Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Jacob's Baptism

When Jacob was younger he used to say that he wouldn't get baptized until he was 18. I think he just assumed you needed to be an adult. So as Jacob was approaching turning 8 we began to talk more about if he would like to be baptized and we were thrilled that he was actually excited to be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost once he turned 8. He has always been sensitive to the spirit and has developed a testimony of prayer and faith, and does his best to choose the right.
Since his birthday fell on a Saturday this year, Jacob made the decision he wanted to be baptized on his birthday! He said he knew that would make it a great birthday because by then he will have the spirit with him too. We thought that was a great idea, and a great way for him to always remember the day he was baptized! 
I tried to get a few nice pictures of Jacob the month before his birthday and used one to make a baptism announcement. He passed these out to the other kids in his primary class and we mailed them off to extended family also.
The morning of the baptism we went to the church an hour early to prepare the food and set up chairs. The kids kept themselves occupied pretty well- this picture of Ava calmly roaming the halls with the baby stroller makes me laugh. 
We had a pretty good spread of subs from the local deli, veggies, fruit, chips, mint brownies, and cupcakes. I also made these cute little CTR shields for the cupcakes.

The baptism itself was very nice! We had a great group of friends there to support Jacob, and of course all his grandparents who came in from out of town. Here was our program. 
When Luke took Jacob down to the font, he was a little nervous but he said the water was warm and he had practiced a lot with his dad. When it came time for him to go under water his foot popped up and then he quickly brought it down. But they did it a second time just to be sure ;)
Brother Barzee gave a great talk with an object lesson about how life can get messy like cotton candy, and we need baptism (baby wipes) to get clean again. My dad also gave a talk and my mom led the music, which really took me back to feelings at my own baptism. Overall it was a wonderful program!
One thing that I am especially glad we did instead of showing a video while Luke and Jacob got changed after the baptism, we had everyone who was there write notes for Jacob. They were collected and we put them together that night for him to read. It was a really sweet moment to stay up late on his birthday reading all the thoughtful messages from friends and loved ones. I hope it is a gift he can treasure and a way to always remember his special day!
After the program we had our refreshments in the gym and it was nice to visit with everyone for a bit afterwards. We didn't get a picture of Jacob's full primary class- (though they were all there!) but here is a picture of him with Claire and Natalie!
And here is all our family that was here- we're so grateful they could all come!
It was a fun and memorable way to celebrate Jacob's 8th birthday and we're so proud of the choice he made to be baptized!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Jacob Turns 8!!

First off- four days before Jacob's birthday we got hit with a blizzard! Storm Stella brought us about 20 inches of snow!! We were not too pleased! The boys did try to go out and play once the snow stopped the next day, but it was so tall and powdery they could hardly get through it!
The kids only got one snow day out of it, plus a 2-hr delay and then they were back in school! Which at that point was fine with me because I had a lot to do to get ready for Jacob's birthday and family coming in! I was grateful that by Thursday the roads were fine for Luke's parents and his Grandma Martha to drive up from Virginia, and on Friday morning the flights were fine for my parents to make it in also. We had a full weekend to celebrate Jacob's birthday and were happy to have family come in to join us!
After a short school week due to snow cancellations, the boys also already had Friday scheduled off for some conferences. It also happened to be St. Patrick's Day, and we decided to throw Jacob a birthday party at the bowling alley. He didn't want to actually go bowling though! They played for a half hour in ballocity, then hit the arcades, then a bumper car ride! The place was pretty empty so the kids had everything to themselves!
The grandma's helped keep Ava happy while I watched over the kids and helped with tokens and tickets, and the men went bowling!

I think the highlight of the party was when Jacob's neighborhood friend Jude won the jackpot on an arcade game! He won 1000 tickets and the kids were so excited! It was pretty crazy but great because then he shared his tickets and helped everyone get the prizes they wanted!
The bumper cars was a great activity to end on- they all had a blast!
Then we headed over to the restaurant adjacent to bowling alley, and had our little party in a quiet corner. The kids who were all there were his whole primary class- Henry, Rylie, Claire, and Natalie, Jude from the neighborhood, and Jude (Henry's little brother) was also there with Blake. We are so grateful that Jacob has a great group of friends!
We had our cake, pokemon themed, and Jacob opened a few presents. The parents picked up from there and the kids all got goodies bags stuffed with pokemon themed toys and candy. I think he and all the kids had a fun time!
After the party we all headed over to Red Robin for dinner with the family. 
It was Jacob's request to eat here for his birthday so of course we had them sing and embarrass him!
The next day on Saturday was Jacob's birthday! Not only was it his birthday but he also got baptized that day! His baptism was that morning at 11 but we went over early to get ready and we spent the first half of his birthday enjoying the baptism together with family and friends. It was a very special day! (I made a separate post about the baptism!)
That afternoon we were a little more split up with running errands and things, but one thing Jacob wanted to do for his birthday was to go sledding at the big hill at the golf course down the street. It actually doesn't even seem like much of a hill but it's kind of the only one around! Blake wasn't as interested in going and their other sled was buried under the snow and could not be found! So I took Jacob alone and he brought his new snowboard which can also be used as a sled.
I was surprised how fast that sled went down the hill! Even the other kids there were impressed! The hill was much more steep and bumpy than it looked, but Jacob wasn't scared and had so much fun! After a bit he practiced some snowboarding too. He still needs a little practice, but I thought he didn't look too bad!
The tradition seems to be that for birthday dinners we do homemade pizza so that's what we did that night! Jacob's favorite is olive pizza, and we also had pepperoni, a veggie (with no cheese), ham and pineapple, and a pepperoni with sausage. We're not the most creative with toppings but they were all great!

