Thursday, July 28, 2016

Head-banging to Hymns

Our sweet missionaries sang Where Can I Turn for Peace? after dinner last night. This is Riley's reaction: Head-banging to hymns with her uncle Ben.
No one told me the natural body movement to peaceful music is head-banging. I've had it wrong for so long...


video

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Uncle

It was fun to have Nate come home for several days! He was a good sport and helped with the fence. I can't believe we didn't get to Pandemic!! (he brought his expansion pack and everything!) And it was fun to hear him insult Papa about eating 'Old Man Cheese' (aka Swiss cheese) He is fun to have around.

My favorite part was watching Riley warm up to him. She has some awesome uncles




Monday, July 25, 2016

Blindsided

Good news: Chris got a Lucasfilm job!!!! We were trying not to get too excited about the possibility of a job, since it definitely wasn't a guarantee that there would be an open position at the end of his internship, let alone the possibility that he would be the one to fill it. For his end-of-the-internship presentation, he showed off what he was able to accomplish over the course of his internship, and all the on-lookers were very impressed to see what he was able to create in such a short amount of time. At the end of the presentation, his Lucasfilm supervisor told him that he was the best intern they ever had, and the Lucasfilm recruiter spoke up before any of the other recruiters and said, "We're keepin' him!"just so the ILM people would know he was already spoken for. What an awesome way to end this internship!

Bad news: We can't afford to live.
I know that sounds super dramatic, but it is so true! All the housing options we were looking at before we heard the salary amount were dropped like hot potatoes once we heard the numbers. Its not even like we could live somewhere and pay an absurd amount of our paycheck to rent because of the income verification most all property owners require. You need to be making 3x as much as the monthly rent to even be considered. And everywhere within a 2 hour commute distance for Chris is WAY out of our price range.

It feels like we were having an exhilarating joy ride when Chris was offered the job, and then we fell on our backs and got the wind knocked out of us. And I'm not sure we have completely recovered from being blindsided like that. Our entire outlook on how our family was supposed to turn out (me a stay at home mom with Chris getting to work at a studio) seems to be frustratingly out of reach.
However, it has allowed us to step back and consider options we never would have thought of had our ideal plans go through. Maybe our 'ideal' family life wasn't the best? Or maybe we need to persevere through this and things will fall into place?
All I know is, if anyone has a comfortably furnished box we could borrow for housing, send their contact information our way.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

More Fence

This fence project has been a long time coming. I'm not even sure how long, but it at least has been a couple years. It is a huge project, requiring a lot of time and effort, and to exacerbate matters, the next door neighbors have a dog. The faster everything could be done, the better. 

This is some preparation work some weeks prior to the fence demo. Chris initiated a morning of Fence Prep so that the actual day would run smoother.





Then, the day arrived!


Demoing the fence turned out to be  fairly straightforward. They had a different procedure for tearing down the boards, so we were able to take it down huge slates at a time. Nate, Ben and I were able to do most of that in half an hour.


Then came the auger.


That thing is a beast!!


Two of the guys would start on a hole, and just watching them made you hurt. Absolutely back breaking work. Sometimes it would get so heavy that they had to call all hands on deck and have four of them man the machine. These guys are a hardworking bunch!! It was not for the faint of heart.


And all the while, Riley watched, fascinated by the power tools and signing 'more, more, more...'


video

I'm not sure how the men felt about appeasing her wishes. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Imperial Walker

She has been starting to let go of our fingers to walk by herself...!

July 20th
First time we have her walking recorded, because believe me, it is super hard trying to catch Riley and video her at the same time! She had started to walk a few days before this.
video

July 24th
I like how this one shows how eager she is to go before she takes time to get her balance. Zealous :)

video

July 25th

video

Friday, July 15, 2016

Outside

We try to go at least once a day to a nearby park. First of all, this girl loves to be outside (you can't say the word 'outside' unless you want to go outside right at that moment, or Riley will hold you to it. And she won't forget. Ever.)


Second, the weather here is just too good not to go outside-It is almost a punishment to be inside with only the windows to clue you in on the awesome weather beyond.


