Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hershey, Pennsylvania

After a fun few days touring Washington DC, we drove through Amish country to Hershey Pennsylvania. On our way, we took a detour to see some covered bridges. We saw a couple Amish buggies as well.

That night, Jared, Jacob, and Claire were able to go to the park to ride some of the big roller coasters. The first ride, Skyrush, was awesome! The next ride, SooperDooperLooper, was Claire's first upside down coaster. By the end of the night, Jared had convinced Claire to try a bigger ride, Farenheit. He convinced her it didn't go upside down. Fortunately, it was dark enough that she didn't notice that it did many times, and she ended up loving it, riding it multiple times! We ended up having 10 rides on 9 different coasters in 2 hours. It was a great way to start our Hershey adventure!

The next day, we got an early start, making it right about at the opening. We got to ride on lots of rides that all of the kids could ride on. First, we brought Kate and Liam on the SooperDooperLooper - which is especially fun to hear Liam say: "Soop-oh-Doop-oh-Loop-oh." They both liked it! Jacob and Claire took us for a drive in the old fashion cars

and we rode the Hershey Kiss tower.

One of the nice things about HersheyPark is how the park is laid out with the rides for young kids spread throughout the park, so Torin could be with us wherever we went. There were a couple big rides that had virtually no lines on them, so one of the parents (normally Jared) and the big kids (or just Jacob) could ride one of those while the other kids rode a nearby ride.

Torin had a good time riding the rides - even as he kept his unimpressed look most of the time. There were a few rides, like the swings, that got him laughing and smiling pretty big! Even with the unimpressed look, he would always run back to the line's entrance to get one more ride.

The last coaster of the day was the Laff Trakk, a coaster that the car spins around in circles as it goes along the track. The kids and Jared enjoyed the hall of mirrors and making faces as much as the roller coaster itself!

Near the end of the day, it was apparent that it was going to storm, so we made our way out of the park, but not before buying some souvenirs - stuffed Hershey Kiss and stuffed Twizzler and a Reese's bank - and some candy (Jolly Ranchers for Jacob, of course). We weren't in the car for more than a minute before rain, wind, and lightning were all around us for a great end of the day!

Friday, June 24, 2016

A wedding to remember

It was a joyous day for so many people! We have been looking forward to today for a long time! The bride and groom were beautiful and were so happy to share their wonderful day with friends and family who came in from around the country.

We were so happy to be in the temple with our family and friends. The Washington DC temple is beautiful!

Kate, since Amber wrote to her to ask her to be a flower girl, has been looking forward to wearing her beautiful dress and having her hair done pretty. Kate loved being with Adele, who was equally excited! We loved the picture of Kate looking up at the beautiful bride!

The boys were looking good!

Outside the temple, there were a lot of little people who were excited for their parts of the wedding. 

We were able to get lots of wedding pictures by the temple with all the wedding guests.

The boys looked handsome in their vests and suspenders - but wedding pictures can get long for little boys!

We were able to take a few family pictures while we were there. It was a long day of pictures for the kids, and I would say that they did as well as expected. Fortunately, the backdrops for the pictures were gorgeous, and we looked pretty good, too!

Between the pictures and the dinner, a big rainstorm rolled through. We were grateful to have had all pictures taken before the rain started. The kids did great during dinner. After dinner was done, Jared convinced Liam that he would have to dance in order to get cake, and Liam took that to heart and danced and danced. When Jared finally got him cake, Liam didn't even want it - he wanted to keep dancing! Kate joined in the dancing with Adele and the bride and groom.

The thing that Kate, Liam, and the rest of the kids had a lot of was the sparkling drinks!

It was a memorable day - complete with a glow stick tunnel sendoff.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Meeting Matt

We have been looking forward to our trip to Washington DC for many months to meet our soon-to-be brother-in-law. We have enjoyed getting to know him over the phone, on Facetime, and through Amber. It has been fun to watch Amber's joy through their courtship.

On Thursday morning, we started the morning with a Donuts and Do-Nots shower (i.e. sharing things that Matt doesn't know about us) of tools and kitchen tools. The kids loved being part of the shower, and it was fun to see Amber and Matt together.

We were treated to a tour of Del Ray, including a trip to the famed 'Dairy Godmother for some frozen custard. The dairy godmother loved having the entire family in, and even took a picture to tweet to her audience.

