Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

For Zoa, this was the year of the zebra. Nearly all of her gifts were zebra print. The list of zebra items she received is as follows: blanket, jacket, two shirts, pajama pants, luggage set, bracelets, pillow pet, and Christmas tree ornament. (I think I remembered it all!)

Drake was thrilled to open his psp. He had been wanting a hand help gaming device for quite some time so this was a big deal. He also got an air soft pistol so he could war with the neighborhood boys.

Aven had a very Barbie Christmas. She got this Barbie dream house and a Barbie jeep and Ken doll. She was so happy. This was the first year that she has really wanted something and asked for it consistently to every Santa and parent available.

We were blessed with a wonderful Christmas.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Halloween 2011

We survived another Halloween. We trick or treated twice, once at church a couple of days prior to Halloween and once around the neighborhood on Halloween night. Aven was a "pretty sparkle witch" (all three words necessary). She saw this tutu in Target and had to have it. I said I would only buy it if it was part of her Halloween costume and the pretty sparkle witch was invented on the spot. The sparkle cape Nana made a couple of years ago for Drake and a witch hat that was part of a ballet costume completed the look. She was excited about trick or treating this year. Every other year she has only wanted to do a few houses. This was the first year she wanted to run around and try to get it all in. Zoa and Drake trick or treated with their friends so Ben and I took turns taking her out to collect candy. Drake was a terrorist. people kept calling him Osama bin Laden so that could work too. He wanted to be something scary. This was the scariest thing we could think of.

Zoa was Morticia Addams. This was her last year to go trick or treating. She is already in mourning.

I only dressed up for the ward Halloween party. Zoa made spider webs on my eyelids and we did my hair in a crazy way. That is about all the Halloween energy I could muster up for myself.

Ben's costume was the real show stopper. He even had strangers take pictures of him while he was out trick or treating with Aven. This costume is one he has wanted to put together for several years. He found stilts on Craigslist so this was the year.

Our Halloween candy shake tradition was the perfect end to the holiday.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Day of School

The kids were excited to finally start school. As loathe as they were to admit it, summer had become mostly a bore. Zoa is in 7th grade this year. She LOVES it! Drake is in Mrs. Barret's 4th grade class.

Aven is attending Churchland Baptist preschool. Her teacher's name is Mrs. Swerda. She was so excited on the first day of school to get there that she wouldn't come in the house once Drake left for the bus. She spent about 45 minutes waiting anxiously for the time to go out on the curb. She feels it is unfair that she only gets to go to school for half the day and Zoa and Drake get to go all day. She is so excited about everything life brings to her. It makes her a lot of fun to be around.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hurricane Irene

In August we experienced our first hurricane. Irene was a strong 1 or a weak 2, depending on who you listened to. She blew in on a Saturday morning and blew out that night. We spent the day together in our house. We had a read-a-thon for much of the afternoon. The kids were too would up to play games or do other bad weather activities. We lost power at about 4:00 in the afternoon and didn't get it back for three days after the hurricane was over. That was definitely the worst part. We were hot and we had to haul all our frozen food to friends' houses who still had electricity. We discovered that we really love electricity.

It was crazy being in the stores in the days leading up to the hurricane. For starters, there was absolutely no bread to be had anywhere. Bottled water was difficult to locate. Propane, the one thing we really should have prepared in advance to have on hand, was also difficult to come by. We finally found some about 20 minutes from our house. The stores were all madhouses. I was grateful that I already had a lot of food and other necessary items stored so I didn't have to run panicking from store to store to try to find the things I needed.

The picture above shows us eating our MREs during the hurricane after we lost power. We made these partly to entertain the kids. They were feeling a bit stir crazy by the time we decided to make these.

We lost a piece of fascia from the top of our house but other than that were blessed to not have damage to our house.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Best of the Rest of our Vacation

Our feelings of nostalgia continued during the portion of our vacation we spent in St. George. Besides visiting family, we took the kids to do things that we remember enjoying from when we lived in St. George. We spent a day hiking in Zion National Park and drove them through the tunnels. We hiked to Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools...

And Ben took Zoa and Drake up the narrows for a little ways while Aven and I played on the river shore at the entrance to the narrows.

We also took them to see a play at the Tuachan amphitheater. We saw The Little Mermaid. That was especially wonderful for little Aven, our princess crazed princess. She was in complete awe meeting "Ariel."

Zoa and Drake rode my Uncle Randy's horses in Enterprise.

We went to see my Grandma Terry.

And we hiked the Sugar Loaf with our friends Rod and Mary and their kids. Here is Aven with their daughter in a cave.

Zoa, Drake and Ben spent a day at the lake with Lincoln. They had a blast!

We had a mini reunion with Ben's sister and two of his brothers. We missed Jeff but it was nice to see the rest of the family.

After we left St. George, we stayed in Las Vegas with my parents for a couple of days. It was so nice to be able to relax and unwind a bit before we flew home and got back into the grind. We spent a lot of time swimming in the resort pools and we took the kids to see Hoover Dam one day while we were there.

We also saw a real Vegas show. This guy, Mack King, was a comedic magician. We all enjoyed his show very much.

We were so grateful to have this time together after Ben's return and to be able to see so much family.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Colorado Adventures

Unfortunately, Ben had to fly home for two days to take a test after the family reunion was over. The kids and I stayed with Curtis and Kristi and spent two days playing in Denver. We went to a water park and the zoo. Being there gave us the opportunity to see my dear friend Ginny and her family. They were on their way from St. George to Michigan where her husband was about to start law school and we were going to be in St. George in a few days to visit family. I was sad to know she wouldn't be there to spend time with while we were in St. George but it was so exciting to see her on her way to Michigan. Once Ben finally rejoined us, we drove down to southern Colorado to stay with Ben's mom for a few days. We enjoyed our time there immensely. Ben and I were feeling a bit nostalgic during this trip and wanted to show our kids classic sights. Since Mesa Verde is about 20 minutes from Ruth's house, it qualified. We spent a fun day exploring the ruins there with her and PopPop. We climbed steep windy trails...

