Sunday, January 31, 2016

Operation catch a Cardinal on Camera

Well the kids finally went back to school on Wednesday with a two hour delayed start.  On Friday they finally went back for a full day of school.  They got four snow days out of storm Jonas.

On Thursday I came closer than ever to getting a picture of the beautiful cardinal that frequents the bush outside my kitchen window.  I was so close!! I saw him and ran to get my camera.  He darted into the bush, but I was patient and waited from him to come back out.  He finally came out, but he was sitting on a branch that I couldn't get a good angle from the window.  I went outside but still couldn't get him.  I came back in and waited.  Finally, he sat in the perfect spot.  The green was bright, the snow was a beautiful contrast.  Just as I got him in my viewfinder and was snapping the picture he flew away.  What an ornery bird he is being.  I told Lydia how much I wanted to get his picture and she came up with an idea to trap him so I could take his picture.  It was so cute how she wanted to help.  She told me we needed to buy some things from Amazon to set her trap.  She needed wild bird seed.  Neil went out to the bush and sprinkled some sunflower seeds so he would come back more often.

If I don't get a picture of the cardinal it will be ok.  I am just glad to know I have a team of family members who care about what matters to me and are willing to help make it happen.  I am grateful for this family and how they keep trying and loving each other.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2 Snow Days and Counting

Our children have been hoping for a snow day ever since October.  Tuesday the schools decided to start two hours late because of wind chill temperatures in the morning. They finally got a snow day on Thursday due to ice on the sidewalk and roads around the schools.  It was handy for us because Emma's visit with Dr. Bankole got moved from Friday to Thursday because of the big storm set to come in on Friday.  The roads were still fine Thursday for driving to Roanoke and back. When we got back to Buena Vista I decided we better stop and buy bread and milk in case we were snowed in without power for a few days. The store was really picked over, but I did get the bread and milk I needed.

Friday the big storm hit and it snowed all day.  The kids were so excited!  They went in and out all day.  They loved playing in the snow and then coming in to warm up.  We baked cookies in the afternoon and had a hot chocolate and cookie party in the evening.Southern Virginia University even canceled classes on Friday so Neil had a quiet day at his office without having interruptions.  There were lots of SVU students sledding down Seminary Hill.  We didn't take the kids over on Friday, but we did go over on Saturday morning.  We don't have any sleds here so we had to make do with what we could figure out.  We took a couple of aluminum pans, a shower curtain, and the plastic swimming pool.  The pans worked the best and Josh was able to sled down.  We didn't stay too long Saturday morning because the sledding wasn't great.  Later in the day Dallin, Josh and I walked back across the street and tried again when it had warmed up a bit. The sledding was a lot better.  Someone had left a foam sled that Dallin used.  The boys could go much further down the hill in the afternoon and it was much faster. Neil came over after he finished shoveling out the drive way.  The boys were having so much fun, they kept asking for just one more turn before we went home.  Finally the wind started to come up and it got cold so we convinced them to quit.

We ended up with about a foot of snow.  Washington DC had record breaking snow fall.  We didn't lose power and we enjoyed a few days of just getting to stay home and hang out together.  Today we only have Sacrament Meeting, and only if you feel safe in driving to come.  The kids are hoping to have tomorrow off of school as well.  It has warmed up and the snow is melting now, but there is still a lot snow on the ground. It is a beautiful winter wonderland out there.

Here are some pictures of our adventure with winter storm Jonas.  It was kind of fun to watch the weather and be here to experience the record breaking snow storm of the century.

So excited for some snow

David and Alex's snow fort

Friday morning snow accumulation

A sledding tumble

Dallin taking a tumble in the snow

Watch out or Dallin will get you

Saturday morning snow accumulation

Well the schools just called and the kids get another day off tomorrow.  Should be a good day for sledding.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rose Bowl Parade

Emma had the opportunity to march with the Wyoming All State Marching Band in the Rose Bowl Parade on New Year's Day.  What an opportunity! It made her grow.  She was really nervous about being able to march through the whole parade, and about flying to Utah to meet the bus to go to California with the band.  She was nervous, and I think terrified, but she did it!!!  It was such a tender mercy in my life to see her on tv marching with the band.  They did great and she was amazing.

