Sunday, December 6, 2015

Carter Turns 3

This year for Carter's 3rd bithday, we did a curious George themed party. Carter is pretty much obsessed with Curious George. On the day of the party, i made Curious George cutout cookies

they looked a lot better before I baked least they tasted good.

For the party, I made a Curious George face stand in and "yellow hat" plates. During the party, the kids went on a scavenger hunt with clues from George. One of the clues let them to a tent and camping kit (awesome gift from Jeremy's mom) that was set up in Logan's room. Jeremy read Curious George Goes Camping to the kids

Eventually the kids found the prize: cookies and masks, so they could be a monkey for the day. Here is a picture of Jeremy in one of the masks

...they looked a whole lot creepier on adults. I think Carter had a pretty great time!

 To make the day perfect, Jeremy took Carter to "old Mcdonalds" for a happy meal for dinner. Every year, I write my boys a letter on their birthdays, just things I want to remember about them. My plan is to eventually put the letter into a book. Here is Carter's letter from this year:
Dear Carter,

You are three, I can’t believe it! I’m not going to lie, two has been a challenging year, but we made it! You are growing and changing so fast. You are starting to learn your letters and numbers. You amaze me every day with how smart you are. You are a genius at building tracks for your trains. That is probably your favorite thing that we do together. After we build an “ultra track” you make a giant train with all of your cars and engines and unsuccessfully try to drive it all around.
It’s been a really big year for you. You became a big brother! It’s been a challenge for you (especially once he started to move), but I’m hoping that the two of you can start to play together a little bit this year.  This past year we went to Cape May and stayed in a beach house with all our friends. You had the greatest time playing on the beach. We even did a little Easter egg hunt on the beach with all the kids. You still talk about it all the time. Last summer, we were in San Francisco for Dad’s internship. You got lots more chances to play on the beach, you even saw a whale for the first time!  All of your buddies (Reid, Garrett, and Sydney) were in the bay as well, and we got to do a lot of fun things together (Happy hollow, tide pools, swimming, Currioddesey, the Discovery Museum of the Bay). We also took you on your very first camping trip to Yosemite this summer and you LOVED it. You loved it so much that once we came back to Cornell, we went on another camping trip with all of our friends to Watkins glen. You have been wanting to go camping again ever since.
Although you are sometimes pretty naughty, you melt my heart everyday with how sweet you are. You tell me that you love me multiple times every day and love to snuggle together on the couch. You say, “snuggle me mama.” You are always very generous with compliments. You love to help, especially with cooking. You are learning how to be a good big brother to Logan. He follows after you like a little puppy and loves you so much. I love it when you make him laugh when you two are sitting in your car seats together.  He makes you pretty upset right now when he messes up your train tracks. One day, I came out of the bathroom and saw that our front door was open, you had gone down the stairs and were calling to Logan at the top of the stairs, “come on Logan!” Like I said, you are still learning to be a big brother haha.
Right now, Dad is in his second year of graduate school and we live in an apartment complex with a lot of other LDS families with kids. Almost every day we go outside and you play with your little buddies (Reid, Henry, Josh, Garrett, and Sydney). You love to go play in the woods together. You have a “hideout” in the woods that you like to go to. It’s pretty much just a spot in the woods where you guys started to dig a hole in the ground.  You are such a good friend. You are always really concerned whenever anyone isn’t feeling happy or has gotten hurt.  You really really love your friends and I hope that you’ll find good friends again when we move to California in the summer.  Other things that you love right now are the science center, planes, suckers, fruit “lebber,” chocolate milk, and kitties.
I am so grateful you are my little boy. I tried to make your birthday a special day for you this year. This year we did a curious George themed birthday party because he is your favorite. I set everything up for the party when you were taking your nap. When you walked into the room you said, “I just can’t believe it!” You walked out and then said, “I just can’t believe it again!” It made all the work I put into the party worth it, just seeing your face and hearing you say that. You had a party with your friends with George masks, a treasure hunt, cake, a George face cutout, and lots of balloons. Gram gave you a tent and a camping set, and we gave you a set of dinosaurs. Pops sent you an electric train, and Nana and Papa sent you a golden Thomas train and a candy bar letter. After the party, we took you to “Old Mcdonalds” to get a happy meal to end the perfect day.  We Love you!



