Thursday, June 25, 2009

Traveling Tots

Over the summer, our ward organized a few different little field trips for our "Traveling Tots".
Our first travels brought us to Krispy Kreme's. We lost Krispy Kremes here in AZ for awhile...then a few years ago someone got smart, and opened them up again. We filed in there (with hands behind your back, please), and got to see the secret behind the yummy goodness.

After the tour we all got our own free donut.
Do you think Thomas enjoyed his?
The following week we headed over to our local Fire department. I love these tours. We did one with Caden for his 2nd birthday. Being a firefighter is truly heroic...and at the same time glamorous. I mean who wouldn't want this for their 'training room'?This department even had a slide to go down! (but apparently it isn't too fun...they hit the wall fact they had installed some padding on the wall just to help with the impact on the way down!) Because the slide sometimes poses a hazard, others opt for the good ole fasion pole. I really wanted to try going down, but didn't want to be treated for a broken leg. :) I sent the kids down (the stairs, of course!) with the group, and took some pics.
Silly Sydney!
After the inside tour we made our way to the trucks. It is amazing the things that they keep stocked up in these things. Caden really got into this part. They even let the kids climb inside and try on the helmets. I am so glad that someone was smart enough to organize these events. It got us out of the house, and we had alot of fun too!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009


Happy Father's Day!

I hope you know how much you are loved by all those around you. Our life really would not be the same without you in it.

Thanks Ashley for the super cute idea, and rendering your services. You are awesome!

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The Prado vs. The National Gallery

I am not an artist, and will never claim to be. Yet, I really enjoyed roaming through two of the biggest art galleries around the world. While in Spain we got to visit Museo del Prado, and in England I was able to enjoy The National Gallery.

Although they are both great in their own right...I have to say that I would choose The National Gallery over Museo del Prado.

Spanish art is very different. Not really a bad thing, but not what I am used to. They are very graphic. I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I believe in Christ. I believe that he was crucified, and resurrected, and still lives today. So it was a little disturbing to walk through the rooms through out the Prado and see such graphic pictures of Christ. Most of them showed him so emaciated.

I know that time in Christ's life was not pretty, but it was not how I pictured it. When I think of Christ I like to think of the joy he brings into my life. I am thankful that he was crucified for me, but don't like to dwell on that. The Spanish culture has it everywhere, and it saddens me that there isn't more focus on the fact that he lives.

Other than the pictures of Christ, Museo del Prado still has more to offer. One of the most famous paintings on display there is Las Meninas. The colors and detail in this painting are phenomenal. Just to see this painting made our visit worth it. On the other hand there are some other bizarre paintings there. This one caught almost all of us off guard. President Shallenberger's wife, and myself included burst out laughing when we rounded the corner to see this.
Seriously...what where they thinking?? I don't know the exact paintings name but the translation was something like "The choir of the milk" (If you can't tell...this is supposed to be a statue of the virgin Mary. The priest is kneeling in front, and Mary is squirting milk from her breast into his mouth) Like I said...Bizarre!

That is why it was so refreshing to go to the National Gallery. For one it was FREE! I was able to see paintings by Monet, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Da Vinci. All so beautiful. I think the difference with this gallery is there were more portraits, and landscapes. Something I find more intriguing to look at. They still had pictures of the crucifixion, and lots of nudity, but I found myself much more satisfied when leaving the gallery.

I am glad I was able to see so many different paintings. To see the differences in the cultures of Spain and England. They are definitely things not to miss if you make it to Europe.

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Last Day in London

My last full day in London meant I was going to do lots of things. The night prior, I had planned to get up early enough to make it down to Buckingham palace to see the changing of the guards. I had heard that it is an amazing sight to see, and didn't want to miss it. Again my body had other plans, and I enjoyed a few more hours of sleep instead.

Since I had missed the changing of the guards, I headed over to Trafalgar Square. I love this shot because it shows so much of what London is known for...Big Ben, Red Double Decker Buses, and throngs of people. I took this right before I entered the National Gallery.

I spent quite a few hours roaming throughout the National I am saving my thoughts on that for another post.

