Friday, August 29, 2008

Overbooked

So, last night I was complaining to Paul that I'm a tad overwhelmed by the number of books I'm reading right now. With the Relief Society book club, my online book club with Peter and Lisa, my mini-book club with Amanda, and the books I'm reading with Paul, I've got a lot of things going on! I was explaining that I just don't know what to read first or which books to give priority. I love that I'm suddenly part of too many book clubs. :)

Anyway, I finished telling my tale, and I wanted Paul's opinion on which books should get priority, so I asked him what he thought.

He paused and then said, "Well, I think you've......overbooked yourself."

There was a moment of silence as I realized what he'd just said, and then we burst out laughing.

Good times.

He's gonna eat me!

Lately James has developed an even bigger smile than before (crazy I know...I didn't think his smiles could get any bigger). Unfortunately, these smiles sometimes look more than a bit frightening. ;)

Here's the evidence:




But hey, at least it's not hard for me to catch pictures that show his teeth anymore, right? Ha ha.

Aside from smiling like a monster, James has been up to his same old shenanigans. Here's a picture from a couple nights ago. He was crawling around the floor in our bedroom and completely pulled the front off our heater vent!


He also seems to have mastered pulling himself up to standing on things that aren't very high. He's still very wobbly when he gets there, and he's fallen down quite a few times, but he thinks it's pretty cool.


He makes me smile.

Monday, August 25, 2008

James' First Swim!

Last Saturday Paul and I decided to take James to the swimming pool in our apartment complex. He's had mixed reactions to water so far--he loves bath time when it's in the sink, he's ok with it in the tub, but he hates showers. We had a feeling he'd like it, but you never know.

So, excited to experience another "first" with our little guy, we headed out to the pool. First thing we noticed? The water was FREEZING cold. We didn't get all decked out in our swimming gear just to be scared off by cold water, though.

First, Paul sat on the steps and let James look around and get a feel for things.


James didn't seem to mind how cold the water was at all. It was funny. It's not that he didn't get cold--we had to take him out after a little while because his lips started to turn purple--he just didn't care. :) Apparently he's just like his dad. Paul was always the one with the purple lips still swimming happily when he was a kid. So cute!


He was completely fascinated by the water. I couldn't get him to look up at the camera at all! He didn't smile much, either, but he definitely started having fun. He splashed around as his daddy took him zooming (well, ok, not quite zooming...probably more like coasting) through the pool.



When we noticed he was getting cold, we took him out, and I sat in a chair with him wrapped up in a huge beach towel. Paul stayed in the pool to get a few laps in. After about ten minutes, though, James was ready to get back in! He started reaching out for Paul from my lap. :) So, we let him have another go.


Looks like we have a little water baby on our hands! We've started looking into baby swim classes at the rec center. As soon as we can afford it, James and I will probably enroll! :)

Oh, and by the way, I got in the pool with them after I finished taking pictures. I don't want anyone thinking I wimped out!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Too smart for us...

James has proven to us time and time again that he is one smart little boy. Today he decided to show me once again, just how smart he can be.

He really likes to play with the fireplace. Only problem is it's very dirty, and it always turns his hands, feet, and clothes all black with soot. So, for lack of a better idea, we've been laying his stroller down in front of the fireplace covered in a quilt (because he also likes to play with the dirty stroller wheels). This has effectively kept James away from the fireplace...until today.

I looked up from my magazine and James was pulling himself up onto his knees next to the stroller. I went for the camera. By the time I got back, he was on his feet:



The silly boy didn't stop there. Oh no. He was on a mission! Here's what happened next:



Almost there...


Success! (For him anyway...now we need another method of keeping him away from the fireplace. Any brilliant ideas?)

I'm a little worried about what we're in for as James starts getting bigger and perfecting his climbing skills! I think we might just have to spend this weekend baby-proofing areas of the apartment outside of the living room. Wish us luck! ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

New York Trip Part Four - Buffalo, Letchworth, and Palmyra

I think I've stretched out my reporting on our trip long enough, so without further ado, here we go with our last installment!

The last two days of our trip were full of quick visits to old investigators, beautiful and scenic locations, church history sites, and LOTS of driving. James got to know his carseat (and his stroller) quite well.


