Sunday, May 31, 2009


Our devoted followers will notice we haven't blogged in a couple of weeks, but there's a good reason for our neglect.  For the past 2 weeks the Steens have been jet setting around the globe! By globe I still mean this continent, but we did go to Boston, New York City, Costa Rica, and Washington D.C. (all places we'd never get to see easily if we lived in Utah).  So stay tuned in the next few days as we summarize our whirlwind tour of those exciting places.  

I had never been to Boston before, so when work took me there on May 18th, I was very excited. Boston was of course very prominent in the Revolution, and it was also the first state to legalize gay marriage, which can only be a great source of pride to the Founding Fathers now, wherever they are.  We stayed with Eric and Alisa, our old friends from Provo who relocated to Boston about a year ago.  They were excellent hosts, picking us up from the airport and allowing us to stay with them for a couple of nights.  They are the new, proud parents of a cute little baby boy, Tyler.  

Robyn and me with Alisa, Eric, and baby Tyler

Robyn with baby Tyler - he is just over 2 weeks! (I, Robyn, just fell in love with him - he is so adorable!)

Being the history buff that I am, I was anxious to see all the historic sites, chief among them being Mike's Pastry on Hanover street.

If you ever go to Boston you'd be crazy not to go to this place. I've never seen a larger selection of sweets. We enjoyed cannolis, brownies, and chocolate cheesecake that rivals anything at the Cheesecake Factory. But Boston is most famous for its Revolutionary War history, of course. The Colonial and Revolutionary periods are my favorite to learn about because it was such a harrowing time for our young country and I really believe the best men in our history lived then.

Me, in front of Paul Revere's house, who was blessed to live just down the street from Mike's Pastry. Among the many similarities between me and Mr. Revere, we both lived in a row house.

Two modern day Patriots in the courtyard in front of North Church, where Paul Revere began his famous ride to warn Bostonians of the invading British.

The inside of North Church

Another highlight of our visit was a trip to Walden Pond, made famous by 19th century hippy Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau lived in isolation in Walden Pond for about 18 months, in a homemade cabin not too far from civilization.

Robyn, in a rare display of whimsy, holds hands with Mr. Thoreau

We also visited Salem, site of the now notorious Salem witch trials of 1692. Though they are largely vilified by history now, the witch trials performed an invaluable service by ridding the country of witches, potential witches, witch sympathizers, and enablers. The witch trials show how far our criminal justice system has come since the 17th century. In Puritan Salem in 1692, all one had to do to be tried as a witch was be accused by some crackpot who had some convulsions and claimed she was being tormented by your spirit at night. Hearsay was not only allowable, it was the only form of evidence used to determine if one was a witch or not.

On our way home from Salem we stopped by the bay to get a view of the ocean.

We were freezing.

Our hotel the last night happened to be right across the street from the Necco headquarters. This was a childhood treat Robyn and her family enjoyed. They no longer give tours, but they did give us a nice gift pack of Necco candy, including Necco wafers in all flavors and the chocolate pack, patriotic conversation hearts, and dots on paper.

So that's Boston.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Birthday Poem

Ode to Robyn Steen
By: Sienna Casos (My adorable niece!)  

My lovely aunt, you are a charm
Your hair sparkles even when you are in alarm!
I love your smile, so soft and clean
You are amazing, my lovely Queen!

Some people say, Boy you're getting fat!
But if they say that, they'll have to deal with fatty Matt
That child in you is a lucky one
With the greatest parents of everyone!

I love you
Happy Birthday Robyn!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Baby Steener

Most of you know we are pregnant!  I am due November 15th!  We are so happy and excited to add a little one to our family.  This is a profile shot of the baby taken with my ultrasound last week when I was 12 weeks and 4 days.  It was amazing to see the baby jumping around, kicking legs, and waiving to us.  Matt and I have already argued over whose nose the baby has.  He once told me I have a huge nose!  I know it's not small, but I never considered it to be HUGE!  I tell him that his nose is still a bit bigger than mine.

So far, I've been doing pretty well.  I have gone through the morning sickness (which really lasts all day).  It wasn't the worst case scenario that's for sure - no trips to the loo :)  Now, I feel pretty good as long as I eat every 3 hours or so.  When I don't, the nausea sets in and I get really grumpy fast.  We can't wait to find out if we will have a Matthew Kenneth Steen the IV or if we will add a sweet baby girl to our family.  We will keep you posted!


Mary and I before the big ride.

