Thursday, July 29, 2010

1st Day of 5th Grade

Today is the first day of school. I can't believe it, but Hannah is in the 5th grade! We found out yesterday who her teacher was and what classroom, and who her classmates are. She's been placed in a 5th/6th grade combo class where only nine of the thirty students are 5th graders. All summer, I've been praying that the Lord would place her in just the right class, with the right people, etc. Last year was full of so much drama and I wished for a different circumstances year this year. Well, the Lord heard my prayers. Hannah has no friends in her class. Not one. There are two kids in her class from last year, but neither one does she know well. It's a little sad on one hand, but on the other hand, I think she's going to have a great year of being able to focus on her classwork, etc. And she's with older kids (6th graders) and she'll fit in just fine. School gets out at 2:15, it'll be good to hear how her day went.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

End of Summer Vacation

Today marks the end of summer vacation for our family, tomorrow the girls go back to school.

Unlike when I grew up and summer vacation last months, the girls had six weeks off. And while there was a complaint in there a time or two as to not doing anything 'fun', it's been a vacation filled with lots of fun things...

* Sleepover with the cousins at Gramma and Papa's house
* Swimming with friends
* Sleepover with Emma
* Disneyland trips
* Afternoons with Gramma
* An afternoon trip to Dana Point to explore the Brig Pilgrim
* Four days with Gramie
* Swimming at the Grand Californian
* Bargain Movies
* Miniature Golfing with the cousins
* Sleepover at SeaWorld
* Camping at the beach for six days
* Play dates and picnics at the park
* Going on the route with Grandpa Steve

Nothing big on the books today in honor of our last day of vacation. We're getting backpacks ready, lunch boxes around, clothes laid out, and later today we'll go see who Hannah's teacher is and classmates are.

So long summer of 2010, hello new school year and 5th grade!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Beach Camping

The day following our SeaWorld sleepover, we left for a week of camping at the beach.

These are just a few pictures of Hannah and our week camping...

Blowing up hers and Rachel's air mattress..
Playing games.
Having fun in the water, boarding and splashing about.
Lunch on the beach.
Playing in the sand.
Bike rides around the campground.
Going to bed LATE, after a full day and evening of playing.
A mid week surprise visit from the cousins.
A run in with the street, while we were packing up to leave.
This was the longest we'd ever camped, six nights. And it went great. We had a great week, lots of memories made, and can hardly believe the trip has come and gone...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

SeaWorld Sleepover

A little over a year and a half ago, a friend started up a girls group. Her son is active in Boy Scouts and she wanted the same positive program for her daughter, but after searching out a few different options, she decided to form her own group. And for the last 18 months, we've met once a month, doing something new and educational each month, etc. For the month of July, our event was a sleepover at SeaWorld. It's something we've been fundraising for and saving for, having yard sales for, etc.

We met to carpool and caravan down to San Diego mid afternoon on Friday, July 16th. Because our family was packing and heading out for a week at the beach, camping two days later, I opted to drive my own car, leaving me the option to leave on Saturday whenever I wanted, and not be at someone else's mercy for a ride home.

When we arrived to the education gate, we checked in, and they took our sleeping bags and gear and loaded them onto their luggage trucks. They then gave us all a Camp SeaWorld shirt that needed to be worn all night long so that it made it easier for the camp counselors to keep track of the overnight participants, etc. We were assigned a camp counselor for the night. She led us from activity to activity and taught us camp songs as we walked throughout SeaWorld. She was an amazing camp counselor and I'm sure it's because of her, that our experience was the best it could have been.There were seven girls and six moms in our little group and it made for a fun experience having such a small group. The girls, for the most part, all got along, which also makes it a better experience. First event of the night was dinner! And what a dinner they provided - pasta with marinara sauce, meatballs, and chicken strips, green salad, breadsticks, and watermelon. The food was delicious and bountiful and was an excellent source of refueling before the long adventurous night ahead of us. After dinner, we got to go behind the scenes and learn about sharks and the different parts of a shark, as well as having the opportunity to touch a shark. After some prompting and explaining this is an opportunity of a lifetime, Hannah indeed touched a shark! She was so proud of herself, she called home to tell Daddy later in the night. From there, we walked back across to the other side of SeaWorld to more behind the scene buildings. There is an entire complex of educational classrooms. Where in one of the classrooms, we learned the different types of shark teeth and what tool in the kitchen best resembles that particular tooth, etc. We then got to make a shark tooth necklace! The girls all loved that!Following our time in the classroom, it was time to grab a snack (which they provided) and then it was off to see the night time Shamu show. One of the benefits of being part of the camp adventures was the reserved seating, just above the soak zone thankfully! It was a great show and the girls all had so much fun. We were able to see the fireworks from our seats following the show.Feeding and touching the sting rays was next up on our guided tour. Most everyone gave it a try, Hannah opted out for this adventure though. But it was sure fun watching some of the other girls get all squirmy. Next up was a visit to the nearby eel caves. The final event for our evening before bed was held by the seals and sea lion exhibit. Here we learned about the differences between the two and even had two of our campers demonstrate the difference by dawning a sea lion and seal costume with the miscellaneous parts.It was now close to midnight. We'd been walking all over that park, busy all night long, seeing and learning things every step of the way. We were ready for bed to say the least. We were led to the Shark Encounter building where we gathered our stuff off of the trucks, and were led into the exhibit. After a run down of the rules and procedures for how the sleepover works, we were led to the bathrooms to change into sleeping attire, brush our teeth, etc. And then came the time for picking a spot and settling down. Our group chose to sleep inside the glass tunnel where you can see the sharks swimming above you, near you, etc. Hannah was hesitant, but I assured her it was going to be awesome. We laid out our sleeping bags and once I finally got into my bed, I knew it wasn't going to work. The class encounter curved in such a way that I knew I was going to be claustrophobic, so I quickly yanked our beds off the ledges and made up our beds on the floor, just at the end of the tunnel. You could still see the sharks swimming about, even after the lights had been turned out, which was SO cool!By the time everyone had picked their spots, settled down, and even after a few warnings from the camp counselors, it was close to 12:30am which left very little time for sleeping as we'd been told that wake up time came at 6:00. Thankfully, our counselor overslept a little bit and it was closer to 6:15 by the time the call to rise and shine was made. Getting dressed, packing up, and loading our stuff back on to the trucks was first thing on the list for the morning, but first a few pictures with our awesome camp counselor around the Shark Encounter sign.From there, we paraded through the closed SeaWorld (it's so cool being in a park when it's closed. LOL) back to the education gate where we got our stuff and put it into our cars for the remainder of the day. And then it was off to breakfast! Another great meal that once again provided the fuel we were going to need to make it through the morning!

