Tuesday, March 29, 2011

science fair fun

Last year, we participated in the science fair for the first time.  Apparently, it was so much fun that everyone had to do it again.  Fortunately, each of the girls had an idea in mind weeks before, and so we were a bit more prepared this year.  I have to say that although I am pretty much a science fair scrooge, I think the girls worked pretty hard and did a really good job.  I have this silly little notion about not doing my kids school work for them, and so with a little help from mom and dad, they did most of the work themselves.  Well. . .good brains, girls!

Ryenne wanted to learn about lava lamps.  She found a recipe to build her own and experimented with different ingredients and amounts.  It turned to be a pretty fun experiment and she was thrilled.  She and the other girls asked her Aunt Andrea to help her cut out the letters for her poster with her handy cricut machine, and boy, were we thankful for her!  Ryenne was also excited because all of the students were so intrigued by her display that she had a busy showing all day at the fair. 

Kate named her experiment "Tooth Attack".  She had wanted to do this experiment last year, but we didn't get around to it in time.  For her research, she collected teeth from Uncle AJ (she didn't make him pull his own-he is an oral surgeon so he donated a few
cast-offs. . .yuck!).  Then she put them into different liquids (juice, soda, and sports drinks) for three weeks, weighing them each week to see how much decay each liquid caused.  You just can't know how much fun it is to have some stranger's teeth sitting in bottles on your kitchen counter for nearly a month- really, you should give it a whirl.  

Emmy wanted to see which bubble gum makes the biggest bubbles.  We all sat around one night blowing and measuring bubbles until I nearly threw up.  (There's only so much Hubba Bubba I can take.)  She was a little bit nervous for her interview with the judges but ended up thinking it was all pretty neat.  

Kate and Emmy were pleasantly surprised when they won first and second place, respectively, for their grades.  Most importantly, they all had a grand time and felt like quite the little scientists.  And me?  Being the obviously scholastically-minded mom that I am, I'm just a little bit afraid that we've got a long career of science fairs ahead of us. 


Friday, March 25, 2011

little prayers

Claire loves to say the prayer.  If she had it her way, she would say it every time.  In fact, if the truth be told, we would probably all admit that if we had our way, Claire would say the prayer every time too.  The only problem is that we all usually end up laughing out loud by the time she is through. 

For a while, Claire would pray for Winnie The Pooh every time she prayed.  She doesn't seem so worried about him lately.

The other night, she prayed that we could have ice cream in the morning.  I didn't think that was such a bad thing to ask for.

Last evening, we all gathered in Ryenne and Kate's room to say our nightly family prayer.  Claire was already in bed by the time the oldest girls got ready, and so the rest of us folded our arms while Ryenne said the prayer.  Before she was even done, Claire came bounding through the door, full of protest.  "I'm saying the prayer!!!" she reprimanded.  Of course, we all agreed that she could say her prayer.  She folded her arms and began speaking to her Father in Heaven, but soon paused.  Ryenne was sitting close by, so she leaned over to prompt her, "Bless that I will go poopy in the potty tomorrow" (we're potty training this week).  Obediently, Claire immediately followed with, "Bless that Ryenne will go poopy in the potty tomorrow."  At this, we all laughed out loud very irreverently. 

I love little prayers. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

we're very busy around here

We are busy at our house.  Super busy.

(Except just right now, at this moment.)  I'm not really busy at this very second because I'm sitting here typing, drinking my coke, and gearing up for a day of hard work and elbow grease.  I'm not really sure what elbow grease is, except that when I was a little girl and I had a job to do, my dad would tell me to "put a little elbow grease into it!".  I'm gonna do that today, Dad.  Also, I'll just say that I used to be completely grossed out when people started their mornings with a soda pop, but alas.

I'm trying to get organized, but have you ever noticed that sometimes efforts to organize sometimes lead to utter chaos?  Every room in my house is a Disaster.  Disaster with a capital D.  I'm trying to get girls moved into different rooms since we will be sharing spaces now, and if I don't get something figured out today I'm going to call it quits and move to Mexico.  Except maybe I'll move to Hawaii instead because that sounds very nice and a little less complicated.  If you can't face your problems, run from them- that's what I say.

