Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleepy Feet

You've probably heard of "Happy Feet" (as in the children's movie), but did you know that there are also Sleepy Feet? When my children were babies I liked taking pictures of their feet. Even though they're older now, it's still fun to do every now and then. Recently I took a few pictures of Sam's feet while he slept one night. (Fortunately the camera's bright flash didn't wake him up!)

I think his 2-year-old sleepy feet are just as sweet as his little baby feet were!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Belated Thanksgiving Post

I meant to write this post and publish it last week because it's about Plymouth and the pilgrims, but my in-laws came to visit and things were busy and I didn't have time. So here it is now instead. Better late than never!

This past summer when we were back East we spent a day at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It's a re-creation of how the pilgrims lived, and the Native Americans too, and it is an awesome place--an outdoor living history museum at its best. If you've never been, add it to your "Must Visit" list! We'd been before, but it was even better this time because my six-year-old was old enough to understand it a lot more than the last time we were there (when he was two!).

This is what the houses looked like back then. My husband and children are direct descendants of a couple who came over on the Mayflower. It was neat to explore replicas of what their home here in America may have been like!


The "settlers" are fun to talk with. They speak only in character as if it were the 1600s. You can ask them anything about life back then, and if you ask them about modern things, they act like they have no idea what you're talking about. It's funny!

Real working gardens are at many of the houses...

I was impressed by this cool log pile!

At the top of the village, there's a nice view of the Atlantic Ocean, which conveyed the passengers of the Mayflower to the wild and untamed lands of what was to become America.

 Nothing says "Welcome to the 17th century" like a kid in a Star Wars shirt!

After Plimoth Plantation, we drove into the town of Plymouth to go on the Mayflower II, which is a replica of the original ship. (By the way, in case you were wondering, "Plimoth" is spelled that way because that's how the settlers originally spelled it, so at the Plantation it's spelled like that to be true to history. It's not an error that I keep making, I promise! Or if it is, at least it's a sanctioned one!)

All aboard! (It actually doesn't go anywhere. It's just for touring.)


On display outside of the ship is a picture of England with the names of the Mayflower passengers and where they came from. Our ancestors are John Howland (at the top) and Elizabeth Tilley (third from the bottom). They got married once they arrived in America. Guess who else is descended from them? Among millions of others, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, President George H.W. Bush (and obviously his son too), the prophet Joseph Smith, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Humphrey Bogart, Alec Baldwin, Dr. Spock, and Christopher Lloyd ("Doc" from Back to the Future!). And Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford and Winston Churchill are descendants of brothers of John Howland. How cool is that!? We've got some awesome connections!

A view from the lower deck of the ship where the passengers lived...

The view today is probably a little different from what it was almost 400 years ago! 

 I'm sure the pilgrims would have loved to have had houses and buildings like these! (Including the amenities!)

I made a cute pilgrim friend before we left, but he wouldn't share his drink with me...

After the ship we walked over to Plymouth Rock. It's just a rock, but it's THE Rock!

 That pillared structure across the street behind Sam is the Plymouth Rock viewing place...

Plymouth is a beautiful seaside town today. I love it! And I love the widow's walks on many of the houses, which were built for women to look out to sea for their husband's ships coming in.

It was a lovely day at one of my favorite historical places, and we will definitely return in the years to come. Someday we'd like to have Thanksgiving dinner at Plimoth Plantation on Thanksgiving itself--they serve an authentic meal that's similar to the original meal that the pilgrims and Native Americans shared. Someday we will do that! For now, though, I'm just thankful to be an American and to be able to see these neat places from our history!

If you'd like more information on any of the above places, click on these links:
Plimoth Plantation and Mayflower II
Plymouth Rock
Plymouth, Massachusetts

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Weekly Wrap-Up

Peter has been away on business all week (in New Jersey and Manhattan; I'm jealous! We lived there for the first four years of our marriage and I really miss it there sometimes.). He gets back tonight, but then tomorrow he'll be gone all morning at a turkey shootout (not real turkeys! I made sure!) with guys from church, an event for which I was forced to cancel a 90-minute Swedish massage that I had scheduled for myself at noon tomorrow. What the heck? I need a break!

That break is going to come in the form of THIS:

Tomorrow afternoon I'm taking myself out on a date to go see this movie. I don't care what people say; I'm excited for it! And I'm interested in seeing what they do with certain bizarre scenes from the book. It was my least favorite of the books, but I still liked it enough to want to see the movie. The movie reviews I've read said that fans will like it, so that's a good sign.

