Sunday, March 30, 2008

It's time for a shower!

We were all thrilled to throw a baby shower for Kelly this weekend. Kelly is the youngest of the Ward family siblings. She is married to Julio and they live near Cal Poly where he goes to school. This baby will be their first and we are all so excited we can hardly stand it!

Kelly and Julio came into town on Friday - Kristen, Jeremy's other sister, drove up from Orange County to be here for the shower too.

Kari did her house up right. It felt like sprintime in the Christopherson's house! Perfect for a baby shower.

This was the only picture I got from this event. Kelly and her best bud Brooke. These girls have been friends since high school - and wouldn't you know it - they ended up marrying cousins! They are both Hernandez girls now. And just look at that prenant belly - oh I love it!

So many ladies showed up to wish Kelly well. She scored with all the gifts too! The cutest high chair ever, 3 bouncy seats, stroller, car seat, swing and all those sweet outfits. This baby girl is going to be set.

Can't wait to meet your little sweet pea! We love you Kelly!

Bugs & Butterflies

Joy School took us to the park this week. We are learning all about Bugs & Butterflies. A is for Ant, B is for Butterfly and C is for Caterpillar! The kids each made a "microscope" to check out bugs in the grass. That held their attention for about 30 seconds - that's why there's no picture of Preston - I had to snap those pics pretty quick!



Benny - he's not quite looking at the grass - I wonder what he was discovering here...

Jackson thought he'd get into the action too - I'm sure he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking at!
The best part of the morning was of course the themed snack. How can you go wrong with a butterfly toast treat? So cute! The kids thought it was super fun to cook their own snack. They gobbled it up when it was all put together.

Another fun day with the kiddies.

It's not just Jeremy's birth day...

it's the whole WEEK!

Sunday: Duran Family party

Monday: Red Robin family dinner (the only out-to-eat picture)

Wednesday: small family party and Dog House Grill extended family dinner

Saturday: Mimi's Cafe friends/family dinner

Sunday: Ward Family party

Sheesh! 5 birthday celebrations - we can't squeeze in just one more??

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

REI Birthday

Jeremy's birthday is here! He's a whopping 33 years old today. Whew! That sounds old, doesn't it? He started his special day right with an early morning run. When he returned from his run we were all there to yell, "Surprise!" and have a little family party before he left for work.

He blew out his candle (Oops! I forgot to buy candles! This was the only one in the house.) on his favorite birthday treat - Double Cream Blueberry pie from Marie Callenders.

He got his most anticipated gift ever - The super light super durable super weather proof sleeping bag from REI. (He can give you all the specs if you really want them.)

Can you believe that big sleeping bag will fit into this tiny stuff sack? He can't wait to get out backpacking so he can see how much space and weight it will save in his pack.

He was so giddy this morning - so excited to finally hold his new baby. Call and sing Happy Birthday to him - he loves that!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Which lunch is Logan's?

If you know anything about our Logan then I'm sure you guessed correctly. Logan is our non-sweet eater. He has never liked sweets - not since birth. No fruit, juice, desserts, pancakes, you name it - he won't eat it. Even ketchup has too much sugar for his tastebuds. He simply cannot stand sweetness. It literally makes him gag. You can imagine what it's like when he has to take medicine. Swallowing an entire tablespoon of gooey ibuprofin is torture! So now that you know a little about our child #2 you understand that a meal made entirely of protien - grilled chicken and hot dogs - is not unusual. In fact, it's quite the norm.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter 2008

Easter came early this year! We just got settled after our NY trip and began our Easter celebrations almost immediately. Easter Eve we spent at the park with Jeremy's family. Our meal was anything but traditional - BBQ picnic! Yum!

Robb took a nice family picture for us

Jeremy practiced his photography skills - this one turned out nice. Dandelions focused in front with a blurry background. I liked it.

You'd think these kids never did an Easter Egg hunt before. Sheesh! They were so giddy! Note the VONS bag in place of baskets - we never can remember to bring baskets.

Jackson was more interested in unwrapping the chocolate eggs than collecting them.

Later that night we began the egg dying. Look closely at Lizzie's forehead. What is that? A unibrow?

Logan passed out before we started dying eggs and slept through the whole thing. Aw man!

I thought FIVE DOZEN eggs would have taken a little longer than our usual 10 minutes - yeah, it only took 15! Let me tell you - the Easter Bunny had a hard time hiding all these eggs the next morning. It's hard to find hiding spots for 60 eggs!
Easter morn was lovely just spending time together...
Here's Logan's Easter Basket. Notice the Pokemon theme. How does that Easter Bunny know exactly what they like?
Jeremy cooked up a yummy breakfast after our egg hunt. He found a new way to cook pancakes. He dyed the batter 4 different colors and made them look like....
Easter eggs!

