Thursday, June 30, 2011

My Family... in Pizza

French bread pizza for a quick dinner tonight. Can you tell who's is who's?

Yeah, I thought so.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Princess Festival

Last year, my parents heard about this great little thing called the Princess Festival, held down in Utah County. It's just a thing that some guy started doing because of his granddaughters, and it turned into a huge, full-scale event. The event itself is all on a volunteer basis, and is a fundraiser for charities. We didn't get to go last year, but made it a priority this year. My mom bought tickets (for Amelie, Alisa, me, her and my niece Stacey) and treated us all to a wonderful day, though we're sad Stacey had to miss it, being out of town.
We got up on Saturday, and got the girls ready in their princess gear first thing. (We had a long princess fashion show the night before to pick just the right outfits!) This pic just melts my little heart! (I swear Lisie was happy, I think she's just squinting in the sun.)

We went to my mom's and drove in together with her. This was the first year they held it at Thanksgiving Point Children's Gardens. On the way in, they had a big beautiful Cinderella-style carriage for pictures. They're both too enamored with the velvet to pose for the picture, haha.

First thing, we got our Princess name tags and Amie got a sprinkling of glitter for her hair. We first came upon a hedge maze, wherein was Alice on one side and Beauty and the Beast on the other. Well, we went in search of Alice but never found her... We managed to find our way out, though. So, we saw beauty and the beast first, and Amie was too scared to go up there. I don't blame her, look at that beast up close, he was crazy! We finally took her and put her on "Belle's" lap with me blocking her from the beast.
From there, we found the 12 dancing princesses, who tell their story and teach the kids a dance. Sorry, but I got bored with all 12 of them, so here are just 2 pictures. Lisie surprised us by sitting and listening to/watching the whole story/dance!

After the 12 Dancing Princesses, we came upon some bear statues. It was so weird, we had to prod and prompt her to pose with the princesses, but she INSISTED we take a picture of her with the bears... both times!

Here was Sleeping Beauty! It took Amelie a long time to buy that it was her, since she was wearing SB's dress, after all, and she looked different!

This was not, in fact Jasmine, like I told Amelie, but Princess Sheherizad and Aladdin. She told the story of Aladdin and the lamp, but we wished she was just named Jasmine!

There was a booth about the charity they are donating to, Quiet Way. This money goes to help purify drinking water in Africa. Amie did the jug-lifting demonstration, so she got a coin to throw in the wishing well. She didn't quite get the wishing concept. ;)

Every year, the Festival introduces a new Princess with a story about service or something. These were all the past princesses, and this year's, Mila. Amie seemed a bit non-plussed, since she didn't know them.

Another special treat that my mom got for the girls was a facepaint (for Amie, glitter tattoo for Lisie.) They both loved them immensely!!
This is the stoic face she made when told to pose for her face paint picture.

From there, the girls gotto go pick out whatever they wanted from the shops, since they have a soft grandpa, who gave them each a TWENTY dollar bill! (Then they gave them straight to mom to hold, of course!) They each got a froofy skirt, sunglasses and a lollipop. Then, in that same area, we headed in for some cute crafts. We made them each a wand and a door hanger, and Amie got a super-cute headband. Amelie wanted to do it all herself!
Being a good girl!
Here's Amelie showing "Tinkerbell" the wand she just made and chattering on. There were some other fairies, but Amie hasn't really gotten into them yet.

This is the Frog prince and nameless Princess - obviously not quite Tiana! But, I'd say this frog was probably in Amie's top 3 list for the day. There was a guy with a mic somewhere that would talk for the frog and she loved talking to him!

There were many cutouts like this around the Festival. I particularly like the pic of Lisie, cause with her open mouth, it looks like she's really rockin' out on that guitar!

We next saw the Cinderella show, where they acted out the whole story, which Amie seemed to like, but my mom and I thought was a little long. Gotta be honest, I was a bit disappointed with the look of Cinderella, but that's the years of Disney spoiling talking.
The steps. Not sure if Amie knew who they were.
I love how she's looking at Prince Charmant! So adorable!
The weird fairy godmother person...

