Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Ashley's 16th Birthday and a trip to New York

Ashley doesn't look so excited in this picture of us on the plane but don't let her 1/2 smile fool you she was excited that we were traveling to New York and would be there for her birthday this year. 

The trip happened when Jeff found a deal on Jet Blue to New York (which Ashley had been talking about wanting to visit) and we realized that since everyone's Spring Break is at different times we would do a quick long weekend since everyone had school and work off at the same time. We also thought it would be fun to bring JJ with us for his Christmas present since he has always wanted to visit New York too.  

We took a red eye out to New York on Friday night after a long day of work and school and got into the city about 9 am. Our hotel wasn't ready yet so we went out to Times Square while we waited and got some food. 

This trip the kids were OK with me taking lots of pictures. So I did. Ha ha. 

All of them would hand me their phones to take pictures for snapchat and I got a few of my own too. JJ was excited to be in times square.

JJ and Ashley brought their fanny packs for the occasion and sported them as we went through out the city calling out "fanny pack pack!" to each other throughout the day. Stylin!

The first thing we noticed was how cold it was there!  The first day was the warmest but the next two days was in the teens with a windchill making it feel like 0 degrees. We haven't been that cold in awhile but since we wanted to explore the city we just learned to bundle up and bought what we didn't have to keep warm (like extra gloves and hats...and sweatshirts). We had lots of layers that we would shed when we were inside and then would have to put back on when we went outside. 

Even Ashley didn't mind me taking her picture this weekend. In fact she welcomed it. Happy Birthday Ashley.

All over the city we saw remnants of Christmas and the one that I liked the most was the poster advertising the Light the World Initiative.

We did some random window shopping even just to get out of the cold. Ashley wanted to look closer in this store that had a giant teddy bear. We weren't familiar with the brand but it was full of stuffed animals that were expensive. 

In the Disney Store we found a stitch doll and we thought of Jacob. I told them the story of how Jacob was scared when we had moved into a new house (he was 4) and I had handed him a stitch doll that was holding 4 guns and told him it would protect him and for years after he couldn't go to bed without it. 

Our hotel room was ready for us to check in about 12 and we went and took much needed naps for a couple of hours before we headed back out again. 

Our plan was to go downtown and see the 911 memorial and museum. This was JJ's first trip on a Subway!

When we got to the station we were surprised to see an indoor mall and a winter wonderland right in the middle of it. There were people sitting on chairs that looked like snowballs surrounded by snowmen.  This was something that wasn't built the last time we were in New York. 

The outside of the station looked like a white whale tail breaching out of the water to me. 

The first thing we saw when we emerged from the station was the completed Freedom Tower. It was still under construction when we visited last. 

Taylor and Ashley are recreating the scene from Titanic as he holds her up high enough to see the fountain/waterfall in the 911 memorial 

Taylor and JJ were young when 9-11 happened and they don't remember much about it and I was pregnant with Ashley at the time so she doesn't remember anything about it. It was nice to share such an important part of our recent history with the kids.

It was wild to think we were walking right underneath where the trade center towers were and we even walked down steps that were parallel with the "survivor steps" that were used as people escaped. 

The most impressive parts of the museum including actual artifacts from survivors, papers that were collected 1/2 burned from the building, the actual firetrucks that were destroyed when the building came down and more that wasn't allowed to be photographed.

They did a great job re-telling the story of what happened and what the experience was like from many different perspectives. We could have stayed a lot longer in the museum but we hadn't eaten yet and it was getting late so we cut our visit shorter than we would have had we known how much there was to see. 

The kids liked sitting on the 2nd floor of the pizza place. A lot of food places don't have a lot of seating so either they have few tables that kick you out of when you're done eating or they have a second (or third) level for seating. 

One of the things that the kids wanted to eat in New York was their pizza. You can buy it by the slice and they often have unique toppings on it. We went to this placed that was near the museum but it wasn't the best pizza place but we were so hungry we didn't really care.  

By the time we were done eating it was dark but we wanted to head to Battery Park to get a view of the Statue of Liberty. The best picture we got was the kids standing in front of a miniature fake statue of Liberty because the real one was so far away that our phones would only take blurry pictures of it. It was so windy and freezing cold we didn't stand outside admiring it for very long. 

Before we headed back to our hotel we walked to the financial district and got a good look at the bull up close. 

The next morning we walked around town and did some more exploring. 

This was the only morning we sat down and actually had a nice breakfast. 

We went into the NBC studios shop and pretended like we were judges on the voice. 

We also stood on the podium and pretended like we were at the Olympics. 

We walked through the Rockefeller Building and checked out the Ice Skating. 

The city was still kind of decorated for Christmas but not all the lights were put on at night. I imagine how great it is here during Christmas. 

I took a 

Ashley in the Big Apple...Lego Store. 

The window display was a miniature version of Manhattan.

Near our hotel was St. Peter's cathedral. We went in to check it out and they let us walk through it even though it was during the middle of mass. 

The church was full and huge but they were welcoming and invited us to walk around the perimeter. 

This chapel was behind where the priest was preaching. It was quiet (only one person was praying in it) We weren't allowed to take any pictures in it...until we walked outside of the glass door and then we could take a picture. 

The highlight of our day was seeing Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway. I guess tickets are hard to come by and expensive but New York Life ended up hooking us up and we were able to buy them at the box office price (still expensive) and we had great seats. 

We were sitting in the only box seats in the theater.

 Jeff took a video on his phone to capture it but he ended up dropping the phone and it hit the hand of the lady below us!! I thought his phone was a goner but he went down and got it and apologized (the lady was whining that it really hurt and it could've hit her head. The people around her tried saying he didn't do it on purpose) he brought it back upstairs and it was recording the whole time!

