Friday, August 29, 2014

New school beginnings

And so it begins, another school year.  There were some excited kids, one grumpy one (summer was over after all), and anticipation at what was to come

 A Sixth Grader!  Holy cow!  Caleb has grown into an amazing boy.  Señor Meza will be his teacher for the final year of elementary school.  Caleb is excited!  After school Caleb's comments went something like this, "Señor Meza is HILLARIOUS!  We get to mummify a frog this year.  This is going to be a good year."  Yeah for good teachers and great kids.  
Peter's teachers this year are Mrs. Fiskell (english) and Señorita Villa (spanish).  If you could not guess, Peter was the one not looking forward to school.  He is an excellent student, great at math and homework, but he was not happy to go to school.  HOWEVER, upon seeing him after school his first words to me were, "Señorita Villa is the nicest spanish teacher I could have gotten.  I wish I could stay with her all the time."  Whew!  He enjoyed his whole day at school.  Yippi!  And Señorita Villa really is awesome.  It is her first year teaching and she is happy, upbeat, sweet and has a great smile.  She also has a strong accent and speaks fast, it will be good for Peter to learn from her.
 After school we had one last summer moment and got each other wet with water balloons.  A certain Uncle taught the boys how to throw water balloons so they would bust on impact.  Thanks to said Uncle Caleb was armed with power.  This is us before being drenched.
 Drenched and still smiling.  
William started the day after the others.  He is starting in the Spanish Immersion program this year and he seems excited.
Senorita Robles, the spanish teacher.
Ms. Garduno, the english side.  Both seem very nice and happy.  William only had happy things to report after his first full day of school.  The thing he seems most excited about is being able to see either Caleb or Peter at recess or lunch.
Little Miss Haley.  She has officially enrolled herself in Mommy School.  Her first day we talked about the letter P.  You know; pink, princess, puppy, pony....  Hopefully we will have fun along the way.  We all experienced a good start to the year, here's to keeping it up.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Summer's end

After Harry Potter World we only had a few days left of summer before school would begin.  We made one last trip to the cabin to enjoy it.
 We had "Family Lake Morning", thanks to an idea we heard in primary.  The kids got in the water, Peter swam around and we shared a quick thought from the scriptures.  Then we sang "Oh what do you do in the summertime."  Very fitting.
 On the last nice day at the lake (since the rest of the time it rained) the boys took advantage of the lake and journeyed across the lake.  There were no boats, no wind, glassy water and sun.  They headed out on their floater things and went to the other side.  Caleb was the super big brother and when he and Peter made it to the other side William decided he wanted to go too.  SO, Caleb came all the way back, got William and those two joined Peter on the sandy shores.  No sooner had they arrived than the wind picked up and they made their way back across.
 The girls waited and cheered on the dock.
 The great adventurers!  They made it back and loved it.
 We got wacky and ate under the table, ate candy for dinner and were just silly.
 Even though the weather took a turn for cold, wind and rain the boys made sure to get a few more jumps in.  Because they are awesome.
 We even spotted an osprey at the lake.  So, exciting!
 Haley's wacky hair and the faces of sweet kids.
One last summer activity, shooting rockets off with cabin friends.  Loving life before the alarm clock starts to ring.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

In the beginning.....

 There was a trip on the plane.... and everyone stayed happy!  Yea!
 Haley did great!  She slept when she needed to, she colored, we read books.  No tears on the first leg of our journey.  Double yea!
 After we got settled into the condo, everything unpacked and we had gone grocery shopping and made a trip to the swimming pool we drove out to see the swamps.  It has to be one of our favorite things we did (besides Harry Potter).  When we first got there we saw some alligators in fenced off areas.  Then the boys started catching little lizards.  They loved it!  We named this one tail-less.  
 The boys were all so proud of catching them and holding them, they were fast little critters.  And can you see the beads of sweat forming?  Boy, it was hot and humid.  Our first day in Florida Haley was like a wilting flower, a sad wilting flower.  She got used to it though.
 We took an air-boat ride.  That was AWESOME!!!!  We got to see what Florida is really like.  Swamps, beautiful birds in their natural habitat.  Peter loved learning about Spanish Moss.  We were all thankful for the ear muff things they gave us to drown out the loud sound of the boat.  
 Haley at first did not want to go.  Tired, sad, hungry and hot.  But after eating a banana she was ready to ride.  And I am so glad she did.
 We found a real, live alligator who hissed at us and chopped at a stick and made a good show of it.  Then we left one swamp, and crossed the water over to another swamp.  At the halfway point the driver slowed the boat down and asked if we payed the extra money for a rain storm.  Sure enough the clouds opened up and down came the rain.  While speeding though the Florida waters, seeing sights never before seen, looking for gators and beautiful birds we were getting pelted with rain (that was warm but hitting hard).  And it was fun.  The rain was cooling us down, it was such a funny thing to drive through this rainstorm that none of us minded.  We were having too much fun!
After getting off the boat the boys had the opportunity to hold a baby alligator named Firecracker.  So exciting and fun!  The perfect way to kick off a family vacation!  

