Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day out with Granny!

Today we have an extra special treat!  A guest blog by Granny Sam.  It's short but sweet.  

Jilly spent the night on Thursday and since we were having so much fun, we asked her mom if she could stay another night.  There was more fun to be had.  She said yes.  Saturday morning I asked Jilly if she wanted to get a tattoo with Granny and she said "Yes!" so off we went.  I called Aimee on the way and said, "Jilly and I are on our way to get tattoos."  She said, "That's fine.  Just don't let Jilly get a Dora.  I don't want her looking back on it in 10 years and saying, 'That was so 3 years old!''  

Jilly sat very still while the nice lady did a beautiful purple heart on her left hand.  She even sat still while Granny got a beautiful swirly design on her leg.  It was so much fun that we decided Jilly needed her face painted too.  We topped it off with a pink heart helium balloon and called it a day.

Thank you Granny Sam & Grampa Paul!  Jilly had such a good time grocery shopping, playing in the sprinkler, doing art, playing with bubbles, school clothes shopping at the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (an annual Christensen tradition), going out to Pho and walking along Sunset Ave, etc.  Jason loved having Mommy & Daddy all to himself for a couple days (mostly Daddy, Mommy worked) and getting to actually keep his lovey in his bed because Big Sister wasn't in there to steal it.  Here's to many more sleepovers with grandparents!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Big East Coast Trip! Part Three - Boston!

The Friday of our trip, we headed out to Boston to visit Steve's college roommate Christian, his wife Tara and their little boys Daniel and James.  The last time we saw them, was literally in the hospital when Jilly was born (they happened to be visiting WA that weekend, since Christian's sister lives near us.)  We've each had another baby since then, and Tara is pregnant with #3 too, so it had been a loooong time.  We had a great two hour drive and arrived at their cute little house for lunch.  After lunch, we loaded up and headed into Boston proper.  We parked at The Common and explored the park for a bit.  Man, it was beautiful!!  The kids hit off right away and Jilly just loved Daniel.  When she'd be getting cranky and refuse to walk, I would tell her "You gotta go catch up with Daniel!" and she'd take off after him.

This is how a lot of the day went.  Daniel would run off to check out something.
Jilly would chase right after him.

James would come along as well.
And all three kiddos would check out whatever it was.
Sometimes with amusing results. 
Jilly was more adventurous, with Daniel and James to lead her, than she often is.  It was really fun to watch her really playing with other kids and exploring more.  They spent a lot of time at this fountain.
There were these cool people that looked like statues.  When someone would tip them, they would move.  It was slightly creepy, but mostly really cool to watch.
We headed out of The Common and along the street.  There were so many pretty churches everywhere, often nestled between two high-rises.
This is the Freedom Trail and you can follow it all around Boston (I think it's like 3.5 miles or something) and check out lots of cool things.  We didn't have time (or the legs) for that long of a walk, but we saw a little of it.
We went into the graveyard where quite a few of the key players in the American Revolution are buried.  It was so cool!!  This was my favorite headstone.
They were just lined up everywhere.
This is Mother Goose's grave.  Apparently, she would tell the stories to her kids and it was either her son or grandson who wrote them all down. 
I can't remember who's grave this was, but someone important.  ;-)
After the graveyard we headed to "The Ducks".  Steve and I thought we were going to feed actual ducks, which was cool, because Jilly is all obsessed with ducks lately.  Little did we know, we were going to metal statues of ducks! We hadn't heard of "Make Way For Ducklings" before, but we learned about it then.  It's a children's book about a family of ducks in the park.  The statues are of the ducklings from the book. 

The kids were flocking around the ducks, sitting on them and having a good time, while us parents hung back and watched.  Then this conversation took place:

Steve: Hey Tara, I'll pay you a dollar to go sit on a duck.  ::snicker::
Tara: Okay!!  ::runs over and sits down::
Steve:  Uhhhh....Aimee, do you have a dollar?  I didn't think she'd do it.
Aimee: ::laughing:: Yeah.  Tara, I'll give you the dollar.
Tara: That's okay, I would have done it for free! 

Daniel made sure to climb up on the big mama duck at the front.  Cute boy!
After hanging out at the ducks for quite awhile and having a snack, we moved on to see a few more Boston sights.  We stopped by Cheers (but did not go in to see if everyone really did know our names. ;-))
Again, more beautiful churches.  There were just so many! 
I could have taken pictures of them all day long.
We walked back through The Common as we headed to the car.  I just loved these fun purple flowers. 
After touring Boston, we decided to go to Jordan's furniture store for dinner.  They have a Fuddruckers in there, which was yummy, then we took the kids over to the "liquid fireworks" show (fountains with lights and music- pretty cool!).  It was getting late, and the kids were tired, so we went back to Christian & Tara's house.  We just had to get pictures of everyone.  First off, the roommates reunited. 

