October 7, 2010

Mckay's 7!!!

I seriously don't know how time goes by so fast! Mckay is now seven and is all about sports, hunting, chasing girls at recess, and lately bikes. This year for Mckay's big day we surprised him with a new bmx bike. He was one happy kid!

Mckay was especially excited because his new bike has front and back pegs which he tells me is the only way to go.

Mckay wanted a water party theme this year and I found this cute idea on Family Fun website.

The weather ended up making it a little cold, but the boys were having so much fun I don't think they even noticed.

For the party we played the thimble game, relay races, water balloon toss, and a hot potato water balloon game. PJ helped run most the games and the boys just "soaked" it in.

For desert I made root beer cupcakes and each of the boys went home with "one more squirt".

What a fun day! We love you Mckay!

Back to School

The fall decorations are out, my house smells like apple pie, but it is awfully quite and even clean. Both of my kids are now in school and preschool. In our perfect little plan, we weren't expecting this until a few years down the road, but we are trying to enjoy every moment. It's funny how sometimes all I ever wanted was a moment all to myself, but now that I have it, I have to admit that I miss having little ones around. Don't get me wrong, having a clean house is nice, but the time with my kids is slipping away, and so I'm determined to treasure each day. With that being said I hope they have a wonderful school year and when they are done with reading, math, and recess, I hope they come home feeling like they are in their favorite place.

Mckay started first grade this year and was very excited to try school lunch where you could just put in a magical number and get whatever you want.

Mckay was in Mrs. Wakely's class this year. He was very excited to have some of the kids from the neighborhood in his class, especially Bryton.

Madi started Preschool with Mrs. Tiffany. To say she was excited is an understatement! She couldn't wait to start school like her big brother.

Madi, Paige, and Stephanie

My stress level went down a notch when Madi found her name. I knew she would be okay.

September 15, 2010

Summer Fun

I can't believe that summer is over and the kids are back in school. I say it every year, but it seemed to fly by and although I wasn't the best blogger, I did take a bunch a pictures of what our family was up to. So here's a quick update of our summer fun.

Yard Work and MORE Yard Work
Most of the early spring and summer was spent re-landscaping our entire backyard. We ripped up grass, put in a french drain, built a rock wall, dug trenches, installed sprinklers, built garden boxes, brought in topsoil and a garden mixture, laid rock, planted and then gratefully enjoyed our yard for the rest of the summer.


Before this summer, every time it rained, the back of our lot looked like this. In some places the water would be several inches deep on our lawn and although we thought our landscaping was done, we knew we had a problem that had to be fixed, so we went to work.


Madi striking her "pretty" pose.

We may lose a kid in that amazon flower pot. One of Andrea's many summer creations.

JULY 4th

Every year our family wakes up early to see the hot air balloon races for part of the Freedom Festival.

My kids were so excited to run into our friends (who we consider family) the Lomenicks.

Madi and Stephanie Lomenick not having any fun.

After watching the hot-air balloons take off, I talked PJ into going to the parade (which by the way was a major accomplishment on my part). Even though it gets a little long (incredibly long according to PJ), my kids LOVED it and I have to admit that I loved it too and felt so grateful for my cute husband being a good sport about it.

Riding Motorcycles with the Asays

Paige Asay and Madi

Our good friends have a little motorcycle that Mckay has been dying to ride. The Asay's were kind enough to invite us over for a family night so Mckay could try it out. He absolutely loved riding the motorcycle, but had one little fender bender into the neighbors fence. I guess we should have taught Mckay where the brake was instead of just the throttle. Luckily the bike, Mckay, and the fence were all okay.

Mckay and Bryton Asay sporting their riding gear.

Mutton Bustin

Last year on the local Spanish Fork TV station, Mckay watch some little kids ride sheep in the Spanish Fork Rodeo. After watching the young cowboys and cowgirls, Mckay was convinced that he wanted to try Mutton Bustin for himself. Early in the summer we applied and Mckay was selected to ride in the pre-show. He was so excited without any nervousness at all (which made is terrified), but he did awesome and it turned out to be such a fun night for our whole family.

Waiting for his turn...
Mckay's big ride

Madison loved being able to sit with Grandma and Grandpa Cutler and especially loved the cotton candy!

This was our family's first time to the rodeo and we loved it! We were so proud of Mckay and grateful to have my mom and dad come to support. Hopefully we will be able to go next year and who knows maybe Madison will be our little cowgirl.

