Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday. While trying to remember how old I am, I found out that I am 10% younger than my wife today. As our ages incease, the difference between our ages compared to the total age will decrease. We'll grow closer together as we get older.

Y = (HerAge - MyAge) / HerAge

Monday, December 20, 2010

18 months already!

Length: 32.5 50-57%
Weight: 25lbs 15oz 50%
Head: 47 25-50%

He took his shots like a champ! Didn't even flinch on the first one. After the second he didn't like it. Thank goodness for good nurses who do the third one fast... and she said it was the stinging one. So then he got mad after that... but really, do ya blame him?

He's 50% across the board and has been his whole life. B
ut to us, Reid is far from average. I am still told how smily he is. He is quick to love others (he will hug complete strangers). He has the ability to turn a terrible day around with his infectious personality. He is very social, but has started being shy for the first 10 minutes in a new environment, but quickly warms up. Just recently he's started smiling when people say "Cheese", and Saturday he actually posed for the camera.

He also has the best giggle! He runs across the room, gives you this teasing look... so I start to go for him, and he runs at you to "get you" too! He's to tease and loves to pretend to give you something and then run away with it. Or when he knows he's not supposed to have it, he takes off running down the hall. He runs everywhere. And he's actually fast. I have to try to catch him.

He loves his cousins and loves playing with them and is just one of the boys when they get together.

He also loves to share. Whenever he is eating, he wants to share his food with everyone. Sometimes it is nice because it helps other kids who want his snack, but other times it is problematic.

One hilarious thing he does is screams goodbye - and I mean screams. And the best part is that we say bye to Daddy almost every day, and instead of "Bye Daddy!" it has become "Dye" ... or if you think of the humor of him screaming the word "die! die! die!" You'll giggle as much as we do.

His favorite show right now is Little Einsteins and asks for it by patting his hands on his belly. (if you've seen the show, you know they do a lot of patting) He knows all the actions to help Rocket blast off.

Reid is my cuddler and I love it! Sometimes we'll be sitting on the couch and he come over to sit right next to me, and put his hand on me. Sometimes he'll actually crawl on me lap and snuggle in. He also loves to snuggle before bed, he wraps his arms around me and holds me. One of my favorite things is that if Daddy is sitting on a bench or couch, Reid will climb up next to him and sit just like him, same position and everything. Then he is very proud of himself.

He'll drive cars all over the house, and makes great noises for them too.

Books have become a huge interest, both being read to and looking at them himself. You can just tell he is taking it all in. However, we now cannot bring books with animals or cars to church anymore because he makes the sounds and all the rows around us, just burst into laughter.

Reid loves his baths! I mean LOVES. He'll lay down completely on his back, or sprawl out on his stomach and dip his face in repeatedly. He splashes and squirts water everywhere. He sits at the faucet as the water comes out just to feel the pressure. He'll enjoy his baths thoroughly and it is usually mom who ends the bath, not him.

He loves the dogs. He will go up to either of them and pucker his lips (and in Lightning's case, squat down) so they can give him a kiss. He is sweet and pets them gently. He also feeds them. He'll grab their food, run up to them, place it on the ground in front of them and step back. He's very sweet about it. Also, Cleo will fight us for the ball, but when Reid walks over she drops it out of her mouth and he picks it up and throws it for her to go get. They definitely love each other.

He also puckers for mom and dad kisses. His pucker is him pressing his lips together, with the bottom lip out a little bit more than the top. His kisses heal all my tears or wounds. I like to think that mine do the same.... sometimes when I kiss his owie, he really does stop crying.

Reid knows all the signs to the songs "Popcorn Popping" and "Itsy Bitsy Spider" and is learning "Once there was a snow man" and the "Book of Mormon Stories" chorus.

Words he can say
hot, hi, bye, hyrum (hiiiieee), daddy, mom, mommy, shoes, dog, train (choo-choo), strawberry (taw-be), please (pea), up please (dup-pe), fish, m&m (um minum minum), this, that, keys, cheese, cheez-its (cheese-sis).
If he really wants something, he knows not to scream at me, but to say please. So he says, "pea mom" with the inflection much lower on the mom part. It works almost every time. (I'm such a sucker for him)

Knows signs for wash hands, wash face, food, brush teeth, comb hair, more, and done (eating). Although he has starting using done for being done in the car seat and being done with bath as well.

Animal sounds he can do:
cow, dog, lion, pig, cat, owl, horse, duck, monkey, bird, frog, he just surprised me by learning donkey the other day

But above all right now, he LOVES to scribble! He literally colors through the whole hour of church!

At this time in my life, I am very grateful for my blessings. I am grateful for the blessing of being a mom. I know that blessing is a challenge for some, and it has been a long arduous road for me as well. But now is the time I need to sit back and say thanks for that opportunity.

Reid, we love you very much and are ecstatic to have you in our family!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tonight's Conversation

Matt: "You'll only hear us say this once a year."
Leann: "Let's go to Wal-mart."
Reid: "Uh-oh... uh-oh... uh-oh..."

