Friday, September 9, 2016

Settling In

So we had a big move back in July. And between unpacking, seeing Andrew safely into his new job and flying off to visit my mom, we hadn't had too much of a chance to settle in yet.


As soon as I got back though, I set about making it feel more like home and nestling in, and you know what, it was good to be home -- even if said home had only been our home for a few weeks!

I thought the small-town life would be a difficult adjustment but so far it's been just lovely. Certainly it's a little frustrating that I can't just run to the store when I'm out of something (mostly household products) since we only have a small neighborhood grocer in town. But you adapt and learn to plan in advance -- and you love Amazon Prime even more!

And we have a little farmer's market in the summer, plus a farm store that carries nearby local produce through Halloween and it is delightful. FINALLY some good peaches!



Adelina particularly enjoys the library... for its literary value, of course. Ha! Ok, when we're there she just wants to play with all the fun toys, but I've started checking out a few board books for a week or so at a time and it's nice to have a few new ones in rotation. She's finally starting to "read" on her own sometimes, and it just warms my heart to look over and see her so interested. I can't wait to share my love of reading with her as she grows up!

Other than that though, who needs "things to do" when you have a family anyway? Andrew is busy at work, I'm busy with Adelina and our soon-to-be baby boy, and we get to actually hang out together on weekends. Honestly, it's been great, and I'm starting to really like this place. We're starting to settle into this new SAHM routine, and Adelina is working on "independent play," A.K.A. "don't interrupt mama with a request every five seconds" ha ha. She's getting great at it and I'm so encouraged, because heaven knows I'll need a little extra space with this baby on the way!


We have a library and a little museum, nice places to walk, and we've been really well welcomed by our ward so far. People out in the community have been really friendly too in general. A few people in particular have made some real efforts to reach out and befriend us and I am so grateful for that. Heck, we're even starting a Power of Moms Learning Circle this month!


Walking to church :)

Our post office is the cutest historical building -- check out those sweet mailboxes!


We went to our first high school football game -- go Rangers! -- the week we got back from D.C. and it was really fun. There were a lot of people there and even though we lost badly it was just a fun atmosphere. The hint of fall in the air didn't hurt either :)


A friend from Casper who is very close to a sister in our ward here had given us Rangers gear for Adelina and baby #2 before we left -- so thoughtful! -- so we fit right in ha ha.



Another thing about this place is that while it may be small and rural, it's actually a lot closer to a lot of interesting places than Casper was. There, it was a minimum 4-hour drive to get to a big city or point of interest, whereas here we are not even an hour and a half from Bear Lake, not too far from Yellowstone, close to several other western Wyoming towns, and about an hour+ from the soon-to-be-dedicated Star Valley Temple! And go figure, Adelina's sitter and her family just moved not too terribly far from us so we'll get to see them soon as well! I felt so bad about tearing Adelina away from her "second family" of sorts, I'm glad we'll get to continue that relationship in real life. Oh and the best part: we're only 2 hours from Salt Lake City, and 6 hours from St George! (which is a good thing considering baby #2's poor club feet that will require a lot of medical care in SLC -- I'm so grateful we are this much closer to world-class specialists)

Two weeks ago we decided to take advantage of those fleeting last moments of summer and go meet up with a friend from France at Bear Lake. She is married to an American and now lives in Logan so it's fun to have French friends nearby!



It was the PERFECT day, and I was a little nervous about spending so much time on the beach but Adelina was in heaven -- for four hours.


We severely delayed naptime that day ha ha. But it was worth it. And look at those sweet little friends!



We came back tired and a little sun-dazed, but so happy for the good company and peaceful sand and water. With that... I'm pretty sure summer is officially over. Bring on fall!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Virginia Trip

It has been a pretty crazy summer between moving, changing/quitting jobs, the pregnancy... and then we threw in a last-minute vacation. I figured Andrew would be busy starting up his new job once we were moved in, so I took the opportunity to go visit my mom while two of my sisters were staying with her this summer. Amelia, my second sister, had never met Adelina! She left for her mission to Paris/Brussels right before she was born. And Marina, the youngest, was preparing to go off to college, so I figured between all of that and before school started up for my mom, it was as good an opportunity as any.

What I didn't account for was how pregnant I was... and how big Adelina is. So those plane trips were not fun. I would NOT recommend traveling with an "infant" in arms while pregnant and alone, ever. But we survived, and I'm glad we made the trip!





We arrived just in time for Amelia's birthday, which we celebrated with a picnic at a beautiful nearby park. Check out those awesome falls!



We spent a lot of time at the pool... this girl cracks me up!




We also fit in some time to head over the D.C. Temple. When I was a little girl living in the area, I remember making many trips to the grounds, but I had actually never been inside! We took turns going in, Amelia and Marina first, then my mom and I, while the others watched Adelina at the visitors' center. Poor girl, she passed out shortly after my mom and I went in!




