Jamie and I went to DC

Jamie had a week of training in DC that just happened to be the same week as our 20th anniversary so I went with him. While he was in class all day I wandered all over the place (I walked well over 40 miles that week).

I went to the Renwick Gallery. I love that place. The art is really unique.

Down by the White House there was a dancing Trump clown. Between him and the various random protesters (including the octogenarian anti-NRA crowd), it was like a party over there.

I went to National Geographic and lunch with my sister. I am no good at taking selfies.

DC is beautiful.

I found everything Truman related in the American History Museum.

I went to the Smithsonian Castle. Somehow I never realized they have a random collection of stuff there.

I met an on-line friend at the Natural History Museum one day.

Jamie and I went to see Oceans 8 the Thursday it came out. That was also the day the Caps won the Stanley Cup. Without realizing, we got tickets at the theater right next to where the Caps play. There was a vast sea of fans in red out on the street there. It was amazing (and extra amazing when the Caps won not long after we finished watching the movie).

I went to the Air and Space Museum. It’s a lot smaller than I remember from when I was a kid. I went to see a show in the planetarium. That was really cool.

I went to the Sculpture Garden. This has always been my very favorite sculpture.

We went to visit my aunt. It was so nice to see her.

We moved to a hotel in Virginia the last few days. I was sitting there reading one day when the fire alarm went off. It was a false alarm, but I got to stand out in the drizzling rain and cold while the fire department cleared us to go back inside.

We flew home after 10 days away. It was nice to be back in San Antonio.

As part of their bedtime routine, I tuck stuffed animals in with the boys. I picked out these adorable little bears to bring back to them. They love them.

I think Lola was the happiest to have us home. The last few days we were gone she got sadder and sadder and was quite listless. She wouldn’t let me out of her sight for a couple days after I got home!


Utah Randomness

1. When you come upon a big open space while walking around an airport, it simply begs for you to use it as a place to do your form and some kicks.
Utah Randomness

2. Waking up at 5:30 almost every morning to walk nearly 3 miles in the freezing cold is a bit insane, but also means you will come home a pound lighter than when you left.

3. Climbing 4 1/2 feet up a wall does not mean you almost died even if it feels like you did. Climbing is hard. My best friend is amazing to watch climb. I’m pretty sure she’s SpiderWoman. (Ani made it up significantly farther than the 4 1/2 feet I did.)
Utah Randomness

4. I did not need to worry about feeding Ani in the airport or in Utah. Many restaurants are glad to accommodate someone who needs to be gluten free and/or have gluten free options right on their menu.

5. Seeing the Salt Lake Temple up close for the first time is rather anti-climactic. Even though I know it is huge, it looks so small stuck in the middle of downtown with skyscrapers surrounding it.
Utah Randomness

6. At night and from the right angle, the Salt Lake Temple is absolutely gorgeous and amazing, however.
Utah Randomness

7. I like the Christus in the DC Temple’s Visitor’s Center better than the one in Salt Lake. The DC one has a hint of a smile while the Salt Lake one looks like he is a bit mad. Getting to the one in Salt Lake is way cooler, though.

8. The acoustics in the Tabernacle are fabulous.

9. Taking a tour of the Conference Center is absolutely worth it. Just being in the auditorium, where so many general authorities sit at least twice a year, is incredible. Plus the view from the roof can’t be beat.
Utah Randomness

10. Witnessing a 9 year old be touched by the Spirit of Elijah while at the Family History Library is very cool.

11. The Logan Temple looks like a castle.
Utah Randomness

12. I have trouble filling my lungs at 4300 feet.

13. The people across from the Bountiful Temple who have a TARDIS in their driveway are, clearly, awesome.
Utah Randomness

14. Seeing old friends (my young women president when I was a Laurel and her daughters who are close to my age) makes me happy. Meeting old friends in person for the first time (I’ve known them on-line for about a decade) is so much fun.

15. Temple hunting is a most excellent pastime. I have now gone from going inside of two temples (DC and San Antonio) and seeing one from very, very far away (Salt Lake) to going inside of three temples (added Logan), seeing one from far away (Ogden), seeing one from the not so far away road (Brigham City), touching two (Salt Lake and Oquirrh Mountain), and seeing three more up close (Bountiful, Jordan River, and Draper).
Utah Randomness

16. I never dreamed I’d go to Utah in February and not take my winter coat.

17. Even when you’re only able to get together every 2 1/2 to 3 years, it’s so nice to have such a wonderful best friend.
Utah Randomness

NOT Back to School!