My mom let me in on another secret yesterday which explains the other part of why I feel so overwhelmed.  She said that when she talked to Kate on Friday evening (after our ultrasound), Kate informed her that from now on, we will be very, very busy.  When my mom questioned her further, Kate explained that if the baby was a girl we wouldn't have much to do.  Basically we could just move a girl into this place with nary a blink of an eye.  A boy, however is going to be a whole different ballgame.  Kate proceeded to tell how her mom and dad would now have so, so much to do.  But first and foremost?  "The first thing they've got to do is go and get some boxers,"  she said decidedly.  My mom apologized for not having called me to check in on us for a few days, but said she had refrained on account of knowing that we'd be off buying boxers anyhow.

Phew.  I thought I was busy before, but now?  I hadn't even put boxer buying on my list yet, and suddenly I can clearly see that it's a top priority.  I suppose I should talk to Kate asap to find out what else I'm neglecting.  I'm sure there's loads of things I haven't even thought of.  Scout shirts, football uniforms, college resumes to fill out. . .

I guess I'm gonna need more elbow grease than I thought.

ps.  I'm a bit hesitant to post such scandalous pictures, but I need another opinion.  We're having a hard time believing we are really, truly having a boy (for obvious reasons).  Daily, we pour over the pictures and try to figure out if the little. . . uh. . .you know what I mean could actually just be an umbilical cord, or er. . . .something.  Anyway, we just plain ol' haven't ever seen a boy in an ultrasound so we're a little bit hesitant to believe.  Any second opinions?  After all, I hate to go buy a boatload of boxers when I all I really need is panties.  You know, we're pretty prepared in the panty department, and it would free up all sorts of time for me if I don't need to go boxer shopping.  Thanks for you help. . .

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

impulsive as it gets

Way back in January, Courtney had to go to Moab for a quick bid trip for work.  When he found out he'd have to go, he told me I ought to come with him.  Of course, it's never that easy to pick up in the middle of the week and leave the kiddos for a day or two, especially when that day or two begins tomorrow!  However, when Grandma C caught wind, she offered to take the kids.  Grandma and Grandpa J had already asked for a sleepover that weekend, so when all was said and done, we had three nights for a little getaway.  Not having done anything this impulsive for a looong time, I was feeling pretty sassy.  However, the next morning before we left, I found myself madly arranging carpooling, lessons, and the like and realized that it's impossible to be completely impulsive at this point in my life!  It was sure fun trying, though!

We took our time getting to Moab and spent the first evening reading a book in the car while Courtney measured, re-measured, computed figures and re-computed before submitting the bid.  It was nice to read and not have any "I ought to be doing something else" thoughts.  The next morning, we headed out for a hike.  Instead of heading to Canyonlands or Arches like normal, we ventured out a different direction and took a hike we hadn't heard of before.  I can't remember what the name of hike is, but it's north-east of Moab, and if you have a chance, you really should give it a whirl (I'm a fantastic good tour guide that way).  It was quiet, remote, and beautiful.  We had a great time. 

At the end of the hike was the coolest arch, (can't remember the name of that either- sorry!).  It reminded me of a smaller version of Rainbow Bridge at Lake Powell.  There was no one around, which made it even better.  We hiked right up to it, laid on our backs under the arch, and soaked up the sunshine the most perfectly blue sky.  What a great way to spend a day.

The third morning we reluctantly packed up and headed home, but since the girls were going to be staying at Grandma and Grandpa's house that evening, we had plenty of time.  After a good breakfast, we got on the road and Courtney asked me if there was anything I'd ever wanted to see between Moab and home.  "Actually,. . ." I said with a smile.  And so it was that I finally fulfilled a long time dream of driving through the historical district of Helper, Utah, a small mining town an hour or so north of Moab.  Every time we drive past that place I see the signs touting their famed Historical District, and I can't help but want to explore it a little.  Well, now there's one more check on my bucket list, I suppose.

Such a fun, impulsive little getaway we had.  I'm a sucker for a few days away with my best guy.  So babe, next time you have to make a quick little business trip to slickrock land?  I'm all over it. 

