Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween 2011


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The kids were so excited to trick or treat in Maryland with their cousins.  They love being together so it was fun to share in this tradition with them.  Matthew and Kylynn stayed on the boat and out of the cold weather as it was a little nippy out.  It even snowed a few days before halloween—that is very early for Maryland.  Nonetheless, the kids were not discouraged by a little chill in the air.  they were ready to trick or treat.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Our new hole in the boat



David attended the boat show in Annapolis of course.  We were here, so why not.  He was excited to visit all the vendor booths, now that we actually have a boat, and their products apply, rather than a “someday…”. 

We had talked last spring about maybe getting bow thrusters sometime, but it is a big addition and we had a lot of other additions in the budget so it wasn’t on our list of immediate things to do.  However with docking and the amount of it we have done this spring and fall, they would be nice to have.  In the past we have been cautious of the boats around us as we enter and leave docking.  And if there are some close by, I start to hyperventilate thinking about accidentally hitting one.  In the spring we had a couple of tricky times with the wind blowing us off the dock and struggling to attach lines.  So at the boat show, David spoke with all the bow thruster vendors and came back with info for consideration.  However one vendor kept calling him and offering a bit of a better deal.  He was a smaller vendor and not exactly who David wanted to go with.  After some discussion we decided, if they could meet our time crunch and price we would do it.  He called the vendor he liked, a larger vendor that travels to do the work onsite and got them to match the price of the vendor that kept calling him and they could do it in our time frame, so we have some new holes in our boat.  The 2 man team from Florida Bow thrusters, showed up at noon on a Monday, just as our boat was being hauled out of the water and power washed by the Marina.  They started early afternoon and were finished installing by Wednesday mid day.

The boat did not go back into the water until Thursday morn.  At that time, david tried out the thrusters to find that they kept blowing their breaker.  We called the company and they had another team out to us on Friday to fix the problem.  It took them awhile, everything appeared fine, but the breaker would blow.  They replaced the joy stick on the fly bridge and it worked, so they think there was a problem with that joystick.  We were impressed with the quick service from the company.

What is a bow thruster? It pushes the bow, or front of the boat side to side.  We can control the stern or back of the boat fairly well with the two engines, but the bow is a little hard to control, especially if we do not have any forward motion, and even then, with wind it can get difficult, so with docking in tight quarters, the thrusters will come in very useful.  We have used the thrusters only twice and they have been nice.

Since the boat was out of the water, I took the kids and Kylynn to stay at my brothers house—they sure are great to house us so often and let us invade their home and time.  David stayed on the boat to finish prepping the electrical panel for its new charger, inverter and mega battery.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Washer & Dryer Story


IMG_4077The boat came with a one piece washer/dryer stack, like you see in condos or small apartments.  Essentially—it was too small for us.  We have been making do, and it works fine, but realistically with our family size and the dynamics of a boat—not always having power and water—it was just too small.  So we needed to upgrade.  We measured the space where it would go, and found a regular size washer and dryer would fit with minor adjustments.  The question was how to get it to the space.  The laundry area is at the bottom of a curved staircase that is only 26 inches wide in most places.  Full size washersIMG_4082 and Dryers are at their narrowest 27 inches wide—too big.  David watched a few Youtube videos on Washer/Dryer repairs and how to take them apart.  His idea—to dismantle them, carry them downstairs piece by piece, put them back together.  I thought he was crazy—but the need for a bigger washer and dryer convinced me he could do it—he is smart. 

Getting them on the boat was a task in itself.  It was a super windy day with high tide when the units were delivered. The dryer was light enough for the 2 delivery guys to lift up over their heads to hand to David IMG_4093on the back of the boat, but the washer was too heavy.  I wish I had gotten a picture, but was too busy helping.  We had to tie the washer up and lift it with the crane that we use for the dinghy to raise it up to the back deck of the boat.  I was watching it swing in the air as the boat was rocking thinking, if the rope snaps, there goes my brand new washer.  It made it on.

We brought the washer in first and started taking it apart. We sent Kylynn with all the kids to a McDonalds with a play area for lunch.  They stayed until it was nap time for Matthew, we didn’t want him getting into all the little pieces. 

Did you know that there is literally cement bricks inside your washing machine?  I had no idea.  That’s what makes the thing so heavy, 3 large cement bricks had to be removed.  It’s what holds the tub steady for it to spin.IMG_4129  Once we took the front frame and door off, plus the back frame, we just had to unscrew a few other accessories that were sticking out and push them in, and it was time to take it downstairs.  We couldn’t believe how easy it was.  We still had to get it back together, but it didn’t take nearly as long as we thought.

We wanted to check out the dryer before we put the washer back together, just to make sure we could get it down the stairs. IMG_4146 It looked like it wouldn’t be too hard, so we put the washer back together.  After only a bit we had it up and running, washing a load to make sure it wouldn’t leak.  Off to take down the dryer!

The dryer, while simpler, required taking it all the way apart.  Even the drum had to come out to get it down stairs.IMG_4156


The kids had come back to the boat so they were able to help with the dryer.  We needed hands to hold up the sides as David unhooked all the IMG_4166components. 

