Thursday, May 19, 2011

Graduation

Busy busy all day long until I am bored at work, isn't that how it goes? Go go, stop! Oh well, gives me time to catch up here. Back from Disney we enjoyed some nice weather (briefly before the rains came down and the floods came up [I hope my house is built upon a rock!]). We enjoyed the gardens and children's gardens and the tulips there immensely. We had our annual mother's day lunch at the Trellis Cafe (overlooks the gardens) and it was so lovely. They really take their time there, in a good way so you can visit and not feel rushed. And bless our sweet server, he asked the chef if he could get Claire some fruit and the chef chopped up a whole bowl in teeny tiny perfect for her pieces. I would have recommended the Trellis anyway, but yet another reason. They serve soup, salad, sandwiches, little desserts, the like. Lowell would say high estrogen levels there. Here's my mom, sis, and Claire for her first girly lunch: We did some shopping that afternoon as well but I was not impressed with the selection or prices at the Beehive Bazaar this year. Oh and Jill, if you read this, that is where I got the cupcake hat last year, nothing like it this year unfortunately. We ran around trying to get all our mother's day plans in a row when we found out that Lowell's dad had fallen and broken his hip. So scary. He had surgery and is still in a rehab center but is doing really well and coming along in physical therapy. Prayers for our sweet grandpa.





Just a shot of my sweet missy sleeping, love her. She loves her Minnie too, she curls up with her a lot. She used to lay so still at night, now you never know what you'll find. We put her to bed on her back of course but this morning I found her asleep on her tummy sleeping on her face. She was breathing okay, so I let her be.





Another one of my big girl--who has not gotten enough wear out of her cute spring clothes since spring refuses to arrive. Boo.




So what did we do all last week? Hmm. Sunday Lowell made me breakfast in bed and got me flowers and the boys sang to me at church. Then we had dinner with Lowell's mom and went to see grandpa. I was off Monday--we went to the dinosaur museum per request. Wednesday we went to see Hop, it was okay. The kids liked it and Lowell and I thought it was just okay. Don't get extra butter on the popcorn at the $3 theater--it's just too much. The kids finished up their last full week of school. Friday they had a father and sons camp out and Lowell took the boys up just for the evening part.





They caught a lizzard






And salmonella (not really!)


Claire and I had a girls day while they were off, shopping, getting take out, and having a stroll through the gardens. It was a nice night. We snuggled and had a good time. Nice to have one on one with the little miss once in a while.


Saturday we had a nice junk fest--got Arby's new chicken salad sandwich, had a free coupon and it was great. Hearty and healthy, great summer sandwich. Then Del Taco's new fried Mac&cheese, much less healthy but still fun and pretty yummy, in small portions. Then we made our Saturday Kneader's run that really put it over the top. Had their monthly cupcake--chocolate cake and chocolate chips, huge ice cream cone swirl of rich mint frosting, top and bottom dipped in chocolate ganache. I scooped off a bunch of the frosting and still felt sick after, but yes it was very yummy.


Monday again we got ready for the big graduation. I can hardly stand that my kids have graduated from preschool. How can they have passed that part of their life already?


We had a celebration because I wanted them to know academic accomplishments are a big deal to us.






I made treats for the party--graduation caps, I really love how cute they turned out. I did the frosting in the high school's colors (where they do preschool).



The top is an after 8 mint and a mini m&m. The boys wanted to help, so they unwrapped the Reese's and sorted the M&Ms.





Cupcakes, they decorated them for me.




Per their request we spent Monday at the pool (after signing up for the literacy centers free classes this summer, yea!) Thanks to Hill for helping with both items. It was fun and Claire did really well, she likes water like her brothers. And they are finally tall enough to stand in the big center pool so that changed things up a little.




Tuesday they want to their last day of school (sob!). The parents were invited and although the outdoor field day was cancelled (it was actually snowing!) they moved it inside and still had a blast. Lots of carnival type games and prizes all along. Fun times.