And once again, a major highlight for Amelie - meeting Rapunzel. She had a bit of a line here, too, but grandma and Amie waited happily. (There was a cutout while you waited in line.) Rapunzel was sitting down on the ground, and at her turn, Amie walked up and sat right down next to her. R. asked Amie if she wanted to hold her hair while she signed the book, which Amelie adoringly did!
There was this old woman statue, I have no idea what it was supposed to be, but I told Amie it was Mother Gothel. For some reason, she's fascinated with her, and she stayed near the statue the whole time we were in the area.

Somewhere in all of this, we had a yummy, cold Quizno's lunch on the grass, which was just perfect. We also had fries and mini fair donuts early on, then toward the end of the day we got otter pops. It was so stinkin' hot! Thank goodness they had ice cold water throughout. On our way out, we saw Ariel, who was near the "Grotto" (or Noah's Ark, if you're there for the Gardens.)
Peter Pan and Wendy were also there playing, but the girls don't know them. Luckily, the kids got to play in the water. They were in heaven!
Don't mind some other girl's undies there...

I am Alisa, hear me roar!

Inadvertently got under the spray!

Another time she insisted on a picture! She likes turtles... even fake ones.

It was nice cause it was so hot, but my mom and I tired of it quickly, as we were ready to go home! It's a long 5 hour day when it's 90something degrees outside. We finally convinced Amelie it was time to go when she scraped up her knee, Alisa was hopeless though, and threw her first fit of the day as we carried her out of the water and into the car.

Exhausted girlies. Lisie woke before we could capture her.

Overall, it was a great day! While it just wasn't quite the Disney standard, it was still pretty magical for the girls, and they were both very good all day! They really had a blast. Lisie even wanted my mom to hold her a lot! (Something she usually reserves for mom and dad,

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Father's Day

I've got to come right out and say it at the beginning. Jeff just didn't quite get the Father's Day he deserved! Usually, I really try to make it special, but this year all the little things conspired against me, like his work schedule and seeing our families. Namely, I was a little bit distracted and strapped for cash, seeing as we were in Florida for a week before it.
First, I wanted to let Jeff sleep in as much as possible, which he doesn't usually get to do on Sundays (he gets off work at 5am.) So, I cancelled choir, got us all totally ready and woke him up with barely enough time to open presents, get dressed and get out the door. So, obviously, no breakfast in bed, but to make it worse, I totally spaced lunch for him in that timeline! At the last second, I threw some leftovers in the micro for him, but we were already late, so they were still sitting there when we got home. On top of it, he was feeling sick, so it didn't even feel like he got extra sleep to him. The girls and I got dad a sturdy pair of sunglasses, batteries in his favorite watch and the stuff to get our weed wacker working... I know, right? Not even exciting. I also had the girls decorate a big cardstock tie that he valiantly wore all through church. I thought it was adorable, but there's no telling if he had to endure lots of razzing from the dudes.

Amelie modelling said tie. (She put it up there on her own, knew just what it was!)

Along those lines, earlier that morning, Amie found this shirt and put it around her neck like this, and said "I'm daddy! I'm going to work!" so cute.

That was pretty much it for the day. After church, we went to my parents' for dinner, and the meal was great, then he just slept for 4 hours in my grandma's room because he still felt sick and had taken some meds. Also, my sister Jaimie had gotten him a pen made from bullet shells. He digs it. So do his co-workers. Boys.
We got together with Jeff's family Saturday night for some BBQ and hang time. He had to leave earlier than desired to get himself to work.

Reflecting, I really felt bad that I didn't do anything to make the day more special. (He even mentioned, "I thought for sure you were gonna use your chocolate melter for father's day...") So we went to dinner at TGIFriday's for family night the next day, cause he loves to go out. Except for one big spill, the girls were actually pretty good and we enjoyed ourselves.

Now I'm off to go make some chocolates...

A small interjection

I just wanted to note a few things that I added to the blog, but they won't appear at the top (since I wanted to keep them in order.)

First, I posted Day 2 of our trip now that Jaimie has her wand (you can find it right there between Days 1 & 3, imagine that!)

