Superpaige's Pad

The Trials of a Busy Mom

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Amsterdam, land of bikes

It was so wonderful to be able to go to Amsterdam! Ryan had to work at the Electronics convention, but luckily he did get to go out and explore with me a little bit. When we first got there on Monday, we checked into our hotel, had a one hour nap, and then figured out how to get to the Anne Frank House. We had tickets for 1:15. We found a street car station, and with the help of a map and google maps on the phone, we found our way there.

It was such a special place, hidden high up above a pectin shop. What I’ve found amazing about Anne Frank and her story is that she was just a regular girl. Her story is the story of so many, but we have her story because she WROTE it down. Whatever your story, it’s YOUR story, and you need to record it.

We noticed there were roosters on top of a lot of the churches. Later we found out that a Rooster is a sign of Christ, so there are a lot of them on the tops of churches.

So many amazing churches, so much beautiful architecture!

So many bikes! It was REALLY cold there the whole week, and it rained or snowed almost every day that we were there, yet there were throngs of people on bikes.

All bundled up, and some of them multitasking, like we would do in the car. Riding a bike drinking coffee, riding and texting, riding and talking on the phone. There are traffic lights for people, bikes, and cars. And dedicated lanes for bikes. You are more likely to get hit by a bike than a car. I would have liked to ride a bike along the streets (faster than walking), but with the cold, I didn’t bother renting one. But I imagine in the summer, when it’s high tourist season, that the number of bikes would be exponentially greater.

Everywhere you look, there are bikes locked up. One guy I was talking to said you always need to use 2 locks to avoid getting your bike stolen.

And how’s this for a heavy duty family bike? I’m guessing you could transport 3-4 kids in that one.


It was interesting to note that in Germany and Italy, many people also used bikes, but not nearly as many as in Amsterdam. I think it’s because of the layout of the city. Amsterdam is flat, and they have made the roads not wide enough for many cars, but room enough for bikes. Different system.

Even though I could understand a little bit of dutch, it was very nice that everyone there speaks English. And most everyone was polite.

Amsterdam…..Adventures in bathroooms

Today was interesting. Exploring a new city by myself is a bit out of my comfort zone. At least everyone (or nearly everyone) speaks English as I muddle through this adventure. Today was even colder than yesterday, so I had a hard time getting myself motivated to get out of the hotel. It’s not like I have work to go to. And no one would care if I stayed inside and read a book all day, really. But I would know I missed opportunities to see the sights in a new city because I chickened out. So, I walked down to the museum square and by the time I got there I was pretty darn cold. Wishing I had a better scarf, thicker gloves, etc. I was even wearing an ugly black beanie! I passed the museums and found the kiosk for the canal and bus trips, and paid for my 24 hour pass. I enjoyed the canal tour (it was actually warm, which was a big surprise). When we got to the train station, I figured I should get off the boat to see some sights and find a bathroom. Not urgently, just trying to be prepared. First I walked over to the St Nicholas Church to see inside. I was very beautiful, but no picture taking, and no one was speaking, so I didn’t feel comfortable asking for a bathroom. Back to the Train station, where I knew there had to be a bathroom.

But first I was distracted by this guy playing the piano. thumb_IMG_0594_1024 He’s good! When he was done, he just got up and left.

YouTube Link: *HERE*

I asked at the information desk where the bathroom was, and she told me to go through, and then up the stairs. Ok. So, I went through. I didn’t have a ticket card to tap, but I didn’t think it would matter. Eventually I found the WC upstairs. You have to pay 70 cents before you even go in. Good thing I had some change. After doing my business, I came back down, and people were streaming though the “turnstyles”, all tapping their cards to exit. I had no card. Surely there was a way out for people with no tickets. Hmm. I had to ask someone. “How do I get out?”
“You use your card,” she said.
“I don’t have a card”, I said, “I just came in to use the bathroom.”
“You are not supposed to do that. But I’ll let you you with my card.”
“Thank you.”
I didn’t know!

Anyway. Later tonight, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. I decided to use the bathroom there, since it’s a 20 minute walk back to our hotel. No charge for this one, but there’s a tiny little anti-room with a sink, and then a door to the toilet. But the light in the toilet room doesn’t work, and if I leave the door open, someone could walk in on me. Ack! What is it with me and bathrooms today! So, I got some tp in my hand, backed up to the toilet, and shut and locked the door. Pitch black, but I still managed. Unlocked the door and came out. Whew! By the way, it’s absolutely FREEZING in there. I guess they don’t heat the bathrooms.

