28 April 2008

A cute new cousin to love!

Ashley is all smiles when she gets to hold her tiny new cousin, Jason Scott Roach, born Saturday, April 19th. We were so glad that he decided to be born the weekend that we were visiting in Indianapolis!
Zach has always had a soft spot for babies and cute/funny toddlers. Holding his new cousin is a real treat.
Natalie was sick and couldn't hold Jason. She was so sad until I promised her that the next time that we were in Indianapolis, she would be the first to hold him and would get to hold him the longest!
Look, he's an old pro!

Aunt Christine looking refreshed as I've ever seen a new mom, enjoying her much needed holiday from life in a hospital where her every need was attended to. Too bad we all have to return to real life sometime! :) Elise was an adoring cousin.

One year shy of the big 4-0!

My wonderful husband of 12 1/2 years turned 39 on April 5. I made him a chocolate peanut butter pie (YUM!). I think that his favorite part of any birthday is getting the butane lighter out to light the candles. Maybe I should have put all 39 on this cake...
Will posed for a shot in his new hooded sweatshirt his parents gave him. It was fun to have them here to celebrate with us. Will celebrated by watching three sessions of General Conference!
Ashley and Natalie organized a little family party for him up in their bedroom, complete with crown and decorated "throne". We had a little show and some very creative games, followed by ice cream floats. It was fun. All of the kids really love their daddy and they all know that they are the most important thing in the world to him. I love him so much and can't believe how lucky I am to have such a wonderful person as a friend and husband!

Our Sweet Elise

Our sweet little Elise shines as she is dressed up by Natalie to be a fairy. She is a good sport and goes along with whatever game Natalie wants to play. She will miss Natalie so much when she goes to school in the fall!
One day, I realized that it had been a little too quiet in the house and went looking for Elise. I found her sitting on the table eating her favorite cereal, Oatmeal Squares.
One of my favorite phases of all little kids is the "try on everyone's shoes" phase. Elise came walking out of my room with my work-out shoes on.
Today, I went to get Elise out of her high chair and found that she had fallen asleep. Can you tell she had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a chocolate chip cookie for lunch?
Elise was so excited to hold her tiny little cousin, Jason Roach (only a day old!), at the hospital. She was so sweet and gentle and loved to softly pat his fuzzy hair and give little kisses. We are so happy to have this little child of God in our home. It was such a rough road to get her here, I always say that we prayed this child to earth, and every day I am grateful that she arrived healthy and that she fills our home with love!

11 April 2008

Day Four: Part two (Monticello)

After our adventures in Jamestown and Yorktown, we drove another couple of hours to Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. I think that the visit was made more meaningful for the kids now that they had seen his significance in the formation of our young nation. The countryside was beautiful, with spring beginning to spread among the rolling hills. The house itself was magnificent, and we had fun exploring the gardens and all of the servants quarters, stables, storage rooms and ice house under the main house while we we waited for our tour.
The house itself was absolutely fascinating and illustrated what an intelligent and inventive man Thomas Jefferson was. I especially loved seeing the entry hall which he had decorated more like a museum, and his private chambers. We loved to see his extensive library and all of us agreed with him wholeheartedly when he wrote to his friend John Adams, "I cannot live without books!"
Don't I have a beautiful family! Zach later told me that he learned so much on this trip and really loved it! I think they all did.
As we left Monticello, we walked through the woods and daffodils to the Jefferson cemetery. We were able to see where Thomas Jefferson was buried and pay our respects to this great man. We got back in the car and drove to West Virginia where we stayed the night. On the way, we listened to "George Washington: Spymaster" on CD. In the morning, we drove the rest of the way through Kentucky and Indiana to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. It was great to relax.
Here is a picture of the kids at Grandma and Grandpa's house: Zach, Natalie, Ashley and Elise.
The rest of the drive home was long but uneventful, and after a total of 37 hours of driving time in 6 days, we were home. What a great trip! History came alive for us and we all gained a greater appreciation of the birth of our nation!

Day Four: Part one (Jamestown & Yorktown)

Monday, the 24th of March, we went to Historic Jamestown to see the original site of the fort. We watched a video at the Visitor's Center illustrating the extreme difficulties the settlers had in trying to make this a successful venture (we had also read library books about Jamestown, and Ashley had studied it in school). The walk through marsh land over a wooden walkway was pretty. The kids liked seeing the statue of Pocahontas. I found it very interesting that a portion of the original church still exists there. The archaeological dig was covered up because it was still early in the season, but a guide showed me pictures and explained how by digging down to the clay, they could find every time the colonists dug into the ground, whether for a grave, a well, a foundation or a fence post.
We left Jamestown and drove to Yorktown Battlefield, the site of the battle that effectively ended the Revolutionary War. This was probably Will's favorite part of the trip. At the Visitor's Center, we watched a movie that explained all about the battle and how the British were forced to surrender their arms to the Americans. We all decided that Britain's General Cornwallis was a coward, acting like he was too ill to present his sword to General Washington and had someone else do it for him. The Visitor's Center also had some very cool artifacts including General Washington's Battle tents and a rifle surrendered by the British. We then went on a driving tour of the Battlefield which was fascinating. We were able to imagine the progression of the battle as the original earthen barricades still exist (and were later used in the Civil War).
Above is the Moore House, where the terms of surrender were agreed upon. It was amazing to be in a place where such an important event in our nation's history occurred!
Here, Natalie and Zach are waving their "white flags" at Surrender Field, the place where all of the British soldiers laid down their weapons amid a lot of pomp and ceremony. It was amazing that such a peaceful field once saw such a momentous occasion!