Also, I finally tracked down some pictures from Alisa's birthday! I did get some from my mother in law, but also (on the same day!) found some on my camera's SD card. I'm not crazy! The thing is, when I look through on the camera, they wouldn't show, but when I put the SD card in my printer, there they were! Weird... So, anyway, I added pictures of the party to her first birthday post, which you can revisit here.
And, in the same discovery, found a few shots from Valentine's. Nothing exciting, but you can check them out if you want, here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Florida Trip! Day 9/Trip home

So, as you probably know from all the complaining in my last post, our flight left at 7 am, which meant super early wake-up call! Luckily, I'd gotten everything ALL THE WAY ready the night before, so we just got up, dressed and left... Still a mite late, though. We returned our rental car (to the same lame dude that we got it from) and shuttled to the airport. We were down one bag, thank goodness (so only 5!) but we still decided to check the stroller and car seat at the gate so we could roll everyone through the airport. This was really nice except it took us even longer to get us all through security! (By the way, they totally didn't say anything about the 16 oz. of milk we brought through... makes me sad we bought a bunch of airport milk on the way in!) Since we got up a little late and then took forever at security, we actually got there right in time to check our stuff and walk right in. Though the girls were again, relatively very good, this plane ride was actually rougher than the first. Probably because they were super-tired. I was certain Alisa would really hate the flying experience, namely because she cries everytime we even use an elevator! She was a total trooper, though. The big problem, really was keeping the girls occupied together-they did not want to share a space! We brought Jeff's laptop just for movie-on-plane purposes and it helped for awhile. By the end though, mom was patty-caking, itsy-bitying and cowboy-riding her little heart out over and over, but it did the trick. (That and lots of snacks and drinks.) Also, it was very nice to get home and have a whole day ahead of us to recover and not do anything!

Overall, it was an exhausting but very fun trip! We didn't really think we'd get to do something like that, and it was awesome to be able to have a big family vacation. We'll probably have to take a few years off from that scale, though... I wanted to list the highlights for each of us as a little reflection.

- Seeing Amie fly on the plane (and Rapunzel, and saying "trip house")
- the new Harry Potter ride
- "a long walk in the rain with my beautiful wife"
- my HS reunion
- gators!

- both reunions, definitely
- Temple, definitely
- digging my toes in the sand while the waves lapped my legs
- watching the girls in their elements

#1 Rapunzel!!!
- Buzz and Woody
- all the playplaces

#1 all the playplaces, especially the water sections
- the swimming pool
- running around free in our condo and Kate's house

Florida Trip! Day 8 - St. Augustine and a Choir hook-up

This morning (I think. It's all blurring...) Jeff got up mighty early with the girls til we were all ready to get up and at 'em. We had to pack everything up for our return to Orlando (see, we had to turn in our rental car, then be at the airport by 5:15ish a.m. the next day... We didn't really want to do that from Jacksonville, 2 hours away.) We headed out (Omar had to work again) to St. Augustine to see America's oldest city, and to tour a chocolate factory. We got there a bit early for our tour, so we went on the carousel and played for a minute at a park, which the girls loved. Alisa didn't even cry on the carousel! (even though I know they don't really look happy... remember, they are just getting over being sick.)

I love how Kate poses for all her pictures!

We found our way back around town and made it in time for the chocolate tour. Kate so graciously treated us, since she had bought a groupon. The girls were pretty good til the end, when it got near Lisie's nap time - yikes! It was fun and interesting, and they gave us lots of samples - that's the important part, of course! Plus, a discount on things we bought then. Delicioso!! You can't beat real chocolate!
The very first thing Jeff said when we got in the car afterward: "Differences?" (In case you didn't know, I used to work in a chocolate shop/factory, so this question was quite appropriate and immediately understood.) The biggest difference, was that Whetstone (the choc co. we toured) actually MAKES their chocolate, like straight from the bean. They also have a lot more machines, apparently the original Whetstone invented a lot of them. At Farris and Foster's (my beloved alma mater of chocolate) we bought the actual big blocks of chocolate, but we did a lot more hand crafting, which I like.

A familiar sight:
A favorite sight:
Lookin' good!

