Sunday, September 30, 2012

Florida: Take One

Because this blog is our main archive of what happens in our family, we're going to go back in time and catch up on events this summer that didn't get blogged so that we remember years down the line...

First, we'll head back to Florida in March. We posted a few pictures back then, but will finish off for the sake of completeness. We hit all the Disney parks, as is customary for the Edvalsons. Here we are in front of the "Big Ball!" at "Epricot!"

We spent some quality time with Bruce the shark.

One night the big kids had a night out with Nana and Papa. They got their picture taken with Zurg and had giant ice cream sandwiches.

This picture is almost a parody of how the kids acted, Balo hardly standing still for a moment and acting like some type of animal or "Trainsformer" (I'm not sure that he's aware of Transformers apart from the Trainsformers videos on YouTube), Celia striking a glamorous pose, and Clara and Sabrina trying to figure out what's going on.

Sometimes we have to force the kids to do things they don't want to do, such as going down a slide.(normally she loves slides, but maybe a leaf-shaped slide is a little much?)

Sabrina often took the obligatory nap in the stroller.

The cousins enjoyed some bath time with an attempt at modesty, though I think the swimsuits all came off in the end.

Here we are at Animal Kingdom Park.

Matching outfits were worn most days.

Celia got a drivers' license on her fourth birthday. (We already posted on Celia's Princess Party, which was the highlight of her life so far)

The big kids got to ride the "Plane Train" rollercoaster. 

And while they were doing that, we attempted to get some portraits of the smaller kids. Clara is easy, she would stand still and smile, and we would end up with pictures like this:

While Sabrina wouldn't stand still or give a real smile, plus she had mac 'n cheese residue all over her face. Story of her life:

We didn't stand in line to take pictures of characters, but we took their pictures near them, so the kids are just as happy with the results.

Not much to say about this one, it's just quintessential Sabrina.

We stayed in a nice big place for all 3 families. Plenty of room for coloring and playing with trains and anything else we could come up with.

It's always a battle to get pictures in which each kid looks happy. This was the best we could do from this session.

The plane ride home was spent coloring and watching movies on the computer. Celia tends to only want to watch a movie for half an hour or so at the time on airplanes. She's mainly interested in coloring. Sabrina just tries to be as wiggly as she can, wearing us both out in the process, and if we're lucky she'll wear herself out and fall asleep before we begin our descent.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Minnesota State Fair

On Friday, we grabbed a shuttle near our hotel to the great Minnesota State Fair.  (The girls had a great time on the bus ride there!) People at work told me (Marel) it's the second largest in the nation (second only to Texas, of course).  Verdict:  It was, in fact, a very large state fair.  Certainly bigger than Alaska's (though that is not difficult).

Our first stop, once there, was the "Wild West Dog Show."  This was a wise move on our part as it was the highlight of the girls' day at the fair.  The dogs balanced on heads and hands, jumped over children, and climbed up ladders with cute little helmets on.  Big hit with the ladies.

After the doggie show, we went to see the extreme trampoline show.  This was one of my favorite parts of the fair.  NBC didn't show nearly enough trampoline in the Olympics.  The show was fun because they show the routines that all trampolinists (?) have to do to qualify for the Olympics.  But then they did crazy things like bounce with snowboards and skis on.  And these guys we saw hold the world record for highest bounce (which they demonstrated).  Sabrina, however, fell asleep and Celia kept saying:  "When are they going to stop jumping?"  Everything was anti-climactic after the doggie show.

Celia and I got to explore lots of farm stuff.  We played on diggers, tractors, and loaders and saw a ton of other farm equipment (and wind turbines!).  

The girls liked sticking their heads in the farmer pictures.

The girls loved this cute little cabin.

And we saw a few tornado cars.  Weird lookin' things.  

There's ONE thing that is NOT bigger at the Minnesota State Fair.  And that is cabbage.  Here is me with their winner for "biggest cabbage."  You kidding me?  What is that tiny thing?  