This is the York County Heritage Rail Trail.  It is a 19 mile trail that runs from York down into Maryland.  This is a picture I took when Grace and I walked it one day.  Last Saturday, Matt and I went with Mark and Mary to New Freedom to start the trail.  Matt decided to run and the rest of us rode bikes.  It was so much fun until we turned around to come back.  I didn't realize the decline we were going until I had to go back up it.  Truly, it's not that big of an incline, but it was steady and constant.  My seat wasn't high enough, so a few hours later, I was in a lot of pain right above both of my knees.  I think we went somewhere around 15 miles in total.  Matt probably ran close to 13 miles round trip.  He's never ran that far.  He didn't have a watch on him.  We ran into him on our way back and couldn't believe how far he had come.  

That night, I fell asleep out of exhaustion and woke up at 2 in the morning in so much pain I just couldn't get back to sleep. I went downstairs to find the paper my doctor had given me on the medications I could take.  I didn’t have Tylenol and just started crying.  Matt woke up, came downstairs and tried to console me.  He put ice on my legs and went to the grocery store to get me Tylenol PM.  I am so grateful for such a loving husband.  I stayed up until almost 4 until I felt like I could fall back asleep.  After much research online seeking to self-diagnose myself, I concluded that I had damaged my quadriceps tendons. 

Thankfully, when I woke up at 7, I felt 100% better.  The pain came back that night, but I haven’t had any problem since.  So, lessons learned:

When you haven’t ridden a bike in years, take it easy. 

Turn around while you are feeling really good.

Make sure your seat is high enough so that your leg extends completely as you bike.

Have your medicine cabinet stocked! 

Take medicine as soon as pain is coming on.  

Lititz and Bird-in-Hand

Grace (Matt's mom) and I have been going on adventures to different small towns around Lancaster.  This week we went to Lititz, PA which is a small town that was settled by Members of the Moravian Church in 1756.  The Church motto is "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; and in all things, love."  I had never heard of that church, but found out that it's roots are in the Czech Republic.  For a century, only members of the Moravian Church were aloud to live in Lititz.  

Moravian Church
Wilbur Chocolate Co - this is my favorite place in Lititz.  I love chocolate!  I bought some malted milk balls - they are the best!
This picture is for Grace.  I found this on the internet - Our beloved President Obama visiting the Wilbur Chocolate Co.
There are lots of boutiques and fun places to eat in Lititz.


The end of April, Grace and I visited Bird-in-Hand.  I have a fascination with the Amish people and their life of simplicity.  They have a great bakery in this town that Grace loves to visit.  My mom's been there too, so it must be famous!  Outside they have a little goat farm.  

They were playing King of the Mountain on this bridge.  I gasped as that black goat pushed the white one off the bridge.
Grace feeding the goats.

I caught a shot of some Amish children walking home from school.

This is The Farmisville Auction which is held weekly on Tuesdays.  I found out about his online and thanks to the trusty GPS (a house warming gift from Mary, Mark, and Grace) we were able to experience all the auction had to offer, which wasn't much.  We got there about an hour before it started.  It was like a ginormous yard sale.  There was only one thing I would have ever considered bidding on - a black medal plant three-tier plant stand.  I hate to say it, but it was a bunch of junk!  The parking lot was packed with cars.  Lots of people attended the event.  I'm not sure if they were really interested in the items for bid or in socializing with each other. 


Last week, Matt had a hearing in Pittsburgh, so Grace and I drove out with him.  His hearing was actually in Mars, PA.  We thought it was an interesting name.  Nearby was the city of Cranberry and the city of Moon.  We got in on Sunday night and after his hearing Monday, we headed into Pittsburgh to check it out.  None of us had been there before.

This is a good view of the three rivers that run through Pittsburgh.  The Ohio meets the Allegheny River on the left and the Monongahela River on the right.  It was raining that day, so not the clearest view.
A view of the city.  
The Duquesne Incline opened in 1877 to carry cargo up and down Mount Washington and later to transport residents of the Mount to and from Pittsburgh.  Two original cable cars are still used.  The incline was originally steam powered.
Matt and I riding up the incline.

My fried, Chelsey happened to have a conference for work Monday through Friday.  We met up with her Friday night and went out to dinner and dessert.  It was so fun to see her!  My first friend to visit PA!  Who's next?