Except you'll have to give me a minute, please.  I'll have to run that by my babysitters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

the yes mom

Last week I stumbled upon this essay.  I have read and reread it, knowing that it held an answer to make me a better mother.

I say "no" way too much. 

My negative responses come for much the same reasons that she listed in her essay.  "Yes" means mess.  It means work.  "Yes" means effort.  Some days it seems like there's just not enough of me to say "yes". 

So what do I do?  I say "no".  In fact, in the days surrounding my discovery, I was somewhat shocked to realize how much I really do say "no".  It's almost like I find it coming out of my mouth before my kiddos even finish their request.

"Mom, can we pai. . .?"  "No."

"Mom, can I have a . . ?"  "No, not today." 

Yikes!  I really am a fun-hater, aren't I? 

So.  I'm trying to turn over a new leaf, and I'm posting it right here for all (ie: the whole 3 people who actually read this blog) to see in hopes that it will actually become more cemented in my mind.  I'm going to try to become more of a yes mom.  After all, isn't this whole gig about a little mess?  A bit of effort?  A truck-load of work? 

I'm thinking that's what I'm here for, my friends.  In fact, as I recall, no one ever mentioned anything about a 5-star resort vacation when I signed up for motherhood.  However, every so often I notice something about this job.  When I put a little bit of extra effort into my days- perhaps set aside a moment or two for laughter with the rascals- I have a lot more fun!  I'm thinking there must be some connection:  Kids having fun= mom having fun.  Hmmmmm.

Yesterday I gave it a good go.  When Emmy asked if I would color a page from her Tinkerbell book with her, I said "Yes!"  After reading a book to Claire, I stayed in the rocking chair and we had a tickle fest for a good five minutes.  Fun!  When Emmy wanted me to get the costume box down from the garage (a definite "no" request two days ago), I obliged.  What's more?  When the costumes found themselves all over the house, I refrained from nagging to pick up the mess so long as they were still playing with them.  Best of all, last night at dinner when Ryenne was telling us a funny story, I found myself relaxed and hanging on her every word, genuinely enjoying her tale.  So often, I listen with one half of my brain while the other thinks ahead to what we need to get done in order to move our night along at the proper pace.  Last night, I listened with everything I had.  I was present, I laughed with my family, and I loved every second of it.

A little progress, eh? 

As I have pondered on the changes I would like to make in myself, I was reminded of a statement I once read.  When asked about her parenting philosophy, Marjorie Hinckley once responded that she "Tried to never say 'no' if she could possibly say 'yes'," and encouraged mothers to "Have joy in your mothering". 

I guess I never realized that the two pieces of advice went hand in hand. 

So, there it is.  I'm going to try to say "yes" a little bit more.  I hope to at least slow down, listen to what my children are asking, and give a good try to making it work if at all possible.  I did talk to them last night about my new goal, explaining to them that I wanted to say "yes" more often.  Then, we had a little chat- deciding in the end that if I am going to say "yes", then they also have a responsibility to say "yes" too!  If we decide it's okay to do something crazy like getting out the Halloween costumes, then when they are asked to clean up they will need to obey without complaining.  If we make a quick detour to the park, I'll be more encouraged to do it again if I know the girls will come when I ask. 

We'll see how it goes, I guess.  For now, I have a lot to work on.  I need to lengthen my stride, I suppose.  Stand a little taller, dig a little deeper, and listen with both sides of my brain.  I hope to laugh more, smile often, and have fewer regrets. 

Have joy in your mothering. 

Pretty good mantra, eh?  

Monday, March 21, 2011

well, I'll be. . .

A few weeks ago, Grandma Tam gave Emmy and the girls a copy of a Chinese birth calender.  You know the kind?  Basically, you plug in a few numbers and it tells you whether your baby is going to be a boy or a girl.  When Emmy brought it home, she was so excited to show me. 

"Mom!!! It's going to be a boy!  That's what I really wanted was a boy!"  She couldn't contain her happiness.  I didn't want to disappoint, but tried to tell her that that there little calender wasn't actually an exact science.  "I know," she said quickly.

However, I knew she didn't really buy into my pessimism when she immediately asked, "But does this mean we're going to have a Chinese boy?" 