Fiesta Days

I just want to declare that I have the best hubby in the whole world (don't ever forget that Andrea), although he hates (and I mean hates) parades, he put up with one more for Spanish Forks Fiesta Days. The kids loved seeing the tank (your welcome), the pretty princesses, and of course the candy.

Madi's Sweet Moves

Madi just can't help but dance every time she hears music and the parade was no exception. Check out her skills.

After the parade we went up to my parents house to go swimming and have a BBQ and then we met the Coltons at the Owls game for a fun night at the ball park with fireworks.

Fishing and Camping
It wouldn't be a Peery summer without a little fishing and camping and luckily we were able to do both-well if sleeping in your backyard and roasting marshmallows in the the fire pit counts. Yes, we braved the Spanish Fork wind twice this year. Once was in our tent in the backyard and the other time we camped with PJ's family at the Reservoir which is only 5 minutes away. It was great! My feet got dirty while we were up there and I just zipped back home and washed them in my own hot bath and zipped back up. Now that's my kind of camping!

Mckay and PJ also made it up to Scofield with Grandpa Jerry in his new canoe. They had a fantastic day! Of course Mckay out fished both of them.

August-Family Month

August always ends up being the busiest month of the summer, but also one of our favorites. During the month of August our Ward does not hold any extra meetings and encourages us to spend that time with our family. I also take this month off from teaching piano and just try to thoroughly enjoy my family. This August we celebrated PJ's birthday, our 9 year anniversary, Preston's birthday, and Mckay's Birthday. We then filled in the rest of our time with trips to the cabin, fishing, popcorn hair cutting parties (Madi's suggestion), the demolition derby, bike rides, movie nights, archery hunting trips and much more.

Madi and Me at the cabin

Mckay target shooting with the BB gun. He even shot an empty 9mm shell from about 5 yards away.

Demolition Derby with the Lomenicks. Madi loved the pink car.

Can you tell from their faces that they kinda, sorta, liked it?

Such a fun night! I am already picking out my redneck clothes for next year. PJ wants to start working on his mullet. Hey, we need to fit in somehow.

When our summer was all said and done I think we all felt a little like our little Madi Girl. We had such a great summer, but it's good to be back in a routine again and start a whole new kind of busyness. Lots of fun memories!

July 20, 2010

Boston & New York Trip

JUNE 16th-JUNE 23rd

It's been about six years since PJ and I were able to take a trip together without kids and when PJ found out that his company had a woodworking symposium out in Hartford, CT, and that he could take me a long to help, we just couldn't pass it by. In return for working, PJ's boss covered nearly all of our expenses and made it possible for us to have an amazing vacation together.

Our vacation started in Boston, MA. I know this is going to sound dumb, but about a year ago I saw an American Idol episode where they were holding auditions in Boston and I couldn't get over how beautiful that city was. After watching that, it left me longing to visit there someday. In addition I have always loved learning about history and I couldn't wait to see one of the oldest cities in America and visit some of the historical sites.

Our time in Boston was very rushed, and we jammed packed every single minute, but we absolutely loved it. We started out trip by quickly dropping our luggage off at the Chandler Inn and then we rushed off to Fenway Park to watch a Red Sox game. Being part of the atmosphere at Fenway was amazing. The crowd's unity and pride for there town was like no other. Listening to the fans sing Sweet Caroline will be a moment I will never forget. At the game we were able to see a home run over the "Green Monstah" and we also were able to take a picture with the 2008 World Series trophy. The Red Sox won that night and you could hear fans enthusiasm late into the night.

After a late night, we got up early, packed our bags, and left them at the front desk while PJ and I headed out to visit the historical Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites. We started the trail at the Boston Commons and here are a few pictures of what we found...

This is the Granary Burial Site. This was our favorite site on the trail. Some of the headstones in there are from the 1600's! It was a very reverent place where three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were buried. In addition Samuel Adams was buried here and had the victims of the Boston Massacre laid to rest in his family tomb.

This is a memorial built next to John Hancock's tomb.

PJ in front of Paul Revere's Tomb

This is where Benjamin Franklin's parents were buried.

Benjamin Franklin Statue at the Boston Latin School. This is America's oldest public school. Four of the signers of the Declaration of Independence attended school here including, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, Robert Paine and John Hancock.

Old Corner Bookstore. I loved the architecture of this building. It was also later used as a printing shop.

