Monday, July 9, 2012

Christmas in July - Week 1

During Winter Break (2011) we got to go to Florida!  We really wanted to spend some time with my Grandma (Nana) who winters in Florida and since we couldn't convince her to come to us (even though we live in H.A.W.A.I.I.) we decided to go see her.  And we're so glad that we did.  We hadn't seen Grandma for 2 years and we got to spend some time with other extended family that we hadn't seen in 5 or 6 years (and it was like 10 years before that).  We spend the whole 2 1/2 weeks of winter break on vacation - leaving the day after school got out and arriving home literally 10 hours before school was back in session in January.

The biggest decision while we were there involved the age old question: Disney World or Universal Studios?  We really wanted to do both, but it was just too dang expensive.  I mean seriously - fun should not cost you that much, but what can you do.  After much indecision and many conversations weighing the pros and cons we finally settled on Universal Studios.  For one main reason - Harry Potter.  It's only at the Universal Studios in Orlando, so it was really a once in a lifetime thing.  And in the end, I think we were all happy with our decision.  (And it's not like we haven't been to Disneyland EVERY other time we've been to the mainland....because we have.  seriously.)

Here's a visual run down of some of what we did at Universal:

We all loved Who-ville (more than I thought we would), but Juliana couldn't get enough of all things Dr. Seuss.  And it was all prettied up for Christmas.

This is what the big kids were waiting for - Harry Potter. The whole set up was pretty awesome.  Especially since it was Christmas time.  Moaning Myrtle could be heard haunting the girl's bathroom and we even tried butterbeer.  And the Hogwarts castle was actually pretty cool looking, at least from a distance - it's pretty small when you get up close:)

 The wand the kids are holding is a replica of Voldemort's from the film.  I should have taken a picture of just the wand, it was pretty cool looking, but alas.

(I wonder how many times an hour that poor woman has to pose like that?)
While waiting in line for the broomstick ride (I don't remember it's name) you wander through the halls of the castle.  I took some other pics, but it was dark and they didn't come out well.
The entrance to Dumbledor's office.

The sorting hat.

Cameron with the Terminator robot.

Isaac having second thought about standing in front of the robot, even just long enough to have his picture taken.  I don't blame him - especially right after the T-2 show when the robots practically attack you right in your seat!!

One of the days we went, my Aunt Jennifer and her 2 boys went with us.  They've had annual passes in the past and have been many times, so they knew all the good stuff to go on.  While there, we all went on the ET Adventure and stuck.  For a long time.  We took up a all but 2 seats of the "car" - I hope the poor folks that got stuck with us didn't think we were too crazy.  While the music stopping and the lights eventually coming on did kind of kill the magic, it was probably a favorite moment for most of us.  Aunt Jennifer kept us all in good spirits.  And it was actually pretty cool to see the magic of a ride revealed.  It's pretty amazing what a few fake trees, mannequins, props, the dark and music can turn into when put together in just the right way.

OK - I totally have a video of us all singing Christmas songs, but I can't get it to upload....grrrrr!

So I guess you'll have to settle for this one:
Cameron also got to be a balloon handler in the big Macy's Christmas parade - actually he marched in it after the new year, but you know.  Here's Cameron's balloon handling debut - he's in the front row on the far left.  Lucky for us the balloon in front of his got stuck in the tree we were sitting next to, so we had plenty of time to video.  We also happened to have every. single. candy "helper" stop and give up yummy peppermints - I'm not usually a bit peppermint fan, but these were tasty.  We just put the in our pockets and waited for the next one to pass by.  Sometimes it pays to have super cute kids!

Well, for all the time we spent there (like 7 days) we sure didn't take a lot of pictures.  Oh well.  At least we got a few.  Here's everyone's favorite rides:
Cameron - The Hulk
Lisa - The Simpson's Ride (don't judge - it was fun, and funny and ALL the kids could go on it)
Abi - The Hulk
Isaac - ET
Danielle - ET
Juliana - Flight of the Hippogriff (it was the only cool coaster she was tall enough for, but she LOVED it and wanted to go again and again and again...)

It was super fun and even rivals the trips to Disneyland.  I have to say as far as family accommodations and parent swaps, Universal has it down.  At Disneyland it can get a little complicated since there's not a parent swap area built into a lot of the rides, but since Universal is newer - and especially a lot of the big rides - they have awesome parent swap areas that are usually situated right next to the exit so you're not sitting there forever wondering if you missed your party coming out and have to wait in line all over again.

During that first week in Florida we also got to hang out with my aunts and uncles in Ocala on Sunday.  And Aunt Leah and Aunt Jennifer and their kids hooked us up with a whole day of hanging by the pool, playing games, and just getting to know each other again.  It was a lot of fun - believe me, Aunt Leah knows how to party with the kids - it helps that she spoils them...they still talk about how cool she is:)

Coming up next - week 2, hanging out with Nana!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hey! Are you still listening? (...or Reading as the case may be)

Yes, we're still here.  And I know - I just don't blog often enough at all.  I wish I had a good excuse....'cause I don't.  But sometimes that's just how life goes.  I swear - and I tell this to people I know all. the. time. - when school starts I just drop off the face of the earth.  Well at least socially.  And well let's face it - blogging is social.  But since I know you all love me, you'll forgive me, right?  Thanks, I knew you would. 