What did we buy? Starcraft II and hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer? Yeah, we went to Wal-mart.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Clothes only for Holidays

Growing up, there were 3 times in my life when I got new clothes: 1) My Birthday, 2) Christmas, 3) My sister's birthday. The first two probably make sense, third is purely because my birthday is in October and so my mom needed an excuse to give me summer clothes. So growing up I only thought that you can get clothes on those 3 occasions. If clothes were bought for me from June-October, it was saved for my birthday, after my birthday-December it was saved for Christmas. This was so far ingrained in me that when I went college and my roommates wore clothes the day after they bought them, I thought they were doing something wrong and should save them for the next holiday.

So now that this last birthday was the big 3-0! I'm feeling kind of old. And being a mom, I'm feeling kinda... well... frumpy. So my kind husband gave me an "allowance" of sorts for my birthday this year.

So I sent out on my shopping spree. First stop was the mall. I had received an adorable sweater from my mother-in-law but it was too small (and a gorgeous scarf that I LOVE), so I went to check out what else they had. And it just kills me. The average mall price is $20+ for a shirt and $30-50+ for pants. So we are talking $70 for 1 outfit.

Naturally this had drawn me to the 2nd hand stores like TJ Maxx and ROSS (Dress for Less), which is wonderful and I do love them. But we're still talking $7-15+ for a shirt and $15-25+ for pants. So we're looking at ~ $30 for 1 outfit. Which is half the price, but still... $30 for 1 outfit.

Now I don't know about you, but when I go shopping, I'd like to get 2 or 3 outfits or mixtures of some kind. So now I'm talking $100 a shopping trip. Which frankly, if each person in my house were to go shopping that'd be $300 a pop.

So let's do the math. If I am trying to stay trendy and keep clothes that fit (ha! Like that happens in your baby making years), then how often do you go shopping? Just those 3 times a year? Yeah, I'd be 2 different sizes in between each "clothing holiday." So I'd like to go shopping more. But let's say I go every other month. We're still talking $100 x 6 months = $600/year... and that's just for ME. No one else in the house. Since I live with boys, let's say they only need $400/year. Now we are talking $1000/year JUST FOR CLOTHES! Seriously?

So my question is how do you shop? How do you manage a budget for clothes? Do you plan on getting gift money for clothes? Or do you have a monthly budget? What's a reasonable amount? Are there coupons for clothes? Do you know about some discount that I do not? How do you stay trendy without breaking the bank? Please give me your tricks.. I need them!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The surprise the TP-ers didn't expect

A few weeks ago, I was driving home about 8:30 pm after playing soccer at the church building with some guys from the ward. As I looked down the street, I could see the usual cars parked along the curb. As I neared our house, there was a new-looking sedan parked along the right hand side, with the dome light on inside. I could see a young guy sitting inside in the dim light as I passed.

Just as I pulled up to the driveway, my headlights illuminated two girls. One of them was carring a huge wal-mart size package of toilet paper. The other girl had a few exposed rolls, and had dropped one or two which she was kicking down the street. As she kicked it down the street, it unrolled leaving a toilet paper trail across the driveway.

As my headlights fell on them, the girls broke into a run. Well, they thought they were running. They weren't making much speed because of all the toilet paper, and the fact that I had just blinded them with my 1000 candlewatt halogens. In an effort to escape to their get-away car, they dropped all their toilet paper in my front yard. At this point, I threw the truck into park and jumped out in persuit. They soon realized they wouldn't make it to the car before I would and slowed to a walk.

I then told them that I didn't care if they toilet-papered the house down the street. I just didn't want them to drop it all in my yard as they ran away. As I walked back toward the house and my truck parked in the street, the girls jumped in the car and sped away... leaving the toilet paper still sitting in my driveway.

So, now what do I do with 50 rolls of wal-mart quality toilet paper? And I'm not particularly in need of cheap ammo for my toilet-papering rampages lately.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

England: Day 6-8

Mom and Dad got the next two days off from their mission office work. So we got to go sight seeing with them! Dad had emailed us some places we could chose from, and one that sounded cool was York. Here's the description I had:
Drive to York (about an hour away) and see the York Minster (cathedral that is the largest medieval church in northern Europe) and the walls that encircle the city of York (the finest of their kind anywhere in Britain), along with the other sights in that city. Then drive back by way of Harrogate, a great strolling town in central Yorkshire with an abundance of Victorian architecture, and see some of the Yorkshire Dales on the way home. We could leave late morning or early afternoon and spend as little or as much time as you want. We could eat at Betty’s Tea Room, a world renown restaurant

It sounds fun, right?

We were slow moving this morning, because well, we were all exhausted.... Mom and Dad had been working hard in the office, and Matt and I were recovering from Lo
ndon. (let alone the 8 hour time change) Well, we finally headed to York.

