Happy Birthday Abby

Abby Birthday Abby turned three on Saturday. It’s hard to believe our little girl is already that old. With all the excitement of DisneyWorld, we decided to celebrate when we came back. She got Curious George  Makes Pancakes for her birthday book, and some other Tinkerbell things. She was very proud to tell everyone about her birthday, as well as enjoyed having her cake and opening her presents. Here is a view of Abby at three:

  • food she loves-pasta, cereal, chicken nuggets, cheese, and goldfish
  • she loves to play with her babies with Erika
  • she likes to read books with Brooke
  • she likes to jump on the trampoline
  • she can dress herself and usually goes through a few outfits a day. She has a strong fashion sense like her sister Brooke.
  • she can’t wait to sit at the big girl table instead of her boaster seat/high chair
  • she can put on her shoes by herself.  She loves wearing flip flops!
  • she loves to watch home videos of herself when she was a baby
  • she is working really hard at being reverent during prayer time. After family prayer she will jump up and say, “I was reverent!”
  • she is super independent (it must be in her genes!)
  • her favorite treat is Gummy Bears (Thank you Aunt Michelle for always remembering!)
  • she likes to try and pick up Scott and carry him when we aren’t looking
  • her job around the house is to set the table
  • Brianna and Austin are her buddies and can always calm her down when she is having a tantrum
  • she is working on being potty trained
  • she can twist her tongue all the way around in her mouth
  • her favorite color is green
  • she looks the most like Brianna when she was little, but her hair is not quite as curly
  • she still takes a nap every day
  • her drink of choice is milk

We love you so much Abby, and are glad for the joy you bring to our home!


Day 6-Epcot..Again!

Our last day in Orlando was spent at Epcot..again. We just love this place.!It was so horribly busy at Magic Kingdom you could barely even walk-so we decided that we would make another trip to Disneyworld later in the year and spend our time just there. I think we’ll look to going on the off season next time. Since Magic Kingdom was out of the question, we voted and all were in favor of Epcot.

As we were walking around the World Showcase at Epcot on Thursday, Austin had noticed that there were all of these kids carrying around  special cell phones, and had discovered that they were playing a game that was brand new there called Kim Possible. It is based on a cartoon show where they solve crimes and save the world. You sign up and get a special mission time at one of the country locations. There they check out a cell phone to you with the  country that you are to help solve the crime in. On the cell phone there is a video that explains the mystery. It shows you a picture of different places in that country and you have to go into the shops or around that country and find the clues. It has a few places where when you push a button on the cell phone it remotely activates something there in the store or on one of the buildings. It is really cool. The kids had fun solving a mystery in Germany, Japan, and France.

While Brianna, Austin, and Aaron were playing the one in Japan, the little girls and I scouted out Snow White nearby and waited in line to meet her. They were very excited to see a princess up close, but were a little nervous as well. Brooke was especially curious as to whether her hair was a wig or not, but I suggested it may be better to not ask her that. She asked about Brooke’s pretty earings and what fun things that had all done there.  Snow white

After we had met her and were waiting for the others, our plan was to play at a playground right next to where Snow White was. As we walked over there and were about to play the worker asked Erika how old she was, and informed her it was a playground for 6-12 year olds. He gave her a sticker to try to make it better, but she was not impressed. I was just putting my camera away when I turned around and saw her walk over to the curb, sit down, and rip off her sticker. The man felt so bad. If her humble little spirit and pouty lower lip doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what does.

Erika sticker 1Erika sticker 2Erika sticker 3

Erika has  such a tender heart, and I think this trip made a few things especially hard for her. She wanted to be with the big kids, but many times she wasn’t old enough or tall enough to go on the rides with them.  This was just the straw that broke the camels back. She is at a hard in -between age. Hopefully by the time we go next she will be able to be in the “big kid”group. It’s so hard being four!

