Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Livin' It Up in the City

I found a couple of rogue pictures from our weekend staycation in Salt Lake.  The best of which was the ones of the restaurant we ate at for breakfast--Coachman's Dinner & Pancake House.  It was truly an ode to the '70's complete with red carpet, fake wood paneling, nautical themed decor and mirrors on the walls.  

 It was a little sketchy but we trusted the sign, which I thought was hilarious--Come in, YOU will be pleasantly surprised!  That is seriously the best advertising ever.  How could we resist?
 And it actually was pretty good--we WERE pleasantly surprised!  Ha ha.  And in true throwback fashion it was a cash only place.  Fun way to end our little getaway.

In the culmination of Tyler's summer efforts, he had his real rock band concert.  As usual it was super fun to see him up on stage.  He sang one of the songs and sounded great.  The kids has musical talent--I just wish I knew how to get him to practice more!

 Tyler and the gang--"The Lazy Boys."
 Tyler didn't like some of the songs they did and he wanted to do more, so I told him to start his own band.  Nothing yet but I think he'd have fun!

On the sadder side, there's been some hurricanes come through parts of the country that caused a lot of devastation.  Jake's soccer team was going to have a bake sale fundraiser but instead turned it into a Hurricane Relief fundraiser.  They raised almost $700!  That's awesome for this little group of boys on a Saturday morning.  It was the day of the big BYU v Utah football game so of course the bake sale was Cougars v Utes.  I think the cougar side won the bake sale, too bad we lost the game.  But I was super proud of these boys!
 A small tribute to our dog, Ziggy.  She is such a fun dog to have.  She loves all things outdoor so naturally Eric is her favorite person ever, despite the fact that I am the one who feeds her and takes care of her.  Figures.  She is very well-adjusted and certainly likes to make herself comfortable...
 We had a birthday in the house too--Joey turned 7!  I can't believe it.  They just keep getting bigger and bigger, even though I keep telling them not to.  He had a few friends over and we went to Lowe's Airsports.  He got some cool gifts and had fun.  Joey is such a funny kid--sometimes he is a TOTAL STINKER, but other times he is the sweetest thing you've ever seen.  He give "love pats" on your back when he hugs you (it's my favorite thing) and loves to snuggle.  He's definitely growing up fast, but I think that's what happens when kids have so many older siblings to imitate.  He loves sugar (who doesn't) and playing outside.  And best of all, he has the greatest laugh of all time.  Love you buddy!
 Eric and Tyler went on a horse ride a couple weeks ago.  The leaves are starting to turn and it's getting colder so they wanted to head out before the weather gets too bad.  Tyler is turning into a pretty good rider these days.  Looking more and more like a real cowboy!
 Tyler also got his braces off!  Woo hoo!
 One of the first signs of fall!!!
 One of the gifts Joey got for his birthday was a stomp rocket.  We've had them in the past but not for a long time so he had a ton of fun sending them soaring!  We made sure to stay away from the house so the rockets wouldn't get stuck on the roof--thanks for the tip Aunt Katie!
 This past weekend we took a trip to the big apple, the one and only New York City.  We had a bunch of money in free airline tix (from getting bumped previously) that had to be used soon.  Jake has always wanted to go to NYC so we decided to surprise him.  Tyler's been on lots of trips so we figured it was Jake's turn to go.  Plus Jake is such a great kid--he always helps out and gets his chores done so well.  It's time he got to do something fun with just me and dad.  We told him the night before we left.  He was so excited!

Eric and I have been to NYC a few times, but we did lots of new things this trip.  Here's a few highlights..

