Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fiery Fall

Fall is officially here. Nowhere is it better observed than at Fish Lake, with an elevation over 9,000.
This was one of those times when nature takes precedence over school. We just had to see Fall spectacular before the weekend storm blew it all away.
2 of the kids were out of school already for parent teacher conferences and the others I went ahead and excused. I also brought along the exchange students and neighbors. We made a 2 car-caravan up the canyon. The pictures can do the rest of the talking.  

Denmark and Belgium, as they are sometimes called at school. 

Glad we got the foliage tour in, because the weekend, just as predicted, brought 
loads of rain and an almost flooded basement. 
Some of us went to the Farmer's Market. We bought garden carrots, peas, melons, pears and were entertained by the cowboy music of 2 guitars while we enjoyed some homemade ice cream. 

Just another weekend in the country. We went to see the MazeRunner--good and intense and all of us girls attended the LDS Women's Broadcast which was just the wonderful, uplifting, feel-good experience we needed to get us ready for this upcoming conference weekend. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Weekend Shenanigans

Sunday was a lovely day for a drive in the canyon to see the colors just starting to change among the Maples in Monroe.

Besides foliage, fall also means FOOTBALL. Brandon and his brother went to the BYU game. Wives and kids had a party at our house.

The older girls went to work creating an obstacle/mini-golf course in the backyard. 

Perhaps it was inspired by our mini-golf excursion earlier in the week. Dad scored a hole in one!

Regular Life

It's back to the real world. No more vacation getaways for us for awhile.
The kids got haircuts because we didn't get to that before school started. 

Chores, practicing, lessons, homework and family dinners are back in full force. 

We attended our Church party.  The theme was "Wild, Wild, West." Sofie didn't know cowboys were real. Our ward gave her plenty of proof that cowboys are real and these were all bonafide. 

There were pony rides, gunny sack races, horseshoes, a bounce house, and the ever popular mechanical bull. Dad and I took a turn riding too but lucky for us it was too dark to show up on the video Kate recorded. I did outlast Dad for the record. 

The highlight of the evening and the talk of the neighborhood for days before was the "greased pig chase." That was taking wild west to a whole new level. An actual greased pig was released into the fenced in baseball field while the 12 and unders took their chance at catching it. What a sight, especially for that poor little porcine. It could be the worst sound ever to hear a caught pig screaming like a banshee.  Moving on....

Sofie played her first high school soccer game.
Kate has been playing with a traveling volleyball team. Volleyball is a new sport for her and she is loving it. Pictures for that soon. 

Cannon and I finished the school week with a field trip to Maple Grove.
Smokey the Bear taught us about fire safety, deciduous and evergreen trees. We ate lunch. The most fun was scavenging around for treasures: oak and maple leaves, acorns, pinecones, rocks, snakegrass, and a snail shell or two. 

From Denmark to Utah

It is one month since Sofie from Denmark joined our family.
She is an exchange student and will live with us for the whole school year.  Like all exchange students she is living the American dream of going to high school, perfecting her already good English, and immersing herself in our culture.
We are so glad to have her! She is a perfect fit for our family; super sweet, kind, helpful, easy-going and up for any adventure. She can play with the kids and engage in good adult conversation too. She looks like part of the family and even I have mistaken her for Kate or Brynn a time or two. 
Sofie baked us a traditional cake from Denmark. It was quite fancy with 3 layers, filled with real whipped cream and raspberries, topped with a sugary glaze, and dotted with berries. What a refreshing dessert. Not too sweet. Just right.  This is the kind of cake you would make for a special occasion like a birthday.  Sofie did celebrate her 16th birthday with us, the day after she arrived. 

The biggest changes for her about living here are school system and religion. School spirits with sports and dances are unique to America. Sofie's favorite class is "foods." Besides experiencing American culture, Sofie is also having a uniquely "mormon" experience. She comes to church with us, joins us for Bible stories, and has even took a turn saying her first family prayer. So cute. When I asked her how she was surviving 3 hours of church on Sunday she only said the 1st hour was very long and after that when you are in your classes with kids your age it is more fun. 
We live in a great community and we are so grateful to share our lives with such a great girl!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Beach Manics

No California trip would be complete without a lot of beach time. That is why September is the best time to go. The water still thinks its summer! 

We got the residual of a hurricane in Mexico. The waves were huge and rough. We all got pounded by surf, sand, and seaweed. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Adventures in Cali

We started by getting fast passes for Cars Land and world of color the show. With that taken care of we were able to enjoy the rest of the park. We walked on most rides. Tuesday in September turned out to be a pretty great time to come!

Cars Land looked amazing. 

Tower of Terror was the favorite with California Screamin' coming in a close second. 

