rides and let the kids ride a few before PC and Tink had to leave for London. They did a trip down to see Wicked today. Tink has been SO excited to see it!  I'm sure they are loving it even as I'm typing this.  We all rode the bumper cars, which was by far our favorite!
Bucko, Minnie, Goofy, and I relaxed in the afternoon by watching a movie and reading.  We saw the RAF Red Arrows air show from the backyard.  (Goofy had fallen asleep on the couch during the movie and he is still asleep as I write this at 9:15 pm.)  It was AWESOME!! So cool!  They did a great job.
Now, I'm just waiting for the fireworks to start in a bit while the kids are out playing with some friends.  It was a good day.  Some of us Americans refer to Independence Day here as "No Hard Feelings Day." It is always interesting to think of that relationship, but I think "no hard feelings" sums it up pretty good. The US and the UK shouldn't have any hard feelings now. We've come a long way and back each other up. What's in the past is past. But I am grateful for those men and women who fought for our freedom.  And for the ones who continue to do so.   

video

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Ireland, Day 2

We woke up and went down for breakfast. It was yummy--eggs, sausages, fruit, cereal, croissants, and more.  After getting our fill, we checked out of the hotel and headed to Fota Wildlife Park.  It was fun, but mostly just a zoo. We thought it was going to be a little more than that, and I guess it was, but not much more. Some of the animals roam through the park, so that is what makes it a bit more interesting. We came really close to the ring-tailed lemurs and these little deer.  The monkeys/gibbons are always a favorite.  We ran out of steam early, though.  We decided rather than to take them somewhere else they wouldn't want to go, we took them to the movies.  On some degrees this was lame, to be in Ireland and go watch a movie, but we still had a late flight to get through and we were already tired. We all had some good laughs at Kung Fu Panda 2 anyway.  My favorite part was when Po asks, "Who am I?" Goofy, our Goofy, answered very loudly, "You're Kung Fu Panda!"  So after the movie, we just went to the airport to return the car, get to our gate, and we stopped and picked up a few more souvenirs at the shops there.  When we finally made it to our house, it was 2:15 AM.  Some seriously long days.  So when people ask us how our trip was I say, "Long, but short."  I guess I should say, "Exhausting to pack everything into two short days" instead.   But it was nice to finally get to Ireland. And it was a fun trip, even if we were crazy to try to have those super long days.  The kids did great though.  All the kids slept on the plane back to England, and Goofy stayed asleep pretty much the whole time through customs and parking, etc.  So of course he was up at 6 AM the next morning.  So much for catching up on sleep!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Ireland, Day 1

We woke up at 3 AM to get to the airport this morning.  We flew from London Stansted, so it was only an hour away.  We parked in long term parking, as that was the cheapest.  Security wasn't a problem, we just had to get our boarding passes stamped because we have non-EU passports.  Boo--but we made it through quickly and got to the gate right as they opened it. This is important when flying RyanAir because they don't assign seats. When we flew Easy Jet last year, it was a race to get seats. We had people pushing apart our family and running to the plane.  It was crazy. This time, we were in line early and the people were much more relaxed about it.  We just wanted to sit together and we did.  No problems.  It was a short flight to Cork. It's right on the edge of the island, so basically as soon as we saw land, it was time to land.  We rented a car from Hertz and were on our way.
First we headed to Blarney Castle. It was a beautiful place. We were quite tired though and a bit hungry as all we had eaten were PB&J's and granola bars.  But we went to the top and Bucko, Tink, PC, and DD all kissed the Blarney stone. So we should now be endowed with the gift of gab. You see, Cormac McCarthy was "asked" by Queen Elizabeth I to bequeath the castle to the throne, but he was always able to sidetrack them with banquets or whatnot. When Queen Elizabeth would receive reports back, she said it was all "blarney." 


After leaving the castle, we stopped for some sandwiches and headed to Garryvoe beach.  It was pretty. Goofy took a nice long nap, which was helpful.  It was fun to people watch and listen to them talk.  There were quite a few redheads around. PC commented on all the Adidas paraphernalia and other track suits.  Everyone in Europe wears them.  It is true. 
After the beach, we headed to our hotel for some relaxation. We stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa. It was very nice.  The indoor pool was very nice.  The kids loved it and would have stayed there the whole time.  They had lots of different relaxation spots around the pool to sit with the bubbles or lay down. 
There was a Pizza Hut across the street, so we went there for dinner.  Then we sacked out and watched "Bolt" on the telly.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Minnie Rides a Two-Wheeler

Minnie has been insisting that we remove her training wheels for a few months now. I kept telling her to wait until PC came home and he could help her.  Saturday after the race, she was insistent and I finally gave in. I was thinking she would try and get frustrated and then ask to put them back on.  I forgot how determined she is.  She did pretty well the first day and on Monday afternoon she was out trying by herself. She would get started by the sidewalk which helped her push off. She came running inside to tell me she could ride it. I couldn't believe it!! She did awesome!  Now she's a pro and I'm so proud of her.  I'm so grateful we've lived here where the kids are able to ride around in relative safety. 

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Field Day

School is almost out. Their last day is Thursday.  Today we went and helped out with Field Day.  It was sunny and warm, which was gorgeous, but of course no one was used to all that sun and we were all tired by the end.  We helped out with soccer slalom.  Tink and Bucko said they had a good time.