Sunday, September 27, 2009

Speidel Reunion 2009

So we were supposed to go to Utah for a family reunion on my mom's side at the beginning of August. I was really excited to see my cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and grandma, and I was especially excited to see my sister Hannah who got off her mission in July and have my siblings meet Kaitlyn. However, because the reunion was so close to my due date, I didn't know if I would be up for the flight or not so we didn't buy tickets in advanced. We planned to fly stand-by instead, and the whole week leading up to the family reunion, the flights were full. I was really bummed about not seeing my family, and decided to find a cheap ticket to Maine. We found some on Southwest for $39 one way for the end of August! What a steal! I was so excited to go and what a great trip we had :)

Day 1: We got to Boston early Thursday morning, and were really surprised about how energetic Nathan was after getting up at 3 in the morning and not sleeping much on the flight. He decided he wanted to pull his own suitcase through the airport in Boston to meet Grandma and Grandpa.
Nathan saw my dad and said "Baca!" because that's how he says "Grandpa," then he ran right towards him and past him. Such a silly kid. We had an hour and half ride back to my brother's house, which is in Sanford Maine. My parents are renting a house a few minutes away, so it's convenient to see everyone all at once. I was so excited to see Hannah and as soon as I saw her, I immediately stopped nursing Kaitlyn, handed her over to my mom, and started screaming and crying and hugging Hannah all at once. I think everyone thought we were insane. It was really great to see her though. 18 months is a long time not to see my sweet sister. She was just as funny as ever and was really surprised about how much Nathan had grown because he was only a few months old when she left. She also loved holding Kaitlyn. It was fun to have 2 babies in the house. My nephew, Dash, was born a few months before Kaitlyn so we had a lot of baby time. Later that day, we went blueberry picking at a blueberry farm 5 minutes from my brother's house. Nathan had a lot of fun getting lost among the blueberry bushes and he and cousin Riley enjoyed the nearby pond and old fashioned tractor more than the blueberries. That night, my sister-in-law Ali, made an amazing dinner with steak tips, sweet potatoes, and chocolate souffle! My mom always says what a great cook Ali is, and I thought, yeah, but does she cook like this all the time? Soon after, Ali brought out my chocolate souffle with a candle in it. It was my belated birthday party! She's so thoughtful :)

Day 2: This day we got to go the beach. I love the beaches in Maine! We went to Sanford Beach first, but there was no beach! The waves came all the way up and over the sand. We sat on the benches overlooking the water and ate ice cream instead. The ice cream melted faster then we could eat it though, and Nathan had a heck of a time eating his, but he was determined to finish it. We drove to Drake's Island, which is my favorite beach in Maine, and enjoyed the perfect weather. We had a picnic and played in the water, although it was freezing cold. Nathan loved Riley's dump truck once he got used to the sand, and they played for hours with the sand toys. I laid out in the sun and could have been there the whole day, but we had tired babies.

Day 3: The next day, we were on the phone with my parents (we were staying with at my brother's house) deciding what to do for the day. We concluded the beach, and told them to get ready and come over to get us. They came over a lot sooner, and we were presented with yet another surprise, my sister Doree had flown in the night before from Utah and no one but my dad knew! He is a lot better at keeping secrets these days. We were so excited because we were now all together for the first time since our trip to Hawaii before Hannah left. We had made our own Speidel Reunion! The week before I completely got on Doree's case for not coming because she said she was going out of town with some friends. I told her to not put friends before family, and she pulled through! I felt bad for doubting her:)

Everyone, with the exception of Jake, jumped in 2 cars and headed towards the beach. As we were driving, it started to rain. For some reason, it seems to rain on us a lot when we're together. We decided to go to Orchard Beach anyways and walk around. Orchard Beach is a typical touristy beach with a boardwalk and shops and everything. The weather cleared up, but not enough to go swimming. We just enjoyed walking on the beach and running from the waves crashing up on the shore, especially the ones under the pier. Nathan loved the huge waves and the wind. He was laughing and dancing around and talking about the water and the birds. He saw a carousel on his way to the beach, so we had to go and ride the "horshey." We found a table to picnic on and then stopped and watched a community dance group called the "jazzettes." At first, we wondered if they were for real, but we kind of got into watching them and critiquing them. It was funnier to us, I'm sure, because we grew up dancing at my mom's dance studio.

