Wednesday, August 10, 2011

adventure *day 4*

Upstate New York is absolutely lovely.

Cooperstown is one of the most quaint and picturesque towns in the entire United States. It is on a beautiful lake, there are charming, old fashioned houses along the streets and some large mansions around the lake, fun shops on the Main Street, it is clean, the people are nice despite the massive influx of people on their community every summer...I could go on and on.

We stayed in an even smaller town just outside of Cooperstown called Hartwick.

I loved it.

We stayed in a cute blue house called My Blue Heaven. And you know what? It truly was. I took these pictures of the outside. We loved the wrap around deck, the wooded area we were in the middle of, and the yard was perfect for the boys to run around in. The inside was cute too, I don't know why I didn't take any pictures but there were two levels with plenty of room to hang out in and I loved that there was a laundry room and a kitchen which saved a ton of money with not having to go to a laundromat or out to eat every night.

Liam wants to live there.

Early Saturday morning we went to go say hi to Nick. We walked around the park a little bit and bought some souveniers. The team was out eating breakfast in the park which was nice because we as family members were not allowed where the players lived. If we wanted to see Nick, we would have to check him out and one of his coaches would have to walk him to the entrance. It was reassuring to know that a coach had to accompany the boys everywhere they went even though the pre teens weren't sure they liked it so much.

We bummed around the park for a little bit and then went into Cooperstown to look at all the fun shops there. Every shop we went in produced a flurry of requests for things that caught the boys' eyes. It is hard to just choose one thing when everything looks so special. To help divert the boys we headed over to the local Farmer's Market and bought some delicious peaches and blueberries. While our mouths were dripping juice from the peaches we decided to drive back to the house and have lunch and hang out before Nick had his opening ceremonies.

This is us squished into the bleachers with the other parents our team waiting for our little All Stars during the opening ceremonies. The scene was pretty electrifying--teams that had banners and matching shirts, people who were selling concessions, "Bally" the mascot walking around--it felt like you were at a major league game. And yes, Andrew did survive the head lock that Liam has him in.

They even had skydivers.

Then the moment we all were waiting for. The announcement of the teams.

We were one of the very last ones to be announced since they went alphabetically and when there are 104 teams to be announced, we were waiting quite a while. But it was amazing. The procession was similar to the opening ceremonies of the Olympics: each team carrying their team banner, proud, smiling boys everywhere who definately felt like superstars, teams throwing swag into the crowd, and adoring fans screaming out their names. I still get chills thinking about it.

Our position in the stadium was perfect. Our team ended up right in front of us after their names were called which was perfect for pictures. Pictures of a truly once in a lifetime event for Nick.

Here are our fearless coaches: Travis, Troy, and Scott.

Thank goodness for a coach who understands a mom's need to capture these moments on film and telling my son where to look at the camera.

Bridger even had his head shaved to look like a baseball.

After the opening ceremonies there were 4 competitions: The Golden Arm (who can throw the furthest and most accurate), the Road Runner(who can run the bases the fastest), the King of Swat(who can hit the most home runs), and Around the Horn (the team who can throw the ball around the bases the fastest).

Nick was chosen by his teammates to compete in the Golden Arm.

The object of the contest is to stand 125 feet away from the board and the boy receives 1 point for hitting the black part, 3 points if it hits the target, and 5 points if it goes right in the hole. If the ball bounces and then hits any part of the board or goes through the hole, the boy is only rewarded 1 point.

Nick did pretty well. His total was 3 points and he needed 4 to get into the finals. Bummer. He hit the target once, over threw the ball on his second throw, and then one hit the ground and went right through the hole.

Here he is warming up a bit...

and waiting for his turn to throw.

Right before his last attempt. It looks like he is giving the ball a stern talking to.

So proud of him!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

adventure *day 3*

We got off early Friday morning and in our close examination of the map, we realized that we were just a few miles away from Kirtland, OH and Palmyra, NY was just a few miles off the freeway so we decided to go and see these two significant sites of the Restoration of the Church.

We just stopped by the temple in Kirtland since it was 6 in the morning. It was pretty awe inspiring to see the first temple of the Church. It was beautiful and the history behind it is humbling. I honestly don't think that I would have made it if I was a pioneer. I don't know. The times were scary then and they are scary now. Just different kinds of scary. Being persecuted day in and day out and having to cope with the trek out west sounds so stressful to me. I am extremely grateful for their strength and in being so dedicated to bringing the Church to where it is today. Eternally grateful. We drove by the Newel K. Whitney store and the surrounding area and then went on our way.

Our next stop was Palmyra, New York. It was wonderful to see the boyhood home of Joseph Smith and where all the stories I have heard since I was little about Moroni, the golden plates, and the Sacred Grove with my own two eyes. I am so happy that we realized we were so close to these sites because I would have been severely disappointed if we would have passed them by. Who knows when we will ever be back in upstate New York.

There were three boys who slept in this bed and three that slept in one just like it in the same room. And the fact that an angel came 3 times during the night and only Joseph woke up? Amazing.

I bet that never in a million years would Joseph think that he could look outside his home and see this beautiful temple. But then, maybe he knew all along.

The frame home that the Smith family later moved into.

This is the original brick of the fireplace that Joseph Smith hid the golden plates so a mob could not find them.

My favorite part was the Sacred Grove. It was absolutely beautiful. Once you walk in, there is an intense feeling of reverence and you can feel that something special occurred here. I could have stayed in there forever.

This was totally unprompted. I walked behind these two for a few minutes snapping pictures until I got the perfect one. Justin even commented that I had enough and should stop snapping pictures already. I am glad that I took this last one.

We then went to see the Hill Cumorah. There were a million people there since they were getting ready for their annual pagent but it was neat hearing the performers go through their songs as we were walking up the path to see the monument of angel Moroni.

It was such a lovely time. I am so glad that we were able to go see these sites. I have been finishing up the Work and the Glory series, honestly just to say goodbye to those darn Steeds, but it truly has strengthened my testimony of Joseph Smith and I love the church all the more.

We piled into the car again and then headed to our final destination of this part of our trip. Cooperstown!

We dropped Nick off at his bunker and helped him get set up. This is the only time we were allowed in Baseball Village during that week. It was so weird not having Nick with us! We were one of the first ones there so he got a pretty sweet spot in the corner on the bottom bunk. His good buddy Chance got the bunk on the top. They had to bring their own sheets and just had a footlocker at the end of the bunkbeds that we put all of his stuff in and locked it up with his padlock.

We weren't there very long until players from the other teams came around wanting to trade their team pins. Nick was caught up in the fever and was soon off trading his pins off. He got 95 of the 104 teams represented and has over 100 pins total with his umpire pins and others he received while he was in Cooperstown. I'll have to take pictures of the pins he received because they are pretty impressive.

Here is what the Scrapper's pin looked like. Pretty darn sweet.

It looks like he is pretty psyched to be here.

We are too!