3rd Day:Part two (Jamestown)

The afternoon of March 23rd we went to Jamestown Settlement, a living history museum that focuses on the history of the Powhatan Indians and has a recreation of the Jamestown fort. This was one of our favorite experiences of the trip. We went on a tour and were able to sit in a Powhatan wigwam and learn about Indian life. The kids had a great time poking holes with sticks in the ground to simulate planting crops and scraping hair off of hides that were stretched out on poles.
During our tour in and around the recreated Jamestown fort, Zach got a closer look at a fishhook made from bone and learned about the challenges of building a settlement in an untamed and unknown land.
The kids also learned how log canoes were made by slowly burning the inside of a log and then using water and a scraper to scrape out the ash and hollow out the canoe. I love this picture of Ashley!
Zach was in heaven when we were able to explore the rebuilt ships, Discovery, Godspeed and Susan Constant. He has always loved ships and this was like a dream come true! We couldn't keep up with him as he explored the captain's quarters and tried out his bunk, moved the rudder, peered into the big cooking cauldron, tried out the cannons and touched and tried out everything in every nook and cranny!
As we were leaving, we stopped for a family picture in a hollowed out canoe. We had a great time and learned a lot! That evening we ate dinner at "Huzzah!" again and then went back to the room where Will and Zach enjoyed watching the NCAA basketball tournament. Every night before we went to sleep we would sing together as a family "If the Savior Stood Beside Me" and then said our family prayers. It brought the spirit into our room and was a great way to end the day!

Day three: Part One (EASTER)

Easter came early this year, March 23rd, and we were glad that we were enjoying it in the beautiful spring time weather of Virginia, rather than searching for Easter Eggs in the snow of Michigan! This morning, the hotel had an Easter Egg Hunt for the children staying at the hotel. They had the Easter Bunny in the lobby with a basket holding a real white bunny for the kids to pet. They all loved it. Elise was a little scared at first and then once she touched it, she didn't want to stop.
The Easter Egg Hunt took place on the beautiful grounds of the hotel. The hotel provided little Easter baskets for all of the children. As soon as Zach and Ashley heard the word "Go!" they were off and running! Natalie wasn't too far behind. Will, Elise and I had a great time watching. It didn't take long for all of the eggs to be collected!
I was very proud of Ashley and Natalie who each gave one of their eggs to a little girl who came to the Hunt too late and missed finding any eggs. Zach was cute in his tricorner hat that he bought in Williamsburg the day before. I don't think it left his head for the rest of the trip, except at church and when he was sleeping! Elise was given a basket at the end of the trip and felt like a big girl walking around holding one like her big sisters.
We attended the Williamsburg Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that afternoon. When I arrived, I asked the man who was handing out the programs if he knew of a lady named, June Newago, whom my father had baptised many years ago when he was serving in the Eastern Atlantic States Mission. He said that he did, and that she would probably be attending that day!! It was so exciting when after Sacrament Meeting, he introduced me to the now 74 year old June Newago! It was so awesome to see that she was still faithful and active. We got her email address and took pictures. What a great way to celebrate Easter, and the new life Jesus Christ has made possible for all of us if we repent and come unto Him!

Day two: Our Spring Break Trip

Saturday, March 22nd, we spent the day immersed in History in Williamsburg, VA. We especially enjoyed tours of the Governor's palace and the Capitol Building. It made history come alive to think that we were walking where Thomas Jefferson, George Washington and Patrick Henry had walked! Ashley is currently studying the American Revolution in school, so it was very interesting for her. I had checked out a lot of books from the library about the Revolution and the prominent individuals involved so the rest of us could also review the history. It made our visit a lot more meaningful.
We really loved the interactive show that took place, called "Revolutionary City", near the Capitol. Here we are posing with Patrick Henry's character. The kids had a great time booing when "Long live the King" was shouted and giving their best "Huzzah!" for the Patriots.
We ate lunch at the King's Arm Tavern and were served by waiters and waitresses in period costume. The dishes we were served on were beautiful. We loved watching the fife and drum core march by after we ate. Elise had more fun going up and down the steps than paying any attention to history!:)
The kids were fascinated to see a sheep sheared with scissors, a very long process! We finished up the day eating dinner at "Huzzah!", a pizza restaurant right next to our new hotel, which was more centrally located next to the Williamsburg Visitor's Center.

Our Spring Break Trip

Thursday, March 20th, we packed up the car and drove about five hours and stayed the night outside Pittsburgh. The next morning we got up fairly early, ate breakfast and then drove another six hours to Richmond, Virginia, where it was SPRING (unlike the snow we had in Michigan!) and stopped at St. John's Church where Patrick Henry gave his famous "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!" speech.
We then drove on to Williamsburg, VA and walked around Williamsburg for a little while and then walked around the College of William and Mary. There were blossoms on the trees and the weather was beautiful! It was so wonderful to enjoy fresh air after a long, snowy winter! We found an old tree that the kids loved to climb on and the campus was very cool with so much history. In the portico of one old building, there was a very good, all male, a Capella group singing for a couple who were all dressed up and the girl was holding a rose. We just had such a pleasant time together. It was very relaxing. Afterwards, we went to our hotel, a Marriot in Newport News, and ordered pizza for dinner. It was somewhat of a fiasco and we ended up changing our hotel the next night.