First we just walked around--we went to Rockefeller Plaza, Times Square, a bunch of stores....
 We went inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.  It was really cool--very ornate, lots of stained glass, statues, the works.  Jake wanted to light a candle but it cost $3 so we decided to pass on the blessings for that day!  Here's a selfie of me and Jake--I'm not very good at taking them.  Notice how Eric snuck in the background there!
 One thing we hadn't done before was go to the Museum of Natural History.  We tried to go years ago but it was when they were filming Night at the Museum 2 so it was all closed.  But we did get to see Ben Stiller!  Anyway, this time it was fun to go in.  It is ENORMOUS!  Almost too much to take in for one visit.  But we had to stop in at the Gems and Minerals exhibit.  It was like Jacob's Shangri-La.  He could've spent hours there!  I definitely feel smarter after going through the museum...
 We went to Central Park Zoo, and walked around more stores.  There was one weird store that was Japanimation style toys.  The one thing they really needed though was a giant oversized stuffed bear....oh wait...
 Another first for all of us was going to the top of the Empire State Building.  I've been to the building before but never up to the top.  It was really cool!  The building itself was amazing--all in the art deco style, no detail overlooked from the floors, to the light fixtures, to the elevator doors.  We rode up to the top and got an amazing view of the city.  You can see it behind us here--in just a few minutes we will be at the top!
 Okay, I think I'm getting better at this selfie thing....it's just you can see my arm in Eric's glasses!  Oh well.  And the building behind was actually bent weird like that, it isn't the camera.
 The elevator doors....
And here you can see the World Trade Tower in the distance and the Statue of Liberty (the tiny speck out in the water)
 Totally cool.  After the Empire State Building we went to Grand Central Station.  It took us a few minutes to figure out the Subway system but once we got it, it was easy.  I think it was just tricky at first because Grand Central is SOOOO big!  With so many trains/subways!  But talk about an awesome building--once again every detail was amazing.  Even though everyone there was busting about, it almost felt like stepping back in time.  The fixtures, decor, grates, everything was so neat.
 So we managed to find our line....
 And took it down to Yankee Stadium for our first game at Yankee Stadium!
 It was a blast.  We all even bought some NY Yankees hats to be true fans!
When we sat down we noticed we were right by Zack Hample--I wouldn't have known him but we had just watched a news story about him.  He has made a career out of catching balls at baseball games.  In fact, he's caught thousands of them.  He studies stadiums and players and figures out the most likely place to get a ball--and he has only gotten skunked twice in the last 5 years!  He travels all around the US to games and has a YouTube channel.  Seriously, we were thinking sweet!  We will hopefully get a ball!  Well, we didn't get one, but it was fun to see him (now that I know who he is).

 Yankees won!  The next day as we walked through Times Square we stopped to watch a group of street performers.  They pulled Jake in and then Eric as part of their skit.  It was fun at first but then it took FOREVER!  In the end, they had two guys jump over Jake, had Eric do a dance with a line of other men they snagged, then asked for money.  So it turned out to be just their way of finagling money out of you--and it was sooo long.  Oh well, at least Jake got his 15 minutes of fame (which he hated, BTW)
 Eric and his dance...I did film it but I'm forbidden to ever show it to anyone...
 We took a walk to the Brooklyn Bridge.  We walked out onto it, then right back.  Ha ha.  To many people made it way too hard to walk!
 Another thing I had never done was see the 9/11 Memorial and museum.  Last time we were in NYC the rubble from the towers was still being cleaned up.  The wading pools and museum were amazing. I could have spent all day at the museum but Jake was getting bored.  I tried to explain to him how that day changed the world, but he just didn't get it.  This is the only world he's ever known, so he just couldn't grasp it.  But I found the museum to be amazing, emotional, and so well done.  The wading pools are really beautiful as well.
 Of course down on Wall St we had to go see the bull.  Jake got a little mini-lesson on the stock market.  I didn't wait for a great picture with the bull because there were too many people, once again.
 For our meals this trip we tried to go to as many fun eateries as possible.  No chain restaurants for us!  We ate the quintessential New York hot dog from a stand, authentic Dominican food from a hole in the wall place, had the best fish tacos i've ever eaten, street pizza which was amazing, a bagel with cream cheese, etc and found this AMAZING dessert place in Little Italy.  We got Italian sodas and an assortment of Italian desserts.  Delicious.  I wish I had a bigger stomach so I could have tried more!  It was fun to go with Jake because he is getting to be quite the adventurous eater and loved all the places we went.
 Times square at night....  This was right after our encounter with the Naked Singing Cowboy and the topless "painted clothes on" women.  Nice.

