Sunday, May 30, 2010

Leland's Preschool

Leland loved preschool and adored her teachers. We loved her school so much that we enrolled Lucy for the fall. Leland is counting the days to start kindergarten and get to ride a school bus.Leland participated in soccer camp with Richmond Kickers. It was so convenient because it was right after school in the gym. So I just picked her up 45 minutes later than usual and they could still do it in the rain. She loved it so much. Lucy loved being able to watch her too.A video of the songs they showed to the parents on the last day of school.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Grammy and Papa's Farewell

Chuck was able to go spend a few days in Cali with his family to attend his parents' mission farewell. (I'm sure Chuck will add more details soon, but I'll get him started.) Here is Chuck with his parents and 5 sisters.
On Sunday, the morning they were to speak in church about their preparations on leaving for a mission, they received a phone call informing them that their mission assignment had been changed!In April, they had received their 18-month assignment to Greece. For many weeks they had been diligently learning Greek with the help of a tutor. Friends and family had made plans to visit them and stay in the 3 bedroom, 2 bath apartment in Thessalonika, Greece.Instead, merely 2 hours before their farewell talks, they found out they had been reassigned to serve in Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa and need to learn French. Crazy! Talk about having faith to go where the Lord wants them to go.
I was sad to miss out on the emotional day, but I'm so glad that Chuck was able to be there with his family.

The family had other fun times with a corn roast at the beach (and subsequent foot washing party - top left below), sifting through boxes of memories of their childhood to help clean out the garage, and playing games.Check out this handsome man I married who found a bunch of BYU Cougars paraphernalia from his youth! (Yep, those are old school BYU sunglasses!) He claims it is proof to those who say he is anti-Provo.I wish my baby was there to play with all these little ones and that my girls could spend time with their great-grandparents.
To be honest when looking through all the pictures it made me miss living in Cali a little bit. I actually got a little teary looking at the beach pics. But I still love my daily life here at home in the South, and I can always visit Cali to taste the parts that I miss.

We are so excited for Grammy and Papa. We can't wait to hear all about their adventures in Africa. If you are curious about what it's like where they are going, check out the blog of the current mission president in that area.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Williamsburg Day #6: Strawberry Ferry

After saying goodbye to all of the family in Williamsburg, we headed back to Jamestown. This time to ride a free car ferry across the James River to Surry County. I had some friends who knew of a pick-your-own strawberry farm and we decided we needed to do it.The short (and free!) ferry ride was gorgeous and peaceful. The girls thought it was really fun.The strawberry farm, College Run Farms, was just a few minutes from the ferry. It was lots of fun, but very HOT! The girls were excited about picking strawberries. Lucy kept saying she wanted other colors besides red ones. They did a great job finding and eating strawberries. Chuck got the award for the best picking! He straddled the puddles at the end of the rows where few had gone to pick, so we found some good ones. Lucy was worn out by the end. It was hard work.With Charlotte in a cute little strawberry outfit, we couldn't resist some pictures. Notice her cute little toes poking out of the leaves. Once she discovered the yummy strawberries she was in heaven.We cooled off with some yummy strawberry ice cream before taking a scenic drive home.
What did I do with all the strawberries
  • homemade strawberry ice cream
  • strawberry lemonade (with fresh lemons too)
  • waffles with strawberry sauce
  • cut up in salad
  • dipped them in Nutella
  • my first attempt at strawberry jam (I've now made 3 more batches)
I just couldn't get enough of the fresh fruit, so I joined a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). We joined a fruit farm called AgriBerry. I'm in heaven each week when I pick up my box of fruit picked just days beforehand. This week we got sweet cherries, blueberries, black raspberries, and red raspberries. Absolutely fabulous and worth it. I'm also trying out another Buy Local group called Dominion Harvest. My home deliveries will start in July. I love the idea of supporting local farms.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Williamsburg Day #5: Yorktown

Yorktown has a really quaint little area next to the James River called Riverwalk Landing. It was a little disappointing since there were only a few shops actually open. The kids enjoyed a picnic next to the water. There was also a great beach area that would have been fun to play in had we known it was there and come prepared with swimsuits.Yorktown Battlefield Historical Park was the next stop on our history tour. We purchased the driving tour CD (only $5!) and headed out to enjoy the beautiful scenery. We learned about the artillery used and how they built these protective bunkers in the middle of the night (top left). I'm always a little in awe when you look out on the open fields, try to imagine a war occurring, and those individuals walking, sleeping, and fighting out there. It's pretty humbling.We saw a cool little group of turtles hanging out on a log. Tara and her cute little pirate hook and pirate's scowl. What a cutie!