While waiting in France for Austin and Brianna to save the world with Kim Possible..we were so hot and there just happened to be a fountain in France’s town square. It was built up on a two foot cement wall and you could sit on it and admire its beauty, or if you are a kid play in it of course. While I waited on a nearby bench, Aaron took Brooke, Erika, and Abby to play in it. As I was sitting there with Scott this lady comes to sit down next to me and after a few minutes turns to me and says, “Check this guy out. (Pointing to Aaron) He’s going to have all  three of his girls soaking wet in that water pretty soon. “ She kind of chuckles as she continues to watch them just waiting for one of them to take a head dive into the fountain. I kind of chuckle as well, then say, “Yea,..that’s my husband and three girls.” I guess the matching brown outfits didn’t give it away. I think she felt a little embarrassed and tried to redeem herself by saying, “Oh yea, they are so cute.” It was pretty funny. And yes, they did end up getting soaked and had a marvelous time doing it.


Day 5-Animal Kingdom

Green seemed the appropriate color for a day in the jungles of the Animal Kingdom. Luckily, we were all well and healthy and ready for a full day. The kids thought this was one of the best days. Animal Kingdom sign On our way to Disneyworld each day we would travel on an interstate  that had a large overpass ramp. The kids would pretend it was a big rollercoaster hill as we went up it each day. This is one of their favorite pictures from the whole trip. So funny! Can you sense the thrill?car rollercoaster

We could see the big rollercoaster mountain, Mt. Everest from the road and Austin and Brianna were all psyched up to go on it. I think their faces really did look like this during that ride. I chickened out on that one. I am not known for having a very strong stomach. Aaron of course loved it!

Green day

Our family picture for the day. What a cute bunch of animals!

Scott monkey 2


Scott monkey


Scott monkey 3

We all thought Scott looked so cute in his little hat. He looked like a Safari explorer all ready for the day. The animals were such a hit for the kids. They would excitedly run from one exhibit to to next searching for the creatures hidden there. The monkeys were Austin’s absolute favorite. They were in this huge tree house habitat and Austin was in tree climbing heaven. He wished he could be right there with them. One of the rides we could all go on together was the Kilimanjaro Safari. The kids couldn’t believe they were actually that close to these big amazing animals.

The river rapids ride was a ride that even Abby could ride and the kids (Brooke especially )favorite. We were lucky it was hot day so any type of water fun was sought out for. We were able to go on that one a few times and we got soaked every time!

Since it was super busy at Disney the whole week we were there, we didn’t get many chances to see a lot of the Disney characters. They had specific places inside to meet them, but the  lines were 90minutes long , and the kids just didn’t have it in them to wait that long. I think next trip we will spend a whole day just seeking out the characters. We were lucky to see a few in the streets at Epcot, but the parade at Animal Kingdom is where they had a chance to see them up close.

Girls on aaron shouldersWe got a really good seat, even the little girls thanks to daddy shoulders! Two girls at one time, what a Tarzan! 

Goofy paradeDonald duck Mickey parade  Rafiki paradeMonkey paradeMinnie mouse 




Day 4-Epcot

 Pink day epcot
Pink/Gray day
When we went to Epcot on Tuesday there were a lot of rides that had really long waiting times for them so we didn't go on many rides that day. Our plan for today was to get up early and be there right when they opened so we could go on some of those. When we woke up though, Brooke was sick. She must have caught what Brianna had early in the week, but she was a little worse. Determined to have fun and hopeful she would feel better off we went. By the time we got to the park she had already thrown up twice, and we were beginning to second guess our decision. Luckily, we had the big stroller with us and she was happy to just sleep in there for most of the morning.
When we got there Aaron, Austin, and Brianna went on the Test Track ride and Mission Space while the little girls, Scott, and I headed for a playground we had spotted the other day. We found some great fountains to play in on the way, and had fun relaxing. It seemed like a slower paced day with not as many people there. When Aaron and the kids caught up with us, we switched and I went with Austin and Brianna on test track. It was a great, fast ride.

I remember going to Epcot as a child and playing in these special water fountains. They were streams of water that would jump from one circle to the next. I had tried to explain it to Aaron and had my eyes peeled for them the whole time. After one of the rides Aaron and the older kids went on, they told me they had found it up behind the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience ride.

