Sunday, April 29, 2012

More P.R.I.D.E...

Last year in first grade Jaelyn received a P.R.I.D.E. award for her determination. Well this year she covered two more letters of the acronym, receiving an award for both Respect & Integrity!

The fine print on the award reads Jaelyn shows respect and integrity by listening when someone speaks, being polite, helping when someone is in need and always making positive choices. Jaelyn, your family is very proud of you and the choices you make. Keep up the good work! Next year Preparation and Empathy???

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"Spaced" Out...

My parents came into town on Thursday night for the weekend, as they are graciously hosting a Creative Avenue jewelry fundraiser for our China Team on Sunday!

In the meantime, my mom headed to Seattle on Friday with Kaia and I, as Kaia an orthodontist checkup at Children's Hospital. It seems Kaia is now ready for spacers to prepare her for the alveolar cleft bone grafting/surgery that she will have in the near future. For the spacers and the regular orthodontia work we will use our local orthodontist that the boys had, Dr. Gardner. Kaia is a bit anxious about the spacers. The surgical work and overall care will be done by Dr. Hitesh P. Kapadia. We will be back at Children's in August.

The best part of our day though was seeing the tulips of Skagit Valley in bloom on our way home from Seattle! Last weekend was the peak of the season for the Tulip Festival, but it is not fun to go during the most crowded time, when everyone from Seattle travels up for the day (although last weekend was gorgeous). Although a bit muddy from all the rain we have had this week, yesterday was the perfect opportunity for some beautiful photos, as it was not raining, but the sky had some great clouds. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Check out the red flowers captured in the rear view mirror!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Caught Up...

Spring on Whidbey Island has finally arrived! Ever since returning from Florida, we have been eagerly anticipating it's arrival, and this past weekend we were not disappointed. So maybe it's not the 90° we had in Orlando, but a balmy 60° here is amazing. The garden department at Walmart was packed, as this past weekend was what everyone has been long awaiting for. Following Jaelyn's first soccer game of the season, we came home to plant some seeds the girls got while at Epcot Center, as well as seeds that Grandpa gave me at Christmas from his garden; cosmos, glardia, bachelor buttons, and calendula.
Let's just hope that I can do the seeds justice. For my 94 year old grandpa, his garden is his life! He is charge of all the flowers at the assisted living home he lives at. He tends them like they were his babies, and is very proud to show them off. If the seeds he gave me don't produce, I'm out of the will! Just kidding!  Here he is last summer next to some of the sunflowers he planted.
Another sign of spring....the TOLO girl ask guy dance! Here's Josh all dressed up for the evening. Despite being asked by two different girls within 10 minutes, he went with one "just as friends," which is just fine with this mama!
More sun predicted for this weekend; track and soccer photos to follow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Making the Most of it...

Since our plane wasn't scheduled to leave until 6:15 pm (notice I said "scheduled," as it ended up leaving much later),  we made the most of our last day in Orlando. Once we we packed up and cleaned the condo, we headed to Disney BoardWalk to explore some Disney Resorts and enjoy the beautiful scenery. It is supposedly bustling in the evening, but during the day it was a relaxing and peaceful stroll.

The girls stopped to get their hair wrapped at a kiosk on the beach...

As our walk around the lake was coming to an end, Kaia leaned over a railing and looked into the water below. She got excited when she saw what appeared to be money floating on the water, so Mike and Josh devised a plan to fish it out with a life preserver and rope they found nearby.

Yep, they scooped up the $20! Kaia bought herself an art project for the plane ride, but did share some cash with her dad and brother. The three boys escaped the heat of the afternoon by watching The Hunger Games at the theater at Downtown Disney, while us girls shopped and ate ice cream.

Despite leaving late, our trip home was uneventful, since they held up the connecting flight in Denver so that the many of us flying to Seattle from Orlando could make the flight. Good thing too, since it would have made our near midnight arrival even later! Easter, the following day, is a blur, but it was nice to have one day of rest before returning to work/school the next day.  So glad we were able to take this memorable vacation; we are truly blessed!

Friday, Friday...

Friday was catch up on everything we didn't get to do that we wanted to do day. And yes, that means standing in line for Soarin for two hours! We didn't intend to wait in line for two hours, as when we got in line the wait time sign showed one hour, which was doable. About 45 minutes in they revealed the wait time was 90 minutes. What's 90 minutes? We're already halfway. The at about 90 minutes they announced that wait time was 120 minutes. Now what? Turn back? I'm way too competitive to give up, so we waited it out. Mike and Kaia had decided not to go, as neither are patient enough to wait, so they walked around some of the pavilions, wondering where in the world we were. You see, there was no cell phone coverage inside the tunnel-like area where we were waiting for the ride. Let's just say we were glad that Mike and Kaia were free to burn off their energy outside!

