Monday was Ben’s 3rd birthday. I don’t know where the time went, but I cannot imagine our family without our stealth operator! Ben is still pretty quiet, but that allows him to sneak around much more efficiently! We didn’t do much during the because I was hosting a different birthday lunch, but we partied hard in the evening! We made Black Forest cupcakes and then we went to a showing of Toy Story 3 (thanks Dad!).
As a side note, my little sister is staying with us for a month before she heads off to BYU. She has been a super help watching kids and styling photos for the food blog! Unfortunately, she has also been in very close proximity when all the children have vomited at some point during the last two weeks! The worst one might have been Monday night. She was cramped between the two younger boys on the way home from the movie when Ben got sick. I know it’s really not funny, but it made me laugh …. just a little bit!
Ah… the annual tribute to my pioneer heritage … snow cones, kettle corn and breakfast tacos! Now I don’t actually have any pioneer heritage, unless you count my Delta flight from Halifax to Salt Lake City, but the kids still like to go ride the ponies. (Actually, I like to take pictures of them riding ponies, they couldn’t care less; all they want is coton candy!) This year we got there first thing and we only stayed an hour thereby avoiding the insane heat that was last year’s experience. Perhaps I would have more fondness for this event if I was from Utah … or if they held it in November, but as things go it’s not a bad way to spend an hour on a Saturday.
This is our third year doing swimming lessons with Miss Joni. This year Ben joined his brothers and as an added bonus, the lessons took place at our neighborhood pool which meant there was lots of shade and plenty of chairs!
I think this was probably Samuel’s big year. I don’t know how much William advanced. Ben had a lot of fun, but we’re clearly not done with the lessons! Samuel might qualify for swim team next year, or we might just consider swimming a fun activity. The key is to go to the pool every day to practice. We’re usually about three times a week, but we might have to step it up a bit!
You know I love me a road trip!! I just wish that we could do these for five days instead of just the week-end. We had to leave before the shrimp boil this time, and it was a little sad! Of course, 4 out of 6 people got sick on this trip, so it was probably time to head home!
This was by far the best drive we have ever had through Houston. I was grumbling a little bit about having to leave at 4:30, but everything worked out really well. We even went to the Houston Aquarium for dinner. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s right off the freeway and it’s outside of the Aquarium so you don’t have to pay admission, but there are huge tanks in the restaurant. If only we had known that Doug’s sister and family were also in Houston that night, we could have made a group trip!!
We arrived in Baton Rouge on Friday morning and hung out with the family and grandma and grand-dad’s house. We went for a swim in the pool and then checked ourselves into the hotel before dinner at the BRCC.
Ah… the country club. I have oft lamented that we didn’t get to go to the country club very much, but now I know why. My kids do not do particularly well in that environment! We had our room because there were so many of us, and there were children doing somersaults on the dance floor, hiding under the piano, knocking over giant divider screens, and throwing up (the last two were mine, in case you were wondering!).
After dinner my darling husband took the kids, and the ladies and I went to go see whatever Twilight movie is out right now. A shout out to my brother-in-law, Dan who knew someone at the movie theater and got us passes! I’m just going to say that these movies make me feel old and unromantic, but am I the only one who says go with the hottie werewolf instead of the slightly creepy 150 year old vampire?! Also there were a couple of guys in the row in front of us making fun of us while texting on their phones. I think if you’re two teenage guys going to see Twilight by yourselves on a Friday night, maybe you shouldn’t be making fun of other people!
On Saturday we had a fun birthday celebration for my niece Julianna and all the other July birthday people. There was lots of yummy food and an almost swim party. Unfortunately it started to thunder and lightning once everyone got their swimsuits on!
Saturday night some of the group went to see the Sound of Music and some of us stayed back to visit. After the play Doug and his brother Mike went to see the Last Airbender while Ingrid and I chatted in the hotel hallway. I’m trying to convince Mike and Ingrid to move to San Antonio, but so far I’ve come up lacking!
On Sunday we had church and then a quick visit before we started the drive home. I had just read about a BBQ place in Houston, so we stopped to try it out. It was a little out of the way, and Doug still hasn’t found a place in Houston that he likes better that Goode & Co.
So, now we’re home sweet home preparing for the next adventure, which will probably be sometime during football season!
Since the 4th fell on a Sunday this year we got to celebrate all week-end long, finishing at a neighbor’s pool party on Monday.
We were determined not to spend another Saturday sitting around the house so we looked to find out what was going on around town. The only problem was the non-stop rain we had been receiving all week. The weather led to the cancellation of the church breakfast, so we had to improvise. We found a fourth of July festival in Schertz. You know it’s a great day at the fair when everyone is crying in the mini van!!
