Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Owen's 1st Birthday

Happy Birthday Owen!  

I just can't believe my little guy is 1 year old!  
We sure do love this little boy.  He fits right in with the bunch.  He loves his brothers and sister (especially his sister) and can't wait to be running along beside them.  
Owen hasn't always been the happiest baby in the world, but he is turning over a new leaf.  Lately he has been much happier... and I bet when he is walking he will be even happier.  

Owen awoke to find his birthday decorations.  I love this age when they are so excited about the ribbon, balloons, and streamers around the room.  His little pointing finger and "ooo-ing"  was too cute.  It makes it all worth it.  

We all shared in the traditional "First Birthday Breakfast" ... Scrambled Eggs.  Owen was loving life.

 After a full tummy he was off.... to find the balloons :).   

 Lucky for us, Dad had forgotten his wallet and had to come back after taking Abigail to school.  He was able to open the first present of the day.  It took a little coaching when it came to ripping the paper, but once he realized it was okay, he had no problem.  

 Showing the big boys how his new toy works :).  

 I love first birthdays.  Nothing to plan.  No fancy day to create.  Just doing fun things with my little guy.  After breakfast and a present, we headed to the park.  Owen loves to slide.  So slide he did.  Then back home for a morning nap (the birthday boy was going to get all the sleep he wanted... so he could be a happy boy).  He loved his peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and playing cars with the gang.  

After we picked up Abigail from school, we opened another gift.  It was a hit.  Not only with Owen, but the other three as well.  I had to keep asking them to "backup and give him some space", or  "please give "Owbo" back his car."  Crazy kids.  

 For dinner we thought we would finish up the day with some fabulous Mac and Cheese.  I debated whether or not I should make it or buy it.  In the end going out for Mac and Cheese won.  There is this great Mac and Cheese place downtown on 12th street called SMAC.  They serve all kinds of varieties and they are all sooooooo yummy!  Owen LOVED his Mac :)   and so did everyone else.  

Then we headed back home for some cake and ice cream. 
After Owen's experience with a chocolate chunk cookie the weekend before, I knew he was going to LOVE this chocolate cake.  Well... who doesn't love a black-out cake from the Two Red Hens Bakery.  
This cake is so good it is beyond dangerous.  

 Owen was a little taken back with everyone singing and staring at him... 

But it didn't take long to figure out that the cake in front of him was delicious and all for him.  

After taking a few little tastes and realizing what he had was a good thing, he quickly turned to his sister next to him to share...  it was too cute.  

I love watching how each child attacks their cake differently.  All the kids thought the event was quite fun too.  The boys (Dallin and Connor) were very worried that Owen was going to eat the entire thing. Too funny.  We tried to reassure them that there would be plenty.  Soon enough we had to start slicing for everyone :).  

 This boy sure does LOVE chocolate. 
After he had his fill, it was straight to the tub with this little chocolate monster.  

It was a perfect day.  
Family, Fun, and Chocolate.  

It is crazy to think that just one year ago, we were sitting in the NICU hoping and praying to bring home our little baby.  His journey may have started a little rough.  But what a blessing he has been.  

We love you, Owen.  

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Happy 33rd!!

Happy Birthday to our Daddy!

It was so nice to celebrate Daddy's birthday over the weekend.  We love having him home and love celebrating something special.  

The morning began with gifts.  I love that the kids are finally starting to get involved in this process. Helping to think of what Daddy would like, need and want; wrapping the gifts; and even making gifts of their own.  

 Aren't they cute?  Abigail sure does love her dad.  

Dallin was so excited to give his gift to Dad... a handcrafted surf board to take to Hawaii :).  He told John that the board was "waterproof" because the paper was only on the top :).  

 We decided to head to Central Park -- to the Pond.  This location had been on our list for awhile.  We were waiting for the perfect spring day... and today was it.  This lovely pond/little lake was designed for sailing these awesome remote controlled sail boats.  Every Saturday morning, there are boat races and later in the day you can rent a boat to try out too.   All kinds of people design, build and race their boats around the North East.  It is fun to watch them in action in Central Park.  

There is a little building called the boathouse right next to the pond where people can rent space to store their boats.  The kids were lucky enough to go in and see all the amazing boats.  Some of the gentleman were pretty excited to share their love with the kids.  Some let them drive their boats and others even let the try to hold them to see how heavy they are.  

