Sunday, April 30, 2017

Mormon Prom

Alyssa got in the car after mutual, showed me a plastic dinosaur she'd been given and said, "Jonathan just asked me to Mormon Prom!"

"What? When?" I had been at mutual with her and hadn't seen or heard a thing. But evidently after the activity was over, he encouraged a small group that included Alyssa to watch a video on his phone. This was that video:

So cheesy, but really clever and cute! Because this invitation was a bit last minute, Alyssa had figured she wasn't going to get asked and while it would take some scrambling to get her outfitted in time, she was definitely excited about the opportunity to go on her first dance date.

Because we were short on time and we knew any full length dress would need to be hemmed for Alyssa, we started looking at shorter styles. Mormon Prom is not as formal as the traditional version at the high school, but she still wanted to find something dressy. We found a dress online and it arrived within a couple of days. Next, I ordered a bridal belt to dress it up. The search for shoes and jewelry was a complete headache, but in the end, I think she was absolutely stunning.

Jonathan and Alyssa met up with the rest of their group at the Adams' house, where they were going to take pictures and have dinner.

I made all the desserts--all but one gluten-free--to accommodate Alyssa. I thought they turned out great.

chocolate cupcakes with creme filling, key lime tarts, salted caramel cheesecakes, raspberry cheesecakes and bite-sized caramel apples

It was drizzling outside so we didn't get great pictures of the group. They all looked great, though.

 They exchanged flowers, but I had to help with the boutonniere.

Alyssa had a great night!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Take Your Child to Work Day

Emma's parents were out of town on her birthday, so she got to stay the night with us--on a school night!--and go o Seattle with Natalie and Jon for Take Your Child to Work Day.

I hung a birthday banner in her honor, just like I always do for my own kids.

On my way to work, I dropped them off on the corner so they could catch the bus to the train station.

Caleb came with me, which was so much fun. He'd never seen me teach, so it was exciting to have him see what I do everyday. Plus, this is the school where he attended 3rd through 5th grade. His now retired kindergarten teacher was doing a long-term sub job at our school, so he got to see her as well as many other staff members who remembered him, but were stunned at the man he has become in the years since he was in elementary school. Lots and lots of double takes and "Wow! You're so grown up!"

His third grade mile run record still stands!

Natalie and Emma, meanwhile, got to experience the full commuting experience. (Their friend, Zoe, from school is in the background.  She rode the train that day, too.)

The view of the 17th floor observation deck from Dad's office space.

They had lunch at Pike Place Pizza,

 got yogurt from the market and watched how the carts ride their special escalator at the City Target.

I think they'd tell you that riding Wings Over Washington was a highlight of their day.

Dad got a little work in, but the girls had lots of fun and hopefully Emma had a Happy Birthday!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

With my mommy goggles firmly in place, I see three gorgeous children. They always look especially nice on Easter Sunday.

Our traditional egg hunt was done that morning. Jon and I stuff our rather large collection of plastic eggs with candy and bills/coins of various denominations--though nothing over $5. The eggs are "hidden" in the backyard, but most are in plain view. (One year, a long-forgotten money egg fell out of a tree when I was mowing the lawn many months after Easter.) The kids then take turns collecting eggs for 10 seconds each until they are all gathered.

Then they take their baskets inside to see how much money they earned. Some years, one sibling will get a majority of the bills while the others get mostly coins or just candy.  And that's just the way it goes unless they convince the rich one to share. I love this tradition!

We ended our day with a nice roast beef dinner--our family prefers it to the traditional ham--and a review of the real meaning of Easter with our Easter story eggs.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 15, 2017


These kids are pretty lucky.  Their parents took them to Disneyland for spring break.

We knew we were going at a time when the park would be packed, but with our Disneyland know-how, we efficiently filled our days to the brim doing all of our favorites over and over again. 

Caleb and I opt for the non-swinging gondola on Mickey's Fun Wheel.

Cars Land is just darling and I was really taken by Luigi's Rollickin Roadsters.  The cars move in a choreographed dance. Love it!

Mater's ride may not look like much, but it's surprisingly really fun!

We love California Adventure!

We stayed at California Adventure until it closed. 

"Should we hop over to Disneyland or should we go to the hotel and rest up for an early morning tomorrow?" I asked.

I knew something was off with Caleb when he suggested we call it a night. He admitted that his throat was hurting and that he thought getting some rest would help him make the most of our second day. On the way back to the hotel, we bought him some cough drops and a drink, hoping they would soothe his throat.

The girls and I were at Space Mountain first thing the next morning.  We essentially walked right on and got fast passes to return later.  We love this ride!

While the girls and I were in Tomorrowland, Jon and Caleb were off doing their favorites in Frontierland. We texted Caleb around noon to come meet us at the Fantasyland Theater where one of our local high school's jazz band was performing. We knew a handful of the kids and wanted to support them for a bit before heading off to one our family favorites, "It's a Small World." Caleb responded that he would head that way, but that he was battling a headache, was feeling extra hot and his throat was getting worse.

After our cruise around the world, Caleb decided he needed to go back to the hotel for a nap.  This kid loves Disneyland so I knew if he was going to leave for a nap, he must really be ill.  I was heartsick for him, but remained hopeful that he would returned refreshed and ready for a long night in the park.