It was fun to walk around the visitors' center, but Adelina wasn't too terribly cooperative for photos ha ha. 


She loved this cute little fake house setup though -- inside it's decorated like a beautiful, cozy living room and there are videos about eternal families, etc. It's lovely!



We did manage to get one group photo at the end though!


It's funny what living in the mountain west will do to you -- the heat and humidity hit us like a wave as soon as we stepped off the plane! And we were lucky to arrive in the middle of a heat wave too... I survived, somehow. Not without a lot of breaks to sit and breathe ha. Luckily our second week was much more pleasant weather-wise, or I might have been tempted to hide out at my mom's the whole time! 

We were also treated to a Virginia downpour, and poor Adelina didn't quite know what to do with all the lightning and rain just falling from the sky. 


Amelia tried to help her enjoy the rain :) Usually in Wyoming when it rains, it's not so much of a dumping -- plus it rains diagonally anyway ha. She also loved cooling off on the balcony when she could: she loves just pouring things in and out of cups, bowls, etc.  



Anyway. We celebrated Amelia's birthday for several days actually -- the picnic at the park and falls, then sushi with my aunt Jan (YUM! I had been craving that for a while... don't worry, I only ate the cooked stuff. It was fabulous and I stuffed myself silly. Plus the company was excellent!)


Then the next day again with more extended family, including my grandpa. 

 

My grandpa is pretty incredible -- he fought in the Pacific with the Marines during WWII and spent most of his married life traveling the world with his wife. That was their favorite thing to do -- oh, and flying planes! And only recently with some health concerns has he been forced to stop traveling, but otherwise there would be nothing stopping him. He writes letters to all his grand-kids at least every month, and he's never missed a birthday or special occasion. Just today, he sent me a letter and included a full list of every place he has ever lived -- quite the record-keeper! A lot to look up to.




He was a really silly grandpa growing up: every time he came to our house he would make sure to buy ice cream, because "there should always be ice cream in the freezer!" So naturally, we thought he was the greatest ha ha. And he always played silly games and teased us. It was so cute to see him do the same thing with Adelina, and she really went with it too! Watching her play peekaboo with him was the sweetest thing.



Oh and check out what I found in his room -- Mini Lydia! #favoritegrandkid? Ha just kidding, but I hadn't seen those photos in a while!



Adelina got lucky this trip... she was spoiled with shopping, lollipops for breakfast... ahem. Silly aunts! And overall plenty of new experiences.



One of the "touristy" things I really wanted to do was check out the Newseum. If you couldn't tell from the name, it's a museum of news -- the men and women and organizations who shaped and told the news -- and risked their lives for it. It did not disappoint! It's not cheap (too bad I didn't get a discount for having sold my soul to the news biz for four years ha), but it is absolutely worth it. We were lucky to have a beautiful day too, so walking around outdoors to get there wasn't unbearable. 


This section below was about news coverage during the cold war, specifically surrounding the Berlin Wall. There's actually a whole chunk of the wall on display, along with an "angel of death" tower that sentinels kept watch in -- and frequently shot down defectors from.



It was interesting to hear about how on one side of the wall there was a free press and relatively open and free-flowing information, while on the other side it was state media only. And yet, a wall couldn't keep out radio waves! (The displays in this museum are really cool and very interactive. On each side of the wall, round stickers on the floor described the press content and quality. It was a little chilling to cross over around the other side and see the difference. And I had never realized this, but you see in the historical photos how much graffiti and art there is on the wall, but on the East side -- totally blank. Public art was not tolerated and there was hardly a marking on that side!)

The displays also told the story of a young man who was running the AP bureau, fresh out of college and all by himself, and he got an anonymous phone call one night saying "don't go home tonight." Intrigued, he went to cross the border between East and West Berlin around midnight and found a barricade with soldiers who told him the crossing was suddenly closed. He called in the information and was the first to get out the news on the beginning of the building of the wall. 

There were also displays on the FBI, 9/11 coverage, coverage of the Vietnam War (with lots of videos and documentary clips too), etc. It was shocking to see some of the correspondents' stuff: one guy embedded with troops carried around a "portable typewriter," which was still huge of course, not to mention camera, recording device, etc. Another one that really struck me was an AP photographers' papers: there was a big fat envelope that said "DO NOT BEND," and was covered in a whole crapload of stamps -- this was how he sent his work back to the office in the states to be published! It's unreal to think about those sorts of details in our age of instant feedback.


Another room that was really neat was the history of newspapers. Basically imagine a whole room full of pull-out displays of original, important newspapers throughout the ages. 


