Sunday, May 31, 2009

Seattle Family Reunion

We just got back from our 10-day trip to Washington last night. We arrived in Seattle Wednesday night (May 20th). We met all my brothers and sisters with their families as well as my parents in Port Orchard the following day for a family reunion. With 7 of us kids in my family, it isn't often that we are all able to get together, so it was a lot of fun and great to see everyone.

We stayed at a huge house in Port Orchard for the first few nights. All the cousins had fun in the house with all the kid-sized furniture, dress-up, and toys. We spent some of the days in Seattle. We got the city pass and were able to see the Woodland Park Zoo, The Seattle Aquarium, Seattle Science Center, and the space needle while in Seattle. We all enjoyed the ferry ride also from Port Orchard to Seattle on the second day. You can't go to Seattle without getting seafood, so we ate at Ivar's one evening.

On Sunday, we all went to church in the Tumwater ward (our previous ward) in Olympia. We had fun seeing many of our friends there. Then we all headed up to Sequim where we spent the last two days of our trip. We'd never been to Sequim. It is a beautiful drive along the coast. It is on the Olympic peninsula. While in Sequim, we spent time hiking and playing in the water at the Dungeness Spit and enjoyed the Sol Duc hot springs. On the way to the hot springs, we drove around Crescent Lake. It is amazingly blue and beautiful with towering mountains all around.

While at the Dungeness Spit, we had quite a scare when Jesikah suddenly passed out face first in the sand. We still don't know why, but when Eric turned over her limp body with her eyes rolled back in her head, I'd never been more scared. She wasn't breathing at first, but took a breath as soon as Eric cleared her mouth of the sand. She came to pretty quick, and has been fine ever since. I never want to have that panicked feeling again.

It was sunny and warm the entire time we spent in Washington...which is amazing. After spending a couple of days in Sequim, my family headed home, and Eric, I, and the kids went to Tumwater to visit all our friends. It had only been about 10 months since we moved from there to Tennessee, and it just felt like we were back home.

Other than Jesikah fainting, the only other problem we had over the 10 days was Jarem being sick. Jarem had a fever on the way to Seattle and was sick the first couple of days. Then, he was well for the middle of the trip and ended up getting sick with a fever again the day before we left.

I don't usually post slideshows because they won't transfer to the blogbooks I like to make, but with all these pictures, it would take forever to upload, so I'm going to post a couple of slideshows of the family reunion. The one below is of our first day in Seattle at the Woodland Park Zoo. The slideshow above is of our second day in Seattle that we spent at the Aquarium, Science Center, and Space Needle. Many thanks to my sister, Brenda, for putting together the reunion.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Little Miracles

Many of you may remember our school confusion when we first moved to Tennessee last August. We arrived one week before school started. Since we were living in the apartment, I spent all week the first week trying to get permission for the girls to go to the elementary school where our house was being built. I finally accomplished it all (and it was quite an ordeal) the day before school started and registered them at the school. I thought all was well.

Not so...When they went to school on the first day, I went into the office to see which class Tessa had been assigned to. I just happened to be standing next to a woman who was talking about the street she lived on and how the bus that tried to pick her kids up that morning tried to take them to a DIFFERENT elementary school. Well, my ears perked up because I recognized the street name as being in our new neighborhood. So, to make a long story short, our neighborhood (being a brand new neighborhood) had be re-zoned over the summer AFTER WE SIGNED OUR CONTRACT to a school that was far away AND did not have a good reputation. Keep in mind, we ONLY looked at homes to buy within that original school boundaries.

Well, we had a weekend before they went back to school on Monday. It broke my heart to have to move them again to a different school, but even more pressing on my mind was: WHAT SCHOOL? My options were: (1) the school where our new home had been re-zoned for (that didn't have a good reputation) ,(2) the school where our apartment was zoned for, (3)possibly getting approved to attend a different elementary school in the district or (4) home-school (which I didn't want to do because I wanted them to have a chance to make friends in the new place).

It was SUCH a hard decision. All weekend, I researched and prayed, and prayed and researched. I did not know what to do, but I knew I couldn't move them again, so wherever I took them to school on Monday morning had to be final. (I did know that a new elementary school was being built right next to Alex's middle school which would most likely be a good school and become the zone for our new house and would open Fall 2009). So, where to put the kids for one year???

Well, after much prayer and deliberation, I finally made my decision and only with a few minutes to spare on Monday morning. I decided to put the girls in the school where the apartment was zoned. It had the best reputation, but there was the chance that they wouldn't let us stay after we moved. However, I felt good about it, so I went for it.

Now, in retrospect, I can see it was truly an answer to prayer. They have had a great year at that school. They both benefitted from outstanding teachers. Tessa's teacher even got nominated for "teacher of the year".

