Dec 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

What a perfect day we had yesterday.  All of my family around me, snow lightly falling, Christmas music I was taking pictures of my kids last night, and watching them interact, I was suddenly overcome with emotion.  I feel truly blessed to not only have a wonderful family, but to have children who love each other and actually like to be together. Then I looked at my beautiful 19 year old daughter and thought about her being in Australia next Christmas, and I lost it (just for a minute, don't worry). Life is definitely changing, children keep leaving home.  I plan to cherish every single moment today!
    Seeing the lights at 9pm on Friday night.  The only time we could all get there together.   

Read these scriptures in 3rd Nephi 9 on Sunday.  Seems appropriate for the day today. "...will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me."
We all need the healing power of the Savior today and always.

Dec 21, 2012

Merry Christmas from Kyle Van Noy

I have not written many football posts this season, but anyone who knows me, knows that BYU football is a big part of our life in the Benjamin household.  We painted our basement with BYU colors, and BYU banners, pictures etc. adorn the walls.  We are season ticket holders, and life stops for game day.  Our children are pretty passionate about it too. So this season has been painful for us.  Yes we have a winning record, but we came so close to having an amazing season and couldn't do it.  We were within three points of the team that is playing in the National Championship.  That game and others could cause me endless frustration if I chose to dwell on it (4 of 5 losses were 6 points or less-ahh the agony!). All that being said I was nervous about our bowl game against SDSU last night. First half did nothing to restore my confidence.  Same old story of the whole season...defense came to play, and the offense...what offense?  Then the fourth quarter happened, and Kyle Van Noy decided he was not going to let us lose another game.  He scored two touchdowns, and was SDSU's worst nightmare play after play.  (Of course he had some help from his defensive friends, and from our punter-his punts were a thing of beauty.)  So I give my heartfelt thanks to KVN and the rest of the team for at making my Christmas a little merrier. 

Dec 18, 2012

Brain on Overload

There are so many thoughts running through my head that I am afraid that any attempt to put anything in word form could be dangerous.  I will attempt it anyway.
First off some updates-
-Took Lexie to the temple.  Words cannot express how amazing this was.  To hear her desire to attend the temple, to see her willing and anxious to do all that is required of her.  Tears still stream down my cheeks when I think of it.  I love the gospel, I love the temple, and I love that my family is mine forever.
-Finished an Eagle Project.  My son has been one project away from his eagle for almost two years...he collected over 400 books for the prison branch. So grateful for the young men who helped him and for all the generous donations.  It was cool to see, and they are finally out of my family room! (I had visions of Christmas morning surrounded by eagle project books.)

-When you feel change is imminent in your life..buckle up! Silly me for thinking that the change was Lexie going on a mission. More change is coming as Tony was informed that he will be losing his job next year as they continue to downsize and eliminate jobs in his office.  We were kind of expecting this at some point, but...anyway try as I might to work myself up about this, I feel calm. I have no idea what the future holds for us, but I do know that the Lord will provide.  He always does, maybe not always in the way I want, but always in the way I need.  So we will go forward with faith.  Last time this happened it proved to be a great blessing in our life.  We are hoping this time works out the same.
-Have attended two of my children's Christmas concerts.  First was Ashley's in Logan, and then the high school one last night.  I love music, especially Christmas music. It brightens my spirit, and fills my heart.

-Spent hours reading and learning about the new curriculum for the youth.  I get to teach the first lesson of the year! It could be interesting, but I am really excited about this new program. It will stretch me as a parent and a leader, and I hope will stretch my children as they work to strengthen their own testimonies and become converted.  
-Participated in wonderful family traditions that never fail to strengthen my testimony, and remind me of the blessings in my life.