So, here’s to another day. Learning new things about Amsterdam, exploring and taking in the beauty of the city, and hoping to always be able to find a bathroom when I need it.

Wonderful Surprises

This week we had a chance to feed the missionaries in our area. Since we are in Utah and one set of missionaries is responsible for 2 stakes, they aren’t at church with us very often. And we don’t get the opportunity to feed them more than 2-3 times a year, so when it’s our week, we try to volunteer.

As we were getting food ready, the kids were all enlisted to help, since the missionaries only have an hour to eat, usually between 5 and 6 pm so they can get to their evening appointments. Kate, our exchange student from Russia, said, “How do we even know the missionaries, anyway?” So we explained how these missionaries don’t get to choose where they are sent, but they turn in their papers and then go where they are assigned.
“Maybe there’s a missionary from Russia!” she said.
I hated to dampen her enthusiasm, but I told her that there were probably not missionaries from Russia coming to Utah. There probably aren’t that many LDS members in Russia, and out of those members, therefore not a huge amount of missionaries, and why would they send a Russian missionary to UTAH, of all places?

So, we finished our meal prep, making waffles, scrambling eggs, and cooking bacon.

At 5:00, the Elders arrived. Right on time, what a surprise! We answered the door and welcomed them in. As they were taking off their coats, we asked, “Where are you from, Elders,” Elder Kentish is from Nashville, and Elder Fairbanks said, “I’m from Russia.”

NO WAY!! Kate’s face (all our faces, really) had the expression of total shock.
“You aren’t really, are you?” I said.
“Well, I was born in Russia,” he said, “I was adopted by an American family when I was 4.” But he could still speak Russian, and Kate was completely floored when he asked her how she was doing in Russian. As we asked more questions, we discovered that his parents had adopted 12 children, and he and two siblings were from the same orphanage in Russia. When we asked where in Russia he was from (Russia is such an amazingly huge country) he said Vladivostock. That could NOT possibly be true. Kate and I both let out little screams of shock. That’s where SHE is from! That’s not exactly her town, but that is the closest big city to where she lives. That’s also not exactly his town, but that is the city closest to where he is from that people might recognize. Kind of like saying that we are from Salt Lake City, even though we don’t live in Salt Lake City, but to people who are not from Utah, it’s close enough.

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What an amazing experience! We felt like we had an instant connection to this Elder. I even felt a little bit bad because we were asking him so many questions, so we had to ask equal questions of his companion.

I know this was not a coincidence. Our ward mission leader hosted these same Elders earlier in the week, and knew we had a Russian exchange student. He even mentioned it to these Elders, so they came knowing that much about our family. But for us, it was such a blessing. For Kate to meet someone from her part of the world, so far away from home, was amazing. She got to speak Russian and learn that the there are even Mormons in Russia.

The Lord knows us. He watches out for us, whether we are members of this church or not. He loves us.
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missionaries

New Year. Hooray!

new-yearIt’s January! Welcome to a new year and all that.

Only I get a little overwhelmed by the “new year” kind of stuff. People are all like “GOALS!” and “Self-Improvement”, and “It’s a fresh start!” Is it really? Did something magically change with the ticking of the clock between 11:59 on New Year’s Eve and 12:00 on New Year that erased the past year? I don’t think so.

Meanwhile, at church, there are tons of meetings. There’s a New Beginnings for Young Women, special ward council to discuss our goals for the year, the Stake Relief Society Presidency wants to meet with us, ‘Priesthood Preview’, ‘It’s great to be 8’and various other NEW YEAR type meetings.

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But me, I’m dragging my feet putting away my Christmas decorations. I LOVE CHRISTMAS! Everything is magical and beautiful and the music and the concerts and the presents and the wrapping and the shopping and the food and the cooking and the parties and the wonderful feelings and the reading of the birth of the Savior. I’m sad that Christmas is over, that my birthday is over, and now we’re stuck in dreary, snowy, cold (2 degrees yesterday, folks) January. It snowed last night, but now it’s drizzling rain OVER the snow. Megan left today to go back to school (once her car thawed and the door closed ok, which it didn’t last night), and I’ve had a week with no chimes choir, but I have to start tomorrow. I’m not ready to get back to my real life, let alone make GOALS. Shovel snow, trudge out to feed the chickens, the floor is constantly yucky and needs to be mopped all the time, people leave their gloves, scarves, coats, and boots all over! January is just yucky!