Here is a link where you can watch the parade if you missed it.  The Wyoming band comes on screen right about 20 minutes into the parade.  You can skip ahead to there pretty easily.  She shows up on the screen towards the end of the bands screen time.

Here is a screen shot of Emma on tv so you know who you are looking for if you watch. She is the clarinet player in the lower left part of the picture.

Here is rundown of how the trip went and the crazy schedule the band kept.  Emma had a busy week and she was stretched, but she grew to do what she needed to do.

Saturday, December 26th Emma and Rebecca flew to Salt Lake,  They got to the airport by about 7:30 in the morning and got to Grandma and Grandpa's house about 9:30 that night.  It was a long day for them.

Sunday, December 27th Emma went to church with Grandma and Grandpa and then to a missionary homecoming.  She also got to see Great Grandma Sharp.  Emma was supposed to meet the buses at Provo High School at 2:30 in the morning.  Grandpa got her there about 2:00 just to make sure they wouldn't miss the bus.  At 3:00 the bus still hadn't shown up so they texted the band director to find out if plans had changed.  The buses were running late and finally got there at 5:30.  What a long night of waiting.  Thanks so much mom and dad for helping Emma out in the middle of the night!  The kids rode the buses all night.

Monday, December 28th the band was supposed to get to California for an afternoon practice but were still behind schedule and didn't get there until about 6:00. It was a long bus ride.

Tuesday, December 29th the kids practiced for Bandfest in the morning and performed in the afternoon. The also got to go to the parade barns and see some of the floats being made. They got to relax on the beach for the evening.

Wednesday, December 30th was Disney Day.  They practiced in the morning and marched in a Disneyland parade in the afternoon.  They spent the rest of the day enjoying Disneyland.  Emma said lines were long and she didn't get to ride many rides.  She only rode Space Mountain, Finding Nemo Submarines, and Monsters Inc.  She also saw the Olaf Castle.  She did get some really cool Mickey Mouse Ears that they only give out to performing groups.

Thursday, December 31 no rehearsal. Hooray!!!  They went to Hollywood and saw the stars in the sidewalk.  They also did Universal Studios.  They went back to the hotel early and celebrated the new year at 9:00.

Friday, January 1st Parade day!!  The kids had to get up at 3:30 (Crazy!) and be on the buses by 4:00.  They got to the parade route about 7:00 and then had to wait for the parade to start at 8:00.  The band was the 3rd band in the parade.  I was glad they didn't have to stand around and wait any longer than they did.  It was about 40 degrees when the parade started but by the end it had warmed up.  Emma said by the end she wanted a drink of water so badly.  It was a five mile parade. That is a long time to march and play the same three songs over and over.  Emma said they played them each at least 15 times.  After the parade they got burgers from In and Out Burgers.  Emma said the water tasted better than the hamburgers.  Emma lovers hamburgers so that tells you how thirsty she was.  The band went back to the motel and rested for the afternoon.  They went on a dinner cruise in the evening.

Saturday, January 2nd they loaded up the buses at 9:00 and left to travel back.  Grandpa and Grandma met the bus about 8:30 that night.  Everything went according to schedule this time and no one had to wait around.

Sunday January 3rd-Tuesday January 5th Emma got to spend with Grandpa and Grandma.  She loved that!!  Tuesday afternoon Grandpa and Grandma took her to the airport and she flew back to Washington DC.  Neil and I went to the temple for the last session and then went to the airport to pick her up.  I thought she was flying into the Dulles airport, but it was really the Ronald Reagan airport.  Luckily, we found out a few days before.  Her flight was supposed to come in at 11:55 pm, but when we got there the flight board said it was delayed and wouldn't be in until 1:05 am.  We picked her up at 1:00 and then started the drive home.  Neil was a real trooper and did all the driving.  I tried to stay awake and talk to him.  I did ok until about 3:00 but then I fell asleep.  We got home about 4:45 in the morning.  What a long night of driving.  We were glad to be home safe and sound.