Philadelphia and Independence Hall

On April 25th, we went to Philadelphia for the day.  The weather was gorgeous - low 80's.  Our friend, Cortney is living in downtown doing post-doctorate work at the University of Pennsylvania.  We met her at her apartment and then walked down to Independence Hall.  Our tour guide did an amazing job bringing to life the events of our nation's birth.  He really captured my interest and I left wanting to know more - so I might just have to give in and read some of those books Matt has been recommending to me.  He is so interested in history and has been reading biographies of Abraham Lincoln and others.  I on the other hand, usually read fiction (if I read at all as my book club friends will attest to).  
This is the court room in Independence Hall.  We adopted many similarities from the British in our courtrooms.  One difference from today is that there is a box (sort of looks like a mini jail) in the center of the room where the person held at trial was literally made to "stand" trial so that everyone knew who was on trial.  Also, there are no doors to this courtroom as the room was built on the principle of open trials.  
The Assembly Room is where the Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation, and Constitution were all signed.  It is amazing to think of the bravery of these men that put their live and the lives of their families at risk by seeking Independence.  I couldn't help but think of their commitment to their country and liberty.  These men had differences of opinions, but they managed to work through things to come up with solutions that would be for the better of our country.  Watching what goes on today, I worry that politicians are polarizing themselves from the other side and so worried about being right or promoting their own personal agendas, that they can no longer work together and compromise to find solutions.  
Cortney and I in the Assembly Room.
Matt and me in back of Independence Hall.

The Liberty Bell.  This bell was rung from the tower of Independence Hall to invite people to Independence Square to hear the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence.  It was later adopted by the abolitionists during the time they were working to free slaves as a symbol of freedom.  It was really unclear at the museum how the crack originally formed, but it rang for the last time to honor George Washington's birthday on February 26, 1846 when the cracked expanded and left the bell unringable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Moving to Pennsylvania

4 weeks ago, tomorrow, Matt and I hit the road for Pennsylvania. It's hard to believe it's been an entire month and yet I miss all of my family and friends in Utah so much that it seems much longer. We are living in Red Lion which is just east of York. Really, we are just a mile and a half into Red Lion, so we're not right in the downtown area of Red Lion where all the street signs are yellow with red lions on them. We are living in a rental town home community. It is huge. I have still to meet one person that lives here. We live in an end unit and are assuming that no one lives next door. One day we came home to find a notice on the neighbors door from a utility company saying that they owed over $400 and their utilities would be turned off the balance was not paid. That note was on there a long time, so no neighbor. The first and only visitor at my door (outside of family) was the sheriff! I had just been wondering that day if we had a doorbell. Well, we do. I opened the door to find the sheriff who asked for Nick. I told him I don't know a Nick and that we just moved in a week and a half ago. He took my name down to ensure they don't bother me anymore. We got a letter in our mailbox addressed to Uncle Nick's Diner. So, Matt and I lovingly refer to the previous tenant as "Uncle Nick." I just threw that letter away today. Probably should have sent it back to the post office, but that's too much hassle! Matt felt bad and said that he likes to hold on to mail for at least a month for previous tenants in case they come by looking for mail. I told Matt that I was really hoping that "Uncle Nick" never comes by after the visit from the sheriff!

Pennsylvania is really beautiful in the spring. The leaves started coming in on the trees a few weeks ago and so the highways are just lined with thick beautiful green trees. There are so many trees flowering. I have never seen so many different trees in bloom. I've taken a picture of a few. Right now the dogwoods are in full bloom - pink flowers on some and white on others. They are gorgeous. It's been raining a lot too. The first week we were here it rained every day for about a week. Matt was so upset - he said he was really wanting me to like this place and the rain was just never ending. Then we had mid to high 80's and I was loving it! Alas, this week it's raining like crazy again - overcast every day and chilly. There is a flood warning out tonight and I have to pick up Matt at the Baltimore airport at 10! Ah well!

There are so many places to see out here. So far, we've gone to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Matt's mom, Grace, and I also went out to Amish country to explore. I still have lots of adventures ahead!

We (meaning Matt) drove a 17' U-Haul out with my car towed in back.  Here we are at our first stop - Sonic.  As we were pulling up to get the food, Matt realized that the truck was too tall for the drive through without doing some major damage to the roof.  Props to him for thinking of that BEFORE we actually did the damage.  So, we had to back up and pull up  again.  I was laughing so hard at Matt having to get out of the truck to pay the guy and get our food.  Had to take a pic!

This is a blooming tree/bush at our chapel.  It is nice that it only takes us 10 minutes to get there.  For some it would be a 30 minute drive, the boundaries are so wide-spread.  It does take us 50 minutes to get to the Stake Center.  
This is a tree that was in bloom a few weeks ago across from Grace's home in Columbia.