Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trip to Upstate NY

Well, as I have briefly mentioned a few times on this blog, we had a trip planned to upstate New York this month. We made this trip last week, and in spite of a nasty virus that made everyone sick, we had a great time. There are a TON of pictures to share and a few videos, so I won't waste any more time blabbing here. Remember, you can click on any of the pictures to see a larger version. Enjoy!

Day 1 - The Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, NY

Here we are at the entrance of the Baseball Hall of Fame. It was an absolutely amazing experience! I have no idea what the cow was for, but it looked like a great spot for a picture.

The week after our trip, the Hall of Fame was inducting its two newest members: Tony Gywnn and Cal Ripken Jr. They had a display for each of them at the entrance.

Here are the boys at the plaques of the very first players inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1936. Top left: Christy Mathewson, bottom left: Babe Ruth, center: Ty Cobb, top right: Honus Wagner, bottom right: Walter Johnson.

Joshua at the kids area in the Hall of Fame.

Here are Caleb and Joshua standing next to Lou Gherig's locker. It was his real locker with his actual uniform, glove, shoes, etc...

Here we are sitting on benches taken from a stadium I can't remember, but am sure is historically significant.

This is at the exit of the Hall of Fame. We needed a quick photo with the Babe.

This is Doubleday Field, where the game of baseball was invented by General Abner Doubleday. They still play baseball on the field today.

Doubleday Field

Day 2 - Church Historical Sites: Palmyra, NY

This is the Smith's log cabin. It was rebuilt after 20 years of research to determine the exact location, size, and style of the cabin. They built it in the winter, just like the Smith family did, only using tools and methods that the Smith's would have used. There are no nails, screws, or anything of the sort...it is pretty amazing. The top of this cabin is where Joseph slept and where the Angel Moroni appeared to him to tell him about the plates. Behind this cabin is the Sacred Grove.

This is the back of the log cabin. Katie and Caleb just finished taking a look around.

This is the "Frame House", that the Smith's oldest son Alvin started to build for the family. Alvin died before he could finish it and the family finished it later. They lived here for a short while before they were, well, basically ripped off and forced to move back into their log home which is located about 300 yards away.

We are on the path between the log home and the frame home and saw this great view of the Palmyra Temple. The Smith's originally owned 100 acres of land and the temple, along with the Stake Center, is built on that land.

Here is another shot of the temple.

Here we are just outside the Sacred Grove. It was a really, really amazing experience to be there!

Here is a quick video of us about to enter the Sacred Grove. Joshua is very excited to see the monkeys in the grove...I had no idea there were monkeys in the Sacred Grove, but Joshua was convinced. Oh, and if you can't tell, Caitlyn isn't feeling very good...

Katie and Joshua walking through the Sacred Grove.

I imagine that what Joseph saw looked something like this, but just a little bit brighter... :)

Me and the babies in the Sacred Grove.

Um, yes, she is cute.

More chillin' in the Grove...

This is the location where the first edition of the Book of Mormon was printed. Martin Harris, who lived up the road about a mile, mortgaged his property to pay for the initial printing.

Here are Katie, Caitlyn, and Ellie on top of the Hill Cumorah at the memorial.

This is a statue of the Angel Moroni on top of the Hill Cumorah. Pretty cool.

So, we got to the pageant about four hours before it started, we got good seats, but the kids did lose it after a while from all the waiting...

Here is the stage for the pageant. It was huge!

Here is one of the final parts of the pageant when Christ appears to the Nephites.
Day 3 - Niagara Falls: Ontario, CA

Here are Katie and the kids in front of the American Falls. There are two, separate falls that make up the Niagara Falls. The first is on the American side of the boarder and the second is on the Canadian side, called the Horseshoe Falls because of its horseshoe shape. The pictures don't do it justice!

Here are the American Falls again.

Here is a picture of the Canadian Horseshoe falls. You can see the boat, the "Made of the Mist" at the base of the falls.

This picture shows you the location of both falls. Pretty amazing!

Here is a quick video of us at the falls.

Here we are at the falls...

Ellie got tired of walking and made me carry her on my shoulders...she is so lazy!

A shot of Katie and the kids near the Horseshoe Falls.

The Horseshoe Falls...absolutely incredible.

This was the place we ate dinner. It was called the Rainforest Cafe and it had all these really cool animals that would move and make noise. The kids loved it, but the food absolutely sucked.
Well, that is everything! It was a blast!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Elizabeth is sitting up!

Ellie just crossed another milestone in her development, she is sitting up! As you can tell from the video, she absolutely loves it!

We are off on our three day journey to upstate New York in about 20 minutes, but I wanted to post this quickly before we left. There will be pictures of our trip posted on Sunday.


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Fourth of July

Yes, I know the Fourth of July was a few weeks ago, but I thought I should post a few pictures of what we did for the holiday.