I soon ventured out to see the Westminster Abbey. What a beautiful cathedral. I walked around the building studying the architecture while talking to my mother and kids that were at home. I missed my little ones. The little things they did each day, but was thankful to know they were only a phone call away.
The Abbey which is also sometimes referred to "The Royal Shrine". It is the home to many coronations, and also is the resting places for many kings and queens.
Then I walked in silence around the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. I crossed the river, and got a few shots of the parliament from a different angle. Seriously such a beautiful building.
Soon it was time to meet up with Shawn again. We decided to go to another show. We got some tickets to go to SHOUT. It was not the best show, but was still entertaining. I wish we would have gone to Hairspray...maybe next time.
In the end it really didn't matter because I was with Shawn. I loved being able to spend so much time with him without the interruption of our little ones. I will treasure this forever.

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Being Solo

I had high hopes of waking up and conquering London on my own. My mind thought it would be great to get up shortly after Shawn left for work, and get in another full day. My body thought otherwise. We had been staying up late, and getting up early every day for the past week while in Spain. My body finally couldn't take it any more. So instead of getting up early, my lazy self stayed in bed until 11ish. It was heavenly...but also shortened my day.

Despite the fact that I started later than I had hoped, I still feel like I was able to have an enjoyable day. I hopped on the Underground and headed to London Bridge. As I was emerged from the station I passed by a Pasty stand. Our family has pasty regularly, and I never realized it came from here. I hadn't eaten lunch so I grabbed one, and headed down the street to my destination. I have to say it was good, but I prefer our recipe over theirs.

I sat down and took in my view.

As I sat there eating my pasty I was marveled by the fact that I was actually here. I was staring at London's Tower Bridge! It is interesting sightseeing by yourself. It gives you alot of time to think. I think part of the fun of traveling is being able to share that with someone else. To discuss the history, and have insight from another's point of view. I had a wonderful day, but definitely would prefer being with someone.

I made my way along the Thames River, and passed by a cute little shopping place called Hay's Galleria. It once was a loading dock where tea, coffee and butter were shipped and stored. Over time they roofed it over, and the former warehouses now house shops, bars, and restaurants. In the middle of this quaint little area is an interesting sculpture called "The Navigators". Luckily I didn't get sprayed...but it is known to squirt water at people passing by.

I continued on the Thames, all the while getting closer to the bridge. I finally stopped someone to take a picture. They were doing some construction on the bridge so they had opened up the towers so you could view the original hydraulic engines, and actually walk across the bridge from the top. I contemplated going up there, but then was told that the 'lifts' were not operating. I didn't feel like climbing hundreds of stairs. Instead I headed across the river to the Tower of London.

If any of you watch The Tudors...this is where it all takes place. It has been around 900 years and has acted as a royal palace, a fortress, a prison, the official mint, and even a menagerie. Many traitors and victims of political feuds have been imprisoned here, and 3 Queens have lost their heads on Tower Green.

I didn't have time to spend the day exploring the towers. I wish that I would have...but alas that will have to be saved for another trip. It was so intriguing walking around this place knowing so many people had lost their lives here, and in some of the gruesome of ways.

Here I am in the downtown part of the city at the Monument. It was built to commemorate the "Great Fire of London of 1666".

I then took a little detour. Shawn and I like to collect certain things when we travel. I am not one to get many knick knacks...I just don't know where to put them. Instead I like getting an ornament for our Christmas tree. It is nice to reminisce with the family about where and when we went to each year. Our other trademark souvenir is getting a Hard Rock magnet. We don't always eat at the Hard Rock, but if there is one in the city we are visiting we stop by the gift shop to get a magnet. The cool thing about their magnets are that they are unique to each Hard Rock. This my attempt of taking a picture by myself.

Close to Hard Rock was the Wellington Arch. The arch was moved from it original location in the late 1800's and is now the center a large traffic island. I would have loved to go inside, but they had closed the exhibit for a private party. :(

After my full day I met up with Shawn and some of his coworkers Bill, and Mohib. Mohib had recommended this great restaurant in near Piccadilly called the Sugar Reef. I was a little wary because I don't do seafood, but was pleasantly surprised. The food was yummy (I got a steak of course).

Overall it was a great day. I got to see alot, but really wish I had more time to see more than just the outside of things. I just found it hard to spend money on something that I was doing alone., and my time was so limited...I could have spent almost the entire day at The Tower of London. Maybe next time I will have to splurge, and do it anyway.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Day in London

Part of me was so mesmerized by London. I couldn't believe I was actually there. It was so surreal to visit these places that I seen and heard about. I really wish that we had more time to visit. Next time I would like to be there long enough to be able to take the time to actually go on tours of each of the buildings. Instead I was able to enjoy the views from the outside.
One of the most refreshing things about this little pit stop was being able to speak English. We arrived in London on a Wednesday. Shawn and I were able to enjoy that day together, but Thursday and Friday I was left solo while Shawn tended to his work. I feel like if we were in Spain (or any other country for that matter) I would have been less adventurous for fear that I would get lost, and then not be able to communicate with anyone. Besides the fact that I LOVE British is really something I could listen to all day long.

