Tuesday, August 26, 2014

We Interrupt This Vacation...

Well, something interrupted our vacation:  School!  We were minding our own business, traveling the country, riding roller coasters, visiting family, staying up late, sleeping in, playing video games, hangin' at the pool.  When BAM!  First day of school!

She was up and eating breakfast while the boys were still moaning in bed!

Ready for her first day

The obligatory "you have to smile for at least one picture" picture

Going into her class

This is what got me at Meet the Teacher night - seeing her at her desk!

While I was ready for everyone to get back on a schedule, I don't think any of us were super ready for school to start.  But yesterday it did, and the first day went great!  The range of emotions was wide.  Really wide.  Allie popped up like she'd been waiting for this day for months and flapped her arms in anticipation.  She put on her crazy cat shirt that she had picked out and ran down to eat breakfast.

Spence seemed pretty indifferent.  Not too much protesting, but no excitement.  Very middle of the road.

Coleman woke up chanting, "I hate school!" and had picked out an all black ensemble (down to the socks and underwear people) that I put away and replaced with a less mournful outfit.  The poor boy doesn't really hate school, he just cannot take change of any sort.  We tried to remind him that at the end of the school year, he didn't want summer to come.  But of course he thinks he really hates school, so he chanted his sad little mantra all morning!

We had to arrive earlier than normal because I had some PTO duties, and it was nice to be there in time to walk all three kids to their classes and get them settled!  Allie and I had picked out a book for her teacher and Allie made the cutest card. It's a good thing that girl was so excited, or I would have been a... oh what do they call it?  A hot mess!  I had a few teary moments the day before, so I put on my brave face and left my sweet baby that looks too tiny to be there in her class.

Spence went right into his room and got settled in.  No biggie.  Just another day I guess.

By this time Coleman had accepted his fate and walked into his room ready to go.  I suppose the chanting was only for our morning entertainment!  There was a moment of hesitation, like I was forgetting somebody, but I wasn't! 

I'm sure it will take a while to get used to this new chapter.  I actually hung out at the school most of the day yesterday.  There was a PTO breakfast that I stayed at until about 9:30.  I came home for a little while and then went back around noon to clean up from the breakfast.  I stuck my head in the volunteer room and ended up staying there chatting, helping some other PTO moms, and doing die cuts for the Kindergarten aide.  It was fun!

Today Allie didn't even want me to walk her into the school.  What?!?!  Spence, going into his third year at this school, wasn't sure he could find his room though.  But since Allie was so sure she wanted to go in by herself, I gave Spence some directions and let them out at the door and pulled away.

They are all getting into their routines.  I think no homework this first week helps ease the blow of going back to school.  So far I'm the only one who's had homework.  Paper work x 3 = too much! 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Our Summer Road Trip, Part 4

I just realized I'm never going to finish posting about this road trip if I don't speed things up a little!  But as soon as I start looking back through photos from Disney's California Adventure, I remember all the cool things we got to do there and how much fun it was!  Spence just amazes me with all the crazy rides he is willing to do.  And if Allie were a few inches taller, she'd be right there with him!  She was actually tall enough to ride The Hollywood Tower of Terror, so she did!  Brian took Spence and Allie while Coleman and I politely said, "No thank you, we'll be in one of the shops waiting for you."  The Hollywood Tower is set up like an old hotel where some movie stars were electrocuted in an elevator.  I'm pretty sure it was creepy and scary, because brave as they were to go once, Spence and Allie didn't go again.

The coolest part of California Adventure had to be Cars Land.  We had seen it plugged on America's Funniest Videos (if you watch you know they do the end of the season 100,000 show at Disneyland), but didn't realize just how neat it would be.  The scenery was amazing!

We got fast passes for the Radiator Springs Racers, where you basically take a ride through the movie Cars and end by racing another race car.  Super fun!


In the movie, The Cozy Cones were hotel rooms shaped like traffic cones, but in Cars Land The Cozy Cones were concession stands (with overpriced ice cream and popcorn, but we won't go there).

If you had to stand in line at Luigi's Flying Tires, it would look like you were in his tire store.  Thankfully there was no line, so we stopped and posed for a picture.  Where are the white walls???

Another cool ride was Toy Story Midway Mania, where you put on 3-D glasses and got to shoot at Toy Story themed games.  

Adventurous Spence standing by his favorite roller coaster, California Screamin'.

 A Bug's Land was pretty awesome too.  From walking down into a human-sized ant hill to driving rolly-polly bumper cars, we had a blast!


And of course it wouldn't be Disney without a parade.  I think Spence enjoyed Lightening McQueen and Mater as much as Allie liked the princesses!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Summer Road Trip, Part 3

We left the Grand Canyon and told Spence and Allie we were heading to Utah to spend the night and then on to Grandma and Grandpa's the next day.  But that wasn't really the plan!  Brian had decided that since we were only about 8 hours away, we would surprise them with Disneyland!  We told Coleman a few months ago because he doesn't really like surprises, and he did a great job of keeping the secret.

We couldn't decide when we'd tell Spence and Allie about our big surprise, but we knew we'd hear an endless chorus of "Are We There Yets???" if we spilled the beans too soon.  It's a good thing 5 and 7 year olds are pretty oblivious and don't look at road signs.  We were able to make it to Victorville, CA which is about an hour from Anaheim, before we stopped for dinner. They had no clue we weren't in Utah.  Brian pulled out our map that we had been charting our journey on each night.  He told them that he couldn't find Victorville in Utah, and after a few prompts and a little help from Coleman, they spotted it on the map in California.  Brian pulled out our tickets to Disneyland, and after a few moments of confusion (So we're not in Utah???) Allie began doing her happy dance right there in Wendy's!