We had all four kids at the carnival games trying to shoot their way for a prize. Brynn came away winner with Dumbo.

We packed lots of snacks--jerky, granola bars, and fruit snacks then ate a late lunch. Earl of Sandwich in downtown disney turned out to be our favorite spot for a reasonably priced lunch and delicious hot sandwiches. For dinner? Hagen daaz. That's the stuff vacations are made of.  For a snack we tried the bag of beignets or french donuts at the Jazz Market also in downtown disney. They were a hit! and we left a powdered sugar trail the rest of the day. 

The world of color show was definitely worth the wait. Visually spectacular! 

Magic of Disney

We finally made it to the Magic Kingdom!!
It took us one day to drive, then we had one day at the beach, followed by one day at Disneyland, one day at California adventures, another beach day, and the last day we drove home. It was just about the perfect ratio of beach to amusement parks.

They have buttons especially for "first-timers."

Discovered Dole whips at the Tikki bar. Very refreshing. 
We did it all and we did it all together.  Favorite ride was Splash Mountain. We went on it 3x in a row. 

Only low of the day is that we took a wrong turn walking back to our hotel which extended our already long day of walking into an extra 2 miles of walking!!! Ugh. We fell into bed exhausted. And the next day we spent the smartest $9 of the trip and took a taxi!

Friday, September 12, 2014

At Sea

We bid adieu to London and took a coach to our port of debarkation, Southampton.

Once on board (phew!) we got busy exploring. Cunard boasts 3 fantastic luxury ocean liners; The Queen Mary, Queen Victoria, and Queen Elizabeth. We sailed the Queen Victoria along with 2000 other passengers and a host of crew at our beck and call. 

 Greeting us on board was the sublime music of a classical string quartet.  That's when I knew I'd be right at home. To top it off we discovered the library!
   In true British fashion the pool and hot tub were tiny but not the chess set...
 We enjoyed fine dining every evening at the Britannia restaurant--always a "starter" then a salad followed by an entree, finished with dessert, and just when you couldn't stand another bite, the post-dessert tray came around with bite sized sugary delicacies.
 Our British table-mates who after 14 dinners together became our favorite British friends.
 Chocolate Royale? anyone?
 Cunard is the only cruiseline to have a ballroom, a museum, Herrod's gift shop, and it is the only cruise line to offer fencing. We took advantage of all of it.
 "Gentlemen" were on hand to serve as dancing partners--and in our case--teach lessons. One told me he'd have us dancing like Ginger Rogers after 2 weeks. Yep. pretty much. We learned to tango, cha-cha, foxtrot, jive and waltz.  For all that, it was ABBA disco night that really had us rockin' the dance floor.
 Room with a view
 To cool down after dancing we would saunter over to the lounge to listen to the harpist, or the pianist, or the string quartet depending on the night. All of it stellar talent and a superb way to end a day.
A typical sea day went like this:
9 a.m fencing
10 a.m. WWII Espionage lecture by renowned historian...
11 a.m. British politics lecture by Author and Lord ...
12:00 p.m.  Arctic Seals and their habitats by naturalist....
also scheduled were dance lessons and lectures about the history and attractions of the ports we would be visiting. What a dilemna--a smorgasborg of cultural and educational options and so little time! 

 Someone ordered room service for breakfast every day and it wasn't me.
 Beautiful Baltic sea.
 Every night after dining was a show--a fantastic show! We had singers, dancers, acrobats, a magician, comedian, even a flutist. Then it was off to the evening Ball.
 We sat in a box seat every night. It pretty much had our names on it and we shared it with our favorite Brits. We're all dressed up for the Masquerade Ball.

Life aboard the ship was grand. I ate lots of steak and seafood and even more desserts--fancy ones like Baked Alaska and souffle. We took afternoon walks along the promenade deck, went to High Tea, read our books on the balcony, played ping-pong or deck quoits, and got all dressed up for dinner.  

The ship was definitely British-style. Almost everyone onboard was British including the captain and staff. The food, the games, the tea, everything was British. It got to the point where I was THINKING WITH A BRITISH ACCENT.  We tried out some phrases with our newly acquired accent much to the entertainment of our table friends. They tried out their American accents on us and we were equally amused.  We learned to eat properly with a knife and fork. ( I had a real test with a hamburger!) We also learned to say things nicely and sophisticated-like. In conclusion I will shre some of my new language skills (to be read in a Midlands accent with a hint of Yorkshire) 
  •  It has been lovely spending a fortnight with you all.  
  • Sorry? What was that you said?  
  • That photo is absolutely brilliant!  
  • We must order dessert, this is the penultimate night of the cruise afterall.
  • Excuse me ladies, is this the queue for the toilet?