Mike and the girls wanted to complete their Kimpossible mission from the previous day, so the big kids and I caught the Monorail back to Magic Kingdom to accomplish our one goal, Space Mountain! I remember first riding it back in 1977, the year it opened at Disneyland, and my family's first trip there, and I have loved it ever since. It seems to be still just as popular. We grabbed a fast pass, and had plenty of time to kill before our tickets for the evening. Here we are riding the Aladdin Ride (self portrait). Yes, a kiddie ride, very similar to Dumbo, but the camel cooled us off by spitting water on us!
Mike and the girls caught up with us in the afternoon, and the brothers took the sisters for a spin on the Classic Speedway, as that was one of the girls' favorite rides from earlier in the week.
Now Kellen knows how we felt teaching him to drive! 

After another long day, we said farewell to Disneyworld, but hopefully we'll see you again!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another Whirlwind Day...

In trying to post what we did last week, all the days are beginning to blur together. I think I can piece it together though....

On Thursday we started are day back at Epcot, as we were only there briefly Sunday night, and didn't do any of the attractions except for the Illuminations show. The landscaping there was beautiful, and although the lines for attractions were long, the park seems more spread out and less crowded. While we were eating lunch, the ducks came right up to us and ate out of the girls' hands.

Another 90° day, so we tried to stay inside as much as possible. The highlights were the Test Track and Mission Space, a ride that simulates a space shuttle trip to Mars. You can choose the intense trip or the less intense trip; let's just say that the rest of the group said Kaia and I were wise to choose the less intense trip, as they experienced 2.4g's.
Josh and Jaelyn on the Finding Nemo Ride (I got scolded by the workers for snapping this shot).

One way escaped the heat was hanging out in the Nemo & Friends exhibit where the aquariums are. We got to watch the dolphin training, which is quite impressive. We also found one of the Hidden Mickeys underwater.
During the early evening hours we wandered through the World Showcase, featuring various countries from around the world. What made it more fun for the girls was in participating in the Kim Possible Secret Agent hunt that gave them electronic clues to wander through the cities in search of super villians.
Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the background!

Mike, the girls and I hopped the monorail and headed back to the Magic Kingdom for dinner with the princesses and Kaia's birthday celebration. On the way there, walking down Main Street, I heard someone calling "Toni."  As I looked around I was surprised to see a familiar face, a young lady from California who has been on my China team four times. She was in Florida to see her husband graduate from Boot Camp, and was with her in-laws at Disneyworld. It truly is a Small World (insert annoying song here).

The big kids ate dinner in England, then met back up with us later for the Main Street Electrical Parade. I don't know how many times I've seen that parade, but it never gets old, yet hasn't seemed to change. It did not disappoint anyone, from our youngest to our oldest. We stayed for the 11 o'clock parade though, so there were some pretty exhausted bodies when we left (again, from youngest to oldest!).

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Boys' Best Day...

Despite the fact that four of us were still feeling the events of the day before, Wednesday was a highly anticipated day for my boys. You see, Hollywood Studios has Star Tours, which is a Star Wars based 3-D simulator ride, and my boys are Star Wars fans. What they looked forward to even more was creating their own light sabres in the gift shop at the end. They were like little kids in a candy shop! Here is the final product, but they had to wait until after leaving the park to fully extend the light sabres, due to park rules....
Another thing you could do after the ride was have your picture photoshopped to look like a real Star Wars character. I was cheap again and didn't buy the girls photo, just took a picture of it, so the quality is not as good.
Princess Jaeleia

Kaila Secura

But best of all was Michael. He liked his photo so much that he actually bought a poster of it to hang in his classroom to intimidate his students. I give you Emperor Crebbintine..

We waited until later in the day to do the hardcore rollercoasters, so spent another 90°+ afternoon trying to stay cool, but unfortunately a lot of the good shows were outdoor theaters. We enjoyed Beauty & the Beast and the Indiana Jones Stunt Show, but were happy to experience American Idol in an air conditioned studio. Jaelyn impressed me again by riding the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster twice, and going on the Tower of Terror, something my tummy still couldn't even conceive.

 That evening we all went to Downtown Disney, where the girls both entered a Hula Hooping contest. They are both highly skilled hoopers, as they practice before school every day. Jaelyn finished third in her preliminary round, but Kaia finished first in hers, so made the finals, where she finished second overall.

 Afterwards she was asked to choose a parent to come out and show their skills, or lack thereof, and fortunately she chose her daddy!

 You can see for yourself how much fun the girls had...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Not the Happiest Place on Earth...