Harry Potter World, the reason we went

Back, a long time ago, we talked about going to Harry Potter World in Florida.  We thought it would be so fun to go, while the kids are still excited about Harry Potter.  Grandpa Gray was awesome and arranged for a condo to be ready for us and we made the rest of the plans.
 This was our first day in the park.  Everyone is excited.  Cold water bottles are filled with Arrow Head water (Florida water tastes terrible and it is always warm).  We are ready for fun.
 The entrance to Hogsmede.  It was such a fun place to walk around and look at things.  There were a ton of people, the shops were small inside and it was really humid-hot.  But we explored with the best of them.
 We spent our fair share of time waiting in lines.  The worst line was for the Gringots ride.  It was over 2 hours long!  But the boys did it.  Caleb of course loved the ride, hated the line.  Rob was done after that.  William and Peter were not impressed.  
Hogwarts Castle in the background, with three happy brothers together.  Caleb was a terrific brother.  Taking care of someone at each turn.  William was a trooper keeping up with everyone and staying on his feet even though he was tired.  Peter was loving all the Harry Potter stuff and wishing he were taller to go on more rides.
The Hogwarts Express.  It took us from park to park and had a fun little movie inside that you watched as you traveled.  The kids enjoyed the cool air on the train.  Haley liked seeing the owl.  They even had a part of the wait in line set up so that it appeared as if you were walking through the brick wall to arrive at platform 9 and 3/4.  Very cool.
So, who enjoyed what?
 Caleb was tall enough to go on all the rides and he loved the roller coasters.  He rode the Hulk several times.  I know, it is not Harry Potter but it was at the entrance to the park and he loved the rush of the ride.
 Another one of the roller coasters Caleb loved, Dragon Challenge.  He especially loved being able to go single rider and shoot past all the people waiting in those long lines.  Like I mentioned, Caleb was great.  Generally had a good attitude, was always trying to help someone or just going along with the gang.
Peter wished he was taller so he could go on more rides.  He was able to do the Gringots ride (did not like it), the Hogwarts Express he enjoyed, the Castle ride he liked and he also had fun on the Hippogriff.  But he also enjoyed the simple rides.  He loved getting splashed on the wet rides, very refreshing on a humid day.  He was a sweet brother and went on the carousel with Haley many times, and he was patient while waiting for Haley to go on the tea-cups over and over.  But I think  he just enjoyed experiencing a little more of Harry Potter and what it felt like to be there.
William's most favorite part had to be Flight of the Hippogriff.  His favorite part of Harry Potter (aside from Quidditch) is Buckbeak.  William even brought home a stuffed animal Buckbeak.  William was fortunately tall enough to go on this ride and we went as many times as we could.  He is such a sweet boy.  
Haley surprised us by LOVING the tea-cups!  She requested this ride several times a day.  And we went at least 2 or 3 times each day we were there.  I, Diedre did my sacrificial throw-up ride.  No, I did not throw-up but I did keep my eyes closed the whole time so I would avoid getting sick.  Haley loved it!  The spinning, the speed, the excitement.  She was happy.
 She also loved the Dr. Seuss carousel ride.  She always wanted a pink animal and always wanted to go again.  We passed this ride on the way to Harry Potter World, so we could not make it past without at least one (or two) rides a day.
But Haley's very favorite part of the visit was seeing Hermoine's pink dress.  She was so happy looking at that dress.  When the boys would be on their rides and she could not go, we would go look at the dress during our wait.  She is a sweet girl.
Of course we all loved spending time together and having fun.  At one point or another we all went swimming in one of the several pools offered at the condo.  The boys loved jumping and swimming.  Haley loved putting her head under the water and swimming like a mermaid.  And it was nice to relax and play together.
I believe Rob enjoyed the experience and feeling of Harry Potter World most.  He was able to take one morning with two of the boys and explore Diagon Alley.  They saw the dragon breathe fire several times (Haley hated that part!) and they just walked around and looked.  I, Diedre, surprisingly enough enjoyed the Hogwarts Castle ride.  For a girl that gets motion sick it might not be your choice.  But it was very cool!  And I had a sweetheart of a boy that yelled out to me halfway through the ride to "CLOSE YOUR EYES MOM!" so that I would not get scared or sick.  I have good kids.  I also enjoyed the Hippogriff and most especially seeing my kids genuine smiles.  That was fun.