I have done a lot of thinking over the past week about the church, my role in it, and my responsibilities, and if it is appropriate to wear pants to church. I have also thought a lot about all the families affected by the shooting in Conneticut.  I originally wrote about both of these things, but it just didn't feel right.  I have an opinion, yes, but there is too much hatred in the world,  too much judging inside and out of the church, and too much focus on things that don't heal hearts, and don't bring peace to troubled people everywhere. I feel deep gratitude for my Savior, and have felt His peace in my own troubled times.   I have lots of favorite scriptures, but there are two that always bring me comfort.  I have shared them with my children when they have been scared or worried.  One is found in John 14:27 "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  The other is found in the Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." I love Christmas time, with it's daily reminders of what life is all about.  I pray for those who have lost loved ones, and I might just hold my own a little tighter this holiday season.

Nov 8, 2012


It is now the 8th of November, and I am left wondering what happened to October.  I think I lost a month in it's entirety.  As I already posted General Conference brought some big changes for our family, and I think I lost the month of October to helping my 19 year old daughter get everything done to submit her papers.  It was a physically intensive process that required multiple trips to Provo (1500 miles worth to be exact), and hours spent in doctors and dentists offices.  We did shots, physicals, checkups and the crowning accomplishment wisdom teeth removal-all four of which were impacted.  It was also a bit of a mentally exhaustive process trying to wrap my mind around the idea of having a missionary right now!  Her call arrived on Halloween.  We were expecting it, but I was so nervous that for some reason it wouldn't come ( I often expect the worst).  I was so relieved to open the mailbox and find a big white envelope addressed to her.  I took a picture and then promptly put it in my cedar chest and then left the house.  No use tempting me with an envelope that contained my daughter's fate!  Then as soon as I picked up my other kids from school I drove down to Provo (yes another trip) and brought her back home.  Around 6:15pm or so, Grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts were at our house, and we had multiple computers and iPads linking us to grandparents and cousins who couldn't be there with us.  Finally at about 6:45 she sat down to open that all important envelope.  It was only seconds before she was crying, and Tony and I joined in for good measure.  She could hardly read the call to us, but managed to get out the important info.  The Australia Sydney Mission leaving March 13th.  Wow!  So exciting!  Grant, our only child still trick or treating, decided not to postpone his candy gathering. But he stuck his head in the back door for just a minute as he was going around the neighborhood to find out where his sister was going.  Upon hearing, he was exuberant as he guessed Australia, which means he got the coveted milkshake. I still feel a little overwhelmed how in just a few short weeks your life can change, but it's a good change and I am grateful for the blessings that have come along with all the chaos.

 Just about an hour after Alexis opened her call, her cousin opened her's down in Provo.  We watched through skype as she opened her call to serve in the Australia, Perth mission.  They both leave for the MTC on March 13th.  What are the odds that these two cousins who have grown up together would leave for their missions on the exact same day and go to the same country?  Of course they are on opposite sides of the huge country of Australia, but still.
This picture was taken the day after Lexie got her wisdom teeth out.  Other than a rough first day, she healed remarkably fast with minimal swelling.  3 of these 4 girls have received their mission calls since Pres. Monson's announcement.  We are hoping that when the other call is opened this Friday that she is going to one of the other three missions in Australia. :)

Grant and friends-The Three Amigos

Oct 22, 2012

General Conference = Change

19th Birthday in June-What did she ask for? New scriptures
Conference is my favorite time of the year, I love the spiritual enlightenment and the renewed desire to be better that it always brings.  This year was just like all the others.  I received some direct promptings on things I need to be working on and changing in my life.  Of course the trick is always to stay motivated after conference to make the needed changes.  This conference brought with it a few more changes then I had been anticipating however.  When school started I mentioned that you never know when major changes were on the horizon-well now I know when...Saturday morning within the first 15 minutes of General Conference!

Lexie has felt very strong promptings that she should serve a mission for probably about a year, but 21 was so far away that I wondered if she would still feel the same when the time came.  She and her cousin decided to take Mission Prep at BYU this fall together.  When she told me they were going to, I thought it was kind of early to be taking it, but of course it wouldn't hurt.  So when Pres. Monson made THE announcement, Lexie and I both started crying.  We all knew it was time for her to serve.  We continued to cry off and on throughout the day, not because we were sad, but because we could see the Lord's hand directing her life and preparing her for something He knew was coming.  I was also overwhelmed by her immediate acceptance.  She went from initial shock, to how soon can I get my papers submitted.  As we have discussed the matter further we have seen even more ways that the Lord has been helping her to prepare.  Truly the Lord loves His children and will not ask them to do things without preparing a way.

