Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to School

Rhianna is now in 2nd Grade. She has been very happy this week to be back in school. I hope it will be a great school year for her.

As of Thursday night, she is also now a toothless wonder. She lost a tooth in May, June, July, and now August. It makes for a cute smile and a tricky time eating.

Also, just for those wondering, the school cut-off date here is August 31, so Rand misses it by just a few weeks. So Rand and Seth are home with me. We will be doing an art class again and are already back to the YMCA and the library and getting back into the regular swing of things.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

And Finally Chicago!

After our visit in Utah we drove back to Colorado. I got to see a few friends that I have known since elementary and middle school. And then Steve and I left our 3 kids with my mom and dad and brothers and went to Chicago. We have now done a few trips like this, and it is always hardest for me to actually say good bye to them and give them that hug....then once I am on my way I am okay. My mom headed to the park with the kids at the same time we headed to the airport so that Seth especially wouldn't get upset.

Our flight was the most turbulent we have ever been on. Several people around us were on the verge of throwing up...but we made it safely. Then we got in a taxi...I always think it is crazy riding in taxis, but again we made it safely. Steve has his annual Academy of Management Conference every August, and since the school pays for his way, by just paying for my flight we get a good vacation.

We were staying in the Sheraton which is right by the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, a perfect location. Steve did have a few paper presentations, lunch meetings, and conference receptions to go to, but we also did many great things together.

*Blue Man Group - Very funny, very entertaining
*River Architecture Tour - We took the tour done by the Chicago Architecture Foundation and this was excellent. The docent knew so much about the architecture and the history of Chicago. We saw beautiful, amazing buildings.

*Millennium Park - The park has an amphitheater designed by Getty and then several sculptures and fountains. The bean was amazing, the different reflections off of the polished metal. I also loved the face fountain that would spit water - kids were playing in it and I thought our kids would love it.


*Art Institute of Chicago - A chance to see more of the famous paintings we had learned about back in college...a great collection and we only saw a portion because we were just getting tired feet from all the walking.

And FOOD
*We just watched Top Chef Masters last night and I am proud to say we ate at Frontera Grill by Rick Bayless who was the winner. And it was fantastic food. It was the first ceviche we had ever had and we were surprised by how good it was. The guacamole - I could have been happy just eating that. We were also surprised by how we liked the little corn pancakes topped with chorizo and plantains.
*Chicago Deep Dish Pizza - we ate together at Gino's and Steve also went to lunch with other professors at Giordano's. Gino's pizza was great and we also really liked their cheese bread.

*LB Bistro - This was actually in our hotel and the chef is more known for his pastries. The desserts were very cute little $2 deals. The chocolate cake and strawberry shortcake were good but again we were surprised that we liked the lime custard with strawberries so much.

*Weber Grill - We were happy they did the BBQ so well - we are more picky now that we have lived in Texas.
*Big Bowl - This was Asian food and again very good. We got the orange chicken and then a seasonal, more Thai influenced noodle dish with lots of veggies. Both were good. Steve also tried the ginger ale that they make themselves - way too gingery for me. I got their freshly made raspberry lemonade.

It was great to have those few days to ourselves. And I also really want to thank my parents and brothers. Michael particularly was Seth's buddy - Michael played with him, put him to sleep, got him medicine in the middle of the night when he was sick - I am glad Seth is named after him. Calvin got Rhianna and Rand involved when his friends came over for dinner and then for his Young Adult FHE. My dad had a busy weekend - he was actually in Utah for my grandpa's 80th birthday party. And so my mom did the rest...cooking, laundry, parks, gardening, rec center and swimming...they had a wonderful time. We left on Thursday, August 13 and actually ended up driving the whole way back to Tucson. 900+ miles from about 6:30 am (Mountain Time) to 9 pm (Pacific Time) but then we were home. This was literally one of the best summers of my life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Utah


Our next stop was Logan, Utah. I am very blessed to have all four of my grandparents still living. We stayed with my grandma and grandpa Clyde. I could just tell they were so excited to have us. They always greeted us outside and had food and toys and everything ready for our stay. They took us out to the back yard and let the kids run through the sprinklers. The kids learned to pick apricots and leave the pits on the fence for the squirrels. They also had raspberries and gooseberries. Over the next few days my grandma cooked us many good meals, including Curry Chicken which is one of my favorites. Rhianna loved wandering around the house looking at grandma's many beautiful things. She has read my grandma's life story so they could talk about her book and look with both grandma and grandpa at their picture albums. My grandpa has always loved mechanical toys and gadgets and so he took time to play with cars, yo-yos, tops, marbles, and more with the kids. I really felt their love in all they did with us and I am glad we had the time to visit.

We spent one afternoon visiting my grandma and grandpa Funk. My grandpa has had some strokes and now it seems like he has lost most of his memories. So it was harder to talk with him this time, but he also seemed gentler with the kids and they were able to sit with him. Rhianna even fell asleep on his lap. My grandma is doing really well. She told us all about the plays and operas they have been to this summer. She also spends time serving in the temple. She has always been very social and is still able to enjoy all these many things. Once again she made us a good dinner complete with Casco's ice cream she has always had for us when we visit.

We were also able to see my aunt Becky for a few minutes and go out to my aunt Tania's house. Tania had tons of delicious raspberries, and several animals for the kids to be around - new puppies, chickens, goats, and horses. The kids all got turns riding the horses - thank you Tania. Logan also has lots of memories for us since that is also where we went to school and met. So a few times we took the kids out and showed them some of the places we lived at USU, places we would go, we took a walk around campus, drove around the temple, and of course we got some Aggie Ice Cream.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Idaho

One thing we discovered on our drive up to Rexburg was that leaving early works really well with our kids. We left at 6:30 am, they fell asleep again for most of the first few hours. Then there was just the middle section of the day that was kind of rough especially for Seth. Then Seth slept again after our lunch break and we made it up to Rexburg by about 4:30 pm. So that was how we did the long drives the rest of the trip.

