Sunday, June 24, 2018


Madison and Clark got this play tent for Christmas, and they like to use it during the day.  They were looking forward all spring to when the weather would be warm enough to go camping.  We finally set a date, but cancelled our reservation at the park because the forecast included a lot of rain.  The kids were so disappointed that Lauren told them they could camp in their room with their play tent.  We set it up between their two beds in their room, and they each used one of the sleeping bags that I got for Christmas.

Madison likes to dress Clark up in girl clothes.  It's not my favorite thing, but it's difficult to stop.

We drove to a farm across the border in Pennsylvania--about an hour drive, maybe a touch more.  We took a tractor ride out to the strawberry fields and went to town.

The temple in Philadelphia is downtown, with public parks, a library, the Franklin institute, Philly's science center, etc. nearby.  While I was in the temple, Lauren took the kids to the library.  On the way, Madison saw this giant chess set.  When Lauren and I switched, Madison kept asking to go to the park to play chess.  So, we went.

When we got there, this man (Kevin--very friendly guy) had just set up the pieces to play a game against himself.  Madison pushed me to ask him if she could play one of the sides.  He was happy to play against her.  She played the game herself.  Meaning, she would go to the piece she wanted to move and ask if such and such move was legal.  If it wasn't, I would tell her what moves were legal with her chosen piece.  She actually played okay.

After Lauren was out of the temple she came over to where we were.  Kevin heard that we had to leave soon and he told Madison that he was sure he was going to lose soon and so he decided to forfeit the rest of the game, making her the winner.  She was thrilled.  She loves chess, math, reading, and soccer.

Dairy Farm & Ice Cream

We drove about an hour away from our house to see a dairy farm.  We got ice cream that had just been made, watched the cows getting milked, and fed a bottle of milk to a calf.  The kids loved it, but Madison's favorite part may have been chasing a chicken and her chicks around the field.


We went to Pimlico, the horse racing track where the Preakness is held every year.  During the week of the race you can go in the early morning and see the horses training and tour the track.  Lauren started feeling unwell, however, and we left early.  On our way out everyone grabbed a free doughnut and juice.

 When we got home, Madison decided to turn Elsa into a jockey.  If you look closely you'll see that she took some twine and created stirrups and used a hair scrunchie to create reins for the unicorn.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Big Truck Day

Baltimore City had "Big Truck Day" for the kids.  It is exactly as it sounds...all the city services brought their trucks (police, fire, street cleaning, trash, construction, ect) to park and let kids get up in them to sit and pretend drive.  Lets just say there was a LOT of honking at this event.  We had to hit the trash truck per Clark's request.  That was our first stop.  

The police armoured swat truck was the coolest.  This is what they used during the riots.

Good weather days

Helping Clark spin.

Clark and I watching the dragon boats while Madison went potty.  A friend loaned us some gold coins.  These gold coins allowed us to get free tours of the boats and submarines in the harbor.  It was a super nice day to be outside.

Zoo day.

Getting some ice cream after playing at the park for a few hours.  The weather had gone from cold to hot.  One of the TCBY chains does $1 cones on Wednesdays.  I'm trying to cut back on my sugar and was hoping for a lick from Clark's because I didn't get one for myself, but he was insistent on getting cotton candy...sad. 

Having a snack at the park.  I love this picture of them.

Madison's fairy garden she made.

Clark loves being outdoors!  I often hear "I want to go outside!"  It's been warm and he has been playing hard in the dirt.  He fell asleep in the middle of dinner three times one week.  We would usually grab him and hold him when his head started swaying at the table so he didn't get hurt.  

Swapping babysitting with some friends at the Philadelphia temple.  I brought a new game for the kids to play and it was a hit.  We just sat outside the temple, ate lunch, played a game, and then let the kids run on the grass.  I sure was glad for such beautiful weather that day.