You can bet that's been the joke of the week around here.

Anyway,  just in case you're wondering. . .we did have an ultrasound Friday.  And?  We're in a little state of (happy) shock.  It's a BOY!

(Courtney says he's got a few questions for me if it's a Chinese one.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

to the nice person who brought us our mail

Dear Nice Neighbor,

Thank you for bringing our wrongly delivered mail to our door.  We often get the wrong mail too, but I am lazy and just put it back in the box with a "delivered wrong address" message on it.   You were much nicer than me because you actually brought it right to our door- you went the extra mile to be sure.   I'm not aware of who you are because you quietly slid it into the door and left.  No knock, no doorbell.  I can't say that I blame you, because I'm quite sure that you arrived just as I was blowing my top inside our happy little home.  Chances are, you thought there was a terrible monster inside our house.  And so, along with offering my gratitude for your neighborliness, I also hope to calm your fears.

No monsters here.

Nothing so exciting, actually- just little 'ol me.  However, the two of us tend to be one and the same some days.  Me and the monster, that is.

You see (is is too late for me to try and explain myself?), the girls had been terribly hyper all afternoon.  Terribly.  I'm talking super-duper crazy hyper.  The kind where they couldn't stop laughing and squealing and making an incredible ruckus.  And me?  I'm a certified fun-hater.  It's true that I spent my afternoon trying to bring a halt to all the madness.  Unsuccessfully, obviously.  And I'm pretty sure you may have ventured onto our front porch about the time that the clowns were changing Claire's diaper whilst I was busily stirring supper.  Only it was a super messy diaper.  And they couldn't just change it, but had to be silly and laugh and "ewwwww, gross!!!!" until the messiness (you know what I mean) was all over themselves, Claire, and the carpet.  This is probably where my level-headedness left (what still remained) and my monster-ishness moved in and well. . . you know the rest.  It was somewhere around this point that Kate quit laughing (finally!) and started crying and weeping, "I'm sorry!   I'm only eight years old.  I"m only eight years old."  I will be honest, sometimes I prefer crying over laughing. 

Now the whole ordeal sounds funny, but I will have you know.  Just then it was Not. Funny.  But, yes, you already know that, don't you?

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you thank you, and yes, apologize for my display of Out-Of-Control Mommy.  In the unlikelihood that you ever dare to step foot onto our property again, I would like you to know that I am not always so loud.  Not always so monsterish.  Sometimes (and this is just between you and I), I am even nice to my kids.  In fact, somedays, if the moon and stars are aligned just so, the hyperness doesn't annoy me near as much.  On rare occasions, I step out of my fun-hater mode and actually laugh back.     

You just happened to miss that day.

Thank you for my mail.  May your nightmares soon cease.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

what goes down must come up

Did I say that wrong?

You'll have to excuse me for such a lame title, but that seems to be the theme of my life right now, although some days are better than others.  I hate to be to graphic and so knowing that I am getting (much too) big with child, I'll let you fill in the blanks.  And lest this sound like a complain fest (I'm sure it does), I'll just say I'm so thankful that this baby is on the way as I've known that this little one needed our family (or perhaps our family needed this little one) since almost the minute Claire was born. 

That said, Baby number five is kicking my pants. 

I used to strive to win the title of "Meanest Mom of the Year".  Now I'm stepping up my game.  My latest efforts are focused toward winning the "Meanest and Laziest Mom of the Year" title, and I tell you what.  I'm a shoe-in for sure.  (Although this morning I did do something crazy like turning on my vacuum and giving it a whirl just to see if it still works.  When it came roaring to life, I admit I let out an ol' "Well, lookee there!"  My vacuum does work, after all.  Guess it's just me that quit. 

The other day I was talking to Ryenne and trying to feel her out about her Faith in God award.  As in, does she have any interest at all?  Because so far, she's about one goal into a four year plan- with only one year to go.  I don't want to push her to earn it if she doesn't want to (after all, it's her award-not mine).  Therefore, I just casually put it out there into her atmosphere that if she has any desire whatsoever, she might want to take a peek into that little book of hers and set a goal or two.  Upon which she responded, "Yeah. . .I'm not really into setting goals." 

