Tuesday, December 13, 2016

What's Been Up In My Life

It's time to do some catching up since I really haven't done much here since June, due to the blog pulling a naughty disappearing act and all. So here's some of what I've been up to during the last half of the year. I'm not including many pictures in this post, but some of these things definitely merit more pictures and perhaps if they are lucky enough they will get their own post in the next few months.

We bought a new car, mere months after we'd paid both our cars off. What can I say, we like to pay bills!
Peter did a test-drive of the 2016 Toyota Highlander while our 2008 Highlander was being serviced at the dealership, and he was sold. We had no intention of buying a new car for another year or two, but when a man is in love, he's in love. It's the nicest car we've ever had with some pretty sweet safety features and things like heated/air-conditioned seats and keyless entry. I never have to touch my keys which is pretty cool.
Next up: Peter will probably end up trading in his 2010 Camry for a 2017 model next year because his car now feels pretty antiquated after driving the fancy new Highlander. :-)

Sam was excited about the new car. We'd had the old one his whole life!

I got my DNA tested and found out what I'm made of. The results were pleasantly surprising!
I knew there was a reason that I love cloudy, rainy days and period dramas set in England, and why I've been dying to go to England for most of my life. It turns out that 41% of me is purely British! That's higher than I expected (and makes me less of a mutt than I thought I was!).

Overall, as you can see in the chart below, I'm 99% European. Of that, 54% is from West Europe (France, Germany, Switzerland, etc.), 41% is from Great Britain, 4% is from "trace regions" of Ireland and Finland/Northwest Russia, and 1% is from West Asia(!?). I always thought I had a lot more Irish in me than that!

We spent our 12th summer in a row on the Cape. 
Tradition, tradition! (Cue Fiddler on the Roof.)

It was a pricey summer for the Cape house. We had the carpet on the ground floor taken out and the hardwood floor underneath refinished. It turned out really nice.

 We also replaced the dishwasher and washing machine because they were old and weren't working very well. We had some trees and branches cut down in the yard, which I hate doing but it was a necessary evil. And finally, there was a big thunderstorm one night that blew out the fuse for the lights in the basement, so an electrician had to come out and fix that. The storm also destroyed the TV down there because it was plugged into the wall instead of the high-tech power strip that was located just inches below it. Grrrrr!$!$!

We spent a hot and humid but fun weekend in Philadelphia in August so that we could go to the temple open house there. It was great to be back in the city of brotherly love where we fell in love (romantic love, not brotherly love) and got ourselves educated (and indebted, in more ways than one!). The temple was beautiful, and we went on a bus tour of the city for the boys and we went to Independence Hall and the Constitution Center and also to Penn's campus where we ate dinner at one of our favorite restaurants from college. Such good times, both then and now!

Photo opp with Ben at Penn (not a very good one because it was dark out!).
I had my picture taken on this very bench when I was a 17-year-old senior in high-school!

The boys started their new school year with Sam in 1st grade and John in 6th. This will be the last year they ever attend the same school together, and it's John's last year of elementary school before moving on to junior high next year. This makes me sad. I have a hard time with big transitions in both my life and the lives of my children, and school changes affect me big-time, I don't know why. John seems to have no problem with it though, and that's what matters! Plus it's still half a year away.

We spent a fun Labor Day weekend in (where else?) Wisconsin Dells at Great Wolf Lodge.

Only this time, we weren't there in the winter so we did something else besides the usual and we went on a duckboat ride around some beautiful Wisconsin lakes with very old rock formations.

Sam turned seven!
This child is such a joy in my life and in our family!

After six years of living in the Midwest we finally made a proper trip to Chicago, and it was so much fun! We stayed downtown and we went to The Field Museum (that was my favorite), the Shedd Aquarium, the Museum of Science & Industry, Navy Pier where we rode the famous Ferris Wheel, Legoland Discovery Center for Sam, the observation deck at Willis Tower where we stood on a glass-bottomed protrusion 103 stories up, and we did a night-time boat ride down the river through the city where the narrator told ghost stories from Chicago's history as we sailed past all these skyscrapers and buildings. It was so cool. I also had the best deep-dish pizza of my life. Chicago is much better than I thought; it's been wrong of me to judge it based on its (terrible) airport and (sky-high) crime rate all these years!


Following in the steps of greatness...

 The famous T-rex skeleton named "Sue" at The Field Museum.

I really loved The Field Museum!


This was the view from our hotel room.
That tallest building is Trump Tower Chicago.

 Pretty sweet views of the city and the great lake beyond from the top of the Willis Tower.

It was freaky but cool to stand above the ground on a clear floor 103 stories up!

For Halloween John was a zombie football player and Sam was Kylo Ren from Star Wars.
I wore my cute Haunted Mansion "Ghost Host" shirt from Disneyworld for the first time, and probably the last time until next Halloween.


During Thanksgiving week we took our first non-Disney Cruise Line cruise. I missed Disney the whole time, but Royal Caribbean was nice and the cruise was fun. We went to the Western Caribbean and stopped in Grand Cayman (for the third time--and a lifelong dream of mine was fulfilled when I got to swim with a dolphin!) and in Cozumel, Mexico, where we swam in an underground river through an ancient cave, and in Costa Maya, Mexico, where the boys had a blast at a brand-new waterpark modeled like a Mayan temple. Good times had by all! 

When in Mexico...

What else?
Soon after we returned from our summer away, I got a new calling in church--second counselor in the Primary Presidency, in addition to the stake calling of coordinating missionary meals that I've had for three years.
I discovered LuLaRoe clothes, and leggings in general (for better or for worse; I haven't decided which yet).
I finally decided to get laser eye surgery next year (I can still be convinced to change my mind!).
I got into the habit of meditating for ten minutes a day and I love it.
We went to a Piano Guys concert and it was amazing.
The results of the presidential election rocked my world, and not in a bad way, because for the first time since 2004, the candidate I voted for actually won! (#sorrynotsorry)
We saw the Joffrey Ballet's new take on The Nutcracker, and while I definitely prefer the classic version and I'll probably forever be a Boston Ballet snob, it was good. I never thought I'd see Buffalo Bill in The Nutcracker, that's for sure!
We went to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, and it was awesome. They sound just as good in real life as they do on the radio!

And that's some of what we've been up to for the last five months.
See you in another five months!
 Just joking. Hopefully.

See you (at some point) next year!