Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Christmas comes and goes so fast. We had a fabulous day. I am sad, however, that we managed to only take one picture today. ONE! We can't go back now.
Gavin asked for a school bus from Santa and he got it! It was the toy that he played with the most today. He also got a scooter which will hopefully be a favorite in the weeks and months to come. He was excited for Christmas all week and asked every day if he could open the presents under the tree. I hope that Boyd and I can be better about helping him see the true meaning of Christmas in the years to come. We did act out the Christmas Story and Gavin insisted on being the star.

We had a great Christmas season. We probably pushed ourselves to hard to do too much, but there are some things you can't miss during Christmas in New York. Here are a few highlights with a few pictures since I managed to take more pictures..

We attended Winters Eve at Lincoln center and saw Father Goose perform. We made it to the train show at the Botanical Gardens and at Grand Central Station.

We caroled on Park Avenue in 10 degree weather in front of an old church where people from all faiths join in singing Christmas carols.
We chopped our own Christmas tree.
We took a ride on the Santa train.

We had a great white elephant gift exchange.

We saw White Christmas on Broadway and we went to the Red Hot Holiday Stomp at Lincoln Center.


Made our peppermint bark at Monica's.
Made Christmas ornaments at Little Learners.
We even made it to Macy's to see Santa

We made it to Denver for a very Merry Christmas.

We hope you all had a wonderful day!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

O Christmas Tree


This year we decided not to buy our Christmas tree from the Canadian who travels each year to our neighborhood to sell Christmas trees. We weren't unhappy with him, we just decided we wanted an "old fashioned experience." Both Boyd and I remembered cutting down our own Christmas trees growing up, so we wanted to try to find a place we could cut our own tree. We heard of a Christmas tree farm where we could cut our own tree, we decided to make the 1 1/2 hour drive to have the "experience".

As we got closer to our destination, there began to be signs that this was not going to be the experience we anticipated. The traffic began to pick up. Every car coming past us in the opposite direction had a Christmas tree on the roof. When we arrived at the farm, there were police directing traffic. There were people every 500 feet directing us to the parking spot. Car after car was parking and their were droves of people making their way to the entrance. It felt like Disneyland.

I have to say it has been a long time since I laughed that hard. It was opposite everything we anticipated!

We still had a great time and we did manage to pick out the perfect tree and Boyd did cut it down!

Why, oh why?

Many of my early Christmas memories are of me being sick. I was always so frustrated by it. Now, it is even harder to see my own children sick. This week we have been attacked on all fronts. I started the trip out with a horrible cold and now we have all had a stomach bug. What are Christmas family gatherings without a stomach bug?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Miracle

We've made it! Two years ago we attempted to come share Christmas with Boyd's family in Denver, but a 3 day blizzard thwarted our plans. On Friday, we feared the worst when we saw the accumulation on snow. We had a flight later that day to Denver.

It was a very frustrating day, but we feel very blessed to have made it. We feel that many prayers were answered and a small miracle got us here. Luckily, we checked our flight status online before we left and it was delayed 3 hours. WE cancelled our car service out to Newark which was risky because there were no more cars available. WE decided to drive and park at the airport because it would be the same price as a cab there and back and if our flight was cancelled we would have the option of driving back. We feared the worst driving to the airport and we were pleasantly surprised not to encounter too much traffic or snow delays. We did get lost a bit, but we made it to the airport where we expected chaos, only to be pleasantly surprised by few lines and friendly staff.
As we were preparing to go through security. Gavin looked up at me with excitement in his eyes, but a very stoic face and said. "This is going to be so exciting mom." Yes, very exciting...

We got some food and waited about 45 minutes total. They made an announcement that several flights were cancelled, but they were going to try and get the Denver flight out. We expected it to be a full flight and we didn't attempt to get an extra seat for Eli. But, as we were boarding and getting a ticket for his stroller car seat, Boyd thought he would give it a shot and asked if there was an extra seat. Sure enough, there was one in our isle! Could it be true? Boyd and I crossed our fingers until we took off. The flight went relatively well. Boyd was in the hot seat (sitting between Gavin and Eli) so you can ask him how the flight went!