January blah.
Whine, whine.
Cheer up, old chap, at least you don’t have to do yardwork!
(That’s me talking to myself in my encouraging British accent voice)

But we do have things to look forward to. Jenna and Kate both have birthdays this month, so we will be planning a big party for that, my chime choirs get to play at 2 Lone Peak Basketball games this month, it’s good to get back into a routine and clear out the clutter, of course.
In February I get to go to Europe with Ryan, so that is one thing I am REALLY looking forward to. In spring we plan to take the kids to South Dakota.

Right-Oh! Good on ya! Fish and Chips and all that.
(There’s that annoying British voice again.)

So, things aren’t ALL grump and dreary. But it would help if the sun would shine. Please?

And when I need a laugh, there’s always this.

More Surprises

As we were driving on our Birthday surprise trip, Ryan said to me, “I have another surprise for you. Look in the glove box.”
I looked, and found a very cute card with chickens on it, and inside, was a statement from our mortgage company that our balance was zero. In other words, our house was paid off!

We had been working hard to get our house paid off, and I anticipated that we would hit that milestone within the next year, but sneaky Ryan sold off some stock and did all the jumping through hoops to pay off the rest without me knowing it. He even changed the address that the paperwork would go to, so that it would not come to the house and I would open it. He CAN pull off surprises!

That also means that I can start shopping for a couple new appliances. My oven has many problems, and my dishwasher has been fixed (by Ryan) at least 4 times. We haven’t done any upgrading or replacing of appliances, so that dishwasher is 16 years old. The microwave we got for a wedding gift, so that thing is 24 years old. Whenever I would talk about things we “need” for the house, Ryan’s standard answer has been “not until the house is paid off.” Well, now it IS paid off, and we will be putting the bulk of that mortgage money into our retirement fund, but we can also splurge a little.

So, I will be shopping for a new dishwasher in the next month or so. Any recommendations?
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Birthday Surprise!

My birthday doesn’t have the greatest history of being celebrated. It’s right after Christmas, but before New Year. People are partied out, broke, and just want to relax. No one wants to come together for an epic party just 4 days after Christmas. So, I usually remind my kids a couple of times, and then I go out and buy myself something I want. Or, since I bought too many presents for Christmas, I tell Ryan that he can have the kids wrap one of them and give to me for my birthday before I return things.

I try not to be selfish and petty about my birthday and the lack of “special” that it is, but it’s hard. I see other people with huge birthday dates or trips or fantastic present and I tend to get a little jealous. (I’m not proud of it!)

Anyway, let’s move on to this year.

I told Ryan that I just wanted to be surprised for my birthday. That’s it. A surprise. In my mind, I’m thinking maybe a party, or dinner out with friends, or maybe even a new dishwasher (because he’s heard me complain enough about my 15 year old dishwasher that he keeps fixing). He complained a bit and said, “But that’s so hard.” Sorry. You shouldn’t have married someone with an inconvenient birthday, or someone who likes surprises and parties, then.

Mid December Ryan found out that he is definitely going to Amsterdam in Feb, and I decided I am definitely going with him. We booked the tickets. The company pays for his, mine is with miles. “Darn,” I thought, “that would have totally counted as a great surprise!” But that wasn’t the surprise.

The day before my birthday, I was just about to ask if I needed to plan anything or leave time open, and Ryan said, “I have to tell you a little bit of the surprise.” He had booked 2 nights of hotel, but my friend Robin was coming into town to stay with us, and he wanted to make sure and cancel if I wanted to stay home and party with Robin. No, that’s still good. They are only here until Friday morning, and they have a family party on Thursday night, so I’m sure they won’t mind if we leave them.
Cool! He booked 2 nights of Hotel!!! He CAN do surprises!

Of course, now that I knew we would be leaving, I had to plan. Is there food for the kids, can Megan drive Jenna to a party on Friday, etc. But I’m the mom and that’s my job.

