Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Frankenstein, Samantha (the American Girl), and a little Giraffe sure had fun trick-or-treating tonight.

Spencer and Emma were in charge of ringing the doorbells, and John caught on fast, confidently thrust his little pumpkin bucket forward for treats, sometimes with a grunt. He thinks Halloween is pretty neat. Emma told me later in the evening that she said trick or treat for Johnny; both Em and Spence were good helpers with their little bro. I really wish I had videoed the whole thing.

We spent part of the night running the candy route and the rest of it hanging out on our front porch along with throngs of people. Adam and Spencer had schemed up a pretty great little adventure in which you could choose to do a few "tricks" before getting the "treat." Adam was manning a table with a series of tricks: a crystal ball with what looks like an electrical storm going on inside it that surges when touched, stirring of the witches brew (crock pot full of dry ice, water, and glow sticks), pulling eyeballs out of a witch's cauldron, and reaching into a box to feel the brains (spaghetti). For dramatic effect, fog and a black light. It was a hit! Many kids came through once and then brought friends for a second round. Thankfully, we had Gma and Gpa there to help with traffic control and back-up candy. Gpa even overheard one kid saying ours was the best house, and Spencer had several classmates come through the line. He has already started planning for next year.

Hoping your Halloween was just as Happy!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Utah Trip: Passing through Provo

First stop in Provo was the BYU Cougar Football Stadium where we got to hang out with cute cousins...

Meet some football players...
Hang out with Jared, a friend from our high school days...
And pass an afternoon with this exceptional family, Cougar fans all...

Next, it was off to Grandpa Bezzant's house, where we spent quite a few days. We arrived on Grandpa's 86th birthday and were there to see him open the gifts Mom had sent out.

This is a favorite. Grandpa runs what he calls the "Bezzant B and B," and there is just about always someone visiting or about to visit.

In fact, my uncle Dan and aunt Susan were visiting while we were. They are some of my favorite people. My kids think they're pretty great too. Here are Spencer and Emma helping Aunt Susan fill vases with garden flowers for Grandpa's birthday bash.

We also took a little trek south to Spanish Fork to see our dear friend Lori's beautiful new home. She was kind enough to host our DT Reunion. My friend CJ wins for the best write-up on the event, so I will link you to her post here.

Here's our Hall Advisor crew: Janna, CJ, Brooke, Lori, and me. I love these girls! We are spread across the country, actually across the world, but whenever I see them it is just like old times. We're not as consistent at keeping our e-mail chains going since we no longer share the same office hours, but the warmth of friendship and ability to share in each others' joys and sorrows remains intact. There was one very notable absence at this gathering. We miss you, Wes; I still haven't been able to find words to voice how much. And Lori - you are my hero. This home is built on a foundation of love; thank you for sharing it with us one summer evening.

This is my cute sister Michelle at her apartment. She is modeling the table that she and hubby Greg refinished and the chairs that they MADE together. That is one cunning couple!

Michelle came with us to the BYU Museum of Paleontology. It was a great (free) afternoon activity for us and the kids.

These are our scary dinosaur faces.

The museum has some fun hands-on exhibits.

There are some most impressive fossils to explore, and the kids even got to meet a student artist who had painted his concept of what a Giant Crocodile might have looked like when locked in battle with a Tyrannosaurus Rex. The picture is hanging on the wall behind Spencer.

After the Dinosaur Museum, we headed over to the Bean Museum, a BYU classic. Spencer had brought along markers and the summer journals we packed on the trip. At both museums, he pulled the journal out and started drawing specimens. Emma followed suit. It made me one proud mama to see my little scientists at work. They also had a great time completing the scavenger hunts available at the Bean Museum.
Emma with her summer journal.

Spencer with his summer journal.

Any time we are in the area, I like to take the kids down to Pleasant Grove to visit the cemetery there. We cut fresh flowers from Grandpa Bezzant's garden and took them to decorate the graves of my grandma and my cousin Kristan.

We also stopped by the Pleasant Grove Veterans Memorial to find Grandpa Bezzant's name.

A trip to Utah wouldn't be complete without a couple rounds of fun on the big red machine. Grandpa is nice enough to let the kids take turns driving. Here's John taking his turn.

