Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lady Liberty

We spent the day visiting Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Liberty Science Museum.  It was a blast!

We all enjoyed the ferry ride from Liberty State Park.  We sat up on top so we could have a good view.  It was a beautiful day.

Ever since we learned about Ellis Island my junior year of high school, I have wanted to go there.  It was really neat to visit someplace I remember learning about so well.  I don't think Jeff or the girls liked it quite as much as I did, but at least they tolerated it for me.
Ellis Island did have a special exhibit that the whole family enjoyed.  They had a "Barbies of the World" exhibit!  I took a picture by Brazil Barbie that I need to send to my bro, Sage, who is in Sao Paolo as we speak.

And doesn't Jeff make a lovely Lady Liberty?

After that disturbing image I'm sure you'd much rather see the real Lady Liberty.  When we finished at Ellis Island, we rode the ferry to the Statue of Liberty.  We took a few photos and then went up into the pedestal.

The pedestal has a neat museum with facts and history about the Statue of Liberty.  Here is Claire on a life sized replica of the statue's foot.
And here she is attacking a small model of the statue, Godzilla-style.
From the pedestal, you could see up inside the statue.  It made me really happy that we didn't have crown tickets because then we didn't have to climb that super long, windy, spiral staircase.

Next we rode the ferry back to Liberty State Park and had a picnic lunch in front of the Liberty Science Center because it seemed to be the only place in the park with shade.  And yes, the ants found our picnic.

The Science Center was really neat and very kid friendly.  They  had a special play area for small kids (<5) that our girls loved.  One of the neatest things we saw was this beam from the World Trade Center.  It was bent into a U-shape due to all the heat and pressure.  It was crazy to think about the stresses that beam was put through.

Lily really enjoyed climbing on the rock wall.
And Claire liked seeing the fish that were just her size!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Claire

Claire turned 1 on Friday July 23rd, but we decided to celebrate on Sunday so Jeff's family could be there to celebrate with us.  Since we're in New Jersey temporarily, I've avoided buying some things I don't think are essential to have this summer, namely wrapping paper and tape.  So Claire's presents from us were carefully wrapped in plastic garbage sacks.  Grandma was smart and remembered to bring wrapping paper.

Lily helped Claire open her presents and she enjoyed them all.  She got some new clothes, shoes, PJ's, a hippo shape swirly-thing, and a baby doll.

Seems like our first birthday tradition is to have a slightly ugly 1st birthday cake.  I don't do it on purpose.  We had to borrow cake pans from our neighbors and I didn't pack my cake decorating tips for this summer so our options were limited.  The cake turned out lopsided, but it was DELICIOUS!

We stripped Claire down to her diaper and gave her a big slice of the cake.  She enjoyed it but wasn't as excited about it as we'd hoped.  She seemed surprised that the frosting was sticking to her hands.  I think part of the reason she was slightly subdued was because she was sick - I had to stay home from church with her.  You may notice her runny nose and watery eyes in the picture.
She did get pretty messy in the end.
Dad put her straight into the tub!
Happy Birthday, Claire!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New York, New York

Jeff's family came into town to visit NYC and to enjoy Claire's birthday.  We visited the city on Saturday and tried to hit the highlights.  It was hot, around 97 degrees (heat index of 105), but we were OK with all the bottled water we brought and the shade from the tall buildings.

Our first stop was Ground Zero.  They have set up a small museum to show visitors what the memorial will look like when its completed in 2011.  It was really moving and I got a little bit emotional.  It really brought back all my memories from September 11.  They had a neat memorial made with the Statue of Liberty.
Then we walked down to Wall Street.  Here's Jeff, finance guru, on Wall Street.

Then we went to Time's Square.  Here's all the Butlers!
While we were at Time's Square we visited Toys R Us.  Its so huge!  They even have a ferris wheel inside.

At Toys R Us we spotted a celebrity.  How exciting!

About this time our camera battery we started taking pictures with Jeff's cellphone.  When I finally get him to download those pictures for me I'll add them back into this post.

Next we went to Rockefeller Center - I do love 30 Rock.  The NBC store was a lot of fun.  And we walked by the theater for the David Letterman show.  I really like that show too, but it comes on a 12am on the east coast so I rarely see it anymore.  I miss my DVR.  Then we walked by the Manhattan Temple.  I can't wait to be able to go to a session there.  And we finished our tour of the city by walking through a corner of Central Park.

We came home and swam in the pool to cool off and enjoyed some pizza.  It was a really good day!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

We Love Yoga

Lily and I enjoy doing yoga together.  We're both beginners with shouts of "I can't do that!" coming from both of us throughout the video.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Washington DC - Day 3

Our last day in DC we realized we still had a lot left we wanted to see.  We started the day at the Ford Theater. I gained a lot of insight into John Wilks Booth (Lincoln's assassin) and his motivations and personality.  Very interesting!
 Then we visited the Natural History Museum, to try and beat the crowds.  Well, it turns out, you CAN'T beat the crowds in Washington DC over 4th of July weekend.  We did see the Hope Diamond, the insects, and the dinosaurs.
Lily saw the Smithsonian Castle and told me we needed to go in there.  So we made a quick stop and she loved it.  Such a princess.
Then we ate our picnic lunch with the ants and the heat....not that I'm complaining.  Those PB&J quesadillas were such a good idea, but so soggy.  We were out of bread, but I thought a tortilla would be the same....definitely NOT the same.  When we finished lunch we went to the Air and Space Museum.

My favorite exhibit contained beautiful pictures of the earth, moon, other planets, their moons, and the sun.  It was really breathtaking.  I'm sure the Lord not only created our Earth, but the other planets as well.  They are so amazing!

The other neat thing we found at the Air and Space museum were these memory foam benches.  Very modern!
I had to try them out and it was about as comfortable as a toilet seat that's a little bit too big so you fall in.
The last place we visited was the botanical gardens.  These were a hidden GEM!  Not crowded and so beautiful.  I really miss visiting the Mercer Arboretum in Spring, TX and this reminded me of that.  It is right next to the capitol.
Here are some of my favorite pictures from the gardens.  There were so many that I loved!
We had thought about visiting the zoo in the afternoon, but it was so hot I thought we might die.  Plus with that heat the animals at the zoo had probably already perished.

We started on our drive back to Jersey and stopped at the Washington DC Temple Visitor's Center.  The temple there is so stunning.  I'd love to be able to go without kids sometime so Jeff and I could attend a session.

Overall a very fun and very memorable trip.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Washington DC - Day 2

We started the day at the White House Visitor's Center.
While we were there, Lily learned to write with a quill pen (its messy!) and Jeff learned to make a beeswax candle.

We also got to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Go America!
Then we went to the National Archives where a special event was taking place.  An "Old Guard" with a drum and fife band brought out the flag and then someone sang the National Anthem.  It was really moving.

We skipped out a little bit early, during the speaker, to find a spot to watch the parade.  It was essential for us to find a spot in the shade.  We found a great spot and enjoyed our time waiting for the parade by playing together and eating lunch.
The parade was really outstanding.  Probably the best parade I've ever seen outside of a Disney theme park.  They invited marching bands from all over the country to perform and there were lots of balloons.

We took an afternoon break so that the girls could get a good nap and stay awake for the fireworks.  After our break, we went and set up our "spot" at the Iwo Jima Memorial and then walked over to Arlington National Cemetery.
Then we ate dinner and waited for the sun to go down.  And, man, was it HOT!

The fireworks were really spectacular.  Definitely a "once in a lifetime" experience for us.