I'm not sure if I've mentioned yet that upon moving to Ann Arbor, we promptly made friends with some really awesome people, we'll call them M and P ("M" likes privacy so I won't include their real names, but I've got to call them something! ;D). P just finished law school, they're both big into languages like we are, and they have a son almost exactly Nikolai's age--so basically they're the perfect people for us to be friends with! The only minor sideback is since P just graduated, they're moving on to the real world of jobs and firms and such...all the way in northern California! Needless to say we've been minorly devastated about that, but that certainly didn't stop us from hanging out with them at every available opportunity this summer.
Now that they're about to move, we're trying to quickly stuff in a few more get-togethers before we don't see them for...ages (I will not say forever!). Last night, we had them over for cake and games, and last week we got together to let our boys go wild in the park! I'm terrible at taking pictures when we're with friends (and the times I try, my camera is dead!) so here are some that M graciously provided:
Niko and his buddy R got a little bit obsessive about the popcorn....ok, mostly Niko got obsessive ;)
The boys kept running far away to play around the dirt path!
R looooves stairs so he kept running to this set on the far side of the field we were in, and Nikolai followed him like a good little friend ;) And then, of course, the fathers were sent to retrieve them :D
Nikolai and R having an upside-down fight with their dads!
Playing with cups
And what would a park outing be without sitting on some logs?
Thanks, M, P and R for being our first friends here in Ann Arbor, and despite the fact that you're leaving us (;D) we wish you the best of luck in your new home!
We woke up the next morning at the leisurely hour of 8 am (thanks, Niko!) and lounged around the hotel for a few hours while Jesse snuck in a quick hour of studying and I watched some bizarre wedding show on TLC (it was so strange, and yet I kept watching...). Once we had gotten ourselves together and Nikolai took a much-needed catnap (did I mention he hadn't had a normal nap since our arrival?) we met up with Jesse's folks and then took off for the heart of Washington D.C.--the national mall!
It was raining lightly when we arrived (but we had come too far to not see some monuments!) so we strode first over to the Lincoln memorial.
See? We were a little damp but still quite happy!
Nikolai had benefited enormously from his extremely short nap at the hotel and was in a fantastic mood! He didn't want to be in the stroller much but very obediently held our hands in the thick crowd and seemed very intrigued by the giant bearded statue-man.
When we came out of the memorial, it had miraculously stopped raining (hallelujah!) so we took some photos on the steps.
Jesse, Dave and Andy standing where Martin Luther King Jr. stood:
Proof (their feet!):
And Juli had the lovely idea to take a picture of Nikolai's feet there too. You've been on the very spot where a historic event took place, my boy!
(also, my foot...he was being very wiggly and this was the best shot!)
Also, proof that the ever-lovely Juli was there too :) :
After the Lincoln memorial, we traipsed around to several of the other memorials. Because my eloquence is quickly waning, I think I'll just put minor captions under these and spare you some of my verbosity ;)
The hauntingly beautiful Korean War memorial.
Nikolai riding on Uncle Andy's shoulders and being ticked by Grandma Dolly! You can't tell here but Nikolai was enjoying this very much :D
Quote on a stone wall at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial ("Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.")
Jesse in front of the MLK memorial
Niko and me in front of my favorite of the quotes around the MLK memorial ("I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.")
Nikolai riding on Daddy's shoulder's, playing with his beard!!
Andy, Jesse and Niko between Utah and Idaho at the WWII memorial
Our little family in front of the capitol building
On the other side of the capital building (anyone know which side is actually the front? We suspect this side, even though it doesn't face the mall!)
Nikolai was basically a dream the whole time. He didn't throw a single tantrum (a miracle!) and was so amiable! Here, Jesse was "running" to entice Nikolai to run, which meant he was moving at a pace fast enough for us to walk normally and keep up with him :)
Jesse in front of the Supreme Court building (his future home? ;D), shrugging because it was covered with a facade while it's reconstructed!
The poles surrounding the supreme court--the book says "Lex," which means "Law"!
Apparently all that running around tuckered sweet Nikolai out (that, or three days without a decent nap had caught up with him) and he did something he's never done before: fell asleep in his stroller! Sweet boy!
Jesse in front of some judge (but he knew who we was and got very excited!)
Andy in front of the white house
I think that day we walked somewhere in the ball park of 7 miles (we thought it was closer to 4 miles but I just put our route into mapmyrun and it says 7! whoa!) so by the end our feet were SOOO sore but we were soooo happy. We finished the day with a lovely dinner with Jesse's folks (in which we'd ask Nikolai "where's Uncle Andy/Grandma Dolly/Papa/Daddy/Mommy?" and he'd point at the appropriate person 75% of the time ;D) and then drove alllllll the wayyyyyy home! The drive home was much better (even though we got started later--around 10:15 pm). We had a little bit of rain and construction but somehow we ended up with fewer tolls and Nikolai slept really well! Also, I was listening to an enthralling audio book (Goliath by Scott Westerfeld--check out the series! So great!) so that made the time go by quicker too. We got home just as the sun was coming up the next morning (about 7 am) and all promptly went to bed until Nikolai woke up at the perfect hour of 10:30 am :D
In summation: we are so glad we went! We made plenty of time for Jesse to study so he felt prepared for his finals, and the trip itself was just a blast. We loved getting to meet Jessica's family, and we LOVED spending time with Jesse's folks! Thanks, Dave and Juli, for putting up with our last-minute antics, and for letting us spend time with you! We love you so!
