Monday, August 23, 2010

Books and Community

Most of you that know me know that I am an avid reader. (Yes the rumor that I read a cookbook as entertainment one summer break is true. I ran out of every other reading material in the house.) When Tom got his iPad for Father's Day I got one too. One of the first apps we installed was iBooks and then I installed Kindle for iPad. Many people have asked me how I like using an iPad for reading so here goes. I didn't know if I would love reading on it but I really do. I read some heafty novels and so it is much lighter then a 700 pg book. That is a definitely plus. I love reading in bed with it, where I do a majority of my reading. It's backlight makes it easy and once I figured out how to go back to a section it was nice and user friendly. It is easy to flip from book to book if you are that sort. (I am not. I tend to read fast enough to finish one book before starting on another.) It definitely has its drawbacks. The biggest is if I try to read while the girls are awake, they think they need to be playing the iPad instead of me reading. This makes me feel guilty for reading while I could be playing with them and so I tend to hand it over. I have not tried to read with it outside. It is too hot to spend time outside reading. I may try in the fall but definitely not anytime soon so I can't give my opinion on that.

I have been thinking about the whole eBook vs paper book debate so much this week because one of my favorite series "The Hunger Games" is releasing the third book in the Trilogy "Mockingjay" tonight at Midnight. There aren't any local midnight release parties that I am aware of, so that means no midnight paperbook. BUT no worries I can just download it at midnight right? Yep. And am I planning to? Yep. Nap today- Check. Cherry Coke with dinner- Check. But I have also lent out Hunger Games to several friends and got them interested in the series. Reading books together gives you a sense of community. It is great conversation and a common link where no link may have existed otherwise. I have always liked books for that reason. Well, with an eBook I won't have a copy to lend out so that we can chat later about it. Books bring people together. So my bottom line is, do I like eBooks? Absolutely, and I will keep buying them especially when I need a good read and Bookstores have already closed or I can't get out to buy a book. But I am not ready to give up my paper books altogether. I mean you can't read an iPad very well in the tub AND don't you sometimes just love the smell of paper?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Demise Of The Blog

I know it sort of feels like I have given up on the blog this summer. I promise I am trying to recommit myself to blogging. I am hoping that I will have more time in the Fall, but it never seems to turn out that way. We have been out creating memories instead of inside so much this summer. I am going to try to catch up on all our summer fun in one massive blog, so grab some popcorn and a drink and settle in for a while. We are going to start with the most recent, sorry it is not in chronological order, but I realized too late I put the pictures in this way and if I take the time to change them, it may be another few weeks before this blog gets posted.

Washington, DC
Last week Tom had a work conference up in Washington, DC. It has been on our list of things to do since we moved to the East. It is only a 6 hour drive, which in perspective to how much we drive seems like nothing. Tom had to be there Tuesday-Sunday for meetings but he had all of Thursday off. I had to be here Tuesday night and back in time for church on Sunday because of church obligations. So I packed the kids up and we left on Wednesday. The girls did AWESOME on the drive. I thought it was pretty painless.(It helped we bought the new Dora movie before the trip and we pulled out the portable DVD player.) We stopped a few times to stretch our legs, get treats and go potty and so we made it there in about 6 1/2 hours. Unfortunately I left my camera at home!!! of all the things to forget. We had dinner that night with Tom since it was a "free night" for him. On Thursday we got up and ready and took a shuttle into DC. With toddlers, we weren't expecting to see much. We made to to the Natural History Museum. The girls liked the butterfly room, the elephant in the foyer, and the giraffes the most. We didn't make it through all the museum, but enough for us and the girls. It was super hot and insanely humid and we didn't bring the stroller since it didn't fit well on the shuttle. We ended up carrying the girls to lunch. Ella told me that her legs were all "pooped up" after all the walking. Audrey was so tired she fell asleep while Tom was carrying her. We headed to the Hard Rock Cafe. They were so nice and seated us in a 8 person booth so we could lay Audrey down. If you are ever near a Hard Rock I recommend their Chicken Quesadillas. They are on the starter menu and have BBQ marinated chicken, pineapple, and have chili on the tortilla. Delish!! I have tried to replicate them already and can't get that close. Tom had a dinner/opening meeting to go to at 5 so we headed back to the hotel so he could get ready. About 20 mins after we got back the TV started flickering. I looked outside and the wind was blowing the trees in one direction and the flags in another direction. Not a good sign. A few minutes later the power in the building went out. They kept postposing the opening meeting so Tom and I decided to take a drive with the kids. Several traffic lights were out which made driving.....interesting. Apparently no one informed the DC/Maryland drivers that you treat a non functioning light as a 4 way stop. Since the power was out at so many places, there was a run on gas. Only stations and stores that had generators were working and it was getting crazy. When we got back to the hotel there was still no power. The generators were only lighting the hallways and main lobby areas. They gave everyone glow sticks which were a big hit with Audrey. The power didn't come on until about 3am. The next day watching the news we found out that there were major microbursts with wind up to 80mph. It downed trees which caused the power outages. There were close to 200,000 without power during that night. Not the most comfortable to sleep without A/C but we made it through the night. The next day Tom headed to his classes (which started at 7am) and the girls and I went up to Baltimore. One of our friends that moved from Charlotte lives up by there. Kelly brought her son Austin and met us at Port Discovery, a children's museum. It was one of the best children's museum that we have been to. There was a convenient store that the kids could shop at then check their stuff out. There was a Kareoke room that the girls LOVED. If it wasn't their turn to sing, they would be the back up dancers. There were reading rooms, a diner where they could make food for customers, a water room where you could shoot water guns, or race ducks down a "creek" or make boats to float, or my kids favorite, you could wash windows. They had a whole Bob the Builder section where you could build walls (using fake rocks that were magnetic), plant flowers and climb on equipment. They wore themselves out playing so hard. Audrey was asleep before we even got out of the parking garage. Tom's meetings ran ALL NIGHT. He didn't get done until 9 so we had a late dinner with him and Greg. On Saturday we got up and headed home. This time we hit all the traffic I had expected driving up. It took over an hour to go 2 miles. Instead of 6 1/2 hours, it took us 9!!!!! And the DVD player broke on the trip. It was not a fun drive home but the girls still did the best they could. A few mishaps, but we were all ready to be done by the time we got home. It was still worth the drive for a few days of lots of fun.

