Thursday, April 26, 2012

Highlight Reel: Nauvoo

During my trip to Chicago, Lisa and Adam arranged for us to take a short road trip to Nauvoo, since I hadn't been there.

It was amazing.

I will never forget it.

It looked different than I expected, but I loved it.

Here are some of my favorite pictures:

The view of the temple on our wagon ride. So beautiful.

Lisa and I watched a movie in the Visitors Center. While we did, Adam hung out with Matthew. When we came out, Adam, a proud pappa, showed us what Matthew learned. Adam pointed at a picture of President Monson and asked who it was. Matthew smiled up at us and said it was Prophet Monson. It was so cute!

I tried my first piece of Catfish while I was there. It was okay. I really like fish and so I wanted to try it. Adam "stole" a small piece of it from the Buffet we had at the Hotel Nauvoo. The buffet was delicious, and the fish was alright.

 Matthew loved Dinner. :)

Our first night there we went to the "Rendezvous in Old Nauvoo" in the Cultural Hall. I loved it. It was hilarious and touching. And the Senior couples that put it on were so totally awesome. I could totally see my Nana in it. :)

In Brigham Young's home, a Sister Missionary explained that when the city was being rebuilt, someone discovered Brigham Young's wife's dishes in the cellar of their house. She had tried to quickly bury them in order to protect them from the looters that came in after they left. when they were discovered, they were all broken and almost destroyed. Eventually a Senior missionary came along that was a ceramics glazier and was able to put the dishes together and re-finish them so it's impossible to tell that they were ever broken--and probably stronger than they were originally. The sister missionary likened it to the Atonement. It was a beautiful analogy.

We were also able to go to Carthage while we were there. It was quite an impressive place. It was incredible to be there.

All four of us standing in front of the Brickyard.

 A Sunstone from the original temple.

The view of the Mississippi River from Inspiration Pointe. We went there as part of the Carriage ride tour that is there. It was a beautiful experiance. It was very cold that day, but the missionaries gave us lots of quiltes and so we were quite cozy and warm during the ride.

We also took some time to walk around Joseph Smith's properties and the cemetary. It was beautiful and serene.

The view of Parley Street towards the Mississippi River, where the saints walked as they were leaving the city. It was a humbling and cold walk, especially since all I had was a thin sweater. It was easy to imagine how difficult it was for them to leave their lives and their temple for an unknown world. My heart ached for them as I turned and saw the temple on the hill and thought of their immense sacrifice. My gratitude for my own 4th Great-Grandmother, Margaret Cowan Bryson's sacrifice multiplied as I imagined her walking down to the river in the dead of winter. Her sacrifice lead directly to me here. For that I am eternally grateful.

 Touching the Mississippi River!

The river is huge! I can't imagine crossing it in below freezing temperatures and then seeing it freeze over.

On our way back to Chicago, we took a bit of a detour so I can say I've been to Iowa. Unsurprisingly, it looked just like Illinois. :) ha ha ha.
And yes, I did feel so welcome.

I loved Nauvoo. It wasn't crowded and it was fun to have time to wander through everything and spend a lot of time talking to the Senior Missionaries. Some of them had only been their a week, while others had been their about a month. It amazed me how much they already knew and how well they explained everything.

Overall, I throughly enjoyed it and was so glad we had, and took the time to go. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Highlight Reel: Chicago

I got home from my trip to Chicago last night. I really, really didn't want to come home. I wanted to stay.

Usually when I go on a trip, I'm ready to go home after 4-5 days. Not this time. I was there for 8 full days, and I could have stayed for months. I already want to go back. It was so fun to spend time with Lisa, Adam, their son Matthew, and Adam's family and friends. So much fun. I can't believe that it's been 3.5 years since I've seen Lisa and Adam and when we were together it was like no time had passed at all. That is true friendship right there. :)

We did soooo many things and it didn't feel like it was crammed or rushed at all. Busy, but a total blast.

