Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Year of the Rabbit

Last Saturday we went to the USU Chinese New Year celebration. For some reason Caleb has been obsessed with the Chinese culture lately so I thought it would be a fun cultural experience. We have a couple in our neighborhood that imigrated from China and they have a girl Caleb's age. They have hosted a chess club and helped some of the children learn chess. They invited us to the celebration where they were performing.

Caleb was very paitent in learning to use chop sticks.

Andy even gave chop sticks a try and then decided to go with his fingers.

Cara loved the pot stickers.

It was excited when Caleb's name was drawn for the raffle. He had to play a game of musical chairs with 8 other adults (all Chinese) and one other child. He won the game! It was fun for him.

Caleb even wants to learn to speak Chinese. He is going through a phase that he is very interested in languages. Last week his library books were "The first 1000 words in Italian" and "Speaking Japanese". I told him that I would look for a language learning program that he could work on this summer. I said "why don't you learn Spanish. It would be a little easier." He doesn't care. He is dead set on learning Chinese. I may still talk him into Spanish, but for now we will take his obsession with China one day at a time.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Over a year ago we started planning the cruise we went on with some of our friends this month. We have never cruised before and it is something that we have really wanted to do. It was awesome! We went on Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas out of Miami. The ship itself was amazing! It holds over 4000 passengers and is really a destination its self. The ship was larger than life. Josh just kept saying, "we are on a ship!!" It was like a dream. We spent our first and last day at sea and had plenty to do on board.

Cruising was unlike any tropical vacation we have ever taken before with all of the reasons to dress up. Josh and I loved the dining, especially the dinners which we had with our group each night. The food was out of this world! (Notice the beautiful desserts.) I don't think we ever got a full group picture, but these are the couples from our ward.

We also loved the shows. They were a little to "artsy" for some of the members of the group, but because we love theater and can look past men in tights we loved it! My favorites were the Ice Show, the Vegas type modern dance show, and the broadway type show. Our ship had 18 million dollars in upgrades the week before we came on board and had teamed up with Dream Works to provide a wider variety of experiences. The kid pool upgrades were amazing. We didn't really spend any time in the pools, but we hit the hot tub almost every night. One of my favorite moments on board was laying out on the helicopter pad one night watching the stars.

I couldn't wait to give the FlowRider a try! Josh and I were both quite good at the boogie boarding. I did try the stand up surfing too, but I need more time to practice it.

Josh and I really enjoy being busy with activities so we tried everything. Josh was a comocozi ice skater on the ships ice rink. I was grateful that he only hurt himself and not other people.

The rock climbing wall was a little more nerve wracking than I thought it would be, but we both made it to the top. Unfortunatly when I got up there I forgot to check out the view.

Our first port was Belize. Our excursion was a favorite! We went through a zipline course that was out of this world. The cables were over 100 feet long and about 70 feet about the rainforest canopy. We loved it! (Unfortunatly noone dared to take a real camera off the ship into Belize and the water cameras worked terribly, but it was really unbelievable. I real camera would not have been able to capture the beauty anyway.

Then we went tubing down a river that ran though a cave. On the hike to the river for tubing some members of our group had a little snack of turmites. I didn't taste them, but I guess they tasted like minty sprouts. The river was a little low so it was slow but the cave was very cool. We took our time and enjoyed jumping off rocks and the beautiful blue water. The temperture was about 75 degrees and very humid so it felt great! The water cameras were terrible, but it was AMAZING!

We got headed back to the ship a little late. We were all worried about catching the last of the tender's back to the ship. With no speed limit our native guides weren't too worried. As we left one member of the group said, "this is when you really hope that nothing goes wrong." We were all quietly resting on the bus/van when we heard a pop and banging. We blew a tire. We were already late to catch the tender. Apparently in Belize they wear tires until they pop. They don't "prevent" problems by changing out their tires. It was crazy getting the tire changed. They had two jack and neither of them worked. The guys all lifted the half bus to get the spare tire on. They called ahead to the ship and the tender waited for us, but it was good enough to get our hearts racing.

Our second port was Costa Maya which is a city essential owned by the cruise line. There weren't a lot of excursion options, but we enjoyed taking a catamaran ride out to a coral reef for snorkeling. I loved riding in the front of the catamaran and bouncing with the waves and being splashed by the sea water. I always enjoy a good snorkeling trip. Unfortunately the water cameras didn't capture any good pictures.

Our third port was Cozumel. We caught the first water taxi to Playa Del Carmen where we were supposed to meet a guide to take us on a tour of Tulum and help us understand Mayan History as it relates to the Book of Mormon. Somehow we miscommunicated with the guide and he didn't show up until the next water taxi which was two hours later so after waiting for 1.5 hours we got our own van and headed to Tulum. Luckily when we got there we found a Mormon guide who provided a wonderful experience for us. It was fascinating to better understand Mayan history and the verses the read to us from the Book of Mormon are so much clearer now. I was captivated by the ruins and the history.

Tulum is right on the ocean.

The temple of Tulum was built after Book of Mormon times when the truth was not among the Lamanites and the practices were evil, but many of the traditions and the ways of building were similar to Book of Mormon times.

You can see how vegetation could ruin the walls of the city over time, but some of these walls still stand. I really liked the walls, even though they weren't beautiful like some of the buildings, because they reminded me of the Book of Mormon.

After returning to port in Miami we had some time before our flight so we went on an Air Boat Gator Tour in the Everglades.

The ride was fun, and we saw lots of Alligators. We even held one.

And Josh waded in the Everglades. (Bucket list number #764.)

It was a wonderful trip! Thank you to my sister Christie and my mom and Connie for taking the girls and to Erica for taking my boys. They had a great time. It was a nice vacation for them from the routine of our lives too.

Now all I can think about is - what's next. It's time to plan another trip. I think I have a serious case of the travel bug! Spring brake . . . Disney Land . . . Park City . . . I think it will be a while before we go on another vacation without the kids, but it was sure great!

Something worth celebrating

This week we received Caleb's report card from school and it was AWESOME! His proficiency grade for ever academic skill was a 4 which means he is scoring in the 90-100th percentile (basically straight A's). The best part for me was his work and social skill grades which were all excellent. This is a big contrast to the many NI (needs improvement) marks he got last year and the satisfactory reports we got last term. A perfect report card wouldn't be a big deal for most parents, but I have worked so hard with Caleb that I wanted to celebrate by sharing. Caleb is going to be an exceptional adult although getting him there may take every skill I have.

Caleb is making great progress on the piano and just finished his second set of books. His reading is coming right along. Math concepts are really hard for him, but with persistence he eventually gets it. He would really like to start karate lessons this year. I am not sure how I feel about that. Is it worth the time and money? He can't wait to start tackle football in the fall. He never talks about it without putting the word "tackle" on. He wants to make sure that he is getting the real deal. I'm not really sure how I feel about that either, but we have to to focus his energy somewhere. Of course his favorite day at school is Wednesday because it is PE. He rarely talks to me about what is happening at school. The most I can get him to tell me is what they had for lunch except on Wednesday's when he tells me all about PE.