We then drove to a nearby beach called Ferry Beach, and thought we'd check it out. It was a lot less touristy than Orchard Beach, so it was serene and peaceful. We enjoyed sitting and watching the kids play and make friends. Eventually, we got brave enough to go in the water, but boy, was it cold! That was the first time Ali had ever gone in the ocean in Maine- I guess we're a good influence on her:) My 4 year old niece, Riley, was braver than all of us and jumped in almost as soon as Andrew did. Nathan, on the other hand, preferred pushing his dump truck around. That night, my brother Jake came home from his trip, so we were all officially together. Ali made us yummy lettuce wraps that are better than PF Chang's and it was great having a meal with everyone. The rest of us were her sous-chefs and we set the table and cleaned up. We left the cooking to her. That night we just had to take a picture of all of the kids in their striped PJ's! (wll get Kaitlyn some striped ones for next time)

Day 4: The Miller clan met my parents and sisters at church. We sat down and my mom said that we might be asked to sing on the spot. I asked why and she said there was going to be a surprise. I then saw my dad give his keys and wallet to my sister and walk up to the stand! Could it be? My dad was giving a talk! Out of all of the years that I can remember, my dad spoke in church once and that was with my mom. He is a pilot and travels a lot, but mostly he doesn't like speaking in front of others. I'm very much like him that way. I would rather just talk with people on an individual basis. My mom said that he told her that we better be ready to sing if he needed to use up more time, but he didn't because he gave such a wonderful talk and had a lot to say. He talked all about growing up, being raised in a Catholic church, and finding the church through my mom. He grew up in Algeria, during the French war where the apartments around him were being blown up and his friend was killed. He remembers hiding under the table being so scared. His family then moved to France and attended a Catholic church. He was told that God did not love him if he ditched Sunday School and that he would never get to heaven. He knew that God was a loving God and did not feel that way about him. He also talked about how it was hard for a little boy to understand what the Atonement was and all he knew was that Jesus was nailed to a cross. His family then moved to California, where his dad's sister lived. He had to learn English and adjust to life in America, but enjoyed the freedoms he felt. He always wanted to fly and became a flight instructor. My mom took lessons and he was her instructor. She was his instructor in the gospel and my mom's dad baptized him. He said he got 2 licenses out of the experience- a pilot's license and a marriage license. He talked about how when he read the Book of Mormon, he could relate to Lehi and his family leaving their home and traveling to a new land to start a new life. He felt the Spirit and knew that God loved him and was better able to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My mom, my sisters, and I were all teary-eyed because we were so moved by my dad and the Spirit we felt as he spoke. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have had. It is so powerful for a child to hear her father share his testimony and how the Gospel changed his life. Wow!

When we got home, we were all in nice clothes, so we decided it was time for a family picture. We enjoyed goofing off and trying to get the kids to smile. They got tired of it pretty fast, but we're glad to have record of us all being together.