I am grateful she had the experience.  I hoped she learned she can do hard things and that the Savior will help her throughout her life.  We are proud of you, Emma!!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Christmas in Orlando

We decided to spend a week of Christmas break in Orlando.  It was such a wonderful break.  I think we all needed a break together.  We rented a house instead of motel rooms and it worked great for our family.  Our house even had a private pool in the backyard that we really enjoyed.  We tried to not plan too much to do and just have time to hang out together.  The boys went to the neighborhood basketball court and played one afternoon.  The kids enjoyed being together in the pool and playing pool at the house.

We stopped at the beach in Crescent City.  It was a beautiful beach and we even saw a little turtle there.  We didn't stay to long, but we did enjoy the Atlantic Ocean again.  It was the first time that Rebecca had been to the Atlantic Ocean.  Lydia loved playing in the sand.  We tried to not get too wet because we still had a few hours to drive to Orlando.

We stopped by and saw the Orlando temple.  It was beautiful! I wish we would have had time to go in, but we just didn't.

We also had the opportunity to take the boys to a college basketball game.  Dan Ryan, one of Neil's missionary companions works for a college in Daytona Beach.  They were playing a team in Orlando so he got us tickets.  It was fun to see him after the game.  He was the best man at our wedding.  We hadn't seen him since 1991.  It was fun to catch up.  It was really interesting when we came out of the game it was 80 degrees, but it looked like it was snowing.  The college had set up and ice skating rink and a sledding hill and they had bubbles blowing in the air that looked like snow.  It was warm, but it looked like winter.
Elder Waite and Elder Ryan together after at least 25 years

You can't see it in the picture but there bubble in the air that looked like snow. It was 80 degrees

The outdoor ice skating rink set up on campus

Wednesday morning we went on an airboat ride out to see the alligators. We  saw one small one resting in the sun and one large one swimming in the lake.  We also saw lots of birds and a few cows.  It was pretty cool to see alligators in the wild, but I was glad we weren't in our canoe.

We took the kids out to Golden Corral for dinner on Wednesday. It was a fun family activity and we all ate plenty.

We spent  December 24th at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure park.  We were all tired by the end of the day, but it was a great day! Josh and Lydia loved Dr. Seuss Land.  We took them to watch the Grinchmas show. It was really fun.  Matthew, David and Dallin went on rides together and had a good time.  Rebecca, Julia, Emma and MaryAnne went together and had fun.  We all met up and stayed together for most of the afternoon.  We took Joshua to walk through the Hogwarts Castle even though he was too small for the ride.  He enjoyed the castle.  Matthew took Lydia back to Dr. Seuss land while we were at the Castle.  Everyone except Lydia rode the water rapid ride.  It soaked you!  We spent the rest of the day a little wet.  It was a good day!! We went home in time to do some traditional Christmas Eve activities.  It was a good Christmas Eve.

We all enjoyed being together on Christmas. We slept in until 8:00 instead of 7:00 because we were tired from playing so hard the day before. We had eggs, biscuits, sausage, and danish for breakfast. The kids didn't get as much this year because we are giving them experiences instead of things.  They were all happy with what they received.  Rebecca gave Julia a signed photo of Sean Astin that was a big hit.  Bethany had  a blanket made for Emma with a picture of Kodi on it.  She loved it!  We enjoyed Christmas day together.  We had an adventure taking Rebecca and Emma to fly to Utah.  We didn't count on the long lines to get through security so they missed their flight.  Frontier was very kind and rescheduled them for the next day and didn't even charge us any extra.  Neil missed skyping with Bethany because he had gone back to get the girls.  

It was wonderful to skype with Bethany.  We had some technical issues and she had to call a couple of times to get the sound to work right.  She is doing great! She likes her companion and they are working hard together.  They had a baptism scheduled for 2 days after Christmas. It was wonderful to hear how happy she is. 
 In the evening we played Reverse Charades together and had a great time.  It was loads of fun and I was glad Rebecca and Emma were still there.

We drove all 820 miles home on Saturday. It was a long day of driving.  The traffic was much worse heading south so we were glad to be going north.  

Here is a slideshow of our pictures in Orlando.  Merry Christmas, everyone!