Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exploring the James River

Last Saturday, we definitely wanted to take advantage of the warmer weather. While I was coaching a basketball game, Chuck took the girls to 2 spots on the James River.

They first stopped at Pony Pasture Rapids (bottom right picture), which is a popular rapids area to swim, tube, and kayack. Obviously, none of those things were happening that day, but we will definitely check it out in the summer.

Then, he headed over to Pipeline Rapids to check out a blue heron rookery that he read about in the paper earlier in the week. (Blue Heron picture from Times Dispatch)
I'm so glad I was able to meet up with them there. It was gorgeous sitting in the sand by the river watching the girls play. To get there, you did have to walk along a narrow walkway above the pipeline (top and bottom left pictures below) which made me a bit nervous. Chuck did carry Lucy, but Leland did well holding on to the rails.

The birds were amazing to see, even from such a distance. We even had a few trains pass on the tracks above us and one across the river.

Lucy loved playing in the sand. She has that San Diego blood in her. We kept calling where we were a "beach". Leland kept informing us that it was not a real beach, just a pretend beach.
Chuck walked farther down the pipeline and was able to catch a kayaker going through the rapids. It was a wonderful outing and we can't wait to go back again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Our Beautiful Girls

Oh how I love these girls.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Attack of the mascara

Lucy had a little fun trying to put on mascara. I don't wear makeup but about once a week, so this is our first child-wearing makeup incident.

This was the look on her face when I showed her herself in the mirror. I think she was shocked by the way she looked.

When Leland found her hiding in our bathroom she came running, yelling that Lucy colored on her face with a sharpie. Luckily that was not the case and the mascara easily came off everything with makeup remover.

She did a pretty good job just doing it around the eyes. She knew where mascara was supposed to go, except for maybe the black I found on her tongue.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We Love Cousins!

We were lucky enough to have another of Chuck's sisters visit with her family. Amy, Wayne, Darcy, Dixie, Dillon, and Denim all came for a long weekend trip from Denver. Even with Wayne in a wheel chair with a broken foot, we still managed to pack in lots of fun times. They had a rough time getting here flying standby, but at least Darcy got here when planned. It was nice to have here for a short time by herself.
Chuck took our girls and Darcy to a Lowe's Build and Grow and then to Maymont Children's Farm. While we were at Maymont Nature Center, Chuck left to pick up the rest of the family from the airport. Leland loves taking people to Maymont. She gets in her tour guide mode like her daddy and runs around showing everyone all her favorite things and telling them the rules. Amy, Darcy, and I took a tour of Maymont Mansion before heading home.

On Sunday, we walked around the Richmond National Battlefield and Tredegar Visitors Center. The kids completed a Junior Ranger activity book. We've never done one before because the youngest recommended age is 4 yrs old, but it was awesome. It helped focus the learning to a child's level and Leland really got into learning about the history. Once they finish a certain number of activities, they earn a (really cool) patch or a (not so cool) badge. Now I need to figure out some way to display them. The best thing is every National Park should have a Junior Ranger program and it's FREE.
We also took our visitors on our obligatory walk out on the walkway over the James River followed by a driving tour of Richmond including a stop by the State Capitol and Hollywood Cemetery.

We have a great museum pass from a museum in Ohio called Boonshoft Museum. It has reciprocal benefits to children's museums, science centers, aquariums and zoos all over the country. I would love to support our local museums, but it's the best bang for our buck. Luckily, Amy has the same pass, so were able to go to the children's museum and science center. We spent a few hours to the children's museum, ate lunch, then walked next door to the science center to spend a few more hours. We have never gone to the science center before and it had a lot to offer. Everyone had a blast.
Tuesday morning, Amy and I took the kids to another National Park to do a Junior Ranger program and went to Chimborazo Hospital.

