Friday, May 23, 2008

Pork and Beans

Possibly Undoubtedly the best music video ever. Can you spot Charlie?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ABCs

Because I can't handle having Archuleta's face on the top of my blog anymore:

Here's a clip of Ada singing the Rainbow Song.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

TKO!?

With as much traveling as I've been doing the last few weeks it's been tough to keep up to date on American Idol. Inexplicably I missed Archuleta Day while we were in Chicago. To make up for that faux pas, Alison and I have been voting all night long. Archuleta is easily the best singer to ever have a shot at winning American Idol but David Cook will sell far more cd's regardless of who wins. Here's a taste of one of Archuleta's performances tonight:

video

Monday, May 19, 2008

Nauvoo, IL

Monday May 12th, 2008
Monday morning we rented a car (a white Hyundai Sonata) and headed out to Nauvoo. On the way there we took a bit of a detour through Indiana so Alison could say that she's been there. It's about a 5 hour drive, but we took our time stopping a few times and it took most of the day. When we arrived in Nauvoo around 5:00 PM the city was empty. We checked in to our hotel (Nauvoo Family Inn and Suites) and aside from a little hanky panky going on in the pool (ask Alison about it, but we both refused to set foot in the water) everything went very well. The only restaurant that was open was the one in our hotel (a buffet, not recommended) and it seemed like we were the only people on the street.

We went down to the river's edge off of Parley street and let Ada touch the water of the mighty Mississippi. We also stopped at a couple of other monuments and memorials.

Joseph and Brigham looking out across the Mississippi:
A few pics on the banks of the Mississippi

A sunstone near the quarry:
In the hotel room (where we lived off of pizza flavored goldfish):

Tuesday May 13th, 2008
Tuesday was our one big day in Nauvoo. We went down to the Church's visitor center and then through a small handful of restored houses. Ada wasn't loving the houses, but she did love the little Pioneer Heritage play area. She didn't want to leave. We visited the Printing Office, Post Office/General Store, Bakery (with the free cookie), Seventies Building and Blacksmith's Shop (with the nail ring that Al so desperately wanted).
At the Pioneer Heritage children's area:

Touching the ox that pulled our wagon:

After visiting all of the historic homes that we wanted to see we went to see where Joseph and Hyrum were buried. It's on a historical site owned by the Community of Christ Church. We took a few pictures at the gravesites (which are right on the banks of the Mississippi) and stopped to take pictures at the Nauvoo Temple as well (To see a collection of all the pictures that we took of the Nauvoo Temple see this post).

At the gravesites of Joseph, Emma and Hyrum Smith:
Looking out across the Mississippi:

The tulips were in bloom all across Illinois:
Joseph and Hyrum's last ride:

We next made the beautiful drive to Carthage and went through the tour at the Carthage jail. It is amazing how much of the original building is still there. It's not hard to imagine that God preserved it all for us. After Carthage we crossed the river into Iowa (and made a quick side drive to Missouri as well). We had a picnic at a park in Keokuk where Ada had a blast playing on the playground. We stopped to watch a humongous barge pass through the locks and then we drove up the Iowa side of the river to see the Nauvoo Temple lit up from across the river. I tried to get a picture of it (because it was beautiful) but we would have needed a tripod, which we didn't have.

In front of the Carthage jail:
Phyllis pushing a bunch of barges:

Wednesday May 14th, 2008
Today was a travel day. We had to drive back to Chicago, return our car and then fly home and we were pretty nervous about how Ada would do. As you may recall, she was an absolute terror on the flight here and neither Alison nor I were ready for another flight like that. Before we left Nauvoo we said a little prayer and then I gave Ada a blessing that she would travel well. As it turned out, she was such an angel on the flight. She's not the type that will just sit on your lap and play but on the flight home she watched movies, read her books, sang songs and just had an all-around good time with us. We got a bunch of comments about how good of traveler she was. Little did they know...

It was nice to come home. We were both ready to get back into the swing of things and I was excited to start my job full-time. The first few days after being back home Ada was so good. All of her toys were like new to her so she just had so much to do and play with. It was a great trip and we thank everybody (especially Hyrum and Angie) that made it possible for us to go (including the government for our $900 stimulus payment).