We did a few rides, got a snow cone and bought some kettle corn to take home. We thought about getting lunch, but we’d had our fill of Schertz by this point so we went for some wings.
On Sunday we had church, and one of the funnest things for me was listening to Samuel sing along to “America the Beautiful.” Sunday night we went to the mall parking lot to watch the fireworks from Six Flags. Thanks to Dixie and Alex we had a great spot. They got there nice and early, and my boys had their first experience sitting on top of a mini-van! (This required a few phone calls to Doug, who was home with the younger two, two make sure everything was safe!) This was a great show. The only problem was the half an hour it took to get out of the parking lot!
On Monday we made an early morning visit to Mr. Cheese, and then a friend had a pool party in the afternoon. Is it just me, or are those things sometimes more stressful than fun? Watching 4 kids with varying degrees of swim ability is a little scary for me.
All in all, we had a nice holiday week-end. More often than not we’ve been out of the country for the 4th of July, so it was nice to just kick back and relax this year.
I have been trying to think of ways to keep the boys entertained, and I thought a big to do list might help them keep track of stuff they wanted to do this Summer. We spent one FHE writing down everything that everyone wanted to do. I put it all in a little notebook, but that didn’t really help the boys. Them one day I came upon this lovely idea and tutorial.
I’m not much of a Photoshop expert, but my sister-in-law Sharleen works wonders with the PSE. I sent her a quick e-mail with a link, and look what she created for me:
Don’t you wish Sharleen was your sister-in-law? She sent me files that were formatted to a 12″ x 18″ size, and they were all ready for me to upload to Costco. I went to Hobby Lobby and bought an 11 3/4″ x 36″ (?) frame … at 50% off and then I wrote everything write on the glass with a dry erase marker. I’m pretty much in love with this project!! I’m planning on calling Sharleen again for my Articles of Faith project!
Okay, I’m not going to bore you with all 173 pictures, but I just thought I’d write a bit about our wonderful time away.
We were so lucky that Doug’s parents agreed to watch our kids while we went to Europe. This is the first time that we had spent a night away from all of our kids … ever. I’m a big talker about leaving kids, but we just never had the opportunity to leave them all before this. I don’t know that I would recommend a twelve day journey … across an ocean for your first trip away, but we found a way to make it work!!
Originally we were going to do a three city tour of Italy, but then my friend Andrea found us a sweet deal on a Mediterranean cruise, and our decision was made. We flew into Rome and spent 3 days touring the city and then we boarded a very large ship and set about relaxing in style!!
We visited the ports of Genoa, Toulon, Barcelona, Palma, and Cagliari. Doug was a little apprehensive about the whole idea of cruising, but he adapted well. The only unhappy moment was the auction to win a tour of the engine room. If you know Doug at all you know that the engine room is where his heart was! Unfortunately the bidding went a little high for our tastes. More unfortunately though was the winner’s attitude. The tour was for a group of four and so Doug went to offer to split the bid with him and the guy told Doug he could have it … for $500, which was more than twice what he bid on it. It was a little annoying, but we survived.
Besides Rome, I would have to say that our favorite city was Barcelona. Doug only wanted to do two things in Barcelona and we managed them both. The first was a visit to the Sagrada Familia and the second was a tapas meal. The meal was probably the best meal of the trip. We picked a restaurant from our Lonely Planet guide and we were not disappointed. Bubo Bar was amazing. We just asked the waiter to bring us a selection of tapas and it was all delicious. The best though, was the roasted eggplant with goat cheese. After dinner we went next door to the Bubo pastry shop. Wow. I can’t even describe. Just go ans see for yourselves!
In France I really just wanted to go to the grocery store and the market. I picked up some fun stuff and we had what may have been the longest lunch of our lives. A relaxing lunch is not something we do very often so we were getting a little antsy at the end!
Rome was almost indescribable. It’s hard to really appreciate the vastness of all that city has to offer. It was also a little surreal knowing that everything was authentic. The Egyptian obelisks really were spoils of ancient war. Oh, and I also saw where Marc Antony gave his eulogy for Caesar. It was a special moment for me because I had to memorize Shakespeare’s version of the speech for Mrs. Merchant’s grade 10 honours English class.
This is a trip I would definitely recommend if you get the chance. If you do a cruise I would make sure you do your research on each of the cities. I think we saved a lot of money by not doing any of the organized port excursions. We just mapped out what we wanted to see before we left. It probably would have gone a little more smoothly if we hadn’t left two of the guide books at Doug’s parent’s house, but that just added to the adventure!
I don’t know when we’ll get the chance to do something like this again, but we definitely enjoyed every minute of it.
p.s. As per my usual we dealt with delayed planes, canceled flights and lost luggage on our way home!!