We truly feel blessed and happy to spend some time here with Grandma Miggy and with the whole Nelson/McGinnis gang. We recognize the small miracles that took place too get us here.

I realize I have been behind in my posts and I am hoping to catch up while we are here!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

5 minutes of fame

I nearly walked in on two scenes of a new movie called Solitary Man . I walked out of my door (unshowered, still in my workout clothes) to take out the trash and I notice a whole film crew motioning me to stop. I look to my right and there is Jenna Fischer (from The Office) filming a door scene at the apartment next to me. Then a couple hours later when I was leaving the apartment for the day, I open the door and she (Jenna Fischer) is directly in front of me walking around the corner and they are again filming a scene. Maybe, you'll see me when the movie is released. You will probably hear my screaming boys because you can hear everything from my apartment right outside the door. I am sure they have good editors. Hahaha.
Anyway, I have to say it was really cool to see her. I love that all day I heard "rolling", and "cut" outside my door. I love New York.

It is too bad that I didn't have the guts to ask her if I could take a picture with her ( I didn't want to be annoying and she looked kinda angry). I could have replaced my one celebrity picture with my C list celebrity (Caroline Raye) with an awesome A lister.

I was actually on the Caroline Ray show for about 5 minutes. When I first moved to the city I didn't have a job. I spent a good portion of my time looking for a job, but I also spent a good amount of time going to free TV tapings. Her show was easy to get into and it was fun. One of the times (sad, but true, we went 3 times) I was chosen to be be on a panel where Caroline and some guy from MTV answered questions we had about relationships. (I was single at the time) I asked, "When do you know you should give up on a relationship where the guy seems to be perfect and there isn't anything wrong with him, but you just don't really feel much for him?" The MTV guy came back and asked "How is the sex life?" I just sat there with a red face, not sure what to say. After about 10 seconds he said, "well, there's your problem!" It was pretty embarrassing and funny!

She also tried to set me up on a date with some guys in the audience from Sweden. They gave us a gift certificate for Plataforma (Fancy Brazilian steak house.). I didn't end up going out with the guys, but I go to go with my friends!

Anyway, I wanted to record my pathetic 5 minutes of fame! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving was different for us this year. In the 5 1/2 years we have been married and lived here we have always traveled to see family for Thanksgiving. This year we decided that we would only travel for Christmas. It was a difficult decision because my family was all getting together, and I don't like to miss out on any fun! Boyd's family also was having a huge feast.

We wanted to take advantage of our Thanksgiving here in New York. One thing I have always wanted to do in New York was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, so WE Went! We had a blast thanks to some generous friends who were willing to get up at 5:00 AM and save us a space. They have been going for years and have the system down! We fought huge crowds to join them at 7:30 and waited 2 more hours. The kids all sat on the curb and the adults sat behind them in lawn chairs. There was a large group of us, so there was a large pocket that attracted several of the clowns and parade participants to us! Here are some pictures!








Gavin loved it. Eli probably didn't get much out of it. He spent a good portion of the time picking up confetti off the ground. He did pretty well and since they saved a lot of space and there was a tarp down he had plenty of space to move about.

I had a rare celebrity sighting at the parade. Antonio Banderas was watching the parade from a window across the street!


Thanksgiving dinner was fabulous. I am glad that we could have our Thanksgiving feast with good friends who are our New York family. It was Wonderful.


Of course I had to make pie! I made my typical apple strudel pie, a new traditional apple pie, and a chocolate cream pie. Melissa also brought 3 pies, so we had plenty to share amongst us.
I have been blessed with so much this year. I am glad we set a side a special day to give thanks for the blessing we take for granted most of the time. (and a day set aside to stuff our faces)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Rewards

Gavin has been developing so much in the last few months. I need to write down some of the things he is doing and saying, because it really is a fun stage. Gavin has always loved the alphabet and learned it at an early age. He has known all the sounds for sometime as well, but a month or so ago he finally made the connection that letters make words. He started shouting out B is for Ball or T is for tiger. He would do this all day every day. It has been fun to seem him taking that next step closer to reading.