Now, for our little miracle, their principal at their current school got named principal of the NEW school that opens this fall which we are now zoned. Not only that, but she took 7% of the faculty from that school with her including both the girls current teachers and several others and their music teacher whom they love. We attended a "Meet & Greet" night for the new school this week. She is setting up the school to be run very, very similar to the way she ran their other school. In fact, even the times are the same. We really like her, and are so thrilled with the teachers she has hired. Having the same principal and many of the same teachers and routines will make their transition smooth, and they are very excited. And the best part is, the school is 5 minutes from our house and the girls can ride the bus too.

I'm so grateful for the little miracles that happen in my life.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Crazy Weather!

Well, as I have said, it rained in New York while we were there and rained at home too. When we got back Thursday afternoon, it was pretty nice out in Clarksville, and we were hoping for a sunny weekend.

Well, Friday brought the rain back and more. Friday afternoon, we tried to check-out Alex early from school around 1:30pm so that we could head down to Nashville with Grandma before she went back home. I was told that this area was under a tornado warning (which is more severe than a tornado watch). The kids had been in tornado lockdown position at school, and they would not allow him to be dismissed until the warning had passed. They told us we needed to go in the school too to be safe. So, Jarem, Eric, Grandma Cindi, and I hung-out in the back room of the school with several other parents and the school counselor until the warning was over.

About 30-40 minutes later, they finally released him and we headed over to get the girls checked out before school was out . We were able to get them at the same time as hourds of other parents were picking up their kids too. I guess the busses were to be running about an hour late because of the tornado warning and the lockdown in the other schools. Not to mention, there was word that another tornado could be coming later. The girls said they were in tornado position too for about an hour, which they said is when you kneel on your knees with your chest down over your legs and your hands clasped behind your head. (how uncomfortable)!

Well, the weather cleared up and it was clear and sunny for a little while. We took Grandma Cindi out to dinner in Nashville and checked her into a hotel because her flight was leaving early the next morning. On our way home, we could see lightning in the distance. As we got closer to home, it was getting closer and closer. The rain was pounding our car making it difficult to see anything and leaving puddles on the road, but we made it home. After a few minutes of being home, the storm started to dissipate and Eric and I were just going to bed when storm 3 hit.

This was the worst one yet. It was the scariest storm that I've seen yet. The lightning and thunder were constant without a break. There was a constant flashing of light outside the windows. The rain was pounding, and the wind was blowing like crazy. It was freaky. Eric said, "We need to get everyone downstairs, I think there is going to be a tornado". (Which is saying a lot because Eric is usually the one saying everything is fine). So, around midnight, we carried/helped the kids all down to the basement to sleep. The storm didn't let up until about 5-6am. I hear there was a tornado just Northeast of us that uprooted trees, etc. There was standing water everywhere the next morning. So I looked on the weather statistics and it said we'd had 8 inches of rain in the past week. Well, I guess we didn't even get the worst of it. Some places in Alabama got 10 inches in a matter of hours.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Thoughts on Mother's Day

I am always touched by the loving things my kids do for me on Mother's Day. They really can be very thoughtful. I know there is a lot that I can do to be a better mother, but I appreciate the fact that my kids accept me for what I am and show appreciation for the things I do. Jesikah made arrangements with Eric the night before to fix me a surprise breakfast in bed on Mother's Day. Jesikah loves giving gifts, and breakfast in bed is one of her favorite things to do on special days. I had a breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast, and pancakes, which I couldn't even finish. It was very good.

The girls were very excited to give me their presents, so they wanted to do it before church. They both gave me fired clay trinket holders(I wasn't sure exactly what they are called) that they made at school. Jesikah re-painted hers once she got it home because she didn't think it looked good enough. She is a perfectionist. They were both very different but very beautiful and precious. They also gave me several other gifts and cards. Tessa gave me a marigold that she planted at school. Jarem wanted to be part of it too, so he made me some cards because he wanted to do something.

Trinket holders from the girls
One of Jesikah's cards...she did a cute job on the drawing I thought.

It warmed my heart to know that even my teenager has a sensitive side. He has a hard time expressing how he feels and showing love and emotions sometimes. Once you are a teenager, your teachers at school don't help you out much with Mother's Day gifts. Today after sacrament meeting, all the boys passed out roses to the mothers. I was behind the piano on the stage playing music, and Alex made sure that I got a rose and that HE gave it to me. That was very sweet. Then, after church, he made snickerdoodles and formed some in the words "Alex Loves Mom" and gave it to me . They were very tasty, but I appreciated the kind gesture the most.

