Monday, June 13, 2011

Day 2 and 3: Gettysburg

After our busy day sightseeing in Philadelphia, we headed to Shawn and Lori's house to have dinner, pack and head to Gettysburg. This was one place I have always wanted to see, and I was so glad that the Thomas family wanted to take us! It's about a 2 1/2 to 3 hour drive, so we headed out Friday night and spent the night in Gettysburg. That way we were ready for all the touring of the battlefields early Saturday morning.
When you first get to the National Park, you watch a movie which gives background information on the battle. It was truly a turning point in the Civil War with great casualties both for the North and the South. The battles were fought over a 3 day period, July 1-3, 1863. During the summer months, it gets very humid and I can't imagine marching for miles in wool uniforms in that heat. Gettysburg is such a nice, quaint town, and it was forever changed after the battles. After the movie, you could tour the museum which had tons of artifacts from the battles. We spent about a few hours there looking at everything. Here are some of the pictures from the museum. It is just an amazing place and so hard to explain in just a few photos.
All the kids in front of a real Union soldier's uniform.
This would be a typical tent for an enlisted Union soldier. It really was just a piece of canvas held up by a pole, pretty sparse living conditions.
After we toured the museum, we took a break for lunch before we began our car tour of the battlefields. We ate at the Dobbin House Tavern which is one of the oldest buildings in Gettysburg and stands today much the same as it did 200 years ago. In the middle 1800s, it was used as a hiding place for runaway slaves. The food was great, and the atmosphere was incredible.
The Thomas Family enjoying lunch. They are the greatest friends and hosts. They took us everywhere and we had the best time sightseeing with them. Thanks you guys for a wonderful three days; we love and miss you!
After lunch, it was time to tour the battlefields. There are many ways to see them; you can walk, bike, or ride in your car. Lori had a CD that would tell you where to drive and then it would tell you about that particular battlefield. It was a rainy day and so it was nice to be in the car all dry and warm. We did get out periodically and take pictures and think about what took place there. It was a very sobering experience.
I had no idea the battlefield was so huge; it seemed like just acres and acres of land. It was such a gloomy day that you could just imagine the thousands of young soldiers marching across the fields. Since it is a national park and on the historic register, they have tried to preserve it just as it was in 1863.
Lots of roads that just seemed to lead to open fields.
Abby and Ben in front of a cannon. As we drove, there were many of these along the road.
Periodically there were observation towers which gave you a good view of the vastness and size of the battlefields. We had to hike up a ton of steps; I didn't know Ab was afraid of heights until we got to the top. The wind was blowing really hard and she could not wait to get down. She was a good sport to stick around long enough for the picture.
Ben in front of Devil's Den; some of the most bloody fighting was done here. Some of the most graphic photos of the battle were taken among these rocks. The Wheatfields. Another bloody battle took place here. Soldiers could walk across the fields and not touch the ground because there were so many bodies. It just made me so sad to think of so many young men lying dead here.
There are monuments for all the states who fought at Gettysburg. This is Pennsylvania's monument.
A copy of the Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Such a magnificent speech and only 10 sentences in length. Before Lincoln spoke, another man spoke who was known as a great orator, and he spoke for over 2 hours. Humble Lincoln gave his speech and that is the one we remember.
Approximate location of Lincoln's speech. I thought he gave it right after the battle, but it wasn't until a few months later, November of 1863.The entrance to the cemetary. It was a great day to be able to walk where one of the most horrific battles took place. It's a place not to be missed. After we were done with Gettysburg, we headed back home.
On Sunday, we went to church with the family. Ben and Abby loved the ward; the kids were so friendly and welcoming to them. We are certainly spoiled having a church within walking distance; Shawn and Lori drive about 30 minutes or so to get to church. I meant to get a picture of the kids all ready for church, but forgot.
After church we came home and just relaxed. Shawn cooked a great dinner on the grill and the kids enjoyed just hanging out. Here the kids are playing Uno and having a great time.
After dinner, Lori drove us around their town. What a beautiful town! We found the oldest tree in their town; it was there when William Penn settled Pennsylvania in the late 1600s. It was one old, huge tree which Ben really wanted to climb.
After our drive, it was time to head back and pack and get some rest before the drive to D.C. on Monday to meet Brian. Thanks Lori, Shawn and kids for a great weekend. Can we come back again soon?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Spring Break 2011 Day One-Philadelphia

Last summer, our good friends the Thomas family came to Salt Lake for a visit and said, "When are you guys going to come to Philadelphia for a visit?" I thought...well, we have a week at spring break, a perfect time to go. With Philly just a few hours from Washington D.C., it was a great opportunity to see our dear friends and take Ben and Abby on a tour of two of the most historical cities in our country. Now, one doesn't plan a ten day trip to these cities without much research and planning, so eight months after the invitation was extended, we were off. Brian decided to forego the Philly part and meet us in D.C. That was a new adventure for me to travel alone with kids, but we made it. There are over 300 pictures of the trip ( I won't post them all!!!), so our trip will be a series of posts. Here is the first day.
Ben and Abby at the airport, all smiles and ready for adventure!