So onto some actual content (not just me rambling on and on and on and on...oh sorry!).  Here's a speed summary of what we've been up to lately.  And I really mean speedy - and VERY summarized.

Sorry - I don't really recall what we did before winter break - especially since my latest camera download didn't include pics from that long ago.  Comes with old age.  So, until I unearth that last download folder (because my old laptop went kaput in early December, so it's on that hard drive...which is on this laptop now, but I'm lazy) we will start with our trip to Florida.  I actually have lots of pics of Universal Studios Florida, which is where we spent a lot of fun time, but they are all taken sideways (and again, I'm lazy) so you would have to turn your head to see them properly.  I will spare you and get around to posting them another time.  (A-hem, it will not take me a year to do it...I hope).  So we begin with the second half of our Florida trip which involved hanging out with Nana and my sister's family.  Unfortunately my brother and his family weren't able to make it out, and we missed them, but it was fun hanging out with some of the cousins. 

Here's all of the kids (plus Aunt Kerry) at the Zoo in Naples, Florida.

Fast forward to Easter (not sure why we didn't take any pics between Christmas and Easter, but apparently we didn't).  Here's the kids all decked out in their Easter garb.

For those of you who are looking at the pics, going, "who's that again?"  Here's Danielle, age 7.

Abigail, age 11....OK she was 10 when the pic was taken, but she's 11 now.

Isaac (channeling Harry Potter, maybe?), age 9.

Juliana, age 4.

Oh wait - here's a pic that I took before Easter - I cut my hair!  Like really cut it.  Like 14 inches, cut it.  In February?  I think.  It's curly now - what's up with that?  Seriously, all growing up I wanted curly hair...and now I've got it.  But it does involve waking up a half an hour earlier every morning to actually do it.  No - I don't just hop out of bed looking this gorgeous!  And if you've seen me this summer you know that....I don't even bother doing it for church anymore as I'm (once again) the ward nursery leader.

A friend came to visit and we watched the sunset a few times - something we don't do often enough.  One of those perks that comes with living on the dry, hot side of the island:)

Danielle had some serious snaggle tooth going on.  Seriously.  I mean, it was painful to let her go out in public - FOR WEEKS!  The sucker would not come out.  Her adult teeth were already in - come on.  Finally it got loose enough that (after much crying, screaming and literal gnashing of the teeth) I was able to yank it out.  Her mouth looks SO much better now - you know, just that awkward 7-8 yr old smile when your teeth are way too big for your mouth.  But still, WAY better than this any day:

Cameron's been doing some beard growing - and we actually have some really cool pics of all the different stages and styles, but that really is a post for another day.

See, I told you it would be speedy.  I'm sure there's a lot more to add - especially since everyone's had a birthday since Christmas except Danielle, but I'm too lazy to wait for blogger to upload the videos:) 

All in all, we're doing good.  We've been on Summer vacation for almost a month and I have 4 weeks left until I have to be back to work.  Cameron's parents will be out this week to visit and my parents, who just got home from their mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, will hopefully be out to visit in the next few months.  Our summer is just way too short for all that stuff we want to pack in. 

We're already getting ready for the new school year (Wal-mart has back to school stuff out already - the teacher in me is getting very hard to suppress.).  Abi will be starting middle school this year, talk about scary.  At least the school is right next door to Kihei Elem. so she's not too far away and she can still ride with us in the morning instead of bussing it on her own.  Though she will have to take the bus home by herself in the afternoon as Kihei El and Lokelani ( the middle school) contract different bus companies..weird since they are RIGHT NEXT DOOR!  But whatever - I'm not in charge (and wouldn't want to be).

Isaac will be in 4th grade - he will actually have the same teacher Abi had last year (she moved from 5th to 4th), so that will be fun.  I've really enjoyed getting to know her.  Danielle will be in 3rd grade - we don't know her teacher yet, it will be a new hire for this year as one of the 3rd grade teacher's retired.  Juliana will be going to preschool - we still haven't decided which one, but she has a tentative spot in 2 very different settings....I'm thinking the free one will win out here, but we're waiting to hear about one more preschool subsidy program offered by the state.  I will be teaching Kindergarten  again this next year - I'm super excited.  Last year was definitely easier and much less stressful for me, so hopefully this year will continue that trend:)  And as soon as I start working this year (July 24) I will be a tenured teacher!!  Which means as long as we stay in Hawaii I will have a job....but I don't see us staying forever.  But for now, it's nice to have been validated as a good teacher and that I don't have to worry about losing my  job anytime soon.

Well, I think that's it for now.  I will try to post a little more frequently - at least until school starts again:)  Not that it'll be that hard to beat out 10 months of silence!  Love to you all, and hope that you're doing well, too.