Following breakfast, we got to do the morning feeding of the flamingoes, strolled past the sea turtle exhibit, and ended up at the starfish tide pools. It was after our time at the tide pools, that our official camp adventure came to an end. We were signed out and said our goodbyes to the wonderful camp counselors and then the park was officially open to the public and we had an entire day ahead of us in the park, on our own. And this is when it got a little complicated. Before, we had a camp counselor leading the way, with a plan, etc. And now we were left on our own, six Mommies, tired Mommies at that, and seven little girls who all had their own idea as to what to see and do. We made our way back towards the front of the park to get wrist bands for the new dolphin show, and then headed towards the water ride, Atlantis. It unfortunately did not open for another half an hour, but we opted to just stay put and wait for it as so many of the girls wanted to ride it, and if they were some of the first in line, we'd make the 11:00 dolphin show. We were too late to the dolphin show in order for us all to sit together, so we split up and arranged where to meet afterwards. Hannah and I lucked out with center stage, middle of the section seats! They were perfect for viewing the dolphins and the pilot whales. It was a good show, different from the one we saw two years ago when we came as a family. The next show we planned to see was the Pets Gone Wild show, where it showcased cats and dogs that had been rescued. We missed this show when we were here last, but I'm glad we watched it this time around, it was cute. It was at this time that another Mom from our group and her three girls joined us, our party count grew to seventeen. Following this show, we hit the nearby Penguin exhibit and the Wild Arctic exhibit. The Beluga Whales are always fascinating to watch, as is the big ole walrus.

After the adventures in that corner of the park, it was determined it was time to eat, so we made our way back to the other side of the park to a food establishment that offered a variety of things. It was during lunch, that Hannah and I decided we'd break off from the group. The size of the group was large, there'd been some drama amongst the girls, and there were things that Hannah and I both wanted to see that didn't look like anyone else was up for seeing, so we made the break. And once we did, we were free as the seagulls in the sky. We went to the dolphin exhibit, we went into a few stores, we revisited the dolphins again. We hit the seal and sea lion show, which was hilarious when we saw it two years ago, and the new show this time was just as hilarious. We both laughed and were enjoying our mother/daughter time. The other daytime show I really wanted to see was Shamu. So we hit the mid afternoon showing of Shamu. Finding seats in the 12th row, Hannah was concerned because it was still within the 16 rows of the soak zone, I assured her we'd be fine, and we were! I love watching Shamu, it's amazing what they can get those killer whales to do, they are so majestic. Hannah and I had already agreed that after the Shamu show, we would souvenir shop for herself and a little something for Rachel and then we would head for home. We had see so much the night before that there really wasn't a need to stay into the evening or late into the night. So we made our way to our car to find that all the cars belonging to the friends we'd come with had left. They were tuckered out and left a few hours earlier, which made me really glad that Hannah and I had broken off to see a few more shows.

The drive home began with talks of what our favorite part of the last twenty four hours had been, talk about how excited we both were for our vacation, which was to start the next day following church, and then the drive grew quiet. It became so quiet because Hannah was plum tuckered out...This experience was absolutely amazing. It was well worth the money we paid and fundraised in order to go. Definitely made some memories to last a lifetime...

For information about Camp Adventures at SeaWorld, check out their website.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Swimming at The Grand Californian

Today, we were invited to spend the afternoon at Disneyland's best hotel in the resort, the Grand Californian. A friends daughter is turning ten this weekend and they spent the night at the hotel last night and then invited friends down to swim in the hotel's beautiful three pools and have lunch poolside for Katie's birthday celebration. The pools had lifeguards on duty, which was extremely nice, and odd at the same time. There were so many people in the pool, it was hard to keep track of what end of the pool your kid kept going to. LOL. It was a great afternoon of relaxing poolside, shaded by the umbrellas and a light breeze sweeping through the patio, you almost forgot it was 105 out!