To my dismay, Riley still isn't a fan of the stroller. I don't know what it is going to take... you would think that because we go to a park every time, she would grow to look forward to it! But no. We can barely make it to a nearby park without her squawking at least once. But once we get to the park, this girl is in heaven. Walking and dirt will entertain her for hours.

video
One interesting thing about our 10 month old daughter is that she is a sadist. When she is wanting to get down and walk, I bring her amongst the green, soft grass with the fluffy dandelions and sweet little flowers. She bee-lines it to the wood chips covering the park or the hot concrete. I try to say 'ouchie' so she understands that the stinging in her feet is not a good thing. But it seems to just egg her on. This girl is not one to avoid getting dirty or shy away something out of fear. She is willing to try anything.


video

I like that about her :)


video



Sunday, July 10, 2016

Entertainer

Grandma Wasden came over today, and Riley made sure that the trip out here was worth it for her. She is such a little entertainer! I think it is so funny that she doesn't necessarily like to be held by other people outside the family, but she definitely wants them to notice her, talk to her and clap for her! Little goof.

video

She is even a good entertainer for herself! Here is a collection of movies I took of her to entertain her at the moment. The also have exponential value as time goes on because you can pull it out when she is cranky, and they can keep her happy when she decides she is mad or bored.

What did out predecessors do without technology?

video

video

video














Saturday, July 9, 2016

Duck Dung


Our Saturday Park Adventure took us to a park with a playground, tons of grass, and DUCKS! Riley loves playing on playgrounds: check. Miles and miles of grass? Even better. But all that AND ducks?! I thought her little self would just burst from happiness.

video

video

There was a particular spot were a gaggle of Canadian Geese were resting under the shade of a tree. Riley was dying to walk around by them, so we slapped some socks on her, tried not to think to much about the mounds of duck poo she was sloshing through (ew!) and let her go. Walking with the geese and looking at all the ones sleeping kept her entertained for half an hour!

video

We will definitely be visiting here again! ...and make sure to clean those nasty socks ASAP



Sunday, July 3, 2016

Nerve

There was a member of my ward that came up to me after the Relief Society lesson. I was expecting her to congratulate me on the lesson (not because I am trying to flatter myself-it just happens to be the custom after giving lessons in church). But she surprised me. She said, "I take it that Riley's sleeping schedule is still erratic." I laughed and confirmed the fact that she still wakes up quite a bit every night. She then told me how none of her three babies were good sleepers either. However, she has noticed that getting up with them at night has not been in vain. She feels like they were able to have a special bond because of that sacrifice that she made.

I'm not sure if she was warning me not to begrudge my situation or to give me hope during these young years. But whatever the reason, halfway through her spiel I could feel my eyes well up with tears, and I was full out crying by the time she finished.

I am really intrigued by my reaction to what she had to say. It hit a nerve I didn't even know was there!
   Was I grateful to have a compatriot during these trials?
      Did I feel the spirit because of the truth of her words?    
         Was I humiliated that someone spotted a sore spot of mine?
            Was I just having an emotional day?!

Anyone else go into emotional tailspins and not understand which emotions are setting them off?

Sunday Scramble

We got back from exhilarating, yet harrowing trip. But before we could relax, we finalized the lessons we were subbing for at church.
Chris taught Sunday School for the 15-16 year olds.
I taught the Relief Society lesson.
We juggled Riley in the intermittent hours.
At 12:30pm after church, you could find us in the pitch black of the cultural hall stage, whispering befuddledly to each other in happy and lazy tones as Riley slept.
Decompression at last...!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Kari's Wedding

June 29th-July 2nd

It was so neat to be there for Kari's wedding. It made me think way back to when Shell got married, and even back to when I got married. We travelled to Missouri for Shell, they travelled to Utah for me, and now we were in New York for Kari. It is interesting what people you stay friends with, even after being friends isn't 'convenient.' I'm so glad I have such amazing friends.


We had the opportunity to stay with Sarah and her family.


Can I just tell you how much I have missed Kari's family?! Its funny, because when I met Kari in college, I really enjoyed being friends with her from the get-go. But our personalities are super different, and I didn't feel like I really understood the way she did things. ...until I met her family.  COMPLETELY different from my family, let me tell you! Her family is like Loving Chaos. Love is pelted at you from all angles, and my knee jerk reaction when I first met them was to duck to avoid being splatted. Since then, I have learned to just embrace it, and it is such a fun, crazy atmosphere to be a part of, and I LOVE it! I especially love Wayne and Gail. You will not find a more spry, fun-loving couple on this side of Jupiter. I love them to death! ...no matter how often I have to shave my legs to be accepted into their presence.