Soon it was apart, in pieces, and it was time to take it down stairs to put it back together.

But first the kids needed to take a ride in the drum.

Once they were put together, we had to wire an outlet for the washer, as the other unit, being a whole piece, only needed one plug.  Plus we need another ground wire—something to do with the boat.

The Finished product…IMG_4180

I was expecting it to take all weekend, and we started on Thursday at lunch time. I expected lots of complications.  I was pleasantly surprised to have it all done and working with in 24 hours.  By lunch time Friday our first load from the day before was dry! It is more than twice the size of the old one!  Yeah!   Hopefully we will feel confident enough from this experience to do any repairs on it in the future should it need any (we hope not!).  David is amazing!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin time—Knightongale Farms, Birdsville, MD

We love to go to the pumpkin patch each year.  Not being at IMG_4211home we had to find one nearby.  This particular patch caught our eye each time we drove to the cousins for a visit as they had a big hay spider on the side of the road.  Back home we could pick any night of the week to head to the pumpkin patch, but it seems here in Maryland, that is not the case.  Most patches are only open on weekends, if they are open during the week, it is simply to pick a pumpkin with no other fun activities.  So we adjusted our traditional family night activity, to a Saturday. 
The kids IMG_4223had a great time picking out their pumpkins.  No small ones could be found, all medium or larger.  I read in the paper that most of the small sized pumpkins on the east coast did not make due to flooding from Irene and Lee.  Our family rule is the kids have to be able to each carry their pumpkin in order to get it.  This keeps the “big eyes” eyes in check.  Calvin struggled as he really wanted a big pumpkin.  He barely made it to the wagon with his pumpkin.  And Benjamin struggled to find one he could carry.  Isabel helped him out a few times—what a great sister.

They had some great activities for the kids.  A big sand box made of corn kernels.  And a “tractor pull” of tractor trikes.  They had a small petting zoo and a short maze for the kids to run through together.

 A week later we were able to carve our pumpkins with the cousins.  It was a fun time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

National Parks Junior Ranger Program


This year in July we met up with some friends at Yellowstone National Park.  They have young kids like us, and they love to visit national parks.  They introduced us to the National Park Junior Ranger Program.  I have found that most National Parks do not tell you about this program, you have to ask them.  Even though we have always gone to a parks visitor center and asked for info about the park, they have never mentioned to us—even seeing and hearing our kids-- the junior ranger program.  We are grateful to our friends for making us aware of this great program.  The program is offered at almost every location managed by the National Park System, so this includes many monuments and historic areas as well, not just parks. 

The program consists of a packet of learning opportunities for your kids. You pick it up at most visitor centers or you can print it online. As they complete the packet or a specific number of activities they earn themselves an official Junior Ranger Badge labeled by the park they visited.  We love this program as it has helped our kids learn about the places we visit.  They are excited each time we travel to visit a place and earn their badge.  We have been to Yellowstone,Grand Teton,  Zions NP, Bryce NP, The White House, The White House Visitors Center, Boston Downtown, Boston Charlestown, Philadelphia Independence Hall, Fort McHenry, and we plan to continue the list.  Since we are homeschooling this year as we travel, we love planning field trips to a site where we can lean on the Junior Ranger Program to help provide teaching opportunities.  It sparks questions and ideas in our kids and helps bring age appropriate learning to the sites we visit.

You can check out the list of their programs at and find sites near you!  The  NPS system has recognized that kids love to learn and may not be able to travel to all their locations so they now offer an online ranger program with the same concept of learning about certain parks or areas, and completing activities to earn a badge.  Some state parks may offer similar programs as well.  I remember doing a similar program and earning a ranger badge as a 7 year old at a Maryland State Park.

Saturday, October 8, 2011



Philadelphia is a great city, also with a rich history.  I have visited Philadelphia many times as it is a IMG_4071short drive from where I grew up.  It was our nations capital when we first became a nation.  It is where the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and Bill of Rights were pondered over, fought over, and finally written.  The kids had a great time again earning their junior ranger badges, and I was again excited for them to learn more about how our nation was formed. We were able to learn about and view the Liberty Bell, and visit Independence Hall where our forefathers spent their time diligently trying to figure out how to form our nation, where George Washington was elected President.

We took a few minutes to read the first half of the Declaration of Independence together as a family. IMG_4073 Previous to our visit to Philadelphia we made a trip to DC to the National Archives to view the original documents of the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, and The Bill of Rights.  As we read these inspired words, they resonated with my thoughts and heart.  How I wish our leaders would read them again and again, and truly understand them.  Reading these documents reminded me of the declarations we receive as Latter Day Saints, from our latter day prophets.  How grateful I am for the knowledge that in a world of confusion, greed, and misused power—we have a source to look to for truth and peace.  How grateful I am for a prophet and apostles.

Another fun stop in Philadelphia was at the US Mint where we were able to learn about and view coin manufacturing.  My kids love visiting factories and seeing how things are made, so we love to provide them with these opportunities to learn.