By the time we were done it was dark. It was actually Ashley's birthday today and what a great way to spend it. 

We celebrated Ashley's birthday at a nice Italian restaurant that happened to be right next door to our hotel. 

Afterwards we walked around Time's Square one last time since it was our last night in town. 

There were street performers, people dressed up in minions, Elmos and other characters we stopped to check out the guy with the Dolorean that looked like he was the professor from Back to the Future. 

Jeff and Ashley both had to sit inside the Dolorean and look like they were driving it. 

The next day was our last day and the highlight was a tour of the New York Life building. 

It was a holiday so the office was empty but the Fire Safety guy who also gives tours was hired to come in just for us to give us a tour which was very nice of him. 

We spent a couple of hours seeing the highlights of the New York Life building. On the top floor it had a killer view of the city and it was at this point the JJ realized that he's afraid of heights. He was pretty uncomfortable and feeling anxious until we were back inside an on lower floors. 

Jeff got to hold one of the gold roof tiles which are regular roof tiles painted gold. 

It's pretty bright on the top of the roof!

Next we went down into the basement and the kids got to check out the vault where they used to keep all the money that they would pay employees. It was a huge vault with a giant door. 

We also got to go to the 13th floor which is where the board of directors usually are but they were out for the day so we got to walk in a lot of rooms we wouldn't normally be able to see. I guess the guy that build the New York life building was superstitious and didn't want to make a 13th floor and only agreed he would if they housed the executives on it. They agreed, the 13th floor was made and the executives have been there ever since. 

He also told us a story about a clock that was thrown out by one president of the company and then during restoration another asked about it and wanted it back so people had to scour the area for it and bring it back. It's dinged up and missing a few parts and pieces but they found it. 

On the Subway ride back we stopped at Grand Central Station to show the kids. 

Our last stop was Central Park. We only had 2 hours to explore it before we had to head back to the airport to make our flight so we weren't planning to see very much. 

We met up with pedicab drivers when we entered the park and Jeff negotiated a price he was willing to pay to get a ride through the park. 

It ended up being the best idea. It was freezing and we got to see the park riding on a bike with a blanket on our laps listening to our guides tell us about everything. 

In the background of this picture is the building that they filmed ghostbusters at. 

This was the fountain that they had at the beginning of Friends. 

Here is the John Lennon Memorial. It's a place where you are supposed to be quiet and even though it was cold there were a lot of people there. 

We got to the airport in time for our 7pm flight which ended up being delayed over 4 hours so it ended up being an 11pm flight. We didn't get to bed until 3:30 in the morning and it was an early day when we all had to wake up for work and school!

Update from Jacob

January 15th 2018

Well... only for a day, but now it's cold again. But! It is a lot warmer than last week though! Still hasn't snowed, but on the day that it was warm, it rained. Sadly, that mad it much colder the next couple of days because it turned into more humid cold. 

Hello Family!
      And Happy Birthday Ash! I know it was yesterday, but I can't email on Sundays. You are 16 now! When i left you were only 14! You need to stop growing up! I love you Ash, and I hope you had a great birthday. We also hit 16 at the same time! You turned 16 yesterday, and I hit 16 months yesterday! Time is flying! 
    What is new here.... well, we found out who the new mission president is going to be! His name is Elder Adler (i think that's how you spell it), he is currently serving as an area 70 in Germany right now! I'm not sure if he is German or not, but i'm super excited! I love President Alexander, and i will miss him dearly. He is a jolly old soul, who I have learned much from, and i am very grateful for the opportunity i have had to serve most of my mission with him. 
   Transfers are this Thursday! We have no idea what is happening, but i think we will find out tomorrow! We are pretty sure both me and Elder Flint are staying.

      We had stake conference yesterday, and Elder Bednar spoke. It was actually a regional stake conference so Bednar spoke at salt lake to the southeast states. He is a very powerful speaker! His talk was based off of keeping the first two principles of the gospel intertwined. How repentance is nothing more than a change of behavior if we forget the last step, acknowledging Christ. It was really powerful, and it humbled me! Theres a lot i see i need to repent of! (Not anything serious, just the little things haha) We were also able to see a couple of our investegators come to church!
       One of thems name is Karen. She wasn't too interested in meeting with us at first, but she let us come back! We have been teaching her a few months now, and she is progressing really well! She just needs a lot more member friends. It's great as a missionary, because most of the time working with members,  we get to coach them on how to be the best fellowshipper. A lot of members want to do all they can to be  missionary but they don't know how, so we tell them :) We had asked a few members if they could sit by her at stake conference, and only one responded. When stake conference came, all the members we asked had seats saved for her, so we gave her a seat in the 4th row with one of her close fellowshippers. 
      The other person we are working closely with is Noor! I think i told you a little of her story on the call, but she is super elect! The last 4 lessons we've had have all been in members homes, in all different homes! The ward is really helping with her, and have grown to love her!  It was scary because we had seats for her in the front too, but we did'nt see her there! However, we found out later, that she came! She just got off working a 12 hour shift and came straight to church! She even took notes! She had to leave right after though because she was exhausted.  So that's our miracle story!

      One thing we've learned as missionaries, is there is a little seceret if you don't have a member meal. You text some members and try an set either an appoinment with them, or ask if you can have a lesson at their home, and you ask if it could be around 5 or 6. Then they with say they're busy, or they're like "yes! Do you have a dinner tonight?" Since it's around dinner time they'll wonder. Then we say no, and they say they could have us for dinner with the lesson so it all works out great! It's a win-win! We get a member meal, and the members get to be uplifted by either a lesson with an investegator or help with their missionary work from the missionaries! 
Love you Family! 
-Elder Beaulieu 

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