The Old State House. In this building many of the basic concepts concerning American government were first voiced. The top of the building once had a lion and unicorn, used to symbolize royal authority, that were torn down and burned after the Declaration of Independence was read to the people of Boston from this balcony in 1776.

This is the site of the Boston Massacre. The balcony above overlooks this site. It was here that five people were killed when tensions were high between the Bostonians and the Redcoats. It looks a little different now than it did then.

Faneuil Hall. It was here that Americans first protested against the Sugar Act and the Stamp Act.

This is the most famous weathervane in Boston. Tradition has it that the golden grasshopper weathervane was used during the War of 1812 to spot spies. Anyone who did not know the answer to the question What is on top of Faneuil Hall? was a possible suspect.

Remember the TV show Cheers? We were surprised to turn the corner by Faneuil Hall and see this famous sign.

After we walked most of the Freedom Trail we had just enough time to take a little boat tour of the Boston Harbor.

This is the beautiful city that we saw from the boat.

I loved being able to spend so much time with my sweetheart!

The U.S.S. Cassin Young

Old Ironsides also known as the USS Constitution. She had the reputation to out-run and out-gun anything she encountered. During the War 1812 cannonballs fired at the USS Constitution merely bounced off as if she were made of iron, thus the name.

The Garden: Home to the Boston Celtics. While we were visiting, the Lakers and the Celtics were competing for the National Championship. Everywhere we looked you could see T-shirts that said Beat LA. The subways were no different. The was several different times when people would randomly start cheering for the Celtics like you were at a pep rally. It made our whole experience memorable. We were so impressed with the pride and unity of the city.

Overall we absolutely LOVED Boston. I would go back in a heartbeat. The people were kind to us and the history alone was amazing. Oh yes, and their famous Boston Creme Pies really our the best. We made sure to stop by Mike's Pastry on our way out.

After spending less than 24 hours in Boston, PJ and I rented a car and drove to Connecticut. We couldn't believe how green the landscape was and how thick the trees were. It made me realize how much of a desert Utah really is. When we arrived in Connecticut we first stopped by the convention center and set up for the show.

For the next three days, PJ and I worked side by side helping wood turners find tools to beautify the turnings. The days were long and a little challenging because I wanted have perfect knowledge in the products that Treeline was selling so that I could better assist people. But overall I really did enjoy my time serving customers, even if it was mostly spent being a cashier.
Seeing PJ work however, made me appreciate him more. He is so good with people. He sincerely cares about their needs and listens to their concerns. I came away from the
show loving him more and grateful for the opportunity to learn more about what he does. Hopefully I was a little helpful too.

After we finished working at the Woodturner Symposium, we drove over to New York City late
Sunday afternoon. As we approached the city you could visibly see the stress on PJ's face. It really became apparent as drove smack in the middle of this...

We couldn't believe that the GPS took us right through the middle of Times Square. In fact our GPS only worked half of the time due to the tall buildings. I think we quickly learned first hand what Buddy the Elf meant when he said, "watch out for the yellow ones. They don't stop."

We quickly understood where the stereotype came from about how "friendly" New Yorkers are. After barely surviving driving through Times Square we could not wait to get rid of our car. We finally found the rental car place and drove in to try to find where we should park. As we began to turn a corner we started getting yelled at by the garage attendant to stop the car. We did and tried hard to not let him see our laughter. He yelled at us for not seeing a sign (which we still never saw). He inspected the car while we gathered our belongings. After he looked the car over he went and sat down on his chair without a word and just stared at us. After a couple of minutes of very awkward silence PJ asked him what he wanted us to do with the car. He mater-of-factly said just leave the car right there and he will take care of it. We laughed again and walked away knowing that we were no longer in Boston.

This is what Time Square looked like at night. The streets were constantly packed with people. It reminded me of when PJ and I visited Hong Kong.

We were so happy to be in New York but you can see in our eyes how tired we were. We couldn't wait to find some food and relax in our hotel. PJ quickly learned that a happy wife is a fed wife.

There was always random things happening in times square. Once they were filming a yoga video right in the center and on another occasion we found this handsome young man posing in his red birthday suit. Is that a speedo or reddie tighties.

So many people advised us to look for unique restaurants instead of the well known restaurants, but after wondering the streets of NY, we just didn't care and made our way back for an amazing dinner at Bubba Gumps. Eating at Bubba Gumps in kind of a tradition when PJ and I go on vacation. So far we have eaten at: Maui, Oahu, Miami, Long Beach, and recently New York.