This morning I'm feeling like her twin.  Lately, I'm not really into goals, either.  Such as showering, cleaning, and doing the laundry. . .although I'm right on top of my game at getting my eight hours of sleep per night.  Plus two.  OR, how about single-handedly assisting my toddler in her mastery of movie-watching-for-hours-on-end?  Check. 

Lately I've spent a few good hours with the IV pole on account that I can't keep liquid down so well.  Which leads me to having to track how much I'm drinking every day.  You know what?  One liter suddenly seems like a whole lot.  This is why I am now a bonified coke drinker.  Turns out it's an old remedy for nausea.  I've never drank coke before in my whole life.  You see, I don't (didn't) drink soda pop.  Courtney laughs every time he sees me sipping on one.  The girls think this habit is sinful and shocking.  As in, "Gasp!  Mom's drinking COKE!!!!"  (Courtney chuckles at this and claims that in the girls minds, the can might as well have Budweiser plastered across it.)  Like I said, we don't (didn't) drink a lot of soda pop around here.

The other day I was dropping the girls off at school and we pulled up in front, parking behind the Coca-Cola truck.  Ryenne looked at me and with a sly sort of grin, said, "Hey Mom!  It's the Coke truck.  Maybe if you go ask him, he'll give you a couple".   She was laughing as she got out of the car. 

And this morning, as I was bent over the toilet as part of my morning ritual, Claire came in and joined me.  Really joined me, I mean.  Gagged her fruit loops up all over the rug (thank goodness for rugs).  She's done it twice since.  Yeah for a mom who is raising a two- year-old bulimic.

Like I said, five is sounding like a good, round number.

day five . . .coming home

Well, well, well.  It's only taken me two weeks to document our five day trip.  Right now, I'm thinking that's not so bad.

On our last morning, the girls decided that life wouldn't be complete without a few hours at the swimming pool.  I can't say that I blamed them.  After all, water + sunshine in March?  I agreed that they better soak in every last minute.  I stayed and packed up our stuff while the girls went to the pool with Daddy.  We have a bunch of little fish on our hands.

 We left all our baggage locked up at the hotel and went to spend a few last hours at the park.  We had told the girls we'd spend a little bit of time looking for souvenirs (after all, they had to spend all those stars they'd earned!).  We also bought lunch in the park, which we were too cheap to do on an everyday basis.  Ryenne (our resident carnivore) had seen a few people walking around with some kind of big leg o' meat for a few days, and although she hadn't asked, we could tell that she sure thought it looked yummy.  Her Dad was bent on finding her one.  This took us a little while, and she was so worried about having us spend so much time (and hard-earned $!) that she was almost in tears by the time we located her a turkey leg.  She happens to be our most frugal child, but after her Dad insisted that he wanted to get her one and would even share it with her, she was happy as a clam with her hunk of meat. 

Emmy and Kate settled on a corn dog (we're high class around here).

The girls spent the next while looking for a perfect souvenir.  It was fun to watch them compare prices and try to get the best deal for their buck.  After much deliberation, Emmy settled on a set of Tinkerbell pollypockets and a coloring book (which, in order to keep in mint condition, she now copies pages on the copy machine before coloring).  Ryenne and Kate chose charms for a charm bracelet, and Claire picked out a little stuffed Winnie the Pooh (her favorite).

I have to admit, I wondered if five days was going to be a bit too much.  We decided to spend five on the advice of a few friends and because we decided not to rent a car while we were there.  Having done it though, I thought it worked out great.  We weren't rushed, spent our time doing whatever the girls had in mind, and didn't get too stressed over the weekend crowds because we'd had time to do most everything we wanted.  In fact, when it was time to go catch our ride to the airport, the girls were so reluctant to leave.  As we were walking out of California Adventure, I looked over at Ryenne to see her looking so sad.  She looked at me, almost in tears, and said, "I'm not ready to go."  I think we were all a little sad to see our magical little vacation end and head back into real life.  My brother likes to say, "Disneyland. . .the happiest place on Earth and more screamin' kids than you'll ever see."  Happily for us, the only time we worried about extra sad kids was when we had to go home! 

