Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Life at home: week 1

Stopped by the neighborhood fire station after a morning walk.  W met Dan the fireman, who let W sit in the driver's seat, showed him around the fire engine, and showed him some of the tools.  W is always a sucker for a fire engine.  
Headlamps are a necessity.  
Poppy Scott's tractor is just as much a tool for work as it is for fun.  W would ride that thing all day if he could.
Picking raspberries with MaMom.  
I went to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with my parents and Waterfall grandparents.  It was a great concert with beautiful, beautiful music.  I forget just how magnificent the Conference Center is, and yet how the Spirit can still feel like it's bursting in such a big place.  It was so fun to be there with them.  Side note:  We all snuggled into my Civic to drive down to the Conference Center (why?).  My grandparents were amazed at the MPG monitors and light features on the car.  The whole way down and back was filled with, "So how many miles per gallon now?  Oh, the light's turning green, so we must be doing well."  They were amazed and I was amused. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Life on the farm

I love that my parents' house is surrounded by so many childhood treasures.  One morning my mom and I took the kids about a mile down the street to the Bells' farm.  It about as "neighborhood farm" as it gets, complete with deer, llamas, goats, sheep, chickens, bunnies, a turtle in the well, roosters, peacocks and pigs.  It's fantastic!  And the Bell families are so kind and accommodating to show the farm to anyone who comes by.  
We just happened to meet up with the Crowell grandkids, Elsie and Spencer, who were visiting from England.  W loves a new friend and is quick to take charge (maybe it was her adorable British accent and sweet little face that he loved?).  Elsie wasn't so sure about this pushy American kid who wanted to have all of her lettuce to feed the animals, but she soon warmed up to Winst and they were buddies.  
The kids got to see the animals in the pasture, but then the  Bells took them into the barn where they could see the bunnies, chickens, rabbits, roosters and even back to the pigs.  Lucky kids.  

Side note:  Winston found a partially-used disposable camera in my mom's hall closet.  He took it on several of our little outings and would randomly snap pictures.  I'll be interested to see what is captured in those photos whenever my mom develops it.  

Monday, August 27, 2012

W's first trip to the dentist

First order of business on our extended-stay to Utah was a trip to the dentist.  My dentist in St. Louis recently retired, and since I'm not wild about his replacement, I saved my dental visit for my favorite dentist, Dr. Johnston.  He has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of Waterfall dental hygiene. He's been a staple in our family as long as I can remember.  In fact, I remember sitting on my mom's lap at his office for my first trip to the dentist probably 25 years ago, so I figured he'd be a great dentist for Winston's first visit, too.  Plus, he always cracks jokes at your expense while your mouth is wide open, making it nearly impossible to laugh or defend yourself.  
Dr. J's staff was so great.  I mean...amazing.  Instead of distracting W with TV's or video games or movies while he sat in the chair, the hygienists joked with him, showed him the tools, made him laugh, the works.  A beautiful, new office with state-of-the-art staff (I promise I'm not being paid to say this).  
As soon as W got over his skepticism of the moving chair, I stepped out into another exam room for my teeth cleaning.  The next 20 minutes or so I could hear him laugh and make motorcycle sounds and ask "What's dat?" about a thousand times.  It was so fun and so not traumatic.  
After his exam and a clean bill of dental health, W thought it was the best thing ever that he not only got to look at new tools ("water guns" and drills and vacuums), but he also got prizes like new toothpaste and a Cars toothbrush (which meant he HAD to brush his teeth as soon as we got home).  He was such a champ.  First dental visit was a total success.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Temple Square with the Tingeys

After both moving away, going to college, getting jobs, getting married and having babies, my friend Becca and I found ourselves in very stages of life. We reconnected over Facebook and blogs, but it wasn't until after a couple of failed attempts (last March), that we finally reacquainted in person. Basically, I sent her an e-maill and coerced her into taking me and my kids on a walking tour around downtown Salt Lake City. I'm kind of like the friend who just invites herself over...whoops.

Becca was so, so hospitable. Her little ones -- Will and Ada -- couldn't possibly be cuter. Will and Winston were insta-friends. Winston immediately wanted to hold hands and do everything together. Will was so kind to put up with Winston's excitment. We just felt so lucky to hang out and get to know each other better.

Armed with our strollers and snacks, we walked from her metro apartment to a quaint little park where Pres. Brigham Young is buried. I had never visited this park before; I didn't even know it was there. As we descended the hill down the street to the park, the face of the temple comes in full view and becomes greater and grander the closer you get. It was amazing. The park was sweet, quiet and nicely manicured. There were beautiful statues, as well. A little retreat in the city.
After the park, we headed toward Temple Square. We walked past the Lion House where Dave and I held our wedding reception. I tried to take a picture with the kids in front of it, but W refused. He opted to pick the blooms of flowers from their stems instead. Of course!

From there we walked past the Joseph Smith Memorial Building onto Temple Square. This view never gets old. Trying to get all four children in this one spot was like corralling kittens -- nearly impossible -- but they managed to sit still long enough to get at least two pictures. Getting all of them to look at me at the same time? Not a chance. 

Winston and Will had a ball running up and down the sidewalks and trying their hand at getting wet in the water features. Winst had to be pulled off the reflecting pool more than once, unfortunately. He must not have heard me ask him over and over to stay out. Selective hearing.

Even with restless little ones, Temple Square is such a peaceful, beautiful, reverent place.
After our "tour," we walked back to Becca's for lunch on her rooftop patio. Becca, the ever-gracious hostess, had lunches packed for each of us. She took such good care of us. While the kids ate and ran around together, Becca and I were able to sort of play 20 Questions and catch up on each other's lives. Despite not seeing each other for 10+ years, and really not knowing each other all too well before that, there's something to be said about how sharing similar seasons in life brings people together. You share the same road with similar challenges and common questions. You face similar unknowns. You experience similar milestones. I find it a welcome blessing to have a friend, a sounding board, an ally, to walk that road with. Thank you, Becca.