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Nauvoo Temple

Chicago (Part II)

Here we go again:

Thursday May 8th, 2008
Thursday was a good day. We spent the morning walking along the "Magnificent Mile" along Michigan Avenue. It is the heart of the shopping district for the north side of the city. There are 3 malls and a ton of stores (most of them far too expensive for us to even step in) and a bunch of restaurants. We walked from there to a train station that we took to go to a White Sox game at US Cellular Field (See this post about the baseball game). Here are some pictures of the buildings that we passed:

The new Chicago Trump Tower:

Marina City (recognize them from this Allstate Insurance commercial? Check out the link, it's pretty cool):

Chicago Water Tower:

Luckily we didn't have to pay for parking:

In the Marstons' apartment building there was a good sized grocery store, gym, pool and play room. I took Ada down to play in the play room a bunch of times and she just loved it. It was a lot like an oversized nursery (and we had it all to ourselves every time that we went down there). You can see Ada playing in the back in this picture.

Friday May 9th, 2008
Today we took a bus to the Lincoln Park Zoo. This zoo is totally free and fairly big (It puts Hogle to shame). On the day that we were there it was packed. On the south end of the zoo is a little Farm Zoo where you can pet some of the farm animals. Ada liked the cows and the goats (see the pictures).


We saw so many animals that Ada was just plumb tuckered out by the time we got our lunch ordered and were walking home.


Saturday May 10th, 2008
We spent Saturday morning visiting Millennium Park and all of the public art installations. We walked over the only Frank Gehry designed bridge in the world:

visited the Cloud Gate:

walked through Crown Fountain

and visited Buckingham Fountain.


We finished the morning by eating at Cosi (first introduced to us by Ben and Jenn in Boston) and then walking back to the apartment.

After Ada's nap we all went to a Thai restaurant for dinner. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the food (because it was my first Thai restaurant). Luckily we took a cab home because on the cab ride we noticed that Ada had a blowout. Easily the worst diaper/mess of her life. It was a two person/10+ wipe/bathtub job.

Sunday March 11, 2008
On Sunday we went to church once again with the Marstons. Ada wasn't very good during sacrament either week but we still enjoyed all of the meetings. We had planned on going to see the temple that day but it was pouring rain. The meteorologists forecast that up to 1.5 inches of rain would fall. We never saw what the final totals were.

We left Monday morning for Nauvoo (which deserves its own post) and it was sad to say goodbye to Hyrum and Angie. They were the most gracious hosts and we had such a good time staying with them. Ada took such a liking to both of them she was always worried where Hyrum or Angie had gone. We owe them big time...

**Update: How could I forget to mention that Jaycee Carroll showed up in their ward on Sunday. I sat next to him in Elder's Quorum and he told me that his agent is in Chicago and he's there going through a pre-draft workout to get ready. He's working out with Brandon Rush from Kansas, a guard from Notre Dame and a 20-year-old from Australia. I'd love to see him get drafted.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

White Sox Baseball


One of the highlights of our trip was going to a White Sox game. We decided to go to a White Sox game over the Cubs because I've been to a Cubs home game before. Both Alison and I are big baseball fans and we especially love going to live games. When we arrived at the stadium we were just planning on walking up to the box office to purchase the cheapest ones. We were approaching a security checkpoint and decided to consolidate our bags near a garbage can before passing through. As we were doing this, a foul-mouthed lady came running up asking if we had tickets. We had already been approached by numerous scalpers so I just said that we were going to buy the cheapest tickets they sold. She told us to just give her $10 and we could have her extra tickets (and sit by her). I gave her a $20 and called it good (because I didn't know if she expected $10/ticket or $10 total).

Her tickets turned out to be fantastic seats on the third base side between the pitcher and home plate. They were easily the best seats that I've ever had at a Major League Baseball game. If we had purchased them from the box office they would have been around $60 each. The game was great. We stayed until the 7th inning stretch when we left to put Ada down for a nap (it was a day game). The White Sox ended up winning the game 6-3.

The view of the stadium from the outfield:
The view from our seats:
Panoramic from our seats:
The view of Chicago from outside the stadium:
US Cellular Field:

This was the 12th Major League ballpark that I have been to a game in. The teams that I have seen play at home are:
  • Boston Red Sox
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Oakland Athletics
  • San Francisco Giants
Here's to many more games in the future!

Chicago (Part I)

Be forewarned. This post is nothing but a long travelogue. If you're not into that kind of thing, then stop while you can.