Austin wet 1 Austin wet 2 Austin wet 4 Austin wet 3  Austin and Brianna wetAustin wet head
It brought back sweet memories from my childhood and gave the kids a chance to cool off. When we asked them later what one of the funnest things they did, they all mentioned the jumping dots.
In the middle of Epcot there is a large lagoon which is surrounded by their World Showcase. It is several countries that have buildings, shops, and food places that would be found in that country. It was so much fun to explore the world. It made me want to do some world traveling.
Red phone booth

In Canada we had to try the ever popular fit everyone in the phone booth shot. Brooke was even a good sport and joined us for the picture.

When we arrived in France we saw one of our first princesses of the trip, Sleeping Beauty (and her midget body guard. I still don't know which was more exciting to see for the kids) We tried to get in line to meet her, but the line was closed so we just used a little zoom action on my camera for this one. The kids kept wanting to see her picture on the camera, so that was good enough for them. Even when I was posting this Erika kept saying, “Go back to Sleeping Beauty ! Go back!”

As we were watching her we lost Aaron. We sat down and waited for him, knowing he would probably return here when he noticed we weren't with him. Sure enough he returned ten minutes later, bringing French pastries with him, so he was quickly forgiven. The strawberry tart was a favorite. Aaron and has been urging me to make these for him for a while, and now I see why. Delicious!
          Erika and Brianna belly dancing  drums

In Morocco Brianna and Erika found these really cool belly dancer outfits. The hair pieces were super fine strands of beads and the skirts had little jingly sequins' sewed all around it. It was amazing. 
We finished our world tour visiting the great shops in Morocco, the boats of Italy, and the acrobatics in China. By the time we got to China Brooke was feeling a lot better and even got out of the stroller to watch them.


Day 3-A Pool Day

Today Aaron had a full day at his Medical conference so we spent the day at the hotel. We got to sleep in, have breakfast at McDonald's, go swimming in the cold pool, go out to eat for dinner at Perkins, and have movie night in the hotel room. It was a great day to relax and rest up for some more fun filled days at Disneyworld.


Day 2-Epcot

After a great nights sleep we felt energized and ready to tackle another day at Disney. Today was a blue day, but it ended up being a little chilly and super windy so we all had on jackets most of the day. I didn't plan to have matching coats. I'm not quite that good.

Epcot blue day
  We planned on going back to Magic Kingdom-we had studied the map and had our day all planned out. When we approached the parking gate though, they said that they were at capacity! We had to either pick a different park or not go. We decided to make it an Epcot day, and it turned out that Epcot was a favorite for our kids this vacation. We loved it. It combines learning with the magic of Disney.

We went to the great "big ball" as the girls called it, and afterwards to a series of stations that test different things to show how your body works-a 3D mock surgery , a reflexes game, a driving game, and fun hockey electricity game. We tried to do as many things as we could inside since it was so windy-and there was plenty to do. The kids loved the Innoventions building where they got to be part of a video game and then play it with their pictures in it. They have it so you can input your email address and they will send it to you to play on your home computer. It was fun to be home and get to play it again.

The other place the kids really enjoyed was the Nemo ride with a small aquarium to walk through afterwards. There were seahorses and these really cool camouflage fish. If Austin and Brianna wouldn't have pointed them out to me I would have thought they were pieces of coral.

We stayed for the fireworks show afterwards which was neat to see, but I think the best part of the day was when we went to our car. Now, don't get me wrong it was a great day and I love Disney as much as the next person, but as we went to the car almost the whole parking lot was empty and our kids had so much fun just running free over this massive arena of cement. There is something to be said about the simple things in life. There were shouts of real laughter and joy as they raced each other and jumped over orange cones. They found an abandoned wheelchair in the parking lot, so of course we had to race around in that for awhile.

This all led me to evaluate our visit to Disneyworld, and I have come upon the idea of what my children enjoyed most, and what that might in tale if I were to create my own theme park. I think the rides would be along the lines of these:

Ride #1-You enter a maze of metal poles-you know the kind you might find dividing the lines where you may have to wait for a ride. The ride (or game) is that you just climb all over them. You swing on them, run through them as fast as you can, jump from them, watch that your fingers don't get stepped on from the person climbing beside you, try to shake them until they come apart, and then do it all over again.