Wednesday brought lots of fun. We headed over to Piccadilly Circus/Leicester Square on the Underground. This trip really made me appreciate the subway system. It really is such a nice thing to use to get around...quite efficient. I grinned everytime it would stop and it would say "Please Mind the Gap." It is amusing the different phrasing they use. Here in America it would probably say "Please Watch your Step"...clearly not as amusing. Shawn and I decided that the British English is much more refined and proper, and American Enlish is the slang version...kinda like the difference of Spain Spanish, and Mexican Spanish.
Piccadilly Circus is London's Times Square. People are everywhere, and there is tons to do. Our first set of business was to find some tickets to a 'broadway' show. So we took the short walk to Leicester Square. This is the place where all the red carpet events take place when movies are opening in London. It would have been so cool if there was a movie opening, but alas there was not. Instead we found a half off ticket booth, and got some awesome tickets to see WICKED that evening!

Now we had time to burn before the show, and the first stop was eating. We went to Chinatown, and enjoyed a great meal. I wish I would have gotten a picture of the entrance of Chinatown, but just got one in front of the restaurant we ate at. This restaurant was really fun. Once you walked through the tunnel it was as if you were in China. They had a little bridge, and a Coi pond.

The underground took us to Westminster where we were able to take in Big Ben.
The day was a little overcast so we took a stroll over the Thames river and walked past The London Eye. We layed on the grass, and rested. I took some shots of the amazing 'Eye'. It is one of the largest Ferris Wheels in Europe.
Next stop was Trafalgar Square, and the National Gallery. Unfortunately the gallery closed 5 minutes after we arrived. I ended up going there by myself that Friday, but have to leave that experience for another post.
Trafalgar Square was quite the sight. I couldn't believe all the people just sitting around.
Buckingham Palace was beautiful. We spent some time watching the guards. It really is amazing how still they are. I would think that would be one of the most boring jobs ever.
Before we knew it, it was time to head over Apolla Victoria and enjoy WICKED. I couldn't contain my excitement. I had heard a few of the songs, and the raves of everyone that had been to it before and coudn't wait to see it for myself. I have to agree that it did not dissapoint! I found the story line to be so intriguing. It is amazing the things people do just to be liked. I thought the set was so cool...I know it is a bit dark, but this was the theatre before the show started. For those of you who have been to the show they all look the same??
Such a perfect ending to a perfect day.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Instant Friends

Our Friends, Derek and Shannon, were so nice to let us stay with them on our little trip to CA for Shawn's birthday. They have two of the most adorable boys, Corbin & Cooper. Even though we were only there for a few kids LOVED playing with them. It was so great to see them interact with each other. They have annual passports to Disneyland so they came with us! Caden and Corbin wanted to ride on all the rides together. They really had a blast
The following day, Shannon was in charge of a Primary Activity Day. Caden, Sydney, and I went and enjoyed the activity. It was a Western Theme...they each got different colored handkerchiefs to tie around their necks, and then split up in groups for each activity. They frosted cookies, learned to line dance, and had relay races. It was entertaining to watch the kids as they played. One thing I love about the church is that it is the same where ever you go. It is comforting to know that if we ever had to move to a place where we had no family that we would instantly have new friends that share the same love for God that we do. Thanks Shannon for letting us come along.
We ended our trip with a visit to The Old Spaghetti Factory. I love going there because each one is unique in its own way. It worked out well because little Corbin has special diet needs, and they have gluten free pasta for him. Then we swung by their house, and hung out for a little bit before we got back on a plane.
One thing I loved was the flowers in their back yard. It was such a beautiful sight. I really need to have a flower garden...there is something about fresh flowers that just lifts your spirit. We don't have any family out of state so it was great to be able to spend some time with our friends. We appreciate your hospitality, and hope one day to be able to reciprocate it in some way.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

A Disney Birthday

My love,

On June 12th you turned 31! You decided you wanted to go to Disneyland for your birthday. We made a short trip out there, and stayed with Derek and Shannon. It was great to see them again after reconnecting with them at the Spain Mission reunion.
I still can't believe that we now are what we thought of as 'OLD' when we were young. Oh how naive we were. It is great to realize that our life, in some ways, is just beginning. We are still young, and have so much ahead of us.