Last summer, I took a photography class. It's been fun learning how to use my camera and how to get a little bit better at taking pictures. This fall I was able to do a couple of "photo shoots" for some friends. I really enjoyed it and hopefully will continue to practice and get better. Just for fun, here are some of my favorite pictures that I've taken recently

Happy Halloween Mate

Ever since having kids, I've liked Halloween a lot better. Watching my kids trick or treat is maybe one of my favorite things ever. This year, Carter got plenty of opportunities to treat or treat. First, we went to the Sage social trick or treat

we went with an Australian theme this year. Logan was a Kangaroo, Carter was a Koala, and Jeremy was a crocodile hunter. I was also a kangaroo...thus the ears :) Next year, Carter probably won't let me dress him up in a big, poofy animal costume and that makes me a little bit sad. This year, my dad made a little side trip to Ithaca on the way to a business trip so he was able to be here for Halloween. On Halloween we hiked Cascadilla Gorge

and then came back and carved our pumpkin.

Carter had a blast Halloween night going trick or treating with all of his buddies. It is so cute hearing him say, "trick or treat." It also melted my heart because he was so good about saying, "thank you" every time he got a candy.

We will definitely miss trick or treating with all of our Ithaca friends next Halloween!

Vermont Trip

For our last fall break, we decided to visit Vermont. We knew we probably wouldn't be on the east coast next fall, so we wanted to go one last time. I am really going to miss the autumns here. It's actually kind of weird just how much joy fall colors bring me. For this trip, we met our friends the Vaughns, in Killington, Vermont. We rented a cute little condo near the ski resort. This was the view out our balcony. I think my favorite thing about the condo was the wood burning fireplace. It was so cozy to come back and sit by the fire after a long day of leaf peeping :)

On our first day in Vermont, we drove to Woodstock and went to the Billings Farm harvest festival. Carter had a great time at the husking bee and meeting some of the farm animals

Afterwards, we stopped for lunch at a little diner right by the river. We got the yummiest blueberry pancake ice cream I think I have ever had. As we were eating, I could see Carter eyeing the water and so I told him that he couldn't get in, because I didn't have any extra clothes. As soon as our backs were turned, Carter waded right into the water. Luckily, our the Vaughns had a pair of  Emma's black lacy leggings that they let Carter borrow for the rest of the day. Carter didn't seem to mind one bit.

After lunch, we visited a Plymouth Cheese factory and got some delicious genuine vermont cheddar and then went for a small hike on the Thundering Falls trail.

It was a pretty perfect Vermont Day. The next morning, we went for a scenic drive along route 100. I think Jeremy got pretty tired of stopping so that I could take pictures.

After our drive, we rode the gondola to the top of Killington Peak.

The view was pretty amazing!

This is the best picture that we got of all of us all day

After the gondola ride, kind of on a whim, we decided to go for a walk around Leffert's pond. I am so glad we did. I think this is one of the most beautiful places that I have been in my life.

We had such a great time in Vermont, and it was so much fun to catch up with the Vaughns. Hopefully it won't be too long until we get to come back!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Home Sweet Ithaca

After Jeremy finished his internship. we packed up the cars and he made the long cross country drive one more time. The boys and I flew to Boise for a quick visit, and then my mom joined us for the trip to Ithaca. It was so nice of her to fly with us back to Ithaca, it would have been miserable without her. It was so great to have her here to help us get unpacked and organized. She made sure we were in good shape before she left. Coming back to Ithaca really did feel like coming home. There are a few things that I miss about San Francisco...the endless sunny days, the amazing restaurants, the washing machine. But it's really been nice being back in our little apartment. I love being back in a small town. I can always find parking, there's not a lot of traffic, and we have lots of friends close by...and Wegmans :) This year we have an "Ithaca Bucket List" and we've crossed a few things off already. Some things I have had to do solo, because it's looking to be a really busy semester for Jeremy.  I took the boys blueberry picking at Grisamore Farms.

Carter had such a great time. We have been reading Blueberries for Sal a lot, and the whole time we were picking berries, Carter kept saying, "I've got to store these for the winter." It melted my heart. We also picked peaches at Indian Creek Farm. 

Carter also needed to "store these for the winter." Carter has been very opposed to me taking his picture lately, so I had to sneak one.

Last weekend, Jeremy had a little bit of time off of school and so we went camping with a couple of other families, the Strykers, Hogges, and Currans, to Watkins Glen. We tried out tent camping and it actually went a lot better than I expected. Carter had a blast playing in the tents with his buddies, roasting marshmallows, and sleeping in his very own sleeping bag.

The Stryker's were nice enough to let us use their tent for the night so we were able to fit our pack and play for Logan.  We had so much fun hanging out by the campfire, eating cobbler. We really do love our Ithaca family.

