Sunday, August 12, 2018

Preparing for Nathaniel's Mission

Nathaniel received his mission call four months ago, and the time really has flown by.  

Here he is cleaning out his room.  He had four years' worth of papers and stuff to clean out and organize.  

The boys had fun at their pack meeting, and we were glad to have Nathaniel there with us.  Here they are playing a game to make the biggest "superhero" with balloons for muscles.

Jonathan received his Wolf badge

Daniel received his Arrow of Light and had his crossing over ceremony into Boy Scouts

We had dinner with Grandma on Friday, Aug. 3

On Saturday, Aug. 4, we celebrated Jonathan's birthday by going to Xtreme Air.  He wanted to celebrate early so Nathaniel could be there.  He was allowed to invite a friend, so he chose his good friend, Annabelle.  They had a great time.  We also went to lunch at Chick-Fil-A and then to see Christopher Robin.

On Saturday night, Nathaniel had a party and invited some friends over.  They had a great time hanging out, talking, and playing games.

On Monday, a couple friends came over for one last "goodbye"

Cole McClure

Veronica Porter

His request for his last restaurant meal as a family was to go to Red Lobster

Tuesday morning at the airport
We took pictures first, then said our goodbyes.  It was pretty brutal and we all cried and hugged.  It was so hard to watch him walk away, knowing I wouldn't be able to talk to him for a long time.  We are so proud of him, and know this will be a wonderful experience and a great adventure for him!

We love you, Elder May!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

First Day of School

The kids started school last Monday.  It's very strange to just have four kids starting.  Nathaniel thought it was weird, too, and didn't quite know what to do with himself.  He'll have his turn starting college when he gets back from his mission.  

I have four kids in four different schools this year.  This week, each school has their curriculum night where you can go in and meet the teachers and walk their schedules.

Emily, 10th grade

Andrew, 7th grade and starting middle school

Daniel, 6th grade

Jonathan, 4th grade

My stair-steps

And here's the one I took of Nathaniel, so he wouldn't feel left out, lol!

They've had a great first week and we're back into our regular routine.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Papa's Visit

We had a great visit with Papa!  He arrived on Wednesday evening.  On Thursday morning, he took the boys to get doughnuts.  The kids finished their chores and we went to lunch at Gecko Grill, bowling and mini golf at Fat Cats, and treats at Sweet Tooth Fairy.  

At 5:30pm, we went to Cortina open house and then Bridges open house.  Nathaniel drove us to save time and because parking is a nightmare.  That night we watched Mr. Mom together.  I laughed so hard!  It is so much funnier now that I’m an adult.  On Friday, Nathaniel and Dad drove up to Montezuma Castle and spent the whole day together.  They left at 7am and came home around 4pm.  

Papa needed to cool off, so he went swimming with the kids.  Unfortunately, our pool is more like a hot tub these days.

Daniel went to his friend Colin’s house while Andrew, Jonathan, and I went to buy shoes for Andrew and make another trip to Walmart.  On the way home, we picked up Daniel and came home.  That night, we went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  

On Saturday, I slept in and I think some of the kids did, too.  We went to a late breakfast, early lunch around 11am to Village Inn.  Michael and Nathaniel stayed home.  Michael had already eaten and Nathaniel wasn’t feeling well.  After breakfast, we went to Walmart to buy toys for the pool—Papa’s idea, of course.  They didn’t have much, so we stopped at Leslie’s Pool Supply on the way home.  I helped the kids organize their school supplies in their backpacks and filled out the paperwork for Daniel and Jonathan.  Around 3pm, Dad took the three younger boys swimming.  Around 5pm, Dad, Emily, and I all went shopping at DownEast clothing, Maurices, and Ross.  Emily only found one shirt, but I found two.  Then we made one last stop at Walmart to try to find some items for Daniel.  We didn’t find exactly what we needed, but we were close.  Then we picked up the pizza and went home.  After dinner, we played Hasbro Trivial Pursuit on the PS4.  

Dad had to fly home this morning at 11:30am.  I took him to the airport at 10am, and  I was halfway home when he called to tell me his flight was cancelled.  I went back to get him since his flight wasn’t until 6:35pm.  He was able to come back to our house and play cards with the kids, take a nap, and play backgammon with me.  And beat me, of course.  Thankfully the 6:35pm flight wasn’t cancelled, which is good since he needed to get back to work tomorrow.  We’re so grateful that we had this time with him, and that he got to spend time with Nathaniel before he leaves on his mission!  We love you, Dad!