Anyway! Back to staying with Sarah's family. The twins kindly let us stay in their room. We got to hang out with Nathan the most, and he is so fun! We went on a bike ride and he gave us a guided tour of the school parks.



This is how much Riley liked this sweet kid biking contraption:
Overjoyed at the new experience
He got really good at entertaining Riley, and she really enjoyed being around him. Riley instantly fell in love with their dogs, and they were kind enough to tolerate a ignorant baby determined to touch them every waking moment.

video

During the night... well, this is how it went.

MY bed.

A picture is worth 1000 words, so I will leave it at that.

Thankfully, Aaron was kind enough to indulge us with garbage plates, so Chris was able to sample his first one! They are amazing, and every time I go back to upstate New York, I have to get one! So good!

Dan is awesome! Chris and I liked him as soon as we got to yell at him from the backseat of a van as he drove us to dinner. Down to earth, talented, fun and awesome advice on how to teach kids (which I am totally going to use as soon as I am asked to sub for Primary again!) It will be fun to see where her and Kari go in life.


During the sealing and reception, my overall takeaway feeling was that it was fun to see Kari be herself. She kindly made time to have dinner with us, and I saw her here and there. But she was understandably very busy with wedding things (I guess weddings are busy? ;) ). However, what I did see of her was a lot of fun.


I'm glad she found someone as wonderful as Dan, and that she didn't change to 'make things work.' She is her normal, crazy, goofy, wonderful self, and I enjoyed watching her do the typical wedding things, but with a definite Kari-Style.

Buffalo airport is officially our favorite airport the moment we spotted the kids play area. Genius!!

video



Riley really was miraculously well behaved during the marathon flights. Here is us entertaining her with our phone cameras and blinding her with airplane passenger lights. Whatever works, right?

video

video


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Washington D.C.

Our Epic Adventure: June 25-29, 2016

Chris' internship was originally supposed to end on the 24th of June, so when Kari set her wedding to be July 1st, it was almost too perfect! And since we would be on the east coast anyway, why not enjoy some of Washington DC (where Chris served his mission) as well? So perfect.

And we were so excited :)

Do you know what is ironic? That little people under 48 inches can require so much stuff. Packing consisted of approximately 3/4 of a bag for Chris and my stuff, and the remaining 4 bags for Riley. What? Yeah. Weird.

What caused us the most anxiety in the anticipation of this trip was the flights. Flying all the way across the nation with a baby who is adamant about learning how to walk sounded like a death sentence. We just packed an entire bag of distractions for her and hoped for the best...

Boarded on our 5:30am flight. We had woken up at 2am, and Riley was having a blast being awake :)

And we shouldn't have worried about it! It turns out that out of the 5 flights we had that week, Riley ended up sleeping at least an hour in every single flight. ?!? Praise!! Can I just tell you how grateful I was?! SO GRATEFUL!

Right after take-off. Can you tell we are SO HAPPY?!

This was her reaction when we landed from our first flight. Almost as if she was enjoying it...!

video

We should have been more worried about the car rental...

There was so much drama around getting a car. I won't even go into it all, because re-living it brings back flashbacks of frustration and nightmares of taunting vehicles. Suffice it to say, our original reservation fell through because we had no credit card. A few days later, because of a bad credit check (?). And lastly, because our last ditch effort involved an hour of brainstorming with WellsFargo bankers which led to a mysterious disappearance of an expedited credit card from what was thought to be a cancelled account. There ya go. This drama punctuated our entire D.C. trip, unfortunately, as we scrambled to get a car at least for our New York trip. Although it all fell through, we are very grateful for an incredible Metro system that we became pros at, an impromptu flight from DCA to BUF, and a pricey shuttle system that saved our little fannies from traveling pioneer style from Buffalo to Rochester. Thank goodness, because I hear handcarts are hard to come by these days.

But lets move on to the GOOD STUFF! When we weren't putting our heads together trying to find solutions to our transportation issues, we had a good ole time!

