Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hadrian's Wall (for reals)

As we continued to wind our way through Northern England, Reed and I became increasingly concerned that we hadn't actually seen/climbed/conquered the actual Hadrian's wall.  It sounds ridiculous, but there are ALOT of decaying stone walls in the fields and it wasn't incredibly well marked.  I maintained it's all the in presentation and that the kiddos would never know the difference.  Reed maintained we could scar them for life and they would never trust us.  As we were congenially discussing it we saw what was, unmistakably, the highest point of Hadrian's Wall.  Only problem-it was freeeezing and rainy and about a mile hike  (uphill both ways).  After further discussion Reed and Matts hopped out to scale the mountain while the littles and I hung out in the heated car. Let's just say-for the record-Reed was right.  Matts LOVED it and was ecstatic over their excursion.  

I'll skip the witty captions and just leave you a very please Matts, a dedicated Dad and some brutal British countryside.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hadrian's Wall-ish

For an 73mi, UNESCO world heritage site that's been around for almost 2000 years, Hadrian's Wall was remarkably hard to find.  After following the signs, forging through flooded roads we pulled into parking lot, bundled up and set out to conquer the wall.  
All Bundled and ready to defend the Empire

The Celt Barbarians

Defending Mithros' temple

A Mini Monster attacking!

Archer's man your stations


The next day we drove up to York and had a fun, if chilly day, exploring the city.  
Preparing to storm York Castle


Enjoying the sunny, windy tower

York Minster

The boys were thrilled to be "cultured"

Actually, they were most thrilled about treats from the Christmas Market that was being set up

Walking some of the most complete wall in England.
We also hit the Jorvik Museum. Maybe our kiddos are just not that interested in Vikings, maybe they were antsy from the car, or maybe Disneyland has ruined any mechanical ride that not's first rate.  But, we flew through it and just enjoyed the city for the rest of the day.  

The Great British Road Trip

Since our first visit to the UK Matts has been begging to see Hadrian's Wall.  It IS the northern most border of the Roman Empire and it IS very Romany. The only problem is that it IS also 5-6hrs from London.  Needless to say, it didn't pan out for the short 4wks we were here in the sunny, warm, beautiful Summer.  But, being the die-hard Roman fans we weren't about to let a little cold and wet deter us.  Plus, all the damp, drizzling rain and frigid wind really contributed to the ambiance. 

With Reed handing off NFC to the new lead, Thanksgiving and 2 birthdays led to Reed taking a WEEK off work and us venturing out to explore this pretty green island where we live.  

First stop...
Nottingham and Sherwood Forest
The home of Robin Hood

The boys acquired the beginnings of our royal armory.

It was a hit!

Sherwood Forest was fantastic and we could've spent hours there.  Unfortunately, around 3:45pm it started to get dark and unfortunately/fortunately there were just too many wonderful places for little boys to hide in.  So, we counted heads and headed off to spend the night in Leeds.
*All credit for this trip has to go to Reed.  For some reason, I just couldn't get my act together and plan/research for it.  Luckily Reed stepped in and it was FANTASTIC!*

We interrupt...

We interrupt our coverage of the Great British Road Trip to bring you an important update. 
Before leaving our boys were initiated into the London Theatre scene.  
It was G's and Reed's B-day.
It was Thriller.
It was Brilliant.

Big Boy!

Guess who potty trained themselves on our GB roadtrip?

I maintain our boys' ease in potty training is the universe making a nominal effort to balance the parental effort scales :)

Happy Birthday Reed!

In the middle of our Great British Road Trip, this guy turned 36.  Not sure if tromping through fields in search of Roman ruins and ching chinging his way through castles was his ideal, but he was a great sport and we thoroughly enjoyed being with him.

One thing is certain; everything is bigger, louder, crazier, more fun and just plain better when he's around.  
Happy Birthday Reed!


I can't believe I almost forgot these!
The Agritourismo we stayed at had horses and it may have been the highlight of Gray's life.  
Not only did he get to help groom them and feed them, he got to have a lesson on Lady.

Turning, Turning

Pleased as Punch

Focusing on wrapping his little legs around Lady :)

G and Miss Roberta

Little C LOVED the horses :)

G and his special friend.

Not too bad.

Working on some turning
What a great day!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


The best gift you can give a parent who has lost a child is simple, it doesn't cost and it only takes a minute.  It's the gift of Remembering.  
Yesterday, as I received a handful of emails from family and friends it soothed my soul and gave light to a dark day (honestly-dark and cloudy-all day).  
Every time someone remembers Elle, talks of Elle, or ultimately is inspired by Elle it makes my heart glad. 
Miss Gentry.  Her own little miracle, and new big sister, visiting cousin Elle.  
A very Little C 