As I sit here, I am so grateful that you were born. How different my life would be if you weren't in it. You have enriched my life in so many ways. Thanks you for being are a few reasons why you are so great.

  • making me laugh each and everyday
  • giving me 3 of the most beautiful children.
  • living worthy to hold the priesthood
  • being so smart when it comes to finances. I know I complain alot about your 'frugality', but I also find so much comfort in knowing we will never stretch ourselves beyond our means.
  • your passion for politics. It may seem at times that I tune out the shows that you watch, but I try to pay attention.
  • your dedication to your job, and providing for me and our family. You really have given me more than I could have ever asked for. I am so thankful that you go to work every day, and work so hard. I have no clue and can't begin to understand exactly what you do, but I know that you are valued. I am thankful that you are in a job that appreciates your efforts.
  • I love dancing with you. We don't do it much anymore...but I can still picture in my mind the first time we met. You are one crazy dancer
  • Your voice is one of the most heavenly sounds ever.
  • blue eyes
  • dimples
  • computer skills
  • exercising...I have been so proud of your dedication to running everyday!
  • your ability to drive and put your shoes on at the same time. It freaks me out, yet makes me laugh at the same time.
  • watching you do you "big splash". The kids and I look forward to it every day.
  • seeing you nap on the couch after a long day at work.
  • letting me have some one come and deep clean our house. It truly is the best gift ever.
  • going to the movies with me...yes we do it alot, but I still love it.
  • hearing you laugh. It is as infectious as listening to our kids giggle.
  • The silly faces you make...especially this one.

Happy Birthday My Love
I hope you had as much fun as I did!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Picture this...

I know I need to finish up our trip, but just had to share what happened today.

Every Wednesday a few of my friends get together for lunch at McDonald's (yes, not my fav place to eat, but the kids get to play.) Today was no different. Around noon we met up at and were enjoying each others company.

These days, Thomas is very adventurous. He is climbing on everything, and trys to keep up with the big kids. Unfortunately it didn't work out for him today. The poor little guy fell and gave himself a big fat lip.

I ran over to pick him up, and was busy with a screaming child. Melanie had gone to the counter to get some ice, and I was trying to do what I could to help stop the bleeding. The next thing I knew Caden was at the table oblivious to the fact that Thomas was hurt.

Caden: Hey mom, I want to get some ice cream.

Me: Umm, not right now Caden! Can you please go fill this cup up with some lemonade (I thought, if anything, the cold drink would help keep the swelling down.)

He grabs the cup and walks away....only moments later he is back.

Caden: I can't do it Mom.

Me: Caden, it really isn't that hard....all you have to do is ask the guy at the counter. (I am still trying to figure out why they don't have self service fountains there)

Caden: I don't want them to see me naked!!

Me: What????????

My eyes pan down to see him grabbing his shirt, and trying to pull it down!!! My kid is standing in the middle of McDonalds with no pants on!! How in the world did this happen??? This particular McD's doesn't have a bathroom in the kids area so that means he walked through the WHOLE place showing his junk, and then proceeded to have a normal conversation with me about how he wanted ice cream!!!

I immediately take him back to the bathroom...all the while laughing my head off. Apparently he was 'waiting for me for such a long time'. We have been working on the whole wiping aspect of the lovely potty time, and he is still having a hard time. He likes me to 'check' to make sure he got it all. The only problem is that he didn't even tell me he was going to bathroom!

The poor kid got himself dressed, and came out and said "That was NOT funny!"

Sorry Caden, it was HILARIOUS!

To top it off...we had a talk about it later. We talked about how it is important to be more modest, and not to let other people see your 'private parts'. The kid still felt totally justified in walking around with no pants on!

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Thursday, June 4, 2009


So our first stop when we got into London was our hotel "The Barn". Shawn's office is located near Uxbridge (which is in the outskirts of London). He had tried to get something that was more downtown, but ended up booking this because it was closer to work. As we were carrying all of our luggage through 'The Underground' (what they call their subway system) I was getting a little bitter because I was tired of lugging our luggage, and just wanted to get to the hotel.
When we finally got there...I stopped complaining. This was such a cute place. I know I have ventured into the London part of our trip, but let me tell you a little about the places we stayed in Spain.

Spain is a wonderful place, but they can be a little archaic when it comes to some things. I have no idea why I didn't take pictures of our rooms because it really was quite the discussion at times. When I got home, I really was kicking myself about it too! I ended up scouring the Internet and happened to find a few pictures of them (yay!).

