England with sistahs

For a week in May, I was lucky enough to spend time with three of my fours sisters in the land across the Atlantic. We flew the 9.5 hours to England with ease and even got some sleep (thanks to my brother's comfort tips for a plane ride). We hit the ground running and had the opportunity to visit a great many things. Lots of photos of our adventures below.
We stopped at Kensington Garden to find the Peter Pan statue. Right afterwards we heard the parakeets and stopped to feed them peanuts, apples, and walnuts right out of our hands! Jess, Oliver, and I tried to find this spot when we visited last year but couldn't see it. Needless to say, we had only missed it by a 3 minute walk.
The next day we visited Oxford. This was on my bucket list, and I loved it. The Bridge of Sighs and the streets were as cool as I had imagined.
From there we visited the Cotswolds. While checking out a church in Bampton that was used in the television series Downton Abbey, we were interviewed by the BBC about tourists visiting small towns and how that affected the citizens there. I used the word "visceral" and thought I had nailed the interview. My sisters said some much wiser stuff so I may not make the cut for the show :).
The Arlington Row of cottages was perfectly picturesque.
The next day we ventured to St. Paul's Cathedral and went up the 500+ stairs to visit the top. This was a highlight for us, even though we almost skipped it.
We then visited the Tate Modern. I sent this photo in a text to Jess saying I liked this Matisse. He replied with, "I can make one of those for you when you get home." Haha!
That night we went to Hamilton. This was history told to you in lightning speed. Wow! There is no way anyone could fall asleep during this play. 
We hit the ground running the next day with a whirlwind visit of the British Museum. 
And then we were off to the Chelsea flower show. I tried to buy some iris bulbs but my sisters informed me that there was no way that they were going to allow them through customs. Good to know!
We relaxed at afternoon tea and I loved the English Mess (the dessert in the mini glass cup). 
Then off to Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery.
We found the Holbein that Oliver loves because of the neat 3-D skull at the bottom. If you view this painting at different angles, the skull looks different. My sister was a great tour guide in this museum with a wealth of knowledge.
Then we visited Westminster. This stop made me realize how confused I am about English royalty and the history of the nation. Mary, Elizabeth, Henry, Edward: names I've heard and thought I had a hold on but I need to seriously review.
The day after that, we visited the London Olympic Park and took our best 'Boy Band' photo next to West Ham United stadium. This spot was a stop off of the tube and very open. There were a lot of families here with their kids riding scooters. It was fun to see the contrast from the busy streets of Covent Garden where we stayed.
Here we rode on the longest slide in the world, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, conceived by one of my sister's favorite artists, Anish Kapoor. Its a 40 second ride and at some points you go about 15 mph. I was kind of scared, but it was all fun!
Our last day was spent enjoying St. James Park and then we were off to the Charles Dickens Museum. This stop was a detour from our original goal to go to Hampton Court (due to a disturbance at Waterloo station), but it did not disappoint.
It was such a fun trip with three of the best people around. Everyone got back home safely to finish up all of the end-of-school stuff with their kids. I told Jess I could do this very thing once a year. I mean, why not? 😉


June 6th already?

Ansel and Oliver finished up their school year with a 1k and 5k race, respectively. Our PTA does tons of end-of-the-year stuff and the Fun Run was just the beginning. 

Here’s Ansel at the finish line. Just look at his face, he had fun. 

Ollie decided to do the 5k. A mile for me in 7th grade was torture, so I was happy he went for it. He walked some and ran some. The route goes by our road, so when I saw a text from Jess that he was home, I called him up and asked if he could see Oliver. At that very moment he did! So Jess finished the race with him. Fun!

Ian followed the Bear mascot around everywhere. If the Bear took off to go into the school, Ian followed him. Needless to say, the Bear was manned by an eighth grader who didn’t have the same pizzazz as a non-teen. Ian didn’t notice, but I could tell when the Bear was sick of a two year old following him. Ha!

Here Oliver is with his wonderful teacher Mrs R. 

And here’s Ansel with his amazing teacher Mrs C. 

These boys had a great year with top marks and lots of activities. 

We also celebrated the removal of our old hot tub. 

And we were amazed to see it picked up by the roadside service lickety split. 

Tax dollars at work baby! 

Now onto summer!


Double digits

This kid celebrated his birthday recently and it is so fun to watch him grow, learn, and continue to be curious about most everything. His dad gave him a book for his birthday and he read it lickety split. He is creative and kind and figuring life out one observation at a time. Sometimes he’ll come up to me and ask, “Mom, can we chat?” You bet! I can’t believe it was a decade ago that Jess and I welcomed him into the world. Happy birthday Oliver. You are one top notch person.


In the blossoms

When Spring springs we love taking in all of the blossoms. Around our house we have crocus, hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips. We also love to see the cherry and plum trees burst with buds. 

This past weekend we headed downtown to check out the cherry blossoms. While we walked through the trees, I mentioned to Jess that this day reminded me of the tidal basin cherry blossoms in D.C. 

We took lots of photos as well as time-lapse and slow motion videos. 

The kids rolled down the Capitol Building hills. 

And found bugs on the trail. 

It was a beautiful day. I have lived in this city the majority of my life and never have I been up to see the blossoms. It was a treat to be there with this group. 