We went to Steak n Shake for lunch (yum!) and had planned on touring the city a bit after that, but A) Alisa was ready for sleeping, and B) we saw a lot of it trying to navigate our way around before, (aka, we got lost, haha!) So, we decided to say goodbye to my great buddy Kate right there and head back to O-town. There was definitely some napping on the way back... lots and lots of it!
We got back into town early in the afternoon and JUST in time for me to be able to run in and do a session at the Orlando Temple. Bless Jeff, he stayed with the cranky kids and just watched them in the car/in the grass while I got to FINALLY go inside one of my favorite temples. (Can't wait for the day when our kids are old enough that we can go together on trips!)
After a diaper-search, we made our way to Bubbalou's Bodacious Barbeque, where I was meeting up with my old choir friends (mostly from other years.) It was relatively a small crowd, but I really had a blast with JP, Holly, Justin, Stephanie and her son, Will. After not too long, my girls were being VERY unhappy, so Jeff (so graciously, again) just took them home and let me catch up with my friends. Since it was a Tues night, Bubbalou's closed up pretty early, so we relocated to the Cheesecake Factory for some dessert, and ended up staying for awhile. We were originally going to stay at my friend, Sarah's place that night, but turns out she's pretty far from the airport anyway, plus she would be at work on the graveyard shift the whole time we would have been there. So, our condo opened up again, last minute, so we were able to book only 10 or 20 miles from the airport, which was nice. I ended up getting back somewhere abouts midnight or so, then had to do the major pack-up for our early morning flight. Yuck! I let Jeff go to bed, though, and stayed up to clean the rental car and condense all our goods down by one bag, so I wouldn't have to get up any earlier than required. Got to sleep about 1:30. :(

Monday, June 20, 2011

Florida Trip! Day 7 - Beach and Alligators!

Today, we woke up later than any other day, thank goodness! Kate and I were still up long before the rest of my crew. We decided to head to the beach that day (Omar had to work,) and contrary to Kate's wishes, we convinced her to go back to a beach with a splash pad, cause I wasn't sure how the girls would take the sand. We packed a lunch and headed out with lots of gear, but less than she usually takes, she says. It was a beautiful morning to be at the beach, though it was smoky from all the fires they'd been having (right near Kate's!)

The girls played around in the splash pad for a little bit, then we headed down to the ocean. It was so great - I could have stayed there for hours, it's so relaxing and I miss it! Unfortunately, we ended up only staying a bit over an hour. Jeff took Amelie out into the big waves, where she got a mouthful, and that ruined it for her. She was just crying and miserable after that. We took her shallower, then out of the water completely, but no cigar. Kate finally broke into her shell with drawing in the sand. About this time, I noticed she was feverish. We tried to prolong hanging out with the waves, but she just wasn't having it. Alisa, on the other hand, was in heaven! She was an adventuring wanderer. She walked and played anywhere we'd let her go, and seemed to have a grand old time. She really worked up confidence after day 1 or 2 of the trip, and we have to really keep the reins on her adventuring for the rest of the time! We ate lunch, there, then were talking about going home or the store to get medicine for Amie, but luckily I found ours at the last minute. So, we gave her some infant tylenol and then headed to the Alligator Farm (do you think I'm a terrible mother?)

This is another place Kate had recently been with visitors, but so graciously tour guided us there! Jeff had wanted to see some good gator action, but but we didn't have time to stop in at Gatorland while in Kissimmee (or we THOUGHT we wouldn't. We could have, seeing as we didn't get to the temple.) It was a fun place, where we definitely got plenty of views of gators and crocs, and I really liked it, though I wish we could have seen some of the jumping and wrestling they do at Gatorland. Omar had previously found one of the gator food machines that gives you food for free, so we parked there for a minute and fed the little guys for awhile.

After a tour of the place and standing outside for awhile, no joke, I had sweat streaming down my back. And it wasn't even July or August! Utah's thickened my blood. We took a break to let the kiddies play on a little kid playplace (where Alisa adventured her way into the employees only section) until it was almost time for a feeding show.

We stopped on our way out to watch a trainer feed the gator's right from his hand, up close and personal. He gave them dead rats (nasty) and it was fun to watch, a little crazy. He kept mentioning you could get your own extreme photos done in there with the gators!
We went "home" after that, and took much-needed showers and naps. I'm not exaggerating, the girls and Jeff slept for almost 3 hours when we got home! Kate and I ended up just curling up on the couch, too, cause it was so quiet. After that, we went to a Chinese buffet for dinner, Omar's favorite, where they had all the usuals, plus Mongolian BBQ/Hibachi, sushi, crab legs, and of course an ice cream cone on the way out! This was yet another time that I was so glad they don't charge for kids - sick little girls eat even less than not sick little girls! We headed home and wanted to play some games after the girls went to sleep, but as you can guess, they stayed up for quite some time after the late morning and long naps. Kate and I got in Battleship while we waited for the guys to come back from picking up our free redboxes... then we just went to bed without watching movies or playing games! Awesome. We're getting old!