Emma and Grandpa on Big Red.

Spencer and Grandpa - Spence drove with confidence, meaning he put that scooter through its paces.

Thanks for a great visit, Grandpa Bezzant. We sure love you!

Utah Trip: Partying in Park City

After finishing up our time in SLC with a fun bridal shower for cousin Maggie (why didn't I take any pictures?), we spent a few nights up in Park City at the Wride family condo. Highlights were taking a "hike" on the trail behind the condo and playing at the park downtown. Laura is my hero because during the hike she raced Spencer and Emma, keeping them actively engaged along the journey.

When Grandpa joined us from VA, we took on the serious PC venues: Alpine Slide and, a newer addition, the Alpine Roller Coaster. Spencer and Emma did both and LOVED it. They had a good time recounting how fast they went. Again, no photos. I think they are all on Adam's iPhone, so we'll have to track them down later. Also, no trip to Park City would be complete without eating at Baja Cantina. The Peter/Leslie, Kate/Brock and Beard families joined us for the Park City fun. John took a little nap in the shade during the afternoon events, but during dinner that boy wanted nothing to do with high chairs, food, or restaurants. Adam took him outdoors to console the poor fellow, who then threw rocks to his heart's content and was, thereafter, content.

Friberg Favorites

While touring the conference center, we saw where the classic Arnold Friberg Book of Mormon paintings are being shown. Spencer and Emma each wanted a photo with their favorite of the group.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

August - Trip to Utah, SLC Section

In August, we took a family trip to Utah. It actually began as a boys' trip when Spencer and Adam took off to Seattle for Tyler Lively's wedding (and to see the Boeing airplane factory). They left on Adam's 30th birthday, and we met up with them in Utah a few days later, after a very long, delayed flight during which John slept very little. Fortunately, Emma was a model traveler, so we made it intact. While we had a few things working against us on the Utah trip (not sure we had one symptom-free day since I began and ended the trip with cold symptoms/laryngitis and the rest of the fam took turns with the stomach flu), you'd never know it from the amount of fun we packed in. It was a vacation to be remembered. Hence, this blog post.

Adam doesn't like to drive superfluously, so we segmented the trip by geography. We started in Salt Lake, staying several nights at Jeff and Karen's home. This made it so that we could easily meander over to spend days/afternoons with Great Grandma Wride at will. Adam really wanted our kiddos to have some time making memories in Grandma Wride's backyard because to him this is what summer is all about. He was a regular visitor every summer, coming from various countries overseas.

The kids took to the playhouse immediately. They formed clubs and spent lovely hours serving food to Gma and me out of their "restaurant." Adam was working much of the time indoors (someone's gotta make the money so we can play), but when he did take a break, he was served up "apple pie" and "lemonade" on the very same dishes that have been playhouse staples since his dad's a few new additions in the form of a Beauty and the Beast tea set, which Emma was pretty happy about.

Here's Johnny responding to the request to "say, cheese!"

Emma making her recipes.

Spencer, fresh out of the sprinkler.

Let's see...what should I order?

The kids and I used some of our Salt Lake time to see the sights downtown. Here we are at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

We also took a tour of the Beehive House. One of my favorite stories about this home is that Brigham Young's children had one window that they referred to as the "storybook window." The children would watch through this interior window as the fine-dressed ladies and gentlemen arrived for evening parties, thinking it looked like something out of a fairy tale. Here are Spence and Em posing by the beehive handrails in the later addition to the home.

Here we are outside the Beehive House: Spencer, Emma, Marie, and John.

Here are Spencer and Emma holding up the cards they collected with pictures of the temple. The picture is crooked because John was trying to squirm out of my arms and run around the beautiful grounds of the temple while I was snapping the photo. That little man wants his independence and will run any chance he gets.

One of the evenings we were in the SLC area, we went up Mill Creek Canyon to roast hot dogs with the Wride clan. Here are Gma Wride and Aunt Lori.