Originally, we had planned a pool party for the kids followed up by a nice barbecue on the grill for the adults. However, the morning greeted us with overcast skies and cooler than anticipated weather. Pool party cancelled.

At least we were able to get our family pictures taken care of. Please know that the idea for matching shirts was Katie's and not mine.

Shortly after the family pictures were taken, it began to rain. It was a light rain at first, but before long it was raining buckets. I was not about to let a little rain slow me down, so I grabbed an umbrella and worked the grill. All were fed and went home semi-soggy, but happy.

A few days later, we went up to West Point for their annual fireworks show. It was impressive to say the least and I remembered how cool big fireworks shows were. We will be going next year.

Here is our family picture. Notice the matching shirts....and the bumper of the car on the left side of the picture. It is actually a very nice picture, I can't believe that all the kids are looking in the direction of the camera.

Katie and Ellie in a candid shot after the family picture.

Joshua is a very good big brother to Ellie. He can be a little rough, but he means well.

Joshua hanging out next to the fence covered in bird turd.

Joshua is your typical active two-year old...he loves to play!

Caleb loves to play ball and he got a Spiderman football for his birthday which he completely loves. You can't be over at the house more than 5 minutes without him asking to play catch with you. Great little kid!

Caitlyn and Ellie, the sisters!

Rain was not going to stop the cookout! The hard part was the smoke that would get trapped by the umbrella and sting my eyes.
Hope you enjoyed the pictures! We are heading to our little vacation in upstate New York this next week, so I will be posting more pictures soon!

Monday, July 9, 2007

The Peanut Gallery...

Careful…I am on my soapbox today…

A few days ago I was watching TV while getting ready for bed. A well known celebrity was being interviewed and was discussing Paris Hilton and her whole mess. I can't believe that whole situation was such a story...I have no idea why people care about it, but apparently somebody does because it got more press than anything else for a few days. Anyway, towards the end of the interview, the celebrity was asked what they thought about President Bush. Before she even answered, I knew what she was going to say: "I think he is an idiot, a complete idiot". The interviewer then asked her why she felt that way, to which this celebrity responded "I don't know, he just isn't doing a very good job and is making a lot of people mad". She had no idea why she thought he was an idiot; it was just the fashionable thing to say.

I don't want to get into a political tirade here as I believe that everyone has their right to their own opinion and having strong opinions on both sides is healthy for a democratic system. But, I have a pet peeve, something that bothers me, call it a weakness if you will, but as I listened to this celebrity pontificating as if she were an expert, the frustration from this weakness came roaring to life and all I could think of was…

Oh no, the Peanut Gallery had struck again...

Everything is always easier for people in the Peanut Gallery because they pass judgment on things that they have no real responsibility over. The Peanut Gallery are comprised of people who prefer to keep themselves out of the fray, to keep their hands clean of decisions to be made or any real involvement, but have no problem sitting in the safety of the gallery and passing judgment on those responsible for making decisions and judging their actions while ignoring their own inactivity.

The people in the Peanut Gallery generally do not get involved and have no idea what it takes to be a decision maker, to be the one who understands that not everyone can be satisfied but a decision still has to be made. While they don't really understand the entire picture or have the information that the decision makers have when a decision is made, they still feel like they have all the answers and that the decision makers are unwise for not considering a course of action they deem more prudent through their uninformed opinion. These people rarely, if ever, acknowledge the fact that they don't possess all the facts and present their opinions as common sense, even though their common sense is absent of complete information.

Don't get me wrong, I believe strongly that we are all entitled to our own opinion and I believe we should be able to express that opinion. However, if you are going to express your opinion about others and their actions or decisions, you should also be responsible enough to also admit you are not in possession of all the facts or take the time to get the facts before you represent your argument as being the only sound one available.

The Peanut Gallery is not limited to politics, in fact, more often than not, the worst Peanut Galleries are found in groups that continually engage in idle gossip. To be honest, these Peanut Galleries of gossip are the ones that bother me the most.

There is not one instance, that I can think of, where engaging in gossip does not place you in the middle of the Peanut Gallery...and a very damaging Peanut Gallery at that. Gossip is often full of speculation; inaccurate facts based mostly on emotion, and sensationalized bits of information; often allowing the Peanut Gallery participants to feel that they are just discussing facts and not engaging in gossip. Gossiping is damaging to the Peanut Gallery members as well as the subjects of the gossip.

