Philly and a video…

On our way back from NC we decided to stop and check out Philadelphia. Neither one of us had spent time there and we were tired of driving. Honestly, I expected Philly to look run down and kind of dirty. I have been told that there is plenty of that, however, work has been done to make downtown nice, and it’s paid off, in my opinion, because I thought it was awesome. There are monuments, statues, fountains, and beautiful architecture everywhere, and it’s easily walk-able.

We checked out the Franklin Museum, for free, by accident. Here’s the thing, you walk in and there are exhibits Before any kind of ticket booth. So we began to venture around. After walking through a few rooms, we finally came around a corner to where the tickets are sold. At first we thought that was for extra exhibits, since that is common in many museums. It was then that we realized this museum was, in fact, not free. Honest mistake, and after finding out we immediately left, but I don’t feel guilty about being able to see some cool things before our discovery. I’m chalking it up for some luck. Especially since the actual free Art Museum was closed, and we were bummed. We got to see a brain…and that was cool. Mailie especially loved it, though Abigail thought it was creepy.

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We also visited a beautiful library, which makes my heart flutter. I love libraries and could spend hours in them. Fun fact: Benjamin Franklin created the first Public Library. So I love him.
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Near the art museum (Rocky Steps), there was a wall of vines. The girls wanted to check behind it to see if there was another land, like in Rapunzel. No such luck.

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Some videos from NC.

North Carolina…

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When I first met Josh he had just moved back to school from the Carolina’s. He spent a few summers living in NC,SC,GA, and FL. And since then, he has always spoken about his dream to move back to NC. It was his favorite.

We’ve planned to visit many times but it was never in the cards. Until now! Moving to the east coast has opened up some doors in regards to places we can travel to and explore, so I am feeling pretty grateful for that.

I was excited to finally see this place he has raved about, and he was happy to be returning. There were a whole lot of giddy feelings from the four of us, especially to actually swim in the water. Up here, it is cold. I love hanging out at the beach and splashing around a bit, but submerging and feeling numb isn’t exactly my cup of tea. So we were forward to heading down to warmer waters and full on swimming in those waves.

This was our first day, and some of my favorite shots. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces. It was pure joy to run out there and run free. The sand was the softest I’ve ever felt, and the water was perfect. We were swimming at eight in the morning, and it took no getting used to the temperature.

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We spent 95% of our time at North Topsail Beach, and out of the few beaches we visited, it was our favorite. It’s less crowded because it’s not commercialized…we aren’t the biggest fans of boardwalk beaches. So if you like boardwalks, this isn’t the place for you. But if you like a chilled out, peaceful beach, this place is awesome.

Although we never got to see a sea turtle in the wild, we did get to rescue a cute turtle from being run over in the middle of the road. We celebrated Father’s Day (a couple week’s late due to sickness) and I loved the cards the girls made. We also visited Wilmington and toured the USS NC Battleship. It was huge, hot, and stuffy, but it was still interesting and I loved the kitchen. Josh got a nice scrape on the skim board and we learned we have some practice to do with those things.

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We spent a couple of days in the Raleigh area. We wanted to check a couple suburbs out that we have had our eyes on in case we ever move there. Cary, specifically, is number one on the list, and it did not disappoint. Josh had been in the area while living there, as well. I love the feel of the town, I love that it’s close to the city, but not in the city, and I love that they have a french place I would go to every weekend, with delectable desserts. I miss Gourmandise in SLC so much, and Connecticut lacks in food, so we very much enjoyed our eating while in Carolina.
We spent some time in the city, itself, walked around the temple grounds, and went to an awesome sacrament meeting. All over NC there are these beautiful trees called Crape Myrtle I want them in my yard one day. We also discovered an awesome school store that would be a homeschoolers dream. Sadly, there is nothing like it in CT, so I guess we’ll just have to travel to NC every few months.
Josh got bitten or something on his foot. He had a little cut after a day at the beach, and a couple days later pulled something out of it, and then another day later it was swollen and had a rash, and it had traveled to his other leg. Some kind of infection. We spent a good part of that day at the doctors, and it ended with two shots, and some antibiotics. Sadly, he had to keep out of the sun due to one of the antibiotics, so that was a bummer. However, we were at the end of our trip, so he only had to miss out on one day in the water.