When Ani decided to be homeschooled again, one of the first things she said was she’d get to have a not back to school day again on the first day of school for the local kids. That’s been our tradition since she started homeschooling at 4. It was really sad last year to actually send them to school on that day and not do something super fun.

NOT Back to School!

So this year we didn’t just do one not back to school day, we did two! We got a great deal for one night and two days at Schlitterbahn. I guess we made up for last year.

NOT Back to School!

We all really liked the torrent river. They take the lazy river idea and make it crazy. The weird thing is a day later we were all kind of feeling like we were being tossed around by the waves and a little seasick.

NOT Back to School!

Most of the time Cameron was off on his own riding the slides or going around and around and around in torrent river.

NOT Back to School!

Adrian brought his froggy along. He won’t swim without it yet.

NOT Back to School!

Fritz got a little sunburned, but he sure did love being there. At the beginning of summer he wouldn’t put his face in the water. Five weeks of swim lessons later and the boy is part fish!

NOT Back to School!

Jamie got more than a little sunburned. He was pretty much a lobster by the end of the second day. I reapplied sunscreen often because after two sunburns this year (I swear the Texas sun is a different sun!) I was determined not to get another one. Jamie wasn’t so diligent.

NOT Back to School!

My friend’s family (also homeschoolers) met us there and Ani spent her time with my friend’s 16 year old daughter. They had such a great time together. I think Ani was swooning over this red velvet funnel cake.

NOT Back to School!

A rarely seen picture of me. I’m not usually a fan of swimming, but a mini vacation with a night at the resort and two 6+ hour days at Schlitterbahn to end the summer/start the school year was totally awesome and fun. We just may have to do it again next year!

NOT Back to School!

Tennessee Vacation, Part 4

Last Tuesday we went to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge. It’s like a science center sort of place that is totally hands on and super fun. Once again, being homeschoolers with our Calvert School IDs came in handy. We called ahead of time and told them when we’d be coming and they gave us a super discount. Instead of paying $25.75 for me and Ian and $14.50 for three of the four kids (Adrian’s free), we paid $10 for four of us and $14.50 for the fifth. Unfortunately the space section was closed when we were there. I guess that means we’ll just have to go back some day. It was a really neat place.

The outside of the building looks like it’s landed in it’s place upside-down. The hole you go through to go inside looks like a broken spot and there’s steam and groaning and creaking sounds as you go into the door.

The ceiling on the inside looks like the floor of a grand place. All through the place the ceiling looks like it was broken when the building landed on the ground.

The first thing you do is go through an inversion tunnel. It’s crazy. You are on a bridge thing that stays perfectly still, but the tube around you is spinning and has lights and it’s dark so you feel like you are moving. It’s hard to walk through without falling against the railing.

We got to experience what a 6.0 earthquake feels like in the Earthquake Cafe.

We got to experience the wind of a hurricane (actually it was only 65 mph so it was tropical storm strength).

The big kids climbed a rock wall.

We all got to pitch in a simulated baseball game. It told us how fast our pitches were (the big kids and I were in the high 20s and Ian was in the 30s mph). No one managed to get a strike or hit.

We took turns laying on a bed of nails.

We played in the bubble area. Fritz was fascinated making giant bubbles.

Jamie managed to get a bubble around Ani.

The big kids got to go on a ride that flipped them all around as they watched a screen with a roller coaster ride displayed.

The art/optical illusion area was fascinating. My favorite part was these jumbled mess of metal looking things. When you turned on a light the shadow was a picture. Those were just amazing.

So that’s our vacation to Tennessee. We loved it down there. We’ll most definitely be going back some time.

Tennessee Vacation, Part 3

One of the more memorable, though definitely not fun, things we did on vacation was go up and then down a mountain. We like to drive around and explore. Sometimes we find really neat things. I wouldn’t say the mountain we went up was especially neat, but it was memorable because we were all sure we were going to fall off the edge and die.

There were very, very few guardrails and most of them were crumbling or broken. The road itself was relatively well-maintained. The view was gorgeous. This is, it was gorgeous if I got up the courage to look. Going up wasn’t horrible. We were next to the up side of the mountain. Then we got to a sign that said the pavement was about to end. And, sure enough, it did. We went another mile or so on the dirt road and then turned around and went back down the mountain. That part was terrifying. The side of the road ended in by going straight down the side of the mountain. It was crazy.

Afterwards, we went to a little ice cream parlor and the lady said that when we reached the dirt road, we were in North Carolina. Both states agreed to make a paved road around this mountain. Tennessee held up their end of the bargain, North Carolina did not. If we had continued a couple more miles we would have gotten to a paved road and then on to I-40 a few miles later.