Robin came into town on Wednesday and we spent the night talking and laughing. Thursday dawned and the two of us went to get pedicures for my birthday. Then there were presents at home. The kids had actually shopped or planned something and got me some nice things. Then Ryan handed me a present. What? I thought the trip was the surprise? Nope. New camera. In Red. Because he knows me so well. Our last point and shoot camera started flaking while we were on our cruise, and I can’t trust just a phone to take all my pictures.

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Then we packed our stuff for our 3 day adventure in St. George (where it is 20 -30 degrees warmer), and took off.

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We had such a great time. We went and did a session in the St. George Temple, ate dinner with some friends of ours that we haven’t seen in years (another surprise Ryan cooked up), went thrift store shopping, saw some petroglyphs, went to a movie, ate out, did more shopping, and really enjoyed our time together.

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It was wonderful to be somewhere warmer (almost 50 degrees, it felt like spring), and to just relax.
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We left on Saturday around noon, and stopped at a “ghost town” a little bit from Leeds.
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The Wells Fargo building in this old silver mining town is still standing, and they have made it into a little museum.

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There are many old structures partly standing, but we also enjoyed looking at the other houses in the town. The ones people live in. Such a eclectic mix of architecture!

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We call this one the “Haunted Mansion House”. Right?

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This family of deer jumped out onto the road just as we were rounding the corner. Good thing we weren’t going fast.

We got home New Year’s Eve night, in time to “celebrate” the new year, or in my case, to go to bed. It was such a wonderful surprise birthday trip. I can’t imagine him topping this one!

Cruise–Cozumel

On a previous cruise, we went to Cozumel, Mexico. Let’s just say that nothing about that day was a good experience. From being sick, kids having diarrhea, exhausted from throwing up all day the day before, it was just doomed from the start. The kicker, though, was that we hadn’t brought enough cash, and ended up stiffing the braid lady because we thought it was cheaper than it was. A LOT cheaper. Anyway, it’s left a bad impression of Cozumel.

But, this is many years later, and we weren’t planning on being sick or having hair braided, and we planned ahead and brought cash. Our friends really wanted to do a jeep tour of the island. Sounded fun. Four of us in a jeep, and we get to drive it ourselves? We signed ourselves up.

When we got off the boat and found our group, it was a 10 minute walk through town to the jeep rental place. Imagine our surprise when they loaded us into a NEW loaded jeep. It was like a test drive!

We took off in a caravan, with a guide in front of us and in the back. We drove about 20 minutes through town, then turned off onto less traveled road through the jungle. Ryan was driving, and he was so excited!

The road got more rutted and rocky as we went deeper into the jungle. Some of it was sandy,some of it was rocky, and we even drove through a “puddle” that was at least a foot deep.

Ryan was so sad when we stopped to see the Mayan ruin.

As far as ruins go, it was not one of the major ones. We had kind of expected it to be like Chichanitza or Talum. Smaller. But still interesting.

We learned some of the history of what kind of building would have been here, and that it was like a hurricane warning station with doors and windows that would make whistle when the wind blew through it to alert the people that a hurricane was coming.

But they had no problem with us climbing on the ruin and taking pictures.

After visiting the ruins, we drove a bit more, then stopped on a beach, where there were umbrellas all set up and people were making lunch. It was unreal! So beautiful!

Sitting on the beach, playing in the sand, listening to the waves. It was truly wonderful. AND they fed us tacos! So amazing!

When we had to leave that place, we at least got to drive the jeep again. This time Gardner drove back, and I think he took it a little slower than Ryan, but it was still bumpy. After we returned the jeep we were back near the ship, but decided to do a little shopping. It was then that I discovered that I had no driver’s license. Somewhere between entering the jeeps and exiting the jeeps, I had lost my license. Whoops. Probably bounced out.

I tried not to worry about the consequence of not having my ID while we shopped. It was raining by then.

The worst case scenario would be that Ryan would have to go and get my passport to let me get back on the ship.

But no one even asked for my ID besides my ship card when we got back on. There were two Royal Caribbean ships parked there when we came back. Ours is the one on the right.

So, all in all, I would say this Cozumel trip was MUCH better than our first experience. Who knows, maybe we’ll go again someday.

