Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Cooper Update by Whitney

It has been such an interesting experience having a puppy. My other dog, Vixey was full grown by the time I got her. Some new experiences for me are:

1. Going to the vet for vaccinations,

2. Being able to feed him poultry meat with out him being sick,

3. Taking him outside multiple time between 1:30 and 5:30,

4. Toilet training,

5. Chewing,

And multiple others. But, we are both having fun. He is pretty easy to teach and knows “sit”, “give”, “Don’t-you-even-think-about-going-on-the-carpet” and “up”. He knows part of “down” “spin” and “come”.

I can’t believe how fast he is getting big! He is like three times bigger than when we got him! (Compare photos of him in my lap, from here and vol. 1)

We also can’t wait until the new off-leash dog park they are building down here is finished so we can meet other dogs.

It is such an adventure and I can’t wait till we take him on his first hike or camping trip!

Lagoon by Daniel

(Note from Mom: Steve company’s Lagoon Day (like Rainbow’s End in NZ) was on Friday. 5000 employees and their families were given free passes, parking and a BBQ dinner. Much anticipated, we had been answering the question “How many days left ‘till Lagoon Day” for weeks!)
At Lagoon they have lots of games, but we didn’t play any because my dad says, “your money just flies out of your pockets.” So we went on the Terror ride and it was scary. We went on the Musik Machine, and it goes very, very fast. We went on the White Roller Coaster, and it was my favorite ride. I bought a ginormous lollypop and a toy snake. My brother Steve bought a ginormous jaw breaker. Steve, Dad, Whitney and I got to stay longer than my Mom and the two girls. Before they left we all went on the Tidal Wave. Ellie was screaming her guts out and lifting her arms high up in the air because she loved the ride.

Movie Review by Noreen

I was pondering what to include on the blog that was unique to us, something that we love to do. My brother and his wife share their home renovating experiences, my girlfriend Jennifer shares her amazing photography talent, and my cousin her garden and other vast talents. I’m inspired by them all. Well, Steve and I LOVE old movies! From about 1938 to 1958 there are so many classics! We love so the actors and actresses, the fact that no matter what movie you choose you’re not going to be assaulted with foul language, sex or graphic violence, but mostly we love the DIALOGUE. The dialogue between the actors is so witty and captivating. They do entire scenes without cuts, and true talent is displayed. I’m going to keep a running list of our top 40 favorite movies on the sidebar as we rewatch and rate them for you on our date nights. The first movie will be number one, but I expect the list order to chance almost weekly as we add more movies.

Rear Window 1954

Jimmy Stewart plays Jeff and Grace Kelly plays his socialite girlfriend in this Hitchcock classic. What’s not to love? My favorite part was seeing Raymond Burr (a.k.a. Perry Mason) as the villain. Almost the entire movie is shot from the perspective of Jeff’s apartment where he is confined to a wheelchair with a broken leg. He is a professional photographer, who tries to stave off his boredom by watching all of his neighbors out his back window. He suspects a crime has been committed and with the help of his girlfriend and housekeeper sets out to solve the mystery. The movie has great Hitchcock suspense, and I highly recommend it! (Keep an eye out for Hitchcock himself in the songwriter’s apartment.)

Ben & Jerry’s – New York Super Fudge Chunk by Steve

(Note from Noreen: Steve (Dad) has made it his civic duty to try all the Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream flavors and rank them for you. Enjoy!)

Ahhh, ice cream. Ho do I love thee? Let me count the ways. There are few things in life that deliver more pleasure or signal the end of the long day better than ice cream. I have tasted many types of ice cream in my life, but the flavors that I tend to come back to are those that deliver on certain elements. Qualities that I favor in ice cream tend towards a whole milk/cream base, no added air, and plenty of chunks. Plenty of chunks brings me to this week’s rating of a favorite B&J flavor of mine, NYSFC. I like this flavor because it packs large chunks of sugary things I like, like white and dark chocolate, fudge brownie, pecans and walnuts. This collection of frozen goodies is suspended in a rich, chocolate ice cream. Initially opposed to the chocolate ice cream, not a favorite of mine, the search for chunks almost makes the ice cream irrelevant. By the time you have found the last chunk you are at the bottom of the pint and it is time to go to bed. One interesting fact I learned while touring the Tip-Top Ice Cream factory in Auckland, NZ, is that chunks, syrup, fruit, what have you, needs to be the same temperature as the ice cream mixture when added or it will sink to the bottom. Imagine opening your carton of Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream only to be greeted by a field of green!! How about diving into a pint of cookies and cream only to find your cookies gone sub-terranian? Yes, temperatures must be equal at the time of mixing for the magic to work. I hope to try Cherry Garcia next. It is rated at the top B&J flavor ratings according to their web site. We will see. I will rank it myself and let you know how it stands up against NYSFC. C U L8R.

Fun with Cousins

This was a week filled with cousin fun. We had lots of chances to play with Zealand and Asher (seen here in their cushion fort) and we attended Alyssa's backyard water birthday party. (Look closely and you'll see water balloons in action!)