When we got there, Dad showed us the wall. It was interesting as we went to each place, that every time there was a wall around a city or a fortress, or a castle or something, it was because it was up on a hill and naturally had the advantage for war. Now, I know that this is common sense.... but living in America we don't have structures, built purposefully for battle. I mean, the foothills are where the rich people live because it is a good view, NOT because they want to have a good tactical advantage on attacking armies? Could you imagin
e how different America would have been built if that were the case?

Anyways, so the walled part of the city is 2 mile circumference but there is lots of city outside the wall, now. So we went in the city and parked, and headed to the center of the city. It was classic with cobble stone roads and un-matched buildings built right next to each other.

View of the street in York.

I found this adorable candy shop where I bought my sister 2 of the 8 flavors of toffee they had available. And then we kept walking, deciding we were hungry. We asked around and found an Indian Restaurant. I've heard good things about Indian food in England, so I was excited. Mom and Dad aren't spicy food people, and neither is Reid, so we all picked mild dishes. (I got my well missed Saag! Oh how I had missed that flavor!) The other 3 dishes were creamy based, and all tasted different but delicious! We were all thrilled how yummy the food was. Even Reid partook quite a bit and seemed to like it.

Now that we had strength, we headed to York Minster Cathedral (the largest medieval church in North Europe). And wow, it is HUGE!!!

4 pictures to cover the whole thing!
1 2

3 4

(still haven't figured out the art of blogger's picture set up)

The history of this place is unreal. Basically it has had a church built in that location since the 600's A.D. And in the 11oo's people tore it down buried the foundation and built a church a little higher up. Then again in the 1200's, and ever since then, people buit wings and courtyards, etc. on it to make it what it is today. The stained glass windows are AMAZING, and they even have their original glass in them still.

The cool part is that they had to redo the floor of the cathedral flooring in the 1960's. So as the restoration team worked on the floors during the day, the archaeologists would work to dig out the floors at night. Then the restoration team would put up support
s, so that today you can go down and see the previous church foundations. It might sound boring, but it really was very very very cool. I was enthralled the whole time. Not to mention the pure enormity of the cathedral itself... it was stunning.
We simply do not have anything with that kind of history or detail here in the states.

After York Minster, we walked around on the city wall. It was an enjoyable
walk, but I was grateful when the construction permitted us from walking the whole 2 miles, and we had to go through this cool entrance to get back in.

After that we wondered through some jewelry shops that were B-E-A-U-TIFUL! but way out of our price range. Then we got some yummy ice cream and headed out.

Then we made a quick stop in Harrogate at this GORGEOUS park! We walked through the park, and it was so amazing! There was some band playing, and Reid kept danci
ng everytime they started up. The sun started going down, and it was a might bit chilly, so we headed home for the night.

This day Mom and Dad had met a PhD student at Durham University
, so we met with her, and she showed us around. We started with a tour of Durham Castle. Again, they built the castle in his location because of elevated ground, which gave an advantage to them over attackers. (As you can see this is one of many streets leading UP to Durham Castle.
(come up on the left, and keep going up on the right)

They had a chapel, guest rooms, kitchen, etc. It was interesting because it is a dorm now for the "well to do" students. The scariest part was the leaning spiral staircase. It was made from oak or some other heavy wood and is no longer level.

After that we took a short walk through Durham Cathedral. (You know that scene in Harry Potter, in McGonagall's classroom is this huge long room. Yeah, that was taped in the nave of Durham Cathedral.) And here are some shots you might find familiar as well.

Then she tooks us along the river to enjoy the nature and tell us of her days of being the caller on the rowing team for her college. (College - meaning her department, they just call them colleges there) She told us lots of stories about what's its like being in England long term after growing up in good ol' Provo, UT. And some of the experiences how people view her or how history is perceived a little differently. It was a great time, and we are so grateful sh
e took time out of her busy day to show us around!

Just before we left, we stopped in a little convenience store (English style) and bought lunch. We decided to be adventurous and try the pasties. We got a cheese and onion one, and a chicken one. They were really good. Not as filling as we would have liked, especially since Reid ate almost half of one himself. So we also got 2 pastries, a chocolate eclair and an apple turnover. They were from the section "fresh cream," and I figured that couldn't be bad. The apple turnover was SOOOO good. I mean, truly heavenly. It was sad that the chocolate eclair was delicious but a let down after the amazing apple turnover. America doesn't do pastries justice. They are so much better in Europe! (yeah, my expertise in this area is from my knowledgeable 4 day whirlwind business trip to Germany, oh well, I'm convinced.) Anyways, it was so good.

We headed to Alnwick Castle (pronouced a-nick, short A), where the Duke and Dutchess of N
orthumberland actually live! (with their 4 children)

Through touring we learned that Alnwick is really a large area of land, they have the castle and gardens, and flocks of animals, and lots of other stuff; that the Duke and Dutchess and their family live there 4 months of the year (the winter months) and the rest of the time they live about a mile away (still on their land). We got to see their China collection, their chapel (in their house), there "family" room or lounge as they called it, their library, and
all sorts of other things. Matt really enjoyed seeing the ledger from hundreds of years ago for the family, about how they had to sell off this business or that land to keep the family from losing the land and castle.