Here are some highlight pictures. I took over 600, so I'll try to cut out a few. ;)

After Lisa picked me up at the Milwaukee Airport (about an hour from her house), we stopped by the Mars Cheese Castle. Basically it was a store just for cheese, but built so it looked like a castle. I don't really understand the point, but it was hilarious that there was even a Cheese Castle. :) Now whenever the question comes up if someone's been to a cheese castle I can say I have. (And you know I will ask the question, just so I can say I have. lol!)

Lisa and her son Matthew in the Cheese Castle. It was kind of funny Lisa and I were even there, we're both lactose intolerant and so we don't generally eat cheese. But Matthew loved it and was so cute wearing a cheese head hat.

The next day Lisa, Matthew, and I took the train into the city. (My first time on a train!) It was incredible. It's been a long time since I was downtown in a major city and the immense height of the building was incredible. I loved it. It's amazing what Man can do when he puts his mind to it.

The city was beautiful. And there were tulips blooming everywhere!

This is the Sears/Willis Tower. It was really hard to look up to the very top of the building. So cool. And at the very top, you can see the little glass boxes that extend out over the city. I totally stood in one! More pictures below.

Here are some pictures from the top of the Sears Tower. The water is not an ocean (which is what it looks like), but actually Lake Michigan. So huge, and beautiful.


We made our way around the building to the side that looks over downtown and has "The Ledge" which are 4 glass boxes that extend out beyond the building so you can stand over it. Very Creepy and a bit terrifying considering it's 103 stories above the earth. Lisa wasn't sure how Matthew would react, but he LOVED it! And was mad when it was time to leave.

I knew about this and so I was totally mentally prepared to step out onto the ledge. At least I thought I was.  I wanted walk out on it all confident-like since I had flown all the way out there, but then I looked down and freaked out a bit. After a little coaxing from Lisa ("Do you really want to say that you came all the way out here and DIDN'T step out onto the glass?"), I did it! This picture is of my feet (and Matthew's cute little legs). I still have a hard time looking at the picture, but it's one of my favorites! :)

A panoramic view from the glass box. And yes, in the left corner is a person doing a hand stand in another ledge. Yeah, I definitely couldn't do that. :)

After Sears Tower, we went to Lunch at this delicious little corner bakery cafe. When we came out we found that were across the street from the Art Museum and decided to go. It was part of the City Pass that we had bought at Sears Tower. When I was deciding where I wanted to go, the Art Museum was low on the list, but I am so glad that we went. There were some incredible pieces of art there. Including the Hall of Miniatures--which I kept waiting to come to life a la Night at the Museum. :)

We discovered that Milennium Park was right across the street from the Art Museum and Lisa really wanted to show me the GIANT jellybean. When she had told me about it before, I was skeptical and didn't really care about seeing it. BUT AFTER seeing it, it was totally awesome. Super fun. And I decided that I want one in my backyard some day. :) The view it gave of the city was so awesome!

Thursday morning, before we headed to Nauvoo, we went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Yeah, that was incredible! It was huge and we didn't get to see a lot of it. But what we did see was amazing. Easily our favorite exhibit was the U-505 german submarine that they have there. Adam got us tickets to go inside for a tour. Outside it is HUGE! Inside was so small and cramped. There were 15 people on our little tour which was too many, but there were 59 men living on the ship for 100 days! Eeek! Yeah, NO THANK YOU! But it was amazing to see inside.

We played Ticket To Ride a bunch of times while I was there. I love that game and so do Lisa and Adam! Perfect. Adam won every game, but he started going out before we could finish our routes and so unbeknownst to Adam, we added the extra train cars to his bag--so he had three extra trains to deal with. It ended up giving Lisa and I several more turns. Adam still won, but Lisa at least finished her route. :) After the winner was announced, Lisa said to Adam, "But what you didn't know..." and then explained how we "cheated" and gave him extra cars. He thought it was sooo hilarious! The next time we played, he counted to make sure we didn't do it again. :)

This is Matthew's cheesy picture smile. It is so cute! And when he does it he starts giggling. So precious. I totally fell in love with this little boy. So precious. :) We took this picture right before we went to Lisa's ultrasound appt. where she found out she is having a little girl! Yay!