We went to the pool many times. The resort had a nice indoor pool that was 93 degrees so it was more like a giant bathtub than a pool. Ian took the big kids to it every day we were there except the day we arrived and the day we left. The little boys and I went with them two or three times. Jamie took Fritz along with the big kids one other time.

Fritz has always been very hesitant to go swimming. Because of his allergies, he always has a mild rash on his legs and the pool water hurts him. His allergies were so incredibly much better in Tennessee and so he was fine in the pool. He made some incredible strides at getting braver in the water. He especially liked moving along the edges holding on to the side. The couple times he slipped and fell under the water didn’t bother him at all.

One day was kind of dreary and rainy. Honestly, that’s my favorite time to see the mountains. We got some of the best pictures of the Blue Ridge while on vacation there last year on a drizzly day. Likewise, we got some of the best pictures of the Smokies smoking on the drizzly day this time.

On Thursday, we went to Smoky Mountain National Park. We collected lots of river rocks.

We saw some beautiful scenery.

Adrian loved the tunnels we went through.

There were some small waterfalls scattered around. Jamie likes climbing all over the rocks. He makes me so nervous.

As we came out of the Park going toward Pigeon Forge it was really neat to see the crazy, bustling downtown Gatlinburg appear down in the valley.

One the way home we passed through the Blue Ridge. I just love the farmland with all the green grass and cows with the mountains in the distance behind them.

Tennessee Vacation, Part 2

Last Monday we went to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. A friend of mine had given us a little tip to ask for the homeschool discount. We just went to the place where you pay, said we were homeschoolers, showed Ani and Cameron’s Calvert School IDs (they barely looked at them), and we got in for half of what it normally would have cost for our family to go there! $7 each for me, Jamie, and the big kids and $5 each for the little boys. It was an excellent aquarium. We all enjoyed it very much.

We went through a tube under where lots of fish, a turtle, some huge sawfish, and a few sharks swim around. The floor had a conveyor belt built right in so we just stood there and it took us through the tube.

Adrian showed us how fish move by “flapping.”

The kids got to touch horseshoe crabs (only the big kids wanted to do that).

There were some tanks that had places where you could get inside. That was really neat.

I even got in one. I loved seeing how tiny the Nemos were compared to the Dorys.

The jellyfish were beautiful. Ani had just learned about cephalopods and got to see lots of them in one part of the aquarium.

The kids all watched the stingrays for quite a while.

The penguin exhibit was fun. Before we went to it, we went to a short question and answer thing about penguins. In the middle of the presentation, Fritz told me he had a question so I had him tell it to me. He wanted to know how the penguins stay up and walk on the ice. I thought that was a very good question. The person doing the presentation wasn’t totally sure, but she said they have spike-like things on their feet and that helps with keeping warm and she would assume they have something to do with helping them stay upright as well.

We watched the penguins swim around for a long time. The exhibit had a spot where you could sit under where the penguins go. One startled us by swimming right over us very quickly. Adrian jumped and hit his head on the plexiglass. He insisted the penguin had hit him.

There was a place where you could try to touch the stingrays. They stayed pretty well away from the edges where the people were. Ian was determined to touch one. He did, but got a little wet in the process.

You can look down toward where the tube is. That’s a sawfish sitting on the bottom and two sharks swimming near the top of the water.

That’s definitely a place we’d go back to again! The homeschool discount made it 100% worth it.

Tennesse Vacation, Part 1

We spent a week in Gatlinburg TN. It was a wonderful vacation. We had a lot of fun and definitely want to go back down there.

Our vacation started with taking the big kids to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. We got to the movie theater about 10:30 pm. We sat with some friends. They had made glasses out of pipe cleaners. We drew lightning bolt scars on each other.

At midnight we led the people in the theater in singing happy birthday to Ian (35) and our friend (19). And then, at 12:01 am, the movie began. It was totally awesome and we all enjoyed it a lot. We were headed back home at 2:39 am.

We got home, finished loading up the van, and the six of us were on our way about 3:15 am. We arrived at the resort at 12:30. Check-in isn’t until 4, so the kids played on the playground for a while. At 3 they told us our room was ready.

On Saturday my friend and her family came over. We had a great time with them (so much so we spent Thursday at their house).

Ani totally fell in love with my friend’s littlest.

Four of our littles! Two of my friend’s boys and my Adrian and Fritz.

My Cameron and my friend’s oldest got along fabulously. I have no idea what they were talking about here, but surely it was important stuff!

My friend and I are usually the ones behind the cameras, but sometimes we end up in front.

The view from our suite was gorgeous. We love mountains (when you are from near sea level the Appalachian foothills are definitely mountains!).