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...!

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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.

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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.




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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. 

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...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). 


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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. 

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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.
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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

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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 :/

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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!

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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!


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

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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.



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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.


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On to New York...

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




Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cruisin'

This girl is really cruising! She started to not walk, but run, while she grips our fingers.
I have mixed feelings...

Proud Mama: 'Oh yeah! My kid is on fire hitting these milestones!'
Anxious parent: 'How in the world are we going to entertain a little walker on a 4 1/2 hour flight next week...?!'

And JUST THIS WEEK, she has begun to put herself to sleep! We will go to rock her to sleep, and she will motion that she wants us to put her in bed. So we do. And we walk out. And she is OK with it! And we are ecstatic about it!! If this vacation ruins this wondrous milestone, so help me...!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

First Father's Day

Happy Father's Day, Chris!

Now with having a daughter, my appreciation of dads has grown. I'm always so grateful that Chris is worthy and willing to give blessings at any moment. And there are some things that Chris can do for Riley that is just not the same when I do it (I'm sure Rachel would agree about Jon and Elizabeth). Chris has been able to get Riley to sleep when I haven't been able to, and she definitely reserves a certain excited energy for when she is playing and interacting with Chris. There is just no replacing our cool dads!!

Riley has been inexplicably obsessed with this song, and now I am thinking I have found the reason why...


My Parents Are Awesome Part II

Happy Fathers Day, Dad!!!

There is just something special about dads. Growing up, I remember always looking forward to Dad coming home and being able to tussle and play with him. There are also things that I just naturally go to Dad for if I need certain advice on finances, boys, or just life in general. He is so good at giving a simple deduction of what he sees in the situation that helps me see things so clearly. Plus, he is definitely keeping the family vacations sporadic and constant! ;) It has been so fun and a huge blessing to have you as a Dad!

Here is Part II of the Parental Movies. This one is focused more on how this year has been your first year as Grandparents. It has been so fun to see you around our little girls, and I'm so glad they have such loving, cute grandparents to look up to! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Food Piracy

Papa has entreated us to the ways of the Breakfast Mess. We are very excited on the days he decides to make this splendor of a breakfast. Riley lives it up, by utilizing her cuteness to bribe each of us in turn to share our food. She goes back and forth between the two of us, like the true Food Pirate she is. Good thing this girl is so cute, or we would be on to her...

This girl is also a True American. She much prefers to eat on the go. These following pictures are rare pictures of when she is sitting contently in her chair. They are so rare that I am posting them for my future self to remember that it actually did happen every once and awhile. I don't have many pictures of her not in her chair because usually she is climbing on me as she eats, and I haven't figured out how to feed her hold her and take a picture at the same time. Don't worry, I'm confident these vital Mother Skills will kick in eventually.


When she is in her seat, she has a hard time sitting still. This is her eating as she practices her Food Yoga




Wednesday, June 15, 2016

They have returned!!

We survived!!

And as you can see, things are already back to normal


Well, we made it! We were still alive when the W's returned from their trip. Miracles do happen. We were very happy to see them, and grateful for all they do for us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Adults

The family was gone on a trip, so it was time for us to step up to our role as adults.

This is the face she made when we told her Dad and I
were going to try to do everything Mimi and Papa do
We are very blessed typically with meals and cleaning, because the family does so much of it already. This was my opportunity to try out being a 'real' stay at home mom, juggling chores, food and baby.


Hanging out eating grapes as she helps me with dishes
I love her I-just-woke-up stare

Waiting to strike at the last minute. This girl loves Mimi's plants out on the deck.
...and mostly she enjoys demolishing them.

Chill-axing in her stroller
On Sunday we went over to Grandma and Grandpa W's. We really enjoyed talking to them about Grandpa's mission, extending family and eating pie (I think Riley ate half of mine-I'm telling you, she is a food pirate!)

Grandma W dropped off some apricots the next day. Riley was in apricot heaven.


Mimi got Riley these bubbles that are made of goopy stuff rather than your typical water and soap solution. I was enjoying them a little too much...

A bucket of water and a popsicle on the deck. This girl couldn't be happier.
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We had some old bread we needed to get rid of, so we decided to bring it to the ducks at a nearby park. It was a fun idea and Riley was enthralled by the little waddling wonders. But it turned out kind of treacherous as well. There were some big old ducks and geese that would hiss and peck at your pants if you didn't give up your goods! And we only brought about two slices... so we had to run for our lives a bit.

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She loves her silly daddy
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She is starting to wave!
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Monday, June 13, 2016

Ballerina Girl

Little ballerina girl. Thanks Kari for the outfit!

She wasn't cooperating as far as looking at me, but at least you can see the outfit ;)




With an evasive Puffy Star on her cheek. I couldn't resist...


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Papa!

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Brethren

Riley and I went to the library this afternoon. It is a good place to go to change things up, because Riley can get bored by just staying in the house.
It was very obvious upon getting there that Riley wasn't really in a reading mood. She played a little with the toys, but mainly she was very intrigued by the people around us. There were a few mothers who came and went with their younger children and Riley was simply fascinated by them. She would sit and watch them intently, and she would crawl really close to them and try to get their attention by staring, waving, you name it. None of the people gave her any notice, however, so we ended up going home after only a short time.
Now, I don't mean to be judgmental in the slightest. How many times have I been that person to ignore the children around me rather than engage them in some way? But this experience helped some ideas surface from thoughts that have been ruminating in my mind recently.

Matthew 25:40 "...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I feel like being a parent and watching Riley has given me insight on how Heavenly Father feels as he watches us figure out life. I know what that would have meant to Riley just to have someone smile or wave at her that day. It would have meant a lot to Riley, but I think it would have meant even more to me.  I think as Heavenly Father watches us go through life, what He feels is exponentially more than what we are experiencing. He is ecstatic as we reach out to each other and help each other feel included. He is devastated when we feel let down or hurt. He cares so much more than we realize day to day. When we don't feel loved or we feel lonely, we can remember He is right there, hurting for us and wanting the very best for us.

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