Thursday, August 23, 2012

Father's Day

We got to Boston on Friday night, just in time to celebrate Father's Day with Aric on Sunday. Obviously this little Father's Day tribute is a little late, but every word is heart felt and needs to be shared.

With all the packing I had to do the girls made me keep track of the Father's Day gifts that they had made for Aric. It was very sweet how those were the items they were most concerned about.

Aric had never had Boston Cream Pie before so that is what he wanted for his Father's Day dessert. I went to a famous bakery close by but I didn't realize that I had to pre order it so if I was going to make his dessert dreams come true I was on my own to make one...from scratch. I have since made four and think I have finally nailed it.

This was definitely one of the more meaningful Father's Day we have celebrated. Being apart from Aric made us all appreciate him more than we ever have before...

These are some of the reasons that the kids think Aric is such a great dad:

"He likes to wrestle and have tickle fights. He will play with clue and "honkeybonk". He makes fun pancakes. He reads books to them. He times them when they swim. He gives them blessings. He teaches them how to throw and catch a football. He teaches them funny songs and other funny things."

I couldn't have picked a better man to be the father for my children. It is hands down the best decision I ever made. He is fun and loving, but firm when he needs to be. But the number one reason why Aric is such a great dad is because the only thing that comes before his family is his relationship with God. He lives by example what he wants his children to become. 

I know I'm painting quite the picture of perfection but I assure you he is not. It's actually one of the things I appreciate about him. He is not perfect and he is not too proud to admit when he is wrong, he frequently has to ask his kids to forgive him...and they always do.

In a world where fathers are more absent than present, I am so grateful my amazing husband who is ever present and constant in the lives of my children...

"Father . . . is ever willing to sacrifice his own comfort for that of his children. Daily he toils to provide the necessities of life, never complaining, ever concerned for the well-being of his family. This love for children, this desire to see them well and happy, is a constant in a time of change."
Thomas S Monson - President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Love You Babe. You Are Awesome.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Road Trip...The End

Last Day On The Road!!!

I took this picture right before we hopped in for our last, LONG day on the road. We had a rough start because Eden couldn't find her glasses. After a prayer she found them sandwiched between her seat and the side of the car...and they weren't broken. A Miracle for sure!

We only had to drive through a little bit of Pennsylvania, it was short and sweet and pretty.

Once in New York I new this was going to be a long state to get through. We tried to find things to distract ourselves, we saw and Eden sign that we had to take a picture of.

We were still on the look out for old farms...notice how gross my windshield is?! I did clean it twice before but you sure couldn't tell...

This is what New York looks and pretty. C had to pee really bad and there was no place or time to stop so we had to pull over. Notice that there wasn't much room on either side of the was tricky but we did it.

Thank You Massachusetts!!! We still had a few hours to go but we were so close it felt so good to be almost done...that last 45 minutes was a killer!

Now this was the sign we had been waiting's blurry and dark but it made me cry when I saw it so I had to take a picture...

Aric was waiting for us with a home cooked meal. This next picture is so precious, Camden literally flew out of the car to get into Aric's arms...

There was not a happier people on the planet at this moment than the five of us. After six long weeks, that included 6 days on the road (13 states and 3000 some miles), we were finally together again.

Here are some things that happened on the road that I don't want to forget...

My ipod died and I left my charger in North Dakota so we had to listen to a ton of radio and a CD that Maya's friend made for her so these were some of the songs that kept us going. We would sing them at the top of our lungs...

Somebody that I used to know - Gotye
Call Me Maybe - Carly Rae Jepsen
Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
Payphone - Maroon 5
Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
Stereo Hearts - Gym Class Heros
We Are Young - Fun
Give Your Heart a Break - Demi Levato
What Makes You Beautiful - One Direction

I can hardly listen to the first couple bars of any of these songs now but I needed something to get me through those many miles.

I hate fast food so being on the road was going to be torture. I was proud of us because we only ate at McDonalds once. We hit Arby's and Wendy's twice, Taco Bell once and Subway a few times. We packed food and tried to eat as healthy as possible. No one got car sick and I am so SO grateful for that!

I loved looking in the rear view mirror at Eden singing. I still can't believe she didn't watch a single movie the whole time. Camden was the only one who watched anything and he only watched three movies! 

The girls left notes at every hotel thanking the maid service.