Last day of school pic to match first day of school one. I couldn't get it to move like I'd like but if you go to January 2010 posts, you'll find it. I thought I put them in the same sweater but I guess I was wrong, just similar style. They have grown up so much in that time. When they started school I was just pregnant with Claire, didn't even know it yet--so she has been there the whole time too.




We went to Chuck E Cheese to celebrate with the boys. They had fun of course. And Lowell found a game he could get a lot of tickets from so they had 1,000 to trade in at the end. Lots of silly prizes and candy to take home. Happy kids. Success. We then took them out to dinner at IHOP and my parents joined us. Then the big program.





Graduates!






Davis with his diploma




Carter





With their favorite teacher Jodi. She is a saint, I mean it. She truly loved my kids and it has made all the difference. I can only hope the future holds many such wonderful people to grace my little ones' lives.





At our after party. Lowell's mom and sister and my parents and sister came and celebrated with us. Cyndel was a sweetie to stay and read them bedtime (they call it bed-night) stories. Thanks Cyn!






video

Song the class sung





video


What they want to be when they grow up (I was a little worried, but the answers were fine).




Then Wednesday we slept in and had no where to go. I was pretty low that day. I struggle a lot with change and getting up and taking them to school on a schedule is what I have done for the past 8+ months. And the summer before I knew we'd take a break and then be back. It is hard for me to say goodbye to people I care about not knowing when I will see them again. And maybe my thyroid is just being weird on top of it all making me feel worse, I don't know. But it has been a little rough. So I just snuggled with my boys all morning and that helped. We put Claire down for a nice nap (didn't have to be anywhere, yea!) and played Mario Party on the wii. And the kids can stomp me even when I am really trying. But that was fun. Today we went to the gym for the best Prozac one can have, running. I was worried to leave Claire in the daycare for the first time but she did okay I guess. They said she wanted to be held the whole time but didn't seem bothered by it and she was happy the rest of the morning, so I guess that was a success. It is still hard for me to leave her but I think my physical and mental fitness are worth it. And running it out did help, I am feeling better. Not 100% but better. Looking forward to a full summer of activities and the most imminent of all, my brother's wedding in one week. I am so excited for him and Michelle, can't believe it is finally happening. :)


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DisneyWorld!

I am amazed, I added all the pics and they actually came out correctly, in order, without big gaps, hurray! And yes there are many many pics--less than the 179 that I took, but yes many. If you want the condensed version (also the video of when we surprised the kids, watch the video below):












If you want the whole story--here goes! So Lowell and I got up early (4:30 am) and finished loading the car. I had been packing and loading on the sly for most of the previous day. I went down to get the kids and just told them it was time to get up and ready for school. They were pretty drowsy but easy enough to get dressed. Carter kept saying it was dark outside and everyone was still asleep but took me at my word that it was time for school. I sent them upstairs where they found their Mickey hats, Donald/Goofy toys, and maps of the parks (which they will send you free from their website and they are very nice maps). They were excitedly looking through them but hadn't put anything together yet. So I told them we weren't going to school, we were going to DisneyWorld. They were of course excited, though not as exuberant as I thought they'd be, probably due to it being 5 am. So we loaded up, late of course and rushed to the airport.