Our time in Rexburg was pretty relaxing. Steve's parents are pretty busy in their retirement. They serve as Humanitarian Service Missionaries Mon-Wed and then serve in the Rexburg Temple on Fridays, so nearly full-time week of service. One of our highlights was getting to go to the Humanitarian Service Room and help them and others. They make all kinds of things to help people around the world (blankets, toys, newborn kits, hygiene kits) but at this time they were doing school kits. We helped put the school supplies in the bags to be sent to other children and that made Rhianna and Rand feel special that they could do that for kids their ages.

We also spent one day at the zoo in Idaho Falls with Steve's Aunt MaryJane and Uncle Stan and cousin Stephanie and her Sophia. Steve's brother Doug (the policeman) and Marnie also live near Rexburg so we got to see them a few times. The kids loved their dog until a tragic dog-walking incident in which Calvin the dog was too strong for Rand, pulled him over scraping his knees up pretty badly. He then said, as I carried him back home since he couldn't walk, "I am never getting a dog." Seth pulled the funniest faces when Calvin licked him. The kids also loved seeing all of Doug's police gear. Rand and Rhianna even got to ride in the police car to go get dessert.

Most of the rest of the time was pretty relaxing. We went to the park and splash park. They do free lunches for kids in the park on weekdays, so the kids loved doing that a few times. We went to the temple. There are beautiful gardens on the BYU-I campus that we wandered around in. We went to an airplane museum, the Teton Dam Museum, and the sand dunes. We did a little school shopping with Grandma. Grandma taught Rhianna Sudoku. Grandpa told stories. We talked and ate and read and played. We enjoyed being in a small town and walking to so many places. It was a great two weeks.

One of the funniest stories was from a dinner with the Humanitarian Missionaries. It was at a families home that has a lot of land and even some horses. The food was fantastic - dutch oven chicken, potatoes, scones, and then others brought sides and dessert - so good! Then Rhianna and Rand went on a little 4-wheeler ride. After that they were going to feed the horses. So I brought Seth along. We picked long grass and held it out for the horses. Seth did NOT want the horse to take that grass. He had a death grip on it and I was sort of worried the horse might get his fingers. Finally, the horse got the grass and Seth was SO upset. At any mention of the horse, he would hold out his hand and break down and be instantly sad. It was hilarious. I took a video of it the next day...


Sunday, August 16, 2009

At the End of the Summer

This has been a fantastic summer. June had very mild temperatures, Rhianna and Rand played spectacularly well with each other, and my friend Corine did a cupcake/cooking club each week for the kids. Then we left on vacation. We left June 29 and just came home on Thursday. Nearly 7 weeks of vacation. We are really blessed that Steve had this flexibility to take his laptop and still be productive while away from work. I cannot possibly talk about all that we did, but I will try over the next few days to share some pictures and highlights. Most of all we are grateful to have had such an extended period of time with family that lives far away. So here we go...

June 29, approximately 2 miles from home (Alvernon & Speedway for those of you who know Tucson) Rand says "We should have taken a plane." Cracked me up...we weren't even as far as the airport and still had about 600 miles to go that day. In all we drove about 3000 miles spread out over the 7 weeks.

Breckenridge Family Reunion with the Funks - All of my family was there except my brother Brian, his wife Becky, and Lukas...good news for them though that their adoption was finalized on June 29 and so now Logan is part of their family. Highlights - huge house, Alpine Slide, water slide at the rec center, playing pool, talking, "Oh Brother" a book we wrote for and about Michael, grandkids cooking with grandma, string treasure hunt for the grandkids, puzzle treasure hunt for us grown kids (with an unbelievably hard Sudoku....all of us are now committed to learning Sudoku so we will win next time), hiking with a million mosquitos, huge jetted bathtub with 5 little kids, fireworks (Andrew saying "My toot made a sound like a firework"), hearing my dad speak as an Area Seventy

Most of us were then able to spend more time at my parents' house in Aurora. We loved the yard. We loved the grass, gardens (for digging and for strawberries, potatos, tomatos, squash, onions...) My dad headed back to work but still made time for us, playing Whoonu, taking us to the Thai restaraunt, telling stories, letting us come visit him downtown and taking us to lunch. My mom continued to take great care of us, make us great food. She played in the kiddie pool with all the kids, did a campout in the backyard with the kids, went on picnics and played at the park. Calvin started teaching Rhianna some piano lessons. Michael was fantastic about playing air hockey or ping pong or toys with the kids. I was glad to have extra time with Maria. Rand and Andrew played really well together. Emmy and Seth were hilarious, they could both scream a high pitch and then be super loving. I gave Seth his first haircut of his life at 19 months old. Steve and I also got to go to the Denver Temple once again.

The only scary moment, and it was terrifying for me, was watching Seth fall nearly all the way down the basement stairs. He was even going down the right, backwards on your belly, way. But he stopped a few stairs down, and when he started going again his foot was stuck and he did 2 full head-over-heels somersaults down to the bottom. I was right there at the top of the stairs and saw it all but couldn't move fast enough. He got up on his own and was scared but actually not too hurt. I was pretty cautious all the rest of the vacation. We then headed up to Rexburg, Idaho...