Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rebirth

ok.  It has been a whole year since I wrote in here!!  Actually more.  I am wanting to jump back in to blogging.  I really feel like it is a great way to journal about my family and our experiences and to share all of our life with our family members who live far away.

So I guess I will just start with last week.  We went to Washington for a Jim Stoker family reunion.  It was wonderful!  We drove straight through 15 hours from Las Vegas to Washington and it actually wasn't too bad of a drive.  The summer is much better for driving up than the winter.  Our first real day there was Saturday.  After a few chores in the morning we went to goose lake to go cliff jumping.  Luckily Danny remembered the way there and we all had a great time.  The water was wonderful!  The older kids jumped from the 30 ft cliffs and the younger ones found smaller places to jump from.  We were all really glad we had water shoes.  

Sunday we went to church and after had some family and friends over for a visit.  It was really nice to reconnect with some of my cousins.  It had been a really long time since I had seen a lot of them.  Dad's garden was as beautiful and wild as I remembered.  The old grape arbor was taken down, (which was sad), but the garden was still as fun and mysterious as ever.  

Monday we drove up to Ensign Ranch.  It's a church owned camp near Cle Elum Washington.  There was lots to do there and we had a blast.  We rented a cabin which we shared.  My family got the loft.  Mom and dad and Danny slept on the main level, and Maia and Kendall and Matt and Colleen slept in tents.  It rained a few of the nights, so we definitely got the best deal.  During our stay we got to slide down a huge slip n slide, go horseback riding, go tubing down the river, go canoeing, take a breathtaking hike to Pete's Lake and eat lots of smores.  It was a lot of fun!  Everyone had a great time!







Sunday, August 11, 2013

Goodbye Connecticut, Hello Vegas!!

I've been procrastinating this post.  Mainly because I can't find the cord that goes from my camera to my computer to download all the great pictures we took of our great friends in CT and our fun trip out here, but I'm also procrastinating because it's hard to say goodbye.  We miss our friends in CT.

Our trip out here was fun and kind of complicated.  I came out early with my sister in law Colleen in the honda.  We did it in 3 1/2 days so we could meet the moving truck so my stuff didn't have to go into storage.   We did great driving and making it here, but our stuff got here a day late.  That wouldn't have been a big deal, except that I was flying out to Minnesota that day to meet up with Justin.  Luckily my flight wasn't until the evening, so it worked out all right.

In Minnesota I met up with Justin and the kids over at Brandon and Kim's house and we had a great time celebrating the 4th with them.  We went to a parade and then swimmming and to fireworks and a concert that night.  It was a lot of fun.  The next day we went to Interstate park and went camping and hiking on the 5th.  Then on the 6th we went canoeing down the St. Croix river.  We all had a great time.  A few canoes tipped over and the boys had an adventure storming mosquito island.  After it all we went out to dinner at Denny's and went back to Brandon and Kim's for the night.  We had church with them and then headed out to Idaho that night.

In Idaho we stayed at our friend's the Peck's.  They very kindly let us stay at their house and we met up with Brandon and Kim and family for most of our meals over at Justin's cousin Kelly's house.  We had a couple of nice visits with grandma and grandpa and then also went out each day on an adventure.   One day we went out to the 17 mile cave which is 17 miles from Idaho falls.  It was really huge and a lot of fun.  We stayed in the big rooms since there were a lot of little kids and it started to get wet as the cave narrowed.  After the cave we went to the Anderson dairy where we all got ice cream cones.  It was delicious.  The next day we went out to the sand dunes in St. Anthony.  They were a lot of fun and the kids had a great time digging, sliding and jumping there.  Afterwards we went to the temple in Rexburg and ate pizza on the grass.  It was a nice afternoon.  After that we all had to go home and take baths.  After we were cleaned up we went to grandma's for another nice visit, had dinner at kellys and went to my cousin Melissa's house for dessert.  We had a really nice visit.  At each house we went to, I was really struck by the sweet kids.  All had just great teenagers and they got along really well with my kids.  It was fun.

On our way to Vegas from Idaho, we stopped in Salt Lake to visit with Ryan and Barb, Kristy and James and Kami and Brian.  It was fun to catch up and see everyone.  It was the first time we met little James, Ryan and Barb's little baby.