I have a reputation of picking not so great hotels and since we arrived in Philly after midnight, all I wanted was a quick cab ride from the airport to the hotel. Hum...I choose the Red Roof Inn; reviews sounded okay, but they lied. The place was a dump. Ben however had no problem sleeping...
Abby ready to see the city and say goodbye to the Red Roof Inn.
Lori, Shawn, Emma and Jake picked us up on Friday morning ready to take us exploring the city. First stop, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The three of us posing in front of the Rocky Balboa statue.
Ever since I saw the first Rocky movie, I have wanted to make a run up the famous "Rocky Steps". There were a lot of them.....raced the kids up and I won't reveal who was last.....Emma, Jake, Ben and Ab at the top.
Would not be a trip to Philly without enjoying a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich. Jake, Shawn and Ben digging in......Ben's sandwich is minus the cheese!
Lori, Emma and Ab enjoying their lunch.
My version of the Philly Cheesesteak, a chef salad. I'm notorious for always ordering salads no matter where we go....this one was fantastic!
Philadelphia is an incredibly historical city. On every block, there was a church or building that was somehow connected to the American Revolution or the founding of our country. Ben and Abby in front of the Christ Church. This church was built between 1727 and 1744; many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence worshipped here. The baptismal font used by William Penn is still is use today. We were able to sit in the pew once occupied by George Washington.
The next stop was the Betsy Ross house. I always thought of her as just a little grandma sitting in a rocking chair sewing our flag. I didn't realize how difficult her life was and how she was risking her life sewing the flag. If the British found out what she was doing, she would have been killed. She really was an amazing lady!
We were also able to tour the U.S. Mint. It was really interesting to see how our coins are made. No pictures were allowed inside.
Next stop was Independence Hall. This is truly the most "historic block in America." To be in the area where both the the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were signed was very humbling. Abby and Ben in front of the desks where the signers of our most sacred document sat.
This is the chair used by George Washington. We learned much about him; he was a very humble man and was a great leader.
The front part of Independence Hall. Philadelphia has tons and tons of statues of the many man involved in making this country.
Next stop was the Liberty Bell. I was really suprised how small it was. Somehow I pictured it as giagantic. Not that big. Must just look bigger in the history books. We packed a ton into one day! Ben was pooped and fell asleep before we were even out of the city. Off to Kennett Square where the Thomas' live, grab Eli (the youngest Thomas), and off to Gettysburg for the night and battlefields to explore on Saturday.,

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Spring Suprises

With school out this week and hopefully summer just around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to post some of our family happenings. We didn't really have spring this year; we would have maybe one nice day and then four days of rain. We always have our pool up and running by now, but with the torrents of rain, just didn't happen. We did however have some visitors.....
Several inches of rain fell on our pool cover, and we couldn't pump it off fast enough. Well, a couple of ducks came to visit. Kristi noticed them mid April when she and Jordy were babysitting Duke while we were on our Philly/DC trip. Being the animal lover, she took bread out every night and soon these two brought some friends. At one point, there were about six ducks floating around in our backyard. After a few days, only these two came back every night to swim on our cover. With warmer weather, the pool cover is dry and our friends have flown the coop. It was really fun to have them around. Hum...we are wondering if they will pay us a visit when we are swimming....
Ben had his final band performance. A huge shout out to his band teacher Mr. Davis. He is awesome, and I can't imagine what it was like those first few months when these kids were learning to play all their instruments. It was a great night for the kids to showcase their talent. Good job Ben! A few weeks ago, Ben organized a service project for his scout troop. He did a great job contacting a sweet lady in our ward who needed some help in her yard. They pulled up some bushes, mowed the lawn, raked up some dead leaves and weeded a rock garden. It took the boys about 1 1/2 hours, and she was so appreciative of their help. I have to admit, it was pretty funny watching those boys. Two minutes of work, five minutes of messing around, but they were able to get it all done. With a little help from his friends, Ryan, Jack, Scott and Jackson, Ben was able to complete his service hours for his next rank advancement. Yahoo...thanks guys for your help.
All finished! Here they are with their leaders Paul, Clark and Brian and a grateful Sister Everitt.
A few weeks of my spring were spent correcting research papers. I had my honors students research the year of their birth. They had to find local, state and international events from that year. I had already been teaching 3 years by the time these kids were born. Yikes! So here is 36 graded 3-5 page papers ready to be handed back. I have to say, these were some of my best papers; such a bright group of kids I had this year. I will miss them!
A few months ago, I told Lindsi that I wanted to redo my guest bathroom, and I wanted her decor expertise. I knew I wanted a seaside cottage type feel in soft creams and blues. With life being crazy, we didn't get to it before cute Cashe a Roo's birth and I had honestly forgotten about it. A few weeks ago, I came home from work to a big suprise. My sweet Lindsi had completed the bathroom redo. Not only was it done, but Lindsi bought everything for me. It was perfect, and I love, love it! Thanks you Linds for being so thoughtful and making my bathroom so pretty! Now all I need is a guest to come and visit!
The cute wastebasket and rug. The perfect colors and feel that I wanted.
She thought of everything including the boat soap dish with soap!
And that has been our spring! Watch for the next post...our Philly/DC trip pictures....finally!