October 2, 2016

Charlie's Baptism, Washington DC, Palmyra NY, and Niagara Falls

What a month.

Like really.

We left from Utah caravaning with my sister and her husband on Monday August 1st... my car broke down a little before the Wyoming border. I have AAA so we had it towed to Evanston. Th alternator was replaced while we waited with Stephen and Emily at a nearby park. The van worked great after that and we continued on our way. Griz enjoyed riding with his little cousin Sam. We listened to Harry Potter in our car which Sanna wasn't as thrilled about.
We got a hotel and then continued on our way the next morning.  Once again, van was doing great and I had a friend willing to let us stay at their house in Columbia, Missouri that night so we broke off from Em and Stephen so they could see some church sites.  We had only been split off from each other for probably only 2 hours and we were 2 hours away from my friend's house and all the sudden my engine started having trouble again. I could tell it was a different issue but serious so I got off the freeway as soon as I could and carefully got it to a hotel, I was nervous it wouldn't make it but thankfully it did.  It was too late for a mechanic so I booked a night's stay and had a very grumpy 8 year old on my hands.  I was a bit distraught myself and my phone wouldn't charge unless I was hooked up to the car charger. Frustration! Anyway, I got everything figured out that I needed to on the phone while Griz and Sanna had fun playing with river rocks out by the parking lot. Then I got the hotel tv turned on and we watched Chopped to cheer us all up.  We watched for way too long but we were all too tired to do anything but lay there and veg.  The next morning I called AAA and got my van towed to the Honda Dealership first thing in the morning. Brent wondered if I shouldn't waste the tow since the dealership was only 4 miles away but I didn't feel like the engine could handle it.  The mechanic made it sound like I made the right choice and that I barely avoided thousands of dollars of repair. Something to do with the fifth cylinder... Anyway, he worked hard to get it done fast. Then a shuttle from the dealership picked us up and took us to finish out our wait there (we had been watching cartoons that morning after our showers until checkout at 11:00).
We were on the road by around 1:00 and made it home that night!!! The moment I saw my sweet husband all of the emotions I'd been feeling came spilling out and I couldn't help but start sobbing. It was SO wonderful to be together again. Sanna was SO funny when we got home. She was little miss motor mouth telling Brent about everything and picking up things in the house she was excited about to show him. It was adorable. Emily and Stephen arrived about an hour later and they were also surprised how outgoing and talkative she was compared to how she was in Utah.  They stayed a couple nights at our house. There isn't much to see here in Paris itself, but we did take them to our Eiffel tower park, ha ha.
After that we threw together a make up birthday party for Chico since we had whisked him away to Utah three days before his birthday party we had planned. After that I prepared for the parents to join us here in Tennessee for Chico's baptism. When they got here we cooked and prepared for the baptism. Then the next day we went to the Discovery Park of America an hour away in Union City and showed off our fun museum to them.  That evening we went to the church for the big event!
It was even more wonderful than I could have imagined seeing our sweet boy get baptized. He was so happy and excited.  We gave him a journal and he wrote about it in there.

The Grandmas gave talks and we sang and we were so blessed to have so many from the branch there to support Chico on his big day.  We fed everyone homemade pulled pork sandwiches afterwords and I was grateful to my friends for bringing yummy desserts to go along with it. Hopefully it was okay for a Yankee like me to be making a very southern meal for our southern friends.  They all seemed to like it alright though. :)

The next day my parents started for Virginia and took the kids. Sanna gave them a hard time so it was a long day for them.  I was stressed out to no end having the kids gone and trying to get us packed so it wasn't great for me either.
The next day we started on our voyage to Virginia. We took a route that took us through the Smokey Mountains and that was fun to see again.  Ellen was soaking it all in, this was her first time in the East so she enjoyed it.

Next stop on our trip we went to Raleigh, North Carolina so I could see the place I nannied.  I wrote about that on Instagram.  It was wonderful!

We made it late that night to the kids in Virginia. They had gone to Jamestown and saw and learned a lot with my parents.  They were well taken care of, they seemed excited to see us though.
The next day was church and afterwords we drove up to Williamsburg and saw some stuff up there but most of it cost money to get into so we didn't pay for the extra stuff.

Next day we were really excited to go to the beach! We drove to Virginia Beach and had a grand ol time with all the family (My parents, Emily's Fam, and Kelly & Nadine were all there plus our family and Ellen).  They left right after lunch to the aquarium but our kids weren't about to leave that beach!

