Friday, July 8, 2016

Summer Trips

We kicked off our summer with a couple of awesome weekend trips! As soon as Dan's summertime three-day weekends began, we took a road trip to Lancaster County, PA to spend a couple of days with Dan's folks.  

Our first stop was the Hershey Chocolate Factory. Yum!!  We rode the tour twice at Emma's request. They have an informative, kid-friendly ride that demonstrates how their chocolate is made, and they give you free samples of chocolate at the end! 

The next day, we visited the "Turkey Hill Experience" ice cream factory, thinking that it would be similar to the Hershey's chocolate factory.  But you had to pay for everyone over the age of 3 to tour their museum (which didn't sound interactive enough to keep Emma's attention), so we decided to just visit their gift shop.

Emma is wearing a cow headband and giving her best "moo". :)  We all enjoyed some Turkey Hill ice cream, too.

We drove around a little bit to sight see, and stopped for dinner at Hershey Farm and Restaurant, home of "Big Amos" the barefoot Amish giant. Dad Jester is pretending to be our horse. Heh!

The highlight of the trip was seeing "Sampson" at Sight and Sound Theater, a Christian venue that features biblical musicals. It was a spectacular performance!

A week later, my parents joined us on our trip to visit my brother Steve, his wife Sheila, and their daughter Meera in Boston for Independence Day weekend.

Enjoying the flavors, sights, and sounds at Quincy Market

Emma absolutely loved playing with her cousin, Meera!

 We visited a fun splash park and playground one afternoon 

That night, we strolled along the harbor

Papa, Nana, and their sweet granddaughters

Dan made a point of taking us by the original site of the "Cheers" bar.

The next day, we walked a couple of miles along the Freedom Trail, a free, self-guided walking tour of some of the city's most famous historical sights.

The balcony of the Old State House is where the Declaration of Independence was first read to the public in 1776. It's still read aloud from this balcony every 4th of July.

We visited Granary Burial Ground where Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, John Henry, and other notable figures are buried. 

The Massachusetts State House, located in beautiful Boston Common park

Emma took the opportunity to play at every stop we made. 

That evening, we took a Boston Duck Tour around the town and harbor.

When we began the water part of the tour, the guide called for kids who wanted to go up and drive the boat. Emma was brave enough to walk to the front, but once there, was too overcome with shyness to actually grab the steering wheel.

She loved the open air ride, though!

 Meera seemed to love it, too!

 During our last full day in Boston, Steve gave us a tour of Bentley University, where he's the newest professor of philosophy.

That night, we visited the harbor again to wait for the 4th of July fireworks.  We found a great spot with a playground for Emma to play on while we enjoyed the gorgeous view. 

It was very crowded downtown that night, but the fireworks were spectacular! It was well worth the time and energy it took us to get there and back home again afterwards.

Steve, Sheila, and Meera visited our hotel the morning we left, so we could say goodbye.  Emma really misses her cousin, and we can't wait to see them all again at Christmastime!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

So Many Changes

So many changes have happened in the past month!  We moved out of our rental house at the end of June and in with my parents while we continued house hunting. Our offer on a house in Virginia Beach was accepted just last week! We are still working out some repairs that the owner needs to make before we are willing to finalize the contract, but we hope that it will go smoothly and that the post-repair inspection will show that everything was done well.  Assuming that we go forward with purchasing it, we'd like to upgrade a few areas, like the kitchen cabinets and master bathroom, since nothing has been done to them since the 1970s.  So, we may take advantage of my parents' hospitality a little longer until it's move-in ready.  We're pretty excited about owning for the first time!

Emma underwent her last scheduled surgical procedure last month, when she had stents removed from her right kidney. The surgeon placed them there during Emma's surgery in April to ensure that her urine would flow freely and to prevent kidney swelling and infection. Everything looked great post-surgery, and we have another ultrasound scheduled soon to check how her system looks now that the stents are gone.  We are so very thankful that God has brought her safely through so many procedures this year, and are excited that she hasn't had a fever or infection at all since her surgery! It has been a blessing from the Lord to have a healthy child for three months straight!

Dan's school year ended in early June, and although he doesn't get the summer off, he is enjoying shorter work days, having Fridays off, and getting more planning time now that the students are on summer break.  He's saving his vacation days for September, when our baby girl is due, so having three-day weekends during the summer is a major perk.  We've already squeezed in two trips to Hershey, PA and Boston, MA!

Here are some photos from June:

Emma and I joined our friends, Elisha, and his mom, Jenna, for a day at the zoo.

Cute little otters :)

We stopped at Chick-Fil-A for lunch and air-conditioned play time after the zoo.

Dan's parents reserved a timeshare right on Virginia Beach last month. We joined them for a fun day at the beach and ice cream across the street afterwards.

We chaperoned Dan's high school formal event at The Williamsburg Inn. 

 All the gorgeous Juniors and Seniors

Graduation Day!!  Dan was just as excited as the Senior class about the school year ending. :)

Emma looking adorable in her hospital gown while we waited for her stents to be removed. It was a fast procedure with no incisions, but she still had to undergo anesthesia, so no food or drink at all that morning. She did great, though, especially because they had a huge toy room for the kids to play in!

Oh, and she got her first shiner. She slipped on a book at our house and landed face-first on her water bottle.  Proving that she is my daughter, despite her looks.

Surgeries and black eyes don't seem to slow her down at all, though!

Moving day at our rental house! Our family was amazing - thank you so much to my parents, Dan's parents, Tim and Dawn, Rob and Robin, and Nate for coming to help us with the move!

Dan's brother, Tim (left), Dan (center), and our brother-in-law, Rob (right)

I spent most of the day watching these munchkins play. Cousins left to right: Naomi, Emma, Josiah, and Aaron (standing)

Oh, and this cutie - our niece, Miriam

After everything was moved out of the house, we all went for a swim at my parents' community pool!

 And ate pizza!

We took my parents out to lunch on Father's Day, then rode the ferry to Williamsburg to spend the evening with Dan's parents. It was an unexpected detour to avoid awful traffic in the tunnels, but it turned out to be fun.

Once we convinced Emma to get out of the car, she loved the boat ride!

We have absolutely loved spending extra time with my parents while living at their house.  We celebrated my mom's birthday with dinner out followed by cake and ice cream at their house. Emma picked out the flowers on the table especially for Nana.

We love our roomies, and are thankful they are willing to put up with us in their home while we are in limbo!