And if you’re a fan of shaky Jeep videos:

Cozumel Jeep Tour 1

Cozumel Jeep Tour 2

Cozumel Jeep Tour 3

Cozumel Jeep Tour 4

Cozumel Jeep Tour 5

Cruise 2016- Roatan

There is SO much I want to tell you about our cruise. I can’t put down every detail, but I must share some of my favorite things!

In Roatan, which is an island of Honduras, we went on a zip line excursion. dscn3068

It was 12 different platforms. You hook on, and go. Fun! I was a little nervous, but really, there’s nothing to it, and you are safe. We laughed a lot, and enjoyed joking with the others in our group.

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When we made it through the jungle and down to sea level, we were at the Gumbalimba park. Our guide took us through, taught us a bit of the history of the island (pirates!) and then we crossed the bridge.

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It was like being in an Indiana Jones movie!

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There were many birds, but the most impressive were the macaws! They even had one bird we could hold.

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He bit off a button on Ryan’s shirt!
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Then we went on to see the monkeys. Monkeys are not native to the island, but they have them in this park. They told us not to yell or jump if a monkey jumped onto us, and if the monkey took something, just let him have it. Eventually they would get bored with it and put it down. We weren’t allowed to bring bags or purses into the park for this reason.
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It was SO AMAZING! This monkey reached into Ryan’s pocket a couple of times, just to see if there was anything in there. So fluffy and soft, and curious.

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We absolutely loved the monkeys! I’m so glad a friend recommended that excursion to us. It was amazing!

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Cruise People

One of the fun things about a cruise is the people you meet. Of course you can’t meet EVERYONE on the cruise ship (since there are about a small city’s worth of people on the ship), but you do see certain people again and again. Of course, we mostly hung out with our dear friends Tammy and Gardner. They are the reason we went on the cruise. Tammy was one of my mission companions. Gardner was also in that mission. Later they got married. Tammy LOVES cruising, and suggested we do a mission reunion cruise. Do we mind that it was only the four or us? Not at all!

For example, we met a cute couple at breakfast one day, named Kellen and Arian. Beautiful young couple that had been married about 2 weeks. He is a farmer in Oklahoma. She is a nurse. It was fun to talk to them, and then when we saw them later on the ship, we tried hard to remember their names and say hi.

There were many people that we didn’t know their names, but their faces became familiar, since we saw them again and again. There was Viagra guy and his wife that we saw while waiting for our turn at boogie boarding, the cute couple that was sitting near us that the husband did a magic trick and pulled a 50 cent piece “out of” Tammy’s ear, the other cute couple who were concerned about me when I left dinner the night the seas were so rough, the people we tubed down the river with, Saundra and Megan who we zip lined with, the table full of cute gay guys I stopped to talk to one night and then had to ask them every day how their day was.

One group of people we met was the “Royal Caribbean Pop Choir”. On Monday on the schedule there was this pop choir listed at 2:30. I decided I was going to see what that was about. Gardner also wanted to go. So, we found the bar on the 12th deck (the Olive or Twist–what a strange name) and met Lanie and Calvin Hudson. They were both in the cast of Saturday night Fever on the ship, and in charge of this little pop choir. They teach us a song and simple dance moves, then we perform it later in the week. Sadly, we only had two rehearsals scheduled, and one of them was bumped because another group had scheduled the space. It probably wouldn’t have mattered, though, because the night we were to perform it (up on a bridge), the seas were protesting. Things were rocking and rolling so much we couldn’t really dance, just hold on. We all laughed a lot about the train wreck that was our singing of Footloose. But no matter. We had fun, and we met these fun people.

I even met my dear friends George and Brad in the Casino.

Bridal Veil Falls

We took the kids into the mountains on Saturday for something to do. Bridal Veil Falls is one of our favorite places. Since it was crowded, we decided to eat at Nuns park, right across the road.

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We had stopped at Harmons to grab some food from the salad bar, and the kids got sandwiches and mac and cheese.

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Then we walked over to the falls. It was a lovely night, cooler in the mountains and a bit windy. My three lovely models were happy to pose.

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When we got to the falls, it was a little crowded. It’s always crowded there. John and Kate climbed up the falls.
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It was so lovely and we enjoyed the night out. When we came home, there were 5 dozen donuts at the house from a boy asking Natalie to Homecoming. Fun times.

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