Sunday, August 30, 2009

Amelia Marie Rowley

Yesterday Lonica and Scott changed our lives. Garth and I entered a new phase in life - grandparenthood. Amelia Marie was born and surprised us all at the size of her appearance 8lbs 15oz. Her mom was only 6lbs. 13oz. and their birthdays are only a week apart.
I leave in the morning for Ohio and I can't wait to see that darling baby in person.
Looks like she is already taking after her mom - she was a good thumb sucker too.
I'm not sure what this new phase of life will be like. Everyone says it is the very best. I sure hope so. It is a great way to end the summer. Columbus here I come.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We're Back in the Saddle Again

Well, August has come and is almost gone now and life is returning to normal. Preston is back in school - his senior year now. I think he tried to take the very hardest classes he could find, AP Physics (his favorite), AB Calculus, AP Government, and British Literature. Naturally with classes like, he had homework from day one and I worry that he won't have anytime for fun.

Jason has left our home once again last Saturday, this time to attend BYU. Prior to leaving he spent three weeks installing solar electrical systems on roofs and made some good money before leaving the nest. Anyone that can work on a roof 10 hours a day in the middle of August in Phoenix ought to be able to handle Utah winters, right? Garth drove up to Utah with him and helped get Jason all settled into his little apartment that he is sharing with his cousin, Adam. Garth got back last night and so today was Jason' s first day by himself. I think I had roughly 10 phone calls from him and one email. I wonder how this is going to work out.

I finished one summer class I was taking and started three others (well one doesn't start until tomorrow night). As I started one of the classes on Monday, my anxiety began to rise. I read through the first lesson and realized I had about 70 pages to read in the textbook (that cost me over $100) three journal entries to write, and had to make up questions to interview two parents and their teenage children and then write the interviews up and all for 5 points! Sure makes you wonder if it is worth it. Then once I get to lesson 3, I get to start my practicum in a junior high classroom which will be 20 hours and then I just have 7 more lesson, a midterm and a final. And I haven't even gone to my Thursday night class and who knows what that will entail! If I tell you I'm a bit stressed can you understand why. Don't get me wrong I love to learn and to go to school but online classes just stink - too much busy work and no interaction with teachers or peers.