I had the chance to visit with my High School girlfriends and their families Wednesday night. Katie was in town from Missouri, so we took the opportunity to get together. I was a delightful evening of catching up and seeing how much the kids have grown. We have 29 children between us! We have all been friends for at least 20 years, some of us for 30. What an amazing group of women they have all become and I am so privileged to know them. Love you all! (Jennifer, you were sorely missed. We are going to go somewhere big when were all 40 (just the girls), so start saving those frequent flyer miles.)

Ellie by Noreen

Ellie is sporting her new designer hairdo. She loves to cut paper, magazines, junk mail and card stock all day long, and leaves piles of paper slivers everywhere in her wake. I guess it was inevitable that she try cutting her hair too. Oh well, I have seen worse.

After having our Dad with us almost 24/7 for more than 14 months, it has been an adjustment to have him working full time (and then some) again. This morning Ellie wanted to know where her Dad was. He left early for work yesterday, and Ellie was asleep when we arrived home from the park, so she had not seen him all day. When I told her this morning that Dad was at work, she said, “At work? Not AGAIN!” We miss him, but are so proud of how hard Steve works for us.

Clint the Candy Bar

Click on image to view larger.

Liberty Girls Retreat

Imagine dozens of little girls learning about noble character traits from their favorite book heroines. Thursday was the annual Liberty Girls Retreat, a seven hour event for all the Liberty Girls chapters in Utah. (There are over 200 girls now participating in Liberty Girls!) They learned about having Courage, Faith, Joyfulness, Compassion, Perseverance, Hope, Respect and other traits as they participated in games, activities, service projects and crafts. Janey's favorite was the blindfolded ropes course, to teach Faith. They learned manners, made luminaries, planted seeds, and played tug of war among many other activities. Since we are studying Kaya this summer, Janey, Savanna and Anna were especially excited to get their picture take with her.

New Zealand Memoirs – “And Their Off!”

(I have had several requests for pictures and stories of our time in New Zealand. As I work on our New Zealand family scrapbook, I thought it would be fun to post some pictures and journaling of our adventure every week. Thanks for asking!)

Why New Zealand? A FAQ, that is always fun to answer. My Dad took all of us to visit his birthplace in Jan. of 2004, and from the second we landed we knew we were coming back to live in New Zealand with our children, it just called to us and felt like home. We dreamed and planned and schemed, but we really didn’t know how or when we would go. The summer of 2006 Steve was dissatisfied with work and had decided to go back to school for a PhD and a career change. We felt good about making a change, but kept hitting a brick wall on timing and resources. We were driving to Idaho to visit Steve’s brother and his family and rehashing all the same roadblocks. Getting a little frustrated I flippantly said, “Let’s just sell the house and move to New Zealand!” Then we just stared at each other wide eyed and silent for a moment. That was the answer, and we both knew it! The timing was perfect, since Steve wanted to make a job change anyway and the kids were just the right age and stage for an adventure. For the rest of the vacation we excited planned our adventure.

We quickly put the house on the market, filled out mountains of paperwork for my citizenship and Visa’s for everyone, got physical exams and started packing to move overseas. The blessings and miracles during those few months were too numerous to list, but Steve gave notice at work and on Dec. 6th 2008 we finally boarded the plane with 5 kids, 17 boxes and 7 carry-ons. It was a lot to carry, but not much when you consider we were moving for over a year.

The trip over went fast and all the children traveled like pros. When we finally got on the flight from LA to Auckland a great cheer arose from all of us. Thank goodness for in-flight, on demand, personal entertainment. The boys must have played Space Invaders for three hours straight as soon as we took off. I sat in a side row between the two little girls who delighted in watching Clifford’s Big Movie twice. Steve had the foresight to order special kids meals on the flight, so they were served first, before the regular meal service. By the time our meals came they were finished and we were able to eat our meals peacefully. The food was delicious, nothing like American airplane food and everyone slept well! The only drama on the trip was Ellie (age 2) had a diaper explosion (and I mean explosion) in the morning. My wipes were too buried in my overhead carry on, so I had to do my best. By the time I had her undressed in the two by two airplane bathroom I noticed that this stall was out of paper towels and the captain announced our descent into Auckland. AHHH! I grabbed some towels from the next stall over and hurried as fast as I could, but they were still banging on my door to get seated before I finished.

I am happy to report that all of our 17 pieces of baggage arrived at the other end. It took us three hours from landing to loading the rental trailer and 12 seater van. We had 5 Smartcarts loaded with luggage to take through security. They are so careful about what comes into the country, that they made us unpack our hiking boots and they cleaned a few of them just in case. Daniel’s carry-on ended up being searched at every turn because he had packed his metal army tank and a Ziplock bag filled with misc. junk, some of it metal. It was comical to see them stressing over a toy tank, but it made you feel a little more secure at the same time.

End of Vol. 1 Issue 4