Saturday May 3rd, 2008
We left on our flight Saturday morning to Chicago. As Alison already mentioned, Ada was just horrible on the flight. She was good on takeoff and landing but during the middle of the flight she threw a fit like no other. She screamed for a good 45 minutes - 1 hour straight and there was nothing that we could do to calm her down. She would flail her arms and legs, arch her back, try and push us away and just show us how little she wanted to be held (and we only had 2 seats between the three of us). At one point even a steward on the flight came and took her from our arms and stood with her in the very back of the plane. Nothing seemed to help. Chances are good that we did this to ourselves though. Ada sleeps great but she will only sleep when she is in her own seat or bed. She simply won't allow herself to fall asleep in our arms. When Ada originally started getting fussy on the flight, we gave her a bit of Benadryl trying to get her to fall asleep. This obviously made her tired, but like I mentioned earlier, she won't sleep in our arms so she became inconsolable. It was the longest 3 hour flight of our lives. The nice thing was that nobody got angry at us. As we were trying to console her everybody just looked at us with sympathetic eyes. We were embarrassed enough as it was.

We arrived in Chicago 20 minutes early and as we pulled into the terminal the captain made sure to mention that "you always remember when we're late, this time remember that we were early." They proceeded to have problems getting the door open and we ended up deplaning about 20 minutes after we pulled in. Cancel out that early arrival.

Angie and Hyrum (Alison's sister and her husband) were there (gratefully) to pick us up at the airport and we had an uneventful ride into town (and Ada fell asleep almost immediately once she was in the car). We picked up sandwiches at an Italian place in town and headed back to their apartment. They live in a building right on Lake Michigan between Navy Pier and Grant Park. Their apartment is a penthouse on the 54th floor (while to Utahns that is an amazing height, in Chicago their building seemed even a little squatty). When you first walk into their apartment you can't really be prepared for the incredible view. The first time that we saw it both Alison and I were a little dizzy because the whole outside wall is made of windows. In the following picture, their building is the black one on the far left and their apartment is one-half of the top floor of the circular turret (the picture was taken on Navy Pier).

Sunday May 4th, 2008
Today we went to church with the Marstons. Their building is about a 20 minute drive from their apartment. The ward was pretty good sized with a bunch of younger couples and lots of missionaries. Ada loved the nursery (as she always does). We went on a walk along the boardwalk that afternoon which was beautiful.

Monday May 5th, 2008
We spent most of this trip catering to Ada's schedule. We would do something small during the morning and then come back to the apartment and put Ada down for a nap while Alison and I napped or read. Today the Chicago Children's Museum was free for kids so we decided to take advantage of that. Of course it was crowded and we had to pay for the adults, but we saved $9 by fighting the crowds. It was a good museum and Ada had fun playing in places that were relatively uncrowded. The only time she would get angry was when she wanted to drive the pretend bus, ambulance or car and somebody was already in the driver's seat. Here's a slide show of her good times:

Tuesday May 6th, 2008
One slick thing about the Chicago Public Library System is that each branch has a couple of free passes to the various museums around town. You can check them out for a week and it's really hit and miss whether you will score one or not. Through the library Hyrum managed to score us a free pass to the Shedd Aquarium on the shores of Lake Michigan. We used this pass Tuesday morning. We took the El a few stops south and walked to the aquarium. This panoramic picture was taken looking from the edge of the aquarium looking northward (Ang and Hyrum's building is the second from the right).

We don't have really any good pictures from the aquarium. Here's one with Ada and the turtles:

That night we won a drawing for the chance to buy cheap tickets to Wicked (see my post about this here). Pregnant ladies are always lucky and we were happy to have use of Alison's luck during this drawing and throughout the trip.

Wednesday May 7th, 2008
We didn't really have anything planned for today so we walked around the downtown loop, ate lunch in some government food court (where the governor was giving a presentation for Asian-American Appreciation Month) and then rode the train up to Wrigleyville where we took pictures in front of Wrigley Field.



That night we had the obligatory (and delicious) Chicago style pizza at Giordano's (or something). It was FANTASTIC. I love pizza. We were also planning on going to the White Sox game that night but as we were getting ready to leave the pizza place we saw that there was a big rain delay. We were glad that we didn't try and go to the game that night because it was delayed for almost 90 minutes.
Tune in soon for part II!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

5 Good Ones

Al and I will both be posting more about our recent trip in the days to come. Here are 5 of my favorite photos from the excursion (click on the pictures to see enlarged versions). On another note, we just added 41 adorable pictures to our space which we haven't updated in ages...

1. The nighttime view from Ang and Hyrum's condo.
2. Daytime view from the same window as above.
3. A wet, swimming polar bear at the Lincoln Park Zoo
4. The Nauvoo Temple
5. Ada, tulips and Alison