It was just unreal to imagine living their in a house so huge, with silk wall paper and life-size portraits of your ancestors on the wall. Really crazy. But we also pictures of their family and they look totally normal.
So it was neat to see. In fact the Duke and Dutchess were at the castle while we were, simply because they care about their public and wanted to make sure everything was going well for the day.
Here is their backyard

This was also another Harry Potter film location. Especially the flying scene in the first movie, they even put a poster up for you to get your picture moment.

We enjoyed the view and let Reid run around a lot. After that, it was ice cream and head home. On the way home, we got our first REAL rain. I mean sure, we had gotten sprinkled on the whole week, but nothing that didn't dry within 5 minutes. This was a full blown rain. Poor Dad was driving in the rain, the only one awake. (that brought back lots of memories of growing up)

Once we got back to Leeds we realized we were hungry and went back to Murgatroyd's. It was a enjoyable relaxing meal after a long day.

When we got home, it was straight to bed for all of us.

We had to get up early to head to the airport to catch our flight. On the way, we got to ride on the highest freeway in England. It was funny to see that the highest elevated roadway, was still just on a hill (no mountains).

I tried to soak in all the beautiful green surroundings that I could, before coming back to the desert. We got the airport, checked in, and then it was time to say goodbye. It was harder than I thought. I don't think I realized how great it was to spend time with my mom and dad. I loved sharing Reid with them, and letting him get to know his grandparents... he especially loved Grandma on this trip, he took right to her. But finally, we went through security and did our last wave.

As Reid looked out the window, I silently said goodbye to England... thanks for a great time!

Well, of course our flight was booked, and so we squeezed into our seat with Reid. We got the NICEST man to sit next to us. He always offered to get up when Reid cried and picked up toys with no complaints. I am so so so grateful to him! Reid did really well, he slept for about 3 hours in the middle of the flight and played and bounced between Matt and I the rest of the time. Not bad at all.

When we flew into JFK (New York), we couldn't believe how brown it was. We did the whole customs thing (so much easier when you are on your way back into YOUR country). And got to the security line. Matt went and asked the lady if it mattered which line and she said no. So we picked the left one. Well, we got to the front of that line, and another lady told us that families and strollers couldn't go through this one, and we needed to be in the other line. Thank goodness the lady Matt talked to overheard this, she had us cut into the line on the right. And of course we cut in front of our fellow passenger on the previous flight. By this time we were joking and chatting with him. He was headed the same way we were, so we had an enjoyable walk to our gate.

Matt took Reid for a walk. Reid found the arcade games and it was all over. Matt said he'd take Reid down the terminal and he'd run to the arcade games, specifically the car ones. He just sit there and drive. He loved it. I loved it too, because Reid slept almost the ENTIRE next flight. We stopped in Dallas, and swapped planes again. We bought some good old McD's and took turns eating and chasing Reid. He then slept almost the whole flight again! Bless you child!

We arrived in Phoenix around 9:30pm. Matt's aunt graciously picked us up about 9:45pm, took us back to our car. Then we got in our car for the 2 hour drive home. We arrived home about 12:30am. I calculated it and we were travelling for 25 hours! Reid went to sleep in his crib great, and we crashed.

We woke up at 7am wide awake, so we decided to head to church.

And there we were, done with our vacation. It was so much fun, and we had a great time, even with the trials of a 1 year old. But really, he did wonderful. We are so blessed to have been able to go visit a wonderful place and spend time with my parents. We loved our first international family vacation!

(p.s. please forgive typos... I just needed to write this down before I forget it all)

England: Day 3-5

Ok, so we woke up Monday morning and had to get ready and re-pack. Luckily, we were able to check a smaller luggage bag for Reid. And so we wouldn't have to lug our huge suitcases all over London, we planned to use this bag as our luggage for all 3 of us to London for 2.5 days! Well, it worked. 2 backpacks, 1 large carry-on luggage and a stroller later, we were in the car on the way to the train station to head to LONDON!!!!!

The train left about 9:30am. There were stops all along the way, but they were anywhere from 15-30 minutes apart. So it was a nice casual ride. The part we loved is that at one stop, we had to wait for some higher priority train. So we ended up being about 5 minutes behind schedule. After they picked everyone up at each stop afterwards, they would come over the speaker and apologize for being behind schedule and explained that they had to wait for another try. But our favorite part is that they kept saying they were "endeavoring" to correct this, or to get back on schedule. I think the rest of the day Matt and I were "endeavoring" to do anything. It was so much for fun to say that word that "trying" or "working" ... it was fun!

Reid had fun playing (flirting) with the girls in front of us between the seats.

We got to London Kings Cross station around 12pm-ish. (we had brought lunch on the train, so we were good on food) Well, we did the obvious first... Went and looked for Platform 9 3/4!!!! Duh! We were so bummed, when platforms 9-11 were under construction, so only people with tickets were allowed in. ARGH! Oh well, 1 less site we got to see.

