Friday, August 29, 2008

Schlitterbahn

On Saturday morning (8-16) we got up early and drove down to New Braunfels to meet the rest of the family at Schlitterbahn...the most magical place on earth! To me it beats anything Disney hands down. We have been going to Schlitterbahn every summer for almost 25 years now. My brother Matthew wasn't able to go because he had to work. But Jason and Jared Smith, old friends of ours, met us there and it was fun catching up with them. It was a great day, although I spent a large amount of time babysitting kids but that was okay. Ethan was old enough this time that he could enjoy the big rides with the big kids! He couldn't get enough of the fast tube chutes.

I slapped Uncle Joseph with a mustard sandwich!

Kaylan, Hailey, Lauren and I spent a lot of time in the morning playing in the kiddie pools. Lauren is a fish and she thinks she can swim so she kept crawling out into the deep water.






At about 4:00 the moms and kids headed over to a GREAT BIG children's pool full of slides and fun things to climb on. The air got chilly and clouds rolled in. Within half an hour sheets of rain came pouring down!!! To make a long story short, the day came to a stop right there and the fun was over. Then the chaos began as 10,000 people tried to frantically funnel through one exit at the front. I can not believe we did not lose any children.

All of our belongings got soaked down at our table, even diapers. Luckily my dad had all of our electronics locked up in a water safe box, but the kids had nothing dry to put on their bottoms. So I ended up spending $16 on four swim diapers in the gift shop. They were so expensive that I felt I should bronze them, not let them serve as poop catchers!

It was such a bummer that our day was cut short. It's always been tradition that we stay the whole time until closing, and by 6:00 the place clears out a lot so we spend the next two hours riding rides over and over because the lines are short. But not this trip! Dang it. We finally made it to the cars and back to Evelyn's house by 10:00. We were so exhausted that we hit our pillows and that was it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Evelyn's House

Evelyn bought this sign for me at the Texas store in the mall. The homesick girl in me wants to hang it on the front door, but I dare not.

On Thursday (8-14) the kids and I made the two hour trip down south to see my sister, Evelyn. They bought a house last summer but this is the first time I'd gotten to see it. In fact, I had only seen Evelyn in her own element (that is as a wife and mom in her own home) once before and that was only for a day when Lilly was a toddler. We always seem to only get together when we are at our parents house because it is a central location.

I was a little apprehensive about the weekend stay at her house. She and I have always been polar opposites and we have our stories of fights and bruises. Evelyn's husband is in the Army and is deployed to Iraq right now so it was like a huge slumber party. Poor Ethan was the only boy!

The weekend was so much fun and it was great getting to interact with my sister mom to mom. I really like her house and her...CABLE TV!! Cody and I are not TV watchers and only have one half functioning TV in our house. We don't have cable, and I don't see us ever getting it in the future. But Evelyn has several TVs in her house, including a nice big flat screen in the living room and a good one in her bedroom. They also have a million cable channels and I was an instant addict. She gave me her bed and she slept in the living room to supervise the slumber party each night. I stayed up very late each night because I was mesmerized by all the programs on TV. I am so glad we don't have that luxury because I would never get any house work done and my family would starve!

On Friday we went to the mall and had lunch. Then we window shopped and bought a few things. My favorite store was the Texas store. There is one of those in most malls and it never gets old.



Looking at crabs in a trinket store.
Lauren got her first ever pair of shoes!
In the Texas store.

Eating her Texas shaped sucker. Yummy!
Ethan is always squished by all those girls!
When we got home from the mall the kids wanted to play in the pool. Hailey was accidentally sprayed and got so prissy about it. She refused to go back outside and she missed the rest of the fun.
Again, sandwiched between the girls. Lilly and Kaylan love him and Alyssa says she wants to marry him. Eeeww gross!
Squished between the girls again. Can you say too much estrogen?

Funny story while we were at the mall. Ev was standing in line (forever) to get the kids some cookies. A super rude guy blatantly cuts in front of her and she stood there like "did he really just do that??" Other people in line were bugged too. The guy was terrible and gets up to the front and starts a massive order while his wife is standing there nagging him to death. The two are arguing in front of everyone.

Ev says something to the guy and he just glances over his shoulder and doesn't say anything. She stands there for another minute in disgust, then she couldn't hold it in anymore and she called him a foul name and storms off. Fast forward to church two days later. Ev and I are sitting in Sacrament Meeting and you would never guess who is sitting right in front of us. Rude guy, Rude guy's wife, and Rude Guy's four kids!! What a small world we live in, considering this is not Utah so randomly bumping into other church members is odd. Needless to say things will likely be awkward when they see each other at church from here on out.

Meeting the Cousins

On Wednesday (8-13) Dad, the kids and I drove out to see Emily and her family. Emily and her brother are my only two first cousins. Yes, that's right. I only have two of them. That makes our kids second cousins to each other. Emily lives almost an hour away from Mom and Dad and it's kind of in the middle of no where. I'd never been to her new place since they moved in and it was fun getting to see it.

It's still strange to think of little Emily all grown up with a husband and kids. Lauren is only 2 1/2 months older than her baby girl, Briar. The girls had fun exploring each other as babies do. Lauren had a blast being around another baby. I swear they recogize other babies as babies. Thanks Em, for letting us take up your afternoon. Its was fun!

Boady, Briar, Lauren, Ethan, Hailey.