I'll always look back on this trip as being magical.  Maybe not so much the place that we went, but the company we kept!  It makes me want to do my best to make our home somewhere we can call the "Happiest Place on Earth!"

Monday, March 14, 2011

disneyland. . . day four

When we arrived at the park on day number four, who should we see but the ever popular Mary Poppins!  The girls were more than happy to have a chance to chat with one of their favorite people.  Mary was very charming, of course, and quite surprised to see "four girls in one family!" (something we commonly hear).  She insisted that I must have a nanny, to which I (although I admit it sometimes sounds nice) insisted otherwise-  just a one woman show.   

That afternoon it was quite warm, and we told the girls we'd buy them a treat, which we hadn't done so far.  Emmy's eyes instantly lit up as she asked if cotton candy counted as a treat.  I loved this because this was one of the first of a few occasions where I could see that the girls had really been eyeing up something they'd seen during our days at the park, but they hadn't ever said anything, not wanting to beg.  Once we offered, it was funny to see how they definitely had something in mind! We told Emmy that yes indeed, cotton candy could count as a treat, and I don't think I've ever seen a gal so happy over the stuff.  She was pleased as punch with her purchase and happy to share with her sisters (who chose an ice cream cone instead).

Daddy was a real trooper, as this became a common way of travel in the afternoon when little feet started to get tired!


Daddy and Claire ran into these two rascals while the girls and I were getting soaked on the Grizzly Bear Run. 

That evening after supper, we headed back to the park, hoping to take advantage of the late hours to ride a few favorites in the dark.  Unfortunately, all of the rides the girls wanted to ride were closed because of the water show.  And even more unfortunate was the amount of people who must have had the same idea.  Shoulder to shoulder people, everywhere!  Earlier, we had guessed that many of the families with young children would have already headed home by that time, so things would clear out a little bit.  Wrong!  We were weaving along, trying to get through the crowds, when I commented to Courtney that I couldn't believe all the young families that still had their kids out this late at night.  Then we looked down at our (also very young) bunch and had a good chuckle when we realized we were part of that irresponsible group!  We couldn't believe the crowds, but ended up braving them anyway to get a seat for Fantasmic! (which the girls loved- this was about the only look they got at most of the princesses during our trip). 

That night Courtney and I had a good laugh on the shuttle when each one of the girls fell asleep.  I guess that meant we'd had enough fun for one day!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

day three

I'll just say it.  Our girls are kinda chickens.  Well, I should say it this way- our girls used to be chickens!  They aren't very brave when it comes to riding the rides that look a little risky (risky being a relative term).  This trip, we decided to use bribery.  They each got a little notebook (to get autographs from all the characters and such), and we told them we'd give them a little star sticker for each time they rode a ride and if they were nice, ate well, etc.  The deal was, at the end of the trip, we would reimburse them with souvenir money for each star they had earned.  I tell ya, they quickly became a lot more brave!

For instance, last time we went to Disneyland, they hated the 3-D Bugs Life show.  Scared 'em to death.  Ryenne still remembered and swore she wouldn't go.  However, the stars did the trick and we were soon in line for the show.  (Which they all loved, by the way!)  And the glasses?  Well, we were quite in style.

This system worked for other rides as well.  In fact, the older three went on every one of the "scary rides" including Tower of Terror.  Kate had been the bravest about going on this ride, but as it turns out was the least happy about the experience!  Courtney had gone on the ride with them while I waited, and said the best part of it was watching Kate's face.  In fact, I think he may have paid good money to have a video of the whole thing.  Complete terror, I was told.  He thought it was hilarious- we're really good parents like that.  Emmy thought it was great and got right back on with me.  When we were in the waiting area, the other adults with us asked her if she was really going to ride it.  She happily responded, "Yip!  And I just did!"  They were all quite impressed, and then the man asked her if that was what had made her teeth fall out.  She thought that was pretty funny.