The next morning, we all hiked the Gorge Trail of Watkins Glen State park. It was gorgeous! Carter was a trooper for the hike, he actually walked most of the way.

On labor day, we went swimming at Tremen falls. The water was pretty cold, but it was a really hot day, so it was the perfect time to go. Places like Tremen falls are what make Ithaca such a unique place

After living in California all summer with the drought, it just seems like there is water everywhere in Ithaca! Everything is so green. Carter has been especially enjoying all the water, whether it's playing in the river, or just jumping in a puddle.

Hopefully we will get to do all of the items on our bucket list this year!

Friday, September 11, 2015

"If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair..." and bring a buttload of cash

After a hellish two hour flight on our own, we made it to San Francisco. We rented a little furnished townhouse near the outskirts of the city for the summer, you can see them in the picture below.

It was great for what we needed it to be, it was just really expensive and not very kid friendly (i.e there were too many things that were not ours for Carter to destroy in various ways).

Our first weekend in the bay, we met up with our friends, the Strykers and Hogges in Santa Cruz. It so great to be able to spend some time relaxing at the beach. Carter LOVED playing in the sand, seeing the sea lions on the pier, and hanging out with his buddies

It really was lucky for us (especially me) that we had friends that were interning in the bay area as well this summer.  Everyone in our ward was nice, they just never really talked to us again once they heard we were only there for 10 weeks. Can't say that I blame them. The days felt pretty long to me while Jeremy was at work, so we met up with Strykers and Hogges as often as we could. Some of our favorite places to go over the summer were Curioddesy, which is a little zoo/discovery center
 (checking out a beehive)

Happy Hollow (which is essentially toddler paradise)

Visiting all of the great parks (we especially loved Golden Gate Park)

and last but not least, chilling at the beach

Carter and I also did a fair amount of adventuring our our own. We tried to go into the city as much as we could. Carter and I developed a daily ritual, every night before he would ask me, "what we doing tomorrow mama?" We especially loved visiting Dolores Park,

the creativity museum,

and the Discovery Museum of the Bay

No matter how much fun we had while Jeremy was at work, these two boys were always thrilled to see their Daddy.

Every weekend, we tried to do something fun as a family. One of my favorite things that we did, was taking a bus tour of the city. It was a great way to see a lot in a very short amount of time. I was really nervous with how the kids would do, but they did great. We had an amazing day

we saw the painted ladies and postcard row
Lombard Street

visited china town and a fortune cookie factory, and got amazing egg custards at Golden Gate Bakery

and explored fisherman's wharf

one of the coolest places on fisherman's wharf is an old fashioned arcade. Jeremy impressed everyone (mostly Logan) with his arm wrestling prowess.

On another weekend, we took the boys "camping" to Yosemite Valley. We stayed in a little one room cabin in Curry Village for the night. Yosemite Valley was incredible, it was one of the most beautiful places that I have ever visited.

On our first day in Yosemite, we hiked to lower falls and mirror lake

the next day, we went swimming at Curry Village

and then hiked Vernal Falls. The hike to Vernal falls was a little bit steeper and more challenging than we expected. It was a little bit embarrassing, Jeremy wore Logan in the Bjorn, and pushed Carter in the stroller, and I still had a hard time keeping up. Jeremy got a lot of adoring looks from women along the trail...

On our way out of the park, we stopped to see a giant Sequoia grove. I think these seeing these trees was my favorite park of the trip.

This one was named "Big Red"

I'd love to go back and spend a lot more time in Yosemite someday.

Near the end of the summer, we got a few visitors. First, Jeremy's mom came to spend a couple of days. We went to Happy Hollow,

fisherman's wharf and the Exploratorium,

Pacifica Beach

The boys loved having her here

The next weekend, my parents came for a quick visit. On the Saturday they were here, Roaring Camp Railroad (a steam railroad that goes through the redwood trees) was hosting "A Day out With Thomas." Riding on Thomas the Train was definitely one of the highlights of Carter's life!

While my parents were here, we were also able to walk the trail at Land's End, and see the ruins of the Sutro Baths. It was the perfect day for a walk

we also visited the Discovery Museum of the Bay

and went to the beach (we even saw a whale, it was awesome!!)

The last weekend before we left the bay, Jeremy's brother Brandon, and his wife, Jessica came for a visit. It was so great to be able to spend some time with them. We especially loved visiting Muir Woods with them.

Well, those were our adventures this summer, in a nutshell. I'm pretty sure this post reads like one long, run on sentence, but at least it's documented :)