Then all the kiddos.  They are a really cute bunch.
Then the first attempt at the timer on the camera.  Less than stellar.
Attempt #2, much better. 
At last, young love.  Seriously, Jilly loved Daniel so much.  She just followed him everywhere and was so happy to be with him.  We all decided that it was perfectly acceptable for them to get married in 20 years.  :-D 
We had to leave at some point though, and by the time we got on the road it was 10pm.  Luckily, the kids slept pretty much the whole way back to Connecticut.  We had such a good time with the Hahns.  They are so awesome!  We made "plans" to all be back in Texas by the summer of 2012.  We hope it works out, because these kids need to grow up together!

Overall, our trip back east was phenomenal.  It was a lot of work to travel that far with the kids, but it was definitely worth it.  We had a lot of fun with everyone we visited and it was fun to have a vacation. 

The Big East Coast Trip! Part Two - The Reception!

Thursday was the big reception.  It was held at this gorgeous mansion, called The Wadsworth Mansion.  You turn onto the long, tree lined driveway and the house isn't visible from the road.  About a half mile (?) down, the trees open up and you see this beautiful building.  I loved it. 

My aunt and uncle rented two ballrooms and the room in between.  They decorated them beautifully, with white, navy blue and hydrangea blue.

The ballrooms were beautiful.  They used one ballroom and the middle area for most of the tables, where the guests ate dinner and watched the slideshows of both couples.  The other ballroom had a few tables, but was used for dancing. 

There was a really cool grandfather clock in one of the ballrooms and I just had to take a picture.

My boys, dressed up in their finest, eating dinner. 

Steve took Jilly for a walk around the grounds (she was cranky and sick of being inside).  There was a beautiful sunken rose garden, and he got this picture of her smelling the roses.
Back inside, the kids found these vanities with mirrors underneath.  There was one on each side of the foyer as you walk in, and that's where the guestbooks were.  (By the way, the guestbooks were Shutterfly books with each couple's engagement pictures and then guests signed them.  Way cool!)
This is the cake, in the middle area.  You can see the big patio right outside.  The original plan was to have tables outside on the patio, but a thunderstorm rolled through just before the reception.  Smart choice to set up inside.  Anyway, the cake.  The cake topper is from Spain.  My uncle bought it while he was on his mission and brought it home, to use for his wedding, whenever that would be.  It was on his & Auntie Terry's wedding cake, and now has been used on Gator, Robli, Kylee & Ryan's wedding cake.  Very cool.
Here are the couples cutting the cake.  They were mostly pretty nice to each other.  ;-)
After cake, the couples played The Newlywed Game.  Each one held their shoe and their spouse's shoe (so one of each).  Auntie Terry would ask a question like, "Who controls the remote more?" or "Who wants babies more?" and they would have to raise the shoe of that person.  They were mostly on the same page, but there were some funny moments when they disagreed.
Auntie Terry asking the questions.

After the game, it was time to toss the bouquets and garters and dance!  We headed into the empty ballroom, and Robli was showing off how cool her dress looked when she twirled. 

The back of Kylee's dress was beautiful as well.  Two gorgeous brides and two handsome grooms!
Funny story about the bouquet toss.  There was a chandelier right in the middle of the room, where the brides were going to be tossing.  Auntie Terry pointed it out to Kylee, and Kylee turned to Robli and said, "Now make sure you aim low, so you don't hit the chandelier!"  Then Toss!  BAM!!  Kylee splattered her bouquet into the chandelier and several of the roses fell out.  Oops.  Hahahaha.

By the time they had their first dance, our kids were really tired.  So we grabbed a picture with the happy couples and headed home to put the babies to bed.  We only had time for the one picture, so of course, both the kids looked away.  Oh well, you all know what they look like.  ;-)  It was a lovely reception with lots of fun and yummy food.  Congratulations again to Gator & Robli Bell and Ryan & Kylee Bangart!!  We love you guys!!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Big East Coast Trip! Part One - Hanging Around

A few weeks ago, we took a trip back east to Connecticut for a wedding reception.  Two of my cousins had both gotten married this spring and were having a joint reception in CT, where they're from.  It ended up being easier/better for us to go to CT for the reception than to the two weddings, so we did!  We were gone for five days, two of which were mostly spent traveling.  Let me tell you, traveling cross-country, with two small children, their stroller & car seats, standby, is not the most relaxed way to travel.  But we survived!  While we were there, we got to spend lots of time hanging out with my family, visited my Grandma, and even went out to Boston for a day to see Steve's college friend Christian & Tara.  Because I took so many pictures, I'm going to break them up into 3 different posts.  So make sure you keep scrolling down to see them all!  Without further ado, let's begin!

