Thursday, December 5, 2013

2013 Christmas Update

January is a bit of a blur.  With everyone having a birthday or an anniversary during the month it is a time of parties and frosting induced comas.  We loved having Dell's parents come out to celebrate with us-- and help eat some of the cake.  By the time Henry's birthday came around the end of the month he asked for anything but cake to celebrate with.

Lizzie loves to help clean-- especially when she's being Snow White

Lizzie and Grandpa love being together

Doughnut Cake and Henry turns 8!

After a rough time at the local public school we pull Henry out and begin homeschooling.  I find I have to repent of anything I had ever thought negative about it as we love it and most of all love the change it works in Henry.  (I won't go into details and just say we did not have the best or kindest teacher the second grade has ever seen.)  We also go to Disney World for a bit of fun and sun and Henry is baptized along with his cousin.  So proud of him!
Oh, and it snowed

It snowed a lot! (2 feet 4 inches)

I promise Henry was having fun

Tinkerbell was so sweet with Ellie.  Ellie was in heaven.

Henry battled Darth Vader and won.
Lots happened.  I'll let the pictures tell our adventures.
Henry and Lizzie took art classes at the Boston Museum of Fine Art.  The classes were for homeschoolers and the best part was the steeply discounted admission to the museum.  They got to see a Monet being restored, amazing model ships, and lots of other great art plus make some of their own.  (Isn't the giant baby head statue a little freaky though?  The kids thought it was hilarious to pick it's nose.  Ahhh kid humor.)

Cross-country skiing
 Lizzie's first time downhill skiing
This is how we spent every morning.  Ellie insisted on having work of her own when she wasn't napping.

Auntie Bine don't look closely at this picture!  Once a week the kids had nature class at the Boston Nature Center.  They spent a lot of their time outside getting first hand looks at what they were studying (animal tracks, trees, whatever) and seeing Lizzie's class on snow shoes was adorable.  But they also got to play with Sammy the snake-- the nicest snake I've ever met. 

Pinewood Derby-- Dell and Henry created a great car though I think their favorite part was melting lead fishing weights down for ballast.  They used the leftover lead to make lead statues of some of their lego minifigs.  (Used clay to make the mold then poured the lead in.  The garage was an excited place in March.)

The Pinewood Derby our ward put on was the fanciest I've ever seen.  Metal track, live video feed, instant replay, and QR codes that let you get race information right on your phone.  The dads were having a great time.

Did some maple sugaring (not in Vermont though) and some hiking as the trails dried up.   
Henry's climbing class when they weren't climbing
Dell had a conference in DC and so the kids and I decided to skip watching the Boston Marathon and go play in DC with him, his parents and my brother.  So grateful we did as we missed all the madness of the marathon bombing (and who knows what else we missed since I had planned all year on being at the finish line.)
We had a great time in DC-- the kids loved the spy museum-- and the tulips and cherry blossoms were amazing. After DC we dropped the kids off at Auntie Bine and Uncle Ephs and flew to California to find a house.  We found a great place and enjoyed sunshine and warm weather before returning to chilly Philadelphia.
Cherry tree girl

We also went to battleship cove in Fall River MA.  The kids loved exploring the old subs and battleships.

Apparently they don't design submarines for toddlers

Lizzie decided to give herself a haircut

don't you love the confidence/attitude?
The park across the street hosted "Taiwan Day"  Anna was in heaven hearing so much Taiwan accent Chinese and seeing her favorite foods.  The kids loved the food and the dancers.  Lizzie proclaimed it her favorite holiday.

We finally went to a red sox game all together. Dell had taken one kid at a time on dates throughout the previous season but this time we all got to go.  Ellie was not happy to be out so late so we didn't make it through the whole game.

Lizzie had her dance recital.  She loved being in the spotlight.

Knowing that we'd be moving soon we started trying to cross east coast activities off our bucket list.  Niagra Falls was amazing with the platforms under the falls being everyone's favorite.  Some of us got drenched despite the rain coats.

What every good explorer wears to the last day of nature class.

The Nature Ninjas!  Lizzie had a hard time being the only girl but she learned to love it.  I never got a picture of Henry's class-- mostly because they were always so busy I hated to interrupt.  They spent most of their time in the community gardens working on their experiments.  Henry grew radishes in different environments and charted their growth.

The kids got into geocaching-- we liked it because they stopped complaining about taking family walks on Sunday.

Dell graduates from Fellowship.  Graduation dinner is at the Harvard Club.  I feel a little intimidated.

Finish up rock climbing lessons in Massachusetts.  Ellie loved being at the gym and everyone was so tolerant of her toddling about and trying to climb.  Henry was a natural and flew up the wall and Lizzie was more cautious but had a great teacher who was finally able to coax her to the top of a couple of walls.
And sometimes they didn't climb...

Visited Vermont and the birthplace of Joseph Smith.  Ellie liked the puddles the best.  Henry liked the stories and Lizzie liked running around.

Had to stop by Ben and Jerry's while in Vermont.  Loved the tour and the ice cream samples though non of us were brave enough to try the leftover April Fool's sample of cheddar broccoli ice cream.

For Father's Day we went camping in Acadia National Park.  It was stunning.  We did some hiking and even attempted an "expert" one thinking "We hike a lot, we're from Utah, how bad can it be?"  Bad.  It can be bad even when you are only gaining 800 ft in elevation.
Part of the hike.  We maybe should have turned back here but we didn't.
We kept going through this all the way to the top.  Yep, no parent of the year awards for us this year, but the kids loved it.  I think they figured, why else have we had rock climbing lessons if not to scale this mountain.  Henry never hesitated, nor did Lizzie and we then had to keep up.

