Sunday, May 29, 2011

Moving On

Oh it's hard to leave the beach (post), I know, but it's time to cover some of the other exciting events happening at home.

Brynn participated in her first gymnastics meet.

She overcame her fears and did a fantastic job.
She took first place all-around in her division and has been invited to move up and on to the Junior Olympic team. All that means is:

1. I'll be able to live out my dreams through my child. (not quite like Violet's mom from the newer Willy Wonka movie, but I am wearing a jogging suit--yikes.) (I had to quit once I got to competition level because of a wrist injury. )

2. We'll now be sacrificing all of our time and money to the gymnastics gods.

If no one else, Brynn is VERY excited about this. Her enthusiasm has rubbed off on Adrie, who can't wait to start her beginner's class next week.
Random shots from the meet. Kate got a job writing down and flashing the judge's results, which made the event go by much faster than it otherwise would have, for her.

Also this week, the kids finished school. Kate is the only kid I know who is upset about this. She wrote a nice note to her teacher saying, "I wish you could be my teacher every year." So cute and I agree, her teacher, Mrs. Hovinga, was outstanding.
To celebrate we went to the carnival.

This is Brynn -- alive and well enough to want a candy apple--after riding the Gravitron.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Planes, Trains, and Convertibles

Where would you go if you had a free round trip plane ticket to anywhere in the continental U.S.?
New York City?
Me too! We should totally travel together.
What if you got as far as Chicago and found out your plane would be delayed for 4 hours because of heavy rain in New York. What if you found out it was going to be 60's and rainy all week there? Would it change your plans?
What if you looked over to the next gate and saw a flight leaving for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida?
What if you asked the people waiting to get on that flight what it was like there and they said, 77 degrees, sunny, and gorgeous white sandy beaches." Where should we go and how does one get in such a predicament? That's what the people we were asking wanted to know. My sister (I want to hug her now) works for the airlines (the one that gives pita chips) and so she and my mom and I were all able to fly standby. To further tip the scales we found out that all three of us, because we're on standby, might not make it on the last flight out to NYC and would therefore have to spend the night in Chicago. The flight to Ft. Lauderdale? totally available. We took it!! Our trip to New York ended up here:

Moral of the story: Always pack a swimsuit!

DAY ONE (not including the day of flying): FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA
No regrets about flying to Paradise! All the things they said were true! We explored the beachside shops, ate coconut mango tilapia, and lounged on the glorious white sand. My mom asked a nice homeless man if he would please watch our purses while we went swimming. She had given him some chocolates out of the mish mash ziplock bag of snacks she carries everywhere for just such occasions. Shannon and I marched off, clutching our purses, to the nearest flock of safe tourists, and my mom finally caught up. The beach here is way different than in CA. No waves, the water is WARM, you can walk out 50 yards and still SEE the bottom. How reassuring?? sort of. My sister (bless her heart) was a little PARANOID about possible creature encounters. When I told her there was a fish right next to her, and swimming between her legs, she practically walked on water to get out of there. A few minutes later it was my turn. There we were enjoying ourselves in the water immensely when I see this large (6 foot?) black blob under the water gliding straight toward us.
I SCREAMED and using my fastest water polo strokes, sped to shore running safely on the beach. WHAT WAS THAT????? My sister was close behind, and all she could wonder was, "Why did you leave me out there to die?" Another lady on the beach came running over to us. She had seen that "thing" make it's way down the beach and didn't have time to warn us. It was a manatee. A manatee? the gentle fresh water giant? What was it doing in the ocean? She explained that they sometimes get lost and find themselves in the ocean. This one was probably trying to find it's way back to the fresh water channels that throughout the city. Our fear turned into hysterical laughter. My sister, however, was still mad at me for fleeing the scene without a last hug.

As if we hadn't had enough nature encounters, we went swimming again later in the evening. I was laying on my back floating, when all of a sudden, an ugly fish head came flying right towards my face!!! Aackk.. Once again the water polo swimming came in handy, and all the people on the beach were able to have a good laugh, especially myself.

DAY 2. We rented a convertible and drove South to the Florida Keys.

Unfortunately we took the wrong freeway and ended up on a very long detour through MIAMI.

The above picture says it all.

Miami feels like a foreign country. You go into the gas station and only see and hear Spanish--loved it! One thing I like about Latino guys is they're not afraid to yell "Hey Honey" and other things when they see three ladies driving along in a convertible.

My mom did not sit in the back the whole time--don't worry! She wanted to lie down back there and "rest" for awhile.

Key Largo, Montego, baby why don't we go to...