Monday, July 9, 2018


We had so much fun on our Disneyland vacation!  We had five-day Park Hopper passes.  I was going to buy four-day passes so that we could have a rest day in between, but the five-day passes were only $100 more for our whole family so we bought those.  We stayed at the Residence Inn near Harbor Blvd. and Chapman Avenue, and bought five-day shuttle passes from the hotel to Disneyland.  We could go back and forth as many times as we wanted.  We took a break in the middle of the day on Thursday and Saturday.  We drove up on Monday, and went to Disneyland Tuesday through Saturday.  

Here we are on Monday night at the hotel.  We loved our room because it had a living area, kitchen, two bedrooms and two (!!) bathrooms.  It was perfect for us.  They also had a good breakfast every morning with eggs and sausage and waffles and so many other choices.

On Monday, we all got up at 5am to catch the taxi at 6am, so that we could take advantage of our early Magic Morning Hour that came with our tickets.  There was no one at the security lines since we were that early, so Michael joked that we had rented out the entire park. 

We were second in line at the turnstiles into Disneyland Park at 6:15am, which was amazing! We were even able to get our tickets before the turnstiles actually opened. First, of course, we all went to the bathroom. After that, we ordered MaxPass and walked right into Space Mountain. 

We were able to get a FastPass for Matterhorn while we were in the line. We signed up Jonny for the Jedi Training show and the went to Peter Pan. It said a 40-minute wait, but it was no longer than 25 minutes. The Fastpass was for right when the park officially opened to everyone, so we went straight there after Peter Pan and some Teacup pictures. 

On the way from the Matterhorn to Buzz, I said, “Look, the line for Finding Nemo is really short.”  Jonathan said, “Yeah, because nobody likes it.”  LOL.  We actually did end up riding it on our last day.  We went to Buzz Lightyear with another FastPass and then went to Autopia, which had practically no wait. 

We then went to Star Tours using yet another FastPass and saw some stormtroopers walking around. Jonny wanted a picture with them, but they didn’t take a lot of pictures with anyone—it was kind of just random. They asked Michael for an identity card and left before they could get a picture with Jonny. 

We went to It’s a Small World after that.

Then we went to get pictures with Mickey in Toon Town. It had a 30-minute wait—the longest wait of the day. 

We tried to catch a train on the Railroad, but it took too long so we walked to Big Thunder instead and went on the ride using another FastPass. After that, we went to lunch at 12:30pm. Nathaniel got a turkey leg from a stand out in Frontierland. Daniel, Jonny, and I went to the Stage Door Café and got chicken, a powerpack, and a chicken wrap (which I couldn’t eat because it was too spicy). Michael, Emily, and Andrew went to El Rancho de Zocalo. That restaurant had really nice shade, so we all ate there. After, we went to Splash Mountain using another FastPass (surprise, right?). It was really confusing to find the FastPass line, and once we actually found it, it was long and in the sun. I watched the backpacks while everyone else rode. 

We then went to the Haunted Mansion with another FastPass and took the train from New Orleans Square to Tommorowland. They didn’t fill all the seats and we had to sit in the sun to wait for the next train. I didn’t even realize there was a stop at Tomorrowland. At 3:05pm, we dropped Jonny off at the Jedi Training and then staked out the best table to watch it at 3:30pm. 

We finally caught the stormtroopers and were able to get a picture with them. 

Next, we used another Buzz Fast Pass.  After the ride, Emily realized her Coke had leaked all over her bag.  She had poured it into her water bottle.  We had a nice little lecture about not putting carbonated soda in a water bottle!  We got it mostly cleaned up, and then she needed to drink the rest so Nathaniel took a big drink and snorted it out of his nose.  Kind of like that scene with Violet in the Incredibles 2 movie!  It made a big mess and he got it all over his shirt.  After that crazy episode, we took some pictures at Sleeping Beauty’s castle and Main Street

We went to Indiana Jones with a Fast Pass, the Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder with a Fast Pass again, and Haunted Mansion with a FastPass again. 

We arrived at 7:15pm to our 7:30pm dinner reservation at Cafe Orleans, but we still got a table right away. Andrew, Nathaniel, and I all got the Monte Cristo sandwich, but Michael got the one with just cheese. Emily and Daniel got the steak and potatoes, and Jonny got the kid’s steak. We also tried the Mint Julep drink and two baskets of the fancy fries, which were amazing! 

We then went to Pirates of the Caribbean. It said it was only 10 minutes, but it was more like 20. We took the railroad from Tomorrowland to Main Street, which was a lot easier to get on and we didn’t have to sit in the sun. Nathaniel went off to do his own thing, I went to get Jonny’s Jedi Training pictures, and the others went to watch the fireworks. We left for the shuttle at 10pm but went to the wrong stop so had to take the 10:30pm shuttle. Nathaniel caught the shuttle at 10:45pm, and then everyone went to bed.  

