Thursday, December 30, 2010

The BEST time of the year!

We are so grateful for time together...

Greg and Megan home from College and getting to talk to Sister Livingston on the phone on Christmas Day! Here are some photos with Santa at the National Christmas Tree...

complete update coming soon...

Monday, September 6, 2010

Trip to the Northwest

Hi everyone, this is Jay, Melissa's rarely heard from husband, with no presence on the internet. I'm updating her blog with my trip to the great Pacific Northwest with Matthew and Emily! So remember, this is me writing, not Melissa--don't be confused by the change in voice!

Melissa had left town with Megan on the 20th of August, taking her out to Provo and BYU. Missy loves taking her kids to school and getting them settled in. I figured, if she thinks I'm just going to sit here alone with the kids while she's having fun in Utah, well, she's got a surprise coming. With Emily's help, we decided to go visit Grandma out in Portland. The only time Emily has seen her Grandma was 6 years ago when she was 2. Since she has no memory of her, we decided it was time to create one.

We left on the 23rd of August, catching the late flight out of Baltimore for Seattle (save $$ that way). It was a long flight, about 5 1/2 hours. Not much fun for the kids. We arrived very late, and got to the hotel around midnight. Very tired. Emily said she wasn't tired, but that was to prove untrue. We slept well, and got up around 7am, breakfasted on gourmet items like cereal, and headed off. BTW, that's a lighting effect on Matt's hair--it really isn't blond/green.

We loaded up the car with all our gear (8 bags, can you believe it?), and drove off on a beautiful, blue-sky day. These days are wonderful, and only occur in the NW during the summer. Don't be fooled by them. It WILL turn cloudy and drizzle for 9 solid months of the year. Count on it.

We drove to Anacortes and waited for the ferry to Lopez Island, one of the San Jaun islands. It was a 30 minute trip by ferry, and it was quite brisk if you were outside on the deck.

After arriving on Lopez Island, we went to our camp site and set up our tent.

Then we went exploring on the nearby beach. This beach was a spit of land between 2 islands, and is just covered with driftwood. We had taken the family to this Island some 12 or 13 years ago, and had explored the same beach then, too. Jessie and Megan had built a teepee out of driftwood, and here, Matt and Emmy have replicated the feat.

Then it was on to more serious matters, namely, dinner! We ate at a kind of earthy, healthy restaurant. It was the only one we could find open! Then we drove to a dock to start our kayaking experience. We noticed the sign on this port-a-john near the dock. It reads: Wizards of Ooze. We loved it!

We had a great guide, and he put Emmy and I into one kayak, and Matt got his very own. The single rider kayak's are very different, and are steered by leaning left and right. If you're not careful, you can roll over! Matt did really well, though. Here we are resting on our oars.

It was a beautiful experience. Very peaceful. On the way back to the dock, we noticed large areas of the surface of the bay, maybe 10 yards in diameter, erupting with fish. It turns out that a seal was chasing the herring under the water, and they would jump to get out of its way.

We then went back to our campsite and had a great nights sleep. Honestly, I don't think any of us woke up once during the night. Morning came and we again had a gourmet breakfast of various cereals. Yummy!

Up and at 'em, kids, we've got to drive to Portland today! Well, not before we stop at Agate Beach and Shark Reef!! Agate beach is covered with smooth stones (we gathered a few pounds to take home), and a few tidal pools.

Shark Reef has a jagged coastline with cliffs, and even more tidal pools.

Here, Emmy points to a bunch of anemones and a bunch of jelly fish.

After a morning of exploring, we picked up smoothies for lunch and headed back to the ferry. I drove like a maniac to make a second ferry, from Keystone to Port Townsend. I didn't want to drive back down through Seattle during rush hour, so we drove Highway 20 from Port Townsend to Olympia, and then down to Portland. We arrived around 9pm, and Emily finally got to meet her Grandma!

Then it was off to the hotel, and dropping exhausted into bed. Then next day, we toured around with Aunt Leann. We went to Bonneville dam and watched the salmon run up the fish ladders.

Note the influence of the fish on Matthew. We then went to Cascade Locks, and walked across them on a bridge. The wind was blowing SO HARD. We could hardly stand up straight.

After a delicious lunch at the Eastwind Drive In (great milkshakes, fries, and burgers!), we went to the fish hatchery. Now, Leann claims that we went to the hatchery when I was a kid, but I have no memory of it. At any rate, it was more fun than it sounds. Here Emmy and Matt feed a holding pen full of rainbow trout, each of them was about 18 inches long! Oh, but I wish I could fish there. That statement alone should let you know that Melissa is not writing this.

Then we saw the sturgeon. This guy is HUGE. 10 feet long, about 600 pounds, and 70 years old.

We also saw salmon running up the ladders there. It was a really cool place.

Then we went to Multomah Falls. This is a very beautiful falls right off the freeway there. I've hiked to the top before with Greg, and it's very strenuous, but the view is not worth it. BTW, Greg ran down the trail on the way back, wearing FLIP FLOPS, and got blisters. He had to cool his feet off in the small creek at the falls.

We then went to Leann's and had dinner with Uncle Gary and Cousin Jared with his wife Jubilee and their two kids Tate and Fin. Absolutely great day.

Then next day we went shopping at the Nike outlet, then met Grandma for lunch. Emmy then went shopping with Aunt Leann, while Matt and I hung out with Grandma and Uncle David.