I also have to toot my own horn and mention that we had some fabulous food while they were here. Our Sunday dinner of ham and potatoes was great, besides the overflowing juices from the ham that are now charred on the bottom of my oven. On Monday morning, we had scrumptious breakfast including grits. I'm not sure I won anyone over with the grits, but at least no one put honey on them like Chuck foolishly did when I first met him. Monday night was the best with pulled pork sandwiches with homemade BBQ sauce followed by apple pie (not homemade). A good'ol southern meal for those west coasters. At some point during dinner Wayne asked if I had eaten squirrel before, he has some serious misconceptions of the south (Chiggers! seriously?). I think our screened in back porch may have won some points because, he talked about wanting to come back to eat a meal on our back porch.

This is Denim and Leland while watching a movie in the Tredegar Visitors Center. Moments like these are why I absolutely love getting together with cousins. They just love each other and are best of friends. Thanks for visiting! We hope to see you again soon.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine! Valentine!

Chuck was so cute and put a Valentine message for Leland, Lucy, and I in the Love Notes classified section of our Sunday paper. The girls thought it was so cool to see their names in the newspaper.
6 years and counting. Thanks for all the love and fun we have had together. You are a wonderful husband and father. You are level-headed and help me keep things in perspective. My life is so blessed and I'm lucky to have you.
Why Lucy loves her Daddy: he gives me hugs, plays dress-ups with me, go sleep in his bed.
Why Leland loves her Daddy: he cuddles with me, teaches me piano, he loves me.
It was fun to have the Dittbrenners visit for the weekend, so they were at our house for Valentine's Day. I'm not sure if there is a story behind why the Gates family does this (any sister wanna help me out?), but on Valentines someone leaves a gift on the doorstep, rings the bell, then runs and hides. Everyone inside the house runs to the door yelling, "Valentine! Valentine! Valentine!" to see who was left a gift. This happened several times all day long, it was fun.

Monday, February 8, 2010

What do you do in the wintertime?

When your whole world is covered in white? Well here is a little list of some of the fun we had (and are still having)...Once again I started writing this post a few nights ago and now here we are having our 3rd round of snow fall. This is getting a bit ridiculous. After more than 2 weeks of an icy street, I finally saw a plow on our streets today. I guess my phone call to VDOT yesterday to express concern was worth it.
  • baked bread - I'm trying new recipes in the hopes that I may stop buying bread as much.
  • made several batches of cookies
  • drank A LOT of hot chocolate
  • made snow cream - I had to educate my SoCal husband on the joys of snow cream. You mix clean snow, milk (I used soy milk so I could have some), sugar, and vanilla until it's like soft serve. We also sprinkled mint chocolate chips on top. The girls loved it and Chuck also made a root beer float with it. Yummy!
  • went sledding - the girls enjoyed going with the neighbors sledding a little too. It had been a fun way to get to know some of our neighbors more.
  • had snowball fights
  • Chuck shoveled A LOT of snow off of our driveway and even the road in front of our house. One of our neighbors told him that he has never seen anyone clear their driveway as much as he does. It gave him something to do outside and not go stir crazy in the house.
  • played make believe - the girls are really into choosing different characters for each family member to be. Lucy will be Peter Pan and only respond to us if we call her Peter Pan or she'll be Wilbur the pig and crawl around like a pig and not use her hands to eat. It's quite entertaining.
  • painted
  • made Valentine cards for Leland's class
  • made little puppet monsters. We aren't totally biased to just princesses. we enjoy a good sword fight or two and monsters as well.
  • stayed in pjs for most of the day
  • had dance parties
  • learned and practiced new techniques in PhotoShop
  • Chuck pushed quite a few cars up our icy street
  • We panicked thinking our car window motor died after rolling only half way up. Luckily, we have a car port to put it under during the snowstorm. But Monday morning, Chuck took it to the dealership to get a diagnostic on what was wrong. The verdict --- feeling a little embarrassed that the window lock button was on. Luckily the guy did not charge Chuck the $50 diagnostic fee and just laughed at him. That's what happens when you don't go to work most of the week and just shovel snow for most of your day - you don't think straight. Pretty classic to tease Chuck about for months and maybe even years :-)
  • We had church at home. This was one of the most special things that we have been able to do. With church being canceled 2 weeks in a row and Stake Conference next week, our Bishop granted worthy Priesthood holders to bless and pass the sacrament to their families. We had a fabulous one hour "church" just with our family. We all got dressed in Sunday clothes had the sacrament, then had a short testimony meeting. It was a very sweet teaching and learning experience for everyone. We then had a little Primary too. We learned a new song and had a lesson. (I used a FHE lesson from here) It was so wonderful I'm afraid Leland might start asking to have "home church" every week.
  • on the computer playing Poisson Rouge. Fun website that my girls will spend forever on. They love it. I'm not sure how Chuck found it, but I'm glad he did.
  • we fixed our hair. I attempted to put some braids in Leland's hair. I'm not good at all and need to start practicing/learning how to do more.
  • We ventured out to find that only our neighborhood roads are covered in thick sheets of ice. The big problem is just our roller coaster of a street. Just tonight I watched a trash truck get towed from the slick road in front of our house. They had a massive tow truck pulling it and a crew of men throwing salt on the road between the 2 trucks. It probably took them over an hour to finally get up the hill. Tonight, we also had a maintenance man ask to park in our driveway so that he didn't have to drive the rest of the way down the hill to work at a neighbors house. So he parked in our driveway and just walked the rest of the way down.
  • Most of all we've had a lot of fun spending time together as a family. The girls have really had a fun time with each other and I've enjoyed watching them play.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