Discovery Place Part II
We have been spending a lot of time at children's museums this summer. We have a pass to Discovery Place so when it is too hot to play outside we like to head there. We have been there a few times now and still have not made it to all the exhibits. The nice thing about having a pass is that you don't feel bad only going for a few hours at a time which is all my girls can handle. We have found that going in the late afternoons is the ideal time because you don't have so many daycare/summer camp groups at the same time. The best thing is that Ella is becoming a lot more courageous in trying new things. When all the kids started going on the rope bridge I thought "This is NOT going to happen". But as usual she surprised me.

Movie Time
We have taken the girls to several movies this summer too. Did I mention it has been record breaking heat? And if not, then it is raining like cats and dogs. The girls have seen Toy Story 3 a couple of times and LOVE it. One afternoon when it was raining like crazy we decided to meet up with the Manwills and see Despicable Me. The rain was so bad people were driving about 30 on the freeway so we ended up going to the 3D show. It was the girls first experience with 3D. Ella liked it and kept her glasses on. Audrey, well, Audrey really liked the popcorn.
Sorry more pictures from my camera.

Princess Pool Party
We met up with several of the girls from Ella's Primary class for a little time at the pool. The girls love having friends go with them to the pool, but it still doesn't get them out of their scardy cat shell. The still refuse to go down the slide or get in all the water features. On the bright side, at least I know they aren't susptible to peer pressure. We all brought snacks and had some pizza while we were there. The highlight was the pink frosted cupcakes Allie made. Yum Yum.
Emma, Audrey, Ella, Audrey
The lineup: Audrey, Madeline, Ella, Audrey

Allie and Abbie
The two Audreys

Carolina Storms
I have never really been in a major rain storm until I experiences the rain here in Carolina. It not only rains a lot at a time but GIANT raindrops. You never know if they are really going to start until you are out in it. One day we were working outside and Tom started to water the grass. I told him he didn't need to since it was going to rain. This time I was actually right and we all got in and enjoyed a little summer shower. The girls had fun racing to the mailbox. This shower only lasted about 45 mins.

Red Neck Sandbox
When I was a kid I faintly remember having a sandbox in the backyard on Canal Street. I have never really wanted to make a sandbox for the kids because I think they become home to ants and the neighborhood kitty litter box. But my girls LOVE playing in the sand anyway. We have been doing a lot of outdoor projects lately. We have been lining all our beds with brickwork and remulching. I know our neighbors think we are nuts for spending so much time outside and on our yard, but we enjoy it. It means we have a lot of extra dirt in the process, but the girls don't seem to mind.

Calling All Princesses
We love Chick-Fil-A. They are a great company and they do a lot in the community. About once a month they have activities going on at the store. Brilliant marketing ploy? Maybe but it sure makes for a fun family activity. One Thursday this summer they had a Princess Night. You could go decorate and make your own tiara, have your nails painted, get pictures with the cow and local pagent queens, and get a free ice cream with sprinkles. My girls pulled out their ball gowns and this fairy godmother and godfather got them in the coach and headed to Chick-Fil-A. We met several friends there and the girls had a blast. I think getting her nails painted was Ella's highlight. Audrey's favorite was the ice cream.