I've realized there are big holes in the pictures we have, so you'll just have to imagine lovely pictures of us in Buffalo and visiting with families from Paul's parents' missions. (Incidentally, I'd love to have copies of everyone's pictures from the trip. I'll have Paul get on that little thing. ;) )

Sunday morning we drove up to Buffalo to attend church. I'm very sad I didn't take any pictures there because it was a very interesting place. The church building was the most unusual looking LDS church that I've ever seen (on the outside at least...on the inside it was just like any other church). Imagine this: stucco walls painted a burnt red-orange, cream, and turquoise and those funny non-see through glass cubes that you see in people's bathrooms sometimes. Yeah, it was weird.

At church we were reminded just how small our world is by running into a couple from our last BYU married ward. :) It was nice to see them, and to be reminded that the church is the same wherever you go.


Also, we discovered that day that James is a flirt! He already likes pretty girls! He flirted with the girl behind us during the whole sacrament meeting. He smiled and babbled at her...and it was definitely different from his normal cuteness. He was totally showing off. He sure is getting started young. After sacrament meeting, Kristina and Jonathan informed us that he was checking out cute girls at Niagara Falls the day before. Apparently they saw James smile as he was staring at what they thought was a shiny car. Kristina said, "Oh, do you like that shiny car?" But, oh no. He wasn't looking at the car. His eyes followed the girl that was walking by in front of the car. Oh dear.

That afternoon (following a lovely "picnic" in a parking lot at Buffalo University), we drove to Letchworth State Park.


It was so beautiful. It's a gorgeous state park tucked away in the middle of nowhere (we drove through many tiny little towns on our way there). John said it's known as the grand canyon of the east coast, and it's definitely impressive. Unfortunately, we could only spend a couple of hours there. We discovered a very cute little inn though, and we definitely want to go back someday. Future family reunion location, anyone?


Here's James stretching out after the long car ride:


Monday we decided to have a leisurely morning and breakfast at the hotel and then see as many sites in Palmyra as we could before Paul and I had to make it to the airport that evening.

First, we drove to the Smith farm and the Sacred Grove. It is truly beautiful there in the summer. I can only imagine how terribly cold it is in the winter, though. I'm glad we were there at the beginning of August!

They have a lovely visitor's center where the cute senior missionaries take people on tours of the Smith Farm. (I especially liked the man that gave us our tour because he gave us an under the table clue about where we could find my cousin who was serving her mission there...unfortunately we ended up missing her by about an hour.)


Here's the Smith family log cabin. This is the place where the angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith to tell him about the Gold Plates. The church has worked hard and done a lot of research to restore the farm to its original state. (The log cabin wasn't even there anymore when the church first acquired the property.)


As you're walking from the log cabin to the frame house, you can see the Palmyra temple through the trees. They aren't allowed to cut down the trees, but they prune them back to allow a view straight from the temple to the Sacred Grove. It's amazing. The Palmyra temple is the only one in the world with a window that you can see out of (and in to) because President Hinckley wanted for people to be able to look out at the grove from inside the temple.


It's a very beautiful temple, and I feel very blessed that we were able to do a session there during our short visit.


Thanks again to Steven and Stephanie for watching James for us so that we could participate in the session! Here's a great picture of the Peterson boys on the temple grounds:


After our tour of the Smith farm, our guide left us to walk through the Sacred Grove on our own.


The grove is so peaceful and beautiful. There's a special spirit there, and you know you are walking on hallowed ground.


It looks just like all the paintings you see at Deseret Book! When it comes down to it, though, it didn't look a thing like this when Joseph went there to pray. It was the beginning of April and the trees had not yet bloomed.

We had a nice family testimony meeting before we left the grove. All the priesthood holders in the family spoke and bore testimony. We all sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" together, and I was overwhelmed by the feeling it brought. It's incredible to have walked in the very forest where our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ appeared to the 14 year old boy, Joseph and answered his humble prayer.


After we left the Sacred Grove, we drove to downtown Palmyra. There's a street corner there with four different churches (Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist) on the same intersection. Those churches are a reminder of what life was like when Joseph Smith made the decision to ask God which church was true. It's amazing!

Also, across the street is the shop where the Book of Mormon was originally published, the Grandin Building. We had a very rushed tour full of amazing information and saw the room at the top where the printing press was. There are even original ink splatters on the walls.


After that we raced off to the Hill Cumorah and quickly drove to the top.