 Mind the gap Jake!

Here's a view of the new World Trade Tower.  Tallest building in the USA.  We didn't go up to the top, we decided to just do that at the Empire State Building, because the Empire bldg is so iconic.  But the outside of the World Trade Tower was cool.
 Our last night there we found the best fish taco place ever at Chelsea Market.  It was a tiny place blasting ear-drum bursting latin music.  All they sold was fish and shrimp tacos pretty much.  But they were so good!  We ate our first order then ended up going back for more.  Then we explored Chelsea Market and got mini donuts for dessert.  My favorite meal of the whole trip!!!
Of course we missed our flight coming home.  We decided to take the Subway to the airport and it turned out a bunch of it was under construction so it took forever to get there.  It ended up taking us 2 1/2 hours to get from our hotel to JFK.  Ugh!  So we got the airport 45 minutes before our flight left and they told us it was too late and we couldn't get on.  What!  I was surprised.  I could understand if we got there 20 minutes ahead, but I'd think that 45 was enough.  regardless there was nothing we could do so we rebooked to the next available flight which wasn't until 7:30 that night (our original flight was at 11:30).  So we got to spent the ENTIRE day at JFK (torture).  Finally we made it home safe and sound.  What a fun trip!

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Work Hard, Play Hard

More fun stuff to post!  I found this picture of Tyler and Eric from their pack trip.  Thought it was sweet so I'm posting it even though it is super late...

We've spent a few fun afternoons hanging out at Jessica's pool.  It's always the perfect temperature!  And you can't beat lounging around on a giant swan...

A couple days before school started I took the kids to Boondocks with my mom.  Jake had been there but none of the rest of us had.  It was super fun!  We bought a day pass and the kids went to town.  Their favorite activity was the go-karts.  It was super kid-oriented so they even had a track with slightly slower cars that Joey could even drive by himself!  I was a little nervous about him crashing and not being able to drive but he did awesome.  I think he's about ready to get his license!

Boondocks also had these fun boats that were motorized and had a super powerful water gun on them.  Let the war begin!
The kids' favorite was the cars, but mine was definitely the XD Theater.  Basically you sit in a dark room and watch a 3-D adventure where you have to use the laser guns to shoot the bad guys.  The parents (if they aren't participating) get to stand outside and watch the kids reaction on the screen below...
Let me just tell you, it was hilarious.  The kids first did a Zombie Attack one.  I didn't think they would be scary, but I was WRONG!  (Take note people, that doesn't happen very often.)  At first the kids seemed fine and having fun shooting zombies, but then there were times they screamed, Joey started crying, and Tyler was trying to cover Joey's eyes.  At this point I'm thinking, what did I get them into?!  I couldn't see the actual movie but watching their reactions was priceless.  Then at the end they all screamed together...apparently a zombie jumps out.  It was seriously funny watching them...Tyler and Jake liked it, but Maggie and Joey not so much.  I couldn't get Joey to go back in for hours (to do a less-scary one--they had 3 different shows).  But all in all it was a fun day and a great way to end summer days.

A couple weeks ago there was a total eclipse coming over part of the U.S.  In our area it was only 90% coverage, but up north in Idaho they got the total eclipse.  We thought about going up there to see it, because I've heard they are awesome, but we figured the traffic would be horrendous (we were right--it took some friends of our 13 hours to get home--it's only a 5 hour drive).  But we decided to bring a picnic up into the mountains--we would watch the eclipse and Tyler could practice shooting his new rifle he got for his birthday.  Ready, Aim, FIRE!  He's a dead eye--hit the bullseye first shot...after Eric sighted it in for him.
The eclipse was pretty cool--not as neat as a total one, but it got darker, and the temperature dropped quite a bit.  We had our solar glasses, but you can see the crescent of the sun in the shadows through the leaves...
Eric and Tyler enjoying the show....
And then there was Jake....
We brought Ziggy up with us.  And as usual she had a blast.  It is so fun watching her run around in the mountains...she prances like a deer, jumping and bounding around.  You can just feel her JOY!