We went on Autopia while he was gone. This next picture is hilarious because Jon sat on the passenger side of the car and drove it with this left hand and foot.

The girls were excited to drive their own cars.

After several other rides, we stopped to indulge in our favorite Disney treat, caramel apples! So cute and so delicious. Also, when we go to Disneyland, I pretty much starve my children. We eat the hotel breakfast and pack some snacks in our bag for the day. We spring for one meal in the park per day, plus the occasional splurge on fancy treats.

On this day, however, I was offering my poor, sick son anything he wanted. When he returned to the park in the late afternoon, I bought him a huge Sprite and some chicken strips and fries. He ate it while we watched the Soundsational Parade, with me standing over him to provide him some shade. He said the food and nap helped and he was ready to get back at it. Poor kid.

All this time, the girls were off in Tomorrowland or somewhere. See, when our family does Disney, we don't necessarily stay together all the time. We meet up often to do rides as a family, but we also do not hesitate to split up if our Disney desires are pulling us in different directions.

Only Alyssa, Caleb and I had a desire to meet Mickey at his house. For me, it's not a trip to Disneyland with it.

The kids were off on their own adventures when Jon and I staked out a place for the Electrical Parade.

By now our feet were really sore and it was a relief to rest them atop the parade rope. It's definitely the first time I have lain down on Main Street.

The kids joined us a short time later to watch the 600,000 light bulbs go by. 
(Caleb lay down on Main Street, too.)

When the parade was over, the kids and I raced to Thunder Mountain to use some fast passes while Jon stayed to watch the fireworks.

The "wildest ride in the wilderness" is even more exciting with fireworks exploding all around! We were finishing watching the show outside the ride's exit when I noticed Caleb slouched on a bench, rubbing the sides of his face, noticeably uncomfortable. That's when I got worried this was more than just a bothersome sore throat.

Call it mother's intuition, call it a whispering of the spirit or maybe it was just past life experience, but I suddenly knew he had strep throat. Caleb has always been susceptible, having previously faced strep throat more times than I can count. From past experience, I knew that relief would not come without antibiotics but that once they were started, he'd begin feeling better quickly.

We met Jon outside the Penny Arcade where I used a plastic knife and my phone's flashlight to look into the back of Caleb's throat. "He needs to go to urgent care," I pleaded with Jon. "He's not going to feel better until he gets medication." Not only was Jon skeptical--why don't father's have the same intuition?--but it was now 10:30 at night and he wondered where in the world he would take him and what would it cost?  "We'll just take him to the doctor when we get back," he suggested. But I pushed the issue and a quick Google search showed an urgent care clinic just a couple miles away. Jon would have to take him since his was the only name on the rental car.

As Jon reluctantly left the park with Caleb, I started questioning my intuition or prompting or whatever you want to call it. What if I was wrong and my insistence only amounted to expensive medical bills?

The girls and I were riding Dumbo when Jon asked me to send a picture of the insurance card. He (and the urgent care receptionist) were frustrated with my blurry pics, but a clear one could not be taken until the ride stopped.

We continued to many other attractions until our feet could take no more.

We paused for a photo with Mickey and Walt on our way out of the park.

It was about this time that I got a text from Jon, "He has strep throat."

By some miracle, Jon found a pharmacy that was still open and would fill Caleb's prescriptions. The girls and I arrived back the hotel exhausted from our very full day, but my heart was so sad for Caleb. We'd planned this trip largely for him as we anticipate him leaving on a mission in the near future. The thought of him being sick on our last day at Disneyland was incredibly disheartening. Plus, we needed to check out of the hotel the next morning. What if he needed to stay in bed for the day? 

Jon and Caleb arrived back at the hotel sometime after midnight. I slept fitfully in between thinking up scenarios of how we could adjust our trip to allow Caleb time to recover, but also get the most out of the last day on his park hopper pass.

Early the next morning, Jon suggested the girls and I just go to the park and he would let Caleb sleep as long as needed while he packed up the room. He also said he would look into getting a late check-out. It felt wrong to leave a sick Caleb, but I did want the girls to have fun too. I determined to make the most of it.

We started at Space Mountain again, riding it two times in a row.

Then Splash Mountain--with ponchos, it's the only way to do it, if you ask me.

Caleb took his second dose of antibiotics in the morning and was already feeling well enough to meet us in the park by 11:00! Oh, I was so grateful!

We park hopped the rest of the day. Back at California Adventure that afternoon, we rode Radiator Springs a couple of times (single rider is the way to go!)

Lys' car never lost in all the times she rode this ride, so she deemed herself the Piston Cup Winner.

I saw this bench when I was waiting to meet up with the kids at some point that afternoon. I was SO very tired, but having so much fun.

Love Cars Land!

Back over at Disneyland that night, the kids spent their gift cards on souvenirs and treats.

Alyssa found a display of gluten-free treats. Disney knows how to cater to special needs eaters.

I'll always be partial to these:

We left late for the airport with happy hearts and a full cache of Disneyland memories. The Happiest Place on Earth lived up to its name once again, notwithstanding strep throat and throbbing feet.