We stayed with the G's, who rescued us from our stranded situation at the airport, and housed and fed us until Monday morning, when they left for their own vacation out west. Jake is Chris' friend, and I had barely met them before. All the more reason to commend them for their kind hospitality and thoughtfulness towards us! We absolutely loved staying with them and getting to know them better. Hopefully we can return the favor sometime when they decide to come out west! Somehow, in the 30 hours we hung out with them, I didn't think to take a picture of all of us... :/

The very first night, the G's took us to the Lincoln Memorial and Korean War Memorial. It was neat-it was dusk, and the fireflies were just coming out as we approached the beautiful Lincoln Memorial building. So magical! ...and so many people! I totally forgot this is tour season. For some reason, Riley was more interested in crawling around on the ground lights than posing for pictures with statues (isn't that every 9 month olds dream?!)

Outside the Lincoln Memorial while Riley tries to get away.
Inside the Lincoln Memorial while Riley tries to get away.
Contrary to how normal babies typically respond to vacations, Riley is usually MUCH better at sleeping when she is away from home than when she is in her own bed. In fact, some of the only times she has slept for 6 hours straight has been when we were in hotels. (She had her own queen size bed to herself... that may have had something to do with it) So I was kind of banking on getting more sleep than usual on this trip. Unfortunately, vacationing to the east coast seems to be an exception to this rule. She slept about the same as she does at home, which is about every hour to every other hour. I was so stinking tired, that I even tried co-sleeping, even though past experience has shown me that it just doesn't work with this kid. Well, the good news is, that she did end up sleeping better in bed with us! The bad news? Well, she wasn't with us for very long, because she took over the entire bed.

Sleeping peacefully. ...on Chris' side of the bed. Chris was on the couch at this point. 
On Sunday evening, we went on a walk to a park so Riley could move around. Just about a week before we left for this trip, she has been wanting to hold onto our fingers as she tears around the house at full speed. She missed the notice that you are supposed to walk first, apparently. So she absolutely loved being outside, running around and crawling on the playground equipment. That's right-We went to the east coast to enjoy the park. We will have to remember this the next time we plan a vacation... and just go outside and call it a family vacation instead

First ice cream cone. She enjoyed it. I'm not sure if you can tell.


Eating dirt is one of this girl's favorite pastimes.  She finds the scummiest dirt with the
highest bacteria count and disease probability the most appealing.

She thinks her dad is pretty funny.

video

Because we had counted on having a car when we landed, we hadn't thought through what we would do if above mentioned car were not available. The result was hiking through town with all our luggage. We looked really cool.




video

If we thought tromping through Crystal City with all our stuff was amusing, it didn't even hold a candle to lugging our stuff off the metro to our hotel. When we saw that the metro station was only a half mile away from our hotel, we rejoiced and happily skipped our way off the metro on our way to the hotel. Easy peasy. 

video

video

...only 'easy peasy' turned out to be a horrible nightmare. The sidewalk quickly ended, only to reveal an incline of dirt stairs that ascended farther than the eye could see, and Riley was getting tired and hot (who am I kidding, we ALL were tired and hot! Riley's complaining was just a little more vocal). 


video

Once we reached the summit, we could see our hotel right across the street! ...only it was a three-laned, two-way street where cars were cruising at top speed to enter the freeway. Oh, and I forgot to mention there was no crosswalk. At this point, I'm glad Chris still had his common sense, because I was about to try our luck at frogger rather than continue on. But his voice of reason won out, and we continued down the sidewalk-less road to find a crosswalk. 

video

The next intersection-no crosswalk. (the hotel was far enough away that we couldn't see it anymore. Frogger, anyone...?)
Next intersection: a crosswalk! Whew! We hurried across the street in delight and exhaustion. Now we would just have to go back up the other side of the road to get to the hotel!
...only this side of the road didn't have a sidewalk either. And we quickly came to realize that there was no crosswalk to the hotel from this side of the road either.
-_-
Chris scouted around as we let Riley down to wiggle around. When he was unable to find anyway to safely cross the treacherous road, he called the hotel office to see what they could do. They said if we were at the metro, they could pick us up for free. 
-_-
But they couldn't come get us because we weren't at the metro.
-_- -_- -_-
After Chris came back to relay this tragic news, I was just getting started in building a lean-to and starting a fire with Riley's extra diapers when we saw a cab rolling up in the apartment parking lot near us. We looked at each other, and the look of wildness in my eyes was all the encouragement Chris needed. He chased down the cab and asked if we could have a ride to the hotel across the street. 
He said yes.
video

The overwhelming relief felt like he were rescuing us from a deserted island. We were going to live!! He brought us across the street, and we stumbled into the hotel like hot and sweaty neanderthals. (isn't it amazing how fast a person's humanity leaves in desperate situations?)
We got into the room, collapsed, ...and the rest of that day is shrouded in a napful blur.

