Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to the 3 dads that I love!

How lucky are my kids to have Gavin for their dad!!

Candy poster to our 'big hunk' from his 'sixlets and Heath'

My sweet dad

And my father-in-law, Jack

I love you all very much!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Washington D.C.

Day 1

Here are some of the details of our latest trip to Washington DC. This time we took the whole family, except for Morgan and Griffin (they stayed home with grandma the first two days and then a young, energetic, up for the challenge, couple the rest of the time).

We left early Wednesday morning. Can you see the excitement in my kiddo's faces? Oh wait. . . that is pure misery in Hadley's face. As you can guess she is very upset that she had to sit by Ryan and be pestered for 4 hours. So upset that she felt it was impossible to even pull off a 'pretend-to-be-happy smile' for the camera.

Once again, Mia was so great on the flight--ate and slept through the whole thing. Which gave us all lots of time to play the in-flight trivia game. This was my first experience with being able to watch satellite tv while flying. The weather channel was great fun--I was able to learn all about a severe weather and tornado watch in Washington DC. We weren't able to land at either of the airports in DC and had to temporarily go to PA. for refueling and to wait for the storm to pass. We finally made it to DC about an hour later than planned.

When we got to the baggage claim area we were greeted by this friendly, smiling lady that had a private car waiting to take us to our hotel. The kids felt like celebrities!

We got to our hotel in time to go out for some dinner with the Ware's. The weather was crazy. It started raining so hard while we were walking around looking for somewhere to eat that we ended up running in to get some dinner at the first place we saw--Qdoba. Luckily it was pretty tasty and really affordable which left us with some extra change to spend on a $20 umbrella at Barnes and Nobles that we didn't need for the rest of the 'heat wave' trip experience.
Day 2

We stayed at the Marriott on Pennsylvania Ave. which was very central to everything. In fact it was only a few blocks from the White House so it is kind of embarrassing to admit that we didn't ever walk by the White House and only saw it on our ride back to the airport. We did a LOT of walking in some serious heat and humidity and the kids did GREAT--only a little complaining.

This day was crazy--we were busy every second of the day-- and hot (only we didn't realize that it would only continue to get hotter and hotter with each new day).

We started the day off with a tour of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. (Jack let me know that there are only two places where they make dollar bills--DC and Texas. He was full of fun trivia throughout the entire vacation. I was thinking that the public school system was better than we think until he told me had learned most of it from his Nickelodeon magazines.) We got to see literally millions of dollars being made. There were security cameras everywhere and I am thinking "Mad Money" might not be a documentary after all! We ended the tour in the gift shop and the kids were so excited to spend their real money on some fake money inside the gift shop. They bought big pennies, a bag of shredded dollars, bookmarks and key chains, etc. If you remember envying the kid in elementary school that had the pen full of shredded dollars, than this was the store for you!!

We spent most of the day at the National Mall. This picture is of Hadley, Jack and Ryan outside the Natural History Museum. We were able to see some dinosaurs, fossils, mammals, butterflies (oh wait, we didn't want to spend the $6/ticket to walk through the exhibit so we missed that part) and lots of beautiful jewels, including the 'Hope Diamond'.

Taking a break in one of the many exhibits

Then we went to the Air and Space Museum. I loved learning more about space travel. I am thinking it would be a good time to watch "Apollo 13" again. It was cool to see the early planes, too. I talked everyone in our group into seeing an Imax movie called "To Fly". It got great reviews on all the travel stuff I searched before we left. Unfortunately no one really liked it. My kids just wanted to see something, any show really, in 3-D ("To Fly" wasn't in 3-D).
We ended our National Mall touring with a trip up to the top of the Washington Monument. We were able to see all the beautiful sights of DC from up at the top. Hadley said it was her favorite part of the day even though, initially, she was very scared to ride the elevator up to the top of the monument (she seems to have a fear of elevators right now).
Here we are in front of the Lincoln Memorial with the Washington Monument behind us.