Around 10am the boat races began.  The kids loved watching the boats race back and forth, up and down the pond.  They would run down the pond and back again following the boats.  They were in heaven and they kept up the chasing for over an hour.  I think one of their favorite parts was pushing the start button on the race clock.  

We soon realized that the rental boats would not be coming out until the races were over. So... we headed to the Alice in Wonderland statue to climb and sat and ate lunch while we past the time.  And soon it was our turn.  It took a bit to figure out the boats (they weren't as nice as the others we were able to try out), but soon John and the kids were loving the boat.  It is pretty cool.  The remote only controls the sail and rudder everything else is powered by the wind.  So fun.  

Abigail, Owen and Mom watching the sailboats on the water's edge. 
The pond was designed with a lip, so that children could lay on the tummy's and watch the boats without falling in.  So smart.  

After an eventful and fun day in the sun,
We ordered pizza and enjoyed Dad's favorite birthday cake... ice cream cake :).  

We love you, Dad!  

Abigail says, "I love my Dad because he tries to spend as much time with me as he can."  
Dallin says, "I love that my Dad likes to play with me." 
Connor says, "I love my Dad because he plays with me every night."  
Mom says, "Thank you sweetheart for being you!  So loving, thoughtful and fun. :)   Thank you for loving our children and making our family a priority.  We are best when we are with you."

Happy Birthday!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Spring Break: Washington D.C. - Day 3

Day 3 began early for John. He was determined to get tickets to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. He really wanted to see them make money. So he woke up at about 6:30am, ran down to the building to wait in the line for tickets and was so excited to find that he was the first one there. Yeah! Tickets were supposed to be handed out starting at 8am Monday - Friday. It was Saturday. Bummer. Oh well, maybe next time.

But lucky for the kids and I, he was able to make it back in time to the hotel before the little tummies started grumbling with breakfast in hand. We packed our suitcases back up and left them at the hotel for pickup later in the evening. And off we went ... on our last day of adventure in Washington D.C.

We took the subway down to the National Capitol. But ended up going into the Library of Congress first. (good thing too, because they have a tunnel to the Capitol Visitor Center and the security line there wasn't long at all)

What an amazing building! The detail was extraordinary.
Lucky for us, there was a special children's library room and a special exhibit going on because of the Cherry Blossom Festival. The kids were able to dress in Kimonos, try their paper folding skills with origami, make fish flags, listen to a book reading, try japanese candy, chopsticks and have their names written in japanese. They had a great time. It was a nice change of pace for them.

Then through the tunnel we went to the Capitol Visitor Center.
The only way to see the building is by taking a guided tour. We were a little leery with the four kids, but it turned out great.

Waiting in line...
Everyone was really excited about their headphones ... at first. By the end both Dallin and Connor were done with them.

Truly an amazing building.

Ronald Reagan ... in honor of Dad.
Connor and John ... touching the "lucky spot."
George Washington was supposed to be buried in that spot. But he requested to be buried at Mt. Vernon with his wife. They tried to have him moved later to this spot, but the family refused. So now... it is just the lucky spot.

The kids in front of the Statue of Freedom

After a long tour and full tummies, we headed back outside to do one last promised activity. Paddle boats in Tidal Basin. We were a little worried we weren't going to make it when we saw the line. We only had a short time before we had to start heading to the train station. But the kids were determined and it all worked out. Good thing.

What a great way to end a great day in Washington D.C.

We quickly headed back to the subway to get back to the hotel to pickup our suitcases and get to the train station.

As we arrived at the station, we saw the subway was stopped on the rail. We were trying to get down the stairs quickly, but the doors shut. But then they opened again. I ran for the doors but as I stuck my hand in they closed. In NYC, this is no big deal, the doors just pop back open. But not in D.C. They clamp down. Tourists on the other side of the door were nervous and tried pushing my hand back out. Connor was screaming. He was terrified. It really was okay. I was fine. The train can't go with an open door. I was able to get my hand out and the doors closed all the way.

We waited but the train did not move and after a minute the doors opened again. So, we seized the opportunity and jumped on (this time everyone made it on). But still the train did not go. Soon the driver was checking all the doors. Obviously this train was having a problem. After a couple of minutes, she asked everyone to exit the train.

So we started filing out with everyone else. Abby and Dallin were just a head of us waiting outside the subway car, when the doors closed again. This time Dallin and Abigail on one side and John, Connor, Owen, and I on the other. Not good. I was trying to tell the kids to stay there. We kept thinking the lady would open the doors. The train jolted forward. Connor was screaming. A man we were with was having the same problem. His kids were on the other side too. He jumped on the emergency speaker... "Let us out. Our kids are out there!" The doors opened again. We quickly got off and waited for another train.