We also stopped by the Chicago Temple to look around. I was surprised that it looked exactly like the Dallas and Boise Temples. I guess I hadn't ever seen a picture of it. I thought the Marble on the building was very pretty.

The day before I left, Lisa and I decided to head downtown and check out Navy Pier. It was very empty and cold, but still cool to look around. And no, I didn't ride the Ferris Wheel. It kinda freaks me out. I figured that standing out on the "Ledge" at Sears Tower was enough for me. :)

When Lisa and I were roommates in college, we had a hilarious experiencing high fives first thing in the morning--thereafter dubbed "Morning 5's". A few years ago, I was able to see one of our other roommates, Jennifer and gave her one, so I passed it on to Lisa (they were the ones that did it the first time in college). So funny. :)

And there you have it, a very brief summary of my trip to Chicago. We did go on a little road trip to Nauvoo, so I'll post those pictures too.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tomorrow is the Day!

Tomorrow morning at Oh-Dark-Thirty I board a plane to CHICAGO! I am so super excited to see Lisa, Adam, and their baby, Matthew--who's not such a baby anymore-he's almost two.

It is going to be magical.

It is going to be amazingly fun.

I am looking forward to the PAID time off!

And no clients calling and yelling at me over the lamest things. (That happened today.)

Like I said, it's going to be magical. :)

And on that happy note, here are some super cute pictures of Rachel.

In her Easter dress Gramma Kay made for her. :) 

 Rachel really, really likes her Bumbo seat. :)

Cait had her little family go have family pictures on Saturday and here's one of my favorites that she sent to me.

Rachel's gotten so big and soooo adorable!!

I'll share pictures when I get back from my latest adventure next week!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

50 Hour Candles

My sister, Caitlin, has been on an Emergency Preparedness kick (obsession?) lately and this week's adventure was 50 hour candles.

She found the "recipe" online and ordered the materials online a couple of weeks ago, and picked up the 1/2 pint canning jars at a local store.

Saturday she had Alyssa and I come over and take part in the adventure. Confusion and hilarity ensued. :)

We had no idea what we were doing and so we kind of made up the process as we went. Okay, and I didn't do much except take pictures and laugh and play with Rachel. :)

Oh, right. We were there to make candles (and do my laundry). So on to Candles....

First Cait and Nick filled the jars with wax chips and put them in a canning pot with boiling water to melt down the wax. The original instructions said to melt the wax strait in a pot, but Cait decided that would cause too much wax loss so they just kept adding more wax until it was all melted and filled to the first lip.

Waiting for the wax to melt.

Once the wax was all melted, Cait and Alyssa put in the wicks. The wicks wouldn't sink to the bottom, so Nick donated washers to weigh down the bottom. It worked perfectly.

To get the wicks to be centered, cait jimmy-rigged a system to hold them in place. 
Then things got a little crazy. Caitlin "ate" Rachel's hand. And Rachel just looked at her blankly. It was hilarious. Lys kept giving us hard time about how we "played" with Rachel. Cait said that was why she had a kid so she could have fun with her.

So then, Cait and the boys (Nick and Dave) got hungry and so she invited Lys and I to stay for dinner (at 9pm) as a thank you for "helping"--really it was because my laundry wasn't done. So we had Tacos. So delicious!

Cait was a bit out of control with the bag of ice. It was almost as big as her so she had to fling it over her shoulder in order to fill the glasses. I'm not sure why she didn't just scoop the ice out, but McGraths aren't known to take the easy way. ;)

The boys made their tacos so spicy (yeah, that's radishes) that they were crying. Um, no thank you.
Quite the adventurous night. And we became more emergently (can I make that a word?) prepared.