After we made it to Vegas, Colleen was still here and had cleaned and unpacked a few things for us.  She also had arranged for my cousin Jana to give us a dryer and got it all hooked up for us.  That was really nice.  Colleen and Matt stayed at our house for a few days while Colleen's family had a reunion in Vegas.  We unpacked as quickly as possible and were ready for company the next week.  Maia and Kendall came on the 18th and my mom and dad came the day after.  We had planned to go camping up at MT.  Charleston, but there was a forest fire so we were unable to camp there.  Instead we stayed at my house.  We went to the Springs Preserves on Saturday and had a birthday party for Michelle and Kate that night. We went out to hoover dam and lake mead on Monday.  That was fun, but unfortunately after that Colleen got some bad news about her sister.  She had died and they had to make arrangements to go back for her funeral.  It was pretty sad.  Matt and Colleen went to Boston the next night and the rest of us went to a spray park and came home and watched movie.  The next day we went to the old mormon fort, had a picnic and came home on time for Maia and Kendall to go on their way to the Greene reunion in Las Angeles.

It was really nice to see so many people in so short a time.  I'm so grateful for my family and for the knowledge we have about life after death.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

School House Rock Jr.

Our family has been working hard the last couple of months to help get together our elementary school's very first spring musical.  It has been so much fun!  John got the lead role as Tom Miser, the school teacher.    Samantha and Michelle both ended up being in the ensemble which they enjoyed, and I helped out a bit with the music.  It was really a lot of fun for all of us.  Thankfully Joseph spent many hours babysitting Nate and Kate so I could go to the school and help the other kids with music.  He was a huge help.  I have half of the show video taped, but can't seem to figure out how to upload it to youtube, so until then you will have to be satisfied with a few cast party pictures.  All the kids did a great job and even though we were biting our nails up to the last minute wondering if the kids were going to get their parts, it all worked out wonderfully.  

John had a solo and dressed up in an elvis wig and sunglasses to sing the song circulation.  It turned out really nicely.  Samantha and Michelle both had a lot of spunk as they danced and sang on stage as well.  Thanks so much to our director for all of his hard work 

                                                               The sixth graders.
                                                      Samantha and the fourth graders.
                                                             John and his mini me
                                                        Samantha, Michelle and the director
                                                                         The sixth graders

experimenting with video



Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Bronx Zoo and Lyme disease

First I just have to say how much I love the Bronx Zoo.  When we lived in the Bronx, we visited regularly and became so familiar with all of the exhibits.  It was the best for taking Joey and John when they were little toddlers.  I have such fond memories in my heart of this place.  So when my friend suggested going together during spring break, I jumped at the chance and marked on my calendar, even though my kids actually had school they had to make up because of the huge snow storm during february.  When the date actually came, she had a conflict, but we decided to go anyway because the kids were all excited about it (and of course the chance to ditch school.)  When we woke up that morning to make the trip to NYC and the zoo, we were all surprized by the fact that Nathan's knee was swollen and he was unable to walk.  I got him in to the first doctor appoinment I could and we were sent to get labs and got a prescription for ammoxicilin and the diagnosis of lyme disease.  It was pretty crazy.  He seemed to be in pretty good spirits though, so we decide to go ahead with our plans of going to the zoo.  We jumped in the car around 11 and drove staight to the Bronx.  I was happy to say that the "secret" entrance with free street parking was still where I remembered it and I was so pleased to have a little insiders knowledge.  We rented a wheel chair for Nathan and his brothers gladly took turns pushing him around.  He was a little embarrassed to be in the wheelchair, but was a good sport and it was pretty obvious that he wouldn't be able to get around the park any other way.   I was in heaven the whole day.  I just love that zoo so much.  The kids had a great time too.  I don't know if they had any memories of that place, but they still enjoyed seeing all of the animals and walking around.  The day was a little misty, but not really rainy which was perfect because that made it pretty empty, especially during spring break that was great!  We also drove past our old apartment and down the street where we used to live.  It was a great trip down memory lane.
                                  John pushing Nathan int he wheel chair and Joseph at the side. 
 Samantha and Kate riding a camel.  I let them buy a ticket with their allowance money
                                                       John and Kate on the camel. 
 The peacocks were everywhere!  We had fun chasing them around.
 Nathan and Michelle watching the fish in the tiger exhibit.
 John, Michelle, Joseph, Nathan, Kate and Samantha climbing on the bronze komodo dragon in the reptile house. 
Joseph pushing Nathan around chasing the peacock.  On the way home, people had to stop for the bathroom, so we ended up going to the costco in New Rochelle (another blast from the past)  Since we were there, we grabbed a pizza and some soda and ate a great dinner in the car.  I love visiting NYC.  Justin hates it.  To him it just means spending lots of money and a lot of inconvenience, but I love it.  The Zoo was great!