So then we headed to the subway. Hopped on what became our good old friend the whole stay, the Piccadilly Line. It took us to a stop 2 blocks form our hotel. Perfect! I do have to say, I was quite impressed with Matt's skills of carrying a backpack, a suitcase in 1 hand, and the front of Reid's stroller in the other hand going up and down LOTS of subway stairs. He was a champ! London is not so stroller friendly... but we were determined not to let that set us back! We also had to buy passes for the subway, which was exciting to sit there while Matt was in line and watch people from all over the world wonder around one of the busiest subway stations in the world. Fun stuff!

Anyways, we get to our hotel. It was a small little bed and breakfast. All the American hotels were booked, but we were kinda excited to experience a London B&B. Well, Europe is different, and we were cool with it, cuz we knew things are smaller there. But it is still fun to think about it. The breakfast part however was nasty. We hit the delicatessen on the wait out the 2nd day.

"Our street" for 2.5 days

So there were 2 ways to get to our hotel, the slightly longer one had a grocery store on the way, so that was perfect! They also had a community fridge for all the guests. Perfect! So, that took care of all of my worries for Reid's milk!

Once we got settled and everything... we headed out for the afternoon. We decided the British Museum was going to be our fun for the day! We wanted to go to at least 1 museum, and Matt really wanted to see the Rosetta Stone, so this was a perfect fit!

We also saw some very cool Egyptian artifacts.

And some cool Roman columns. Keep in mind, these aren't just some sculpture of what the Roman columns looked like... they are the ACTUAL Roman columns!

Reid was adorable this whole time. He either slept or made friends. Some Asian lady tried to talk to me in Chinese or Japanese or who knows what, and I'm like, yeah, I don't speak that language, so I just smiled.

Afterwards, we let Reid run around outside the in the museum's gardens. He had a lot of fun with that.

By then it was after 5pm, so we headed to Piccadilly Circus, so we just started looking for anything that looked yummy. There was a whole lot of American places, but we did not fly across an ocean to eat American food! So we found Nando's! It was scrumptious! Reid loved it too. It has some South African and Portuguese influence, but we didn't get the really spicy stuff. Then we continued to look around at the shops. It was sad though, because I realized, I'm a tight wad and didn't want to spend pounds on something I could get for cheaper in the U.S. I think it was catered to Americans, so nothing seemed really fun or exciting to buy for me. Oh well, I'm lame.

Reid had crashed, so we figured we'd head back to the hotel and put him down for the night. Well he showed us! He woke up when we got to the hotel and stayed awake for about the next 5+ hours. (I don't know, I lost count when it hit midnight) At that point, Matt and I each took an edge of the bed, and laid there while we let Reid run around on the bed. It was a long rough night. I finally got Reid to go to sleep at some point, so I kicked Matt off the double bed, and we went to sleep. Then at like 6am, since our room was on the floor below ground level, our window was at street level... yeah, all the cars started to leave. So of course Reid woke up... Awesome. :)
Well, time to do it all over again.

We headed to Big Ben! And wow, it is RIGHT there when you come out of the subway station. So we did the obligatory Big Ben pictures. Then headed to find the boats. (thanks to my bro-in-law's recommendation) We took a boat ride along the Thames River to the Tower of London. On the ride from Big Ben to Tower of London you get to see tons of sites: Eye of London (big ferris wheel), St. Paul's Cathedral, Globe Theater, Museums, IBM. Not to mention all the bridges... and yes, London Bridge did fall down. And yes we did see what is now London Bridge #4. But Tower Bridge is sooooo much cooler!

It was great weather, and Reid loved it! So I would recommend the boat ride to anyone!

Then we got to Tower of London. Tower of London was once London's main fortress. It has anything and everything that you have seen in your Robin Hood / Arthur and the round table movies.... it was so cool!

My personal favorite was these holes where you shoot your arrows at the oncoming enemies.
Of course there were lots of towers, so that meant spiral staircases. Did mention London is NOT stroller friendly? Yeah, stroller, spiral staircases, yeah, it was exciting. I guess the good news is that Reid slept through most of Tower of London, so we didn't have to chase him around, simply had to carry the stroller around.

We also got to wait in line for about an hour so we could be put on a people mover while we looked at THE Crowned Jewels through a heavily guarded case. Really... it was really cool. I would so do it again. Cuz well, they are jewels and they are HUGE!

I think one of the highlights for Reid was chasing the pigeons. It was funny though, cuz they also keep ravens there at the Tower of London. It's part of the superstition that if ravens ever leave, the Tower of London would finally fall. Anyways, a raven flies up near us, I pick up Reid (cuz I know that this is not the kind of bird you want to mess with). But this girl, about 8 years old, runs over to the raven thinking she will scare it away. NOPE, the bird doesn't even flinch when she runs right up to it. So then, she takes her pointer finger and tries to touch the raven. That bird snapped at her so fast... We're not sure if it got her or just scared her. But she went running back to her dad, who was laughing just as hard as everyone else around him.