I mixed up the time of our flight so we were in a pretty big rush but had to catch this shot of my cuties hustling through the airport. I just love it!
We made the flight:
And we did okay that first leg. Time just stands still on airplanes I've decided. I packed a lot for the kids to do and they only got up to use the restroom 3 or 4 times I think. Claire slept for some of it but was still a wrestle and managed to cover me in baby food. We switched planes in Atlanta and grabbed some food (I love the Southern hospitality!)
Miss Cyndel in Atlanta--then we were stuck on the runway for an hour in high winds, which later became major tornados that killed some people. We were lucky to get out. That flight was decent though the boys tiredness was catching up with them (and us) and only got worse waiting in Orlando for the rental car. I was losing it quickly and it was so darn hot already! We finally got out of the airport and over to the wonderful condo my brother provided and it was so nice to have a real place to crash. I was ready to just put my cranks to bed but we hated to waste the time so we cleaned up and headed out to the Magic Kingdom. It takes forever to get anywhere in Disneyworld I have decided--we had to drive the 10 minutes from the condo, then park, then take a tram, then a ferry, and then we could enter the park. Sheesh. It was fun going in on a boat though, the kids got such a kick out of it and were so excited of course. The giant castle (so much bigger and more majestic than in Cali) glowed pink awaiting our arrival. We got there late enough that the park wasn't that busy any more and we caught some good rides that first stop. Pirates of the Caribbean first (Disneyland's is better), Haunted Mansion, It's a Small World, caught dinner in a restaurant overlooking it's a small world, then saw the fireworks (my fav part of that stop), Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear, and the Stitch ride. Back home to crash at 1 am.
Fireworks and best brothers
Sissy zonked out with a toy still in her mouth. Flushed cheeks, it's 80 degrees at midnight, and humid!


We slept in the next morning, not intentionally but we were so wiped out. Hurried out the door for our only day at Epcot, and a full, long, hot day it was. We knew it would be hot but it was still hard to prepare for when it was snowing at home. We dressed cool, brought water and sunscreen but were still totally baked every day. Poor Claire didn't know what to do with such heat.

Davis holding the Epcot ball
The crew


We headed off in search of fast passes, then off to ride the Nemo ride. It was fun, the line wasn't bad and I especially enjoyed that they incorporated live fish into the ride. The building it was in also had dolphins and lots more to see and play with.


The boys and I in a shark!
Then they met Chip and Dale, Tom and Dale to Carter for some reason??


We found the Coca Cola free soda from around the world shop and spent a fair amount of time cooling off in there, multiple times. We rode a Living with the land ride which was really very interesting, about different ways to grow food--not a fast paced ride but quite intriguing. We saw Claire's very favorite thing in the whole of DisneyWorld, Figment. He's a little characer in a figment of your imagination ride that kept her laughing the whole time. I don't know why. Then some of us rode Soaring while Lowell, I and Claire did Nemo again, her 2nd fav thing. Then we took the boys on Soaring again (I love love that ride!) while the rest went to get more fast passes. But how to meet again was confused and the cell phones died, so that was a bummer of a wait but then we headed over to get some pics with characters:





Love this pic of Lowell with his baby girl!


Then off to explore the lands. Epcot has a world showcase with areas for several countries each with shops, dining, and deco to match that country. There were a couple of rides too. By this point we we starving so the focus was getting some food. It was also as mentioned, so hot. We had brats in Germany, snow cones in Thailand/Japan, croissants in France, and Fish and Chips in England. There was a lot of neat things to see but it took so long to walk and we were so tired and hot we didn't enjoy it as much as I would have liked. It's something I could easily come back and spend a couple of days just with Lowell walking through. I also had the on-going struggle of finding a good place to feed the baby. They have baby centers with private nursing rooms, or so I read, I never did use one. There is just one in each park and it was always quite far from where I was when the baby needed to eat. So I improvised in pretty much any quiet corner I could find.


Carter holding the little Epcot ball
C&D in England
Claire at a park, happy to be fed and out of her stroller
The boys playing at a park. Each park had little play areas for free play time and the boys took advantage of them all. As much as they enjoy rides, that also involved a lot of running around and then waiting in lines. This gave them a chance to unwind and play on their own for a little bit. And the sun was headed down putting it in the shade. Next we bustled off to do more of future world, specifically Test Track. One of my fav rides of the whole trip, it was a blast! Then I took the boys to see more characters, Rob and Cyn and the baby went to get a spot for the fireworks, and Hillary and Lowell went to get sick on Mission Space. I think the boys did the best with that swap:




It took until after the Illuminations show started for the boys to finish but that was a major priority for them. And it meant less waiting in line later. I would like to have seen more of the show but what I saw was cool. We lost the advance group in that mess and did not find them again for another hour--we were better with cell phones the rest of the trip. Who knew what we really needed was my plain, simple, battery never dies phone. I figured we had enough fancy smart phones so I left mine home. Lowell put the kids to bed and the rest of us went for some groceries so we would have food the rest of the week. There was a lot of tired whining involved.