I love being a mom today! I'm so grateful for my kids and my wonderful husband. And especially today, I'm grateful for MY wonderful mother. When I have a decision to make, I often try to think of what my mom would have done or how she would have reacted. She was always so patient and unselfish, always putting us first. I'm amazed at how calm she managed to stay even in the most frustrating circumstances. She was always there by our side when we were sick or hurt. I also often think about how she cooked us a hot breakfast every morning before school without fail. I want to do that for my kids, but it doesn't happen everyday yet. I loved the fact that we had a home-cooked dinner each night as a family. I always looked forward to that. Thanks Mom for being so great! "All that I am or ever hope to become, I owe to my angel Mother". I believe it was Abraham Lincoln who said that, and it is certainly true for me as well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Thanks Grandma Cindi!

Eric's mom (Grandma Cindi) came and stayed with the kids while we were in New York. I wanted to simplify her schedule as much as possible, but unfortunately with our move, I get to drive the kids to and from school daily and soccer practice was still going on, not to mention Alex's friends coming to our house to film a commercial for class. In addition, Jarem starting throwing up the morning that I left. She certainly had her hands full.

Even with the craziness, she kept up with their schedules without a hitch. And now the kids are telling me, "Grandma had us make our lunches the night before" or "When Grandma was here, we left at 8:15 sharp everyday"or "Grandma was in line really early to pick me up". She definitely had it together a lot better than we do most of the time. We really appreciated her coming. Eric and I got to have the peace of mind that our kids were in good hands while we were away. I was glad that we got to spend two days with her before she headed home, and we had a great time. Thanks so much for coming, Mom!

Below are some pictures we took with her before she left.


New York Trip

We arrived home from New York last Thursday afternoon. Eric was there for a week, and I spent the last 4 days with him for a romantic vacation with just the two of us. It was very fun to get away for even a short trip. We planned the trip around a radiology course that Eric had to take, so that always helps with the price of accomodations and food.

It rained in New York most of the time we were there, but then again, it rained in Tennessee while we were gone too.

Eric had a beautiful arrangements of mixed flowers waiting for me in the hotel when I arrived.

Our hotel was right in the center of Times Square, so this is the view we had when we walked outside our hotel. There is a lot of energy in New York, and things going on all the time. Times Square has lighted screens and billboards everywhere. It was interesting to see.

The first night, we had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe. It was my first time there, and I must be getting old because the music was a little loud for me. :) It was fun to see all the different items from different musicians around the room though and dinner was yummy.

The sign outside

I'm in front of the wall of guitars at Hard Rock Cafe

Eric's Clapton's guitar

Ringo Starr's drum set

There were also outfits and etc from other rock musicians. It was a fun place to go.

Eric had class the first day I was there, so I explored alone on that day. I still had fun even though it was much MORE fun when he was with me. I went and spent some time shopping and went to the American Girl Store.

An American Girl store was just down the street from our hotel. Jesikah has an American Girl doll, and Tessa has a similar one. We've purchased everything online, so this was my first time being in one of their stores. The New York store is one of only 3 flagship stores in the US. It is pretty cool how they have a hair salon where you can get your doll's hair styled or ears pierced (Jesikah really wants her doll's ears pierced. If I had realized it ahead of time, I would have snuck her doll in my bag...oh well). I watched while they styled and fixed. They also had a cafe upstairs where you could dine with your doll. Not to mention, any furniture or clothing accessory that you could possibly want. I bought an outfit for each girl and stick-on earrings for Jesikah as a New York souvenir. They loved them .

All the styles of "Just Like Me" dolls

One of their displays where they have outfits for the girls to match their dolls

Across the street from the American Girl Store was a department store called Saks. Many of you have probably heard of it, though I hadn't. I was told it was a nice store, so I went in and looked around. I started looking at price tags, and found purses anywhere from $600-$2600. It's very hard for me to imagine paying that much for a purse. Their clothes were no different. I didn't even look at the prices of their jewelry. Finally after perusing for awhile, I found the "clearance" section. Even at clearance prices things cost $600 or $1000. That was certainly an eye opener for me. This store was definitely out of my league, so I left and moved on.

Next, I found the Rockefeller Center, and I went on a tour of NBC Studios. I got to see the place where Brian Williams does his Nightly News and several other interesting things. At the end of the tour, members of our group got to make their our news and weather shooting. It was entertaining.

Inside the NBC Store, this NBC logo was filled with all colors of M & M's.

Fun drawing of Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer along with the rest of the Today show and Rockefeller Center. This was inside NBC Studios.

A close-up

A cute little Greek Cafe where we ate lunch on the second day.

Eric outside Niko's

Our lunch...I had pastistio (Greek lasagna) and Eric had a leg of lamb with rice. The meat just fell off the bones. For dessert, we had flan which just melted in your mouth and key lime pie.