We took the boat back to Big Ben's and headed to Hyde Park for some chill time. Reid loved it. He ran around chasing more pigeon's and strategizing how to catch them.

Then we headed to this steakhouse for dinner. Well, it was a huge disappointment and not worth blogging about. Plus, Reid was so tired and barely ate anything.. On our way back to the hotel, we were trying to keep Reid awake, so Matt put him on his shoulders... Yeah, it didn't help.

So we get back to our hotel, put Reid down on the bed to sleep, and he sleeps 1 hour, yes 1 hour. That's it! And then, the fire alarm goes off! Did I mention we were on the same floor as the kitchen, and they let their guests cook in the kitchen, and someone burned something. So we went upstairs to let the smoke clear out. It was fun chilling out there with all the different guests on the sidewalk in front of the hotel.

Then, we continued with another miserable night of Reid being awake. I finally got him to lay with me on the twin bed, because it was darker in that corner. And he finally fell asleep. I think I may have only battled with him for 3-4 hours, and actually got 5 hours of sleep.

But don't worry, 6am came, and so did the cars... and Reid was awake!

Our train was leaving at about 2:45pm that afternoon, so we tried to pick things that we could fit into a small window for that day.

We got ready and packed up our belongings. We checked out, and left our bags at the hotel. So we headed off to see the queen. Ok, not really. We went to Westminster Abbey first. This is the church where all royalty is buried, and where all coronations take place. The ornate nature of all the graves were beautiful. Due to aging the colors are very dark, so I wonder how vibrant they were when they were new. We saw cool memorials, like Shakespeare, and Handel (his had a piece of sheet music carved in his), Chaucer, lots of others. The bummer is no pictures inside.

Here is the obligatory outdoors shot:

And then the butresses... man, their architechture is so cool!

Reid learned that these big stone buildings had echos in them... especially when we were in the smaller enclosed areas. So he had to test his voice by doing louder and louder shouts. "ah" "Ah" "AHH" I tried to keep him quiet, but the sweet clergymen told me to just let him shout because there was no service, so no worries. (I just felt bad, cuz it is still a church!)

After that we really did head off to see the Queen! But we were late for the changing of the guards, but oh my, the other 10,000 people were not. And I am NOT exaggerating the 10,000 number either. The place was packed! We caught the end of the changing of the guards, took our pics and were so tired, and it was noon. We started heading back to our hotel to get some lunch at the grocery store, grab our bags, and head to the train station.

Buckingham Palace

All of the sudden, they we were, leaving London after an AMAZING whirlwind of a trip. It was a blast, and even though I did not describe it in all its grandeur, we loved every minute. Well, except lying in bed awake involuntarily at night... but we love Reid and are so thrilled we were able to bring him, and that he was such a trooper!

Dad picked us up in Leeds, and we headed back to their house for a nice home cooked dinner. Reid went to bed a little after 9pm like a champ! He really did. Then we stayed up chatting with my parents a little bit, and then called it a night ourselves. Reid would wake occasionally, but would go right back to sleep. My favorite was at like 5 or 6am, he woke up and climbed in bed with Matt. After a little while, he decided he wanted mom. I thought it was so sweet that he wanted Daddy first.

So now the adventures of Northern England await!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

England: Day 1 and 2

So, my parents picked us up at the airport in Manchester 7:30am-ish local time. (11:30pm MST) We get out to the car, and first of all... I had to get in the sliding door of the van on the left side. Weird right? And then my Dad climbs in on the right side. I mean, you know they drive on the left side. But it is a weird sensation when you are actually riding in the car.

So we head to Chorley to see the Preston England Temple and the distribution center. The temple was beautiful (as always). But oh, the green! I mean there were varieties of green trees, and colors of green on the bushes. And you'd see one bush growing into another, so they trim it to look like this sculpture molding together. And these vine archways that go over the walkway. SO PRETTY! Yeah, we were dead tired, so we did not do a good job of picture taking. Then we went and checked out the church book store in Chorley, cuz my parents needed something.

Then we went to Downham. Downham is this town, that when the missionaries in the 1800s came (and it was someone well known, but for the life of me, I can't remember), the entire town was baptized into the LDS church. It was very pretty, and there is this cute little bench that was given to the town as a memorial to those people.

Then we headed to Leeds. We got to my parents house, which is this cute little semi-detached home. I loved the cute personality these old homes have. The stairs are super narrow. The sinks are dinky. The doors have knobs, but the knobs don't function as knobs. Anyways, we unloaded our luggage and headed out for food.

We went to Murgatroyd's for fish and chips! I could've sworn I took a picture of my first "official" fish and chips, but I cannot find it! It was so yummy. It was HUGE though. Especially considering it was like barely 8am MST, we weren't that hungry. It was very yummy, I especially enjoyed their malt vinegar and tartar sauce. We both enjoyed it, and even Reid partook a little. Poor kid started losing it about here, due to sleep deprivation.