Wednesday, we left our house at 4:30am so that my mom could take us to the airport.  We had a 7:00am flight.  It was EARLY.  The kids were not happy about being woken up so early, but calmed down in the car.  We were traveling standby (but for free- yay benefits through work!) with an infant and with two car seats so that added an extra layer of excitement to the whole check-in and go through security thing.  It actually went fairly well, even though I was not feeling good.  We got on the plane and flew to Chicago.  On the way there, the kids decided to take turns screaming.  We learned a valuable lesson.  Giving our children Benadryl before they're ready to fall asleep is NOT a good idea.  Rather than pushing them 'over the edge' so that they could sleep, it just pushed them to the edge, so they were cranky and refusing to relax.  ::sigh::  Eventually they both calmed down and it was okay.  But it was a frustrating hour or so for sure.  In Chicago, we switched planes, and got on another one to Hartford.  Both flights there was space to bring Jason's car seat on, so we ended up in two rows, me and Jilly in front of Steve and Jason.  No one sat by us on either of those flights, which was nice.  Both kids fell asleep at the beginning of that flight, so they were okay for it.  Plus, both flights that day got in early!  That was soooo nice.  Of course, as we were taxiing to the gate in Hartford, I let Jilly out of her car seat (which she'd been begging me to do for 20+ minutes), and she was on my lap.  All of a sudden, my leg got really warm and I knew exactly what it meant.  Sure enough, even though I pulled her off my lap as quickly as I could, she had peed through her diaper, soaking both of us.  DRAT!  I had packed an extra shirt in the carry-on for me, but not extra pants!  At least, we were at our final destination so we headed down to Baggage Claim, got our bags and then I took Jilly to the restroom to change both of us.  Our looooong trip was complete! 

We thought the kids would be fine to go to sleep, because they were so tired.  They did go to sleep easily that night, but about 4:45am (eastern time!) I heard this rustling.  Jilly got out of her sleeping bag, walked over to the bedroom door, then right over to the bed Steve was on.  She started crawling on him, which woke up him and thoroughly confused him; he thought Jason had gotten out of the playpen! ;-)  He said to her, "Jilly, what are you doing up?"  She replied, "Can't sleep!"  Now, that's funny but pretty normal for a lot of three year olds, but it was amazing for Jilly.  She used to never respond to questions so directly, let alone express how she was feeling!!  Landmark, I tell you.  Anyway, she would not go back to sleep and kept talking, so rather than waking up Jason, Steve took her downstairs to read and hopefully soothe back to sleep.  Eventually, she did fall back asleep and snoozed on the couch for about 3 hours.  This is what I came out to that morning (I'm up on a balcony looking down).

Close up of the exhausted little girl.

That day was mostly spent hanging out around the Bells' house.  They live waaaaay out in the country, on a beautiful lot with a pond behind them and 'the woods' across the street.  Steve took Jilly on a hike around the Bells' place and snapped this photo of Richard fishing. 
This is the back of the Bells' house, from the pond.  Their deck is huge.  I love all the land. 
While we were visiting we also go to see my Grandma Chris.  This is my dad's mom and I haven't seen her since his funeral.  She has Alzheimer's and hasn't really been 'here' in a couple years.  It was nice to see her again, and really cool to get a picture of her with her great-grandkids.  None of them will remember this, but I will, and I have the pictures.  Jilly sat her lap for a few minutes and we even got to hear Grandma laugh!  That was fun, she sounded just the same as ever.  :-)
My family with my Grandma, the only grandparent I had.
We also got to meet some of my cousins' cousins.  Auntie Terry is my dad's sister, and her kids Gator and Kylee were the ones that both got married this spring.  Auntie Terry's husband Uncle Kevin has a sister, Marsha, in Virginia, who came up with two of her daughters, Becky and Katie, and their kids.  (Coincidentally, Becky and Katie have another sister name Aimee- just like me!  So my aunt and uncle have nieces named Aimee and Katie on both sides of the family!)  Jilly had a good time playing with the other kids and even wanted to play Battleship with Becky.
Dylan took an especial shine to Jilly.  He kept holding her hand.
She thought that meant, they were going to spin. 
Here is Jilly, taking Dylan's invitation to hold hands, as an invitation to spin.  

Jason also made friends, especially with my cousin Gator.  (For the record, Gator is not his legal name, that's Devin, but he went by Gator from the time he was born until he moved to CT when he was like 12, so I still call him Gator.)
Whenever my mom finds gator clothes, we have to buy them.  So it was absolutely necessary that we got pictures of Gator and Jason in his Gator jammies.  So cute!!!

Auntie Terry wanted in on the cuddling action.  It was a lot of fun to see her and Uncle Kevin with the kids.  They even took Jilly out one day, with Becky & Katie & their kids, to go play, leaving Steve and me at home with Jason.  Later, we ditched both kids at home with them while we had to run to the store.  (Diapers- you can't travel without them! ;-))  The kids really loved them, and they had some super awesome toys for sure!
So did Kylee.  I don't blame them.  Those jammies are almost silky and super soft.  Love them!
Gator's wife Robli, is just a doll and played a lot with the kids.  Jilly loved "Wob-wee" and points her out in pictures often.
Robli was so patient and sweet with the little ones.  She must have been a fantastic nanny, and will be a fabulous mother when the time comes!  :-)

We had such a good time, just hanging out with the Bells, the Longs (Robli's family), and the Ballantynes (Marsha's family).   We got to spend some time with Kylee's husband Ryan and his parents too.  Lovely people all around.  The Bells were gracious and generous hosts, letting us use their car, feeding us well, and being so accommodating with our little ones.  While our kids are pretty good, it's still a lot to ask of someone to host a family with two little kids.  It was a spectacular visit.

Stay tuned for Part Two - The Reception!