We were running quite late at this point, and so we jumped back into our cars and drove straight to the Rochester airport. We arrived at the airport 30 minutes before our flight was to take off and barely made it to check in our luggage, get through security, and walk onto the plane. Unfortunately, it was a tiny plane that didn't even have a bathroom, so I made the whole flight to Philadelphia having to go potty pretty bad. ;)

Phew! We made it! As you can tell, it was an amazing trip, and I'm so glad Paul and I made the last-minute (and reckless!) decision to go! Thanks to the Peterson family for planning the whole thing and feeding us along the way (and for paying all the tolls! goodness!), thanks to Uncle Jeff for getting us our own(!) hotel room and tickets to the Angels game, and thanks to Jonathan and Kristina for sharing their ugly rental car with us (and listening to me babble nonstop the whole time...someone's got to keep the driver awake, right?)! Wonderful times and wonderful memories. :)

Links to albums: Letchworth, and Palmyra.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New York Trip Part Three - Niagara Falls!

I'm sorry I've been so slow at finishing up the posts about our NY trip! I really want to do them justice, so it takes me a long time to write each one.

After a wonderful (albeit sleepy) session at the Palmyra temple on Saturday morning, followed by lunch and a much needed nap at the hotel, we decided to go to Niagara Falls.


(James with Grandma at lunch that day.)

I don't know why, but I wasn't all that excited to go there. I guess with all the hype about it, I figured it was just going to be touristy and unimpressive. I was not expecting such a beautiful park or such incredible waterfalls! I highly recommend going there sometime, if you ever have the chance.


There's a big statue of Nicola Tesla at the entrance to the park. Unfortunately, I wasn't smart enough to read the plaque and figure out why there's a statue of Nicola Tesla there. Oh well. ;) Nevertheless, it's a common pastime for people to climb up onto his lap and take pictures even though there's a sign next to the statue telling you not to do that very thing.

Grace wanted to reenact a photo that was taken of her while she was on her mission sitting in Tesla's lap, but she found it harder to do than she remembered:


It's ok, though, Jonathan made the climb instead. :)


James sure loves his Uncle Jonathan! I know I've said it before, but it's true. I just hope Jonathan doesn't use his influence on James for evil purposes...specifically shenanigans that are against the rules such as those represented in the previous picture. ;)


We had heard that it was more beautiful from the Canadian side, but since not all of us had passports and we didn't want Jonathan and Kristina to get stuck in Canada, we stayed on American soil. ;) The view from our side of the river was still breathtaking:



As you can see from that last picture, the sky suddenly turned stormy as we started walking to the other side of the park. The wind was blowing pretty hard, and before we knew it, we were caught in a downpour!


We eventually made it to the other side of the park and took refuge under an awning until the storm blew over.


James did get a bit freaked out by the storm, but as always, he was a trooper!

It definitely didn't matter that we didn't go to the Canadian side in the end, because we got to ride the Maid of the Mist right up to the falls themselves! Also, we didn't even end up having to wait in line, because everyone had cleared out during the storm.


Here we are aboard the Maid of the Mist! They even had child-size ponchos for James. :)


Funny story about those blue ponchos: We thought that they were going to charge money to get them before we got on the boat. After all, they charged money for pretty much everything else! Since it was already so expensive to buy the tickets in the first place, we figured we'd save money and ask people for their ponchos when they were about to throw them away. It was tricky, but we eventually acquired ponchos for all ten of us before heading down to the docking area...only to find a man passing out nice new ponchos to each passenger as they got on the boat--free of charge. ;)

Here are a couple more pictures I took of the beautiful waterfalls (as you can see, it cleared up beautifully after the storm!):


The big cloud coming up on the right side of both of these pictures is the mist from the big waterfall. It's always there. It's so amazing!


Like I said, I'm so glad we decided to go to Niagara Falls. It was worth being soaked the rest of the day (although I felt really bad for Baba...she couldn't remember why she was soaking wet, and she was so very cold :( ).

We ate a delicious (and warm!) dinner at The Cracker Barrel, and had a relatively early night! Well, ok, we were at least in bed by midnight or shortly thereafter. ;)

As per usual, here's a link to our complete photo album: Niagara Falls.

I think I'll clump the rest of the trip into one more post. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Our Incredible Six Month Old

I'll probably post about Niagara Falls later today, but I've been wanting to post this video and a couple cute pictures of James for a while now.

James had his six-month appointment on Monday. He's in the 75th percentile for head size, the 60th percentile in height and...here's the shocker...only the 13th percentile in weight! My little guy is so active that he burns all his calories as soon as he gets them! We're going to increase the amount of solid food we give him everyday to see if he'll gain more weight because he only gained a couple of ounces in the last month.