We didn't do the Yorktown Victory Center, but our new annual passes to Jamestown Settlement work there also, so we will have to do it when we go back.

Williamsburg Day #4 - Jamestown

Out of all the places we were planning to visit during the week, I was the most excited about Jamestown, the site of the first English settlement in the new world. In 1607, 13 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, a group of 104 English men and boys began a settlement on the banks of Virginia's James River. The community suffered terrible hardships in its early years, but managed to endure, earning the distinction of being America's first permanent English colony.

During our tour of the Jamestown Settlement museum, I revealed a secret of mine that I long to be an Indian during (or really before) those times. If I could choose any era to live in, 16th century Virginia would be it, but as an Indian not a colonist. There's just something exciting and refreshing about living with the land and using only the natural resources you had access too. Families and the entire tribe were a very close knit unit as well. I can only imagine the feeling that they must have felt when they saw this strange thing called a boat and all that it brought with it. I also feel a bit of sadness for them and how drastically their world was changed and overtaken.We went to Jamestown Settlement which was an amazing facility. It is located very close to the original settlement, but it is a great learning facility for both kids and adults. There was an informative movie then an extensive gallery and museum exhibit that walked you through 16th century Virginia. That's where we really discovered how I really could be one of those Indian women. We found an exhibit with a woman working in the fields with a baby wrapped to her back, just like I tote Charly around. Ha!

Powhatan Village showed how the Powhatan Indians lived. There were different stations set up where an interpreter would demonstrate a different aspect of life - cooking, making tools, clothes, fishing nets, etc. You could explore inside each hut, as well. The kids enjoyed using oyster shells to scrape the fur off a fresh animal hide (disgusting!) and playing Indian games. I was so impressed with Leland and how much she wanted to learn. She was very focused and interested.
James Fort showed how the early colonists lived. There were several buildings - a home, church, and trade shops - to walk through, kids games of that era, and a cannon that was fired periodically.

Jamestown Settlement Ships showed how those early colonists lived for 4 months while traveling by sea to the New World.I think this whole visit was fabulous for the kids. The adults took turns watching the introductory film and walking through the gallery without kids, so that we could take our time reading.

We chose not to pay to go to Historic Jamestowne, where the archaeological dig of the original village is, because it is supposedly geared much more for teenagers and adults. I can't wait to go back and do both!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Williamsburg Days #2-3: Colonial Williamsburg

On Tuesday and Wednesday of our trip to Williamsburg, we spent two full days at Colonial Williamsburg in order to see and do everything and in what Chuck calls, "southern style," which means at a speed where you don't feel rushed and you enjoy the journey.
The whole gang (minus Mike M. who was working).
The re-enactments and everyone dressing and talking like they were in the 18th century was pretty neat. Each day the area turns into Revolutionary City where there is an outdoor drama production.
My cute husband - (top left, clockwise) played a lawyer in the royal court. He was allowed to pass the bar! 3 years and enormous debt was worth it! Marching in the militia with Papa and Hock. Learning the proper way to greet the ladies. Chuck sitting out on the lawn with 5 of the 7 kids so that the rest of us could enjoy a tour of the Capitol building.All locked up. Everybody took their turn as criminals. I have pictures of me as a kid in these stocks.
We love to explore new places, take tours, and sight see. We realize that our children do not always have the same fondness. We had 7 kids 5 years old and younger in tow. Chuck's dream is to compile and write a tourism book for families with young children. It was hot, so plenty of water and snacks were a must.

When we visit places I'm going to start tracking what the kids loved and what the kids did not love. The Williamsburg list of daily activities did have "kid-friendly" symbols listed. They loved - picnics on the lawn, going in the shops and learning about how guns, wigs, spoons, and other things were made in colonial times, walking (running) around trying not to step in the horse poop, and the gardens. The maze behind the Governor's Palace was a lot of fun. The kids loved running around trying to find each other and trying to get to the center. The tradition is to kiss when you meet in the middle. This was their favorite place and asked several times to run around the maze.
Lucy was in heaven with all the rocks and shells on all the walkways. She had all sorts of collections.Some of the things the kids could have done without include anything indoors sitting down, such as the conversations with George Washington and Patrick Henry. They liked the outdoors guided tours, but not the indoor ones. Colonial Williamsburg is definitely a huge retirees vacation spot, so we tried to be respectful of those who probably are not used to having kids in tow during vacation. Most people were very friendly and understanding of the kids, but there were a few yankees sitting behind us during the conversation with George Washington who were cranky; maybe somebody from the northeast can explain why y'all are like that. And why y'all also root for Duke.