So Saturday evening and Sunday she filled out the paperwork and in between sessions she had an interview with the Bishop.  That was another sweet part of this experience since her Dad is the Bishop.  Clearly it was a great and emotional experience for both of them.

The day following conference I started making phone calls, and surprisingly the dentist could see her the next day. When does that happen?  I was also able to arrange her physical as well.  She was not happy to get 4 shots, and to find out that her wisdom teeth will have to be removed (this Friday!), but all in all everything looked fine and she was good to go.

Yesterday she met with the Stake President and her papers are now officially submitted! He said she should expect her call a week from Wednesday!  Wow!  I am trying not to expect the call that soon because I have to manage my expectations.

I am sure that Alexis was not the only young woman listening to conference with these kinds of experiences and with similar feelings and promptings.  In fact she has two cousins who are preparing now to serve because of this announcement. We were doing a count and realized that there could be 6 cousins serving at the same time from our family because of this, 3 boys and 3 girls.

What I am most grateful for through all of this is my daughter's willingness to do the Lord's will.  I know this is a frightening thing for her, and she could have easily found reasons to delay her decision.  She has chosen not to be paralyzed by her fear however, but instead has chosen to be empowered by her faith. Like Nephi in the Book of Mormon (not the first Nephi, the one from Helaman), who was going home and was commanded of the Lord to call the people to repentance.  He received the call and immediately turned and and responded to the call.  My daughter and my nieces and many others out there have responded in like manner.  I am impressed and inspired by their faith.

Oct 4, 2012

Things that make me smile

 Last night my daughter asked me to watch a powerpoint presentation she had made.  Now your first thought is that this was homework and that she wanted me to check it right?  Yeah me too.  Not so!  She had prepared a short presentation on why she should get a cell phone.  Her resourcefulness and persistence make me smile.  Still undecided about the cell phone though.  Here are a few of the slides-
Another thing that makes me smile is that there were almost no gnats when I was running this morning.  I have so loved the extra protein in my diet the last couple of weeks as I have been swarmed by hundreds of gnats each day.  In my eyes, nose, hair and everywhere else you can think of.  Could it be because it was deliciously cool this morning?

One more thing I am loving this morning is the scripture that has been going through my mind since I used it in my lesson on Sunday. It is found in 2 Timothy 1:7.  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.  Love that!

Oct 2, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

Cross Country season at Viewmont.  Last meet is Friday.

Arrow of Light. 

View behind my house

My amazing oldest daughter and I in our matching necklaces. (Lexie has one too, but sadly she was not home)

My baby is 11!  Hated it when my parents always called me there baby when I was a kid.  Sorry Grant.

My parents with the birthday boy.  They look pretty good for 80 year olds don't they?

My project last week.  After 14 years it was time for some new paint.

Sep 21, 2012

Feeling Fall

At Mueller Park on Monday.

I love fall.  I love the nip in the air, and I love the colors.  I love the beginning of the holiday season, and I love football season (well at least I used to, this season is trying my patience!)  The kids have been back to school for three weeks now, and we are kind of in a routine again ( I have never been super skilled at establishing good routines).  So this seemed like a good time to give a quick update about happenings in our household.

Ashley is loving school this semester.  She is absolutely loving sign language, and is excited about her writing class and human development class as well.  She only has a couple of music classes this semester as she is trying to take care of some carpal tunnel issues. She loves singing with LDV (institute choir).  She gets to sing and have her testimony strengthened-it's a win/win in her book.  She has been coming home a lot, even though she has only been at school for 4 weeks. 