On Monday Morning we got up and took a ferry to see the Stautue of Liberty. It was amazing to see it in person and somehow made me feel very American.

Everyone asked us if it is really as big as it looks on TV. If you look close in this picture you can see several people surrounding it.

PJ and I with the Manhattan skyline behind us.

Ellis Island. Visiting here was one of our favorite places on our trip. We took a 45 minute tour and learned some amazing facts like only the 3rd class people and had to stop at Ellis Island for paperwork and health checks. The 1st and 2nd class were briefly examined on the boat and sent straight to Manhattan. Another interesting fact we learned was that 1 out of every 5 Americans can track their ancestors back to Ellis Island.

Looking at Manhattan from Ellis Island.

On Ellis Island there is a monument that lists families and individuals who had to stop at Ellis Island in order to come to America. We found this list of Cutler names. One day I hope to spend some time to see if any of those names our ancestors of mine.

We also found several Rowley names.

After visiting our visit at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, PJ and I took the subway to Canal Street in China Town. PJ was in heaven! It brought back so many memories of his mission in Hong Kong. We were able to eat several foods that he has not had since Hong Kong and he was able to speak Cantonese at nearly every store we stopped at. The store employees were fun to watch when they heard PJ speak and understand their language. I also loved China Town because of the shopping. I left there with a new purse, sunglasses, sword for Mckay, Backpack for Madi, and $2 I LOVE NY t-shirts. What a deal!

After our visit to China Town we headed back to Times Square and down Broadway to the David Letterman Studio. A couple months before our trip to New York, PJ and I applied for tickets to The Late Night Show. Two days before we left, PJ received a phone call from the studio saying that we could watch the live show as long as he could answer a random trivia question about the show. Here's what he asked: "Dave has a friend named Rupert who owns a nearby store, what kind of business does he own?" PJ wasn't quite sure so while he stalled, he quickly googled it and answered the question correctly. We were so excited!

Being a part of the live audience was amazing experience. We were told to laugh and clap at everything-even if it wasn't funny. (Basically we were suppose to give a courtesy laugh as needed.) We were a little disappointed when we found out the guests for the show were Jay-Z and Eminem, but it was still hilarious because Dave acted like he was scared to death of Eminem the whole time.

After the Show we went to Toys R Us in Times Square to see if we could find something fun to bring home to the kids. This toy store was amazing! They had a life-size dinosaur, Barbie House, Transformers, Spider-man, Superman and many others located throughout the store. They also had Lego models of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State building that Mckay would have loved.

The Star Wars Display

The Next Day we woke up early and visited Ground Zero. On the other side of the fence is the location were the two twin towers fell on September 11th. They are currently rebuilding and making a memorial plaza.

Across the street from Ground Zero is St. Paul's Chapel. It was here that the Policemen, Firefighters, and other rescue workers would find refuge and a place to rest between shifts.

Bell of Hope. This bell was a gift from England that came from the same foundry as the Liberty Bell. The bell is rung every September 11th, and was also rung after trains were bombed in Madrid, and after the London subway and bus attacks. It symbolizes hope over tragedy.

Inside St. Pauls Chapel. During September 11th and the months that followed, family members and friends who had lost loved ones would leave missing pictures, letters, gifts, and memorials for those who were victims of terrorism. Letters of support were also sent there to support the firefighters and other rescue workers.

Badges left behind from those who aided in the rescue work and clean up of 9/11.

George Washingtons Pew. He prayed here after is inauguration as the first president of the United States.

Firefighter coat and boots. If you look at the pews you can see the scuff marks left behind from the rescue workers. They would sleep and rest on the pews and as a result they were severely marked up. In remembrance of 9/11, they decided not to refinish the pews.

If you look closely at the picture on the right you can see what the memorial will look like. They are going to use the existing foundations as a memorial with water flowing into into it from the sides and surround it by trees.

Memories from 9/11
Visiting Ground Zero, brought a flood of memories from that tragic day. Even though we are obviously not from New York, I don't think there is an American that was not touched in some way or another. For me it forever changed the way I feel about this country. I've always had a great love for this land, but after that day I have tried not to take it for granted. Things like singing the national anthem, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, and seeing soldiers serve selflessly are certainly more meaningful.