He loves pretending. Lately, he has liked pretending he is some type of animal or bird. Usually, it is a tiger. When he is in character he talks about himself in 3rd person,such as "Gavin the tiger is eating." In music class the other day, he was Gavin the Parrot and he squawked through most of class. He is using his toys to create new places and worlds. Eli is in the destroying phase, so Gavin creates, and Eli destroys. There is a lot of fighting.

He also has "favorites" now. Ever since Halloween his favorite color is orange.

Gavin struggles with some things as well. He doesn't like to do things for himself. He wants mommy to do tasks for him when he is perfectly capable. So, we decided to do his first rewards chart. He helped to create it himself. It was very simple. It had a start and a finish with a "sidewalk" made of big dots in between. He got a star whenever he got dressed or undressed by himself, cleaned up his toys, put the silverware away, and whatever else he did by himself.
Our other incentive to doing the rewards chart is that we wanted to give him his own guitar since he has been wanting one. We didn't want to wait until Christmas, but we also didn't want to just give it to him. He worked really hard and after about 3 weeks, he earned is surprise. He was so excited. He didn't want to put it down for several days. When Jane came over he sat up on the ottoman taking request. It has been fun for all of us.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Coincidence?

I finally coerced Boyd into making a contribution to the blog! Thanks Boyd!

Sometimes little serendipitous things happen that make you pause and consider how life is made of more than chance and circumstance. At crucial points in my life, the veil that hides the heavens has parted just slightly to reveal that not everything in life is random - that we are connected to something or someone greater than us who is aware of us and interested in helping us along.

These vistas of clarity are often small, and though they may seem silly or meaningless to others, they are of great significance to us. My first few weeks of falling in love with Emily were filled with little "coincidences" that somehow added up to more than chance. We had lived in the same little corner of Idaho at the same time early in childhood and remembered that old steel bridge along the road and the playground near the penny water. I sang that beloved song that Emily's father sang to her when she was little, though she had scarcely heard it since. We had very similar reactions to nearly identical experiences from our missions though we both previously felt quite sure that these experiences were unique. Both of similar upbringing, with older sibling of the opposite sex and a younger sibling of the same sex, of the same age differences, and we were the unmarried middle children. As our list of coincidences lengthened, it felt magical and almost uncanny how things matched up.

Sometimes these moments come as deja vu, and they guide us. I wonder whether I would have bought the airplane tickets to Denver for an early Thanksgiving holiday if I hadn't had an unsettling dream about losing someone close to me. I felt the need to spend extra time with family, and so Emily and I arrived in Denver in time to see dad one last time that weekend before Thanksgiving. We had called from the airport to ask him the score of the Harvard-Yale football game, and the results were still there on his computer a week later. We were in the house that Monday morning when my mom nearly collapsed under the weight of that tragic call and had to go to school to inform the children. It wasn't until Christmas in Emily's parents' house that I had the deja vu moment, sitting at the kitchen table with little Gavin in my arms feeling the pain of losing someone close, that I realized I was living the exact scene from my dream of several months before. I told Emily, who remembered me awaking her to tell her the dream, and we cried silently and thoughtfully together.

I remember reading an autobiographical account of my Dad's good friend, Timber Dick, who is now also in heaven with my Dad, where he described the little "signs" that he received on his personal search to find God. A significant part of Timber's conversion to faith was the realization that not all in life is chance. There is something larger than us just beyond our field of view, except that from time to time we are afforded a glimpse if we are quick enough to see.