Fairy Tail Ball

We went to the annual fairy tail ball at the library.  Madison gets so excited to dress up for this.  When we arrived the lines for balloons and face painting were super long.  Luckily they closed things down for a minute and shuttled all the kids into a conference room to watch a dancing performance.  It was a bit too warm for me, so we left the conference room and got our balloons and face painting (only Madison wanted it) without the lines.  Sweet!  We had a tea party, made crowns, grabbed some snacks, and headed home.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

New York

Jay-Z released a song a few years ago that comes to mind whenever I think of New York.  I don't listen to Jay-Z, but the song was a megahit and hard to avoid.  The part that sticks out is the chorus:
"In New York,
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothin' you can't do
Now you're in New York
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Let's hear it for New York, New York, New York"

This is on my mind because I'm writing from New York.  Well, really from our Airbnb rental in Garfield, New Jersey.  Lauren went home this afternoon to pick up the kids from some friends in Baltimore, and I'll present a paper at the national education research conference.  We left Baltimore on Friday morning, and saw the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and Ground Zero on Friday.  On Saturday we completed an endowment session at the Manhattan Temple, met with a professor that I wanted to network with from UConn, saw Wicked, walked a portion of the High Line, and tried out a few restaurants.  Here are some pictures, in sequence:

We didn't stop at the Statue of Liberty because it was mid afternoon by the time we made it from Baltimore to New Jersey, from New Jersey to the train station in Manhattan, and from the train station in Manhattan to the ferries.

 Below is Lauren, people-watching, and looking good doing it.  It struck me during this trip that she was pregnant with Clark during our last getaway, to San Francisco, and our vacation before that (to DC) was when she was pregnant with Madison.  But this lucky baby gets two trips, because we're due for a trip to Boston this summer (since we don't know if we'll be around for the summer next year.)
Below is part of the NY skyline, as seen from the ferry.
 And here is a closeup of the new world trade center tower that was built to replace the other two.
 Here we are at Ellis Island.  The phone handsets are audio tours.  In this picture Lauren is sitting on an original Ellis Island bench that immigrants would have waited nervously on, to learn if they could come in or have to turn around and go home.  Only about 2% were sent home, but over the years that totaled about 250,000.  Ellis Island stopped functioning in about 1953.
 Street performers around Battery Park, where the ferries dock.  The photo doesn't show it, but there is a third performer on the bottom.  Only two of the three performers are shown.
 Here is Ground Zero.  There is another one, just like it, where the other tower stood.  This is the south tower.
Below is us after Wicked, thoroughly impressed.  When we moved to the east coast, we both had some things we wanted to do or see while in the east.  It's a short list.  I could probably count it on one hand. I think it goes something like: Monticello, Independence Hall/Liberty Bell, Boston, Wicked.  Honestly, I had unrealistic expectations for Wicked and I didn't expect it to live up to them.  I was told it was just amazing.  But I was skeptical because it was hyped so much, and it is a musical, which I don't always love--but I do like some musicals (Fiddler on the roof, for example).

Wicked knocked my socks off. 
 Walking past times square.
 This Taco place is on 43rd, between 7th and 8th ave.  I've had lots of authentic mexican food, but this was soooo good.  I'm going back tomorrow after I present and before I go home.  It was the best food place we tried (which admittedly wasn't as many as we wanted to try)
 Here is some New York pizza.  Good pizza, but nothing you couldn't find at a good pizza place elsewhere in the country.  I had chicken and broccoli and Lauren had chicken, bacon, ranch.
 Below are two ridiculous pictures of Walmart, where we stopped to pick up an umbrella for me because rain is in the forecast.  Lauren and I laughed on and off during our five minutes in the store because EVERY isle we went down was blocked off, "for safety" (remind anyone of Utah's basketball team?)  You'll notice that in one of these pictures, the store resorted to plastic wrap--presumably because they were out of gates.

We stayed in New Jersey and took the trains in every day because the basement we rented in New Jersey was about 1/4th of the price (from $200 to $50/ night) as Manhattan hotels.  Of course, navigating an unfamiliar public transportation system didn't come without its hiccups.  We had a 3 minute window to catch a transfer train on our way home last night, and got on the wrong train.  It set us back an hour.

Lastly, at church today, we visited a nice small ward.  I always feel bad when we visit wards because people's faces always fall visibly when we tell them we're visitors and not new move-ins.  But I understand, visitors are infinitely less exciting than new additions to the ward.  However, on the opposite side, it is not as exciting to say "we're new" as I think it should be.  Whenever we tell people we're new move-ins, their faces don't get any brighter.  They don't appear crestfallen, it is true, but the conversation ends equally quickly, "Well, welcome."