Peterson Boys
*My super-human sister Catherine is currently on her way to becoming an "authoress" and studying for her PhD in BYU's creative writing program.  During this time, she wrote a short story titled, "I Was Going to Meet Death Today."  In writing it, she drew on her own experience with her daughter, Madi, our niece, Gentry, and of course Miss Elle Belle.  The following excerpt was especially meaningful.*
She is surrounded by pale pink bedding, hair perfectly parted and coiffed with a pink bow glued to her head with KY Jelly and matching pink knitted booties warming her feet.  Her parents must have gotten here last night after the doctor gave them the news that Luna had coded three times yesterday in twelve hours and now it was only a matter of how many more times they wanted to bring her back before letting her go.  I glance at the clock; I am sure they are waiting at the doors for shift change to end at 6:00 a.m., but I have a few minutes left to say my own goodbyes.
I pick up her little hand and let the natural reflex occur as she curls her five perfect fingers around my wrinkled cold forefinger.  I close my eyes and breathe in the sweet, distinct smell of her tiny body—baby powder mixed with the seven medications she has been on for her three months of life in our attempt to keep her here until we could save her.  I take a deep breath and let my mind wander.    
Thirty three years and hundreds of babies, but I remember every one of my seventeen heart transplant babies by name, by face, and by smell.  The unique mix of their medications mixing together and floating up into the air of their tiny rooms during my twelve hour shifts is as unforgettable as the first time a person smells vanilla.  I can close my eyes and picture each one of them.  I remember the gurgling stories Todd told me during his diaper changes, the funny tweety bird sounds Charlotte made when she wanted my attention and I wasn’t giving her all of my focus, and Cole’s bright blue eyes that followed my every move around the room as I changed the tubing, typed up medication dosages on the computer, and refilled the drawers underneath his plastic bed with burg rags and Huggies while he laid quietly in his crib.
My seventeen heart babies are different from all of the other babies I have taken care of.  They are stronger, braver.  They come with broken hearts.  They are broken to begin with, but it is almost as if they are born knowing they can’t win, knowing they can’t be fixed, but they fight anyway.  There are so few heart babies that make it to the transplant unit alive, even fewer that will ever be carted out through the front doors with new hearts, but with each one I can’t help but believe that somehow this time my baby will beat all the odds and live.  
And that sums up the beauty of the gift of Remembering.  It lets me know that Elle lives, not just far away, awaiting our reunion; she lives, helps and inspires others today and for that I am eternally grateful and proud to be her mother

Fought the Good Fight

Anyone who has visited our home knows that it is the eternal battleground.  It's filled with warriors and ninjas, weapons of all kinds and constant battle cries.  
The intensity of it all is exhilerating, but exhausting.  
In a rare moment of quiet this weekend, I realized this fighting spirit isn't just a result of the plethora of testosterone in our family, its part of who our Family is.  You see...
10 years and 77 days ago we welcomed Elle into the world and into our family.  She was spunky and sweet, a miracle from the start.  Then...
10 years ago at 2:37am  our sweet little girl left this world. 
 It was incredibly, unexpectedly, expected.  
We knew she was sick, we knew the odds weren't great.  Yet, just hours before she passed I was convinced everything that was happening was to prepare for her heart.  Then those hours sped by and it was time to let her go.  You see, ironically, Elle waited until we were ready.  For 77 days on earth, Elle fought to be with us.  I will cherish those days, those memories, forever and I will spend the rest of my days here on earth fighting to be worthy to be with her once again.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012


6 years ago, at 9:35am (we do precise in our family) we welcomed the perfect addition to our family.  G is the ying to the yang of his brothers, the calm in the storm and the cog that makes the rest of our family run smoothly.

This past year G had his first move, his first heartbreak (leaving his bestie and his cat), his first broken bone, learned to read and, in spite of Reed's nightly knowledge drain, exploded his little brain far beyond expectations (the other day he drew me quite a complex and accurate diagram of the circulatory system).  Sweet and enjoyable, speedy and shifty, persistent and determined, I can't wait to see what the future holds for this little man.  


Today our Grayson, Gray turned 6.  Going into the day there were lots of obstacles; stomach flu, work trips, late mail delivery, but it all came together for a fantastic day.  Reed was able to cancel his work last minute, G got over a brutal 12 hour flu, so we headed out for a day of family fun.
G's menu for the day included Oatmeal/yogurt/banana for bfast, McDonalds for lunch, cinnamon rolls for snack and pancakes for dinner.  On our way to the tube he stopped for a midmorning snack of cream filled donut.
This boy definitely inherited my sweet tooth :)

The "magic" surprise.  The Rain Room at the Barbican.
 I've been wanting to go to the Rain Room and really wanted Reed to join us.  But, I knew it would be a lengthy experience.  So, when Reed took the day off on a Thursday, it was the perfect storm.  Basically, they've set up a dark room with a 'rain storm', but rigged it with sensors so that as you walk through the storm you stay dry (except G who we've already established isn't constrained by natural laws).  The wait was around 90 minutes, but it was completely worth it.  It was cool beyond words and we all had a great time.
Ready to go in.
Shadow ninjas in action.

In awe of his own super powers.
Loving it!

Playing in the rain.

So cool.
Next we were on our way to G's favorite park, Paddington Square Gardens.  The perfect training ground.  
The piece de resistance, unlimited time shopping at Hamley's with birthday money.

G is on a big ownership/money kick; wanting a wallet/satchel, saving/counting money and his favorite things change as often as the weather.  So, Reed and I decided to give him a gift card to Hamley's and let him wander the store for as long as his little heart desired.  For a classic middle child, the power of being in control was a definite hit.  After just over an hour we exited to Christmas magic and picked up hot cocoa on our way home to a movie night of watching "Dogs and Cats; Revenge of Kitty Galore".  Needless to say, we love this little man and all the laughter he brings to our family.