Finally, it was time for Jacob's presents! Jacob was so patient all day waiting for his gifts and even let his brother open a lot for him. He got a ton of great gifts this year- mostly minecraft and pokemon related. He probably even got too many gifts- but I guess 8 is a big year!
We saved our cake from the birthday party so we'd have some for his birthday- turns out we had plenty!
Let's hope Jacob made a great wish because he blew out the candles all at once!
Happy birthday bud! 
I can hardly believe my oldest is already 8, but I know I am so lucky to have Jacob as my son! He is so sweet, easy-going, patient, generous, and forgiving! He is still a great and helpful big brother and he always works hard! I am so proud of him for the person he's growing into and how he always tries to do the right thing. We hope 8 is a great year for you Jacob!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Our First Family Trip to NYC

We finally made a trip down to the city! We met Luke's parents and Kate's family and we stayed at a hotel in New Jersey for the weekend. After getting in on a Friday night and playing at the hotel pool, the next day we started off the day going to Coney Island!
The kids waded in the water and played on the sand for a bit, then we walked some shops and got some lunch at Nathan's.
We then came back to where we were to board for the Statue of Liberty and after quickly eating some pizza at the check in, we barely caught our ferry.

The boys all loved the ride! It was a beautiful morning full of sunshine and our ferry ride gave us a great view of the city. 
But just as we stepped off the ferry and onto the island it started pouring rain! So much, that everyone ran to any shelter they could find, most cramming into the gift shop! Our families all got split up, Ava ending up with her grandparents, and after standing at the edge of a covered door for 10 minutes, we finally decided to embrace the rain since it had lightened a bit and made our way up the Statue of Liberty. 
It was foggy and wet but we still got a fun view of the city, and we know that it is a memory we won't forget!

Afterwards we went back to the hotel, left our kids with the family, and then Luke and I went to the real reason we came to NYC. We finally went to go see Coldplay in concert! I was soo excited! We both were, but Luke kept trying to play it cool. He totally made a Blake face here (compare to above!).
When we were dating Luke asked me if I wanted to go to a Coldplay concert in MD but it was last minute and the money for tickets seemed like a lot to us at the time, so we didn't go. And I always regretted it! Coldplay is one of the few bands that both Luke and I really love, and finding something we both have in common isn't easy! So with this summer being our 10 year anniversary it seemed like the perfect way to celebrate and do something that we've wanted to experience together for years! And it was the perfect opportunity to go!
We first heard from Alessia Cara who I also really like. Luke didn't care for her performance as much but I think her music has grown on him since.
Finally Coldplay started and they were totally worth the wait!
When we arrived we got these wrist bands that light up to match the music throughout the concert and these little lights were everything! I was upset because mine wasn't working for the first few songs but as soon as it finally activated it totally changed the experience and made it interactive! When it would blink faster and change colors you couldn't help but get up and dance. It was such a fun and amazing experience to be in a huge stadium of fans all singing and dancing along to some of my most favorite songs! I will never forget the energy and excitement of being there live!
Words just can't describe how fun and amazing this concert was! We were also the very first stop in their American tour so it just really felt special to be there! And although the weather had been spotty that day it could not have been a more beautiful and perfect night!
Seriously, this concert brought us closer together and we consider it a highlight in our marriage! One of the best nights ever!!!
The next day we took our bikes and rode all around Central Park! Jacob had thankfully learned how to ride his two wheeler two months earlier- and he was such a trooper! It was a long, HOT day and the kids did well considering the conditions.

I had never been to Central Park before! We let the kids run around the playground while we took some time to cool off. We had barely started but already needed a break, ha!

Since John and Brenda were on foot, we met them next at the NYC temple! It was Sunday so they were holding their normal church services on the lower floors. We cooled off inside and listened to the talks in the foyer over the speakers for a bit before moving on again.
We then made our way over to the Strawberry Fields and met up with the rest of the family for a picnic lunch. 
 We then went up and around Belvedere Castle.
Getting around Central Park is nice with a bike but also complicated because of the one way direction streets which took us a little time to figure out. Overall, I would say it was really scenic and beautiful, but it also felt like the hottest day of the year, so especially with young kids we tired quickly! I felt like we got to see a lot of Central Park though and this was a fun and memorable way to do it! Just not sure Jacob ever wants to do it again, ha!

Afterwards, we took our bikes back to the car, then walked a few blocks and got sandwiches at Carnegie Deli, picked out some statue of liberty souvenirs for the boys, and ended with a treat across the street that claimed to have the best cheesecake. It was good enough, and well deserved after a long day.
By that point we were pretty tired and still had to drive a few hours home that night. So no time for Time Square or other site-seeing this trip, besides what we could see just driving by. We were glad to have Luke's family there to help us navigate our way around for our first trip to the city. We felt like we did as much we could in two days and made some fun new memories together!