As I See It

This is what I see from our office window. Snow falling on an already snow covered ground. I'm pretty sure it will snow all day and we won't even be getting the worst of this storm. An hour west of us (Charlottesville) and two hours north of us (DC) are both predicted to get 36 inches of snow this weekend. I just pray that we don't lose power.
Leland found these glow in the dark glasses trinket and has been playing with them for days. The other night she says, "Look mom, I'm aunt Suzie!" It made me laugh, I needed to share.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sledding and Hot Cocoa

I haven't even written about our last weekend of snowstorm fun, and here it is snowing again. Seriously, it's like we live in Idaho or Minnesota, or something. All this snow is ridiculous. Local kids only had school for part of the day on Thursday this entire week. Leland cried when I told her school was canceled again today. The poor girl missed a week from being sick, now this. She loves going to school.

Now on to the fun we had in the snow. Chuck got the idea from some of our neighbors to lay down tarps before it snows, so then you can just "slide" the snow off the driveway. I think it worked well, but still lots of work.
The girls love sledding. They stayed out for hours. The day after our snow storm, it was a sunny warm day. Leland and Lucy both had so much fun.
I was so proud of Leland carrying her own sled back up the hill. Chuck kept offering to carry her sled or pull her up and she refused. She was so cute to pull her sister around on the sled too.
The girls decided to take a break from sledding, but they weren't quite ready to come in, so they took a break sitting in Chuck's car. Since we are not used to this much snow in VA, they didn't even plow our roads, a front loader came through to move some of the snow off the roads. Chuck asked him to dump a load by our driveway. He built a nice ramp to start the kids off down the hill. The front loader didn't do that great of a job clearing the road, but the girls were happy that they could still sled down the road.
The girls love coming in from the snow and having hot chocolate. Their stir in of choice is a piece of candy cane. I'm glad I had a bunch leftover from Christmas.
Now we will get ready for more snowy fun this weekend. Everything shuts down and gets canceled. I would be surprised if we had church on Sunday. Chuck finally found some snow shovels for sale and bought a few since we knew of some friends without a shovel. A few stores I went to this week had signs on their doors that said "NO Shovels, NO Sleds, NO Salt". VA seriously isn't equipped for this kind of weather.