Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nauvoo and St. Louis

This year we had a grand family adventure. We left on May 29th at 4:30 a.m. so that we could all be on the plane by 7:05. We were wearing lovely bright green shirts that made us easy to identify as a "group". On the way home, wearing our bright yellow shirts, people kept asking what group we were with. We were simply a family group.
Due to the fact that it is kind of hard to rearrange pictures once they are put in the backwards order, and I don't want to bother, I'm going to tell you about our trip in a backwards fashion. We started the trip by landing in St. Louis, and we went back to St. Louis for the last couple of days of our trip. While we were there (at the end of our trip) we did two things. We went to the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and to the St. Louis City Museum. Since I could only fit five pictures on this blog to represent our trip I didn't include pictures of / from the arch. We all enjoyed being up in the arch. Tia loved the view so much that she said she would go up there all of the time if she lived nearby. Of course, I had to point out that she'd have to have a pretty good job to do that since going up in the arch is not free.
The City Museum is also not free, but we chose to go there over the less expensive places (like the zoo which is free except for parking) because we thought we could stay there for a long time and all enjoy it. We stayed for three hours give or take a little. We could have stayed longer but we were all hungry and we were a bit too cheap to pay for the food. This is a fun museum. It is three stories of tunnels, slides, rope swings, circus acts, bug collections, a few birds and animals (a mini Bean Museum for those who have been there), and other things that we somehow missed. There are places where adults and children can play in piles of balls and where you can take a rope bridge over water (I didn't see that until I was leaving -- shucks). Outside you could climb on top of the cage type thing that covered the ball pit and you can keep going up through tunnels to old airplanes that are perched two or three stories high. In the picture below our fearless Dan is headed up above the ball pit. We were amazed that such a place was still open in the U.S. It was very fun.

On the day we left Nauvoo (June 2nd) we went to Carthage Jail to see the place where Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were martyred. We arrived a little after a busload of people from Utah. The picture below was taken in the very room where the prophet and his brother were killed. What you can't see from this picture is the other 25 people we were with. I was rather pleased with how reverent the people were -- including our own children. At one point the missionary played a reinactment of the last few minutes of the Prophet's life in the jail. Included was the song "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief". You couldn't see the audio device on the mantle next to a clock(the room was dark because it was raining outside). Dan turned to me with amazement and said "Mom, that clock is singing!" and he listened to the song quietly the whole time.

That same day, before we left Nauvoo, we finally took a picture of us by the "big white wan". We told Dan it was a van but he said "NO! not van, wan." and that was that. We drove around in a big wan the whole time and that was one of Dan's favorite things about the trip. That final day in Nauvoo we finally made it to the brickyard, the blacksmith shop, the family living center, and the Lucy Mack Smith House. We were even allowed to go up the steep steps in the LMS house and I was pretty pleased about that. I've always wanted to go upstairs in one of those houses!
We did a good variety of things in Nauvoo and it worked well for all ages. We visited parks with teeter totters and fast slides and high swings (we loved that). We threw rocks in the impressive Mississippi River and collected "treasures" there. We went on a wagon ride, we saw a play, we went to the visitors center, we saw and listened to a band concert, we went to the bakery, and we walked to the Nauvoo Temple a couple of times -- once at night when the kids also discovered the joys of watching, and catching lightning bugs. Below is a picture of us at the temple before church on Sunday. Some nice missionaries took our picture for us. One of my favorite things was going to the temple with Derek on Monday and thinking about how much the early Saints sacrificed to build it and how much it meant to them -- and how hard it was for them to leave it. It is a blessing to have it rebuilt.

Below is a picture of us at a little waterfall near Nauvoo (or maybe in Nauvoo). Jake's wearing one of the green shirts I mentioned. Some of us went to Dominoes that first day in St. Louis and I noticed on the receipt later that the worker had typed in "Holy Green Shirts!" I thought that was pretty funny. It really was a fun trip that worked out well for a family with a wide variety of ages.

I cried when we got home. What if I never get to see my beloved Nauvoo again? But we think we will try to go again when the boys are older and their favorite things aren't the big wan (Dan), the parks (Jake) and the swimming (Connor). Tia was allergic to something in Nauvoo and her eyes would get puffy every time we went outside but she was a good sport and so was the rest of the family. It really was a grand adventure for us!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Connor turns 11

This is Connor when he was still known as "The Big". He was not big when he was born but he quickly became a rather big toddler. At least, to those of us who carried him around he seemed awfully big! Connor was our first boy and he was welcomed with joy by us all. He did have one "defect". He spit up all the time -- a lot. His Aunts, Grandmas and even friends of mine were forever having to wash their clothes so they wouldn't smell bad after holding him. I tried to convince the Dr. to give Connor some medicine to keep him from spitting up so much -- but Connor was so big the Dr. wouldn't. He didn't think smelly clothes and carpet warranted medicine I guess. When he finally quit spitting up (when he was around 2) I had the carpet cleaned.

Connor was the youngest for a little over three and a half years and we wondered how he would adjust to having a new brother. Fortunately, Connor is a kind and loving brother and he loved Jake from the very first. Sometimes he'd get grumpy at me for not spending enough time with him but he never took it out on Jake. I was so proud of him!

Obviously Dan loves him too. Connor gets along with all of his brothers and sisters and has been Kayli's good buddy since he was two and I'd send him along with her to play.

Connor is very active. He loves riding his bike (now that he has a working one again) and he loves sports. He plays soccer, basketball, and baseball -- though we didn't sign him up for baseball this year. He pitched last year and was a great pitcher -- but it stressed him out so he didn't enjoy playing as much. Basketball is his favorite sport.

Connor had brownie trifle for his birthday dessert so I held his candles for him. Dan had to take a turn blowing them out too. Connor spent a lot of his birthday reading (he LOVES books) and we also went to the park (just the boys and me) where he played with his brothers. He enjoyed chinese food and a movie for his birthday evening activity. He loves movies too. Connor is an excellent son. I really could say lots of good things about him but I'll stop by saying he had a happy birthday.