Sunday, March 29, 2009

Skiing

A week ago Tuesday night my friends called in the evening to say they were going skiing. Since my kids had been dying to go, we decided at the last minute to join them the next morning after piano lessons were done. I hope no one who works for CPS reads this because I was naughty and pulled them out of school. Not to worry though we had our word of the day and they did a bit of math counting the number of poles on the chair lift on the way up the mountain and well P.E. was totally covered.

I picked the kids up at 8 from piano and then we were headed up the hill by 8:30. It was such a beautiful day as you can see from the pictures. McCall ditched her coat after the first run and Parker and Carson soon followed her lead. It was so much fun going with good friends too! Here is a picture of my sweet friends Leanne and Tammi. They were really good sports because they had to wait for the girl with 3 kids (me!)



My other good friend Denise had left earlier and dropped Carson off at ski school for me (I have really nice friends). We checked on him when we got there and then headed up the lift.



I must admit the first run was ROUGH! Because it was so warm we decided to head up to the backside of the mountain where there was more shade and less slush. Unfortunately, it was a very long way up and an even longer way down when you are skiing with a child who has poorly fitting bindings. Poor Parker, he started down the slopes with the best of intentions, but as soon as he would take a bump or try a turn his ski's would pop off! It was lovely. Before I knew it was his bindings, I was thinking WOW this is going to be a really LONG day! He was falling all over the place and getting really frustrated. I couldn't figure out why he was so much worse than the year before. The worst part was when I would try to help him get up. I would tell him to try harder and he interpreted this as grunt louder. AHHH! He thinks he is moving his body, but he is really just grunting and not moving anything. This made me so frustrated and I had to use every ounce of patience to explain that grunting louder isn't working harder and it only makes it harder for mommy because I want to scream!!!! After we came to an understanding over the grunting issue I was more patient. I did feel really bad for him when I remembered that Mark had told me that morning to bring a screw driver with me in case I needed to adjust his bindings. Oops. We finally made it to the bottom and the guy in the rental hut took pity on me and adjusted his bindings for me. After that it was smooth sailing, not a single fall!


The kids were excited to have their good friends the Millett's there to ski with and boy did they have fun. There was lots of exploring and races going on the mountain that day.
I did have to establish a few rules after we ended up going off the beaten path two different times. I had to explain what those little "stay on the trail" signs are important and that because I weigh 10 times as much as they do I sink in the snow when we make our own trails (not fun). Not to mention it freaks me out making our own trails through trees because I'm not a good skier and not as adventurous as they are. McCall had a permanent smile on her face the entire day.
Even when she went down the wrong side of the trail when we were trying to get to another trail and she had to back track up the mountain.

I knew they were having a lot of fun when they opted to skip lunch and just keep skiing instead. These two have so much fun together.

Here we are at the bottom of one of the runs. I think I look a little bit like a carrot with that hat on.
Carson had a great day at ski school, but was SUPER sad when we didn't get there early enough to check him out to go skiing with us. We had some tears, lots of tears, but the promise of another ski day in the very near future dried them up.
At the end of the day, Parker was thirsty and started eating the snow.
We had to hurry up and load up the skis and make it back down the mountain for Baseball practice then Scouts and Activity days. We all slept very good that night!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

London

I promised myself that this weekend I would write down all of the stuff that has been going on around here the past month. Here are the long awaited London pictures. Just thinking back to it still puts a huge smile on my face. I was so happy the whole time we were there that Mark actually told me I should not smile so big because all of our pictures were turning out too cheesy! I just love traveling and the adventure that goes along with it. Add in the fact that Mark and I got to go together and it is just perfect! I'm realizing if I don't write it down now, I'll never remember all of the fun things we got to experience together.

We landed and headed straight to our hotel. We unpacked for about 30 minutes and then ,although we hadn't slept for about 38 hours, we were too excited to sleep and started our adventure. Since our hotel was just down the street from Kennsington Palace that was our first stop.

Here is Mark in front of the palace next to King George the III. For those of you who know us from our BYU days, please note the trusted backpack that we still use.



