Saturday, October 29, 2011


I don't think I have carved a pumpkin since my mission...the first time when I really decided that Halloween wasn't totally lame. I thought this year Stella might be old enough to enjoy some pumpkin carving. We also invited Ava. The girls were super excited, up until it was time to clean out the guts and seeds. They were then no longer interested in what carving pumpkins had to offer. They thought the task was way too gross. I was sorta shocked--I thought they would love the seeds...especially Ava. So pumpkin carving mostly became a bonding time for me and Ashley while the girls ignored us.

I hope I never forget how Ashley carved the smallest top in pumpkin carving history with her first pumpkin (tiny hole shown in second pic). "How are we going to get the seeds out of that?" I inquired. "How am I going to get a candle in there?" Ashley was unconcerned.

After we carved the top of the last pumpkin the girls took turns taking off the lid and saying how gross it was. They liked that and also loved how the pumpkins looked all lit up in the dark bathroom when their mommies had finished. It may not have been the fun adventure I was planning for Stella and Ava, but Ash and I had fun being kids again (kids with sharp knives) so it was worth it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


A few months ago I got the idea that I would love for me and Miss Stella to go on a trip to DC together. She agreed of course, so I cashed in some SkyMiles and got us tickets. We planned to stay a few nights with Valerie, John, and Nellie and then drive down to Stafford to stay with Suzy and her family.

Our first day was rainy, but it wasn't cold and it was the perfect day for shopping. We drove out to the outlets and I found myself a purse. We went home and had a lovely dinner with John, and then went our separate ways for more shopping at H&M. I had the best freaking time there and my favorite purchase is Stella's new coat that you will be seeing in many of these pictures. She got compliments on it wherever she went and she loved it too.

The next day we went to Mount Vernon which was the plantation estate of George Washington, built in 1757. I have always wanted to go and visit it, but have always seemed to run out of time. So this trip we did it first. It was windy, oh so wildly windy. But the girls loved it and they loved running and having fun in the wind. The estate is so pretty and when you sit out on the back porch facing the Potomac River you can't see another structure anywhere. I found out later that the land across the water is owned by the society that cares for the property and no one can develop it. Stella loved looking in all of the little structures and gardens that surrounded the property. We still could have spent much longer there, but had to get going so we could do some family pics in the city. Overall though we had a lovely time.

Okay, so things always take longer than you think. Like driving across the metropolitan DC area, that takes some time. So we were running behind when we got back to the Sallay's house to pick up John and head downtown. Val and I were both convinced that we were going to show John once and for all that heading down into the city was no big deal at all. Our plans were thwarted. With a mix of construction and then a turn onto a closed road that took us totally out of our way when we finally did get to DC, John was not convinced. Our detour did take us though up through Embassy Row, which is an insanely lovely part of the city that I had never seen. I tried to smile and enjoy it but was worried about the sun setting before we could get some family pictures taken.

But not to worry folks--I am a professional and we got some lovely shots. We headed to Jefferson since John, Valerie, Nellie, and Stella had never been. I have said it before, I will say it again: I am crazy for the monuments so I loved sharing these fun spots with Stella. She loved the National Monument and called it the castle. Who lives there, you ask? Why, Cinderella of course. Perhaps when she is sick of her castle in the Magic Kingdom she heads to DC for a change of pace.

Here are a few favorites from the photo session:

It was then too dark for any more official shoot business, but we still had some sights to see so we headed over to the FDR monument, which is (again) a favorite of mine. Then we went to the nearby Martin Luther King monument, which is brand new. It was fun to see something that new.

If I had to pick a favorite monument it would be Lincoln, and I have always been awed by how it looks at night. Finally I was able to walk up those famous steps at night. Stella was a trooper with all the steps.

That night Stella and I met up with my friend Kim for dinner at my all time favorite restaurant The Carlyle. It was great to catch up and eat well.

The next morning we had a lovely breakfast with the Sallay girls and then Stella and I headed down to Suzy's house for the weekend. Stella was a little nervous to go and meet new kids, and she did not want to leave her cousin Nellie, but the instant she arrived, she and Emily started playing and didn't stop the whole time. Soon, Noah came home from school and the three of them were going crazy as we had dinner at Panera. They were the wild kids you look at and think, "Man, those mothers..." But they were just so excited to be friends. It seemed beyond hope to be able to calm them, so we just took them all to the park.

The next day we got ready for another photo shoot. We went to this amazing estate called Chatham Manor. It was built in 1771 and the grounds were stunning. The garden had this wild Victorian feel and it was perfect for a family photo shoot.

Of course, no photo shoot with Stella along will go smoothly unless she is included:

The kids had a blast running around together and exploring the gardens. It was a super lovely way to enjoy a morning.

Sunday morning I found myself getting kind of tired. Suzy and I had had late nights talking and this trip was full of busy times. We got up and went to church, and Stella went to primary with her friends. After church we packed up and headed to DC. It was the most beautiful day weather-wise and I just had to go into the city to enjoy it.

I wanted to take Stella to the National Gallery, but of course I didn't have any idea how much she would love it. She loved seeing the paintings and learning the names of the artists. She learned about Papa's favorite artist, and Momma's favorite artist. She looked for colors and subjects and it was all so freaking adorable. I get kind of a high when I am around beautiful paintings and I wonder if she might have inherited her Papa and Mama's reaction to art.

We wanted to hurry up and get back to cousin Nellie's house, but first, Stella wanted a picture with the castle (aka the Washington Monument to most people). We got it and she loved it.

Man, I love DC!!!

I'm not really the biggest fan of fall, but if there is one thing I do love it is a big fat pile of leaves. Super fun times. Valerie had raked us up a big pile of leaves and the girls (including the older girls) had a super awesome fun time playing in the leaves.

So if you can't tell, we had the best time...and I mean the BEST! It was worth having to suffer on a very early flight home to Utah. We already miss our friends and family and I am so glad that I gave birth a few years ago to a little art loving travel bug. It was fun to see family and friends, but it is my time with Stella that I will treasure most.