It would seem as though things are back to usual but we have this big event hanging over our heads and don't have a clue when it will happen. Lonica's baby is due in just four days. She has already been to the hospital and come home empty handed once (the contractions stopped when she got there). I scheduled a flight for Ohio for last Monday but the baby didn't come, so I moved it to today, but the baby didn't come. I have now moved it to Sunday and I'm hoping I don't have to move it again. Come on little baby Rowley, we are anxious to see you! With all the things I have going on to worry about, Lonica's baby is the one exciting and fun thing to worry about. But in between my classes and subbing, I'm making a blessing dress for her and I'm not too sure when that will get done (I can't really start it until I find out how big she is). Add that to my things to worry about.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Since we were flying out of Baltimore, we decided to spend the night there and check it out. Garth had been there years ago on business and so he wanted to show us around. Our hotel was on the Inner Harbor but around the harbor from most of the attractions. From our hotel we had a short walk to find a place to eat and then we headed over to the National Aquarium. We had to purchase timed tickets for entry and had about an hour to wait. It had just started to sprinkle (I had carried my umbrella the entire trip and just taken it out of my backpack, figures). As we walked around the harbor (which is a great place), it started to pour. Garth was our guide and he just kept walking but the boys and I headed for cover as the sky opened up and they announced over loud speakers that Baltimore was under a tornado watch for the next few hours! We couldn't believe it. When the rain finally let up enough to leave our cover we headed back to the aquarium and were just in time to go in. The triangle buildings are two of the buildings of the aquarium.
The aquarium was packed with people and was HUGE! It is made up of four interconnected buildings, one of which have five floors. It really was one of the most amazing aquariums I have ever been to. We went though the Australian Out Back, a rain forest (there was a three toed sloth right next to the path), fresh water fish, shark and manta ray tanks that spanned two floors, and tank after tank of salt water fish, plus a large exhibit of jelly fish. They were my favorite.
We had been to so many museums in the last week that we had a hard time concentrating and finally headed back to the hotel to rest.
Baltimore was full of Red Sox fans because the Orioles were playing them that night. We had debated about whether to go or not but with all the rain we figured the game would be rained out. But after our rest we went outside and the weather had cleared up and we decided to join the throng of fans and walk over to the stadium to see if we could get tickets.
Several years ago we had gone to a Red Sox game in Boston and we love their fans, they are great. We thought it would be fun to go to Camden Yards to see them play even if the Orioles were lousy this year. The area around the stadium was just packed with fans and it had turned out to be such a gorgeous night we really hoped we could get tickets. We were able to get some and even though our seats were up high, they were good, the stadium was great, we got funnel cakes and we had a great time. The stadium ended up almost full and it was a picturesque night for a baseball game.
We sat behind some Red Sox fans and got to be friends with them. We helped them cheer on their team and the man would give us all high fives when things went well. It ended up being a great game, with four or five home runs and the lead changing hands several times. It went down to the ninth inning and the last pitch of the last batter before the Red Sox finally pulled it out. We love going to visit all the other baseball parks while on vacation. And especially love to going to Red Sox games.
On the way back to the hotel we watched a street performer and then walked down to this area were we could hear music coming from. The boys were all excited as they watched a guy get pepper sprayed and I thought some girls were wearing really funny hats and whey I pointed them out the boys informed me that they were Play Boy Bunnies with ears on. I have really bad eyes! Needless to say we didn't stay long.
The next day we wanted to go to Fort McHenry that is only assessable by water taxi or car (which we didn't have). So we picked up the water taxi right in front of our hotel and found out that we had to switch boats at another dock. Someone messed up big time because there weren't enough boats running to the fort and there were tons of people wanting to get out there. Half of Boston had come down for the Red Sox/Orioles series and were site seeing with us. Jason and Preston amused themselves by playing this game where you tried to touch the other person with your finger while we waited in line. The crowd around us gave them plenty of berth and they entertained the whole line while we waited an hour for a boat.
Even Garth had to give it a try.
We finally made it to Fort McHenry and only had about an hour and a half to look around before we had to head to the airport.
Since we had just seen the actual 'Star Spangle Banner' flag in the Smithsonian, we felt as though we had come full circle by coming to the place where Francis Scott Key had seen it flying in its battered state and written his poem. We had a good time walking around the fort and looking at the views of Baltimore. It is a great city with a good mixture of old and modern buildings.
There was a great video that told all the history leading up to the Battle of Baltimore and at the end they opened the curtains and there is the flag flying over the fort. Very touching and patriotic.

We were lucky because the day we were there, they had volunteers dressed up as the fife and drum corps and they played and marched around. They also shot off one of the cannons.
As we waited for the water taxi to return, our 21 year old decided to be a jaguar in a tree. I don't think they ever grow up and I'm glad - that way I always have someone to play with.
We had had a wonder week - walked our legs off, saw amazing sites and were reminded of the blessing we have of living in this country and being a family.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


One day on our trip we rented a car and drove up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the day. It was just about 1 1/2 hours from Washington and it was a nice break from the walking we had been doing every day. Like so many other places we visited, they had just opened a new museum and visitor's center and we spent a couple of hours going through everything there. Once again Preston finished way before the rest of us and I was the last one finishing and had to skip all the last part. We don't do much shopping but we hit the gift shop and everyone made a purchase there.
One thing we purchased was the audio guide CD to tour the battlefield with. It came with a book and map and the road was marked for the audio tour but we missed the very first turn. This delayed the start of our tour by about an hour by the time we went through road construction, then realized we were lost and then went back through the construction and found the spot we needed to turn. We did get a nice drive through rural Pennsylvania though.

We finally got to the first audio stop and were so impressed with all the monuments that cover the 25 square miles of the battlefield. Every state militia that fought there had a least one monument to them and some militias had several. This monument is to the Pennsylvania soldiers.