In contrast, here's this year's winner for "biggest cabbage" at this year's Alaska State Fair.  Don't mess with our ability to grow giant cabbage.  You will always lose.

The food options at the Minnesota State Fair were varied, to say the least.  We took pictures of Deep Fried Alligator and deep fried candy bars, but we stuck to a French chicken pesto dinner crepe and good ole' fashioned Elephant Ear (which was amazingly hard to find).  

The girls made silly faces whilst eating.  They are also modeling some of the many hats we got at the fair.  These ones are the pig variety.

Tom and I ended up as heads of corn.

And the girls got sweet foam John Deere hats (that they're still wearing around the house!).  This was, by far, the coolest part of the Minnesota State Fair.  The girls checked into the "kids farm" and got aprons, John Deere hats, and buckets and were given farming tasks to do.  They had to drive a tractor, plant a seed and get a vegetable, pick an apple from a mini apple orchard, feed the chickens and get an egg, and milk a pretend cow and get a milk carton.

At the very end of it, they turned in their goods (ie: egg, milk carton, vegetable, and apple) in exchange for a pretend dollar.  Then there was a little store where they could choose a snack with their dollar: chips, jerky, oatmeal, or apples.  The girls chose apples and sat down next to farmer Charlie Brown to celebrate a job well done.  It was a great lesson on how those things work.  I thought it was super neat (and free!).

Overall, we had a great time at the fair.  It was hot, smelled like deep fried food, and the girls came home with a solid layer of dust and dirt.  Proof we had a fun time!

Monday, September 17, 2012

5 States in 5 days

Nevermind that we saw the first 4 states on the first day, and then stayed in the fifth for a week...

A couple weeks ago we took a trip over to the midwest. Built around Marel's business trip, it gave us the opportunity to see a variety of family members from varying locales. We started with a stopover in Seattle. We've learned that when the only flight choices are red-eyes, we can sometimes find a flight with an overnight layover instead. Since my (Tom's) parents live in Seattle we have a place to stay and the girls get some brief grandparent time. (So I suppose that actually makes it 6 states in 10 or so days.) We're always amused to fly from Alaska to Washington and then see the Alaska Lodge restaurant in the Sea-Tac Airport. 

We flew from Seattle to Kansas City, which, of course, is in Missouri. 

But wait, there's also a Kansas City, Kansas.

We drove from the Missouri side of KC to the Kansas side to eat dinner because none of our family had ever been in Kansas before. We stopped at a nice Mexican restaurant there where I had an horchata and Marel had dos horchatas. Delicioso! (We also had a tasty dinner with our horchatas)

The whole area was very brown. As we were leaving the rental car place at the airport, there were a couple raindrops and the lady checking us out said "It's raining! Isn't this great? It's been months!"

After dinner we went back into Missouri to see church history sites in Independence and Liberty. First to Independence, where the land of the original Mormon settlement is split between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Community of Christ, and the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). Most prominent is the Community of Christ Temple, which is a striking building--unlike anything else we've seen. It also felt oddly ominous, though--the glittering spiral towering over the somewhat run-down surroundings. It felt to us sort of like a distopian sci-fi movie.

The actual temple lot is owned by the denomination called Church of Christ (Temple Lot), listed on the sign as simply the Church of Christ. It's a nondescript little field that's hardly larger than the infield of a baseball diamond.

Then there's an LDS visitor's center alongside a stake center. It has areas with information on the Church in general, with some of the same exhibits as the visitor's centers in Salt Lake City, as well as exhibits specific to the history of the Church in Missouri. The girls enjoyed their brief stint as pioneers.

We then headed up to Liberty to see the reconstruction of the Liberty Jail. The missionaries there happily gave us the presentation even though we arrived not long before closing. They explained how Joseph Smith and the others were kept on the bottom portion that can only be exited through the hatch in the ceiling, and that the guards stayed on top. The guards' door had no handle on the inside and could only be opened from the outside. As the Sister was explaining this to us, she asked us to look at the door and asked "What's missing?" Sabrina replied "Bugs!" Part of the presentation had cricket sounds, but when Sabrina looked at the door, she didn't see any bugs.