The Van Leuvens

On our way out of Houston we stopped by to visit the Van Leuven family. I was bummed that Sam wasn't there, but he is on a mission in Australia. I always said that if he was ten years older I would marry him.

These guys will always hold a very special place in my heart and I will always consider them family. I know it was no accident that Brother V got a job in Houston and they moved into the area just as I was in need of a friend and a swift kick on the pants. They moved in right before my sophomore year of high school and he was immediately called to be our early morning Seminary teacher. Every morning at 6:00 we congregated in their living room and became part of their lives. I truly enjoyed Brother V's lessons and I know that is what held me by a thread to the straight and narrow.

Then my junior year came and I really started testing my boundaries and I began getting involved in...well...not so great things with not so great people. I was actually Seminary President during that time but I got to a point where I stopped going and wanted to stop going to church altogether. One night Brother V showed up at my house in his sweats and he told me to get in the car. His kids were all in their pjs in the back seat and Sister V was at a meeting or something. He took me to get a Blizzard at Dairy Queen and he talked some sense into me that night. I was back in Seminary the next week and things changed for the better.

Sometimes the Van Leuvens would catch wind of some dumb Friday night activity I was going to be a part of and they would talk me into watching a movie and eating ice cream with them, or just hang out at their house instead. I really grew to love these guys. I would go to them for advice and to vent, rather than my own parents because I felt that they were more objective since they weren't responsible for me. I think every teenager needs friends like them.

Years later, even after I moved away, we stayed in contact and they would continue to check up on me. They were actually at Cody's and my sealing and it was awesome. It was like everything came full circle. I hope to be able to touch someone's life one day like they touched mine. Thanks Brother and Sister V, for believing in me and loving me, even if I was a snot nosed teenager who thought she had all the answers.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Galveston

After NASA we drove down to Galveston, which is only a few miles down the road. I haven't been to the beach since March 1999! It was way over due. We stopped for yummy Mexican food then we found a room for the night. It's amazing how expensive it is in tourist towns like that.

I still get butterflies in my stomach when we pass over the giant bridge that takes you over the bay. I love to look out and see all the boats and water front homes. And then it drops you right into the heart of Galveston, which is right on the beach! On Saturday morning we got up early and hit the beach before it got crowded or too hot.

Lauren was content to play in the sand. This was surely unlike anything she'd ever touched or seen! She didn't know what to think of it. I did at one point take her out to the water and dip her toes in it.

Ethan and Hailey were in awe when they saw it because it was unlike anything they'd ever seen. They were a little apprehensive about the water, but when Granana showed them the fun of jumping waves they were having a blast!
This crazy old man refused to put on bathing suit, so he sweltered in the heat. He wasn't feeling well on the trip so I'm sure that's why he didn't want to swim. Even though he didn't feel well, he was a good sport about everything.

Around 11:00 we packed everything up and headed back to our room to shower and check out. Then it was back to Houston.

NASA

On Friday, August 8th, we drove from Houston to Webster, which is only a few miles away. Webster, Texas is the home of NASA and it was a great experience. Ethan has always been so fascinated by planets and space ships and astronauts, so we had to make a trip down there to see the home of the Space Program.

When I was a kid we went to NASA a few times on field trips and it was always incredible. Even as a kid I had a respect for the Space Program. I've always had a great appreciation for the brain power that fuels it. I feel that within the realm of our mortal intelligence, the minds within the program are as close as you can get to Heavenly Father's intelligence. I am always in awe at the thought of it.

The day started off with a few bumps, but it quickly turned around and we had an awesome time. NASA is an enormous campus, probably bigger than most college campuses. Of course we were not permitted to go into most areas, but the Johnson Space Center does have a huge part that is designated for tourists. It is a lot like a museum and we went through all of the exhibits.

We watched a film in the theatre all about the history of the different shuttles. We saw the first moon landing and I cried during in the whole thing. I wish I could have been there to actually witness it live from my living room, but the replay was great. At one point Ethan leaned over to me and said "Mom, this is sooooo cool!" That made the whole trip worth it right there. We saw President Kennedy's speech given at Rice University in Houston and it gave me chills. Do yourself a favor and read it when you get the chance (click here).

Then we took an hour long tram ride through the campus and we got to see the training facility. This is where astronauts actually train inside simulators. The facility was GIGANTIC!!

Picnicking on the grounds right outside the Space Center entrance.
Waiting for the film to start.
Maybe one day there will be a photo of Ethan on these walls!
















Lauren loved the tram!


The training facility. Look at the size of this thing!

This is the Astronaut Memorial Grove of Trees. In 1986, seven trees were planted here when the Challenger exploded. Even though I was a kid, I recall it vividly. It was an especially big deal in Houston because of NASA. In my school all of the students drew pictures about the Shuttle and the astronauts and the art work was displayed all over the walls of the school. It seemed that not a scrap of wall was naked. Pictures covered everything and stayed like that for weeks. I think it really hit close to home in the school because one of the members killed on the shuttle was a teacher involved in the Teacher in Space Program.

Every time an astronaut (even a former/retired one) passes away a new tree is planted in their memory. Sadly, seven more trees were planted in 2003 when the Columbia exploded. The tram stopped here at the grove and we had a long moment of silence. You could hear a pin drop and It was very intense.

This is the Saturn, this largest rocket ever built in the world. It is so big I could not fit it all in one frame! The engines alone (the cone shaped things that shoot fire and exhaust out of) were at least twenty feet in diameter alone!

I think I need to go watch "Apollo 13" again and have a good cry. It gets me every time!




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