And a final huge congratulations to our favorite new married couple, Tim and Jessica! Jessica, we've got an awesome thing going here in the S-- clan (I mean, I love all of my in-laws! How rare is that?!) and you're the perfect addition! Thanks for marrying Tim and good luck in the years ahead!
The morning of Tim and Jessica's wedding dawned clear and warm. It was an unusual August day in D.C., being neither ridiculously hot nor crazy humid! Some of Jessica's sisters were nice enough to watch Nikolai for us so we could go in the temple for the wedding (no kids allowed!). The sealing was short and sweet. Jessica's incredibly kind father cried even more than her mother (and maybe more than Juli!) and we all were so happy to be there with Tim and Jessica.
After the short ceremony, we all took off outside for pictures! One of Jessica's kind relatives was nice enough to offer to take a picture of our little family before all the chaos ensued:
There were group pictures, couple pictures, and family pictures galore! These ones with the kids are some of my favorites, because Jesse was standing behind the photographer, trying to get sleepy/grumpy Niko to laugh!
And it worked! (click on the picture to see Niko's little face up close)
I really loved the ones with Tim and Jessica's parents though--look how lovely they all look!!
And, of course, one with my favorite in-laws and the happy couple ;)
After the wedding, Jesse took off to the library again and we all headed back to Jessica's parents' house for a little rest and some final reception preparations.
Unfortunately, this is the only picture I took at the reception:
Nikolai had fallen asleep on the way to the reception and I decided to let him nap for a bit before we headed in. We did actually get to go in after he woke up, but I forgot to take pictures! Suffice to say, it was beautiful--great food (all made by Jessica's family!), great decorations, great music and a blissful bride and groom. Afterwards we were all SOO tired and happy to head off to the hotel, but we were so happy to be a part of Tim and Jessica's special day!
Are you ready for a story? It's a pretty good one!
So a few months ago, Jesse's brother Tim got engaged to this awesome girl, Jessica. She's from Maryland and we were so excited to hear they'd be getting married in Washington, D.C--only 8 hours from us! But then we found out the weekend that worked best for them was the weekend before Jesse's finals, the one weekend he really needed to buckle down and study. So we sadly resigned ourselves to the fate of not going. I, however, was not good at resigning myself. I LOVE Jesse's family and especially Tim (have I ever told you about how I basically owe my marriage to Tim? Long story short, he made sure Jesse's mom knew I was an ok person even though I broke up with Jesse far too many times before we dated for real--so then she knew it was ok to not have stern talking to with Jesse about us. Thanks, Tim!) so I was really bummed about not getting to see them, so kept trying to think up harebrained schemes in which we could go anyways. This was sort of unfortunate, as it kept getting our hopes up and then we'd get bummed when we realized we still shouldn't go. Then, finally, the week of the wedding, I decided even if Jesse couldn't go, I probably could, and I half-way decided that I would be a crazy adventure woman and drive overnight to MD all by myself! As the week progressed, I was half convinced I was going, half really bummed that I probably shouldn't risk the drive, and half trying but not trying to convince Jesse he should come with me (even though I knew I shouldn't).
Well, as the end of the week (and when we'd need to leave) neared, I decided that I really didn't want to drive all that way by myself, and Jesse decided (for the fortieth time) that he really couldn't go either, so I officially and really resigned myself to not going. The problem with having really thought I was going to go, though, was that my hopes were up SUUUUPER high and then came crashing down to earth when reality struck, so I was more than a little bummed.
But then! Thursday morning dawned, the morning of the day on which I had planned to drive to Maryland, and Jesse woke up feeling different! He had done the calculations of how much time he felt he needed to study for his finals and realized there was a lot more time that he might be able to use to study, but would more than likely end up feeling burnt out and playing computer games instead. So, he decided, why not do some studying there in MD and then spend the burnt-out hours actually doing something great--like going to his brother's wedding?!
So we did it! I rushed around, bought some snacks, cleaned the house, got some gas, and at 8:45 pm we took to the open road!
It was a long drive, and Nikolai didn't sleep too well in his carseat, so I was actually really grateful that Jesse was along to help soothe him! The actual driving went great though--zero traffic, not much construction and perfect weather. The only downside was the TOLLS! $35 to drive through Ohio and Pennsylvania, I kid you not! Once we got over being angry about that though, we got there safe and sound...at 5:30 in the morning. We crashed for a few hours in Jesse's parents' hotel room (thanks again!!!) until Nikolai woke up at 8:30. He and I played in the bathroom (pictured below) for awhile in an attempt to let everyone else keep sleeping (Jesse's folks had gotten in really late the night before as well) before we eventually went and explored the hotel grounds until everyone got up.
Niko loves his Papa!
Once we were all up and at 'em in the morning, Jesse took off to the public library to study and I went with Juli, Dave and Andy to meet up with Tim and Jessica at the temple (not for the wedding, they were just doing some temple work!).
We had a great day after that--eating at a fantastic buffet, meeting all of Jessica's family (so many siblings, but all so great!) and doing some reception decorating. We finally crashed late that night, ridiculously excited about the wedding the next morning!
I don't know about you, but I've always thought those car-shopping carts at the grocery store are silly--they're huge and clunky and take up too much space in the aisles, and why would you want your kid to sit in one anyways?
Why? Because I got all the way through the grocery store this weekend with no wanting to get down, no pulling things off shelves, and no tantrums! It was awkward to push and huge but it was woooonderful!