Friday, October 7, 2011



On our way back to Philadelphia from Connecticut we stopped to spend the day in NYC.  The Manhattan Temple was our starting point.  We left our car parked nearby in a garage for the low price of $30 for 12 hours of parking.  We walked up the street to the temple to admire it’s beauty amidst the bustling city.  I had read on the church’s website that this was the 3rd time the church had repurposed a building.  They had planned to build the temple in White Plains, outside of the city, but after some big hurdles, they decided to use the building they owned in Manhattan and build a temple inside of it. The building had been built in 1975 and so they gutted it and built the temple—fully sound proof inside.  It even has a cornerstone inside the building on a corner of the temple portion.  A portion of the building is still used as a meetinghouse, distribution and church offices, but the majority of it is occupied as a temple. I wished we had time for us to enter and participate in a session inside, but we only had the afternoon and kids with us.

One block from the temple is Central Park.  We walked through the south portion.  The kids had fun playing on the paths, in the playground, climbing rocks, and of course riding the famous Central Park Carousel.  We walked out the south end of the park and into Midtown Manhattan.  We did a walking tour thru the area to see Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and all the big buildings.  We visited the American Girl Store, where Savannah picked out a new book.  She has read the books of almost all their historical dolls and had fun seeing all the dolls.  Isabel of course loved the dolls too.  The boys wanted to pick a store to visit, and upon seeing the M&M store, they knew where they wanted to go.  They had fun making their own bag of M&M’s from the large wall of M&M cannisters and picking out the colors they wanted.  

After walking the city and stopping for dinner, we headed back to the car to drive through the financial district.  We were aware that there was a demonstration going on in Manhattan financial district, but somehow didn’t connect that it would be a problem in our site seeing plans.  We drove by the empire states building, and with difficulty we drove by the World Trade Center site.  If we’d had more time we would have liked to have explored the memorial there.  As we tried to make our way to Wall Street the traffic, which hadn’t been bad at all- even in rush hour- just got worse and worse.  Streets were closed with many detours.  Finally it occurred to us that the street closures and traffic were probably due to the demonstrations.  Just as we realized this—we made it to Wall St.  I really am not sure how we were able to drive down this road, we must have missed some blockade, but we were able to turn down Broadway a block north of the NYSE.  There was one lane of traffic, a huge bus in front of us and a huge bus behind us and a wall of police on both sides of us.  Behind the wall of Police were thousands of people for over a block.  It felt like we were in a parade—except we weren’t suppose to be in the parade.

As we made our way out of the demonstration we decided we wanted to cross the Brooklyn bridge over to Brooklyn; the bridge is so beautiful at night.  As we headed to the entrance of the bridge, I didn’t think we would run back into the demonstration as we were traveling up a street a few blocks over, that we had driven on in one of our detours.  It is a one way road with a stop sign at the intersection.  As we are edging up the road waiting for the cars in front of us to take their turns to stop and go, a large crowd of a few hundred people come around the corner chanting together and flooding the street.  Since there were no police around with this group, it didn’t feel as safe, but they all passed by peaceably chanting their point of views.  We made it to the bridge and saw several hundred people, including families with children headed to walk across the center of the bridge, all carrying red balloons.  I assume they too were part of this demonstration.  This protest has been going on for 3.5 weeks and has just grown larger and larger.  We got a more up close and personal look at it then we were planning.

On to Philadelphia!

Thursday, October 6, 2011


After spending the weekend with my brother Aaron and his family in Connecticut, we headed north a couple of hours to the beautiful town of Boston.  We had a great time exploring the history of Boston for 2 days. My borther Rob is currently living in Maine, about 2 hours north, so he made a trip down to meet us in Boston. We were glad he could join us for this visit! The kids love being with him.

  The kids earned 2 junior ranger badges and learned a great deal about the American Revolution.  We visited the North Church where Paul Revere rode to have someone light the lanterns in the tower letting the people know by which method the British were travelling. This tower could be seen across the river to Charlestown.  We visited the Naval Ship yard in Charlestown and were able to board the USS Constitution, a ship that was used in the War of 1812 and is the oldest commissioned Navy ship in the US.  We also visited Bunker Hill were the first battle of the revolution was fought.  While the British technically won this particular battle, the colonist felt bolstered by their ability and knew they could and should fight for their Liberty and Independence from Great Britain.

Boston is a lovely town and I enjoyed walking the streets of the historic district and pondering the strength of the people who spoke up to bring us independence.  As I think of the state of our Nation now I can’t help thinking we need some of their strength and voices in our time.
Before heading back to Connecticut on day 2, we stopped to visit the Boston Temple.  It was raining out so half the kids stayed in the car, but the rest of us were brave enough to stroll the grounds and admire its beauty.
If you ever find yourself in Boston, you must—I repeat MUST pay a visit to Mike’s Pastry—(google it),  order a cannoli or 2 or 3 or 10.  I will be dreaming of those cannoli’s, they were soooooo good.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Road Trip Fall 2011

Before we head south of Maryland we planned a road trip to visit some other sites in the North East.  One of which is my brother Aaron and his family.  We were able to spend a few days with them in Connecticut catching up.  The cousins had a fabulous time playing together.  We hope they will come and visit us in Idaho some time.