 We finally had to leave however when the lifeguards saw some lightning clear out in the distance.  By then Griz was chafing pretty bad so it was probably good we left.  We drove around for a bit seeing all the cool beach houses and wishing we could have one, ha ha.  Then the family joined us after they were done with the aquarium and we had some delicious seafood! It was fun!
After that we all cleaned up and got some laundry done back at the Merrell's house. I haven't mentioned yet where we were staying...my sister's husband's family is in Virginia and they accommodated all of us. It was really nice of them!!!
Next morning we all parted our separate ways (my parents and the Coys were going to see Church History but we wanted to see DC and Palmyra). It wasn't too bad of a drive to Washington DC from their house in Virginia. In fact we had time that day to see a lot of the Museum of Natural History. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! When we were done seeing as much as we could we ate sandwiches in the car and then drove over and we walked around the Washington Monument as it got dark (while we were doing that I got on the phone and booked us a hotel which took forever because I also got signed up for this thing that got us a $50 rebate on the room). We got to the hotel relatively easily, the room was kinda loud with the AC unit and the Internet and TV weren't working but at least it was in our price range and wasn't disgusting.  We didn't get an early enough start the next morning so we got caught in DC traffic. When we finally got to DC we planned to go to the Walmart but the power was out there so we went to where the Smithsonians are and dropped off Ellen at the Museum of American History.  She spent the whole day there and loved every minute of it!  We finally got some parking and then went to the Art Museum.  I was loving it and the kids were being pills.  We should have taken them to the side of the museum with landscapes but of course we had no idea so we started on the side that was more Venetian period where there were a lot of nudes... kids didn't like that.  So we finally left and took them back to the Natural History museum and then I had the idea to go back to the art museum and see the rest and that's when I saw the landscapes that were just breathtakingly amazing.  Kids would have loved it.  Next time. ;)  In the meantime they were having a total blast in the "Qrious" room looking at samples of rocks and bones and minerals and animals under microscope. It was such a great education room! It was hard to get them to leave but we finally did and we took them to the American History museum because Ellen was texting us about how awesome it was.  So we took them to this inventing room and dropped the boys off with Ellen while we ran to the store to get dinner.
When we got back we ate out at a picnic table and then went in and spent an hour or so more in the American History Museum. We could have spent a LOT more time there, it was really really neat. Next time. ;)
After it closed we headed back to the  hotel and got packed so that in the morning we could head out at like 5:00 am so as to meet the morning traffic. Luckily Brent had shoved his sandal in the side of the AC unit so it wasn't as loud that night. We got some sleep and the next morning we got out of there early and ate muffins in the car and got to DC at a decent time.
Brent dropped us off close to the Lincoln Memorial and then he went and found parking (Griz stayed with him too).  He took these gorgeous pictures on his way over to meet us at the memorial.

 The Lincoln Memorial was a really neat place.  It was so great to have such an amazing monument to a great man.

 After leaving the Lincoln Memorial we went and saw the other two memorials...
Korean War was poignant for Ellen because her Dad served in that war....

 And then we also really wanted to see the Vietnam Memorial because her cousin died serving in that war...

After seeing the monuments the museums were opening again. We hadn't yet seen the air and space smithsonian museum so we went in there for about an hour and a half.  By then Ellen, Sanna, and I were very done walking.  We went and found a gyro truck and I hopped out of the car and bought them for our lunch.  We had been very much looking forward to this so it was really good that we got them before we left DC.  Brent REALLY wanted to see the Declaration of Independence before we left DC so us girls stayed in the car and the boys piled out to go into the Capitol Building.
They hadn't finished their gyros so they were eating it on the lawn at the Capitol (they were at the back though I thought I had dropped them at the front). Griz was bouncing around ready to burst from needing to use the potty and so he went right there on the lawn.  We're still laughing about that especially how Brent "turned a blind eye" while he was doing it. Ha ha.  They finally hiked up the steps, found out where to go and made it into a tour. They LOVED it. Brent can right about it....

Only disappointment from the tour was we found out the Declaration of Independence was actual at the National Archives.  By the time they came out of the capitol though Ellen and I were SO done waiting for them that we wouldn't go back to the Archives to let them go in and see it there.  Next time. ;)
So from there we started our voyage up to Palmyra.  It was a long drive after an exhausting but amazing time in DC.  Made even longer because we really wanted to see the DC temple.  I wrote about that on Instagram.
We made it to Canandagua New York where the cost for hotels was cheaper and got a real nice room.  The next morning we went first thing in the morning (after a nice continental breakfast) and went straight to the Sacred Grove.
The Sacred Grove was the main reason we went to New York.  It had been calling to me and I just really felt like I needed to go there.  It didn't disappoint. I felt the spirit of the Lord so strongly there and felt so strongly that God the Father and his son Jesus Christ did in fact appear to Joseph Smith there.  I felt peace and beauty and that was even with my kids being crazy all around me.  I just felt so much happiness, you can see it in this next picture Brent snapped of me there in the grove...

We saw the Smith Farm next and that was fun having the missionary take us on that tour. Afterwords we saw the printing press in downtown Palmyra and that was really neat too.  Later that day we went to the Hill Cumorah and the Palmyra temple.  They were all wonderful to see and the spirit was in those places too. But really nothing can compare to the feeling I felt in the Sacred Grove. It truly is a sacred holy place.
It was Sanna's birthday that day so we got a cake and ice cream and had a little birthday party right there in our hotel room while we watched the Olympics.  Sanna didn't seem to mind. It was a pink cake and she got some new toys!

The next day we packed up and headed to Niagra Falls! It was incredible!

 The spray from the falls gets you SO wet! It's a nice way to cool off!  Wasn't great for the camera however!

The way we obtained this next picture was a little frustrating but it is a pretty awesome shot!!!
Here's the story pasted fromInstagram:

Brent took us into Canada accidentally. It was really quite frustrating. We can laugh about it now but right after he made the turn (after his mom and I told him we didn't feel good about it) there were tears of frustration and anger because we were stuck on a bridge that took an hour to cross. We got to Canada and told them what happened and that we didn't have any passports. They made us come into customs and then turned us around back to the US side. The drive back at least gave us a better view of the falls. Brent's mom commented "you guys will do anything for a good picture" and Brent turned and looked at with me with a guilty smile on his face. Well it was a 2 hour delay total but we did get a cool view of the falls we hadn't seen from the US falls.

The most frustrating part of the delay was that I knew it meant that many more hours in the car on the drive home which we were just about to depart onto.  As it was it took us until 3:45 am to get home... and guess who was the one driving from midnight on? Me.  Thank goodness for Mountain Dew!

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