Alexis loves BYU.  She has some great classes, and even likes her Stats teacher.  She is taking a class from Lloyd Newell of Music and the Spoken Word fame, she says he's great even though he assigns a lot of homework. She works at the MTC and was recently called as the Relief Society pianist.  She is a huge football fan, so if last night was any indication this semester might be rough for her.

Jared is loving high school.  He is running cross country, and can usually be found icing something when he is at home.  He is hoping to wrestle as well.  He constantly has girls texting him, but he says he will not have a girlfriend in high school. (We'll see how that goes-although he did give me permission to have his Dad hurt him if he does) I am constantly impressed with his maturity.  He goes to bed so much earlier than his sisters did at that age.  He is often wise beyond his years.  Now if I could just get him to make his bed and do his Eagle Project!

Breanna is in 8th grade, and seems to be handling the stress better this year. She is a peer tutor and loves the time she spends helping out the girl she has been assigned to.  She talked me into letting her take dance again, and practices the piano because she can't use pinterest until she does!

Grant is still the ever happy one.  He is so content to ride a bike or a scooter, and has so many good friends.  We just signed him up for his first merit badge we go again. He is pestering me about replacing our Wii that broke this summer.  For some reason I am dragging my feet...

We went to Mueller park for FHE on Monday with my family, and then yesterday as I drove to the temple I was loving the colors. I know they won't last long, but it is just another reminder to me that God's hand is in creation no matter what Bill Nye or the pompous English atheist might say.  Daily there are reminders for me that God is real and that He is aware of me and my family.  Life is not easy, there are risks and trials around every corner, but I am trying to always find joy in the journey, and truly there is much to be thankful for.

Sep 19, 2012

Ending the Rivalry

WARNING: This post is long, and probably won't mean anything to you if you haven't ever lost your cool at a sporting event.  If you have lost your cool at a sporting event, especially the big rivalry game, this post may tick you off.  Just know you have been warned.

I have heard a lot of talk about the BYU/Utah rivalry, imagine that, since the big game was last Saturday.  Because the Utes and Cougars are no longer in the same conference it appears that the game is no longer a guarantee.  How do I feel about that, being an avid, passionate, ardent, true blue BYU fan.  I say good riddance.  You may say that is because my team has lost more then it has won in the recent history, but honestly that is not why.  Yes we lost the game, yes we were given sooo many opportunities and couldn't convert, but that is not why...

As a child I grew up in Brigham City, there weren't many Utah fans around.  I had no idea what the rivalry was, it was just another game on the schedule.  I loved BYU because my parents did.  My parents have degrees from BYU, my sisters all went to BYU, I wanted to go to BYU.  I did go to BYU, and I met my husband there.  It is my alma mater.  I didn't really care about the rivalry until one year I went to a BYU/Utah basketball game.  I had graduated from BYU, but my husband was still attending.  We went to the game, and happened to be sitting by a very large group of Utah fans.  As is the custom at BYU, before the game began, a prayer was said.  This large group of Utah fans screamed throughout the entire prayer.  I was disgusted, even livid.  I decided right then and there that Utah fans were the scum of the earth and therefore all their fans were and the University as well. I have had other experiences that just cemented my opinion and I felt justified in my feelings and my often inappropriate reactions. ( I do not tell this story to incite hatred, or to somehow justify or prove anything.)  After moving up to Davis County the rivalry became a more contentious thing.  It was everywhere, with Utah fans and BYU fans going after it in church, in the grocery store and at my kid's schools. ( Now of course not everyone participates in this, my hats off to those who didn't need to hear Pres. Uchtdorf's talk about how we justify our bad behavior as it applies to sports.) We were die hard BYU fans and to me that included hatred of anything red.  Honestly I started to feel a little uncomfortable at the level of hatred in our home before the night that Tony came home from priesthood meeting telling me what Pres. Uchtdorf had said, but after that  I knew that a change had to be made.