In a moment of joy this week I experienced another coincidence. I came in from a long day's work and was overwhelmed by the exuberant greeting from my two sons at the door. I was so pleasantly stunned by their cries of joy and welcome that I didn't even take a step beyond the threshold - merely closed the door and sank to the floor against the wall of our entryway. Little Eli tucked his head in against my ribs and held me tight. Gavin gleefully sang my name and climbed up on my knee. As I looked for something joyful to share in return, I remembered two books of folk songs I had discovered that day in a giveaway pile in our apartment building lobby. Two weeks ago, when Grandpa Nolte was here, I had scoured the Internet to find lyrics and music to these songs, and there they were in a pair of little old songbooks in the lobby, as if God had known we were looking for them! I showed Gavin the books, told him what they were, and randomly opened to a song and read:

Climb upon my knee, sonny boy;
You are only three, sonny boy.
You've no way of knowing,
There's no way of showing
What you mean to me, sonny boy.
You're my dearest prize, sonny boy;
Sent from out the skies, sonny boy.
Let me hold you nearer,
One thing makes you dearer:
You've your mother's eyes, sonny boy.

When there are gray skies,
I don't mind the gray skies;
You make them blue, sonny boy.

Friends may forsake me,
Let them all forsake me.
You'll pull me through, sonny boy.
You're sent from heaven and I know your worth.
You've made a heaven for me right here on earth!
When I'm old and gray, dear,
Promise you won't stray, dear,
I love you so, sonny boy.

By Al Jolson, B.G. DeSylva, Lew Brown and Ray Henderson, 1928

Yes, as you can imagine, in that beautiful moment the words rang so true and meaningful. There was my sonny boy, having climbed upon my knee, only three. It was a small and simple coincidence how it all fell into place, but it was what I needed that day. I held my family close and felt the love of a God that orchestrates miracles and love in a creation that might otherwise seem empty and random.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rewind to San Diego

There were 3 lines. Slow, Fast, and really Fast. We were hesitant to put Gavin in the fast line because he would be trotting on the horse. It said that you only had to be 3, but Gavin has always been a bit more cautious. We decided to do it anyway. We passed Gavin off to be put on a horse by a complete stranger, and then led off towards the track. We all held our breath as he began his journey. I was shocked that they didn't hold onto the horses, so I was even more nervous now. He began slowly and then next thing we saw was his poor little head bopping up and down. When he came around the track we expected to see tears, but instead we saw a great big smile. It was a very memorable day. It was at Griffith Park, not too far my Aunt Sue's house in Southern California.







A couple of weeks ago Boyd had to go to San Diego for work. San Diego is one of my favorite places. The weather is unbeatable, the beach is there, and of course, family. So, when Boyd had a conference for word there, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to go with him.

We flew into LAX, so we were able spend some time with my Aunt Sue. She took us to Griffith Park and the kids loved the horses and little train.

We were also able to meet up with my cousins, John, Aimee and fam and Adrienne at the beach. Unfortunately the weather was not what we had hoped. Luckily, Chucky Cheese was not too far away.

We spent some great time with Jules and Owen and Katie and Tyler at the Wild Animal Park. The birds made me very nervous!



Great Grandma Nolte's was ,of course,the highlight. Eli even managed not to break anything. I, however, spilled makeup all over the carpet..


We spent the last night at the hotel with Boyd in Downtown San Diego. While Boyd was at his conference we went to aircraft carrier, Midway. It was so awesome. GAvin could have spent the whole day in the airplane cockpits.

Just before we headed back to the airport we couldn't resist making another attempt at the beach. The weather was too beautiful. We drove over to Coronado Island. WE were only there for an hour, but it was worth the time and the mess that Eli created!

While I was away

I am pretty sure that my husband and 2 boys would have traded me in for my parents after spending a week with them. One of the reasons I knew I could leave my boys for 6 days was because they would be with my parents. My boys had it pretty good.. Here are some things they did while I was away.

The guitars were out every night..


video
Gavin and Eli spent many hours at the playground.. Keeping Grandma and Grandpa busy!
They even went to the Central Park Zoo


Gavin learned some of his grandpa's "rooda" language, Grandma kept they yummy food on their plates..Boyd and Gavin made a family tree. Gavin now understands that Grandma and Grandpa are my mom and dad.
Thank you Grandma and Grandpa