BUT, we needed to stay awake a little longer... so we went grocery shopping to ASDA to get a few things. ASDA is apparently European Walmart. And wow, did it look like it. It was interesting how it was the same, but also different. The coolest part was the Travelator, it is part escalator part moving walkway. Basically it functions as an escalator, but instead of steps it is flat like a moving walkway, and then you take your shopping cart with you, and it sticks. It doesn't roll up or down. I was very impressed. They also have this brillant idea. You put a 1pound coin in this slot on your shopping cart, and it releases it from the other shopping carts. If you bring your cart back to the place and relock it in... you get your money back. No runs for shopping carts. It was very nice.

At this point we headed home. My dad got this futon mattress to fit in between our two twin beds. It wasn't perfect, but it did provide a very crib like feel, even though Reid could crawl out.

Around 5pm, Matt crashed... Reid of course got his 7th or 8th wind... I lost count. So he was wide awake. I finally got him to settle down at about 7pm. I finally, and blissfully laid down to sleep myself. Then Reid woke up screaming about 45 minutes later. I begged Matt to take a turn since he'd had about 2 hours of sleep. But 10 minutes later, I could still hear Reid screaming downstairs. So down I went. After a few minutes with mom, he fell asleep in my lap. So back upstairs we went. Where we slept beautifully for about 4 hours. Then, Reid woke up. I mean, no wonder... it was midnight where we were, but it was only 4 in the afternoon back home. So I got him a bottle, and we tried sleep again. Luckily, he gave in. We got about another 5-6 hours before Reid woke up and joined me in my bed... but that was fine with me, because I got one more hour.

Well, I sent Matt downstairs with Reid to eat some breakfast while I got my education on how to shower. They use a boiler, which is like an instant, on-demand water heater right there in the tub. I did not figure it out my first shower, because my entire shower went from just a little too hot to just a little too cold. But I made due.

My parents are assigned to a ward across town, so we left for church about 45 minutes early. When we got there, I met lots of wonderful people. They were all so kind and friendly, and I just loved listening to all of them talk. Reid did really well during church, and even took about a 45 minute nap. I was still sleepy, but I enjoyed the comfort you feel at church, even across the world.

After church we drove to see where my great-grandmother lived. Here is the council housing that she lived in once upon a time.

Then we stopped to see the church where my great-grandmother was married. Here is the St. Matthias Church of England.
All I could think about as we drove around this church, is how over 100 years ago, there was a girl dressed in white, so excited to marrying the man of her dreams. And how they were just starting out on what ended up being the biggest sacrifice for me. Little ol' me. I was awestruck to think how she probably had little idea that she would join the LDS church, be disowned by family, leave their loved ones and travel by ship to America, all because of what they believed in. I was touched and amazed to be there at the same place she once stood on what was the one day of her life that started her incredible journey.

It was very cool to see some of these places, not because they mean anything to anyone else, but because they mean something to me.

After that we went home for some R&R... and yummy fish! Mom and Dad made salmon for us... and it was so good. The fish there is something yummier than you will ever get in the desert here!

Then the mission president invited us to his home for ice cream. We had a lovely visit with them. The mission home is beautiful. The garden was unreal. It really was. I can honestly say, I've never seen anything so green. I mean their "backyard wall" was a hedge. A gorgeous 10-15 foot tall dark green hedge. The grass was so soft, and the flowers, so pretty. And they don't even have to water anything there... NOTHING. No watering lines at all... weird huh? It was really fun visiting with the mission president because he is retired from a job of personal security for the President of our church. So he has traveled far and wide and had the opportunity to acquire many amazing items. He shared with us many of his experiences travelling throughout his job. It was very cool. I know he will do a great job serving there for the next 3 years.

That night we went to bed around 10pm, after some more yummy ice cream bars with Mom and Dad. (My family's tradition of eating ice cream on Sundays)

So far, we had been taking it easy, but part of that was the time change and part of that was we just enjoyed visiting with my parents. But get ready for the next few days, cuz whoo... it's a doozy!

(see facebook for more pictures)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How did Reid do on the Plane?

Well, we did it. We traveled internationally with a 1 year old. Crazy?... definitely. But it was so great at the same time.

Here is our travelogue for getting to England:

Thursday 5:30pm
Drive away from our home to head to Phoenix to spend the night at Matt's grandparents, so we can catch our flight in the morning.
Reid didn't sleep very good this night, unfamiliar surroundings and such. Oh how I was so thrilled he was going to be sleeping in unfamiliar surroundings for the next week.

Friday 8:15am
Leave grandparents house with aunt to drop us off at the airport.

Friday 8:45am

Walk into airport to see horrendously long lines - Oh crap, we're never gonna make it! Then we find our line... 6 people (well, groups of people). Sweet!

Friday 9:00am

Airline lady gives everyone dirty looks for actually standing in the airport's shortest line and not doing self check-in! So we attempt, which of course we can't, because we have an infant. Big suprise. So we continue on.
Check-in was easy, Security was easy. They had to do this vapor test on Reid's milk. It was interesting.