The monuments lined the roads that run through the battlefield. You can see people walking along this road and it gives you a sense of scale.
The area is beautiful and still similar to what it looked like over 140 years ago. Some of the battle field is being farmed again and some of the original barns and farmhouses that where in the battle are still there. In this picture we are standing on the Small Round Hill which was the scene of fighting on the second day of the three day battle. The Union army held this high ground and the Confederates almost succeeded in taking it.
This is the scene of Pickett's Charge where a mile long wall of Confederate soldiers, numbering 12,500, came out of the woods and advanced towards the Union army. The men who saw this advance stated that is was an amazing site to see. I took this picture where the Union forces were at ant you can see the trees far in the back where the Confederates came out of. While we were there two guys (one in Confederate uniform and carrying a flag) who walked across the field and finally made it just as we were leaving.
Gettysburg was the last time the Southern army was ever on the offense and the furthest point north they ever got. After the losses the Confederates suffered here they were never able to recover. The cannons and wagons are placed where they would have been during the battle only there would have been many more.
It was getting dark (we'd wasted too much time being lost) by the time we made it back into the quaint town of Gettysburg and since we still had a long drive back to DC we didn't get a chance to stop on go through the town. And much to my dismay we never saw the signs to the cemetery or memorial where Lincoln gave the Gettysburg's Address. Once we got back to the hotel and I laid out all the maps I found that we had driven by it at least four times!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

"The Best of" Six days in Washington DC

Instead of giving you a blow by blow account of our trip back East, I thought I would just tell you of our favorites or "The Best Of ..."

"The Best Museum"
Since this is a city full of museums and we visited our fair share of them, it was quite a task to pick the best one. But all of us agreed that the new museum at Ford's Theater was very good and Preston chose this one as his favorite. The last time we were there the museum below the theater was in dire need to be updated and the new one is very nice. This is a picture of the booth Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot and not the museum but...
Garth's favorite museum was the Holocaust Museum and I don't have any pictures from there because pictures aren't allowed. While the Holocaust Museum is a great museum, I couldn't pick it as my favorite just because of the subject, you definitely don't come out of there happy.

Jason and I both picked the National Gallery of Art as "the Best Museum." With an extensive collection of Renaissance Art including a di Vinci, a nice gallery of Impressionist Art, a large collection Spanish armor and American art we all enjoyed this museum. The added bonus is that the building is beautiful with nice atriums for resting. Preston likes art museums because they always have lots of benches to sit on and study the artwork. Here is a Manet beggar with the boys trying to look poor - kind of hard to do when you have an ipod ear piece in your ear.

"Best Memorial or Monument"

Preston choose the new Korean memorial and it was a close second for Garth. The statues of these 19 soldiers is just a portion of this memorial. In fact, one day we got off the subway into the middle of the Mall and noticed all the flags were at half mast. Not having kept up with the news we wondered what had happened. Silly us, we didn't realize that July 27 is Koren armistice day (end of the Korean war) so there were wreaths and flowers all over this memorial.
Jason and I chose the Lincoln Monument; you can't help but be impressed with this stunning monument and Lincoln himself. In fact we did something related to Lincoln almost every day of our trip.
Garth's new favorite and my second choice is the new WWII memorial. The architect did an amazing job with the design and the symbolism he used throughout the memorial. I loved walking around, guessing what something symbolized and then find out if I was right or not. There are volunteers at many of the memorials who give little mini tours or answer questions.

"Best Building"

We had four "Best Buildings." A night time visit to the temple has to be a highlight to anyone who visits DC, even if they're not Mormon.
A close second was the Capitol and even though it was packed with people, it is a beautiful building and is full of amazing works of art. We just felt bad that they have restricted access to so much of the outside since 9-11.
Preston's favorite building was the Pentagon. We all thought is would be neat to tour the Pentagon but you can't take pictures and they don't show you anything other than where the plan hit it on 9-11. Preston enjoyed finding out that no movies are allowed to go on location there but you could pretend you were giving a news conference.
The Ford's Theater was also a family favorite. A man pretended to be a policeman in the audience the night Lincoln was shot and gave us a detailed description of what happened. It was another highlight of the trip.

"Best House"

Okay, you think we have to say the White House right? Not by a long shot. The tour they do is terrible now, you spend more time going though security practically. They just herd you through the rooms with no explanation of anything. Everyone felt like you can't go to DC and not go to the White House, but it was voted the best waste of time. It is beautiful but...
George's home, Mt. Vernon, is a beautiful place as well, but since there was a two hour wait to go through it we decided just to look at the grounds which are wonderful. Garth sat on the banks of the Potomac and watched bald eagles. The boys and I explored the grounds and had a great time making videos, swinging on vines in the trees and looking for Duke and Earl, the oxen that work the place today, who we never did find. The new museum was very good and we even got to see a set of George's false teeth.
Actually, we didn't have a favorite house. Arlington House (Robert E. Lee's home) was being renovated and there wasn't anything to see there and none of males in my family were to hip on looking at any houses.