We slept in again and got a late start off to Animal Kingdom


Clairey baby just loves to stand


Since we were there late we spent a lot of time trying to get fast passes that were already gone. And Animal Kingdom is huge, land mass wise and had multiple school groups there. Plus they have it decorated to look as if you are in Asia, Africa, etc. which added together to just seem hot, crowded, and dirty. Not my favorite day. What we did get to do was fun though.

Riding the train to the conservation station
Before we lost Davis, but found him again. They did enjoy petting the lambs and such. We split up after that as my sibs wanted to do Everest but I was unwilling to wait in the line. My fam went off to see some animal walks and do the safari.
Us and the tree of life
What Claire thought of the safari. I thought it was fun and the boys got into the backstory of poachers and such. The jungle walk was nice as well, cooler in the shade with some pretty fish and a moderately quiet place to feed the baby. Then we headed over to the dinosaur area which didn't have a lot to do, but the Dinosaur ride was a big hit with us and the boys.
Then my sibs took the boys to see It's a Bug's Life (very fun show) while Lowell and I did Everest with no line since it was just about closing time.
It was a lot of fun, I hate drops so I was worried but it wasn't too much to handle and the story of it was just fun. Loved it. Animal Kingdom closes early so it was nice to have some down time finally, get the kids down and clean at a decent hour and then even though we had already had dinner, we went and got some Chevy's take out as well. We can't get it in Utah any more and it was fun to sit up with the kids down and devour that food. I think it was that day that we took the kids to play for a little while in the hotel pool as well. Claire's first time in a pool, she loved it. The rest of us enjoyed cooling off as well.

Next we headed to Hollywood Studios, pretty close to on time actually. There are less rides there and more shows, which is good and bad. The kids liked the Indiana Jones show, probably less the back lot tour. It was only okay, Univeral does it so much better. They got to meet Mike and Sully though:






And Mater
We had lunch reservations for Mama Melrose's because of a deal for Fantasmic priority seating advertised on the website. We get there and you have to get an appetizer, drink, entree, and dessert to get that deal, at least $35/person. Yikes! And they take your credit card info just to get the reservation and will charge you if you don't eat so then we had to stay. We didn't do the Fantasmic deal though, just an entree each. It was not a good thing, the food was mediocre at best, I liked my brother's, did not care for mine at all. The waitress was borderline awful. But there was cold water when she'd bring it and it was cool inside and we were sitting down. Over $100 later we learned our lesson. But the manager did come and visit with the boys who charmed her up and down. We left with 2 pins and light up Buzz Lightyears--she was the best employee we met the whole time, what a great lady. There were a few exemplary employees, but for the most part we were down-right shocked by the service there. Disneyland has spoiled us, everyone there is so wonderful and make the whole visit magical. Some of these folks just looked like they hated life and acted like they hated you. It was very disappointing.


Lucky for fast passes we got to do the Toy Story Mania ride which had a crazy line and then ran to do the Jedi Training Academy. My camera battery was dying so Rob has my pics of that, I'll post them later. The kids love loved it though. They fought with Darth Vader and Darth Maul, what's not to love?! We then caught the light, motor, action show which was fun and exciting (cars doing fun stunts) and then the Beauty and the Beast show.






Rob and Claire girl



Hill and I took the kids while the rest did Rockin Roller Coaster, we went to go meet Buzz and Woody but the line was crazy too long. Then I went back with Lowell and rode it, again going beyond my comfort zone but I actually liked it a lot. I am braver than I think! The rest headed off to Tower of Terror (not that brave!) and I mozied back with the kids after they played in the Honey I shrunk the kids play area. We got an ice cream while we waited, before:
After:
We were waiting for Fantasmic and Lowell and I were hurrying in just to find out they were down to standing room only. We went in anyway but I just couldn't bear to stand up any longer and we were all hot, tired, and cranky so we just went home.