Day 5- My mom had to go to work- she works as the dispatcher at the local airport- yes, it's all in the family. Everyone at the airport jokes that it's the Speidel's family airport. Hannah works there now too and Doree worked there last summer. My dad and brother are always in and out flying their planes and fixing them up. Riley even brought her preschool there so Jake could talk to them about planes for a field trip. Riley loves the airport just as much as her father and grandpa and goes with them to fix planes and fly. Anyways, the rest of us went to a nearby river that had a beach and a playground- Nate and Riley's dream! Doree got in a little dip before she had to leave for Utah. Jake and Andrew left to fly the Cub that was put on floats. They landed it on the river right in front of the beach! As they were circling above us, several fellow beachers were betting on whether or not they could land because the river was pretty narrow for a float plane. I also heard one of them say, "they're coming to pick up the lady in the red shirt" as they pointed to me. I felt like a movie star- it was so funny. Well, they did land, everyone cheered, and several men jumped in the water to help Jake tie the float plane to a tree. I then jumped in the plane and Jake and I took off. The Cub is only a 2 seater, so that's why we had to take turns. I waved to everyone on shore and it was quite the experience. We then found another lake and landed in it. It was crazy and exhilirating to watch the water splash underneath us, but it is a softer landing than on the runway. Jake found a little island and we landed there, tied the float plane down, and went swimming. Someone came on a jet ski to see if we were ok or needed help. Jake says he gets that all the time and mostly people are just curious about the plane. We took off, landed on another lake, and jumped in again. Jake let me fly a little, but I'm never very good at keeping the airplane straight. He took over and did some zero gravity tricks. We landed it at another lake, roped it off, and covered up. It was one of the coolest things I've done in a long time, and it was fun to spend time with Jake because we don't get to visit too often.

We then went home, had a small nap, and went to the airport to fly the MD-180. Jake wanted to take Nate for his first flight. Since the 180 is a 4 seater, Andrew, Nate, and I got to go. We left Kaitlyn with Grandpa. Nathan felt pretty cool with his head set on and kept saying "ehplane" until we took off. He then got nervous, closed his eyes, and grabbed onto the window. He opened them just a little, but I had to distract him by showing him pictures on the camera. We heard my mom on the radio, which was fun. Andrew also got to fly. We flew over the coast, and then had to head back to the airport because a black storm was coming in. Nathan liked the landing the best beacuse there was a little bump. He laughed and as soon as the airplane stopped he said "agan." Almost immediately after we landed, it started pouring rain. Good timing on Jake's part. It was a fun day of flying, but we were all exhausted.

When we got home, Doree was back because she had missed her flight, so we stayed up late into the night and played games. That night, we got my brother to play with us. He usually refuses to play games, but he said he was branching out. We had a ball laughing through Taboo. Jake got so excited anytime he guessed a word. It was fun sibling bonding time. We were glad Doree came back.

Day 6- Andrew and Doree had to leave early in the morning to get back to their respective jobs. Riley and Nate went to the neighbors house to play with their toys and playground equipment. Nathan is so happy at Riley's house because he loves playing with his cousin, her dog Chloe, her neighbor friends, and he loves all of the space and new toys. Oh, to have a house, that would be so nice! That afternoon, we had a picnic and went hiking at a place called Von Woods. I hadn't really done much exercising since having Kaitlyn, so it was a lot for me. We hiked several miles on a trail that was pretty up and down and about halfway, I told Jake he better go get the plane and come and get me because I wasn't walking another step. He told me to hand Kaitlyn off to my dad, and that really did help. She is light in her baby Bjorn, but after hiking for awhile, she gets heavy. Jake wore Nathan on his back in a hiking pack meant to carry kids. Riley got jealous because she usually sits in it, so Jake lifted her up and put her on his shoulders. Yes, he was holding both kids- one on his back and one on his shoulders, which was over 70 pounds. We let Nathan run at the end, and he loved "hiking." We then took the kids to the park. Maine is a very family friendly place to live and is full of parks and fun things for kids to do.

Day 7- Jake went back to work. Hannah, Dad, and I took the kids to the river again and did a lot of swimming. Hannah and I swam across it and were approached by someone that just had to meet us because we were such amazing swimmers. It wasn't really that far, so it was kind of funny that she was impressed. Nathan wanted to swim that day and he loved pushing me under the water. That evening, we all went to Riley's open house for her preschool. Nathan was an aspiring student and enjoyed all of the toys, and learning stations. That night, we went to mom and dad's house and let them enjoy all of their grandkids while we had a nice meal. Can't you tell how much they love these kids?