"Best Things We Saw"

While it was very difficult to choose the best thing we saw because there was just too much, both boys chose the one shot pistol that John Wilkes Booth used to kill Lincoln.
Jason also liked the display of emeralds because they came from Colombia.
And I liked the guy protesting out in front of the While House. If you could read the sign, his anti-nuclear weapons group has been there since 1981, 24 hours a day every day of the year. I think they are making progress though, haven't you heard about them in the news?
"Best Celebrity Citing"

Who would have ever thought we would see Robin Williams in the Natural History Museum? We were surprised.
Actually, he is just wax was standing next to Teddy Roosevelt. The figures were there to promote the "Night at the Museum" movie that came out this summer. The Smithsonian had all kinds of exhibits and events related to the movie.

"Best 3-D Glasses"

Do you think they could have found any more attractive eye wear than these? We watched the 3-D movie "Deep Sea" and rested our legs and most of us also had a nap. I mean fish are fish.
"Best Joke"

Because we are the loving, kind family we are, we would never do anything that would embarrass a member of our family all day long right? Wrong! After leaving the Capitol where we had to wear these stickers the whole time we were there, everyone tried to stick them on each other's back without that person knowing. You have all played that game before. But someone got Preston good and he walked around the rest of the day with a sticker on his butt. Jason and I couldn't look at each other because we would start to laugh.
"The Best Tutorial"

As I said before, Preston had a great American history teacher last year and Jason claimed that two years in Colombia had made him forget everything he knew about American history (yeah right). Well, Preston took it upon himself to help bring his brother up to speed on what he was seeing and this was most apparent at the Vietnam Memorial. Preston's teacher had spent more than two weeks on the Vietnam War and Preston knew his stuff which he imparted to his elder brother.
"Best Places to Eat"
One of the boys' top priorities was eating, of course, and we found it difficult to find many places to eat later in the evening (everything seems to shut down early near the Mall) and while our hotel was conveniently located for subway riding there wasn't too much for dinning unless we made the 7 block walk to Georgetown. After a day of walking, 7 blocks just isn't too appealing, but if we wanted good food that is where we went. Plus, it is a great place to look around. Georgetown University has a beautiful campus and the harbor area has great views of the Potomac, the Kennedy Performing Arts Center and the Watergate complex.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On Vacation

We decided that we were done vacationing in big cities, so when it came time to plan our vacation this year I looked into going to Oregon. It met our qualifications - cool weather with the possibility of rain, mountains and nature abounding and no major big cities. When we asked Preston where he wanted to go he chose Washington DC. The complete opposite - heat, humidity, lots of people and one very large city. Last year he had an amazing American history teacher who instilled in him a desire to see our nation's capital. So we waited until it was nice and hot and then spent 9 days in or around DC.

I have quite a reputation in my family for not making our vacations very relaxing and in fact usually we need a vacation from our vacation once we get home. I figure that while you are in place you need to see everything there is to see, who knows if you will ever be back. So granted we usually walk our legs off but we always have a good time. This year our flight left at 7:00 am so we had to be up early to get to the airport by 5:30 am to check our luggage and make it through security. Wisely, Garth and I went to bed early the night before, but our boys thought a party in the basement was a good idea and didn't make it to bed until 1:30 am. That makes for a very long day the next day and as a result this is what they did on the subway the first day and most of the days afterwards.
The rest of the vacation we all went to bed at the same time; Garth was up an hour earlier than I was and I was up an hour earlier than the boys but this is what we got every day.....
and this.... no matter where they were sitting or standing they would fall asleep.
Some how Garth and I were able to go all day without napping every time we sat down, although we did have a hard time when we watched a video and the lights went out. But we actually had to stop at 10 in the morning to let Jason take a nap or he wouldn't have made it through the day!
But this was just ridiculous though sleeping on a cement barricade while we waited for our bus! I know they are growing boys but really.
I'll do another blog with more pictures of our trip and put some in when the boys were awake because they were some of the time, especially when it came time to eat.