Often, it is quoted from the scriptures that we shouldn't judge. This isn't completely true. It says we are not to make an unrighteous judgment. This is an important clarification that is key in relation to belonging to the Peanut Gallery with your opinion or not. We have to judge every day, to determine what is right and wrong, to determine what we want to allow into our lives and what we don't and so on. In fact, exercising our free agency, in a lot of ways, depends on our ability to make righteous judgments and choose the right as we overcome temptation and the carnal urgings of the natural man. However, once you have made that decision for yourself, expressing that decision to others is one thing; passing judgment on someone else's ability or perceived inability to make the same decision is where we get tripped up. This is where self-righteous pride enters in and can be at the root of many of the Peanut Gallery's weaknesses. Remember, President Benson said that there is no such thing as righteous pride. The path of any form of pride will eventually lead away from our Heavenly Father. The Peanut Gallery’s most damaging effect is the creation of pride amongst its members and is the damning part of gossip. I have found in my own life and in the life of others that frequently when we participate in the Peanut Gallery and gossip about others, our Heavenly Father allows us to pass through trials and challenges similar to the ones we were critical of in our gossip. I think he does this to teach us this principle…that it is easy to be in the Peanut Gallery, but you never know what it is like to walk in someone’s shoes, so forgive your fellow man, love them, be patient and long suffering and let Him be the one who passes judgment.

So, the next time we find ourselves tempted to engage in gossip, or find ourselves tempted to ridicule the decisions of others, let's take just a moment and make sure we aren't allowing ourselves to be a part of the Peanut Gallery. What you are most critical of in others today just may be what you have to endure yourself tomorrow.

Wow, I feel better.


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Trip to Philadelphia

Well, it has been a crazy week for us. Katie left for Utah on Tuesday for her Grandpa's funeral. She reports that everything went very well and she had a wonderful time with her family as they celebrated the life of her grandfather.

Back on the home front, I was doing my best to keep the chaos under control and handle the situations that arose at work as best as I could. Joshua had a hard time not having his mom here and didn't sleep well..consequently, neither did I. But it was a great opportunity to spend some time with the kids that I normally don't get the chance to do.

We left here to pick up Katie from the airport on Thursday morning. Because of the cost of the tickets, it was cheaper to have her return flight go through D.C. Anyway, we picked her up at about 4:30 in, a four hour drive from our house here in New York, then we made the two hour trip from D.C. to Philadelphia where we were going to enjoy a little weekend together.

The kids were absolutely thrilled with the idea of staying in a hotel...with a pool! We were in the hotel less than 10 minutes before we were in the pool. The water was very, very cold so when I say "we" were in the pool I mean I was in the pool trying to coax the kids in with me. It was fun. We ordered some pizza and had a picnic on the hotel room floor...I felt really bad for the person who had to clean the room the next day.

Friday was overcast and raining and we went to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in the morning and then we headed to the Sesame Place, a relatively small water and amusement park based on Sesame Street that afternoon. We didn't get in the water on Friday, as it was too cold, but we did go on several of the rides and had a great time!

Saturday, I headed over to a work meeting I had in the morning while Katie and the kids packed up the van and got some breakfast. After the meeting, we headed back to the Sesame Place. This time, we were dressed for some water fun. The place was PACKED, almost to the point where you really couldn't do anything so we didn't last long. The kids were tired, and, well, so were Katie and I.

The drive home was uneventful...oh, except for the fact that Ellie cried the entire time! Man, I can't wait to get back to work on Monday! :)

Here are a few pictures and a video from our trip! Enjoy!

Here are Katie and the kids in front of Independence Hall. Caitlyn was really determined to make a frownie face and Caleb was avoiding the picture as best as he could, but we still got it!

Ellie is enjoying the time outside at Independence Hall.

Joshua didn't really understand what Independence Hall was...but he was having a good time anyway!

Katie and the kids at the Liberty Bell. We were in line for about 30 minutes before we got in and there were a lot of people there, so the kids, who were thoroughly unimpressed by this piece of American History, were ready to leave before we even got there...but we were determined to get the picture (note the look of frustration on Katie's face).

Here we are at the entrance to Sesame Place. Notice how much happier the kids are here...apparently Elmo has more of a positive impact on them than the history of our country.

Cruisin' at Sesame Place.

While Caleb and Caitlyn weren't too excited about the characters walking around, Joshua loved every minute of it.

Caitlyn on the big slide! She is growing up so fast!!

More character pictures. Caitlyn has a nice smile in this picture and Caleb, well...he wasn't that excited to be there.

Ellie had a lot of fun, she was in a good mood that day!

Ellie and mom playing at Sesame Place.

More character pictures. Caitlyn, in spite of her fears, really wanted to get a picture with Elmo.

Swimming on Saturday. I don't know who is better looking here, me or Ellie...ok, it is probably Ellie.

The water was so cold...but that didn't stop the kids

We had a great time in the water and the kids slept great that night!
Our quick to Philadelphia was a lot of fun. It was definitely tiring, but hopefully the kids had a good time and were able to build some fun memories. We are looking forward to our upcoming trip to Palmyra to see the Church history sites, the Baseball Hall of Fame, and Niagara Falls next month!