The other funny story is about the Indiana Jones ride.  Ryenne refused to ride on it the first go around, and Emmy was too short.  However, the next morning Emmy and Kate came out of their room looking pleased as punch.  Kate had been working to fill Emmy's keds with tissue to make her tall enough to get on the ride.  We kind of laughed them off and told them we didn't think it would do much good.  To our surprise (and the girls delight) it gave her over an inch!  Enough to get her in the ride.  They thought they were pretty smart!  After the ride, Ryenne agreed that it really wasn't that scary, after all.

That night we used our tickets to watch the water show, this time from the front!  We found great seats and had a terrific view.  It was a definite favorite- so magical and fun.  Besides, there is something so fun about seeing everything lit up at night. 
Another fun day!

Friday, March 11, 2011

day two

Hmmmm. . .day two.  My initial plan was to write down a little bit at the end of each day (and have the girls do this, too), but boy!  At the end of the day we were all so stinkin' tired there was no energy left for writing.  Off to bed, we were!  So now I'm just looking at the pictures and hoping to remember the best of the best.

I would say the thing the girls remember most about our last trip to Disneyland (five years ago) is the tea cup ride.  This is because they and their Dad made me sick, sick, sick on the ride.  So you can bet that's the one thing they were all looking forward to doing again.  However, I refused to take even a step onto that ride this trip as I am doing a pretty good job at feeling sick all by myself these days.  Instead, I volunteered to take pictures, which was a little bit tricky because I was on the wrong side and they were spinning, of course!  However these were a few of my favorites.  It was the first ride of the morning and Courtney was a little hesitant to spin too much so early in the day. 


The other funny thing that happened each day was that whenever Claire would be on any rides that went into a dark tunnel (which is most of them!), she would immediately cover her eyes.  This would make us all laugh, especially when she rode on the Matterhorn and then forever after regaled us with her stories of a "scary  monster so I covered my eyes like this".  This is because she makes the funniest faces when she tells this story.  And probably also because she makes us all laugh no matter what she does.

Claire is a definite Daddy's girl, and always has been.  So being with her Daddy for five days straight was just her cup of tea.  At one point, Courtney or I said something to the affect of "What's Claire going to do when Daddy has to go back to work?"  Upon hearing this, she immediately perked up and with an alarmed look on her face asked, "WHAT?"  As in, "You mean this isn't going to last forever?"  I agreed wholeheartedly.  Sometimes real life is a bummer.

This is how we spent a little bit of each day, patiently (or somewhat impatiently) waiting for the bus.  We would usually eat breakfast each morning at the hotel, pack our sandwiches, and head out mid morning.  After eating our lunch at the park, Claire would fall asleep in the stroller- which made a perfect time for big kid/daddy rides.  I was happy to stroller/people watch while she snoozed.  Mid-afternoon, we would head back to the hotel for some swimming or naps and dinner, then back to the park for the evening.  All in all, the girls became pros at public transportation, and I was taken back a bit to my BYU-H days and all the bus waiting/cussing we did.  Our favorite bus story was the night we had waited at the stop for quite a while (it seemed the "every 20 minute schedule" didn't really mean every twenty minutes.  Of course we were thrilled when we saw our route #1 bus headed our way.  We all jumped up and got ready to load when the bus driver (we'll call him "grumpy") stepped off the bus, shut the door in our faces and said (in an I-hate-my-job-voice), "Ten-minute break" as he walked away.  Turns out Grumpy just needed a Dr. Pepper and after securing one, he came out of the motel, opened the door to the bus while we jumped off and got ready to board, and then once again shut it in our face while he nursed his soda.  Just happy to serve, he was. This gave us a good laugh for days. 

That night we were at California Adventure and watched the back side of "World of Color", the super cool water show that just opened.  We didn't have tickets for that night so we kind of watched it in reverse from the other side of the park.  Great view, but we found it much cooler the next night when we watched it from the front! 

the happiest place on earth

day one

Last week, we ventured off to the land of Mickey and Minnie for a little family getaway.

Family time is a little rare in our house, with Daddy gone so much- so the chance to be just the six of us for five whole days?  It was good for the soul, I tell ya.  All of our souls!