It starts with engravings that depict the French religious wars complete with captions and numbers that show what's going on in the image, sort of pamphlets that would be distributed and were an early precursor to newspapers. And then a whole bunch of front pages that were history in the making. It's so cool to walk around and pull them out and read.


The Star-spangled Banner was printed in the paper when it was originally written -- kind of cool that this is how people discovered the words!



There was also a really cool Election 2016 center with all sorts of interactive screens where you could pull up polling and voting data, look at real-time internet mentions of the candidates, etc. Very futuristic! And at the end there's a fun interactive newsroom where you can sit at an anchor desk and do a little green-screen live report, complete with teleprompter and your name on the screen. It was fun to parade everybody up there and watch them. Adelina wanted to try it out too, and this is just the cutest thing ever! She totally gets it ha ha!

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What do you think, I'm betting she's following in her mama's footsteps ;)



(There is a balcony at the top of the museum where have quite the view. I didn't have the energy to walk all the way up to the Capitol, so this is as good as it gets!) And then after 3.5 hours in the museum, the poor girl finally passed out on the way home. I can't say I don't blame her!



Oh this was funny: there were tiles in all the bathrooms with newspaper misprints and corrections -- what a clever use of the space!


As with every sister trip, there were plenty of clothes swaps and makeovers, of course. We also made some delicious lemon bars and ate lots of ice cream. My mom lives right by an amazing Pho place and I was super excited to try it out. Go figure, the kid manning the register was actually from France ha!






Marina was getting ready for college at SVU, so there was a lot of preparation, sorting and packing, and last-minute shopping trips. And off she went!


I took advantage of my mom driving her down (no room in the car with all her stuff, and it's a three-hour drive!) to go visit my dear friend and former roommate, Allie! Her youngest and Adelina are close in age so it was fun -- plus three kids means lots of fun toys, so Adelina was in heaven! 




We also headed over to a park and tried our best to get those two in a picture together... it's tough with toddlers. Hey, I got one smile!


I also had a chance to visit with a cousin of mine who's about the same age and just had a sweet little boy. Hearing her talk about not sleeping at night gave me flashbacks and reminded me of what's to come... oh boy. I need courage come November! 


But it was a lovely day and we met up at a gorgeous park. Adelina even made a little friend and it about melted my heart to look up catch them holding hands around the playground! (I was trying to capture this sneakily so as not to break up the magic... see them in the background?)


We also took a little trip to a nearby farm our second week, and that was really fun (Frying Pan Park if you're ever in Fairfax County -- it's free too!). Adelina was fascinated by the animals for a while, but then she saw that there was a playground and it was pretty much over ha ha.


Plus, a mean ol' biddy pecked her finger! Poor girl. Luckily, I had a band-aid on hand (am I turning into a mom or what?!).






We took a little wagon ride tour of the farm as well, but she was a little concerned about leaving the playground. It was still plenty of fun though, I just had to bribe her with a few snacks!

 

Oh, I fit in plenty of baby clothes shopping too... it is really hard to shop for little boys, so many of the clothes that are made for boys are just plain tacky! Logos, trucks, dinosaurs, sports, and lots of garish colors. Why can't designers just make stuff that's simple and with some more soothing colors? But I did make some great finds, and those tiny little clothes just made me so excited to meet our babe in just two short months (!)




That beanie!! <3 p="">

And of course Adelina got plenty of playtime with her Nana, who is an elementary school teacher so of course she has all the awesome educational playtime ideas. We finally determined whether or not Adelina can tell the difference between colors! (I had kind of been wondering honestly.. she didn't seem to care much for sorting them or differentiating!)



We also tucked my mom into her new job at a bilingual school, I'm so proud of all her hard work! Here's her classroom for the next school year. The school was lovely and so were all the people she's working with.



And the grounds around the school were beautiful -- as was EVERYTHING in Virginia. 


It may be humid but man... it pays off. Everything is so green, and the architecture is so lovely and colonial. I just couldn't resist taking pictures everywhere we went to send to Andrew!




And with that, our visit was over. It was back to the airport, which went quite well (she LOVES popcorn and happily munched away throughout our wait), and the airplane, which was really rough.  

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But on the second leg of our flight, we had a small miracle: a kind soul offered to switch seats so Adelina could sit on her own. Hallelujah! She was ecstatic to have her own space, and I was ecstatic to not be elbowed in the stomach every five seconds (not an exaggeration)! Bless you, lady who moved! (I am never flying with a toddler in arms while 6mo pregnant ever again...) After a delayed flight and a loooong three-plus hour flight in cramped quarters, this was heaven.



And that's a wrap! I'm so glad we made this trip happen, it was good to get my mom and (most of) my sisters all in one place, I'm not sure when that will happen again in the near future. Now we get to pick up my third sister Sylvia down in Provo (heading to UVU) next week!