Sea Kayaking

sea kayaking

The last day with my siblings, we lucked out and found a few hours in between rainstorms for sea kayaking.

calm before storm

Usually this area is packed with boats, so it was fun to have it to ourselves with the storm rolling in. The worker at the marina told us to stay close enough that we could hear the horn to let us know we needed to come back if the storm got too close.

sea kayak

We looped around Spectre Island, stopped and explored, and switched kayaking partners.

kayaking

kayak water fight

This pictures is a little blurry because once got back into the marina and let these two be in the same boat, they started a splash battle, but I love how it shows the drama in the sky and water.

kayak battle

It had started raining again and was time to head in, but P still didn’t think everyone was wet enough.

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Destin Harbor

boating

Photo cred: Aunt Janet

boats in harbor

Before heading to Spectre Island, we cruised around Destin Harbor admiring the boats and wildlife.

heron standing

This heron determinedly ignored us. A few minutes later we ran across another heron gulping down a fish. We watched it slowly fit the fish in its mouth, and for a few seconds I thought the bird was going to choke. Then we watched the lump of the fish travel slowly down the whole length of the heron’s neck and disappear.

heron walking

We always try to see how close we can get in the boat before the birds decide they’re done. This one clearly wanted nothing to do with us.

pelican

This pelican kept eyeing us and trying to decide whether or not we were worth the effort of moving. I love how his little webbed feet are gripping the railing.

on a boat

The cute crew.

corgie

10 years from now, this is what Spencer wants his life to look like. Well, mostly just the corgi part.

chasing dolphins

Spotted! Every time we’ve been on the boat we’ve seen dolphins.

dolphins

These two played with a boat for a few minutes before speeding up and disappearing.

Spectre Island

birthday letter

This letter pretty much sums up how my whole family feels and the pecking order in my family. Spencer’s dad blew B’s mind when he took us to get (hot now) donuts. She talked about it for weeks afterward. Spencer’s dad also took a day off of work to go boating with my siblings even though he was saving up leave so that he could visit family in California. He let everyone, even B, drive the boat which she absolutely loved.

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boating

After cruising around on the boat, we spent the majority of the day on Spectre Island. A few fun memories from the island below.

sand fortress

Sand Castle competition. The turtle definitely won even if a few family members will dispute that.

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Florida Island

Racing like crabs

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crab hunting

Hunting for crabs. The boys finally caught a little one that had major Napoleonic complex. He clicked and waved his claws menacingly as he slowly backed back into the water.

Gulf Air Salty Hair

sunset at the beach

When we told my mother that we’d be coming home for Christmas, and offered to come early to help with the new baby, she replied: “Yes, but can you actually just take everyone and leave?”. Hah thanks Mom, love you too:) Turns out, she’d found some cabins on an Air Force base in Florida that she thought would be fun for the kids and would give her a few days to recover from labour. After we looked up the cabins that she was talking about, we realized that they were 45 minutes from Spencer’s parents’ home, so (after talking to his parents) we suggested that we just go to his hometown instead. And that is how we found ourselves on the Gulf Coast of Florida on December 26th.

summer dresses

florida beach at sunsetupside of florida

A Homecoming and The Force Awakens

decorating gingerbread houses

In the middle of visiting my family we snuck up to upstate New York for a few days. I always love visiting my aunt’s home because it is peaceful, beautiful, and we can count on delicious food, good company, and creative activities.

creative gingerbread house

Decorating the cutest gingerbread houses. My decoration attempt turned out horribly lumpy, but the rest of the batch was darling. Sometimes it is tough to have such talented cousins and a husband who designs for a living;)

waiting at the airprort

The evening this picture was taken, our cousin, Sadie, was returning from 18 months as a missionary and let’s just say her family was thrilled about getting her back. Knowing her plane was scheduled to land at 9:30pm, we decided we had time to go to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the theater then drive over to the airport. About half way through the movie, my uncle leaned over to the rest of our row and said, “It looks like Sadie’s flight is coming in early… We’re going to have to leave before the end of the movie.” So as Kylo Ren and Rey faced off in the climactic light-saber battle, our whole row stood up and left. You should have seen the confused looks of the other movie goes as we exited toward the front, looking back longingly trying to catch a few more seconds. Worth it though because we got to the airport in plenty of time to see this:

airport missionary homecomingmissionary homecoming

Frozen Grapes

Frozen Grapes: simple, delicious summer snack

Spencer and I are training for a half-marathon and frozen grapes have quickly become a favorite snack. There’s nothing better than coming inside on a muggy day, heading straight to the freezer, and grabbing a handful of these mini slushies.