Friday 10:30am
We board our plane. The plane was overbooked, so no extra free seat for Reid. Bummer. But the plane was 2 seats on 1 side, 3 on another, and we had the seats with 2 on the side. Perfect, we can just manage him and not have to bug anyone else.
Reid slept for about 45 minutes, as opposed to his usual 2-3 hour nap. So we attempt to entertain him. Right behind us were two teenage boys that would smile occasionally at Reid, but behind them were 2 teenage girls who just loved him! He had a blast the last hour of the plane ride flirting with them.

Friday 4:00pm (Chicago time)
We land a little early, but our gate wasn't ready for us, we wait on the plane. Then we get into our gate late, so basically by the time we get out, find our gate, talk to the lady about options with a baby, get our seat re-assignments, they are boarding the plane. So we quickly get on.
Well, its lunch time Arizona time, and I'm starving! But don't worry, they claim they are serving dinner an hour into the flight. Ok, I can wait an hour. Except that we moved all the way to the back of the plane, so we could get an extra seat for Reid. Well, we were right by the galley and the latrines, and wow it is NOISY back there. Plus, you don't get served your food until last. And all that stuff about the stewardesses being nice and letting you walk to the plane... LIES ALL LIES! They kept telling me they needed to get by, and getting frustrated with me. I understand that they need to do their job, but seriously, could you at least be nice about it. There was one really nice blonde stewardess, but 1 out of 7 can only do so much.
In the mean time, Reid is sooo cranky, cuz he never got a real nap. So he finally crashes, and sleeps for a good while. Of course he wakes up everytime a loud chatty person comes back there to wait in line for the potty. Then he wakes up with 3 hours left of the flight wide awake.
Now that it is 10pm AZ time, I'm tired, and he's ready to play. Oh well, no sleep for me. Basically, I try to watch the in-flight movie and play with him, while he tries to dive into the aisle so he can go push every button in the galley. Oh well, all in all, it really wasn't that bad. I mean that's all normal stuff for a 1 year old. No screams, no fits or tantrums. He really did do pretty good. It's just hard when the parent is tired and trying to get some sleep.

Saturday 7:30am (England time)
Plane lands, we de-board. Bathrooms for me and Reid. Let Reid run and stretch (which was harder because it was midnight my time, and I just wanted him to play in one area), while Matt waits in the customs line.
Finally, we get through customs. The wonderful part was that at this point, everyone had gone ahead, so the only luggage left on the carousel was ours. Yay, a silver lining! We get our bags and try to find our way to the exit.
By the way, this is the exit sign in Europe... man running at the white rectangle?
(ignore the imprint... I coudn't find one without it)
Or if running, beware of the white rectangle below you that might swallow you up?
We go through the door, and there's my mom. An emotional embrace immediately occurs, and Reid is just chilling in his stroller (or trolley as my mom quickly corrects me) wondering why Mommy is crying.

It was so GREAT to see my parents! I didn't realize how much I miss them! At this point my father joyfully reminds us that the best thing to do is to CONTINUE to stay awake. Awesome.

Ta-da! We are in England. Stay tuned for updates on our actual vacation in England!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

From Baby to Toddler

Well, it has been an amazing year. I've hall all the thoughts and feelings capture in my friend's blog, and yet, I still feel the need to express it in my own words.

Having Reid has brought so much joy to my life. I never understood why all the mom's cried at different events with their children... I mean, I knew why, but I did NOT understand! Reid has accomplished so much and managed to do it with such cheer and happiness each stage inspite of my lack of knowledge to help him along the way.

One day he could get on all fours barely, the next day he crawled. One day he'd take 3 steps from furniture to furniture, then next day, he walked across the room to me (and his daddy).

The joy and love that I feel for his little smile and the sweet hugs and kisses he gives me can never be expressed by simple words, but know that it is there, and I am so grateful for the blessing he is to us. I've waited almost 30 long years for this time of my life, and now that I have it, I feel nothing but joy in each frustrating step.

I love you Reid, Happy Birthday!

the cake

Reid's piece at the beginning
Reid's cake at the end
And his awesome friend who came to join in the fun!

(p.s. these are the last pics of Reid up front... so we can manage our ambiguity and not go private

Thursday, June 24, 2010

My Little Helper

As Reid has become more mobile, he has started mimicking some of my behavior. And since you are "supposed" to constantly talk to your child, in spite of how completely ridiculous you feel saying the same things over and over in the same chipper tone... you still do it so that their language skills will grow! So I have started talking to him about "helping" around the house.

Here is Reid "helping" me sweep

Here is Reid showing me where the dish towels are... and perhaps trying to clean up some drool?

And one evening, while I was doing the dishes...

He kindly made some room for more silverware.
Little did I know....

That he had found a better place for it!
I turned it so you can see it better.

And here he is, trying to find that perfect dish for me.

Needless to say... he was a real pill that night, but I was laughing so hard that all I could to was take pictures to blog about!