Loving creatures

Carrying creatures is Ian’s jam. He loves box elder bugs. He’s been known to catch multiple ants at a time. And holding a spider, that’s nothing. With the rain falling frequently around here, worms are the latest thing.

He’ll gather and play with bunches at a time and hope we can keep them overnight. But we’ve experimented with that and never succeeded, so I’ve been known to release them into the wild after he’s gone to sleep. When mentioning that fact to a friend, she replied, “Do you think they actually live after Ian’s been throwing them around and stuff?” The truth is, probably not. And yes, he throws them into the sky and recaptures them. This kid takes creature appreciation for a two-year-old to a whole new level. 


From North to South

Spring Break was spent exploring the northern and southern parts of the state. 

Our cousin who lives in another country on another continent sent us a Flat Stanley version of herself, so we tried to show her a good time. Look at those mountains!

We visited the BYU MOA with Grandma and saw the Windswept exhibit. The formations are made from tree saplings. Truckloads. It took the artist, Patrick Dougherty, about three weeks, with volunteers, to shape this still, yet motion-filled, piece. 

I want to hire this guy to build us a fence. Haha! How expensive do you think that would be?

We stopped at the Clark Planetarium. This place is a county gem with all kinds of neat things. We were there for 2 hours and the kids weren’t ready to go. 

Then we were off to Southern Utah to enjoy some time with cousins. The kids spent a lot of time in the hot tub, seeing as it was kind of chilly and the pool at the spot we stayed at wasn’t open. We hiked a lot too. 

We found waterfalls in Zion National Park that weren’t there when we visited last fall. Ollie filled his water bottle. 

Ansel pondered the meaning of slick sandstone and the desert oasis. 

Ian drank Gatorade and laughed a lot. 

We hiked and chatted and had lots of fun along the way. 

Oliver and Ansel impressed me with their courage to jump off the ledge and go zip lining. I hesitated a bit when it was my turn. Old habits, or fears, die hard. 

We ended the night with the whole group gathered around the camp fire. We made s’mores and couldn’t believe that the trip was almost over. 

Spring Break was a success!


Wrapping March up

With snow and sun, our days have been composed of the following:

Making big, wet, snowballs. 

And snow dust trails. 

Prepping for the Pinewood Derby. Some of it fun, some of it time consuming, and some of it serious. Wheel placement is key!

Starting our seedlings! Now let’s hope we can get them past this stage and into the garden. 

Managing to gather footwear from whatever is left by the door. Ian insists that wearing boots he can put on by himself are much better than the sneakers mom has to help him put on. 

To conclude, finding your two year old and his cousin buddy asleep in the backseat when you check on them in the rear view mirror during a red light.


A trip to test your nerves

The other weekend my older brother invited us to enjoy a vacation he has coined the “Dadventure.” Since Jess is the only Dad in our family and none of our kids are 16+, I weasled myself (and my kids) into this vacation because I like fast cars, and luckily my brother made an exception. So we got up early Saturday morning and headed to Vegas. We like to go there not because of the usual reasons, but rather, because of the unusual. The “Dadventure” is an adventure because not too much is planned yet you end up experiencing much. 

Our first stop was for dinner and to get there, we had to walk through a casino. The boys were in awe. Neon slot machines everywhere. We had to keep Ansel moving along or he never would have made it to the restaurant. Plus we had to get out of the smoke smell. Ansel kept commenting, “Mom, these guys should stop smoking!” Oliver wanted to know what kind of odds these games involved. My brother was explaining craps to him and roulette. I learned a few things myself. Ian was being loved by his older cousins. 

The night was young so we stopped at the Stratosphere. Apparently it’s the second tallest building in the United States. We went to the top and enjoyed the view. 

Ollie got a neat shot of the building’s shadow. It’s kind of like Las Vegas’ own Space Needle. 

The views were cool. Perfect place for the sunset. 

But we didn’t stop at the views. We decided to ride the  Big Shot. That’s the ride on top of the building that shoots you up as you pull 4 Gs. Then you drop at -1 Gs. I’ll spare you the video of us riding it, but I was terrified. Especially during the drop!

The next few days we stopped at different hotels to check out things. We couldn’t believe the enormity of these places. Caesar’s Palace goes on forever! And we decided the Luxor would be a great place to film a mystery film. We had lunch at the Aria buffet and the kids tried king crab legs. 

Then we were off to the speedway. 

There were lots of cool cars. Cars I’ve only read about, so it was neat to see them up close and sit in them. I chose to drive the Aston Martin Vantage.

Jess drove the Porsche GT3. He said it was a lot of fun. We both wanted to take some more laps. 
The cars were fast. We drove in ways that make you sweat. It was nerve racking but fun. As we went around the track we drove with a coach who told us what to do and how to take the turns. His words went something like this, “Shift up, again, 100 percent gas, good, now brake hard, shift down, turn, trust the car, now 40, 60, 100 percent gas.” This was constant. I felt like I was going 200 mph. That was until my brother passed me in his race car equipped Porsche. Haha! My dad took a turn in the Acura NSX. I’d like to drive that car one of these days. 

Ansel’s hair matched this DB11. And Ollie was keeping it cool by the Porsche. 

The funnest thing was to see my brothers, Dad and the older cousins interact with my boys. They took such care being interested in their lives and what they are doing. My kids will remember that! So will I.