Having some pastistio

(Below) The following pictures we took while on a 3-hour Circle Line boat tour. This tour took us all the way around Manhattan island. It was very beautiful and interesting too. I didn't realized that New York City is spread over several islands and the mainland. Also, with all the high-rise buildings and lights of the city, I was surprised to find that the northern end of Manhattan island is all trees, rock, and hills. The word Manhattan came from a root word meaning "city of hills".

Aircraft carrier parked next to our's been made into a museum called the Intrepid. There was a Concord there also.

The beautiful statue of of the things I HAD to see while we were there. She is every bit as beautiful as I had imagined too.

Empire State Building...the tallest building in New York

I managed to add some blue skies to some of my photos when I edited them. :) I liked this one of the Empire State Building with the blue skies above even though it was actually quite gray.

Bridge with skyline...I think we passed under something like 20 bridges on our boat tour around the island. Unfortunately, I don't remember which one this was, but it is beautiful.

Eric and I with the skyline and bridge behind

Abandoned fort that was built during the War of 1812 that later was used as a jail on one of the other islands

Ellis Island: this is where all the early immigrants landed before entering the US

Another view of the Manhattan Island New York skyline

I found it interesting how many of the apartment building have trees and gardens on the top level.

The new Yankee Stadium, we saw the old one too.

You can't go to New York and not see a show, so we took advantage of our evenings there and went to something each of the three nights. Two of the shows that we saw while we were there were "Wicked" and "Phantom of the Opera". It was Eric's first time to see "Phantom of the Opera". I had seen it once before, but it is different at different theatres...the scenery and interpretations of different scenes were different than the original time I saw it. It was very good both times though.

However, we went to "Wicked" the next night and enjoyed it even more than Phantom. For those who haven't seen it, it is the story before the "Wizard of Oz" from the Wicked Witch of the West's perspective. It was very entertaining, and had some very fun music. We downloaded some of the songs from iTunes when we got home and Jesikah is already begging to go see it too. It was really a fun musical.
Our third day, we visited the World Trade Center Museum, which was another thing I really wanted to see. It was very touching. There was a wall of pictures of all the people who had died along with videos and stories from that day. I'll never forget that day.

This a picture of the projected buildings planned to replace the World Trade Towers. Construction is going on now.

This is a map of how the layout will be of the new towers.

For lunch that day we went to the historic Carnegie Deli. Eric and I shared a huge Reuben sandwich and a slice of cheesecake. It was delicious. They are known for their delicious sandwiches and cheesecake. Later on, we stopped by Canal Street and found some great deals on purses in Chinatown.

Our last night, we went and saw a ballet done by the New York Ballet Company, which was excellent. It was 3 short ballets, and they were very artistically done. They'll be performing Romeo and Juliet on PBS on May 21st.

Because of the rainy weather and all the walking, Eric and I both bought umbrellas while we were there. However, on the night of the ballet, we didn't take them because it hadn't rained that day. New Yorkers carry umbrellas everywhere. We learned that the hard way when we came out of the ballet in our nice clothes into the pouring rain with no umbrella. And everyone is anxious for a taxi when it's pouring rain like that, we couldn't even find a taxi. When we were frustrated and shivering in the wet and cold, we looked across the street and saw the temple which had a shelter over it, so we hurried across the street and were able to be sheltered from the rain until we finally found a taxi.

One thing we learned about New Yorkers is that many of them don't have cars. It is expensive to upkeep them and garage them, so they just use the bus, subway, and taxi for transportation which is plentiful. It was hard for me to imagine what it would be like to not have a car.

Although we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the big city, when we were driving home from Nashville I told Eric that I was happy to be able to see the trees and countryside. It is a fun place to visit, but I like my space and my own house. I couldn't live there. I wouldn't enjoy being crowded in a little apartment with buildings surrounding me. It's like you can't see the sky or the country. I missed that.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Off to New York...

I scheduled this to post as I'm on my way to New York. Eric has been there since Thursday morning for a weekend class, and I'll be spending Sunday through Thursday with him there. We're excited to see New York for the first time. We won't have a lot of time, but I want to see the statue of liberty, go to ground zero, and hopefully fit in an opera or ballet. Many thanks to Grandma Cindi who will be holding down the fort here at home while we are away.

I'm including some pictures that Eric sent me from his cell phone on Thursday after he arrived.
Hopefully we won't end up with swine flu... We're going to be extra careful, but I hear there is a probable case in Nashville now too.

Time Warner Building
LDS Temple

Chrysler Building...we thought it was the Empire State Building at first...they look similar

Central Park

Central Park again

Baptist Church