The change hasn't been as hard as I thought.  I always knew that Utah was a good school.  I don't have a problem with admitting that Utah has owned the rivalry for awhile now.  They have enjoyed a lot of success in the recent past.   It makes it even easier for me now because really nothing is riding on the game.  We have no conference title to fight for, we don't even play the same teams for the most part.  It isn't even the end of the season, so there is plenty of football left to enjoy. So why would I say good riddance to this rivalry and to this particular football game?  Because it is still ugly.  It is still mean-spirited.  And if you only think it happens on one side or the other you need to take off your red or blue colored glasses whatever the case may be.  I don't like that I have to explain to my child why their teacher would call them a loser when they have never done or said a thing to them.  I don't like having to defend my religion because of a football game.  I don't like that this football game turns makes people think that the golden rule is not applicable during sporting events. I don't like that I have to fight with myself to not become an idiot ( a fight that I have all too often lost).

I recently watched Elder Holland's talk given at the recent CES fireside.  If you haven't watched it, Watch It!  It is classic Elder Holland.  YOU NEVER CHECK YOUR RELIGION AT THE DOOR!  Yeah listen to the whole bit.  Yes the story he told was referring to BYU fans who checked their religion at the door at a basketball game, but I think his meaning was much deeper.  We check our religion at the door whenever we stop being Christlike.  Sports are tricky, competition often brings out the worst in us. A perfect example is Max Hall.  He totally checked his religion at the door when he went after all Ute fans and even the university.  Everyone that went after him and BYU, checked their religion at the door too.  The animosity and hatred that poured out from BYU and Utah fans alike was amazing.  It went on for weeks. Honestly I was ticked when he said what he did because it took away from my celebration of the victory. What was my responsibility in this situation though, what was the appropriate reaction? My responsibility was to forgive him, not judge him, and move on with my life.  He was a kid, and an obviously passionate one, who ran his mouth off, and a good person too.  Who hasn't lost their temper or done something stupid. I can't be throwing stones. What I have come to realize is that there is never an excuse to check my religion at the door no matter the provocation.

So why am I ok to end the rivalry?  For some reason this games turns people on both sides into people that are not fun to be around.  People who think it's ok to make others feel bad. People who would never do an unkind thing in normal life, but who will become hateful and vitriolic about a football game. I don't need this in my life, and I don't need the temptation to join forces with stupidity again and again.  I apologize to all those who love the rivalry game, enjoy it, and can handle themselves appropriately, but for me it can end right now and I will not shed a tear.

Sep 17, 2012

Political Ponderings

Is it November yet?  I get so sick of campaigns spewing promises and constant attacks on their opponents.  Honestly it makes me not want to vote for anyone.  I am a skeptic by nature, but really is anything that comes out of a politicians mouth ever true?  Oh they say they care about the American people, but then they spend their time in office working their own agenda and doing whatever it takes to get reelected.  I get so sick of the whole thing, both republicans and democrats.  I watched some of both conventions.  Lots of talk, is any of it true?  Why should I trust any of them?  When Obama won the election last time, I was not happy.  I didn't agree with much he campaigned on, but I decided I would give him a fair chance.  Unfortunately he has proven to be worse than I could have imagined.  The national debt troubles me for my children's future, and yet he just keeps spending money, and now he wants me to give him another chance?  His wife told a lovely tale of how their simple upbringings mean they understand us regular people.  "We were young and so in love, and so in debt."  Oh cool she does understand me, except we were young, so in love, and in debt, and couldn't afford a mortgage for eight years after we were married.  Her dear husband went to a private high school whose tuition is more than my kids college tuition.  Yeah he understands me.  So what if he did understand what it was like for me, that doesn't mean he knows how to run a country or get us out of the current economic mess we are in.  If those are the necessary qualifications then Tony could be president and I could be the first lady.  Then everyone could talk about us and judge us, especially me and the $10 dress I bought on clearance.