In other news, I got this email from my mother and it made me laugh out loud:

A and I had dentist appointments this morning.  A had her teeth cleaning first.  She was terrific.  She hopped up in the chair and opened her mouth and was as good as could be. Then while I was having my check-up she colored and talked to the dentist.  And when R started crying in her car seat, A squeezed a squeaky toy to try to make her happy and then covered her over with a blanket and rocked the car seat until R went to sleep.  I was so grateful!  A was really amazing.  The entertaining part was that  entire time she was coloring and taking care of R, A was talking and talking and telling the dentist and her assistant all sorts of things like how her dad is the tickle monster, how she is having her piano lesson today, how P is the best brother and pushes her on the swing, and how we have deer and wolves in our garden. I had my mouth open and couldn’t say anything.  There was one point though where I just had to laugh even with dental tools in my mouth.  A said, “We have people in our family that you don’t know: a girl and a boy and they live in another city.  And they are going to have a BABY!  And the baby is going to be a boy!”  She said it in such an animated and excited way!

For the record, we’re not expecting and her conversation came out of nowhere, but if it is up to my four-year-old sister apparently our first child will be a boy.

Family Photos 2016

Big Family Photos

It’s always a hassle to get a family as large as mine to stay in the same space for long enough to snap a picture, but this year was so much easier than the last family photo that I shared (and I wish that was the only awkward end result we’ve had). This year was simple. We walked out the door and Spencer pushed the self-timer button. done. I love that the photos turned out more natural than we’ve had in the past because we’re comfortable as a family and the little ones didn’t have a stranger trying to get them to smile on command (which in the past often resulted in tears). The only person missing is my brother in Mexico. Miss you Robert!

daddy daughter photos

We like to tease my parents that they’re going to have their hands full with three teenage girls in their old age. Really though, it will just be a party.

mother daughter photo

All the girls! My mother has a mother-daughter picture frame in the house that needed an update.

six sistersanneandspencer.comfamily photos kissing

Top 10 Things to Do in NYC


New York City is amazing in that it is home to millions, and yet each person who lives or visits has a unique experience. My connection to the city consists of: ten days in the Marriott Marquis for Model United Nations in college, the spring break with my family in high school where my sister and I stayed with cousins in their tiny apartment and we saw the entire American Museum of Natural History in about two hours (the secret is to jog down the halls until you find every exhibit featured in A Night in the Museum), and recently a short trip with Spencer. Spencer hadn’t been to NYC before, and this was the last time we expect to be on the East Coast for a while, so we crammed the most touristy things possible into two days and loved every minute of it.

1. National September 11 Memorial & Museum

National September 11 Memorial Museum

Skip the lines and buy your tickets online in advance. At first we were pretty underwhelmed with the museum. It took us a good hour of reading through material on the structure of the building to find the entrance to the main exhibit of the museum. You have to go through a little revolving door with a sign that says adults accompanying younger visitors should exercise discretion. Like the Flight 93 Memorial, the most emotional part of the museum were the sections where you could hear recordings from people stuck on various floors, radio communications between first responders, and people’s memories from the day. Almost all the Flight 93 information was also in this museum, but got a little lost between everything that happened in NYC and DC. While incredibly sad, the museum does a good job of highlighting the good side of humanity–all the first responders and selfless volunteers. I also left extremely impressed with the head of Morgan Stanley who was a former US Army officer. After the first of the twin towers had been hit, someone told everyone in the second building to stay at their desks over the intercom. The Morgan Stanley official ignored the intercom and systematically evacuated 2,500+ of his employees out of the building. Once all of his employees were out of the building, he went back in to help lead other people out and was last seen on the 10th floor.