This one is a cyclops with an overeasy egg in the middle. Cool, but only if you like the runny yolk...

The kids looked great after a sugary breakfast and fun morning of new toys. Jackson was still working on a piece of candy here.

Later that evening, after church, we went over to my parents for another non-traditional Easter meal. You can't go wrong with tri-tip baby! Mmm! It was a feast for sure. Jeremy cooked up a sweet potato casserole just like the famous Ruth's Chris Restaurant recipe.

Mom and Mica outdid themselves by hanging eggs from the trees and having an egg hunt set up in the front yard for the kids as soon as they arrived! The best were the confetti filled eggs. Grandpa Louie let the kids crack them over his head and he spent the entire night with confetti flakes in his hair! I wish we had the camera - it was priceless!

It was a great day full of family, food and special rememberances of the Savior throughout.

(Did anyone count how many times I used the word "egg" in this post? It sure felt like a lot!)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Hitting the Trail

Spring is a wonderful time in Fresno. Everyone knows how the summer can be, but spring time is awesome. The valley and foothills are green and covered in wildflowers.

Unfortunately, that will change in a couple of weeks when it all turns to yellow (or gold if you want to put a more positive flare on it). The weather here is perfect for hiking, so I recruited my oldest three, Matt and his three and Kelly and Julio who are in town for the weekend to go for a short hike at Squaw Leap.

We couldn't of asked for a better day. The Squaw Leap area (now called the San Joaquin Valley River Gorge) has a few trails for hiking. One of my favorite is a short hike down to a foot bridge and back. Growing up, Matt and I would mountain bike with our buddies in this area all the time. The trail gradually winds down to the bridge, making the return trip relatively enjoyable.

Trevor and Logan have done this hike with me a couple of times before, but this was Lizzie's first time, and I was pleasantly surprised at how well she did and how much she enjoyed herself. She loved to stop every 10 yards or so and write letters in the dirt with her "special rock".

Things were even better for her on the way back when she hitched a ride with her uncle Julio.

The kids had a good time exploring along the way stopping at the streams that we crossed

Once at the bridge, the kids took the time to soak in the view and find things to throw over the bridge.

It was a pretty spot to hang out

Lizzie and Ben take a few moments to have an important discussion on the bridge

Kelly, who is over six months pregnant, was a good sport for going along. Here she can be seen growing a Julio out of her forehead

We then began the trek back to the cars

The cousins had a great time together. I am always amazed at how well these guys do together considering how much time they spend together. When I was their age, Matt and I had each other in headlocks until we passed out. We still do that occasionally...

We ended the outing with ice cream cones at Lisa's Cafe. Good times, good afternoon

Check out the video below

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Kiss him - He's Irish!


Samuel celebrated his 26th birthday on St. Patrick's Day. We were in NY and, like 2 schmucks, forgot to call! Sorry Samuel!!

We heard they had a great time at the birthday dinner - Hometown Buffet - how can you go wrong there?

So, like I said before, we were in NY on that day - not that that's any good excuse not to call, but we felt like we were celebrating too! They through a parade in your honor, everyone dressed in your favorite color, and to top it off we even saw St. Patrick's Cathedral! So really, we were celebrating you and your special day even though you didn't hear from us.

Hope your bday was the "best birthday ever". We won't forget to call next year - you can count on us! We love you, Samuel!

The Couples & their Babysitters

We are so lucky to know so many good people. I just wanted to take a minute and share some good things about these good people. These are the couples we convinced to go on our wild adventure with us. They all had to make arrangements with other great people to watch their kids for a whopping 7 nights and 6 days of babysitting.

Jared & Elizabeth
They have 5 boys. Yes, FIVE boys. They are great friends and we love 'em like family. Elizabeth's mom, dad and friend Michelle took care of their kids.

Robb & Kari
These guys have 6 kids. Kari is Jeremy's sister and they live next door - in case you didn't know that already. Robb's parents planned to watch their kids the entire time, but had some health issues to deal with for a few days. Kari's parents stepped in like troopers and took over for those few days - even though they should have been on their own vacation at the time (thanks for filling in you guys!).

Matt & Aimee
These guys have 3 kids. Matt is Jeremy's brother and they also live next door. Their babysitting arrangements were a little different than the rest. Their kids got to go to the coast and spend the week with Kelly and Julio (Kelly is also Jeremy's sister). The kids thought they were getting a vacation!

Jeremy & Jennifer - that's us!
Yep, we were the ones that started this whole shenanigan. We have the best 4 kids around. My mom agreed to take the kids for us. She stayed most of the week at our house and ran the kids here there and everywhere. We came home to a clean and quiet house - she kept the kids at her house on that last night so we could have time to rest for a few hours after our long night of traveling. She is the best - what else can I say?