Ride #2-This one is a little more on the daring side. It involves all kind and shapes of cement walls that you jump on to. Most are two feet high, but some are as tall as eight feet high. You try to scale them, jump on and from them, run as fast as you can on them, all while dodging other people. If you miss stepping on one of them, you have to start all over again.

Ride#3-This is one I like to call "Throw food at the tame amusement park animals and then try to catch them " ride. It involves mostly little sparrows, ducks, and a few squirrels.

Ride#4-This ride is when you are pretty tired from all the other attractions and just want to rest. It involves riding up and down the escalators. That's it-just riding. It sounds boring, but believe me I think the line would be pretty long for this one. At least six Starbucks would be at the front of it.

Ride #5-Though this one involves the same technology of moving from one story to another as the last game-the object is quite a bit more competitive. It is made up of an elevator, and when the elevator door opens you race inside and fight (okay fight seems like such a harsh word for an amusement park. How about you "challenge") the other people in the elevator to see who can push the buttons first. If you push your button first-you win. Now the bonus round includes pushing the "keep doors open" button until it beeps-the longer and louder it beeps the more points you get. Now, if you push the alarm button-you lose and the game is over.

Ride#6-Now this one isn't a ride, and I am pretty sure I will get flack from others thinking it isn't a very politically correct game, but none the less I know it is one that the Starbucks will love. I will preface this with the mind-behind-the-magic of this game. Since Austin was about 4 he has had an obsession with midgets (are you seeing where the politically correct part is coming in here?) He can spot one a mile away, and just loves them. He would always ask me if he could have a midget for a brother.
Well, the object of this game is to keep a running tally over your whole stay at the park of how many "Mini-Mickey's" you can see. whoever sees the most-wins. Now if for some reason you make a mistake and say.. I don't know..point to one who really isn't one and yell real loud, "Mom, that looks like a midget".. um yea you lose in that case as well. Also, if you find one that is the body guard to one of the Disney princesses-you guessed it-double points.

The concessions at our park would consist of Skittles that your sister drops on the ground that you so loving retrieve for her and hand back, and water from the local display fountains.


Day 1-Magic Kingdom

I have very few memories of going to Disneyworld as a child, but one I do have is all eight members of the family wearing matching red and blue striped shirts. I think my older siblings thought it was lame, but my parents assured them it was not to embarrass them, but to not lose one of us. Our goal for the week was the same, so each day I had meticulously picked out matching clothes for us each to wear, and Day 1 was Orange Day.

As we were all suiting up in our attire for the day, Brianna started feeling sick and getting a bad headache. Determined to actually make it to the park that day, we gave her some good headache medicine and off we went. Our GPS became our new friend during this trip, but as we were on our way to Disneyworld and would experience throughout the week we began to wonder if it was in "spy mode". My case in point. We put in Disneyworld, an easy enough location I would think, and start to follow the directions. The first few seem to be right, we start seeing Mickey ears telling us we are at least on the right path, but then it gave us some strange directions and we ended up at the Disney repair buildings. It was obviously a secret back way no one knew about. We finally get to the Disney entrance and as we pass through the gate Aaron says, "Can you feel that? It's that special Disney magic!" The kids were very excited, and Brianna was still sick. As we parked and unloaded our stuff it started to sprinkle. Sprinkle schminkle. No rain ever kept this crew away from the happiest place on earth. By the time we get to the front gate it is pouring rain and we are all soaked!

Lucky for us the kids are so excited that it didn't faze them too much. As we were arriving we caught the last part of the parade that goes down main street. The look on the girls' faces as they watched pretty much sums up our first few hours there. They were pretty overwhelmed with all the excitement going on around them. Seeing princess and talk of castles left them not knowing which thing to do first. It all sounded so exciting! And so overwhelming!