We climbed down into a kiva...

And we explored ancient apartment homes.

Of course no trip to Nana's would be complete without a beautiful hike. This time we hiked a section of the Colorado trail. It was absolutely gorgeous! Our kids were a bit wimpy (we blamed it on the altitude-big difference from sea level) but Ben and I were thrilled to take in the views.

After we left Nana's house, the nostalgia continued with a stop at Four corners for the classic shots of being in four places at once. Below is Zoa's shot. she did the best pose.

We also stopped and walked across the Glenn Canyon bridge. The kids were pretty impressed by it until they saw Hoover Dam several days later.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Terry Family Reunion

Just four days after Ben returned home we flew to Colorado to attend the Terry family reunion. It was so fun to see my family. Everyone was there so the kids had an opportunity to reacquaint themselves with their cousins and I got to hang out with siblings and their spouses. We were the last to arrive but received a royal welcome. We were picked up from the airport in a stretch limo! That was a fun surprise. It was about 2:00 in the morning Colorado time, which was about 4:00 in the morning Virginia time so the kids were hammered but they were still excited to explore the limo. We then drove my parents' car to Estes Park where the reunion was. We had so much fun there swimming in the pool at the condos and playing in this river that flowed through town. Estes Park is a pretty little mountain city. Here Drake is with Amaiya and Micah.

Ben, Zoa and Drake went to tour a haunted hotel that is in Estes Park with some of the rest of the family. They enjoyed the tour. Only the big kids could go so I stayed behind with Aven and the other adults that were staying with little ones.

Here are the big cousins that went: Drake, Braden, Amaiya, Zoa and Darrin.

Our last day there, everyone left but us and my parents. We spent a couple of hours playing miniature golf with them. Aven got a couple of surprising hole in ones!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Welcome Home Southern Style

One thing that Ben has really come to love since we have lived in Virginia is a good pig pickin'. A pig picking' is when they roast an entire pig (head and all) in a barbecue like you see below. Then they shred the meat off the pig and eat it on a bun with coleslaw. People attending bring salads to go with the meal. Our ward does one every year but Ben has missed the last two so I decided to give him one to welcome him home. Our friend, Ivan Slatter, brought his barbecue over and did it free of charge to honor Ben's service to our country. It was a fun day surrounded by friends. Ben enjoyed it.

Aven side note funny moment: Aven would not even try the meat. finally I asked her why she wouldn't eat any. She said, "That had eyes and a nose. I don't want to eat that!" Apparently watching the pig cook was a bit much for her to deal with. What would we do without her? We have been careful to call the leftovers "pork" so she will eat with us.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Ben Came home!

We got so excited as the time got closer to when Ben would come home. Ben's mom, Ruth, came out a few days prior to his return to see us. She then took Zoa to Florida so the two of them could join Ben on the ship for the final leg of the trip home. It is a fun thing they do called the Tiger Cruise. They had a once in a lifetime experience. They slept in the racks for two nights just like the sailors and they ate ship food. They had a private airshow, which they watched from the deck of the ship. While they were off having adventures with Ben for two days, Drake, Aven and I were home waiting. Finally the night before came and we went to the night before party that they threw for the family members. It was a big carnival style party. The day of the homecoming, July 15, was so exciting. We all got to wait on the pier where the ship would dock. The tugboats that were going to bring the Enterprise in put on a show for us. They spun around in the water and sprayed water out of the top of the ship. Then the announcer told us to say goodbye to the tugs because they were going to go out to get our sailors and the crowd erupted in cheers. It was very exciting.

Finally the ship docked. Here you can see Ben manning the rails with Ruth and Zoa beside him. This was our first glimpse of the man we had missed for six months. Aven wasn't sure what to think. She kept cheering and crying in turns.

Finally Ben was off the ship so we all could run to him and hug him. How good it was to be near him again. It was nice to have Nana here with us so Ben and I could have a night alone. I really needed him to myself by the end of this first day.

Welcome home Ben!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Aven's Sassy Sense of Style

Aven has a very unique way of dressing when left to her own devices. She wears a tutu nearly every day but this outfit takes the cake. The pose is also first class. She is a character. I am grateful for her sunshiny personality.

Fort Monroe

Fort Monroe is about the last historical site here that I have been wanting to see but hadn't yet. I finally decided one weekend that the time was now. Fort Monroe is a military base with this cool historic fort in the middle of it. The fort was nicknamed freedom fort during the Civil War because slaves would flee there and the commander would declare them contraband of war and then free them. There are pictures from Civil War era with slaves all around the fort just sort of hanging out. The picture below will give you an idea of what it looks like. It is a stone fort with grass growing on the roof so you can walk on the roof all the way around and it is surrounded by a moat. You have to drive your car through skinny little tunnels to get from the main base to the historic part.

There is a museum in part of it that was fun. The low ceilings kept us on our toes as we looked at the displays. Notice Aven's cute face paint in these pictures. My friend kept her for me this day in the morning and practiced her painting skills on Aven. She loved her beautiful butterfly face!

This cannon was on the grounds. It is called the "Big Lincoln."

This is where Jefferson Davis was held prisoner at the end of the civil war so they have a display in the cell where he was kept. The kids had fun peering at me through the bars. They had so many soldiers on base at one point that they converted some of these cells to family housing.
Seems creepy to have to live in a prison cell inside a military fort.