We also got to go to the V &A museum, Harrods and take a long walk down King George St. Our good friend Alyssa told us about a yummy crepe place, which tasted so good. We were exhausted by 8:00 and headed back to our hotel then.



Day 2 we did a bus tour of London. We got to see all of the major sites and get ourselves oriented from the bus. We did a tour of St. Paul's Cathedral and this was the view from the top. We had to climb a few stairs to get there. Later that night we ate dinner at Covent Garden before going to see Chicago. It rained for about 4 hours while we were in the show, but that was it the whole time we were there. Although it was bit chilly we had a lot of sunny skies.
Day 3 was a day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and the city of Bath. It was such a great day. We loved Windsor and we got to see the changing of the guard. Here we are in front of Windsor Castle.

One of the many times we got to see the changing of the guard. Not a very efficient process, but really fun to watch. As you can see I got super excited every time I would see these little guys.

I just couldn't get over how beautiful everything was there. Coming from a town where everything looks the exact same and was all built in the last 50 years, England's architecture took my breath away. Everywhere you look is beautiful buildings.

We got to eat at a really yummy pub on the way to Stonehenge. Mark loved the fish and chips and the sticky toffee pudding. Stonehenge was interesting and really cool to see after hearing about it for so many years. We only had 45 minutes there, but it was plenty of time. After all it is just a bunch of rocks.

The audio tour was super long. I don't know how they can have 2 1/2 hours worth of information about rocks.

Bath was beautiful. All of the buildings are made out of the same limestone material. It gives the city a nice golden glow, hence its nickname the "Golden City". Here Mark is at the ancient roman baths with the Abbey in the background. Are you dying at how beautiful that Abbey is?

Here we are looking out over the Roman Baths. It was cold and I was about to jump into those hot springs. Thank Heavens for thermals, I wore them all day, everyday.

Here you can see the steam coming off the springs. I love this pic of Mark.

Day four started with a walking tour of the Westminster neighborhood, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, #10 Downing Street and then we ended up at Trafalgar Square. We then went to Buckingham Palace for another changing of the guard.

Here is Mark on the bridge with the London Eye behind him.

For the politics lover in our family, I had to snap his picture in front of #10 Downing street. Turns out the Prime Minister was in the US making a speech to Congress.

Mark was a good sport and climbed up on the lions for me. Getting up there was hilarious a bit of an ordeal and makes for a funny story.

Here is the changing of the guard in front of St. James house. Where Prince Charles use to live.

Here I am again, super excited about those guards. I just think it is such a fun thing to watch.

Then we got to watch the horse guards change. I love their red coats.

Here is the view down Whitehall St. at Trafalgar square. Look at those buildings, so so beautiful.

After the changing of the guard we toured the National Gallery and got to see so many famous paintings I have studied in school. It was so amazing to get to see some of my favorites of Van Gogh, Seurat, and Monet. Mark and I both LOVED this museum. After the museum we decided to head back to the river and ride the London Eye. Amazing views of the city and a fun contraption to ride. Here are a few views

Big Ben St. Paul's Cathedral

The River Thames

After the London Eye, we headed back up to Trafalgar square, past this cute phone booth to the National Portrait Gallery. Another great museum which we actually had to go back to because we enjoyed it so much but didn't have enough time to finish it up because we had tickets to the Lion King. Wow, we loved this show. It was amazing and I can't wait to take my kids to it. It was great wholesome entertainment. Here are a few more picks from that day.


Mark was missing his bike, so he was happy to see one here in front of the museum.

Here is Mark in front of Buckingham Palace. It was huge! I would hate to clean that sucker.

Here we both are after the changing of the guard a Buckingham Palace. It was cozy with the other 1 million people that showed up to watch. I seriously thought because we were there during the off season there might be about 20 people, apparently I was wrong.

Day 6 we did the tour of Westminster Abbey. So many beautiful churches in one city. I couldn't get over how many famous people were buried there.

