Friday, October 31, 2008

Hi Ho! Hi Ho! Happy Halloween, we go!

I am starting to run out of creative ideas for my kids to be for Halloween so this year we went a traditional route but still kept up a theme. Snow White and the 7--or, in this case, 3--dwarfs. I didn't realize until just now that I didn't take good pictures of the boys hats. They were fairly long--I should have flipped them to the side so you could see. They looked a lot cuter than the pictures show.

Jonas giving his best "Happy" face.

Ezekiel attempting to look "Grumpy"!

Tank showing how to be "Dopey".

London as our little Snow White.

Our neighbors' church has a HUGE trunk or treat halloween party, so we went to it. They had hayrides, bouncy houses and slides, carnival style games, food and trick or treating--all for free!! The kids all enjoyed it and saw tons of friends. The picture below is deceiving because it is at an angle that doesn't show the TONS of people there. And luckily we came upon the kids' favorite person in the whole world which made the night complete--His name is Joe and he is the best 14 year-old you have ever met! When my kids go to his house to play they all come home talking about how Joe is their best friend (even though there are other kids in their family that are closer to their ages). He is seriously the nicest, most helpful, respectful kid I have ever met. I hope my kids can grow up to be like him. It is funny that his name is Joseph because everytime I talk to him and see how he treats everyone, I think of Joseph Smith at 14 years-old and I imagine he was just like this kid. Anyway--Joe volunteered to take the kids on the bouncy houses, etc... and made my Halloween a lot less stressful. Thanks Joe!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It Arrived!!

It finally arrived and I feel so much more official now!!!!!!!!! Pretty sad it took until I was 32 to complete--Holy Crow, I'm 32!! When did I get so old????

Friday, October 17, 2008

This is the post that never ends. It just goes on and on my friends....

Well, this post is going to be extra long. I'm warning you now. We had a VERY eventful weekend and I am too lazy to break it down into separate posts. There are a TON of pics because it is hard to whittle down from the 300 that I took during the vacation. I think I got it down to around 50. So strap on your seat belt and join us on our whirlwind 4-day Columbus Day Vacation! Here we go:

We started out at Gettysburg, PA on Friday, October 10th. Dave and I LOVED it. The kids were a little bored. After seeing the movie, cyclorama, and museum we headed off on the self-guided auto tour. (Auto meaning automobile--it is over a large area so you drive from spot to spot) We purchased an audio tour w/ booklet that told us stories about the places and guided us along. It made it so much more fun! We saved the CDs so if anyone wants to come out and visit us you can borrow it if you want to head to Gettysburg for a day--we'll even watch your kids so you can enjoy it more! (Can you tell that I am BEGGING you to visit!?!)
I put in this picture below because I think that the look on Joe's face shows how the kids felt most of the time. Especially since we spent hours driving around in the car looking at what they considered to be nothing!

Below is a pic of the kids when we got out at Little Round Top. Zeke and Joe were cheering to be able to roam free.
Devil's Den and my children--no explanation needed!!! :)

Climbing alllllll over the rocks at Devil's Den.
A RARE photograph of our whole family!
Niagara Falls
We arrived at Niagara Falls at around 1:30 in the morning. We found the first decent hotel (we thought) we could see. A Days Inn. GROSS!!! It had to be one of the most disgusting places I have stayed at ever. But in the middle of the night we weren't ready to up and leave--plus all the good hotels are on the Canadian side--for future reference for those that are planning to visit up there. Hotel aside--Niagara Falls was gorgeous!! We all loved it.

I love this pic of Zeke. He is so short that instead of looking down at the falls, it is looking up to the sky!! Too cute.

This pic shows the people on the tour that goes up under the falls. The guide is in the orange. What you can't see if everyone slipping around and the wind from the rush of the falls blowing around them. For obvious reasons we decided not tot take the kids on this. Maybe next time when Dave and I go by ourselves!

Another RARE family photo.

I put this pic in for perspective. That boat you see is HUGE. If you could zoom in you would see that the top of it is filled with around 150 people.

Since Dave is on military orders right now he is not allowed to leave the country (this is why we didn't go to a nice hotel in Canada). So he had to stay behind on the U.S. side of Rainbow Bridge while the kids and I walked over to Canada. I wasn't going to be that close and not set foot on Canadian soil!

We've been to Canada!!!
Church History - Palmyra, NY
After spending the morning at Niagara Falls, we headed to Palmyra to see the Church History sites. First up was the visitors center at Hill Cumorah. I thought this pic was pretty of the hillside as we walked up the trail to the top of the hill where the monument is.

I love this picture of the kids at the monument.
After Hill Cumorah we headed to the Smith Family Farm and the Sacred Grove. This is just as we entered the Sacred Grove. I didn't realize how many trails they have leading everywhere. You could walk around in there for hours. I think we spent close to an hour. And there are benches here and there so you can just sit down and relax. It was beautiful and serene. Even though there were lots of people walking around it was very, very quiet. I am not a very good photographer, so to make sure that I got at least a couple decent shots of the grove I think I took well over 100 shots. It was hard to decide which ones to show, but I think I liked these best.