John, Adam and sneaky Uncle Randy. John loved being up the canyon, though he took a few rough falls because he would set off running on uneven ground with a rock in each hand. So unwilling was he to give up those rocks that he wouldn't brace himself and came away with a few goose eggs. Later that night when John was the first in the fam to exhibit signs of the stomach flu, Adam and I were wondering if John had a concussion from all his tumbles. Fortunately, 24 hours later he was no worse for the wear. (Big thanks to paramedic brother Dan for calming my fears and talking me through symptoms.)

Uncle Jeff, roasting some s'mores. My kids LOVE their Uncle Jeff.

Emma latched on to Adam's cousin Maggie during this trip. Maggie was about to get married, and the idea of someone wearing a beautiful dress easily merits Emma's attention. Maggie was very sweet to let Emma follow her around, asking all sorts of questions.

Spencer talked Berkley into conquering the mountain with him. There was a steep incline near where we were having dinner, and Spence thoroughly enjoyed traversing that slope with Berkley in tow.

We took a brief hiatus from our SLC stint to travel down to Spanish Fork to celebrate baby Bridget's 1st birthday. That is one cute birthday girl! Johnny has a bit of a cousin crush.

Emma loves playing with cousins and all their cool toys.

Spencer had a great time too. He is looking big to me these days. Not so much a "little" boy anymore.

And Johnny - oh, Johnny. Just sweetness. Look at those cheeks!

Back in SLC, Spencer and Emma came with me on a tour of the conference center while John was napping and Adam working one afternoon. We had a fantastic tour guide, and this proved to be one of the highlights of downtown for me. The kids really enjoyed it as well. Here we are on top of the building.

On our way back to the car, I saw one of my college roommates from Sophomore year - April. She had just moved from Seattle area and was with her two sweet boys.

More Utah highlights to come!

September - how to pass a month while waiting for preschool to begin

As mentioned previously, Emma was REALLY excited to start her pre-k year, but since school didn't start until October, we needed to find some fun activities to fill the days. She was really jealous that every day Spencer got to go to school, and she had to stay home. So...

We went to the zoo with lots of cousins, Aunt Jenny, Uncle Nathan, Aunt Katy, and Uncle Aaron. (Side note: this made Spencer jealous. He was wondering why we got to have all this fun while he was at school. It's a no-win situation, I'm afraid.)

While at the zoo, we ran into Stephen Haskin and his cute family. Stephen was a Resident Assistant at Deseret Towers while I was Hall Advisor there. Spencer was a baby last time I saw Stephen, so it was really fun to catch up on the goings on of the last 5 years. (Wow, that has flown by!)

We spent lots and lots of time with Trina, sometimes at our house, sometimes at her house. Aunt Julie was out visiting for a week to scan pictures, so we camped out during most days at Grammy's to help in the sorting process. Trina is also coming over weekly to babysit the kiddos while I teach violin. My kids look forward to "Trina day" all week, and now the neighborhood girls do too. They like the imaginative stories that she creates for playtime. I've been really impressed with how Trina has stepped up and managed John in his post-nap state too. He wakes up wanting Mommy many afternoons, but that doesn't work so well while I'm teaching. Trina has figured out how to involve him in playtime, and it has made violin teaching SO much easier. I love this girl.

Emma and I taught John how to paint.

We went to the Heritage Farm Museum with a boatload of friends. If you make reservations and have at least $30 in entrance fees, they will open the museum half an hour early for a group and then provide cookies, water, and a story time. It was a fantastic day.

We had dentist appointments. Spencer has been a champion example when it comes to getting his teeth cleaned.

Emma has been several times as an observer, but this time she got to sit in the chair and have her teeth counted and cleaned. She was fearless.

We also spent a lot of time going to the nearby park with these cute neighborhood friends, K and R. I was watching one of the girls the first few weeks of school until her kindergarten schedule got figured out. We had a great many morning play dates as a result.

Even after K started her all-day school schedule, we still kept up daily play dates with R and her nanny, Nahid, who has become my good friend.

I felt like every day in the month of September was full of fun. Still, in the few moments of down time, Emma would complain of boredom. Maybe it was just exhaustion. She ended many days like this, dressed in her next day's clothes so she wouldn't miss escorting Spencer to his morning bus time (which is way too early at 7:20am).

September was a good month, but we were all really, really happy when it was finally time for school to begin. Can you tell?