The morning of September 11th started out to be a good one. I had been married for exactly 1 month and 1 day. I was happy and love with my high school sweetheart. I was also very excited because I was in the middle of my student teaching at Mapleton Elementary. I couldn't wait to see my cute bunch of 2nd graders. On the way to school I heard about the first plane crashing into one of the World Trade Towers. I couldn't believe it! At that point I thought that it must have been some crazy accident. A few minutes later I arrived at school and we turned the TV on in the teacher's lounge to see if there was any more news about the crash. It was there that I watch live as the second plane crashed into the other Twin Tower. Now we knew it was no accident and my heart hurt. That pain grew through the day as we tried to tactfully explain to 2nd graders how such a horrible thing could happen in the land of the brave. I really didn't think it could be any worse, but then we heard about the Pentagon, and the heroic passengers that took over the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, and then we watched with the rest of America as the towers fell.

Witnessing the attack on America was like watching a horror movie, but it was real. It was such a sad and solemn day in America history, but there were a few positive things that I can remember too. When you turned on the radio, you would here songs like I'm proud to be an American. When you went on a drive you would see the streets lined with Old Glory flapping beautifully in the wind. Homes, windows and businesses would proudly display red, white and blue. For the first and only time in my entire life I felt like our country was completely united. It was touching and made me feel proud to be an American. After seeing Ground Zero and touring the museum we again felt proud to be Americans.

After our visit to Ground Zero, we went shopping to the most amazing clothing store. It's called H&M. The clothing there is off the charts cute, but the prices are similar to Old Navy. I seriously was on cloud nine. (PJ felt like he was in seventh $%*# while he waited almost 2 hours for me to shop in one store) If you ever have a chance of visiting a city with a H&M in it, it's definitely worth the stop. On the way out we saw the famous Macy's building and a little down the road we saw the Empire State Building. We did not go to the top, but it was fun just looking at it.

After our eventful day, it honestly just got better. We went back to the Roosevelt Hotel (which by the way was an amazing place to stay) and rested and changed for our big date that night. For dinner that night we started walking around the streets by Broadway to see if we could find a nice place to eat before our show. We ran into this little Italian restaurant called Maria Pia. The atmosphere was amazing. We shared a fantastic dinner over candlelight. PJ still to this day is craving the food we had that night.

After dinner we walked down the street to the Gershwin Theater to see what I've been dreaming about for months. To say I was a little excited to see Wicked was an understatement. I had properly prepped myself by listening to the CD, reading the lyrics, and reading a little about the storyline for months, but I had know idea I would like it so much.

The set of Wicked. The whole night was truly magical. The scenery, set, actors, and music was absolutely fabulous, but I fell in love with the storyline. It will forever change the way I looked at the Wizard of Oz.

Even PJ enjoyed Wicked which is saying a lot for a guy who really just doesn't like musicals (at all). That night ended up being one of the my favorite nights in my life.

The morning we would be flying home PJ and I rented some bikes and rode around Central Park. We had a couple of guys meet us outside the subway and offer to rent us some bikes. We almost said yes until we found out it was their own person bike (or recently stolen bikes). Yikes. We found this little shop just outside the park and had a very pleasant experience. There was no way we would have had time to tour the whole park in the little amount of time, but the bikes were perfect.

It was amazing to feel like we are in the mountains but when we looked up we saw the skyscrapers. It took a solid hour to bike the perimeter of the park. I would do this again in a heartbeat.

We took this the morning we left. We were having a lot of fun but we certainly missed our kids. Our hotel was right along Madison Ave. We looked hard for a Mckay Blvd but to no avail.

Finally a sandwich PJ couldn't eat by himself. We had a friend recommend we try the Carnegie Deli for lunch. We waited in line for about 20 minutes and was greeted with the customary New Yorker kindness when it was finally our turn. We were asked what we wanted but their menu was terrible. I have never felt so foreign in an English deli. We asked for a ham sandwich but I didn't realize we would be getting half a pig. Look at the meat on that thing! The whole sandwich was over 6 inches thick. The meat alone was about 3". Luckily we decided to share this beast but the food was wonderful.

In Summary I remembered just how handsome my husband is. I never got tired of him even for a minute. Between being in the heart of American history, cruising around on boats, eating some wonderful food, reliving part of PJ's mission memories, attending an amazing Broadway show, seeing David Letterman entertain a crowd, and soaking in so many sights and sounds of a lifetime, this turned out to be a trip I will never forget.