The rest of the DC trip was a lot of fun! Admittedly, the trip was very different with Riley. If it had just been Chris and I, I'm sure we would have been trying to maximize efficiency and see as many things as we possibly could. With Riley, we were very aware that no meal could be delayed and tours had to be about 5 minutes max or she would be begging for baby mercy. 

Princess Riley

video

Although it wasn't your typical Washington DC trip, we had a lot of fun together!

The Metro is really neat! We enjoyed being able to travel so quickly and reliably. And Riley made friends almost every time we went! Chris and I noticed how much more attention we got having Riley with us. If we had done this trip just the two of us, people would barely have looked our way at all. But since we had Riley, just about every Metro trip we took and every place we stopped was accompanied by people waving back at Riley and smiling. It is fun to see the friendly side of society, especially in a bustling city like Washington DC where people are so busy.
She was so good at taking naps on the Metro!

Using the escalators at the metro before realizing there were elevators at every station
How does she sleep like that?!
Napping on the go. Chris was really good at getting her to sleep during the day.
We would go up and down escalators for distraction purposes as we waited for the trains
We ended up LOVING this mall! It became our central hub in Pentagon city for getting a quick bite to eat before our daily escapades and then when we were headed home for the night.


Riley enjoyed Panera Bread tube yogurt and Mac and cheese.



We made sure to go to the National Zoo. We figured that was a place that Riley could enjoy the animals, and it is free! Can't beat that!
Unfortunately, it wasn't as successful venture as we had envisioned. She only saw the animals that were really close us, and even then she was more tired than anything :/

video


BUT she did have a favorite place. The Amazon! Surprisingly, it wasn't because of the cool animals or neat things to look at. She loved it because she could get WET!

video


Sanitary? Highly doubtful. But fun? Oh yeah! Well worth it! I'm pretty sure she went through about 3 outfits this day just from all the times she got wet.


When we got back to the hotel, we decided to try out the pool. This girl is a little guppy. She LOVES the water!


video

Here is footage of her monkey crawl. She commonly crawls like this.

video

Alexandria is a town Chris loved from his mission, so one of the things we wanted to do is walk down Old Towne Alexandria during our trip.


It is a cute little city with a ton of little shops and hole-in-the-wall restaurants down the main street, and there is a little free trolley you can take down the main road to the waterfront. It was such a cute little place, with brick sidewalks and and older feel.


We got off on the last stop by the waterfront, and there just happened to be a Ben & Jerry's! Chris would save up his mission funds and get a carton from time to time, so him, Ben and Jerry are old friends. We took it as divine providence and decided to get some ice cream as an appetizer to dinner.


We need to work on her funny faces...
The waterfront in Alexandria
For dinner we went to Hard Times Cafe, and it was really good! They specialize in their chili-they were awesome!! And they were super understanding of tired, hungry little Riles. In fact, there was a lady in the nearby booth that was highly entertained by watching her, and when Riley threw her spoon on the ground, this lady jumped up and offered her extra spoon. How sweet is that?! The friendly people on our trip definitely was an awesome highlight.

One of the last things that we were determined to do before our plane left on Wednesday was to go to the Butterfly Pavilion in the Natural History Museum. It cost $6 for Chris and I, but overall it was a great place that Riley was able to 'interact' with the animals. They kept landing on us too, which was pretty neat.



video

video

video

We loved it! The only tinge of fear that we felt was that Riley would grab one of the butterflies and eat it, and that it would happen to be Wooly Egyptian butterfly or something, and that it was the last of its kind. Mass extinction of a species would have been memorable... but not desirable.

Even though the Butterfly Pavilion was the only thing on our agenda that morning, we were still running like crazy to get back to the hotel to check out in time by noon. And after a crazy frantic return trip...


Voila! Right on the dot!

We made it to the airport with time to spare, which was good because the check-in was insane. We were getting through security as Ray was trying to FaceTime so we could say bye to Alexis before she was dropped off at the MTC. As luck would have it, neither Google Hangout nor FaceTime worked for some reason, so we just sent a good bye video from the airport. I can't believe she is gone...! I'm excited for her though.


video

video





On to New York...

Flight from DCA to ROC. And Riley using the Safety Instructions as a chew toy.