I loved looking at Maya just staring out the window. I wondered what she was thinking. I wanted to ask a few times but decided to let her be alone in her thoughts. We were all processing a lot and it was hard to have a real conversation with C asking for something every two minutes. I feel like I watched Maya grow up right before my eyes on this road trip.

Overall the trip I had been dreading wasn't that bad at all. Some days were better than others but I didn't even raise my voice once. The kids were absolutely AMAZING. I never felt scared. Even though it was long I think it was what we all needed to emotionally process what we were going through. I am so glad it's over but I am also so grateful for the experiences that we had, and the miracles that happened that brought us safely back together again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Road Trip...More Middle

We had a nice night at our hotel. It was safe and lovely. But despite the loveliness, this is when I realized that I did not want be on the road anymore than necessary. So I changed our plans and got a hotel in Ohio for the next night, which meant I had two 11 hour days ahead of me instead of three seven/eight hour days but I didn't care. I knew I was running out of steam. 

So Day 5 we headed to Carthage, Illinois because our hotel was closer to it than Nauvoo. Carthage is where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed. They were put in jail for unfounded charges and while here an angry mob stormed the jail with the intent to kill Joseph Smith and "finally put an end to the Mormons." 

It may seem like a strange place for a pit stop but it is an important part of the history of our faith and I wanted to share it with my kids. (Even if you aren't Mormon, it's interesting history)

Carthage Jail

Inside part of the jail.

This is the room that the men were in when they were shot.

This is the window Joseph fell from after his was shot.

This is Maya listening to the story of what took place.

This is the door that Hyrum was trying to shut when he was shot and killed.

People can think what they like about the Mormon faith and the "founder" of the strange religious beliefs that we have, but if people took the time to study accurate research of Joseph Smith as a man, they would have nothing but respect for him and how he lived his life. It takes a fair amount of study and faith to believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I am so grateful for him and the sacrifices he, his family and many others made so that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can once again be on this earth. I want my children to have their own witness that Joseph was a prophet, just like the prophets of old, who were called of God and gave their lives preaching his word and doing his will. I know they felt the spirit when we spent time in this special place. I hope they will always remember it.

On to Nauvoo!

The kids looking at the graves of Joseph, Hyrum and Lucy Mack Smith (mother)

I didn't get a picture of the Mercantile shop where the girls got their bonnets and C got his old fashioned candy. We spent a lot of time in there while the girls carefully made their choices of what to spend the souvenir cash that their grandparents gave them. C on the other hand new within five second what he wanted to spend his money on...a bag of butterscotch candies.

(Maya with her cute bonnet)

The Mansion House. The girls really wanted to go in this house but you have to take a tour to do that and we couldn't wait for an hour until the next tour started. Thankfully they were happy with a picture in front of it.

The kids loved the blacksmith shop. We were the only ones in that tour so we got a lot of attention and the blacksmith guy made C a tiny horseshoe.

Inside Lucy Mack Smith's home.

Nauvoo Temple up close.

Notice how C is absent from the last couple of pictures??? Yeah, he was exercising the little control he had and refused to be in pictures. 

Now back on the road!

Bridges. Love Them. Their were lots of them...

Thank You Indiana for being a small state and allowing me to get through you with no traffic and not even so much as a pit stop. You were kind to me.

Ohio...I think you welcomed me but I'm not sure. Your traffic was hideous and I wanted to cry but you were our last stop before seeing Aric again and arriving in our new home. I didn't get a picture of your sign, but I did get a picture of this city, I think it was Toledo?...

I never...let me repeat that, NEVER give into my kids when they beg me for something in a store. Whether it's a pack of gum, a pair of shoes or a toy. They know that if they make a scene it's over. Well I gave in on Day 5 of this trip that felt like it was never going to end. We stopped at gas station/Subway for our dinner, pee and gas stop. While we were there Camden about died of joy after finding an M&M filled light saber. He was dancing all over the place and swinging it everywhere while singing some made up song about how he "lubbed light sabers" and he "sinks he needs one really reeeeeally bad"...

Don't even judge. It's how I kept my sanity for the next five hours.

We made it to Cleveland around 11:30pm. I was so so beat.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Road Trip...The Middle

So we it made through the sketchy hotel stay...the inside of the hotel was super nice it was just a little too close to downtown Omaha which made it unsettling. We hopped into our cocoon on wheels and headed a few miles down the road to Winter Quarters, Nebraska...