Happy 4th of July
We started our celebrating on the 3rd. We had the Hinmans over for dinner that night for ribs. Ummm Ummm Ummm. It was amazing food and amazing company. The girls spend most of afternoon playing their hearts out together. Once it started getting dark we headed outside and watched all the neighbors lighting off their firework shows. There were several good ones, especially the houses behind us. They always put on a good show and it usually spans several days. Technically the fireworks that shoot off in the sky are illegal here in NC, but not in SC so people just drive down and grab whatever they want. They shoot them off in spurts so that the cops don't show up. It makes for a fun, loud extended weekend usually.
On the 4th we went to church then headed up to spend the afternoon with the Echerds. Greg works with Tom and we have become good friends. They invited us up to a BBQ with several friends then onto a friends house for fireworks that night on Lake Hickory. I remembered my camera this time! The food was great and the fireworks were A-MAZ-ING. Probably the best I have seen besides Stadium of Fire and this was done in someone backyard! I have a couple pictures that show all the cannons lined up on the beach. There were a few other houses on the lake having their own little shows and several were good, but this one was the BEST. It didn't hurt we got to see them all though.
Greg and Leslie

Having dinner and dessert

At the Lake: The girls with Chloe. See all the firework cannons lined up on the beach?

Sleeping Beauty
We have been trying to talk to Audrey about letting go of the bottle. We have explained about how the Bottle Fairy works and she is on board with the present. It is just letting go of the bottle. In the daytime hours she tells me she wants to give her bottle to Baby Abby. At night it is a different story. See the death grip she has on that thing?? Humm. Guess we will have to wait a little longer.

Enjoying Our Pool
It is hot and humid here pretty much all summer. Enough Said.

Discovery Place Part I
This is our first trip to Discovery Place. The girls and I only had about an hour before they were closing and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. They LOVED the drum set they have made out of household items. Not surprising everything in our house now becomes a drumset.

Father's Day
So I don't have any pictures of Father's Day, but we sure have the best dad I know. He has been working so hard lately. I wish we had more time to spend with him. He has been taking a lot of trips and out of town a lot but we got him at home for Father's Day. We made ribs for him for his big day. He also got an iPad which has been a big hit with the girls. PS. I just realized we still have our dad's cards that never got sent off. Happy Father's Day to Gramps and Grandpa David too. We sure love our dad's and the girls think the world of them too.

Westward Ho
Every year at the beginning of June I have a conference in Las Vegas. It is alway a dilemma on how to make this trip work with my schedule, Tom's insane schedule and the girls. Tom's parents graciously volunteered to take the girls so I could go down for the conference. We flew out on Wednesday and Grandpa David picked us up from the airport. We had dinner and got to see his new planter boxes. After that we headed to Tom's parents where we were staying. We spent the first few days just visiting family. Tom came in on Friday and we went to dinner at Teppenyaki with Tom's parents and sister. It was the first time we have taken the girls to a Japanese steak house. Ella wasn't too sold on the idea, but Audrey was FASCINATED. Her eyes were glued to the chef the entire time. He cooked the girls up just some eggs and Audrey ate every bite without taking her eyes off him. She thought the fire is coolest thing ever. I have never seen Audrey eat so much food either before or since that night. We couldn't help but giggle at her all through dinner. I think Audrey was as entertaining to me as the chef. Ella hid behind me or on my lap the whole time. They are such opposites! After dinner we were getting in the car and Ella asked me when we got to go see Fireworks because it is summer. I was kind of stumped for a few minutes. I had to think back and remembered when we went to Utah in November of 2009 Ella wanted to see Fireworks because we had seen fireworks at Stadium of Fire in July of 2009. At Thanksgiving I explained you only have fireworks at Grandmas in the summertime. Apparently she remembered us talking about that and was ready for her fireworks show. I tried to explain they are only on a certain day each year. Not sure how much she believes me though. Grandma and Gramps kept the munchkins so Tom and I could head to Vegas on Sunday night. My conference started early Monday morning. I was busy from early morning to late night. I really didn't get to see anybody this trip since we came in so late and left right after the conference. Erik came and met me for lunch several times that week since he works about 5 mins down the road. It was fun to get a little time in to see him. We also made it over to my Uncle Ted's for dinner one night. Margene and Bob were also in town and so we got to see them and Tonya for a bitt. I didn't see any of my friends unfortuately. While catching up with Aunt Margene, we found out that Orem Summerfest was going on the weekend we got back up to Utah. They were going to have their firework show Saturday night. After the conference was over, we headed back to Utah and Saturday got together with a lot of Tom's family for dinner. After dinner we went to Aunt Margene and Uncle Bob with Scott's family and put blankets out for the firework show. It was a little chilly but the fireworks were nice and Ella and Audrey had a blast enjoying them with their cousins. It seemed like such a quick trip, especially since we had a hard time really planning anything with only one or two days in UT, then Vegas, then back to UT for just a few days. We were glad we were able to see all the family though. I even was able to make it to my cousin Helen's baby shower.
View from our room at Red Rock

"helping" Grandma plant

The girls love washing all the rocks in the water feature.
We really have been enjoying our summer time. The girls just love spending time with friends, playing at the pool, coloring with sidewalk chalk, riding bikes, going on walks, playing at the park, playing bubbles, painting, eating freezer pops, and all the million other summer time fun things to do. Hope you are enjoying your summer too!