We actually only stayed to 2 different hotels. President S. was great enough to book all of those who wanted a room so we were all in the same place. They really weren't that bad, but we did have some issues...

In Spain I don't even think you can find a King bed. The biggest bed you can get is a Queen, but more often than not...they just push two twins together, and call it good. You would think if they pushed the beds together they would make it like one bed, but no... instead you get this.

This is what our room looked like in Madrid
This was what our room looked like in Avila --notice the separately made beds. Thanks to for this pic.
They also were super firm. I don't like my bed so soft, but it has to have some give!! Sometimes I felt like I would sleep better on the floor.

The other interesting thing was the hairdryers. When I was packing for the trip I wondered if I should bring my hairdryer. In the end I decided against it because I figured the room would have a hairdryer. My mind was picturing something like this
Instead we got something more like this.
(Again this is another thing I was kicking myself for not taking a picture of...this picture is similar to the one in our Madrid hotel.) The one in our Avila hotel was even kinda reminded me of a vacuum hose. Anyway, as you can imagine, it did not really perform the way that I would have liked. I ended up having to take my shower each evening so that my hair would be practically dry in the morning. If I didn't it would have taken half the day to dry with this thing. On the bright side, it made for great conversation! (Note to time I go out of the country invest in a travel hairdryer from Target:)

So really imagine my delight when I saw this! After a whole week sleeping in rock hard beds, I was in heaven when we walked in our room.
We didn't get to enjoy it until we spent a full day in London. We dropped our luggage, and headed back into town....

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Missionary Events

Besides the Bus Tours, there were other 'events' that were scheduled for us to attend to. One thing that I found great about this 'reunion' was the fact that Shawn only knew a handful of the ones who came. He was only companions with about 2 maybe 3 of the guys, yet we all had great time getting to know one another. We were all there for the same purpose. To reconnect with a part of our spouses life. I would have never thought we would get along so well with everyone, but we did. We made some great memories along the way.
Group Temple Session - It was quite the experience to go through a session, and actually know each and every person that was there. The Spain Temple is literally one of the most beautiful temples I have ever seen. I can't begin to describe how incredible it is. I was especially thankful for the opportunity to go to this. To be quite honest, I have been terrible with my temple attendance. Up until the last few months, I always had a nursing baby...I didn't make it a priority to go...and I should have. (BTW Rhiannon...I probably did meet the Shaw's, but don't really know. I am sure if I saw a picture I would know who it was. :)
Going to the temple brings so much comfort and peace. It helps to bring so much more clarity to what direction my life needs to go. It really made me realize that I need to make more of an effort to attend regularly. I am missing out on so many blessings because of my absence there.

Shawn and one of his old companions...Eddie is such a goof!
Firesides & Meet and Greets- President Shallenberger organized about 3 different events where the missionaries, and members got to get together. The first one I went to, and had a hard time paying attention. They did the whole thing in Spanish, and half way through it...I just told Shawn he didn't need to translate anymore.
I guess I wasn't the only one a little bored because before the next shindig, some of the other wives decided to go shopping instead. I went along, and had fun perusing the shops. I didn't end up finding anything worth buying, but enjoyed spending time with 'just the girls.'

They did end up having a fireside on Sunday evening that we went to. Shawn was able to see some other Spaniards that he hadn't contacted yet. They played a video that showed the progress of the the building of the Spain Temple starting at the breaking of the ground, early construction, open house, and dedication. President Hinckley was around during that time, and hearing him again made me realize how much I miss having him around. He really had such a wit about him.
I was even 'surprised' by the vocal ability that the Spanish choir gave that night. Needless to say the ending had me in tears *wink, wink*. I wish that I could say the tears were provided because of the spirit I felt, but instead they were from uncontrollable laughter. I was kinda off in La La Land while listening to them sing "The Spirit of God" in Spanish. It actually sounded quite lovely until the 'finale' and someone in that choir belted out an indescribable sound. You should have seen the faces of the people on the stand. Unfortunately it hit me funny, and I had to fold myself over in my seat and try to muffle my laughter. I felt awful about my reaction at the time, but find it humorous to look back on now. Sorry to the ones around me.

The visit here to Spain was absolutely wonderful. I loved being able to spend time alone with my honey, and take in the different culture Spain provides. As a bonus, Shawn's work 'needed' him to make a pit stop to the LONDON office. So we left Spain and spent 3 glorious days in London......
More on London coming soon!!!

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