So my big question is can I trust Mitt Romney to be any better?  He is making an awful lot of promises too.  I know he is a member of my faith, but I can name other politicians who are, who I wouldn't vote for even if it was the only name on the ballot.  As I learn more about Romney, I believe he is a genuinely good person.  Reporters keep digging for dirt, but don't seem to come up with anything.  I am fascinated by people being bothered by his financial success.  Doesn't that mean he is smart and economically wise.  I saw him come to Utah and salvage an Olympics that was a financial  mess and the scapegoat of Olympic scandal.  Did he salvage it.  With flying colors!  Does all this mean he will be a good president?  Don't know, but I do know that he clearly has a head for numbers.  Being a president is more than that though, even though I feel it is our most pressing issue.  I am glad he is a good husband and a good father, but will he be a good president?  Can his personal economic successes translate into successes for our country?  Will he get a chance to show us?

I have no answers, but one thing I do know if we continue on our current course- I don't know how my children and their children can have much hope for the future.Our current government feels the need to control everything and mortgage away people's futures that they will never meet. Does anyone in Washington really care what happens to real American people? Stop saying you care with your mouth, and start showing it by your actions!

Sep 11, 2012

9/11 Memorial

 As part of our trip this summer, we made a stop at the 9/11 Memorial.  As I remember the events of that day 11 years ago, I think about our time spent there.  Yes the skyline in New York has changed, but as the new tower stands tall above the rest and the beautiful pools remind us of the past it seems a perfect metaphor for us.  We must always remember the past, but never fail to build our future.

Sep 4, 2012

First Day Of School already?

Summer is officially over as I sent my three youngest off to school today.  Ashley and Alexis both started college last week, so the day after returning from vacation I was moving Lexie down to Provo, and then later in the week I moved Ashley up to Logan.  Thanks goes to Jared who willingly provided the manpower to empty the Suburban two different times.  I have 5 kids and all 5 are at a different school.  We have a senior at USU, a sophomore at BYU, a sophomore at Viewmont High School, an 8th grader at Centerville Junior high and a 5th grader at Reading Elementary.  For the past 17 years I have taken at least one child into their classroom to meet their teacher and get them situated.  This year my son said, Mom I know where my classroom is, you don't need to come in.  So today I dropped him off at the curb and came back home to my very quiet house.  I really don't like summer coming to a close.  I mean I know I will get a lot more accomplished with them all in school, but I miss them and the quiet is almost overwhelming.  In a few days it will just seem normal, and we will be back in a routine, but I just don't love change.  Change is everywhere around us though, and you never know when major changes are on the horizon.

We enjoyed our last two weeks before school started with family gatherings, the Brigham City Temple Open House, Cross Country meets, canning and FOOTBALL!!!  Remember how I love football?! We made the trip to Provo for the late evening game, and enjoyed every minute of it (well except when we kept scoring field goals instead of touchdowns-might want to work on that boys).  Football and school means fall and the leaves are already changing. Life is always changing, someday I will learn to get used to it.

Aug 30, 2012

The End

Our last day in New York City started out raining, but we were off to the Statue of Liberty rain or shine.  The rain luckily lifted as soon as we were on the ferry, but it brought with it a much appreciated drop in temperatures.  The walk in the downpour with my leaking umbrella was well worth the cooler weather.  It is quite the site to be on the ferry as you approach Lady Liberty.  I love this country, and even though the statue was made in France, it is still a symbol of our country.  It was fun to take the kids there and then to walk around Ellis Island.  I am grateful to live in this country, grateful for the opportunities it provides, and grateful that my ancestors came her many years ago even before Ellis Island days.

Breanna's Titanic Moment
After our somewhat rocky ride back, we took a little walk down Wall Street, took the obligatory picture with the bull, and walked through Trinity Church. (Hello, it was also under scaffolding! Don't  you think they could arrange to not have the two churches I was going to show my kids under scaffolding?) Next we went to the 9/11 Memorial. This is definitely a worthwhile stop.  I will never forget that day. I realize there has been some controversy about rebuilding in this area, but I think it's great.