Later that afternoon, we took a trip to Old Town Alexandria on the trolley. The kids have watched the trolley running in Wilsonville all summer, and they were excited to ride. We walked along the river and watched planes fly overhead. While waiting for the return trip, we were approached by a couple who asked if we were Jensens - they were Matt's aunt and uncle who had been with Nana and Papa in India and Nepal. Apparently we looked like a wedding-bound crew!

That night, the McDonald family hosted a pizza party in a park. It was fun to meet the McDonalds and see friends and family that we don't see very frequently. For Torin, it was the end of a long day. Fortunately, Jared's cousin Hayley wanted a few minutes of baby time!

Friday, we had a number of hours in the morning to spend outside, so we found a cool splash pad and park. Torin loved watching the trains and airplanes go by. It was fun for the cousins to spend some time together.

There were 2 funny travel notes. First, before we made it to the Portland airport, we stopped at Wendy's for lunch, where there were 7 cars in the drive-through in front of us - every single one of them was white!!! Then, a white van pulled in behind us. We were all disappointed when the first non-white vehicle joined the line.

Second, by the time we got in line to board the Southwest flight, we were at the end of the family boarding. As we boarded, we saw that the plane was quickly filling, and the flight attendants did to, so they made an announcement that "there is a family of 7 entering that will need 2 full rows plus one additional seat across the aisle." Dani got a few questions and comments about the size of our family on the way back - and one comment from an older woman, "she looks like a child herself - how could she have so many children?"

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Exploring Washington DC

Before we left home, Claire exclaimed how excited she was to go to our nation's capital! Once the wedding and all the festivities were done, we got to make her dreams come true.

A big part of the fun for the kids was riding the metro into town. The station was about a mile away from the hotel. Torin was particularly excited about trains - watching the freight trains go by from the station and riding them. The kids were hilarious in all of their seating arrangements - the boys all stuffed themselves into the same row one way!

On Saturday, we decided to tour the Smithsonian museums. We went first to the Air and Space museum. We first walked through the outer space area, other flight exhibits, and ended up at the Wright Brothers exhibit (which Jared was excited about since he just read a biography on the Wright Brothers). There were hands-on exhibits that the kids enjoyed.

We ate lunch at the food carts on the DC mall. It was hot and there were lots of people out selling water. One was particularly engaging and had gotten down to $1 per drink. He ended up setting up shop next to our big group, and Nana gave all the grandkids $1, and they all got drinks - except for Liam, who kept telling the guy he had $1 but he wasn't going to give it to him. They had a funny banter back and forth off and on for a quite a few minutes!

After lunch, we went to the Natural History museum, and saw rocks and minerals, the dinosaur exhibit, and then a National Geographic photography exhibit.

At the end of the day, we all met at the fountain in front of the National Archive to dip our feet in the water. Andrew and Claire left a few minutes before the group and tried to get into the National Archive. but they had closed a few minutes earlier.

After going to church Sunday, we took the train back to DC and rented a whole lot of bicycles. Kate, Liam, and Wyatt had trailer-bikes, and Adele and Torin shared a trailer, and we got riding.

First stop was the Washington Monument (Jacob kept asking, "is there a Washington Memorial?").

We next went to the Jefferson Memorial and spent quite a while inside. Torin enjoyed watching the helicopters and airplanes flying and the paddle boats in the Tidal Basin. Once we got ready to go, we discovered that Camie's bicycle's lock wouldn't unlock! The code they gave us was not correct! We split up and promised to meet at a future stop once the bike company came to Camie's rescue.

Along the sides of the tidal basin were the FDR memorial, which, while we didn't stop by it, was interesting the way it was presented, in 3 separate parts.

We stopped at the Martin Luther King memorial and talked a little about what Martin Luther King Jr had done in the country. The kids had done some reading and reports about him, so they were pretty knowledgeable.

The Lincoln Memorial was by far the busiest.

The view of the Washington Monument was great!

Our last stop on our bike tour was the White House. On our way, Jared noticed a game of ultimate frisbee on the lawn in front of the White House - what an incredible place to play!

On Monday, before leaving, we took a tour of the US Bureau of Engraving, where they make dollars. The tour was interesting, taking us through the various steps in the process. The kids thought it was pretty cool to pose next to $1 million!!!

What a fun, interesting place Washington DC was for us to explore with our kids!