Williamsburg Day #1: Fun at "home" away from home

When we travel, where we are staying becomes "home". The kids (and adults) loved where we stayed in the Historic Triangle (Williamsburg Plantation). We had 2 two-bedroom condos in a town home layout with one right on top of the other connected by a private, indoor staircase. The kids could run up and down the stairs and not bother anybody else. Across the driveway was a playground. There were also tennis courts and an indoor pool. All of which we used several times, unlike last year in Florida.

We started our trip with a day of relaxing at the resort. We also spent many evenings playing at our new home. Tennis matches, swim lessons, pedicures, card playing, digital scrapbooking, movie watching, story telling and lots of cooking. It was great having more time to relax and hang out rather than just run from one site to another.
I love when the whole group wears matching shirts. Strangers talk to you about it and asks about our family. The pink/blue shirts are from last year's Bodell reunion. Many people asked about Charlotte's blue shirt - the reunion shirts were ordered before she was born last year and we didn't know if we were having a boy or a girl. They figured blue can go on a boy or a girl, pink most people would only put on a girl.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Week in Williamsburg

During the week of May 9, we had an east coast partial-family vacation. Two of Chuck's sisters (Mitzi and Lani) brought their families to join ourselves and Grammy & Papa in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a week full of U.S. history as we toured Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. We love that we are Virginians now, so one of the highlights was seeing a quote by William Byrd, the founder of Richmond, who said, "In the beginning, all America was Virginia." It was amazing to revisit so much history and fun to play with family.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hocks in Richmond

Chuck's sister, Lani, her husband Michael, and their son Houston came to Richmond for a few days before our week long part-family reunion in Williamsburg.

We love having family visit and we love showing them around our fun city. We strolled around Maymont, flew kites at Chimborazo Visitor's Center (National Park), toured the State Capitol, and ate dinner on our back porch. The girls especially loved all the attention from their Uncle Hock.Houston and Charly are only 5 months apart, but he has about 20 lbs on her. They were very cute playing together. The best was while walking around Maymont, Charly would stick out her arm and try to get his attention and hold his hand. It was so cute. Notice the bottom left picture - he's going for the neck, but she is still all smiles. She loves attention!More cousin fun - picnics, cuddles, flying kites.
Grammy and Papa came to Richmond the night before heading to Williamsburg, so the girls got a little extra cuddle time. Chuck also took everyone on a driving tour of Richmond before church. They hit Hollywood Cemetery, Monument Ave Historic District, and some views of the James River.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

New Skills and Being Positive

I think it is important to gain new skills and try to learn more to better myself. I've been trying a few new things lately.
  • Baking bread - I'm on my 5th try. We'll see if we eat this whole loaf before it goes bad. (It was delicious and I actually made another one that was good too, so I think I have figured it out.)

  • Gardening - We have one little spot of sun in our yard, where I am trying to grow upside-down tomatoes. The plant is growing, so that's a good sign. We also have strawberries coming in and basil.

  • Canning - We got a great deal on some produce at a local grocery chain that was bought out. I made applesauce and froze some green beans. The applesauce was fun to make. I made 8 quarts. The girls enjoyed helping until hot applesauce splattered onto Leland's legs.

  • Photoshop - Taking pictures is hard, especially with kids. We are the "set-the-point-and-shoot-on-a-tripod" kind of family picture takers. So the pictures usually need some tweeking. After I posted my family's before and after on our cousins' digital scrapbooking blog, I got some requests to fix others' pictures.

  • In this first example, I moved Leland closer to me a bit and then added in the grass and bushes. (before on the left, after on the right.)

    In this next one, check out Cole's face, who is in the center of this picture of the Johnson family. (before on the left, after right.) I pulled his face in from another picture.

    In this picture of the Morrises, I removed the sunspot.

    I know I'm not great at any of these things yet, but the key is yet.

    On to my goal on being positive -

    I took Charly to a weigh-in this week. She gained almost a full pound in the last 2 weeks, so she is at 15 lbs. 10 oz now, but still not hitting the growth curve at all. I was very excited. In talking to the doctor I decided that I am going to request an evaluation for her gross motor skills. Now that she is 10 1/2 months old, she should really be trying to crawl and stand/cruise right now. So in combination of her size and not doing those things yet, I think she could benefit from those services. I'm not as stressed about her being so little anymore, but I will be glad to meet with a pediatric GI doctor next week just to be sure. So here are some things I'm grateful for that she is so little:

    1. I can still carry her in my baby wrap because she's such a light weight.

    2. She still stays in the same place that I put her down.

    3. My 3-6 month clothes that my other girls grew out of so quickly, Charly is getting lots of wear out of.

    I often find Leland and Lucy in Charly's crib playing with her when she wakes up from a nap. Oh how I love these girls so much. On days that I'm feeling flustered, I need to remember moments like this.