This trip was a little bit impromptu, just having decided to take this little getaway a few weeks earlier.  In fact, we only told the girls a week before we were leaving.  I had been telling Courtney for about a month that I kept having this recurring feeling that we needed to take a little family vacation.  Finally, we bit the bullet and decided to getaway together for a few days.  We had taken the girls to Disneyland before (with the exception of Claire), five years before, when Ryenne was in kindergarten and Emmy was only 18 months old.  That trip was so much fun, but this one was fun in such a different way.  We loved having going on rides with our bigger girls and having a kind of grown-up fun with them.  We laughed and joked and did things we couldn't  have done five years ago. 

I remember planning one of our first little family vacations to Moab when Emmy was a newborn.  Ryenne would have been just four years old, and everyone kept telling us to leave the girls home (because they wouldn't remember it anyway) and then Courtney and I could enjoy  ourselves.  Then an older, wiser friend (whose children were teens at the time) told she disagreed- we should take them.  She told me that like us, they had many opportunities to go with extended family on reunions and such, but had made a special point to take a trip with just their family each year.  She said that while the kids may have been to young to remember all of them, and that they still had disagreements and their trips were never perfect-  their kids had learned how to be together as a family in a unique way.  Now that they were older, she said their kids looked forward to family vacations, and knew how to have fun together in a 24/7 kind of way, while their friends who "waited 'til the kids were a little older" now had teenagers who would rather die than spend a week with their family.  Her point was that learning to take happy vacations and make special memories is something you have to teach your kids.  While we followed her advice, I don't know if I quite understood what she was saying.  Each year, we've tried to make opportunities to get away with just our little family, even if it's for just a few days.  It hasn't always been easy with so many young children, and sometimes I admit I've questioned the wisdom in not waiting until they were all a little bit older!  This trip, however, I began to see the light!  It felt like it was beginning to pay off a little.  We started to work together better, and everyone seemed to be able to give and take a little better, seeing what needed to be done to make things work.  Not that we didn't have our fair share of little quibbles, but overall, I felt  a sense of teamwork and camaraderie that we hadn't had before.  It sound crazy, but it was such a fun experience!

Tuesday afternoon, we arrived at Disneyland, ready to "Let The Memories Begin!", after what had already been a looong day.  We had taken a 6:30 am flight, so you can imagine how early our day had started.  To shorten our morning commute to the airport, we stayed the previous night in a hotel in Salt Lake, crammed into one room!  The three oldest slept in one bed, choosing to sleep across the bed so they had more room.  You can bet they were all thrilled to be so close to each other.  The first hour of "bedtime" consisted of Claire climbing all over everyone and being crazy while the other three filled the air with sweet nothings such as "Stop touching me!"  and "Get your feet away from me!"  Finally, out of desperation, I told them a pioneer story I had recently heard about a family and their trek to the west.  Of course, I had to go pretty heavy on the freezing nights out in the cold, without tents and blankets. . . hardly any food.  And I just may have mentioned how happy I bet those pioneers would have been to have two whole warm beds for just six people, complete with cozy blankets and a heater.  Let's just say the guilt trip worked perfectly and all were sleeping quietly soon after I ended my diatribe.  As my brothers used to say, "Pack your bags, Mom's taking us on a guilt trip".  Like mother, like daughter I suppose. 

The next morning the girls were troopers as we made our way to the airport and through all the long lines.  It was sure nice to have a few older helpers this time!

Before we left, the girls decided we'd better paint their nails.  Obviously, we had no other choice than to do red with white polka dots.  Why?  For Minnie Mouse, of course!  They were a definite hit, both with the girls and everyone else.  My favorite part was when Emmy told me the next day how when she gets her nails painted (it's not a regular thing at our house- eighty fingers and toes take a long time!), she is much more dainty in the way she holds her food and uses her hands.  We laughed when she sighed and said, "I don't know what it is, it's just that when I get my nails done, I feel like a new woman!"

Ryenne obviously felt like a new woman with her fancy nails, too.

After getting settled in our new home-away-from-home (two rooms and a kitchen this time: the only way to go with a bunch of little rascals, in my opinion!), we took naps and then headed for the Disneyland.  Lots of smiles, excitement, and adventures for the rest of the evening.

And who did we see?  Mickey!

And Minnie!

Fun day?  Yes-sirree!