On Wednesday, we got MaxPass again and reserved passes for the Incredicoaster. We went to Guardians of the Galaxy first. I was emailing and not paying attention when Michael questioned taking Jonny, but I didn’t hear him. The freefall on the ride was horrible. Jonny was scared and cried. He and I vowed not to ride it again!  

We had our pictures taken in front of Pixar Pier and also the Incredicoaster arch (that one was Emily’s request).  

The wait for Grizzly River Run was short so I watched everyone’s bags and sat on a bench in the shade to wait while they rode.  A little girl walking by stopped and pointed right at me and waved.  I couldn’t figure out why she was staring at me.  I was wearing my red Incredibles shirt and it occurred to me—she thought I was Mrs. Incredible!  The lady sitting next to me agreed and we had a good laugh.  

Emily got soaked on the ride.  Apparently, they’ve added some geysers and if you’re unlucky enough to be near it when it goes off, you will get soaked!  Next we rode the Ariel ride on the way to using our Incredicoaster FastPass.  After the ride, Nathaniel wanted some of the lemon ice cream from the Adorable Snowman snack bar and Jonathan went with him.  It was really good, but it was a really long line!  By then it was about 10:30am.  The rest of us got Cookie Num Nums from the snack bar by the Incredicoaster.  If you have a chance, you have to try the Cookie Num Nums!  They are messy, but so good!  We took a little break so Emily could try to dry out.  We also had pictures with Mrs. Incredible/Elastigirl.  

We went on the Silly Symphony Swings on our way to Hollywoodland to see Turtle Talk with Crush.  That is always fun!  

We went to Smokejumpers for lunch. Michael, Nathaniel, and Daniel got a bacon cheeseburger, and the rest of the kids got chicken tenders. I had the jackfruit sandwich, which was supposed to taste like pulled pork.  It did, but it was way too spicy for me.  So, once again, I ate the kids’ leftovers because my lunch was too spicy.  

Jonny loved meeting Nick Wilde from Zootopia!

Next, we went on the Toy Story Mania ride with our FastPass. After that, we rode Radiator Springs Racers with our Fast Pass (which is still quite a wait, usually). 

We went on Soarin with our FastPass and then took a break at Smokejumpers. The kids went to Goofy’s Sky School with a FastPass while Michael and I rested. Once the kids came back, we left the park and went to Disneyland. We took pictures in front of the Mickey garden at the entrance. 

Nathaniel and Andrew stayed, while the rest of us barely missed the 6:30pm shuttle and had to wait for the 7:00pm shuttle to go to the hotel. Jonathan really wanted his picture taken with BB8 in our hotel lobby.

We relaxed a bit and then went to Panda Chinese on Harbor Blvd. for dinner. We got back to the hotel by 9:00pm and put the kids to bed and then Michael and I got to bed by 10:30pm. Nathaniel and Andrew wanted to stay late, so I told him to wake me up when they got back. He woke me up, but it freaked me out. They rode Big Thunder, Space Mountain, Incredicoaster, Grizzly River Run, and  Matterhorn. Something happened to Incredicoaster, so the other 5 of us got the coveted “Multiple Experience” FastPasses to use on any ride by the end of the day on Thursday at California Adventure.

On Thursday, I got up at 6:15am, but everyone was sound asleep. They started waking up at 6:45am, and we were down at breakfast by 7:30am. We caught the 8:10 shuttle and breezed through security. We got through the gates of California Adventure easily. We didn’t buy MaxPass for everyone that day.  I did buy them for me and Michael for our date night, and also so that I could have all of the PhotoPass pictures.  Nathaniel and Andrew went to Guardians of the Galaxy while the rest of us got Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses and took pictures.

We went to the Toy Story Mania standby line. It said 45 minutes, but it wasn’t long. Michael won with 144,500 points while I got 116,300, Jonny-113,000, Emily-99,500, and Daniel-88,700. We then went on the Incredicoaster using generic “Multiple Experiences” FastPasses from the day before. The two boys caught up to us in the line for Incredicoaster and surprised us. Apparently, they had waited in the standby line as we used our FastPasses. 