Day 8- Mom, Dad, Ali, the kids and I went to the Acton Fair. It was a small fair, smaller than the Montgomery County Fair we went to in Maryland. The kids liked it a lot because we saw a lot of animals and of course their grandparents spoiled them by buying them tickets for carnival rides and ice cream. The llamas had a costume parade, which was funny, and we enjoyed seeing the cows and sheep. That night, Hannah, Ali, and I met Mom at the church for an enrichment activity that she was in charge of. She set clues at each table for a murder mystery. Each person at the table was assigned a character each character had different clues to help solve the mystery. It was a clever idea.

Day 9- Sadly, we had to leave, but I got to bring Hannah with me to help take the kids home. It was definitely hard to come home, and to this day, Nathan will just start saying names like "Chloe, Riey, Baca, Mana (grandma), Ake (Jake), Amee (Ali), Doee, Hannah, " because he has such fond memories of Maine. It is really cute. So do I of course, and I am so happy we had such a good time together. I love my family and I am so thankful we get to be together always! Kaitlyn and Dash say it the best in this pic- the trip was full of love and closeness:)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A year with no blogging

Our last comment read "Congratulations, you have made it a year without posting," so I'm recomitting myself to blogging again. I think it is a fun way to keep in touch with people, although I have always said I would rather just talk with people. But now that several of my friends have moved and one is busy with triplets, I have more of a motivation. My problem is that I do things all the way or not at all. Thus, I am a terrible journal keeper and I get overwhelmed with housework and chores because I want to have time to do a really great job, but with 2 kids no one has that much time. I am also not great at returning long distance phone calls because I feel like I need a big chunk of time to talk. All of these "perfectionist" habits get me in trouble, so I am going to at least try and keep up with blogging and not have a perfectionist attitude about it. Thanks to all who have "encouraged" us to start blogging again. Besides, I have a lot of time to sit because I am nursing again, so I might as well do something productive :)

Well, since it's been a year since our last blog, I thought I would do some very brief catching up over the last year without my perfectionist attitude getting in the way.

September 2008- We went to Williamsburg with some friends and stayed in my parent's timeshare. We went to Jamestown where the first settlement in America was founded and just had a good time playing games until late hours and enjoying one another's company. Andrew's sister Leilani, came to town at the end of the month, and we enjoyed playing tour guide and visiting with her, since she lives in Hawaii so we don't see much of her.

October 2008- Nathan turned 1! My sweet baby turned 1 and my whole family came out to celebrate, except for Hannah who was on a mission. We also had a Halloween inspired party with games and an amazing pumpkin cake made by my pastry chef friend, Emily. Nate's favorite part was sticking his hands in the cake and eating to his heart's content. He also loved all of the balloons he got to play with and the kids making him laugh as they put on silly hats. Nathan hit a milestone a week prior to his birthday. He started walking!

November 2008- We had a fun Thanksgiving dinner with some friends and welcomed the new fall weather. Nathan started running and being a lot more active!

December 2008- I wrote and produced a Christmas program for my church, complete with a dance from the nutracker with some little girls from primary, a dancing Snowman from a former bishopric member, latin dancing from the bishop and his wife and another latin couple in our ward, and a nativity from our primary. We also went to Maine for Christmas to spend the holidays with my family and told our family that we were expecting our 2nd child!

January 2009-We were sad about the cold weather and spent our time being entertained by Nathan who had become quite an active little guy!

February 2009- I began teaching a few dance classes at our local community center. I taught music theater, jazz, creative movement, and a polynesian dance to the adult "Goddess Dance" class. We performed in recitals in May and I performed with the adults even with my huge pregnant belly. The picture posted is of my jazz class who were zebras and danced with apples. I'm standing behind them to hide my pregnant belly!

March 2009- We went to see Andrew in an orchestra concert at the visitor's center. He plays the trumpet and joined the Mormon Orchestra of Washington DC this year. Nathan and I sat in the front and anytime Andrew would play, Nate would stand up, point, and say "Daddy!" I thought it would be more interesting for Nate if he sat up front, which it was, but it was also probably a little distracting! Ooops!