So, if you were keeping track, that was 18 kids we left at home - yes EIGHTEEN KIDS! We couldn't have done this trip without all those great babysitters. You guys ROCK! We appreciate you so much! We really are so blessed. We love you guys. Thanks for making this trip such a great experience for all of us.

Couples Trip Day 6...The Final Chapter

We made it home around 5 am this morning (Thursday) after a delayed flight and a episode with a crazy woman on the plane that had to be escorted off by an air marshal at JFK forcing us to taxi back to the gate (ask me and I'll tell you about it sometime). Nevertheless, we're home and it feels great. I have been looking at our daily trip blogs and noticed that those entries towards the front of the trip were a little more lively and lengthy. We'll see if we can remedy that with our final trip entry, here it goes.

After getting in extremely late the previous night, we had a later morning before spending our last few hours in New York. Knowing that we had to leave that afternoon, we wanted to make the most of our time so, we started off by catching the subway uptown to eat at the Seinfeld diner. Seinfeld fans will recognize that shot below

All of us on the trip (ok...Matt, Robb Jared and I) are big Seinfeld fans, so this was a must. Ask us any Seinfeld trivia and Matt, Robb or I could answer it. You're impressed I know...

The real diner is called Tom's Diner, locally touted as the inspiration behind Suzanne Vega's song "Tom's Diner". Of course the diner looks nothing like the one on the Seinfeld show, they only used the the outside for "exterior establishing shots" as we learned that they are called.

At the least it fulfilled my pancake craving, they tasted great!

We then caught the Subway again and stopped off to see the New York Temple

It was cool to see such a metropolitan temple. I wish that we had time to do a session, maybe next time

We then jumped back on the subway going downtown to tour battery park where we saw the statue of liberty.

The last time we were here they allowed you to climb the stairs to the top, but in the post-9/11 world they only allow you in the bottom section of the big green lady and only if you have an appointment. That's the statue just off of my left shoulder, if you can see it...

We opted out of the ferry out to liberty island due to the weather and instead headed over to ground zero. Ground zero was a site I'm glad we visited. They have erected a make shift memorial on the grounds over the new subway station.

I saw one visitor in tears reminding me know how powerful the experience is still for people. You could watch all the construction underway through the holes in the netting draped over the fencing

It was quite fascinating to watch them work

Catching the subway back uptown, we then headed to the Soho area (stands for south of Houston street). Little Italy and Chinatown are near and we wanted to do some shopping for some shirts and souvenirs for the kids before heading home. There's Jennifer posing on Mulberry Avenue, the heart of Little Italy

After walking through a few of these shops you figure out quickly that you've seen one, you seen them all. There are a lot of nasty looking meats and dead birds hanging in the windows in Chinatown. Jennifer watched this Chinese dude place a snail in his mouth, suck out the contents, and then spit out the shell. Awesome. I tried to tell her how cool it would be if she did that, but she wouldn't listen. In any event, with our shopping complete (lotsa little bits of junk), we headed over to Little Italy to go to the country's first pizzeria- Lombardi's.

This place dates back to 1905. Jennifer and I watched a segment about the country's greatest pizza on the travel channel prior to leaving and decided we had to give it a try. We had the traditional, pepperoni with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella. The Minnicks had a tomato and spinach pie.

While there, our waiter invited Jennifer and I to go and check out how the pizza's are cooked in the back kitchen. We jumped at the opportunity as we wanted to check out the coal oven we had heard about. The pizza chef was very nice and invited us back into the kitchen to check it all out. Friendly looking guy, isn't he- notice the insignia in the background

Jennifer took some pictures of our pie cooking inside

This oven (coal) was HUGE, they used this 8 foot pole to get to all of the pizza's in it.

Supposedly, there is a great debate as to which person, the original owner (Lombardi) or his pizza chef (we'll call him Pete), who later broke away and started his own pizzeria, brought pizza to America. That's a picture of the two below, chef on the left and Lombardi on the right.

Debate aside, the pizza itself tasted great. Definitely some of the best we have ever had. Getting short on time, we then had to hustle back on the subway to get our bags at the hotel make the long subway ride to the airport. Being as it was around 5 pm, the subway was packed and I got the feeling that the locals didn't particularly enjoy the millions of bags and carry ons that our entourage had brought.The flight felt long, but we were both very excited to see our kids.

We have been talking together and with the kids about the trip this morning. A lot of great experiences and memories that we will be talking about for years to come. I had a couple of impressions. First, we enjoyed the many nice people we met in Boston and New York. I was impressed with the number of people who walked up to us and offer support or help when it looked like we needed it. Second, I sure love how and where we live. It was cool to see such impressive and historical things, but it made me realize how much I love living where I live near so many family and friends. Finally, After reviewing all of the entries, I have one word for myself, diet. Man we ate a lot of food.

Also, I will be working to place short little videos of the trip throughout the past few entries. Come and check them out if you want to see a little of our adventure.