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Some more of my favorite photos, capturing happiness. The girls quickly got very comfortable with the waves, and loved the boogie boards. We also went to a sea turtle rescue, which was not only nice to see all the amazing things they’re doing for the sea turtles, but fun to see them in person. I hope one day to see little baby turtles venturing off to the waters.

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Sometimes, people talk up a place so much that you might feel a bit let down when you actually see it. That was not the case here. I loved it. I loved it with all of my brain.

If I could sum up this trip in two words: Pure Joy. And I can’t tell you how much that meant to all of us. This trip was therapeutic and exactly what we needed.

I’m ready to go back.

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May through June…

This is a random photos and thoughts post, as I try to catch up.

Spied the girls creating something out front. It turned out to be a house for fairies. I love just staring at them through the window as they play and imagine together.

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Josh planned a ride on the Essex Train and Ferry. It ended up being a pretty cold and dreary day, but we still had fun riding the train, seeing flocks of swans, and enjoying the scenery.

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We celebrated our eleventh anniversary/family birthday! The day starts off celebrating with the girls, and the evening is just for the two of us. We went canoeing down the Farmington River, and the weather was perfect. It was peaceful and easy going, and I loved the sound of the breeze rustling the leaves and smell of the water.

For our date night, we went to dinner, and while there, Josh received the call we had been anxiously awaiting; a job offer with a new bank, as manager. This is not the post to go into detail as to what this meant to us, but it was the best anniversary gift we could receive. We ended the evening playing mini-golf, and it felt like we were dating again. Dates are few and far between, so I get pretty giddy when they happen. It’s like a therapy session of stress relief.

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The girls love Pirates of the Caribbean, and Abigail has a thing for Jack Sparrow, which I find extremely comical. She also likes Legolas (LOTR), so I expected her to then like Will Turner (same actor), but something about Jack has caught her eye. Anyway, they were pretty excited for the fifth movie to come out.
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Just a few photos I love of my little humans.
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We joined the Y and I am so excited that we did. It’s been so much fun being able to take the girls to the gym and actually be allowed to take them into the weights section and teach them (very light) weightlifting. They’ve also been getting into rock climbing which has been enjoyable for all of us. It’s a great family activity and something we try to do as often as possible.

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This was our first day at the beach, with suits, and not just exploring. It felt so good. This is in Rhode Island.
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Abigail’s Baptism Day…

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This day will forever be one of my favorites ever lived. It was lovely, peaceful, joyous, and the spirit was felt through it all.

We woke up super excited for the big day. I loved seeing the continuous smile on her face, and she kept saying, “Can you believe I’m going to be baptized?” “I can’t believe it’s finally here!”.

She sang When I Am Baptized, and did such a wonderful job. In that moment I realized I was going to cry a lot through the next hour.

One thing I won’t ever forget is when Abigail came walking over to me after she was baptized and she began to cry as she said how happy she was and how good and clean she felt. I’m continually amazed with this girl and how strongly and sensitively she feels. It’s one of the things I love about her.

I was really taken aback by all of the support from the Ward members. We hadn’t been in the Ward very long, and honestly I expected it to pretty much just be our family members and a few others. But this was not the case, and many showed up for her special occasion, and I will never forget all the love that was given.

There was a strong feeling of the spirit throughout the whole event, and for me, it was a much-needed spiritual boost. Life had been pretty non-stop and chaotic and I really needed things to just slow down to feel peace. Abigail’s baptism did just that. It was rejuvenating, and created that wonderful spiritual high I so desired.

I’m proud of her desire to be like Jesus and her choice to be baptized. I’m simply proud of the human-being that she is; empathetic, deeply caring, a friend to everyone, unquestionable forgiving, and as sweet as they come. I love that she loves Jesus and includes Him in her portraits of our family.

This was Abigail’s invitation/announcement. She had asked me if she could make it and I didn’t even hesitate to accept that because it meant a) one less thing for me to think about. b) saves money. c) it was her baptism, not mine.

