And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

First and foremost we want to say thank-you for all the prayers and positive vibes that were sent our way because our blessed little family fared the storm well.  The lights flickered a few times and we have an incredibly flooded front yard (never got to the house thankfully), but we are well and in good spirits.  It seems like Washington DC as a whole came out of the storm pretty well.  There are quite a few fallen trees and flooding in homes, but for the most part the city is still functional and has minimal damage.

Some of the silver linings to the storm: TJ got 2 WHOLE days off of work.  We have been home bound for the duration of the storm and we have had so much fun as a family staying up late, all sleeping in the same bed (Dominik loved the slumber party), and eating food that is not good for us (with the thought of Halloween being cancelled we had to put our candy to good use). 

We still continue to pray for those who were afflicted by the storm and hope that there are no further side effects to Hurricane Sandy. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Weekend in Vermont

Since we were already in Connecticut on a Friday afternoon we thought, "what the heck, why not make it a weekend in Vermont with the Dunkle family."  Uncle Bob and his family relocated to Tunbridge Vermont about 6 years ago and we really have not seen them since.  From Farmington, CT to Tunbridge, VT it is only 3 hours so after the conference on Friday we headed straight up.  Since it was POURING rain the entire way we really didn't get the opportunity to enjoy all the beautiful fall foliage, but it was fun none-the-less.

We arrived to the city of Tunbridge around 7 pm and stopped at the local country store (Tunbridge is not big enough to warrant a large grocery store), to pick up some ice cream for the family.  When we got to the house, Uncle Bob's cross country team was there playing games, Michael was playing the guitar, and Sara was being an overall excellent hostess.  It was a wonderful atmosphere complete with homemade spaghetti and a crackling fire to eat it by.  After dinner we partook of maple nut ice cream topped with fresh and homemade maple syrup.  While I did feel a little like Buddy from the movie Elf by putting maple syrup on my ice cream, this was just not your ordinary everyday maple syrup.  This was the syrup of the Gods that Uncle Bob and his kids made by tapping the trees on their property and boiling it down to sheer perfection.  Every bite was simply amazing and totally redeemed the fact that I was consuming 2000 calories in one bowl of goodness :) We promptly fell asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow as we were incredibly tired from the drive and long day.

The next day Uncle Bob and the cousins had cross country meets to attend to so TJ, Dominik, and I were left to our own adventurous selves.  We had picked up a few touristy pamphlets from a local visitor center and decided to go check out a few factory stores in Stowe, VT which was a quick 45 minute drive away.  Since Sara did not have a meet that morning she decided to tag along; the more the merrier! 

We hit up the Cold Hollow Cider Mill first.  This is a company that makes fresh apple cider, jams, jellies, syrups, fudge, donuts, pies, and tons more.  There were LOTS of free samples and you could even see them making the apple cider.  It was crazy to see how much juice was extracted from the apples!  There was sign bove where they were pressing the apples that said they feed the left-over apples to the pigs and when they made bacon out of the pigs they had an apple flavor; What a cool idea right!!  Well, I was informed by a local that it was sheer rubbish and just a line they tell tourists :)


TJ told me this did not apply to me :)

After the Cider Mill we went to the Cabot cheese factory.  Since I have been to the Tillamok Cheese factory more than once I was a bit biased and sure that the cheese would pail by comparison.  The store had lots of samples and the cheese was actually not that bad; still not as good as Tillamok, but I don't think there ever will be.  Next up was the Ben and Jerry's factory store.  The company originated in Vermont and this was actually the first factory for the company.  We had to pay $4 per person for the tour and I was thinking "sweet, there will be tons of samples." Wrong was I!  Ice cream was not in production because it was a Saturday and so we got to watch a video and then at the end we got one small scoop of Jimmy Falon's "Late Night Crunch" ice cream.  It was delicious yes...but $4 could have bought me a whole pint and I could have Youtubed the video :) 

That concluded the end of our factory tour excursion and our last stop was the Joseph Smith birthplace located in Sharon, VT.  The property once owned by Joseph Smith's grandfather and currently owned by the church had such a special spirit; you could feel it as soon as you entered the property.  The monument while very large, stood magnificently against all the trees with turning leaves.  We took the short narrated tour with a sweet elderly missionary and then stood in awe at the base of the monument.  It was so special to be there with my family at the same place where the prophet Joseph Smith was born.

Once the family got back from their meets we headed over to Uncle Bob's friends house to make some apple cider of our own.  The house we went to was one of those farm houses that has it all.  Horses, pigs, chickens, turkeys, apple cider press, and it was all conveniently located right across from the volunteer fire station (the same station that Uncle Bob volunteers at).  It was SOOOO much fun to press apple cider, pet all the animals (at one point Dominik was demanding the chickens to come to was hilarious!), and we even got a tour of the fire station...complete with a drive in one of the fire engines.  Dominik was so elated that he didn't know what to do!  Uncle Bob even gave him a free fireman's hat.  Dominik thought he died and went to heaven.




We ended up pressing about 20 gallons worth of apple cider and were able to take about 3 of it home with us.  Pressing cider can be an exhausting task because when we got home we all agreed that take-out pizza was in order.  It was definitely the perfect way to end the evening too because once the fire got going we all sat around eating pizza, drinking apple cider and Avery's soda, and enjoying one anothers conversation.  Before we could retire to bed for the night, we had one more stop on the agenda.  The family was out of milk, but instead of running to the store we headed out to a local farmers dairy farm; straight to the source...the milk was in a huge container and right next door were all the cows.  The only way this milk could be fresher would be sticking your face right under the udders (perhaps that was a bit too graphic).  While it was insanely fresh tasting, I think I'm a fan of pasteurized!

Sunday was a day of the bitter and of the sweet.  We attended church with the family, and then headed out.  It was so sad to say goodbye, but we have such wonderful memories of our fun weekend in Vermont.  The Dunkle family sure showed us a good time!  We are so lucky to have such a great family!  Not only are our cousins so stinking fun to be around, but Uncle Bob is just a hoot.  He is a one man wonder; he is the mayor of Tunbridge, a volunteer fire-fighter, a single parent of 3 (still living in the house), makes home-made maple syrup, and so much more.  We really hope that we can get up to visit them again really soon!

The drive home is about 9 hours and New York is half way.  Since my cousin Zach and his beautiful wife Sara life in Upper Manhattan we stopped by their house for a delicious dinner to break up the trip.  It was so much fun to see them and they were so wonderful to cook us dinner.  Dominik loved destroying their beautiful studio apartment, but they were so gracious and let us stay regardless :)  It was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend!!!

He is a champ in the car!! Rarely fusses, sleeps so easily, and never whines to get out!  He is the BEST kid EVER!!!!!!!

I had to get a picture of Zach and Sara's very "New York-esk" toilet...It's so industrial!!!