We had dinner again with Leann and Gary, and then went to VooDoo Donuts for dessert!!

Here Emmy is eating a bubble gum donut.

And Matt enjoys a maple bar with bacon donut!

Then it was off to bed, well, after a swim by Emmy, first.

It's now Saturday, for those who keep track of those kind of things. We got up and hit the Portland Market. The kids made excellent purchases: a bracelet, a toy turtle, and a ceramic 3-note whistle for Emmy. A Batman belt buckle and a South American-style hoodie for Matt. We had delicious fresh cut fruit for a snack and then drove to Powell's Books.

Now I love books, and I love this place. I picked up two used books by William Goldman (Marathon Man and Which Lie Did I Tell?). Emmy bought a How to Train you Dragon book. She is now practicing the language that dragon trainers use on their charges.

Lunch was at Noodles Co., and then we went to the Portland Audobon Society. They only had one bird out, but it was a beautiful owl.

And for the highlight of the morning/afternoon, we went to the Japanese Gardens. This place is really incredible. We all really enjoyed the beauty and peacefulness of it.

Then we had dinner with Grandma and spent some time with her. A final trip to get ice cream with Aunt Leann and Uncle Gary, and then off to bed! Whew. Tiring. Here Emmy snuggles into Matt's bed (the fold-out couch) while they watch a movie.

Sunday we got up, packed, and went to church with Grandma. We then said goodbye, and drove up to Seattle. But on the way, we stopped at Mt. Rainier to see real mountains and hike a bit. Here are some photos. It is incredibly beautiful.

After the hike, we were kind of cold, so we had hot chocolate.

Then we drove to Seattle. Monday morning we got up and hit the trail, stopping first at the Space Needle, where we had a delicious (really, it was) lunch.

We took in the view, which was wonderful, it being another blue-sky day in the Pacific Northwest.

Then off to Pike Street Market where the kids made more wonderful purchases.

I bought them some honeycomb to try. Yum, that is really good stuff. We then had lunch of sushi (the kids wanted to try it), and walked around for awhile. We also got a treat at Starbucks. The kids got the double chocolate chip frappuccino, and I got the strawberry-banana smoothie. Then, as a final act, we walked down to the waterfront, and stood at Ivar's Acre's of Clams!!! This was a place we went to EVERY TIME we visited Seattle when I was growing up.

We drove to the airport, dropped the car off (whew!! no accidents!!), and checked in. The flight was a red-eye, and we arrived in Baltimore at 6am. By 7am, we had our bags and were driving down I-95. Wait, there is an accident. Traffic is stopped. OK, we can handle this. We take surface streets for an hour, finally get back on the freeway, and get home at 9am. Well, except for that last two hours of travel, it was the perfect trip. We couldn't have done any more or had anymore fun than we did. Now that I'm rested, I'm ready to go again!


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I hope they call me on a mission...

As a Mother there are a few days that just take you breathe away... Well, last Wednesday was one of them. My daughter, Jessie had applied to serve a mission for our church and now the letter had arrived stating where she would serve for a year and a half. Words do not express the tender feelings I have for Jessie's choice to serve. To give her heart, soul, time and energy to the betterment of mankind in whatever way she is assigned is a gift not to be taken lightly. We were linked by phone as Jessie shared her news...

She will be serving in the California San Diego Mission, Spanish speaking and will be involved with the San Diego Mormon Battalion Historical Site. I know that great experiences are ahead for her. I can see that she has been well prepared for this specific assignment and can hardly wait for her to begin this adventure. I wish I could go along with her...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Megan is headed off to college...

Today Megan received notice that she was accepted to BYU. She has been an incredible student and her hard work has paid off. I am so proud of her and thrilled for her future. She is still waiting to hear from William and Mary and UVA, but BYU seemed to be her favored choice, so I am grateful she has the option. Hooray for Megan Elizabeth!!!!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Birthday to Greg!

On Valentines Day twenty-three years ago, I received an amazing gift... I became a mother. I fell head over heals in love with my little bald headed valentine. We named him Gregory Scott and it has been a thrill to watch that little baby become a great man. Jay and I are so grateful to have such a son to forge the way for our children. Greg is a delight to be around, he can turn any event into a celebration and lives his life with honor, integrity and fun. It has been 5 years since I have spent a birthday with this boy and I miss him. I hope he can feel my fierce mother love clear across the country. Happy Birthday Greg!!! I love you!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

a funny story...

We were all outside sledding, shoveling and snow cave building... our dog, Max was alone in the house. With a new costco size bag of chocolate chips in the pantry to get us through the storm, an almost gone bag was left on the counter. Well Max made the lucky find and slipped his nose in to get a taste... a little further to get the last of the chocolaty chips and guess what... his head was stuck in the bag. Jay and Em were the first ones in to find him with the bag on his head running into walls because he couldn't see a thing... poor Max! Pictured here is Matt and his cool snow cave and the neatly shoved driveway... FREEDOM! No school this week!!! Gotta love the snow days... off to make cookies...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Let it Snow... Let it Snow... Let it Snow...

We are safe and sound, cozy and snug... living in a winter wonderland... Friday school was canceled in anticipation of the big storm. Two feet of snow later we really are snowed in. Meg even arranged to have a dear friend snowed in as well! The view is breathtaking, our woods are magical. No church tomorrow and I would bet no school on Monday... lots of sledding and hot chocolate. Life is good!