We stopped for a quick lunch at The Shake Shack.  My verdict for the famed burger place-quite tasty!  I was not disappointed.  We liked the Black and White shake so much, that we have already tried to recreate it here at home. Then we were off to the Red Sox/Yankee's game.  I am not a real baseball fan, but going to a game is a lot of fun. They still sell cracker jacks, but we opted for cotton candy and popcorn instead. Tony was happy since the Red Sox won.

We took the subway back to Flushing where Tony's sister lives.  We spent the night with Laura and her family and then we left for the airport at 5:20am.  Thankfully our flights were on time on the way home, even a little ahead of schedule. Wow, what a trip.  After all the months of planning, I always wonder if it will live up to my expectations.  It did.  I think we all had a great time.  Although I loved all of the places we visited, the best part is sharing it with my family.  Being with my family is like having a little bit of heaven on earth.  This trip is a memory I hope to always cherish.

Aug 29, 2012

Start spreading the news...New York City

The last three days of the epic Benjamin Family Vacation took place in New York City.  I call it epic because we have never taken a family vacation like this before, and I am not sure we ever will again.  We left Palmyra early Thursday morning hoping to get to the city early afternoon.  That was not to be.  First of all we made a short stop in Pennsylvania to the the Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Site.  It was on the way so it didn't add too much to our time.  Then we hit road construction in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  We stopped for gas in New Jersey, managed to seriously offend the attendant there (that's a story for another time), and then spent 45 minutes going about 5 miles to get to the hotel in the city.  All in all we arrived at our hotel at about 5pm, and Tony still needed to return the rental car. We may have gotten a little stir crazy in the car, and I may have made the mistake of letting my children drink caffeinated soda since the KFC in Scranton didn't have other options, but we all arrived in one piece with only having to ask them to stop biting each other once or twice.

After Tony returned from dropping off the rental car, we explored Pier 17 and then we hopped on the subway for the ride to Brooklyn and Grimaldi's Pizza.  Best Pizza Ever!  Of course we had to stand in line for a little bit, but it wasn't awful and before long the nice man found a seat for the family of 7 who came all the way from Utah for their pizza.  The pizza really is good with it's homemade cheese and thin coal-oven browned crust.  We polished off three large pizzas, in part thanks to Jared.  Next we enjoyed the spectacular views across the water of the NY skyline and then we walked back across the Brooklyn Bridge.  Beautiful bridge.  I love the look of the city all lit up at night, nothing like it in Utah, I think the kids were mesmerized.  Last stop for the evening was the Empire State Building.  It was a beautiful, clear night so we braved the crowds and made the trek to the 86th floor.  It took awhile, and we didn't get back to the hotel until a little after 1am, but this is the city that never sleeps so we shouldn't either right?

Friday we started the day in Central Park, it was another beautiful day, but a bit on the warm side.  I love how you can walk through Central Park, and forget that you are even in a big city.  The noise and everything seem to just disappear.  After the park we went to the Met for a mad dash tour of favorites and some air conditioning.  We checked out Egyptian scarcophagus and the Temple of Dendur, some ancient sculptures from Greece and Rome, some armor, and threw in a few famous paintings.  We bought hot dogs from a street vendor, and really they were quite tasty, and then we rushed on to do some shopping.  The girls checked out a jewelry store and the boys went to the Converse store.  Then we did some haggling for deals on Canal Street.  Honestly we probably could have gotten better deals, but I was so hot I just wanted to be done. Have I ever mentioned that I hate humidity?

 After cooling off a little, we went to dinner at Carmine's for delicious lasagna, and then walked around Times Square a little before our show.  We got caught in a downpour, but luckily we had brought our umbrellas.  We went to see Newsies.  We loved it.  I have always liked the movie, but I liked the play so much more!  The music and dancing were sooo good! My girls were drooling over Jack Kelly, but who cares what he looked like, his voice was amazing.  It was fun and energetic, just what a bunch of weary travelers needed to stay awake.  I am still humming or singing Santa Fe. Last stop of the night was Carnegie Deli for cheesecake.  (You know you could make a post about New York City just about the food-good thing you walk so much when you are there!)  If you like cheesecake you must try this place someday.