And then there were 4...

And then there were 4...

Friday, November 16, 2012

Living History

In honor of Veterans Day this year our family decided to take a trip down south to explore some more of our nations history.  Luckily The historic Williamsburg and Jamestown were honoring their veterans by offering a free weekend too, because we were able to have a great weekend for very little money!  We headed out Friday night after TJ got off work and were accompanied by our friends the Georges as well as a few of their friends Kris and Jordan (fellow Portlandians).

Since we didn't roll into Williamsburg until late on Friday the festivities did not start until Saturday.  As soon as everyone scarfed down breakfast and the lunches were packed, we headed straight to the historic district of Williamsburg.  Much like Nauvoo IL, it is a city that has been recreated to replicate that of Colonial Williamsburg.  There is model homes, horse drawn carriages, artifacts from that time period, and even actors/actresses who speak as though they were really from that time period.  Throughout all the tours I was amazed to see how much the foundation of our nation was built upon religion; the same nation that now spends so much time and effort separating church and state.

Williamsburg ended up being a great time.  We toured the Governors Palace, the armory, the fabric shop, the Capitol Building, and TJ and Dominik got a first hand feel for the stalks...I actually really liked that one ;)  The overall experience was really great.  We learned a lot of interesting facts and got to relive an important part of our nations history. 

Dominiks favorite part of the day was the shuttle ride on the city bus :)  He was SOOOO excited!!!
The rest of Saturday evening was spent at the pool, the arcade, and relaxing in the hot tub and sauna.  these modern luxuries sure make me appreciate being born in this day in age!!!

Sunday was spent in Jamestown.  This experience really hit home to me because it was the 9 week unit I taught during my student teaching.  I got to see first hand the things I taught about using pictures and videos.  There were real working models of the Powhatan yuchtans (houses), ships that the colonists came over on, and a colonial city complete with a church and a fortress built around it.  There were many guides doing mini exhibits that you could go and watch, as well as a full museum exhibit that started in 1607 and ended with the American Revolution.

While left unattended in the gift shop, TJ bought Dominik his first gun :)  Pretty proud dad!
Sunday evening was spent much like Saturday; little swimming, little gaming, and some eating.  May sound boring, but this was by far Dominik's favorite part of the trip!!!

MaryAnne and I rocked at Big Buck Hunter!!
On Monday we headed down farther south to Norfolk, VA.  Since there is a really good chance we get stationed there next year TJ and I wanted to check it out.  It was actually a MUCH larger town that either TJ or I thought it was.  There was a ton to do, and the Navy Exchange (sort of like a mall, but with military prices and no taxes!!!) was the biggest one in the world. 

After driving around the base we headed over to Virginia Beach.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day with 73 degree weather (mid November...thanks global warming!!) and only a few white clouds in the sky.  The water was still a bit cold for swimming, but that didn't stop us from building sand castles, digging up sea creatures, soaking up some vitamin D, and dipping our toes into the Atlantic Ocean (Dominik's first time).

We ended the fabulous weekend by eating some delicious seafood at a local restaurant called Mahi-Mahi.  We said our farewells to the Georges and McCreary's and embarked on our 5 hour road trip home.  We had such a fun weekend really living the history that is all around us.  We feel fortunate to be in such a culturally rich place and hope that we can soak it all in during our one short year here.

Dominik is a champ in the car!! Never fusses!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Dominik the Preschooler

So Dominik is still a bit young to be considered an actual "Preschooler"...However, it's never too early to get kids involved in socializing activities that have a minute bit of structure.  Hence why he goes to preschool one day a week.

Preschool members include (from left to right): Eliza Hunsaker, Dominik Finlayson, Emmeline McEowen, and Henry Atwood

There are several families in our ward that are in similar situations as kid about 2ish years old, young, military/gov't employees, etc...One day we were all chatting about the various activities out there for our kiddos and we came across the idea of doing a co-op preschool. 

The structure is as follows: one day a week for 2 hours (9:30-11:30) and there is a combination of free play, reading time, singing time, snack time, and some type of mini lesson.  Each month there is an overall theme and some type of correlating field trip.  Since there are 4 families in the group each mom takes on week and if there is a fifth week that is when we do our field trip (If not then the field trip just gets squeezed into a week).  Last month the theme was farms and there was a lesson about animals, plants, food, and equipment.  All the lessons culminated to a field trip to a local pumpkin patch.  Next months lessons will be about safety and include fire safety, police officers, indoor safety, and outdoor safety which will result in a field trip to the fire station. 

So far the preschool has been AMAZING!!!  Not only does it give Dominik a chance to get used to the idea of structure, rule following, appropriate socializing, etc...but it also gives me 2 hours a week to have some me time; does it make me a bad mom that I relish my 2 hours of free time?  It has only been going for a little over a month now, but I'm incredibly optimistic at how the preschool will evolve throughout the year.


I feel like my recent posts have all had the general theme - we are having fun, but missing family.  While yes...we still greatly miss our families, this Halloween was a BLAST!!!  We spent the day like any other day, but in the evening we really partied it up Halloween style.

We spent the evening with the Georges and the Atwoods. Maddie brought a friend, so our trick-or-treaters consisted of two 11 year olds, and two 2 year olds.  It was so much fun.  Everyone came over to our house around 6 and we feasted on homemade sloppy Joe's (Halloween tradition; thanks LeAnn!), homemade root beer, curly fries, grapes, and a delicious chocolate cake.  It was festive, fun, and so nice to be surrounded with great friends. 

After dinner the kids put on their costumes and in honor of tradition (I did this when I was little) the first house to be trick-or-treated at was our own.  We sent the kids out the door and had them knock.  Corny...I know....but it's tradition!!! 

I was completely and utterly amazed at the level of spirit our neighborhood has on Halloween.  There was at least 100 people outside and a lot of houses were very festively decorated.  Dominik loved the whole concept of knocking on someones door and them giving you candy and by the end I had him saying "thank-you so much" to everyone who gave him candy.  Most of the time people thought it was so cute they ended up giving him more candy. 

Once the two little ones were pooped everyone headed back to our house.  We thoroughly inspected all the loot (confiscating any almond joys that looked "suspicious") and said our goodbyes.  Overall the perfect Halloween.  I am finding now that with our family so far away our friends are becoming our family.  We have developed such quick relationships with people that after 4 short months we consider them to be dear friends that we will stay in contact with long after we leave this place.  So are the marvelous blessings of our Father in Heaven; he is sure looking out for us!!!