Okay--day 2 of journaling our adventure, which really was fun and magical despite the tone of my post. I always tell people when they go to Disney to not expect it to be amazing every minute, but do expect to have amazing memories. Anywho--at this point in the trip we had been to each park once and were headed back for part 2. Yes you need at least 2 days in each park, more would be better. Even with what we had and the break-neck speed we did it in there was still a lot left undone in every park. But we had to go back to work sometime.



Sunday brought us back to Animal Kingdom. Having done a lot of it already we took a slower turn through it, arriving late and heading straight to the rapids ride we missed before. While waiting for the fastpass time to come up, we did the nearby Jungle Tour.


And saw giant bats, they were amazing though massive. And the pics didn't show up here, it's in the video though, then we saw tigers and gorillas. So many beautiful gorillas including a baby. I loved it--our zoo is lacking in that department. Then we braved the rapids which were altogether too short, the comparable ride at Disneyland is longer and more complete if you ask me. It seemed the only mission of this one was too get you drenched, which especially in Davis's case, did happen. Next we saw the Finding Nemo the musical production and it was pretty spectacular. Lowell wasn't impressed, but I loved it. The kids were into it (and it was air conditioned which is lacking at Animal Kingdom). Probably my favorite show at Disneyworld. Nice mix of song and puppets, doesn't sound as cool as it was. Off to do Dinosaur again and for me feed sissy (best quiet feeding spot the whole trip, sitting in a prehistoric jungle, in the shade, watching squirrels play).


The boys got to go play in the free play area there shortly after and it was a fun place--slides, little waterfall, footprints that make dino noises when you step on them, an excavation dig site and my fav of all--all these free play areas are completely enclosed and the one entrance is monitored so you do have to go in with them but then you can sit and let them tear around without worrying about losing them. A fair amount of this trip was trying to contain/find the boys who were easily distracted/excited.



Claire in the prehistoric forest, I love it!
Then we did Dinosaur again and Lowell and I caught Everest just before the park closed (no line!) In fact we did it twice and then my sibs did it twice all in the last 30 minutes. What a hoot of a ride! That night Lowell made a great dinner and we had some time to just chill.


Monday was Magic Kingdom again--Carter was psyched up for it:


He is so funny


Waiting for their first "real" roller coaster, Thunder Mountain railroad
Hill and I on the ride, cute pic! They loved it and yes, so did I. This is one of my all-time favorites and it was even more fun at DW than DL.
Have to get a lot of castle shots in
We got the boys lanyards for their pins this day and they had a lot of fun trading them. They met Stitch while half the group did Space Mountain--it's 44" to ride at DW, compared to 40" at DL, so they missed it there last time and here this time. Next time for sure! I enjoyed it though, even though it is rougher than at DL. It is also one of my favs.
Blurry shot of the fam, you kind of get the idea. My camera takes a little getting used to and having others take the pic doesn't often work. We picked up a few more fast passes, caught the people mover, saw a walking, talking garbage can and then headed back to the hotel. The plan was to have lunch/dinner there and get a nap and then catch the late night at the park, it was open until 1 am. We drove a bit out of the way to get some Long John Silver's--mmm. Naps weren't terribly effective for my family and I think we headed back crankier than we left but at least it was significantly cooler and the lines dropped dramatically after the fireworks as well. I hate waiting in lines so we did a lot of manage them. Did pretty much everything and never waited longer than 25 minutes. Back again we did the jungle cruise, then all but Carter, Claire and I did Splash Mountain. I hate the drop and Carter decided not to go, he said he didn't want to get wet, but brave Davis went and said that he loved it. Then we did Thunder Mountain again, saw some of the Electrical Parade, and headed to the Haunted Mansion (the new ending part is really cool by the way). The kids weren't into seeing it again so Hill and I (thanks for being my buddy with them so much Hill) took them to see a fun music show (I can't place the name just now) but it was fun, we also walked under the big castle and headed to do Buzz Lightyear, Davis somehow got over 300,000 points, rock on kid and then to Monsters Inc. Laugh Factory. (Oh we saw fireworks a bit in there as well, and the Swiss Family Treehouse and we did Pirates again during the day--great place to breastfeed the baby actually). The boys thought it was hillarious and I am still impressed with how they work the animation. Davis was chosen to be spoken to and he was very into it. We came out ready to go for something else only to find it was 1 am already. Bummer. Goodbye Magic Kingdom, we love you--so glad we have one just like you but with things closer together and friendlier employees just a 10 hr car ride away.