On our way home

The last day in Florida was a roller coaster!  We had a fun start by taking one last dip in the swimming pool.  The kids did not want to leave the pool but we had to be out of the condo by 10.  By 10:45 we were ready to leave, oops.  With everything packed in the rental van we had decided to walk around Downtown Disney and see what that was like.  This was the downward part of the day.  Peter got very sad.  Haley was hungry.  William was hot and tired of walking.  Caleb was just plain tired.  Rob was testy from the rush to get out of the condo.  Diedre was just dealing with all the moods.  So, instead of enduring the heat we decided to go bowling.  The best part of the day!
 The whole family.... happy.  Quite the accomplishment.
 Haley loved being in charge of her own ball.
 Rob schooled us all with 4 strikes in a row!  Wowzers!
After bowling we headed to the airport.  Went through a crazy long security line, found the gate and waited with some super nice people for the plane to board.  Our first leg of the trip was to Phenoix, AZ.  We were to make a connecting flight there to Salt Lake and arrive home by 11:00pm.  Caleb and William stayed awake all the way to Phenoix, Peter and Haley sat by mom and fell asleep.  It was great UNTIL the pilot began telling us that there were thunder storms over Phenoix and they would have us circle the airport until the storms let up.  15 minutes turned into 30, which turned into another 30, which turned into another 30.  By this time all the kids are awake and we were so ready to be off the plane.  Plus, everyone on the plane was starting to get concerned about their connecting flight.  Will we make it?  Will those flights be delayed in taking off?  Then, bad news.  The pilot says that we have to fly to El Paso, TX to refuel!  We had been hanging out above this thunderstorm for so long that we ran out of fuel.  Off to Texas we went where we all stayed on the plane for a good 45 minutes, waiting for fuel and for clearance to go back to Pheonix.  We took off again and the flight back seemed like forever!  All the kids fell asleep again, the pilot again came over the intercom and said we had to circle the airport now to wait for all the planes to land.  By the time we landed it was midnight, Haley was screaming on the plane because she was DONE flying, and we had missed our plane to Salt Lake.  End result......
We spent the night sleeping on the hard airport floor waiting for a connecting flight the next morning!  What an adventure.  Turns out we could have gotten a hotel room, but we would have had to pay for transportation there, pay for the rooms, then go through security all over again.  Plus it was already midnight, and the kids were done.  So, we hunkered down, dressed the kids as warmly as possible, and to the blare of the TV above us (which every 15 minutes updated us on Robin Williams and flooding and the like) we tried to get as much sleep as possible.  Rob and I gave up after an hour.  That airport was FREEZING COLD!  Haley was the only one with a blanket, William had Rob's jacket, Peter had mom's, and at 2:00am Diedre started searching the suitcases for anything to put over the kids so they would not  freeze.  Finally the hour arrived, Rob was amazing and got us on an earlier flight and we headed for home.  You have never seen a happier girl than when Haley heard we were flying over Salt Lake City, UT and about to land.  She was very excited!  Whew, what a journey. Some great memories made, new experiences and not to be forgotten.  It was worth it.