Samantha's birthday party

This year Samantha opted for a mustache themed party.  At first she said she wanted the theme to be randomnesss, and that's kind of what it was.  I made blue mustache shirts for all of the kids to wear, and we had pie instead of cake.  For party games we played twister, had a lip sync contest, and played a round of mafia.  The girls all had a great time.  There was a campout that weekend, so Joseph and John were gone and Nathan went over to a friends house for the party.  Justin was out of town buying a house for us, so it truly was just a girl party.  I like to keep things pretty simple, so it wasn't too elaborate, but just the thing for my fun 10 year old girl.  We sure love her.   
                                                        Michelle, Samantha, and Kate.
 The girls playing twister.  There were more than 8 players, so we had to make a bigger mat.
 Samantha.  She is really a super sweet girl.  She has grown a lot this year and getting close to my height.  She's on John's schedule . . . so it won't be long until she is taller than me. 
                                                                more twister
Lip sync contest costumes and props.  They mainly danced to Taylor swift songs.  Samantha has a really nice group of friends.  We will miss them when we move to connecticut and hope she makes new ones quick!

Monday, April 29, 2013

February trip to NYC

Because of all the snow, we were going crazy with cabin fever before Feb. break even began.  I wanted to do something cool for Feb. break, but it seemed like everything kind of fell apart with all of the snow.  Monday morning I was running with my friend Clairon and told her how I had planned to go to NYC with the kids, but wasn't sure it would be safe by myself.  She was super kind and offered to take Kate for the day so I would only have kids over 5.  It was great!  I wasn't sure we would have any fun, but it was lots of fun.  And it was great not to have a stroller or any of the other baby gear (or to have to carry anyone).
 
This picture is driving to the cloisters.  This sewage truck was double parked and we had to wait for it to finish so we could get down the street in our big van.  I must brag about my driving in the big city with the big van.  I'm actually not too bad and I even ended up driving right through manhattan a little later in the week too because John really wanted to see the Empire State Building. 
 
Our plan for the day was to drive to the cloisters, park the car, ride the subway to the 911 memorial, eat lunch and then return to the cloisters to visit.  That's pretty much what we did and it was a really great memorable time for my family.

 The subway ride.  The kids kind of felt like they were on an amusement ride and of course insisted on standing up and holding the rail.  I'm sure the regulars thought we were a little ridiculous. 
 In front of one of the tower fountains.  It is amazing how big the fountains are and was really touching to look at them.  Each name is engraved/cut out of the metal in the handrail around the fountain. 
 Nathan on the subway.  Sorry this picture is out of order. 
 The giant building they are building to replace the twin towers.  It will be the tallest building in NYC when it is done.  It's pretty tall already. 
 Pizza after visiting the memorial. 
 Nathan, Michelle, John and Samantha in front of the survivor tree.  I think this was one of the only trees left after the collapse of the towers?  Not sure what the story exactly was, I can't remember if the tree was in this courtyard or if it was somewhere else and they moved it.
Michelle eating pizza.  This pizza was really good and a great price for lunch in NYC.  After lunch we hopped back on the subway and toured the cloisters.  My kids did a pretty good job there.  I thought we would only last for a few minutes, but we stayed until closing and they really enjoyed the little scavenger hunt on the brochure.  I really apreciated the unicorn tapestries.  Michelle had a good time looking at them with me.  Now I want to take them back to visit the MET and central park and lots of other fun stuff in the city.  It was a great time!