28 September 2009

Disney World!

How do you document 8 overflowing days of FUN? I couldn't possibly share it all, so here are a few favorites... from the first half anyway.

Frequent flyer miles are great for free flights, but NOT great for flight times. It took us most the day to travel, but we did it! Luckily, my kids have a little travel experience which tends to help. Or is it that I know, as a mother, what to realistically expect from a three and six year old? Maybe. But probably it's the fun travel kits Mimi prepared for the kids that kept them busy for hours. Jane was feeling pretty cool in her new shades.

First day, Epcot center! And in case you're wondering, yes, we matched our shirt colors on purpose almost every day, which we highly recommend. Definitely made it easier to keep track of each other, and with my kids and Mimi (mom, you know it's true, you are just as curious as Jack and Jane) who tend to wander, it was so nice!

We walked on almost every ride with less than a 10 minute wait. We did wait to see a whole slew of characters all at once, and it was worth it. The kids loved it!

Pretty sure Alice didn't really get the whole Disney thing, but she sure was happy while we were at the happiest place on earth!

The back half of Epcot is a world showcase, featuring several different countries and their cultures. I love this part because you get a little taste of a world tour, my dream come true! This is Jane in Norway. Have you ever seen a more striking viking princess?

Second day, Magic Kingdom! How could you not smile in a place like this?

In line for our first ride of the day... Peter Pan of course! "Line" is a loose term because there really weren't any lines at all, especially first thing in the morning!

Storytime with Belle was a lot of fun. Jack even got to be her father, the inventor (how appropriate!), as the children acted out Belle's story on stage. She was awesome.

We got so many pictures with characters, it's not even funny. The kids were loving it, even pictures with the villains! This was right before Jack did his pirate training course with none other than the Captain Jack Sparrow.

While Jane was with her fairy godmother (she was brilliant!)...

Jack actually found a friend to have a duel with. Papa told me that it ended in his opponent getting a good hit and Jack playing dead. Both these boys were really getting into it, it was awesome.

Mandatory Mickey bars!

Disney with my family has never been for the faint hearted! We get the MOST out of each day that is humanly possible. We wore these two right out!

The Buzz ride is a favorite for everyone. If you don't get a good score, you're punished with the enemy Zurg. Papa even went back on this one later by himself to improve his score! Everyone feels like a kid at Disney!

For some reason, this is one of my favorite things at Disney. We had to get the classic picture.

When I was in Florida 10 years ago with my parents and brother, we didn't get to the Animal Kingdom. I knew my kids would love it, since they are so fascinated by zoos, farms, and anything bug related! It did not disappoint!

While everyone else was running to the biggest attractions, my kids (of course) had to stop at each little cage and learn about each spider, scorpion, and bug inside. We went against all our "get it in" instincts and let them enjoy each one and ask all kinds of questions. It was great!

Jane kind of likes her sister. Even when Alice doesn't get it, Jane thinks she's hilarious!

I love bridges like this. It reminded me of some from Thailand. But lots stronger, wider, and it even had side rails! This equals less stress for me!

The kids loved the great drum display in the African part of the Animal Kingdom. There was just so much to do!

While dad and Jeff took the big kids on the rafting ride, mom and I took Alice to cool her down a bit. It was HOT, but she was such a happy girl, as usual.

Jack's favorite ride was the rollercoaster Everest, which I regret not getting a picture of. He went on it three times in a row and begged for more. Jane would have loved it too, but it was one of the few rides the whole trip she wasn't tall enough for. It was SO fun having kids who love rides! Jane tried everything, although didn't want to repeat a few of them. If you ask her what her favorite was, she'll probably tell you the Tower of Terror. Who could have guessed?

This trip was our turn in my parents rotation of taking each of their kids' families on a trip. We felt SO spoiled to have all this time with them all to ourselves (sorry sibs, you know we love you, but we all like our Mimi and Papa time!) They were the bests hosts ever, and it was fun to be in the position of "kid" rather than responsible adult once again! Dad has a thing about taking charge of tickets and anything important, and Mom pretty much planned the entire thing. We pretty much just showed up ready to play. I haven't been on a trip where I didn't plan every detail myself in a while, so this was AWESOME!

This is how Alice slept the entire trip. Yes, it's a drawer. She slept awesome. If you can't tell, she's a swaddler and likes things quite cozy.