Afterwards, we relaxed and put on sunscreen at the gazebo by Jessie’s Carousel. And, of course, we got more Cookie Num-Nums. We planned to get FastPasses for Soarin’, so we walked over there. We wanted to try a new way around Grizzly Peak just to see it; however, it seemed like a huge mistake because that was the smoking section and it just leads back to the other path anyway. As we were walking I realized that this would be a good day for me to ride Grizzly River Run since we planned on going back to the hotel at lunchtime. I convinced everyone to get Grizzly River Run FastPasses instead. It turned out to be a good thing that we took that new path, because that is how we saw the lockers for Grizzly River Run.  We had asked one of the “Cast Members” about it and he said the only lockers were at the entrance to the park.  Well, he was wrong!  Michael and Nathaniel went to Hollywood Land and got a picture with Loki while the rest of us used our Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses. 

They met us when we got off and we all walked to Grizzly River Run together.  On Grizzly River Run, a teenage girl joined our raft since there was one more spot on it. We asked her to take a picture of us, so she unbuckled her seatbelt and leaned back to take the picture! We thought something terrible was gonna happen! I tried to tell her not to, but she was determined.  We had watched for the geyser earlier and it never hit anyone, but it got us big time. 

We couldn’t make it to the 12:30 shuttle, so we took a break and made the 1pm one. When we got back to the hotel, we went straight to the car and went to find food. We picked up McDonald’s. They took a while to bring our food, so they gave us double the fries. Nap time was around 3pm. I got up at 5:15pm because I had a pizza delivery for 5:30pm. Jonny complained that I was supposed to take them swimming, so Michael took the kids, except for Nathaniel, down to the pool while I got ready and waited for the pizza (which didn’t come until 5:50pm). We all got ready and caught the 6:40 shuttle. Michael and I went on our date to the Blue Bayou while Nathaniel watched the kids. We stopped at the shooting exposition on the way. We only had to wait a few minutes for our table, but we were really far from the water where the Pirates ride is. We asked if we could be closer to the water, but she said it would take about 30 minutes, so we stayed. Emily texted me and said that they were on the boat, so I got up and they saw me and waved. The food was very good, but my steak was spicy (another entrée that I couldn’t eat!). Michael let me trade for the rest of his filet mignon. Michael got the Surf and Turf, while I got the Rib Eye steak. 

We also got some crab hush puppies and crème brulee. After dinner, we went on the Haunted Mansion, which stopped multiple times again. Then we went on Big Thunder, walked through Fantasyland to see the fireworks, rode Teacups, then Buzz Lightyear (Michael got 198,700), and met up with the kids at Space Mountain. While we did all this, the kids rode Teacups, Pirates, Splash Mountain, Buzz Lightyear, and Space Mountain. We caught the 11pm shuttle and went straight to bed.

Friday morning, Emily was the only one who got up with me at 7am.  We finally went to breakfast and caught the 8:40am shuttle.  We discussed what everyone still wanted to do.  The security and turnstile lines were really long.  We had planned to go on Big Thunder first, but it was closed so we went to Buzz and then Star Tours.  We walked to Adventureland.  There was no line for Dole Whips, so Nathaniel, Andrew, Jonathan, and Michael each got one.  

We rode Indiana Jones with our FastPass and then the Jungle Cruise.  

We also made a stop at the Shootin' Exposition.

Then we used our Big Thunder FastPasses and walked to Space Mountain to use another FastPass.  

We took the Disneyland Railroad from Tomorrowland to New Orleans Square, and ordered our lunch at the Hungry Bear Restaurant from the app while we waited for the train.  We found some tables on the lower level and picked up our food.  They were missing Nathaniel’s fish sandwich and my salad, so they gave me my salad and brought Nathaniel’s sandwich to our table.  Michael also had the fish sandwich, Jonathan had the chicken tenders, and the others had the chicken sandwich.  Everyone but me went on Splash Mountain with a FastPass.  I watched them go down the big drop.  We all went on Winnie the Pooh.  Nathaniel thought it was trippy.  Then we went to Pooh Corner for treats.  The chocolate chip cooked was really good, and so was the toffee square.  Jonathan had the Cheshire Cat marshmallow tail and Andrew had the Tigger tail.  Next, we went to Tom Sawyer Island to eat our treats and let the kids play Hide and Seek.  

After that, we walked to Main Street to see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.  They had some amazing displays in the waiting area, including a huge model of the Capitol building.  After the show, the boys made some pressed pennies.  Next, we headed for California Adventure, where we went straight to Hollywoodland for pictures.  Emily wanted pictures with the Buzz Lightyear wings backdrop.

Then we got pictures with Spiderman.  The kids got a kick out of talking to Dr. Strange while waiting in line.  

We then went to use our Incredicoaster FastPasses.  