Continuing from my last post, while Elizabeth and I were out having fun at Downtown Disney, Mike sent me a text to bring gatorade back to the condo, as both boys were throwing up. Upon return, I played nursemaid to the boys, who were quarantined in their room. At one point in the night, Josh crawled into our room and announced that he had thrown up 13 times so far. Such a teenage boy in keeping score!

As dawn arrived, guess who was feeling ill? Let's just say that it was good our condo had three bathrooms, because they were all needed. Elizabeth also joined the boys and I, ending up feeling under the weather that day too, so everyone but Mike and the girls were sick. I didn't want him leaving us for the Happiest Place on Earth, leaving the sickies with no vehicle in case I needed to go in to an ER for hydration (sometimes happens with T1 diabetes and puking), so he graciously played Florence Nightingale, making sure we had plenty of cola and crackers. I think the girls were actually thankful for the break from the constant go we had been on, and they got to hang out and do more swimming.

So sorry, no photos from this day, but trust me, you wouldn't want to see any!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

More Than Animals....

Despite being tired from our busy Sunday, on Monday we roused out of bed early to make sure we arrived at Wild Kingdom early enough to see the animals awake. After all, it was predicted to be a 90°+ day! We slathered on the sunscreen and made the short drive.

Real animals are way better than the fake ones on the Jungle Cruise! You get to be quite close to the animals, which was way cool. Kellen could've reached out and touched this guy! The giraffe above had just crossed the road ahead of our vehicle. My animal obsessed children were ecstatic.

Next we went on the River Raft ride to cool us all down. Let's just say we weren't disappointed, as we were soaked! We went on a ride similar to this 10 years ago at California Adventure, but this time the designers were extra smart and included a waterproof section where you could place your cameras/backpacks. I was very grateful for that. I don't know how evident it is in this photo, but everyone is soaked!

Jaelyn deserves an award for her bravery this week, as she rode every single ride that any adult did, and several more than once! While at Wild Kingdom she rode the Expedition Everest ride three times, only matched by Joshua. She reminds me a lot of Joshua at her age, as he was the same way about roller coasters. Other highlights of the day were the It's Tough to be a Bug 4-D show (note my cute bugs in 3-D glasses below) and the Festival of the Lion King show, which was a super entertaining show involving music, dancing, and athletic performances.
There is not as much to do at this park, so we called it a day and headed out before dinner. Kellen wasn't feeling well, so Josh, Elizabeth and I headed to Downtown Disney for the evening, while Mike and the girls went swimming.

Halfway there, Josh declared he did not feel well, so needed to be taken back to the condo. Elizabeth and I enjoyed our evening out, but this photo below of Jaelyn sacked out in her chipmunk hat sums up how exhausted everyone was by the end of the night.
Little did we know that it was about to get worse....

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Out of Order....

So I'm posting photos from our trip out of order, because today is Kaia's eighth birthday, and I wanted to show how we celebrated her day while at Disneyworld. On Thursday night we had dinner reservations at Cinderella's Castle for the girls, Mike, and I, while the older kids were out exploring on their own. This was one of the Disney Princess character dinners, which means that while you dine, the princesses interact with you.

As people check in for dinner, Cinderella greets the parties and poses for photos. Earlier in the week I had bought crowns for the girls so that they could look the part:)

Each of us "girls" were referred to as "Princess" the entire evening, and Mike was always called "Sire." It really was a lot of fun, as they made you feel quite special. Each female received a magic wand and the males a sword.  The young girls also received wishing stars, and at one point in the evening the crowd was told to make a wish, which caused the lights to flash. Each time a princess arrived, that was announced to everyone also. The princesses would meander around to each table to chat, sign autographs, and pose for photos. Here they are in random order:

Snow White....

Sleeping Beauty....
Following dinner, Kaia was served a birthday dessert made of sponge cake, topped by a chocolate glass slipper and strawberries. She was stuffed, but couldn't resist licking the chocolate writing that read "Happy Birthday Princess Kaia."
 Princesses can't be all stuffy and formal though, so we needed a little silly time...

My favorite part of the evening was yet to come though. Since we didn't start dinner until 8:45 or so, we were still around when it was time for the evening fireworks. If you have ever been to Disneyworld/land, you know they launch them off from atop Cinderella's Castle, so what better place to view them than from within the castle. You can see the awesome view we had.
So tonight was a bit anti-climatic celebrating Kaia's birthday, but I think we all needed it. She picked a yummy french toast dinner, ate cupcakes (actually she just licked the frosting off), and the family played the new game she got called Suspend, by Melissa and Doug. If you are looking for a game that is fun for all ages, check it out

Hope you had a memorable birthday my sweet Kaia!