Mom and Dad rented a house for us all to stay in, and it was incredible to come home exhausted each day to a place we could really relax in! You'd be amazed at the cheap places you can find to stay in Florida right now. This four-bedroom house was cheaper per night than our very average hotel room in Rexburg, Idaho!

The kids loved the game room, but we were so busy, we didn't play in it nearly enough!

We got home early on Saturday and the kids headed straight for the backyard for a swim! This pool was just right for an evening dip!

Even though they could have had their own rooms, they chose to share. They thought it was heaven to have a TV in their room, and we found them cuddled up together in bed watching a show (even though they really had their own beds). I love that my kids love each other.

Our Sunday consisted of church meetings (and if you can believe it, we ran into the mission president of the Bangkok mission also on vacation in Florida. Small world, right?), having my aunt and uncle over for dinner (which regrettably, I got NO pictures of, can you believe me?), and the kids building forts all over the house. It was great! We loved visiting with Glen and Sherry, who we rarely get to see. How can I be related to so many great people?

The kids loved having a "down" day, and we ALL needed it to recharge for the next three days!

What a trip, and this was just the beginning!

25 September 2009

We also love Florida

We're home now ...and we had a GREAT time.

Pictures to follow when I'm feeling a little less overwhelmed.

Don't hold your breath.

14 September 2009

I love Idaho.

I always forget how much I love Idaho, until I get there. THEN, I remember.

Jeff and I fell in love in Idaho. Shouldn't that be enough?

But, that's not all. We also have family in Idaho that we adore. All the small towns, open land, fresh air, and the stars. Oh, the stars.

We just returned from a quick trip to visit that family we love, and on top of that had a two day trip down memory lane. We reminisced about our first meeting, our first walk, our favorite places to escape my 16 roommates (during engagement), and our first apartment. Gotta love that pink front door.

This was our first roadtrip in our van, and it was a success! The girls slept, and Jack read TWO chapter books on the way up!

This is Jack at the rest stop, ropin' the garbage can.

We spent the afternoon with Grandma Hillman, who hadn't seen us since Jane was about Alice's age! WAY too long. Alice took to her right away. I love how she's looking at her.

We went back for pictures on Sunday, since we were a little distracted with all that visiting on Saturday. Grandma was an excellent host, chef, and also very patient with our curious little ones.

We spent the evening at Uncle Rand and Aunt Jana's home, where they somehow always know how to make us feel right at home. Every time we visit, I think of how much I would love to live there. I wish I could give my kids that kind of land to play on, and trees to climb. Even their dirt seems more fun.

The kids loved Rand and Jana and wasted no play time at all. Rand was helping Jane find all her favorite rocks and washing them with soap for her to take home, and Jack was dragging Jana around outside asking all kinds of questions, I'm sure.

They took the kids out to see their horses, and went for a little ride. They were in heaven.

Jeff said Jane was nervous at first, but by the looks of this picture, she warmed up pretty fast to the idea.

When we first walked into Grandma's place, Rand was sitting on the couch. She ran right into his arms, and hardly left his side the rest of the night. She must have been going on instincts, because she hasn't seen him since she was six months old! (They were also both calling him Grandpa by the end of the night. He does look a little like Jeff's dad, but honestly, I think he just took on the role so well they couldn't resist!) I loved this picture of Rand trying to get a good shot of Jane.

Once upon a time, I played in a band in Island Park, ID. Rand, Mark, a fun bass player named Dave, and I performed every weekend throughout the summer. I fell in love with these guys, and I'll admit, it's still there. They are fabulous.

They forgave me for not bringing my fiddle (but, only this once), and still played and sang for us. Jack, however, DID have his fiddle, so he played his one fiddle song, and was feeling pretty special playing with "the guys". They proceeded to play and sing all my favorites, even "Kansas City" which I think Rand only plays when I make him. I love that one.

Jack's been singing their songs ever since. He was thrilled to finally make it home and be able to get out the recording we made during a gig in Jackson Hole years ago. I love the memories I have with these guys and their wives (notice Mark's wife, Becky, in the background). I could visit with them forever, and always leave looking forward to the next time we get to visit.

We had one brief stop on our way out of town. The Rexburg, ID temple. It's about three blocks from our first apartment, but wasn't built until several years after we left. It sure is beautiful, and I feel a special attachment to it, even though we've never been inside. We're hoping we can change that next summer when we go back.