We went on a 'Monuments by Moonlight' tour at night and were able to see the Lincoln Memorial, World War ll Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, and Iwo Jima Memorial. I thought it was such a neat experience to see all the war memorials and learn more about each war. I was also so impressed with all the trivia Jack knew about the different wars and casualties. He would tell me things just moments before the tour guide would say it. Like, "Mom, did you know that more American soldiers died in the Civil War than any other war--600,000?" And literally 60 seconds later the tour guide told us that exact same fact. Pretty cool.
Ryan and Jack in front of the Lincoln Memorial

All of us inside the Lincoln Memorial
Day 3

We started the day with a tour of the Library of Congress. I've never really thought much about this library and/or it's purpose before this trip, but Jack kept saying he really wanted to see it. Wow! This library is amazing--beautiful architecture, paintings, statues, and Thomas Jefferson's personal library of books that he sold to the library. It reconfirmed to me the power of books and knowledge.
Inside the Library of Congress
We then walked across the street to take a tour of the Capitol with our friendly Jim Matheson intern, Stan, who was very energetic and full of trivial information. Unfortunately Congress was not in session since it was Friday. But still very neat to see the inside of the rotunda with all the beautiful artwork and history.
On our way to the Capitol tour

The kids are showing off the Utah statue of Brigham Young. (But they were most impressed by Hawaii's donation of King Kamehameha all covered in gold)

Standing out on the courtyard of the Capitol
Gavin and the boys spent the afternoon at the International Spy Museum while Hadley, Jill and I did some shopping at Filene's Basement.
Then it was out to dinner with Chad and Jill (the Ware family all ate inside together) at Harry's
Day 4

We started the day off a little late and skipped breakfast. We went to the Old Post Office for some lunch and a view from the tower. It was so HOT inside the post office and on the elevator ride up to the bell tower.

We had time after lunch for something quick before our tour started at the Holocaust Memorial Museum so we ran (okay, slowly walked in the heat) over to the Natural History Museum and watched a 3-D Imax movie, "Dinosaurs". The highlight of the day for my boys.

Then we spent a few hours in the Holocaust Memorial Museum. This was a very emotional and heavy thing for all of us. I don't think my kids really grasped what they were seeing and reading about, which is probably best. I thought it was a good thing for them to go to though. I was only 9 years old when I went to a concentration camp in Austria with my family. I still remember the camp and all the stories I learned from that visit even though I don't remember anything else from that trip. I feel like that experience gave me a greater understanding of the Holocaust and wanted my kids to have that knowledge and understanding, too. It is such a difficult and impossible thing to comprehend. One of the exhibits stated that the genocide first started with children with handicaps and mental retardation. The institutions and doctors were all for the euthanization of these children stating it would be painless, they did not have quality of life, and the funds would be better spent on education. And of course then there were pictures of the darling children moments before they were euthanized. It is so insane to think about all the corruption and horrific things that occurred at that time and how many people were willing to go along with it.
We ended the day with an Allstate dinner party on the roof of the hotel and then some swimming.
Day 5

We rented a van and drove around Gavin's old mission area. We got to see some of the homes he lived in and the areas where he spent most of his time teaching Vietnamese investigators. Unfortunately he wasn't able to find anyone since they all lived in apartments and have since moved (Gavin has only been home for 16 years!! Crazy!) We also went to the Washington D. C. Temple Visitor's Center and saw a nice photo tribute to Pres. Hinckley. The temple is so beautiful and the kid's loved seeing it from the interstate. Jack let us all know that when he gets married it will be in that temple. Poor Hadley spent most of the day throwing up but felt better by the evening.