And it turned out wicked cute.

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This was the program.

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I loved having everyone in the family involved in some kind of way, including Mailie giving her sweet closing prayer. It felt like a very personal family experience, and just extra special, to me. Abigail had asked to sing, and I loved having her start things off with her sweet song.

We did a rainbow theme because Abigail loves rainbows, and they are mentioned in the song she sang. She had asked to have bread and butter afterward, and some fruit. Simple and easy! Also, perfect for “rainbow”. We just got all sorts of colored fruits and veggies, the requested bread with extra fancy Irish Butter…you know, in honor of her roots 😉 And then I made some cupcakes with a rainbow swirl.

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The handouts were little bags of Skittles with When I Am Baptized printed out. And we had cards for people to fill out a favorite scripture/testimony/memory of Abigail.

One of the things we did to help prepare Abigail was to have the Sister Missionaries visit often and give her the lessons. We love having the missionaries over, not only to teach our daughters, but to have such strong and good examples of mighty women involved in their lives. We love them.

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I love Abigail’s lacey blush colored baptism dress. I want one.

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This is how they would take a baptism photo in Peru; squatting down in front of the font.
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I tried my best to get some cute photos of Abigail at the Hartford Temple. I love the one of her and Mailie laughing. It warms my heart.

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Abigail spotted this journal two years ago at Barnes & Nobel and loved it. I purchased it without her knowing, planning to give it to her when it would be used as an actual journal, and not to sketch in. Her baptism seemed like the perfect time. She recognized it immediately and was thrilled.
She was also pretty excited to have her very own BofM with her name on the front, along with a case.
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And there we have it. My babe has been baptized. Next stop, the Temple.

Happenings of April…

My parents were able to visit us in April, thanks to Abigail’s baptism (separate post). We had much nicer weather the week prior and after they were here, but we were still able to get some good outdoor time in.

We played a little wiffle ball. Although the day was windy and a bit on the chilly side, I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

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The next day greeted us with much warmer weather, so we hiked up to Heublein Tower. What’s amazing is that by the next week, everything had bloomed and was green and flowery in the background.

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My dad is a huge fan of basketball, so we thought it would be fun to go to the NBA Hall of Fame in Mass. It was a dreary wet outside, so this was the perfect activity on such a day.
There is a court inside where you can shoot hoops and practice dunking. This cute man was so kind to give Mailie pointers and with just a couple lessons she was successful. You could tell this man had coached many in his lifetime and knows what he’s doing. He seemed like he would be the kind of guy you’d love as your next door neighbor. Friendly, helpful, patient, and just all around kind.

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After church.
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For my birthday we went to Newport, RI. I fell in love with it the moment we entered in and drove through the tiny cobblestone streets. I loved the mixture of colonial architecture, and coastal town feel. It was heavenly and I can’t wait to go back now that it is summer.

Newport is home to the gigantic mansions, including the Vanderbilt home called The Breakers. I don’t know anything about it. Josh wants to go back and tour the mansions, so I imagine we will eventually. Although I would have no desire to live in such a home, I do find them fascinating to check out and love the different designs and architecture. Certain areas scream roaring 20’s. There were a couple of more quaint homes that sat on the cliffs, which I would love to spend my summers in.

There are also little fields of daffodils which are just asking to be frolicked through.

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Roasting hot dogs and s’mores on the final evening of my parents visit.

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I failed to get photos of this, but the night before my birthday the girls spent the night in my parents trailer at their campsite. This was just my second night away from Abigail, and first from Mailie. I am a parent that tends to worry easily and I tried my best not to tear up as they left, especially since they were pretty excited.

Josh and I then had the opportunity to go to the temple, a date afterwards, and an evening all to ourselves. It was bizarre and fun. The fact that we realized we could have done whatever we wanted and not have to think about what time we were getting home felt kind of amazing. After the temple we went to dinner at a french place where Josh tried escargot for the first time. I had only had them one other time, but that was in french class and they were rubbery. This time around I thought they were pretty good.