The next train was fine. We arrived at the station we needed to. We were able to get our suitcases and head back to the station. Connor kept referring to the previous subway as a "stinky train." And he seemed okay to get on the next subway for a ride to the train station. However, when we got on it was a bit crowded. Not bad. But with three strollers trying to maneuver, it was not ideal. A couple stops in to the ride, a couple was trying to get off with a stroller and they didn't make it in time. The doors closed on the stroller. Mom was on one side and Dad and baby were on the other with one of Mom's shoes. Crazy! At this point, Connor decided none of these trains were reliable. He wanted off. NOW! Luckily we made it safely to the train station and everything was fine. Connor was traumatized, but we were all okay.

I still think it is amazing that in all our time riding the subway in NYC we have never seen such a problem or experienced anything like that before. The D.C. trains were cleaner, and quieter, but they really need to work on the door problem. NYC doors seem much safer.

Luckily our train ride home was not as eventful.
Two kids slept.
Two kids read and colored.
Daddy slept.
Mommy closed her eyes.
So nice.
After a taxi ride home, it was nice to be back in our own beds.

We hope the kids remember something from the trip. Or maybe at least the pictures will help them remember the amazing things they saw and did. Hopefully.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Break: Washington D.C. - Day 2

Day 2 began at the National Archives. However, by the time we got there the line stretched around the corner and down the side of the building. Bummer. So while John waited in line, the kids and I headed across the street to the Natural History Museum.

I am still amazed that all of the Smithsonian Museums were free. Amazing.
The Natural History Museum was a lot like the one we have been to many times in NYC, but who can pass up seeing some amazing fossils of dinosaurs?? And Abigail wanted to make sure we saw some gems. Our pictures didn't come out well - the lighting was too dim. I still haven't figured out how to take pictures in low light. Some day.

"Hope Diamond"
The diamond is actually a really deep blue color. Beautiful. Crazy to think that the original diamond was more than twice that size.

Once John made it within 15 minutes of getting into the building he called us and we headed over to finish the wait with him. Good thing I remembered to bring Spot It.

No photography is allowed in the archives, because of the nature of the displays.

It was hard to explain to the children the significance of what they were seeing.

The Magna Carta
The Declaration of Independence
The ConstitutionAlign Center
The Bill of Rights

What a neat experience. There is such a reverence and awe as you view these documents and ponder their significance in our history.

I am truly grateful.

Connor didn't quite make it.

Next stop - The Museum of American History
A couple of our favorites:

Early Locomotive

Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat
The actual hat that he wore to Ford's theater the night of his assassination.
Pretty neat.

We decided we had had enough museums for the day. So, we headed outside to enjoy the beautiful weather. Of course, we had to fly our kite once more at the Washington Monument. After a bit of relaxation, we began a pleasant walk along the Tidal Basin to see some of the memorials up close and personal. So far we had only seem then in the distance.

Walking around Tidal Basin on our way to the Jefferson Memorial

Cherry Blossoms
Originally we thought we were going to be able to see the cherry trees in full bloom, but not this year. With the warmer winter they bloomed about 2 weeks early this year. These were the only cherry blossoms left for us :). Some day we will time it just right.

John was a trooper - carrying Owen in his stroller up all the stairs at the memorials.
What a Dad.

Jefferson Memorial

"Author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia ... By these, as testimonials that I have lived, I wish most to be remembered." - Thomas Jefferson

Interesting that President of the United States was not one of the things that he listed.

We then walked around the other side of the Tidal Basin toward the Abraham Lincoln Memorial and passing through the Martin Luther King Memorial.

"Out of the mountain of despair, A stone of hope"
I loved the quote on the side of this huge stone with MLK carved into it. It was perfect.

Abraham Lincoln Memorial

Saved the Union. Ended Slavery. What a man.

Two out of the four. Owen was sleeping and Abby was off reading the walls.
Last stop: The Vietnam Memorial
I found it interesting to learn that the park saves all of the notes, cards, and things left in honor of those that fought in this war. How special.
It was especially neat to watch different people doing rubbings of family names. Sharing touching stories about the names on the wall. Really putting a person with the name.

Once again we walked home after a long, fun-filled day.
We all slept like babies.
Lights were out at 9pm ... for everyone.