Claire is passed out solid.
And then Carter too, he is heavy!


Tuesday back to Hollywood. My little fam headed out early to get signed up for the Jedi Academy again (already booked, bummer-who knew Tuesday would be so much busier than Saturday?), go see Buzz and Woody (wrong again, line longer and with fewer characters to see), and pick up a couple of fast passes, which yes we did accomplish. Kind of a hot waste of a morning except Lowell got a corn dog and the kids got to wait in line for this:



Handy Manny was awesome by the way, funnest character meeting we had. I told the boys to turn around (face the camera) and Manny did (facing the corner), he was cute and fun with them. They get such a kick out of meeting characters though I think the time is fading, Carter told me after he thinks it is just a costume and he could see the person inside Pluto. Some debate about the Easter Bunny too--sheesh, slow down kid!


But next we did what I was looking forward to for days, head to the beach. It was almost 2 hours there and about 5 tolls but I really wanted to see the Atlantic from the US side (having seen it from Holland on the European side). We stopped and got Boston Market (yeah!) thinking it would be great to have a picnic lunch at the beach. What was I thinking? There was sand in everything--I finished in the car. Silly me. But the beach was nice, it wasn't very busy, the water was warm and the sound of the waves hitting the shore soothing. After days packed with people in the parks it was a nice respite. We didn't stay too long as the rip tide warning was worrying us with how far the kids kept going out regardless of our attempts. Someday they'll learn the joy of just laying on the beach in the sun. Sigh, some day. But I love love beach pics in the meantime.







We headed back to Hollywood, missed the first showing of Fantasmic but I loved the chance to do Rockin Roller Coaster again and I think the sibs enjoyed Tower of Terror again. Then we waited (and waited and waited) for Fantasmic. The baby was done and fussy, the kids tired and disobedient, the weather still freaking hot despite it being past 10, and the crowd so confining--it was probably the worst part of the whole vacation. The show was okay, marred by the lousy wait to get in. We hurried and did some shopping and then headed out, goodbye Disneyworld:

Goodbye beautiful view from our condo
The return trip was just okay, the boys really did fantastic and we lucked out when we had to transfer as we only had to go to the very next gate (and we had so short a time to do it, it was very lucky). The boys slept on the way back and I caught a few episodes of Friends and even won a round on trivia against my fellow travelers but it was still such a l o n g flight, especially wrestling a baby who was sick of sitting for so very long. She slept a little but it was a challenge. And I just hate the feeling of being in a little tube so helpless and so packed in. It was a great time to start thinking about how I hate the feeling of falling, so how much would I hate to fall in this airplane? It just seemed like time stood still. Although Davis was already asking what "else" we were going to do that day. Yep, he never stops.
Home again, Carter shows off his pin collection.


The dogs were thrilled to see us, the temperature (50 degrees) was amazing and we all just enjoyed some space to ourselves and time to unwind. Of course we picked up pretty quickly, but that is for another post. All in all it was a wonderful trip and I have to give so very much thanks to my wonderful siblings. Robbie made this trip possible financially and the 3 of them made it possible physically. We would not have been able to do it without their help and patience with the kids. Thank you guys, we love you so much!