I have to suggest that when planning a trip to Disney, you buy a program that helps you plan out each day.  Brian and I watched youtube videos of most of the rides to figure out what the kids would want to ride and which ones we could skip (Thanks Pirates of the Caribbean, but we'll pass on the nightmares...).  Then Brian plugged in the rides we wanted to do, and the program told us the best time to go and when to pick up fast passes to miss long lines.  I admit I was nervous that Disney would be one long line after another, but we hardly stood in line at all.  It was amazing!!!  We rode everything we wanted to, and had time to do even more!  Of course we were there before the gates opened and didn't head back to the hotel until after 11. Total exhaustion, but since we only had one day at Disneyland and one at California Adventure we wanted to get in as much as possible.  It was a super fun family trip and I think the kids will be talking about it for years to come!

Spence and Allie really have no fear when it comes to rides.  If they are tall enough, they will ride!  Coleman doesn't like rides that have really steep drops where you come out of your seat, but other than that he's pretty adventurous also.  I missed the first ride on the Matterhorn, but I was able to catch them as they were finishing the ride and get a great picture.

In Toontown, you could visit some of the characters' houses.  We got to sit on Minnie Mouse's couch, and then we actually met her in her garden!  

Allie, Spence, and I played around in Goofy's house while Brian and Coleman went to get our fast passes for Splash Mountain.

 Since I don't spin, I was the photographer for several rides like the tea cups.

There are lots of great places to get family pictures at Disney.  This one is in front of It's a Small World, and in the next one you can see the princess castle behind us.

 Coleman loved that there was so much Star Wars stuff at Disney, but he made sure we knew when they didn't get all the facts straight.  The first picture was taken right before we went into the 3D simulator called Star Tours.  It was pretty amazing, but I left feeling quite queasy!  The next few pictures were at Jedi Training.  The boys don't like to be on stage, so they didn't want to go through the training, but you know Allie did!  She even got to fight Darth Vader!  Meanwhile Coleman let us know that Mace Windu died before Anakin became Darth Vader, so I don't know how they could have properly trained the little padawans.

Disneyland: where 7 year olds can drive cars!  I might have felt a little queasy after this ride too!

 I knew we couldn't miss the parade, and you can see that Allie felt the same way!  She's not overly into the princesses, but she thought it was pretty cool to see them and wave at them.

After a few more rides and the fireworks, the boys stayed to go on the Indiana Jones ride while Allie and I headed back to the hotel to rest up for day 2 and California Adventure!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Our Summer Road Trip, Part 2

After leaving the Petrified Forest, I could hardly wait to get to the Grand Canyon!  This sounds a little crazy, but ever since I was a little girl and I saw an episode of the Brady Bunch where they visited the Grand Canyon, I have wanted to go there.  As we were driving into the park I felt like a kid about to go in the biggest toy store in the world!

It was just as amazing as I had imagined!  I can't believe anyone can visit here and not think about God and how awesome His creation is.  One of the neatest things was that each spot that you looked out over the canyon you got a completely different view.  And every view seemed even more beautiful than the one before!

It did make us a little nervous looking over the edge, and for a while Coleman and Allie were very, very cautious.  Then Allie loosened up and we really had to keep a close eye on her.  She wanted to sit on ledges and jump around where there weren't any guard rails.  Coleman's question was , "Why aren't there guard rails everywhere?!?!"

We took a bus that evening to the best spot to watch the sun set.  I felt like praise music should have been playing!  It was a truly amazing sight.

After it got dark, we went to a star party, where people had set up their powerful telescopes and let you look through them.  Through one we were able to see a binary star, another gave us a view of a group of a million stars, and finally we saw Saturn, rings and all!  Another guy who was very knowledgeable had a laser and was pointing out different constellations.  It was definitely worth staying up late for!

But yes, we were all exhausted by the time we got back to our room!

Of course Spence didn't forget to leave his tooth out for the tooth fairy!  He wanted to make sure she could find him and his tooth since we were away from home, so he left this note.

The next morning we walked around and got a few different views of the canyon.

Coleman took it upon himself to make sure Allie was held onto at all times!  Thank you, Coleman.

This was the part of the trip I had been anticipating for such a long time, and I enjoyed it as much as I imagined. It was even better to share it with my favorite people!

Our Summer Road Trip, Part 1

We arrived home from our road trip yesterday after being gone from home almost 3 weeks.  That was a long time to be away, but we had a ton of fun!  We crammed so many activities into those 20 days that I'll have to split it into several posts!  There are lots and lots of pictures to share, so get ready!

After leaving home, our first stop was in West Texas at my uncle's house.  The kids were so excited to see Uncle Pete and Aunt Jean!

The next day we stopped in Roswell to find out about the aliens.  Before we left town I decided we needed to get a picture with an alien, but our only "sighting" was outside a KFC!

We spent our second night at the Wigwam Motel on Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona.  That was a really neat experience!


 There were classic cars parked by each wigwam, which added to the charm.  You can see Coleman was excited to stay here!

And now a message from our sponsor...

As we were leaving town, we saw this painting of Route 66 on the side of a building.  Super cool!

Ready to head down the Mother Road!

At breakfast Spence was eating his pancakes when his tooth fell out!

We recovered the tooth and then headed to the Petrified Forest National Park.  I was ready to get to the Grand Canyon, but we were so close that we didn't want to miss this.  Even Coleman had a good time, despite the look on his face.  I think he was concerned that you weren't supposed to sit on this piece of petrified wood, even though we assured him it was fine.

Spence was glad he had his binoculars to check out the badlands.

This was an old hotel in the Painted Desert.

Next stop:  Grand Canyon!