There were also a ton of people there which didn't help matters-note to self don't go to Disneyworld during Spring break. As we were leaving the park that night, one of the workers said that there were 62,000 people there at Magic Kingdom that day. I can't visualize exactly how many people that is, but it sounds like a lot, and I am pretty sure we managed to stand in line with at least half of them.
We ended up getting to ride the carousel, the Dumbo ride, Splash Mountain, and the tea cups twice. Poor Brianna still didn't feel well and wanted to sit down every chance she could get. It made having to stand in lines even worse for her. By days end, it was good to see her perking up a bit. Hopefully some of that Disney magic will lift her spirits tomorrow.

It was fun to see all the workers there and how happy they were. We are convinced that they go through some special "Mouse-training" to work there. Every time the kids would climb on something they weren't suppose to or splash in a big puddle and get the worker wet, they would say, "Now, hop on down from there, we don't want you to get hurt before all the fun has started, do we? Have a magical day!" All with a smile on their face. It was quite funny.

Inside one of the shops getting some treats to eat during the long wait in line for one of the rides.
We had planned on staying for the night time parade, but by that time we were all exhausted. The lack of sleep from the night before was taking a toll on all of us, and we were ready for a good nights sleep in our soft beds awaiting us back at the hotel. Abby, Brooke, and Erika all fell asleep on the way back to the hotel completely exhausted. Have magical dreams until tomorrow girls!

A Week at DisneyWorld

One of Aaron's medical conferences this year landed during Spring Break so we decided to pack up the whole family and join him for the week in Orlando. We loaded up after the last session of General Conference and journeyed off for a six hour trip south. The kids had picked some church videos to watch along the way, but only made it through one of them before Scott started crying so loud they couldn't hear it anymore. We spent the next hour listing to our poor little guy cry it out. Unfortunately, this would start his week long hatred for his carseat. We pulled into our hotel around 2am with six sleeping kids in tow. As soon as we started unpacking the luggage though, they were all wide eyed and ready for some fun. It took a bit of convincing to finally get them calmed back down, but at about 3am we all finally found some peace in our nice cozy beds.

Outside the hotel at 2am!!

Aaron had to attend his conference for just a few hours the next morning, so I had plans of sleeping in with all my tired little campers wanting the same. Not to be so-at about 7:30, I heard the TV in the next room happily playing some cartoons with all the kids eagerly watching. I could hear them looking out the window and saying to each other "Look, I see Disneyworld!" There excitement was almost uncontainable.

We spent the rest of the morning enjoying fun hotel games such as jumping on the beds...

taking pictures with the great window light (mommy's favorite game)...

and trying to sneak out in the halls and giggling with delight when caught.

Because we are blessed with such a large family, we weren't able to get just one room, but had to get two rooms connected with a door inside the rooms. The kids thought this was probably one of the best parts of the trip. Brianna told me, "I know Disneyworld is going to be fun, but I think the hotel is really fun!" It doesn't take much to impress this crowd.

They had initial plans of all the kids in one room and mom and dad in the other room, but we soon found out that we needed to separate some of them or we weren't going to be getting any sleep this whole vacation. They still found fun being separated, like calling each other on the phones and shutting the door to one room and almost locking us out of the other room. Luckily, good ol' dad was prepared with an extra room key in his pocket. Dad saves the day!


General Conference Weekend

We love General Conference at our house. The whole week working up to it is filled with a special Family Home Evening and activities to help us prepare. It has become a time when we create special family traditions and get to hear the words of the prophet. Here are a few fun things we did last October and this year as well.

In October, for the FHE before conference we used big washer /dryer boxes we had gotten for free from Lowes, and built a big tower like King Benjamin's. We put one of our large bar stool chairs inside of it for "King Benjamin" to stand on while giving his speech to the people. Austin was able to pass of one of his Cub Scout requirements by making the scenery for our little play. We used other boxes and blankets to make little tents for each of the kids to sit in during FHE that all faced the tower. We acted out the story, took turns in the tower, and sent out proclamations throughout the land for all to read.
We handed out General Conference packets that I had made that had activities for the kids to do while watching Conference. Some of the pages were from sugardoodle.net and theideadoor.com and others were copies from the Friend magazine. I also made pages that had spaces for the older kids to keep notes on at least two talks during each session. The favorite page everyone liked was the page where it had a picture of all of the members of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles and they would look to see what color their tie was and color it in that color.
For our FHE activity we did a matching game with pictures of the First Presidency and 12 Apostles as adults and when they were younger that we had to try and match.
We also made flash cards for each Apostle, punched a hole in the top, and put them on a metal ring. Each day for scripture time the whole week we would read three of the bios from the Apostles. It was great to have a refresher about their lives as we worked up to listening to their talks.