Popovers by the lake to recover

Yep, Acadia is gorgeous

Watched the Sunset from Mt Cadillac

We ended June with one last trip to our favorite New England beach.     
We moved.  It was hard to say goodbye to our sweet little house and our dear friends in Newton but we turned our cross-country trip into a tour of so many dear friends and family that it felt like a vacation.
We started by spending a couple of days with Dell's brother, Ephraim, in Philadelphia, then Columbus to see my brother, Dave, and his family.  Chicago gave us time with a dear friend from medical school, Sarah, who's daughter is just days older than Eleanor.  We stopped in Nauvoo, Kansas City (more medical school friends--the Gassins) and then hurried on to Cedar City Utah for a Dunn family reunion.  After a more than a week in Utah we decided it was probably time to get to our new home and made the trek across Nevada to Fairfield California and Travis AFB where Dell got right to work.  It was fun to see him in uniform again and to be military again.  I had missed it.  We moved into our new home on July 24 and it took as a while to get settled.
The drive from Colorado to Utah got exciting when a police chase and crash closed down the highway.  Instead of driving 3 hours out of our way we choose to take the road less traveled and crossed into Utah on dirt roads.  At the next gas station you could identify all the others who had gone that route by the thick coat of red dust on their car.  We felt a certain kinship with them-- and the semi drivers had our respect.  There were some crazy hairpin turns on those roads that I don't know how they managed.

While in Provo Utah we did some zip lines with Grandpa.  Lizzie was nervous at first but did one on her own like a pro before deciding she preferred tandem zipping with Mom or Dad.

Henry was absolutely fearless.  In fact I feared more.  Mostly that he'd go too fast or grab the cable since he would just throw himself down the slope.

I honestly can't remember much of August.  We unpacked, organized, figured out our way around Fairfield and took a quick trip into San Francisco.
Playing at the park in SF's Chinatown.

Enjoying treats from the Chinese bakery

Dell was issued his gas mask and the girls thought it was pretty awesome to try on.
Feeling settled we started exploring more-- especially around Fairfield.  The local farmer's market--Larry's Produce--wins our hearts with its bounteous and inexpensive fresh produce.  The kids love the u-pick area where they pick tomatoes, peaches, and flowers.  They skip the huge hot pepper area though.  Wimps.  We discover the trails on the hills behind our house and decide that the hills really are golden not brown and so now consider ourselves Californians.
Dell's parents came to visit and we had a great time exploring and playing with them but unfortunately didn't take any pictures.
Our hills and our golden girl

Henry contemplating the wonders of the universe and the great view
My parent's came to visit and I remembered the camera on these trips.  Halloween was lovely-- crisp enough for long sleeves but no need for coats or jackets.
We hiked the hills to watch the sunset.

Took a quick trip to Dixon and the site of the former world record holding largest corn maze.  After hearing it took two hours to do we decided to stick to the kiddie area.  A very good decision since I went with the young women from church a couple of nights later and it took us more than 3 hours to get out- and that was with using the map.  By far the most insane corn maze EVER!

The kids loved the corn pond though I kept finding corn kernels in random places the rest of the day.

We loved the little pedal carts.

Child in the Corn.

We drove to the mountains to go apple picking (along with most of Northern California it seemed-- seriously the traffic at the apple farms was crazy.)  The farm we stopped at had a little pony the kids could ride.  Eleanor was in heaven.

I love how the lama is resting his chin on Henry's head.

Cowgirl Lizzie

And since most of Northern California was picking apples with us these are about the only apples we could find to pick.  I think we got 5 total.  Next year we are going the beginning of September.  But the drive was lovely, the food was great, and the company even better so all was well.
We headed to the beach another day.  Ellie liked the wet sand.

Here is Eleanor giving her discourse on the Pacific Ocean.

For Halloween the girls were fairies.  Eleanor was such a giant poof of tulle she looked hilarious walking around our hilly neighborhood.  On the down slopes it was more of a controlled fall of a giant puffy ball with wings.

Henry was a Hobbit-- complete with furry feet.  (Don't you love the gate to our side yard?  It's one of my favorite things about our house.)
Dell took the kids canoeing in the delta (Suisun)  You've got to love November in California.

Hiked through the Redwoods at Muir Woods National Monument.

The fallen tree river crossings were the kids favorite part.

Henry decided to take the low road.

We drove up to Portland to spend Thanksgiving with Dell's sister and her family.  His parents and a brother came as well and it was a perfect time.  The kids love their cousins and no one wanted to leave when it was time to come home.  On the way there we stopped in Southern Oregon for a quick hike.  In this picture Eleanor is admire the frost on the bench and how it makes her finger cold.

Henry was really excited when he found this small outcropping to climb.

We all climbed up this rock to admire a frozen puddle on the top.  "Look mom!  It's ice, it's all ice!!!"  Guess that's pretty exciting after 5 hours on the road.

This girl cracks me up.  She even hikes like a princess.

The view from the top of the hike.

My hiking buddy.
How Eleanor road trips.

While in Oregon we went to OMSI (the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.)  I love this picture of Eleanor playing toys while wearing safety goggles.  Henry has a pair he uses for his science experiments and Ellie loves them so as soon as she saw these at the museum she put them on.
And now it's December.  We've got the house decorated and cookies baked and it's cold enough (to us) that we love gathering around the fire to read or play games (or update the blog.)  We are grateful for this time of year.  For the chance to think of each of you and the wonderful blessing you are in our lives.  Merry Christmas!!


Sarah said...

Lovely update! So glad to get caught up on your family. The kids are getting so big! Hope you have a lovely Christmas.

Natalie said...

Wow you have covered the country fairly thoroughly this year, so fun! I have always wanted to see Acadia, and your pictures don't disappoint. Eleanor is a doll, as is Lizzie, and Henry is one adventurous kid! I love to see all your fun activities with the kids. You are amazing! Love the update!