We had the Allstate gala dinner that night in the hotel ballroom
Day 6
Mamma and Mia
Our last day in DC-- so much we still wanted to see but didn't have the time. We knew we really wanted to go to Arlington National Cemetery and decided to spend the morning there. We took the metro to the cemetery and then a tour shuttle bus around to the main sights at the cemetery--the tomb of the unknown soldier, JFK's grave with the eternal flame, Robert Kennedy's grave, Pres. Taft's grave, and the rows and rows of headstones. This was the hottest day (100 degrees with serious humidity) and we were literally dripping wet when this tour ended. Ryan started throwing up this morning, but was feeling better by the time we got to the cemetery.
All of us on the tourmobile
Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
We were also able to see some presidential candidates around town. Hillary was in town to announce the suspension of her campaign. I'm not sure why Barrack and McCain were there too.
We got back to SLC just in time to take Morgan to the ER that night and have her admitted for atypical pneumonia. She's home now and doing much better. Gavin got the stomach flu last night and Jack had it Tuesday night. That means Morgan, Griffin and I are the only ones left to have it. Let's just say I am very cautious with my eating.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Welcome to the jungle

Tomorrow will be the last day of school since we will be on an airplane on our way to D.C. on the actual last day. What happened to the good ole days of just going to school on your last day and saying good bye to your teacher? We spent all night shopping for thank you gifts, making homemade cards and hoping we didn't miss anyone: 4 teachers, 2 bus drivers, 5 teacher aides, and 1 speech therapist. That should do it! Now bring on summer and all the chaos of having all 6 children together!

Family Fun

We spent most of Saturday afternoon at Camp Kostopulos for a Family Day event. It was a warm, beautiful and sunny day! We all had a GREAT time! Most of the activities were geared towards older kids, but everyone had a good time up in the beautiful mountains and hiking around the camp. I came home with a sore back from carrying Mia in the backpack the whole day, Gavin came home with a nice sunburned face and the kids came home with their faces painted wanting to know if they could keep it on for church the next day.
All the kids went horseback riding (except Griffin who was too young)

Hadley is practicing her pageant wave for 'Rodeo Queen'

Jack is very allergic to horses and was loaded up on antihistamines for his leisure ride

And here's Ryan enjoying his ride

Morgan wasn't too sure about getting on the horse. They had her go on the tallest one and they swung her up on him. She wouldn't look up at all for the entire ride. But when it was over and time to get off, she looked at Gavin with a big smile and said, "woo, that was fun!!"

Here she is after the ride hanging out with Ryan-- still smiling with the afterthoughts of the adventures of riding a horse.

Jack completed the ropes course which was 25-50 feet above ground. There is no way I could have done that with my fear of heights. Way to go Jack!

Ryan is getting his harness on to do the rock wall

Hadley and Ryan waiting for their turn to climb the rock wall

Ryan on the wall

Hadley on the wall--she got all the way to the top!!

Griffin-- cheering on his brothers and sisters

We ended the days activities with some food and face painting. All the kids choose to have their faces painted like their favorite animals. Hadley's is a dog.

Ryan is a gorilla (monkey)

And Jack's (of course!) is a frog!

And the good character award goes to . . .

Hadley and Jack for demonstrating great attitudes!

Hadley was very excited about finally receiving this award (since she got it the last month possible) and being able to hang her school picture up in the hall of her elementary school. Although she had no idea what a 'great attitude' meant!

We had no idea that Jack had also earned this award until we showed up to the assembly and saw him on the stage. Which should be no surprise since Jack NEVER empties his backpack or tells us anything about school. We're not even sure he has been in school this past year. He never had any homework, brought home any spelling lists, tests, or any completed work. He claims it is in a big book that he will be bringing home at the end of the year (too little too late if he needed our help in any of the subjects) . He is very independent and has done all of his projects on his own without any parental help or influence (completely different than my schooling experience!). It's nice to have him be so responsible but sometimes it would be nice to be let in on some of the this award so his picture could have been up on the wall all month, too! :)

Of course we can't forget about Ryan!! He was the first in the family to earn this award back in December for 'being helpful in the classroom'. Way to go Ryan!