For Conference we usually watch it on the Internet in our keeping room off of the kitchen. We move part of our sectional in there (the kids love this!), the lazyboy, and lots of cozy blankets. I was amazed that for the Saturday sessions even my three little ones would sit and listen. Four hours worth! It was such a testimony to me that helping children to listen during conference can be done. After the Saturday afternnon session the little girls had almost all of their packets done. We are master colorers at our house.=) I gladly printed out more pages for their packets to get them through Sunday.
For breakfast Sunday I set the table fancy (fancy compared to the plastic cereal bowls they are used to) with flowers and nice dishes. I had made things that all correlated with something about conference. I made a dozen muffins (12 apostles), 70 grapes in a bowl and 70 pieces of cut up cantaloupe for the two quorums of the seventy (okay, I didn't actually count each piece, but it was pretty close). I had made three dozen muffins (3 members of the First Presidency) one blueberry, one chocolate chip, and one chocolate chocolate chip. I had hid the chocolate chocolate chip ones in the oven until later. Each person had a name place card at their plate with a question that was about something from one of the talks from the Sat. session. The younger kids received easier questions and Abby's was a picture of Jesus and the question said, "Who is this?" I was so amazed how much my kids remembered from the talks. After they each answered their questions we asked them if they noticed the significance of the number of items. Austin said, "If only their were one more plate of muffins it would be like the three members of the First Presidency. We then had him look in the oven and he found the special chocolate chocolate chip muffins. The kids loved it! It was a special treat they don't normally get.
After all the sessions of Conference we talked about the talks we liked the most and took turns giving reports on the talks we took notes about and letting the little girls show off their packets.

For this conference our FHE was so fun and totally last minute-not for lack of planning per say, but I was at a complete loss for what to do. It was my turn to give the lesson that week anyways, and I didn't want to do the King Benjamin thing again. I had prayed for days about what to do and it became like the scripture that talks about just talk and your mouth will be filled.

We let the kids take turns using wooden building blocks to build a short wall and tower on the coffee table. Then on the side of the wall that they could see we put a little home, and up on the wall we put 12 little army men and three on the tower. They each got a turn to be like to person on the watchtower and see an object that I had hidden behind the wall. Everyone else would take turns playing 20 questions to guess what the object was. I used five objects- a rock, a screwdriver, a band aid, a vitamin, and a CTR ring. We talked about how the twelve little army men and the three on the tower were like the 12 Apostles and members of the First Presidency and how they can see things that we can't. They tell us those things at General Conference to help us Choose the Right (CTR ring), to help us be safe from harm (the rock), to help us fix or work on our weaknesses (the screwdriver), to help us be healed as we partake of the Atonement (the band aid), and to help us be spiritually stronger (the vitamin). As we finished up all of the kids keep saying how much fun this FHE was. Erika was beaming and kept saying, "I love this time of year!"
We did similar things as well with the packets and the special breakfast except I did donuts for the special treat. When I came out that morning Austin said, "We looked in the oven already for the hidden muffins" Well, good for me I hid them in the microwave instead. I may run out of hiding places next year! We also tried putting up string and a sign that said, "Quite Zone" across the doorway to the room. If they passed the string they had to use their quiet voices. It worked okay, but not great so we took it down for the Sunday session. We also put bowls of different treats on the table -marshmallows, jelly beans, chocolate eggs, nuts, and chex mix. Each one had a picture of something-the temple, Jesus, family, a shield of faith, and the scriptures. When they would hear a speaker say one of the words they got to eat a treat from that bowl. They really liked that. Brianna and Austin came up with a good tally system to keep track and would fill up their bowls with treats after each talk.
I am so grateful for Conference and am glad that my children have a love for it as well. I think I didn't fully appreciate Conference until I was older, but I hope my children will be able to benefit from it all the years of their life.