On our way out of town we swung by the recently dedicated Kansas City Temple. A beautiful new temple with a classic design.

After that it was on to the Rodriguez house in Omaha. (Unfortunately we don't have a picture of a welcome to Nebraska sign because we crossed the state line in the dead of night.)

The morning after we arrived in Omaha, we all went to the zoo. It's quite a good zoo, with very immersive habitats. We happened to be there on the first day of rain in Omaha in months. Nobody seemed to mind, though, as the Nebraskans have been hurting for rain, and we Alaskans were happy with the warm rain.

A lot of time was spent holding kids up to windows...

The also got some race car stroller rides from Uncle Evan and Aunt McKenzie.

We then went to a Mexican restaurant where the kids joined a frog band. (Peekaboo, Evan!)

We're lucky to have both Marel's sister and my brother living in Omaha. When we went to church that weekend, Allyson stood up and said "This is my sister, Marel," Evan stood up and said "This is my brother, Tom," and then the two of us said "And we're married!" It makes for some unusual photos, such as this one, where Balo and Clara couldn't help but join in the Stock family photo.

After the weekend in Omaha, it was off to Minneapolis for Marel to go to work. Much of the drive is through Iowa.

We stopped in Des Moines for dinner and drove by the state capitol.

We also took a few minutes to run around the Des Moines Sculpture Park.

The favorite was the man made of letters.

The drive from Omaha to Minneapolis is mostly cornfields with frequent clusters of wind turbines. The cornfields in Missouri and Nebraska were all brown due to the lack of rain, but as we drove north through Iowa the cornfields become more green.

In some areas it smelled bad, and when Celia wondered what it was we explained that sometimes the farmers use animal poop to help the corn grow. Then Celia recorded this question for us all to ponder:

We crossed the Minnesota state line just as it was getting dark, but it was still just light enough to get a picture of the sign.

While in Minneapolis, Marel spent 3 days in the office. The girls and I spent our time going to parks. We'd have picnic lunches and try to find the best playgrounds.

We'd also go back to the hotel for Sabrina to take a nap. She would sleep in the main room while Celia and I had room time in the bedroom. One day Celia played in her fort (the small area between the bed and the wall) for a while, and then fell asleep.

All four of us also went to the Minnesota State Fair one day. We'll talk about that in a separate post since this one is already too long.

After Marel's days in the office and our day at the fair, Allyson and Billy and the kids drove up to stay with us in our hotel room for the weekend. We spent a lot of time in the hotel pool, and Celia and Balo liked playing hide and seek for Clara and Sabrina to find them, though by the end they always hid in the same spot.

Also that weekend was the wedding of Krystal and Slavik, our friends from here in Alaska. Marel and I went to the ceremony on the Mississippi River, and then took the girls to the reception. They had a photo booth there, which the girls remembered from Evan and McKenzie's wedding (which will come in a later post, even though it happened a few months ago). So they enjoyed that, as did Marel and I.

They had a Ukrainian folk band playing at the reception, so Celia and I had a lot of fun dancing to the music.

Also there for the wedding were Mark and Tami, cousins from Oregon, and Taylor and Travis, cousins from here in Alaska. So we met up with them and the Rodriguezes at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden for a mini Trusty Family Reunion.

Sabrina and Clara liked seeing the giant cherry on the spoon, and Celia was so excited to pretend like she was eating it.

Celia was also very excited about the hibiscus she found in the garden.

We took the opportunity to take a few family pictures.

And Travis documented the behind-the-camera entertainment used to get the kids to smile.

We finished up the evening with a delicious Indian dinner at the Dancing Ganesha restaurant (not pictured). Then the next day, just for fun, Marel and Sabrina tried on bowler hats.

 Then it was back to Alaska to finish our summer projects around the house and catch up with a summer's worth of blogs...

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