Nate and I went to a place called "Airmania" that has a lot of inflatable bouncing contraptions. We met some other moms and kids there and while most of the moms sat back and relaxed, I had to jump on everything with Nathan because he wanted to play with all of the big kids and I had to protect him. I thought I might go into labor early due to all of that jumping! I decided I would wait until he got a little bit older to take him again.

Andrew spoiled us by buying tickets to see the Circus at the Verizon center. Nathan loves animals so we thought it would be perfect! He was pretty good during most of it, but he got bored with the annoying clowns. So did we! He loved the elephants, the little pigs, and most of all the dogs. Shoot, we should have just taken him to Buddy Attick Park to see dogs!

April 2009- We celebrated the changing of seasons with a trip downtown to see the beautiful Cherry Blossoms that only bloom for a few weeks the whole year. We finally got to see them in full bloom! The last few years they were wilted due to rain and bad timing on our part. We celebrated Easter with my mom's cousin's family who live in Laurel. They are always so nice to host us for Easter. The Easter bunny also visited Nathan and he loved his Easter basket and finding all of the hidden eggs in the house. The Easter bunny had to put them away so he would eat something else.

Nate also enjoyed joining the Primary kids at church for their Easter hunt during a primary activity I helped to plan. The primary kids put on a skit in the round of the Easter story. We had a faith room where they had to smell unmarked scents and touch objects they couldn't see. They also had to follow the "iron rod" which was a thick piece of rope to the young women room to meet their parents and to listen to our 2nd counselor speak about the importance of families. We were trying to vaguely replicate the temple with 3 different rooms, the last room representing the celestial kingdom.

We had some visitors this month. At the beginning of the month, my sister Doree came and we went to Brookside Gardens to see the beautiful tulips. Towards the end of the month my parents came out and we saw the blossoming Azaleas at the Arboretum. I love Springtime! My parents also babysat while we finally got out to celebrate Valentine's day at Olive Garden- we were throwing up on the real day!

May 2009
- I celebrated my second Mother's day as a mom and was completely spoiled! I received cards from my own mother, my sister on her mission, and my mother in law. Andrew made me breakfast in bed, bought me an orchid lei, and made me a steak dinner! Nathan got me a card and brought me a balloon as I was eating breakfast in bed- it was adorable and such a sacrifice because he LOVES balloons! Andrew also spoke in church and gave me a very nice tribute about being a good mom to Nathan. It was very flattering because sometimes I wonder if I'm any good at this mom thing!

I threw a baby "sprinkle" for my friend Courtney. We had a fun girls night with a nacho bar, smoothies, facials, sherades, and a viewing of "Baby Mama" - that movie cracks me up! Court and I have babies about 6 weeks apart! Nathan loves Courtney's son Spencer whom he calls "budtee" so it is fun for us to have friends that live close and are the same age. We were very sad when they moved to Laurel a few months ago because it is not the same as having them as our neighbors :( The picture is 4 of us girls that were pregnant at the sprinkle, in the order of when we were due.

We celebrated the warm weather by going to the Greenbelt pool and packing a lunch with watermelon- hooray for summer! I then was brave and took Nathan by myself with my huge pregnant belly to Maine. I broke down in tears when I got there because I was having contractions in the airport due to the stress of managing a toddler by myself. My family made everything better and we had a good time going to the beach and enjoying each others' company.

When I got home, some of my friends threw me a shower. It was a shower that involved husbands and families as well, so it was fun for Andrew to get to open up gifts too! My friend Christina is talented at so many things, and drew an awesome picture of a pregnant lady about to get an epidural. We had to pin the needle on the epidural spot! We also played "don't break the water" and had to jump with a water balloon between our legs from one end of the lawn to the other. It was pretty funny! Lastly, we were challenged to drink Root Beer out of a sippy cup as fast as possible. Those sippys are super hard to get anything out of! Andrew came in 2nd- so proud! Emily made some amazing raspberry and lime ice cream and we had a yummy bbq. It was fun to be outside enjoying the weather and the company and super fun to open up adorable baby girl clothes. I'm sorry, little girl clothes are just a lot cuter than little boy clothes.