Most people outside of the Mormon religion have no idea where Winter Quarters is and why anyone would go there. For me it was a must stop. It is a place where Mormon Pioneers were forced to stop for the winter because the weather was too bad for them to go any further West. These people were forced out of there homes in Illinois and were trying to get out West free from religious persecution. There were also hundreds of saints who had immigrated from Europe months before enduring many horrible months at sea and then getting stuck in Nebraska to endure a bitter winter. If they survived that they then had to pull a handcart the rest of the way to Utah. Regardless of what religious beliefs you have, you cannot help but be inspired by what these people did for their faith.

So we stopped at the visitors center there so the kids could see what these pioneers went through and have a deeper appreciation for what we have.

The kids got to see what it was like to pull a handcart. They thought it was kind of fun...

Then they got to see how hard it was to pull a handcart over a small rock. It was amazing how much harder it was to pull with just one rock, I can't even imagine pulling it over mountains!

Across the street from the visitors center was the Winter Quarters Temple and a Pioneer cemetery.

Maya has inherited my love of cemeteries. She wanted to read all the head stones...

Eden was interested too...

Sadly we couldn't stay too long because we had a very irreverent 3 and a half year old with us...

Growing up as a member of the LDS Church I have always known of these pioneers and their sacrifices. I even have an ancestor who crossed the plains and endured many sufferings because of their faith. I have always had a deep love and appreciation for them. Over the years I have studied in depth their stories but I have never felt as close to them as I did on this trip.

My sacrifices and sufferings pale in comparison to what those amazing pioneers endured but this journey that we are on is a direct result of our faith in God and trusting that this is His plan for our family. Now I can relate to them in a way that I never could before. It was very emotional for me but also very inspiring.

The Monument

"That the struggles the sacrifices and the sufferings of the faithful pioneers and the cause they represented shall never be forgotten this monument is gratefully erected and dedicated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."

We really enjoyed our visit here. We stayed way longer than I thought we would at the visitors center. So it put us a little behind schedule. After this stop we headed to Nauvoo, Illinois. Another random dot in our country that has great meaning to me and my faith. It is where the saints lived and built a city before they were driven out of it by mobs. Part of the city has been preserved so that you can see what it looked like and how people lived. The kids were so awesome on this leg of the drive. After seeing what the pioneers went through there was no complaining...none. It warmed my heart to hear the girls talk about what they had seen and learned. They were definitely moved by the experience and I know it made them more grateful of our air conditioned car, yummy snacks and their ipods.

After so many hours in the car Maya started going a little stir crazy...this is a side rarely seen so I had to document it :)

Here is the first toll bridge we encountered. For about 2 minutes I couldn't find my wallet and started to freak out a little bit on the inside. Thankfully I found it, it had fallen out of my purse and was wedged between the seats...PHEW!

Once we got to Nauvoo we realized that it was kind of late to do much touring around so we didn't do much. Since we were traveling West to East we kind of did the sites backwards but it was still fun. 

(Original Sun Stone from the Nauvoo Temple that got destroyed when the saints were forced out of the city)

The new rebuilt Nauvoo Temple. Exactly like the original except with all the modern conveniences. I love this picture! I took it while stopped for like 10 seconds in the middle of the road. No one was behind me so I stopped real fast and I thought it turned out so cool with the clouds and lighting...

The visitors center in Nauvoo had a neat garden with bronzed statues that my kids loved looking at. They each found their favorites and wanted pictures by them.

Maya's favorites...

Eden's favorites...

She insisted on posing, it was all her...

I can't honestly say that this was one of Camden's favorites but it had a boy in it so we had to take a picture...

However, this statue was definitely his favorite!

C was missing his Daddy big time!

This was one of my favorites...

After the statues we only had time to tour one house so we went and the kids loved it. Nothing that exciting about it except that it was so old, full of old things that told the story about who once lived there. I love that I have created little history buffs!

Since things were closing up we decided to head to our hotel and come back the next day. I had a very detailed "Trip Itinerary" before we left but I knew I would have to be flexible and that it was all tentative. I haven't always been so flexible but I'm so grateful that I am now! The kids were so fantastic and I enjoyed everything about this day...except for the little "short cut" the Garmin took us on...seriously I thought it was possessed and taking us to that ghostly corn field from the field of dreams!

Day 4...Thank You For Being So Awesome.