I'm almost done Christmas shopping for my kids. They make up the bulk of my shopping, so it's a relief to have that taken care of. Now I just have to be careful that I don't pick up more things for them when I'm out in the stores. That's one of the dangers of getting your shopping done early. You find other things that you want to get and can end up spending and getting more in the long run!

Speaking of Christmas shopping, I'm not planning on doing Black Friday next week. I never have, and I probably never will. I will gladly pay the difference to not have to get up early or stay up late and deal with crowds just to get a good price on something. Cyber Monday, however, is a much easier thing to manage. Now that, I like!

The Duggars have announced that they are pregnant with their 20th child.

I am not impressed.

Another thing I'm not impressed with is the Occupy Wall Street movement. At first, I understood their point. I mostly disagreed with it, but I got it. But now it's getting ridiculous. They aren't accomplishing anything except for being a nuisance, and the protesters don't agree with one another on what exactly it is that they want. They can't even decide on whether or not to issue a list of "demands." A friend of mine from college who works on Wall Street said this yesterday on Facebook and posted this picture:

"Occupy Wall Street occupying the lobby where I has told all of us not to leave the building today...what crazy times we live in!!"

The protesters remind me of disobedient, badly behaved children throwing temper tantrums because they're not getting what they want. 

Ready for another one of my catalog rants? I was flipping through the FAO Schwarz catalog and came across this:

This isn't just any Etch-a-Sketch. This is a limited edition Jeweled Classic Etch-a-Sketch, "with over 10,000 dazzling, handset Swarovski crystals" all over it. There are only six available in the world, and it only costs $1,499.99. (But there's a coupon on the back of the catalog for $25 off any total purchase of $150 or more, so then it would be only $1,474.99!)
Those Occupy Wall Streeters would have a field day with this. And I would probably have to agree with them. This is just wrong! And if you're going to bejewel something, why would you bejewel an Etch-a-Sketch, of all things? Why not a cool owl or a set of bookends or something a little more decorative or practical like that?!
For the third time in this post, I will say that I AM NOT IMPRESSED!

Well, in addition to lots of errands and housework and after-school activities, that's been my week. I hope you have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Family Picture Failures!

My preoccupation with getting a good family picture of us have continued this fall, but they've pretty much all been failed attempts. The main reasons for the lack of success with this are:
1) a 2-year-old who is not at all interested in getting his picture taken,
2) wind, which makes my borderline okay hair totally not okay, and
3) overly bright sunshine that makes us look like squinty-eyed ghosts!
In the following pictures I have identified the culprit that ruined the picture. 

 The culprit: Too  much sunshine and a toddler struggling to escape.

The culprit: Uncooperative toddler and a little too much sunshine.

The culprit: The wind making my hair look funny and my squinting. Sam for once is sitting still and even smiling, though! That's progress!

The culprit: Uncooperative toddler. That kid!!

 The culprit: Obviously, bad timing on my part to blink my eyes! The photo is overexposed too.

The culprit: Six-year-old in a daze. This one is cute, but it's not quite "the one."

I guess these pictures aren't complete failures, though, because they capture the reality of our lives, and the reality of our lives is overall a beautiful thing that I'm thankful for.
But I'm still going to keep trying for that ideal shot that I have in my mind!

P.S. Sometime soon I'll post some pictures that were taken of us sitting in a giant rocking chair! They're pretty funny.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Pumpkin Lovin'

The season of pumpkins, gourds, and mums will soon be over, so it's nice to enjoy them while they're in season for the two or three months a year that they're here. I took these pictures last month at Bloomsbury Farm in Atkins, Iowa.


I love fall! (And I also love that my favorite holiday of Christmas is right around the corner!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lettin' My Kids Get Crafty!

As you may know, I'm not really a "crafty" person. I appreciate other people's arts and crafts, but for me personally, I'm not very artistic and I enjoy making simple things only every now and then. Occasionally, though, I let go of my craft inhibitions and neat-freak tendencies and let my children do a fun crafty art project. So last month I bought a bunch of mini pumpkins for them to paint and decorate.

"What's this and how exactly do you use it?" 
This may have been Sam's first time painting with an actual brush.
I need to get better about exposing my kids to art on a regular basis!

 I didn't even think to put newspaper down under their projects. Oops! 
There will be orange glitter stuck on this table for awhile.
As further evidence of what an amateur I am at this, I let them paint in their church clothes.  

In the end, I think the pumpkins turned out well. Good job, boys!

 That one on the front right-hand side...I did those glitter stripes down the sides. Oh yeah!

Now they're all lined up on the windowsill near our kitchen table and they look cute and festive for fall. So I've decided that we'll do this every year. Sometimes it's totally worth it to let your kids get crafty. I'm going to have to do it more often!