Twin Towers Memorial

 

2. See a Broadway

Wicked

Since this was Spencer’s first Broadway, we went with Wicked as a solid introduction. The cast was fantastic, and this was the perfect way to end the day after a sobering 9/11 Museum visit. Although now that I have Hamilton on repeat, I almost wish we’d waited in line for lottery tickets/woken up early to get to a kiosk for day of tickets. Besides the kiosk in Time Square for same day tickets, this site is another great way to find affordable tickets. As students you can also get $25 standing room only tickets, but half way through your legs will hate you. Trust me. Off broadway, I’ve also heard that there are often professional level, free, concerts at Julliard.

3. Staton Island Ferry

Staton Island Ferry

It’s free. (So don’t talk to any hecklers trying to sell you on another ferry). The ferry is huge, so even if the line looks long there will be plenty of space, and there is no need to rush with the crowd. Also, head to the top deck right away–that’s where you’ll get the best view and can snag seats outside. Most people didn’t figure this out until the return trip, so the top was a lot more crowded on the way back. You don’t get to stop on the Ellis Island, but you do get a great view of the Statue of Liberty which is the main point. Also, I like to think that you still get the first view of the U.S. and the Statue of Liberty that immigrants got as they headed into the harbor towards Ellis Island.

 

New York Skyline

4. Airbnb

This was our first experience using Airbnb and we can’t wait to use it again for our next adventure in June. Our host was fantastic, and we got our own tiny apartment with fridge and kitchen included which made me feel a little more like we were getting a glimpse into NYC living. More importantly, we could stay in the middle of Manhattan Island for a fraction of the cost at any decent hotel, maximizing our time to explore instead of commuting into the city. Airbnb is currently offering $20 off your first visit (and Spencer and I also get $20 if you use the link).

5. Brooklyn Bridge 

Brooklyn Bridge

Classic. They say the best “New York Style” pizza place is just off the bridge on the Brooklyn side, but we were running late, so we stopped to admire the boats, and then headed to Little Italy.

6. Little Italy and Chinatown

Pizza. Cannolis. Need I say more? Spencer discovered cannolis when he was interviewing in Boston, and this trip we went back to the same cannoli vendor both nights in Little Italy because there were so many delicious flavors. Also, Chinatown. Spencer and I popped into Chinatown for a brief lunch, but this is where my roommate, Merella, and I probably ate the most for our Model UN trip. We’d just spent the summer in China, so we’d really missed Chinese food.

Chinatown, NYC

7.  Falafel Food Trucks 

This one might seem a little weird, and really I should just list food in general because there is so much to try in NYC, but as soon we stepped off the metro the first night, a deep craving for falafel washed over me. Something about the smell of the city immediately took me back to late nights during Model UN with Merella and our Tongan TA Elsie. The previous year Elsie had found the best falafel food truck and it was in the same place, two blocks north of Times Square, our year. I tried to find it again this year with no luck, but the truck we ended up stopping at was just as good.

8. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Another basically free museum. The museum asks for a donation when you get your tickets, but you can choose how much to give. And look! There’s “Bird in Space” by Brancusi which was the subject of Spencer’s last college paper.

9. United Nations Headquarters 

United Nation Headquarters NY

Spencer and I didn’t make it here this trip, but this building holds a special place in my heart and everyone should tour it at least once in their lives. Oh and watch “The Interpreter” before you go.

10. Walk around Times Square at Night.

Times Square at night

When I came to NYC for Model UN, my team stayed in the Marriott on Times Square for ten days. It was so fun to step from the calm of the hotel into the buzz of the city and immediately be in the middle of everything. One day during Model UN, an entrance to the Marriott was blocked off for the filming of Captain America. This time around, Spencer and I watched the filming of a random TV show for a few minutes. Times Square is cool during the day, but shines in its full glory at night.

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