For dinner, we went to Boardwalk Pizza.  Jonathan, Daniel, Andrew, and Emily all chose the kids’ pizza, and no one said anything so I guess it was allowed.  It was kind of cafeteria-style.  I got the Caesar salad and Michael and Nathaniel got the spaghetti and meatballs.  All the boys went to Grizzly River Run to use their FastPass while Emily and I went to Cars Land to watch the Sh-boom moment when the sun went down.  

The boys were taking a long time and we couldn’t reach them so I was starting to get worried.  Turns out, the line was so short they rode it three times in a row!  Emily and I were kind of stuck in Pixar Pier because the crowds were crazy, so we asked a Cast Member who told us we should try to watch from the restaurant so that’s what we did.  We ended up finding a table right where the floats come out to start the parade, so we had a pretty good view.  

The boys also watched the parade and we met up at Toy Story Midway Mania to use our FastPasses.  Finally, we used our Soarin’ FastPasses and caught the 10:30pm shuttle back to the hotel.

On Saturday, we slept in until 7:30am.  We planned to take a break in the middle of the day again.  We caught the 9:10am shuttle.  Here we are at our shuttle stop.

The security lines were shorter than Friday.  The parks didn’t open until 9am on Friday and Saturday.  We walked through Downtown Disney to the monorail entrance, because Andrew wanted to ride it.  The line was really long, but the monorail dropped us off in Tomorrowland at around 10am.  We got in the Buzz standby line, and after the ride Daniel and Jonathan bought the toys they wanted.  We barely caught the train to Main Street.  Michael, Nathaniel, Andrew, and Daniel stayed at Disneyland and rode Big Thunder and went to Star Wars Launch Bay to meet Kylo Ren.  

Emily, Jonathan, and I went to California Adventure to ride Monsters, Inc.  We walked past Captain America and Pluto (Jonathan just wanted to say “hi” and he didn’t want to wait in line to meet them), and caught a quick picture with Chip and Dale.  I think Jonathan was disappointed that they weren't as mischievous as last time.  

Then we went to wait for pictures with Judy Hopps.  We were the first in line, and we were glad that Nick Wilde was there at the same time.  

Emily bought the Monsters University tee shirt that she wanted, and then we went to pose for pictures with Frozone.  Mr. Incredible got there right before it was our turn, so we got pictures with both of them.  Jonathan was excited to show Frozone his tsum tsum Frozone toy that he bought, and Mr. Incredible seemed offended, lol.  

We all met up at the Incredicoaster to use our FastPasses again.  Then Jonathan and I went to wait in line for pictures with Edna Mode and ride Toy Story Midway Mania (my favorite!) with our FastPass one last time.  

Everyone else went to ride Guardians of the Galaxy with their Fast Pass.  

We met up at Grizzly River Run for all the boys to use their FastPass while Emily and I watched the bags.  We caught the 3:30pm shuttle back to the hotel.  We went to eat at Subway, and when we came back the maid was still cleaning.  While we waited, Jonathan really needed a tissue.  He said, “Give me a tissue or the booger gets it!”  The kids played on their media and I took a nap until 7pm.  Nathaniel wanted to use our Space Mountain FastPasses, so everyone but me took the 7:40pm shuttle.  I got ready and took the 8:10pm shuttle.  Michael and the kids rode Space Mountain and Matterhorn with FastPasses.  Michael was pretty proud of his "yawning on Space Mountain" pose.  

We met up at the Mad Tea party and took pictures.  

We rode the Canal Boats, and then tried to ride Mr. Toad but it was closed.  The teacups had no line so we hopped right on those.  

By then it was about 9:30pm.  We rode on the Finding Nemo submarines.  Again, there was a short line so we got on quickly.  Nathaniel and Andrew rode Autopia while the rest of us rode Buzz with our FastPasses.  I finally got the high score of the trip—400,800!  

We went to find a spot to watch Fantasmic.  Michael asked one of the Cast Members, and she let us right in to one of the reserved areas.  Nathaniel and Andrew met up with us there.

Andrew wanted to use his Splash Mountain FastPass, so we left Fantasmic a few minutes early and he rode it.  He had a log all to himself!  

After the show, we all met up at Pooh Corner where we bought more treats and Daniel and Jonathan bought another toy.  The cashier gave us buttons for all the kids.  We walked to Adventureland so that Andrew could buy his snake toy at the Bazaar.  We caught the 12am shuttle.

We slept in on Sunday and had a good breakfast and got all packed up.  We checked out right at check-out time—11am.  We had an uneventful drive home.  We ate at McDonald’s in Blythe.  We made it home around 7pm.     

We are so grateful we could go on this wonderful vacation!