Except for taking forever, the drive down the keys was awesome. Check out that water. You are driving on a highway with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. It was seriously torture for me to see that water and be stuck in the car. I wanted to get out and swim so so badly!!. I finally got our chance when we made it to Key West, the southernmost city in the U.S.

We took the Conch (pronounced Konk) Train tour through the city and learned about it's Cuban and Pirate history, and saw Hemingway's house.

3 things you have to do in Key West:

1. Watch the Sunset. It's the only place on the East Coast where the sun sets over the ocean.

2. Eat Key Lime Pie. It went from being my least favorite pie of all time (besides mince meat) to my new all time favorite pie. That's how good it is down here. Somebody find me the recipe!

3. Experience a Nude Beach. NOT! I finally found a place I would not want to live. It is just a little too "free and open" of a society down here. There are clothing optional signs. I'm still have a sour taste in my memory from seeing a naked man lounging on his balcony.

If we'd had more time I would have liked to try Cuban cuisine. Also my sister and I would have loved to rent a kayak and explore the reef.

Mom was anxious to get back to the mainland. She was sure that a hurricane could strike at any moment and wipe us off the map. So, it was back on the road to Ft. Lauderdale--on the right road this time.


Before our flight home we took an airboat tour of the Everglades. On board with us was a most unique family. They looked like a picture right out of Colonial America--A man and wife with their teenage son. We found upon asking, that they were from Pennsylvania, Amish country. They were every bit as interesting as the habitat we were in.

They seemed to be having the time of their lives on the boat and were so cute and curious about every little thing. I hope they are not planning to go to Key West!!

The Everglades were teeming with wildlife: fish, birds, turtles, frogs, insects, and ALLIGATORS--too many of them--too close to our little boat. Luckily that boat can speed when it wants too and luckily there is so much other yummy food around that alligators are not really interested in eating us. We were warned NOT to stick our hands in the water because of water moccasins (one bite is deadly) and some slug that can give you a scary-awful infection. No more info needed for me but of course my mom has to defy the rules. She reached in there to nab a yellow water lily.

The "after the tour gator show."

We said goodbye to our Amish friends and the alligators and took a shuttle to the airport.

It takes a force stronger than the tide to pull me away from the beach. Especially one like Ft. Lauderdale's. That force is love for my husband and kids back at home.

So it was back to reality. Our flight was so full we were lucky to get on. I had to sit in the back, in a middle seat next to a VERY large black man. He said he was a professional firefighter, but I would have sworn he was a professional linebacker. We had to snuggle for that very long flight to Phoenix, where we dropped of my sister. Then my mom and I headed back to SL. Phew. Lots of peanuts and pita chips later, I'm glad to be back home with Brandon and the kids again. I would have a huge long list of people to thank for making this trip possible, but first and foremost is Brandon who allows me to let out that itchy travel bug every so often.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Y oh Y

It's a wonder that Adrie complains so much about going to dance every week when she does such a great job on the stage! She just had her dance recital last week and we enjoyed watching her hip-hop moves. She looked so much older to us up there under the lights. This is Adrie's last dance recital, probably ever! She is ready to turn in her tap shoes and give gymnastics a try like her big sister.

Earlier in the week we took the kids out of school and made a trip to BYU for the final week of the Carl Bloch art exhibit. My mom met us there and went through it with us. Ahhh! Breathtaking, life-size original paintings! It was like standing in the room with Jesus, the paintings were so vibrant and real! I don't know if the kids appreciated the experience as much as I did, but they sure liked the nose pencil sharpeners they got from the museum gift shop. I bought a booklet of the Carl Bloch prints. Looking at the prints though, in no way does justice to the originals. It's like this-- (when I get started on one of my brilliant analogies, BD rolls his eyes.) Seeing a print of a painting is like looking at the body without a soul. It's a good reminder of the original but it lacks feeling and energy and light. Thanks for not rolling your eyes.
Anyway, we had a great experience and then headed out to show our kids the campus where their parents met and fell in love 13 years ago....
Enjoying spring blossoms and the reflection pool outside the Museum of ArtWe loved walking around the beautiful BYU campus. Everyone thought our kids were adorable, even when they would dart in front of them, or stall in the doorways, or suck water from the drinking fountains. We couldn't have agreed more.

50 points if you can recognize this building...
We totally re-defined the kids' definition of library when we took them to see BYU's magnificent under-campus structure! Wowsers. BYU bookstore paraphernaliaWe stopped in for a surprise visit to see Dev. Doesn't he look surprised?

Brandon and I both have lots of good memories from BYU, especially dating each other so it was fun for us to be back and enjoy it all over again in a day.