London and Jonas smelling wild flowers along the trail.

This was the Smith Family's frame home that they lived in for a few years.

This is the Smith Family's Log home.
Just around the corner from the Smith Farm is the Temple (Sorry didn't take a pic) and the Stake Center. This has to be the largest, most gorgeous Stake Center I have ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice.
We then proceeded to the print shop where the first Book of Mormon was printed. The kids were dead by then (remember we had also been to the Falls all morning long) so Dave stayed with the kids while I just went in to take a couple photos. The tour is supposed to take an hour and none of us were up to that.

When I went in I told the missionary that I just wanted to take a few pics and that Dave was waiting--so he offered to take me on my own 5 minute condensed tour. It was great!! This front room had everything original in it. Even the floor. It was gorgeous.

This was Elder Hamblin that took me on the tour. He is on his 6th mission!
We then hurried to Peter Whitmer's Home before everything closed down for the night.
We were planning on staying the night in Palmyra originally, but since all the tours shut down at 6 we decided to head to our next location since we needed to be there by about 9:30 the next morning. That way we wouldn't have to wake up super early and drive in order to arrive on time. Since we weren't sure which town we were going to spend the night I hadn't made reservations. After all, when have you ever seen hotels at capacity in October! BIGGGGGGGG Mistake! We arrived at our destination after a couple af hours and then found out that ALL of the lodging was full. Not just nice hotels. I am talking about even the creepy, road-side, scared for your life motels!!! So we decided to back track to the next exit and see what we could find. Long story short: 4 hours later and about an hour and 10 minutes from our destination we finally found the LAST room available in about a 2 hour radius!! (keep in mind the whole time we were calling 1-800-HOTELS, and all of the chains seeing where the nearest vacancies were). If I was good at PhotoShop I would put rays of light and a Halo on this sign!! Not only was it nice to just find a place, but after spending the past evening in a YUCKY place--this place was HEAVEN!! (Of course, since it was a Hilton property) Moral of the story: ALWAYS make reservations. You can always cancel them if you have to. F.Y.I. there was some kind of weird car race going on. That is why everyone was booked.
A Day with Friends

The next morning we went to visit our good friends that we made while in Hawaii. They are now stationed in NY. They just had a little baby boy and they were baptizing him into the Catholic Church. We got to visit with them and their extended family and we were able to attend the baptism and their Sunday services. It was a great experience for the kids and I to see what their church was like --Dave has been many times while on his mission. Here is a pic of our 4 kids and their 2 little ones (with daddy holding the baby) By the way, PRETTIEST baby ever. He was soooo cute.

Here is a pic of their family. We are so glad that we were able to become friends with them and that we can still keep in touch. The kids had so much fun running and playing at their home. We stayed ALL day. We kept meaning to leave and give them some time to themselves, but we were enjoying ourselves so much it was hard to go!
Hershey, PA
After spending the night at a nice reasonable place--no Hilton, but no icky Days Inn--we woke up with the plan of just driving home. As we were about half way there we saw a sign that we could not ignore: HERSHEY. That's right. We were only a couple miles from the Chocolate Mecca of the U.S. So how could we pass it up??? The kids, of course, were thrilled! The amusement park was closed, but Chocolate World was open so we spent a couple hours there.
Note: Look at London in the picture below. I just have to laugh at her Top Model pose!
The tour is a ride through a "factory". The kids loved it!!

This photo below was the last of the trip. It isn't as amazing now, but on Monday, this was the FIRST time we have seen gas below $3 a gallon in ages!!! By far the most exciting thing Dave and I saw!!
Below are just a couple other misc. shots that aren't really important but that I liked from our trip.

These purple wild flowers were at Gettysburg. The reason I took the shot is because they are all over the place here in the medians of the highways. I don't ever remember seeing so many wildflowers in October before. Again, this is Gettysburg. I just thought it was pretty with all the yellow.
At the Gettysburg Visitor's Center there were fields and fields of yellow wild flowers.

I love this pic of Dave and the kids walking across a bridge at Niagara Falls. Notice, Tank has passed London up height wise.
This pic of Zeke makes me smile. He had HAND FULLS of leaves he had picked up around Niagara Falls. These are only a few that he had left. The sad look on his face was because I wouldn't let him keep him. I know I am a mean mom. But he didn't want to press them or anything. He wanted to play with them in the car. Done it before--and I can tell you that it isn't fun to pick up "leaf crumbs" that have been disinegrated all through out the car.
This is an extremely blurry picture, but I didn't have a better one. The colors as we left NY and entered PA were beautiful. But my camera doesn't take good photos when driving down the freeway and there weren't lots of places to pull off to take pictures. But you can at least get the idea anyway.
This last picture is for all of you that love "The Office". I tried to get a few different pics, but this is the only one that I got. Yes, we drove through Scranton!!
So that was our whirlwind tour. Hope you enjoyed. You might have to go rest now. I know I am exhausted!!!