Tyler decided to try his hand/foot at football this year.  It is a lot of practice, averages 2 hours each day.  Then games on Saturday nights.  We weren't sure if he'd get any playing time since he's a rookie, but he's gotten to play about half of each game so far!  So we are pleasantly surprised, as is he.  He is loving it for sure....but he come home from practice VERY stinky--teenage boy sweat.  It is like nothing I have ever smelled---PHEW!  Lot of laundry and windows down on the drive home.

Jake has a new friend this summer, Chase.  They are basically joined at the hip.  Everyday they want to hang out.  They go on bike rides a lot and seem to always get free stuff--they got free fries at McDonalds, free candy at the gas station and something else I can't remember.  Lucky kids!  They helped Chase's dad build this bridge and were pretty proud of themselves!

Jake's been building bridges and we've been working in the backyard....just like ALL SUMMER LONG!  I swear it will never end.  We just put in a border around the trampoline hole--it turned out pretty nice!  We even set the trampoline up so now the kids can play!

Over the Labor Day weekend, we thought about going camping with some friends, but Eric had had enough of the outdoors this summer.  I reminded him that although HE went on all those fun trips, he left US behind.  So I told him if he didn't want to go camping that was fine, but we were going to do SOMETHING....and something NOT at home since we both knew we would just end up working in the yard the whole weekend.  So we did a little staycation.  We got a hotel room in Salt Lake and spent some time in Park City shopping, in Salt Lake at a fun candy store, and a lot of hotel swimming!  We also went and saw Music and the Spoken Word on Temple Square (I stayed in the hotel with Joey since you have to be 8 years old) and then we all did a garden tour of Temple Square after that.  Eric and I thought that was pretty cool, but the kids thought it was torture.  HA!  Here we are after just checking in to the hotel...the kids needed an etiquette lesson on sharing a bathroom with 6 people....this was their lecture....
We also went out by Mirror Lake and did a "hike" (if you can call it that) and played in the river.  It was really beautiful.  The river was shallow enough that the kids could walk in it, which they promptly did...in their tennis shoes.  So we just went along.  Lots of cool boulders and shale, really a neat place.

Despite the grandeur of nature, the inspiration on temple, the plethora of candy at Rocket Fizz...the highlight of the trip (for the kids) was the hotel pool.  Of course they wanted to play in it all the time.
Eric and I even got in on the action, but Dad was the hit of the party--he was strong enough to throw the little kids around.  Here's a sequence of one of Maggie's flips.  Launch off the shoulders...
Tight tuck and turn....
Feet first water entry...
And SPLASH!  He must have done it a hundred times.
Tyler and Joey liked hanging out in the hot tub.
And what pool party would be complete without a splash war?  Tyler I think has mastered the art of the water splash.  But Jake held his own.
And try as they might, the boys could NOT dunk their dad--he's too buff.  They tried to no avail and finally gave up.  So I guess Eric remains king of the pool.

And as I close this blog post you might be wondering about the first day of school...well, it went great, and it is great having all the kids in school all day.  Especially because of how busy life seems once 3:00 hits--I'm driving here and there and everywhere.  But I love having the time during the day to get things done, eat lunch and use the bathroom uninterrupted, and just enjoy the peace and quiet and the house not being messy 5 seconds after I clean it.  You might also be wondering about first day of school pictures!!  Well, there are none (hiding my head in shame).  I don't know what happened to my brain...it might be the craziness of trying to get ready, the busy breakfast making, the bleary eyed having to get up early, or just the sheer excitement of knowing I would have the day to myself...but whatever happened in my brain, I just plumb forgot to take pictures.  Then I thought about it a couple days after school started after seeing some friends/family posting pictures of their kids, but by that point the moment had past.  What would I caption it?  "Hooray!  3rd day of 6th Grade!"  Not quite the impact.  So, this year comes and goes without first day of school pictures.  But that's ok--a shrug of my shoulders and knowing those awkward school pics will be coming soon makes me feel okay!  Happy school days!