Waking up without my little humans in the other room was weird. We went to the gym together for the first time in many years. I’ve actually missed being able to workout together, however, we learned that Josh enjoys it more in the evenings whereas I love morning workouts. So those days might be over for us.

We then went to breakfast. Again, this was a first in quite some time where we were able to grab breakfast alone. It was a window in the future, when our girls are in college. I think we’ll enjoy those days.

That being said, I was pretty excited to see my babes again and hear about their little adventure. The years I have with them in this way will continue to fly, so I will enjoy it as much as I can and not try to rush it.

Kissed by a Sea Lion…

We took a trip to Mystic, CT to visit the aquarium, and it turned out more adventurous than we expected, particularly for Miss Abigail.

As we sat waiting for the sea lion show to begin, a girl came up to us and asked if Abigail would like to be a part of it and meet Pyp, the sea lion. She instantly said yes. I felt a bit bad for Mailie since seven years of age is the requirement. Although disappointed, she was a good sport and excited for Abigail. They did makes sure to have Pyp walk by and wave to her as a consolation, which made her happy.

They taught Abigail three signs to give Pyp, the seal, and she would respond with jumping, barking, and a kiss on the cheek. It was cute and I was excited for her to have such a fun opportunity.

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I wish I had Mailie’s face in the video but I was right next to her. She was a happy girl. I like her little giggle at the end.

We told Mailie she could picked what we did next, since she didn’t get to go up with the seal. She immediately said she wanted steamed oysters. I wasn’t expecting that answer, but she was adamant about the idea. So we went to the store and purchased a bag full of oysters, steamed them up, et voila…one delighted five year old.

 

First trip to NYC…

We finally took a trip to NYC, back in March. I was pretty excited about visiting since I had only been to Palmyra, NY, so this was my first time, as well as the girls.

It takes about two hours to get there. I’m from Idaho, so two hours to get someplace relatively exciting doesn’t seem terribly long. We didn’t want to have too much on our list to see, because that can just cause stress. So we’ll check new things off of our list each time we visit. For this visit: 9/11 Memorial, just see Lady Liberty (I’d like to take the ferry to see her closer, but on a different trip), and visit the AMNH.

Grand Central Station
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It was pretty. I loved the color and the astrological signs painted on the ceiling. I do enjoy the variety of architecture and design throughout the whole city.

American Museum of Natural History. Thanks to Josh’s salesmanship skills, we were able to get right in and skip the mega lines. I do not have this skill, but I am grateful to have someone who does.
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I have lost the photo of the actual T-Rex fossil, but I loved seeing it. My whole life I have wanted to come to this museum and see the T-Rex, so I was pretty happy getting to do so. The mummy exhibit happened to be going on as well, so we decided to pay for that. Most of the mummies were from Peru, near where Josh served his mission. It was pretty fascinating to see them all, and the girls loved it far more than I expected them to. Pictures weren’t allowed in that exhibit.

The girls were also excited to see “Dum Dum”…if you’ve seen The Night at the Museum then you know what I’m talking about.
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I’m looking forward to seeing more of Central Park when it’s nice and warm. I know it’s like a city in itself in there, but we happened to walk by the Belvedere Castle and through the woodland area. It was really peaceful, and I can imagine how much prettier it is once everything has bloomed.
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Taking a break from walking.
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I loved that we happened to see a dog walker in NY. It seemed perfect.
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Getting a quick view of the Statue of Liberty. I have no desire to pay to walk up her, but I do want to take the free ferry to just coast by a bit closer.
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Lastly, 9/11 Memorial. I was a bit nervous as to how I would feel here, but it was incredibly peaceful and quiet. They really did a beautiful job. It was a bit surreal, standing there, lightly explaining to the girls what had happened here. We’ve briefly talked about it in the past, but the fact that I am in this place now, talking about a historical moment to my children who weren’t even alive when it happened. It’s just a bit bizarre.

I’m slightly disappointed I didn’t take more photos. However, I was just enjoying soaking it all in with my babes, so that’s a pretty good excuse.

There is clearly a whole lot more to see and do. So, little by little, we will venture out and get to know it a bit more.