Monday, December 30, 2013

Luray Caverns

I can't remember how I heard about Luray Caverns, but I had it on my list of things to do while we are living out here. The temperature inside the caverns is a constant 54 degrees with high humidity, so it's a great winter activity. Nate and I were worried that one of our kids would refuse to go inside (for a million different reasons), but we showed them some pictures and told them about it and they were all up for it. Our friends the Rasmussens were able to join us, and it was a really memorable Saturday.

The caverns are just incredible. It was like being on the set of a movie or something because it didn't seem real. I can't even imagine being the one to discover a place like this.

 The bottom half of this picture is water reflecting the ceiling.

We are always a roller coaster of emotions and moods with these 3 kids.

Right next door to the caverns is the Car and Carriage Caravan Museum. Definitely random, but it was worth the walk through. As soon as we entered I asked Nate what it smelled like to him and we both said my grandpa Fred's garage at the same time. I thought of him the whole time I was in there because he has always had an interest in (and collects) old cars. They had some really neat things like this old cart that children sat in while goats pulled them.

We needed some fresh air and some space to move around after the caverns and museum. We found a little park in town and played there for a long time. We lucked out with a really nice December afternoon. This was by far the favorite piece of playground equipment, and kids were constantly hanging on for dear life and flying off.

We had an early dinner at a little hole in the wall pizza restaurant. It's always fun to eat at those kinds of places when you are out exploring. We hit some bad traffic on our drive home that brought back memories of driving across the country this summer. Being stuck in the car for hours is always a good exercise in patience for me. :)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Over Here

As I folded up the tree skirt and put it away today, I could not wrap my mind around the fact that Christmas has come and gone. It's always such a happy whirlwind. In fact, I never posted a few pictures I meant to during the month of December. 

Like this one of the kids under the tree one night...

Or Emmy accessorizing (she's an expert at it you know) the snowman...

Or our poor elf who Jansen "hid" in the toilet and then got tossed in the sink till I could deep clean him AND the sink...

Or the night we made gingerbread houses...

Now on to Christmas Eve and Christmas...

We spent Christmas Eve at the Rasmussen's and had a wonderful dinner with ham, potatoes, rolls, Brussels sprouts, Jell-O, fruit, and other deliciousness. 

I think Jansen really wants a foosball table now.

We read from the scriptures and the kids acted out the nativity.

Lucky Natalie got to be Mary.

 Is this not the sweetest picture of our little "angel?"

The kids watched Home Alone while we played a game. I cannot for the life of me remember what it was called, but I was awful at it. We had so much fun though.

 After we got home the kids opened a present from Mom and Dad: new pajamas, slippers, and a book. Jansen and Natalie both love Calvin and Hobbes right now. We spent some time talking together about the reasons we are thankful that Christ was born. 

 Our kids have always gone to bed really well on Christmas Eve, they sleep through the night, and don't wake up insanely early. I don't know what we did to deserve it, but it makes for a happy Christmas morning. I'm sure it will change over the years. I think Jansen and Natalie woke up around 7, and we got Emmy and headed downstairs. There's just no way to describe the magic of Christmas morning. Although a couple of these pictures do a pretty good job of capturing it.

This is part of the aftermath. It's mostly cleaned up now, but still not all the way! A part of me cringes when I see all that "stuff," but it happens once a year, and I just love the joy and memories it creates for the kids. I know they don't need lots of gifts to be happy, but I think the real meaning of Christmas can be remembered, treasured, and celebrated while still enjoying the excitement of Santa and presents.

We had a late, late breakfast with cinnamon rolls, breakfast potatoes, omelets, and a smoothie. The rest of the day was spent in our pajamas just being together. Jansen loves his laser tag gift, and Nate has been a good sport to play many, many rounds with him. Now that Christmas is over, I'm ready for spring!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eventful Saturday

Before I talk about our eventful Saturday, there's a little catching up to do.

Our recent ward Christmas party included a simple nativity skit starring the Primary children. Natalie was a shepherd, and Jansen did NOT want to dress up.

I found this note from Natalie all folded up and addressed to Santa. What can I even say about this. Hahaha.

We created and decorated nativity scenes with some friends. 

And we've had some incredibly nice weather! Nice enough to spend some time after school at the park without coats.

This past Saturday was so warm, sunny, and beautiful. I think it got up to around 65 degrees. Jansen and Nate were playing in the backyard in shorts and T-shirts. Natalie and Emmy got really dirty.

Nate and the kids spent most of the morning in the backyard. Nate finished raking up all our leaves and did some maintenance on the bird feeders and squirrel obstacle course. Later in the day we drove to USUHS to use the ultrasound machine in the clinic to take a look at the baby.

We got a little sidetracked by a poor Red-bellied Woodpecker that had flown into a window and died.

Somehow it was decided that we should bury the little guy.

 Inside everyone cast their vote on the sex of the baby...1 means girl, 2 means boy. Only Emmy thought we were having a girl.

And she was right! Nate got some very good looks, and he is very confident it's a girl.

I feel so excited about having 3 little girls. I am happy for each of them to have a couple sisters, and I am already imagining all our girls' nights and girls' trips. 

Jansen was very disappointed it wasn't a boy. Poor kid has such strong emotions in all facets of his life, and he was very upset that he will be so outnumbered. 

I can't wait to see Emmy be one of the big sisters.

Later that evening we went to see the lights at the DC temple with some friends. Because it was the weekend and such a warm day, it was VERY crowded, but we were so happy to be there and experience it.