Love the town, love the state, love the air, love the space, and love the people. Just wish we would have had more time to see more of them. I really do love Idaho.

12 September 2009

What we're keeping busy with...

Jack... LOVING his new school! He's got a fantastic teacher, fun friends, and we are getting the carpool situation worked out so we're ALL happy with less drive time! (for those who have asked, yes, this is his FOURTH school he's attended, and he's in FIRST grade! We're trying out a new Charter school, and so far, we're sold!)

Jane... a lot of this...

She's such a fantastic sister. She fills her time with lots of books, helping mommy (honestly, she made me teach her how to change Alice the other day), playing outside, and learning to write her letters! Oh yes, and one princess party.

Alice... being happy and cute as always...

and getting acquainted with her new cousins. (6 1/2, 3 1/2, and 3 weeks)

Me... lots of fun, kids, and in the last two days, lots of THIS:

8 hours, 2 moms, 5 kids, and 4 boxes of peaches. Crazy, but a good day. I'm still working on de-stickifying my kitchen! Thanks for all the help, Heidi!

Jeff... he's been working harder than anyone. He's recently completed ALL the drywall in the basement. I married an amazing man, I tell you.

We decided to hire something out (mudding and taping), and it's been awesome to have it progressing during the DAY for once! Jeff gets a little break from evenings in the basement, while he does this...

... or at least is on his way to play a 9/11 memorial concert of Mozart's Requiem.

And his bass he's been saving for FOREVER comes in two weeks! YAY!

The kids have been working on our "service jar" lately.

Simple, but effective.

01 September 2009


I'm a change lover. No, I don't mean the kind of change that makes your pockets heavy. Although I will admit, the idea of swimming in a pool of gold coins looked mighty enticing to me as a child watching DuckTales. But, that's not what I'm talking about. I mean change. Like the only thing in life that's constant. Change.

Like anyone, I like to have some things stay the same. I like to be on a consistent sleep schedule so I can get up on time and go to the gym (which, by the way hasn't been happening lately). I like to do my laundry on the same days of the week. And, I like to know when to plan on Jeff arriving each day. But, overall, it's kind of nice to mix things up once in a while.

One thing I love about Utah is the change of seasons. It's such a natural way to "recycle" things that have lost their luster. Like having a routine. I was SO happy to hit summer and have a free-for-all each day. That was fun. But honestly, how fun would it be to have that forever? It's nice to get back to a routine.

Or how about clothes? Coats will soon be as fun to get out as those sundresses and shorts were just four months ago.

Food? I've spent the summer eating sandwiches and fruit. Yum. But as it gets colder, I look forward to staying home and making yummy soups and breads that haven't sounded good to me since tulips made their appearance.

I look forward to watching the leaves change color and the scenery on a mountain drive looking like a bowl of Trix (how I thought of it as a child) once again.

Activity choices change with each season. Swimming isn't quite as enticing, but bundling up and going sledding... oh, that will be fun.

This time of year, there are a lot of changes. As I sent my boy off for his first day as a first-grader, I had a quick moment of panic. "What am I doing sending him ALL DAY? Can't we just go back HOME?" Then, I realized... it's time. He's ready. Why shouldn't I be?

He was so excited about his new school. New clothes. New backpack. And especially a lunchbox. SO excited, in fact, he almost forgot to say goodbye. I was so happy he still wanted to give me a kiss. I'll take it as long as I can.

Now that I'm past the initial "goodbye", I'm realizing good things. Like spending more time with my girls. Alice and I laid on the bed together today, smiling, cooing, and taking pictures before her nap. Who wouldn't love to spend time with this smile?

Jane and I colored, traced letters, read books (that only she picked!), and had more conversation in one afternoon than we've had in a LONG time. Jack's always exciting to have around, but he tends to dominate the conversation a bit. Especially over his sister, who just now is starting to have more to say. I learned a lot about my little Jane today. I miss my Jack, but I think I'm going to like this arrangement.

I'm pretty sure this will be another good change for us.

And maybe now my kids will stop singing, "What time is it? Summer time!". Come on, you closet High School Musical fans. You know you love it.

Super hero/fighting pose. Their favorite.

This is how excited Jack was.