June 2009- Baby Kaitlyn was born! She came quick and a lot lighter then her older brother. I had a migraine on the night of June 22nd and was induced on June 23rd. My mom had migraines before she had her babies so I think Kaitlyn was ready to come. I kind of think she would have come that same day or the next day if I wasn't induced. The doctors didn't want to risk her being too big like her brother. Anyways, I was induced at 10:00, already dilated to 6 cm, and after 6 or so major contractions, 3 pushes, and lots of screaming due to no epidural, she was out by a little past 11:00 weighing in at 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Nate has definitely had to get used to her, but I think he has decided that he likes being an older brother. He kisses her on the forehead, brings her blankets and toys, and tries to put her pacifier in her mouth. The other day when he couldn't find one, he thought his finger might do the trick! He also made her laugh out loud by "tickling" her tummy- he was kind of wrestling her, but luckily she thought it was funny. I am so blessed to have 2 of the sweetest kids in the world!

July 2009- We had both sets of grandparents come to visit in July. Our house was always full of a lot of love for us and our babies. We celebrated the 4th of July with my parents and even went to see the fireworks at Buddy Attick park. I think I was still a little too sore to be sitting on the ground, but it was nice to get out. Andrew conducted the orchestra for the stake musical "Savior of the World" and it was fun to go and see the show that he worked so hard on. The music was the best part, but I'm just biased. While Andrews parents were here, his dad, who is a professional photographer, took pictures for us on Kaitlyn's blessing day. Andrew's mom made Kaitlyn's dress and blanket, too. We can't believe we have 2 kids! We are so grateful to all of the visitors who came this month to bring us food, gifts, and good cheer:) We are so loved!

August 2009
- We took a day trip to Ocean City in 97 degree weather! We were crazy but were craving a vacation after being cooped up in the house from recovery time and we were craving the beach! After we lugged a ton of stuff onto the beach including our double stroller, camping chair, Ikea tent, backpack, diaper bag, ice cooler, and our beach noodles, Nathan immediately sat on the camping chair with his sandy legs, threw his arms in the air and said "All gawn" meaning he was all done with the beach. I quickly got him dressed in his suit and we went right in the water. We had a great time getting cooled off until a huge wave came and Nathan and I got drenched from head to toe. Nate hates washing his hair in the bath, so you can imagine how traumatizing this was for him. I held onto his slippery, sunscreen covered body as tight as possible and endured the wave crashing over us. Luckily, I didn't let go of Nate, but he sure was screaming. We then went back up to our "camp" to get his life jacket. In the meantime, Kaitlyn was crying super hard and turning red. She looked like she was being cooked! We took the lava lava and put it in the ice chest and then wrapped her in it. She calmed down and we had to keep rotating lava lavas in and out of the ice chest just to keep her cool. I told Andrew if we didn't rent one of those huge beach umbrellas, we were going home because I could not nurse the baby and hold an ordinary rain umbrella to keep the sun off of Kaitlyn. He obliged, and once we had that umbrella up, we were all happier. Nate could play in the sand and not get burned from the heat and he loved the water once he got his life jacket on. He felt safe. He kept talking about the birds and the airplanes. We wondered if the day trip was worth it, but at least we can say it was adventurous!

We celebrated my 28th birthday by going to the Montgomery County fair. Nate loved all of the animals, especially the "horsheys." We got to see the birth of a baby calf- quite incredible! That poor mother, she didn't get any preparation for birth and you could tell by her wide eyes. The farmers had to wrap chains around the calf's legs to pull her out. We had birthday ice cream, instead of cake, and headed home for a quiet evening.

We went to Maine to see my family and had one of the best visits with my family I think I've ever had! I am going to do a separate post for this trip because it was so fun!