Mark and I were happy to see that in this lovely church that is hundreds of years old, they have the same taste in lamps that we did 15 years ago...the good old Halogen. Seriously, what is up with that? Splurge on something that matches the decor a bit and isn't a total fire hazard. Obviously they don't remember it was a halogen lamp that caught Windsor Castle on fire not to long ago.

Day 5 was a big museum day for us and not a lot of cameras were allowed. We finished up the National Portrait Gallery, St. Martins of the Field church (which personally was my favorite. Simple yet exquisite), Tate Modern Art Museum, Shakespeare Globe Theater, and the British Museum. All amazing in their own right. What is up with so many great museums in one city. I really enjoyed the British Museum. We got to see the Rosetta Stone (way bigger than I imagined), the Elgin Marbles, the Egyptian Mummies and many other Egyptian artifacts. When Mark and I went to Egypt several years ago and went to the Egyptian museum the majority of the artifacts would have placards that said "Replica: Original resides in British Museum" It became a joke and so we laughed when we got to the British Museum and saw how many Egyptian artifacts they have. Those poor Egyptians because the Brits really do have them all. It was so neat to look at them. The Elgin Marbles were my favorite, such detail for a piece of sculpture. This next picture is an ancient Greek civilization discovered by Charles Fellows. We had to take a pic of our relatives handy work.

Here is Mark making his way down the Elgin Marble exhibit. He was happy when he figured out it wasn't the type of marbles you play with :-)
Day 6 our last day in London. It was sad to see it come to an end, but we were REALLY MISSING our kids so it was probably good timing. We spent all morning at the Tower of London. It was awesome, so interesting. Here is Mark with our cute Beefeater guide.

Inside the church in the White Tower.
In the torture room. After 5 hours at the Tower, Mark was feeling a bit tortured in his own way (you can kinda of tell by the expression on his face.) We spent the rest of the day shopping and then we also got to go to the British Library.
Sunday we woke up early and had a car take us to the airport. We were both so excited to see our kids. Minus the crazy out of control (my parents don't know how to set limits for me)little girl on our flight home who screamed for 10 hours, it was a perfect vacation! So there you have it. Wow, this turned in to quite a novel. We had a great time. We decided we absolutely love London! We can't wait to go back and hopefully take our kids with us. The whole time we were there we just kept talking about how much they would love it too. We missed our kids, but we didn't miss the schedule one bit! Re-entry has been hard. There is so much to get done and we are so far behind on everything and unfortunately we are back to the schedule.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gracie and Carson's B-day Party

Here are the long overdue photos from Gracie and Carson's birthday party. Here is Carson and Gracie with their favorite gymnastics teacher in the world, the darling Ms. Cari! She put on a great party for the kids and their many friends.

Here is a group shot of everyone. So many cute kiddies.


A good old fashion game of Duck, duck, goose had Gracie and Bayden screaming with delight. Bayden's expression says it all.
Carson climbing all over the place.

Parker also had a great time and gave me a very cheesy grin here.

Of course the sponge pit is always a big hit with everyone. We had a good time seeing how many kids we could actually fit in it! In case you are wondering 17 is the limit.


This was the perfect birthday party for Gracie because she could wear her favorite article of clothing...a leotard!

McCall was in heaven walking around with sweet London on her hip. She's dying for another baby, so Mark is hoping this satisfied her wants!

My cute cousins both came with their kids. Here is Lexi, Melissa and London

Here is Mike, Marina and Naomi. It was so fun to have them there.
Man, I love parachutes! I even had to participate in this one! It was so fun to go under and jump on the top. Memories from Brook Knoll elementary and coach Tripplett came flooding back to my mind.

The swing is also a favorite for the kids. Unfortunately, most of my pictures turned out fuzzy.

Another round of duck, duck, goose for the girl who couldn't get enough.

In the party room afterwards. Lots of sweaty little bodies and happy chatter.

I sure love birthday parties and seeing my kids be so happy. Mark and I had a great night with them.

Just prior to the big candle blowing..

These two adore each other, so it worked out nicely that they wanted to have a party together. The whole night Carson was looking for her and making sure she was at the front of the line because it was her birthday party, so cute!

It was a great night!