The doctor isn't concerned because he's so healthy and active, so that's good. Speaking of active, James definitely is a crawler now. He still hasn't quite got the all-fours belly off the ground crawl yet, but his army crawl is very efficient. He's quick! :) Here's a video:

video

He's also gotten pretty good at sitting (when he wants to sit, that is). He'll stay there for a few minutes if he's got something to play with. But he gets bored quickly. Here are a couple cute pictures I got the other night:



It's true that six months is a very fun age. We have fun with James everyday as he experiences new things and learns new tricks. :) I can't believe he's already half a year old!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New York Trip Part Two - Cooperstown!

On the second day of our trip we made the five-hour drive to Cooperstown, NY--the site of the National Baseball Hall of Fame!


It was a shame we couldn't spend more time here. The few hours that we had were jam-packed with amazing things, and we still missed a lot! Next time (we've already started planning our "next time" even though it will be years from now) we're going to stay overnight so we can see the lake and not feel rushed through the museum.

James had a blast being passed around the family. Much to my surprise, everyone was clambering to hold him in his carrier! I hate carrying him in it--it hurts my shoulders! Despite my constant warnings, pretty much everyone in the family wanted their turn.


(Please forgive all the drool. James cut two more teeth during the trip. Now he's got four! Two on top and two on bottom!)

There were so many things to see in the museum--from paintings, to artifacts, to plaques, to the hall of records--it was all there! Everywhere you look in the museum there's some amazing tribute to America's Favorite Pastime. Here are some highlights of the things we saw:

The first exhibit we saw was a room full of baseball artwork. Everyone in our group moved through the room relatively quickly except for me. I couldn't believe it! They had paintings and drawings by Norman Rockwell himself!


Then, we made our way to the room with the famous plaques of each member of the Hall of Fame. Each person in the Hall of Fame is incredible, but we didn't have time to read every single plaque. Among them we saw the umpire that was responsible for adding hand signs to indicate strikes, safes, and outs, the team manager that decided to put names on the backs of jerseys, as well as every famous Hall of Famer you can imagine.

Here is Paul next to his favorite player, Cal Ripken, Jr.:


And here we are next to the first five players inducted into the Hall of Fame back in 1936 (including, of course, Babe Ruth himself):


And of course, here's our little future Hall of Famer ;) :


There was an exhibit about baseball movies where we saw costumes from A League of Their Own, The Natural, and of course, Paul's favorite movie, Field of Dreams:


There were all sorts of baseball artifacts such as bats, balls, gloves, cleats, uniforms, etc from famous events and people throughout the history of the game. Naturally, I was drawn toward anything having to do with the Atlanta Braves. This bat, for example, was used by my favorite player Javy Lopez while he was on the Atlanta Braves and he broke the record for most home runs hit in one season by a catcher (42).


Ok, so it's not all about the Braves... ;) Here is the ball that Roger Maris hit in 1961 to break Babe Ruth's record for home runs hit in a season.


Here are the hats worn by Nolan Ryan in each of the SEVEN no hitters he pitched in his career.


And--I know you're all dying to see it--we did in fact find the infamous asterisk ball hit by Barry Bonds when he broke the all-time home run record with his 756th home run.


In case you don't know the story of Barry Bonds and this infamous ball, here's a recap. The fan who caught the ball in the stands that night auctioned it off on eBay for around $500,000. Sometime during this process, Barry Bonds was named by Jose Canseco as a user of steroids. Even though this has never been officially proven, fans were outraged and some even said his name should be taken off the record books. The guy who bought the ball put a poll online asking fans what he should do with it: a) brand the ball with an asterisk so that it can never be removed before giving it to the Hall of Fame, b) leave the ball as is and give it to the Hall of Fame, or c) launch the ball into space. As you can see by the picture above, the majority voted for the asterisk.

Anyway, we had a great time in Cooperstown, and it was definitely worth the long drive and late night (we didn't get to our hotel in Rochester that night until 2:30am).


Oh! And Uncle Jonathan and Aunt Kristina gave James an awesome gift while we were in Cooperstown: his first Angels baseball cap, and it fits! The fact that it's not too big is amazing, since every baseball hat we've gotten for him so far has been way too big.


Isn't he cute?? Oh yes. I know.

We took tons of pictures in the museum, so here's another convenient link to our photo album with all the pictures in one place: Cooperstown. :)

Up Next: Antics at Niagara Falls!