WSU Fireworks

For as long as I remember, a Sunday or two before Pioneer Day (July 24), every person in or around Ogden, Utah, goes to see the fireworks at Weber State University.  EVERYONE goes.  Growing up, this was the social event of the summer; it probably still is.  

Sunday afternoon, we left Park City, dropped D off at the airport, and headed to Ogden.  Those highly-anticipated fireworks were that night.  Instead of being part of the crowd, we went a little later in the evening and went to my Grandma Lane's house first.  She lives just a block away from the campus. We parked at her house with my parents, aunt Cindy and uncle Bart, and Liz and Colby.  Grandma got out her ice cream bars, W was running around the yard, it was a beautiful night; we could've stayed all night.
Lizzie made fast friends with aunt Cindy so she could use Cindy for her ice cream.  
I managed to capture (iPhone) the cutest pic of Winst and my Grandma while we were there.  I love everything about this (minus the blurriness).  Grandma was so set on making sure W had everything he needed while we were there.  
Just before the fireworks began, we walked over to the school with Liz and uncle Coco.  Coco was good to wrestle with the kids, as usual.  
W was nervous about the fireworks, but he was a champ.  At the end he shouted, "Mom, I really liked those fireworks!" as though he couldn't believe it himself.  I loved sharing this little piece of my growing up with my kids. I was sad D wasn't there, but there's always next year...if I can convince him.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deer Valley 2012

Our first weekend in Utah was spent in Park  City.  Similar to last year, we stayed for a little weekend vacation to take advantage of the "mountain air."  But unlike last year, Kristin and Erik and their kids were there, too, as well as She She and Papa.  Aunt Laura lives in Park City, as well.  Instead of staying at Deer Valley, we stayed with Laura, which worked out perfectly...though she may think otherwise after the broken bowl and countless pieces of cereal on the floor. 
We rode the Deer Valley lift up the mountain.  Winston did great.  Lizzy was wiggly, which made the ride up a bit nerve wracking.  But we made it.  And it was as beautiful as ever.  Despite the heat of the summer, everything was lush and green.  The view into the valley will never get old.  It is gorgeous.  

We made a stop at the Stein Eriksen for treats and pictures.  

Sunday morning we spent at the Stein Eriksen again for the Sunday brunch.  That place is tops in my book.  It is so delicious.  We had waffles, pancakes, omelets, fruit, salads, desserts.  It was so delicious.  The kids had fun and were so well-behaved, too.  
After brunch, we were walking out into the lobby area.  The little boys, Will and Winston, stopped at a little three-piece band playing music.  It was sort of jazzy -- a guitar, bass guitar and drums.  The boys were at first curious, then naturally started moving to the music.  As time went by, they got more and more into it, Winston especially.  He had this hip-shaking move that he did over and over again.  It was like it was dancing in a room all by himself, unabashedly.  It was hysterical.  We were all so surprised at his moves.  And the best part, a man who had walked by and saw them dancing came back to give Winston a dollar bill.  The man sort of gave W a thumbs up, to which W replied with a gun/thumbs-up move right back at him.  Too funny!  

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Utah or bust

July 11, 2012, at 2:00 p.m., we hit the road.  Destination, Park City, Utah.  The children were excited.  We had games, art supplies, books, treats galore and toys packed and ready.  It took about 30 minutes for them to go through everything.  Eeesh!
We set off in our cozy new little car.  Dave bought a Honda Civic the afternoon before we left.  He figured the gas mileage would be better than the Sequoia.  So, purchasing a brand new car seemed like a no brainer.  Totally normal, right?  
However, after our first fill-up -- cost:  about $30 -- and seeing the 40+ MPG the whole way...I was beginning to believe this car wasn't such a bad idea. 
Winston talked non-stop from Chesterfield, Mo., to Kearney, Neb.  That's nearly nine hours!  Once he finally stopped talking and fell asleep, we drove about another hour and a half to North Platte, Neb., and checked ourselves into a fancy (read:  sketchy) Ramada Inn.  Once morning came, we were out of there as quickly as we came.  We filled up the car, lost one of Winston's shoes somehow, got breakfast, and were on the road again.  
The children did really well, all things considered.  I would like to forget the state of Wyoming (no places to stop, and mind-numbingly blank), and I think Lizzie would, too.  Other than that, they were champs.  We made it!
After we arrived in Utah and calculated our gas expenses -- $85 in fill-ups! -- I was convinced that Dave wasn't so crazy after all.  Civic for the win!

MoBot + "Jessica and that guy"

One hot, balmy weekend, Amber and CT, along with their pups, made St. Louis a pit stop along their cross-country move to Virginia.  Naturally, we thought we'd show them just how blasted hot this place can get, and we took them to the Missouri Botanical Garden. 
Currently, the Chinese Lantern Festival is at the Garden.  At night, the gardens are illuminated by giant glowing temples, lanterns and moving, smoke-breathing dragons.   By day, it still looks pretty amazing.  

 Here Ambs and CT are in the Japanese garden with their "adopted" son.

 Here he is in a less-questionable pose with his parents, "Jessica and that guy."  

W taking a spin in Crystalyn's wheel chair.  (She broke her ankle...or tore some ligaments...something like that).

And if a day in the hot sun wasn't enough, we hit up the Muny that night to really sweat it out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bath Time!

Bath time is code word for water park.  Good thing they're cute.