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.

Easter 2011

Easter was a two day gig at our house this year. I decided to seperate the secular things from the spiritual so the Easter Bunny came on Saturday. The kids really enjoyed that morning and had some fun new things to take on our little day trip that we took to Williamsburg.
Zoa got new makeup and other related items that she was out of. She also got some sandals that were too small for her because I didn't realize her feet had grown to a size 10! We had to return them and choose some bigger ones.

Drake got the Lego Harry Potter quiditch match set so he spent the morning assembling that. He was thrilled!

Aven got new sunglasses, which she modeled for this picture with a very enthusiastic pose. She also got some pool toys, some flip flops and some squinkies. If you don't know what squinkies are, feel happy.

Our dear friends, John and Marcie Davenport, invited us to their house for Easter dinner. We had a great time. We were without our grandparents and they were without their grandkids so the arrangement was perfect. John is an amazing cook so the dinner was delicious. Marcie made this cake and let the kids decorate it and they also colored eggs. We all had a great time and felt really grateful for the company.

A Much Needed Spring Break

Spring break is always my favorite break from school. By the time it rolls around, I have spring fever and am sick and tired of our daily routine. This year was probably worse than usual. We did what we have been doing the past few years when we need a change of scenery and drove up to DC to play at Whitney's. We had bad weather our first day there so we found some indoor activities to do. We went to Michael's craft store and let the kids paint a tote bag. After that we let the older kids walk around in a mall while we did an Easter egg hunt with the little kids in a Bass Pro Shops store. That egg hunt was surprisingly well organized and the kids had a blast. It was fun running around the store looking for brightly colored eggs amongst the camouflage gun bags and hunting boots. Sadly I didn't think to take pictures of it.

Sunday was a beautiful day so we went to the temple grounds and botanical gardens near Whitney's house to look at the blooming flowers. The tulips were in bloom. They are my favorite so that was a real treat for me.

I loved the pink and white tulip bed in the picture below. It was my favorite.

The week we were in DC was free national parks week so we decided to stop at Great Falls National Park on our way home. It was really raging and I suspect was probably high because of all the rain the area had been getting. It didn't look anything like the pictures on the park map. It was still fun to climb around on the rocks and hear the pounding water.

When we got home we still had a few days off from school. One of the days was really warm so we went to the York river beach. It felt great to feel the sun. We all loved it.

Zoa spent some of the time in the dignified pursuit of reading while the kids played and some of the time in a major giggling water fight with Drake. It was a good day.

Drake was able to spend three mornings of spring break at a baseball camp with an ex-pro player and scout. He had a great experience and will probably try a baseball team in the fall.

Birthday with Friends

I am very blessed to have good friends here in Virginia. That has been essential to me as I have lived so far away from family. I realized a few days before my birthday this year that, between turning 36(!) and having Ben half a world away in a war zone, I would need my friends to get cheerfully through the day. I called them and asked them to join me for dinner and a movie the evening before my birthday. They happily obliged. We had a great time! We ate at CPK and saw Red Riding Hood. CPK was delicious but Red Riding Hood was sub par. I came home feeling happy and rosy and loved, rather than lonely and sad and old. I appreciate their friendship very much. They are definitely a great blessing in my life at this time.

Cherry Blossom Festival in DC

If you have never been to the cherry blossom festival in DC, add it to your bucket list. It is beautiful! The height of the blossoms this year landed on general conference weekend for my church so I decided to pack up the kids and head to DC to enjoy spending time with Whitney and see the cherry blossoms. It turned out to be a wet, cold weekend but the blossoms were still lovely.

Zoa Turns 12!

It is incredibly hard for me to believe that my daughter is 12! She already has bigger hands and feet than me. I expect her to be taller than me by the time her next birthday rolls around. So far the teenage scene suits her well. She loves middle school and Young Women's and everything about being a bit older. We just had a small celebration on her actual birthday. We went to Olive Garden for dinner then she opened her presents. This boom box for her iPod was the highlight.

Her grandparents gave her a night in a condo in Williamsburg to use for her birthday party. She had a BLAST! This is the group that came with her to the party to spend the night. They went to the game room and played playstation and ran around on the golf course and took pictures and watched movies and giggled like only teenage girls can. Our gift bags for the guests contained spa stuff, including face masks so that was a lot of fun. My job was to cook this pizza and provide some nondestructive boundaries and to tell them at 1:00 in the morning that it was time to sleep, even if they weren't tired yet. It was a great setup for them to feel autonomous but also allow me to supervise. It was a great party for her.

Trotting Around Turkey

Ben had a liberty port in Turkey on his way to the Arabian sea. This liberty port took place in February, I believe, which shows you how behind I am on the blog. As you can see below, he got to see many cool sites and also got in a bike ride. He sent many more pictures of Turkey but I don't know what many of them are of. He will have to do a blog update when he returns and tell you all more details about his liberty ports. In the meantime, enjoy the following pictures.

I know the picture below was taken in Ephesus but I don't know what the site is.

Ben was recruited to sing in the ship's choir. They sang in Turkey and this picture was taken afterward. The Turkey flag is in the background. I got a bit worked up about the moustache but he assured me it was just for the liberty port and it was coming right off. He said most of the ship did it so they would blend in.