Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shake it Up

I think seminary starts to get a little difficult this time of year.  It is still dark in the mornings and I think it is easy to fall into a bit of a teaching rut.  We are going through the New Testament this year and I have been trying to shake it up a little bit. The church has produced this great app called 'Bible Videos' that has a bunch of short films portraying the life of Christ.

I wanted to show these videos to supplement the reading we are doing, so I went to Amazon.com and searched 'iphone projectors'.  I figured I could download them onto my phone, and then project them for the class.  Several options came up on the search and they were pretty pricey.  But I was drawn to this one  in particular, purely because it was (by far) the least expensive.  I hoped that I would discover that it was a good value and would meet my needs even if it was considerably more affordable than a few other models.

I placed my order and was pleased that I was able to track it as Fed Ex brought it from China.  When it arrived, I eagerly opened the package to assess my $100 purchase.

Well. It wasn't what I had pictured, although I had certainly looked at the picture.  It was...smaller...than I had imagined.  Much smaller.

It was just 2"X2" and was extremely light weight.  It reminded me of a Happy Meal toy, only not as well made.  There couldn't have been more than $0.37 worth of plastic and electronics.  It felt cheap. Super cheap.

I recognized that I was prejudging it and decided to test it out before I wrote off that Benjamin I had spent on it.  I took it into my bathroom (no windows) to put it to the test.

Well, it worked.  Not great, but it did shine a square of light on the wall and I was determined to give it a try in seminary.  I downloaded a Mormon Message and was excited to show it to the class.  I set it on it's little stand and shined it on the wall.  The class was appropriately impressed as it started to play.

But then it all ended.

The little stand it was on gave way and the phone/projector combo tumbled to the floor.

I rescued it, stood it back up, but was unable to get it to play again.  The kids all moaned a little because I think they enjoy watching movies as much as I do.  I put it away for another day.

Over the weeks, I took the little projector home and got it to work.  Mostly.  There were times when it just didn't seem to want to work and I am still unsure why that is.  I did learn that it won't work off of certain apps, but it seems to work well when I am streaming something from the internet.

I decided to give it another try.  One of my students volunteered to help.  Long story short, it worked all right, but when the student went to turn it off, it changed over to my music and blared out some country song until it was properly shut down.

I was encouraged and several days later, planned a special video about Jesus.  I cued it up, put it on the stand, and we watched the brief clip from the life of Christ.  The auxillary speaker I attached even worked well, giving us great sound with the movie.  I was elated and at the end of it, I stood up and asked a student to flip on the light while I switched off the mini projector.

I am so glad that worked! I thought to myself.  I pushed the off switch and opened my mouth to speak. Suddenly, from the speaker I had plugged in came the opening line from Sir Mix Alot's 'Baby Got Back'!!!!!  It starts with a weird girls voice saying 'Oh my Gosh (except not 'gosh'), look at her butt!'  It then goes into the familiar strain of 'I like big b*utts and I cannot lie'  It is a song made famous at the end of the Shrek movie, although I remember it from my college days.

Now, I didn't even know that I had the pleasure of having this particular song on my phone (?!!?).  So the shock at having that little projector playing it at the end of a Jesus video was almost too much to process.  Luckily I snapped out of my absolutely shocked horror and unplugged everything I could touch.  It was enough to stop the song from playing through that loud speaker.

I think the class was just as shocked as I was.  A few kids laughed, but most of them just stared at me wide eyed.  I said, "OK, that will end our class today, as I now have no idea what to say."

Seth excitedly said, "Really?!!" as he slapped closed his Bible.

"No.  Not really, but let's all just take a moment to try to forget about that 80s song that is not at all appropriate for Seminary.  OK.  Moving on."

I could feel my face getting hot and my hands were a little shaky, but I tried to just roll with it and asked a student some question from the manual.

Awkward.

Super, super awkward.

Although I appreciate a good deal, I learned once again that sometimes you get what you pay for.

I also learned that sometimes when you try to shake it up, that's exactly what you manage to do.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Permitted



Seth is official! He got his permit today at lunch and loved driving himself back to school.  He took a looong driver's education class over Christmas Break which enabled him to walk right in, fill out some papers, and obtain his driving permit. Way to go Seth!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seth is 15



Today is Seth's 15th Birthday!  I cannot believe that this kid is getting so old!  It is Sunday and the day is packed full of stuff (i.e. meetings).   We had the pleasure of Seth speaking to us in Sac Mtg about preparing for a mission.  He did a fine job and even managed to plug Seminary. ;)

After church, we had a few of his friends over for Steak and Cake.  

Disney Princess Cake haha


Here are a few pictures from dinner:






Opening a few presents (Yes, I did buy him curl taming cream and insisted we try it-he was a good sport):





We played a game called "My favorite thing about Seth."  It was nice to hear his friends see many of the same things I do in him.  Seth is a giver.  He will share with anyone.  He has a real heart of gold and I don't think he is knowingly unkind to anyone. Seth is a funny guy and although I do not always appreciate his teen humor, I am glad he is always finding the lighter side of things.  He is also a really great Grandson.  While it isn't always easy taking care of Grandma, Seth is patient and so respectful to her.  I love that!

Then it was time for everyone to head off to the fireside.  Don't they look classy?!


It was a nice day and I am glad we all got a chance to celebrate Seth in our lives!  Tomorrow the real excitement comes as we are planning to take him to get his driving permit! Look out! :)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Spoiled

John has been traveling quite a bit lately.  He is usually gone to Texas or Utah on 3-5 day stints.  Through this experience I have realized that I do not like being a single parent, mostly because I am just not very good at it.  I forget appointments.  I have a shorter fuse.  I have to do all the hard stuff myself. I am always in the car.  I can't pass the buck on engaged parenting.

The cruise we took was actually because we expect this trend to continue. In fact, John returned home from a trip on the day we left and flew to Texas the day after we returned.  And this last Texas trip was a long one that took in the weekend as well.  By Tuesday when he came home, I felt tired and frazzled.

Of course I have taken to telling anyone that asks just how hard my life is. I proclaim that I have decided that should John die, I might bury him before remarrying-if I could stand being single that long.  I was telling a friend of mine that exact thing on the phone, saying that I am just not good on my own.  She knowingly got right to the heart of the matter when she said, "That's just because you are spoiled!"

Of course the instant the words were spoken, they zinged right to my heart as truth always does.

She was right! I couldn't disagree and laughingly told her that she had hit the nail on the head.  I am a spoiled wife! :)

I have thought about that a lot these last few days, and it has made me feel an increased measure of gratitude for my husband.  Too often I do not appreciate all he does to make my life better and instead focus on the things I wish he would do.  How unfortunate for me!  Because he quietly goes about serving me and my whole family, so much so, that it leaves a large and noticeable void when he is gone.

This is a picture I took last month.  He had to go to church early and knew I would have to drive the jeep to church in my dress (which is harder than it seems since he lifted that sucker).  When I went out to hop in the car, I found this little stool.  He had called Seth and had him go find a stool so that Elise and I could get in with our dresses.  This picture, for me, shows perfectly just how spoiled I am.  And truth be told, if John did die, any man would be a fool to marry me, because I know what it is like to be spoiled rotten!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Mopping

Mopping is more fun when you all do it together.  I gave everyone a few rags and we walked around the floor.  I am not sure if they liked it, but the floor and I thought it was swell.


Monday, January 14, 2013

DC2013-The End



All good things must come to an end.  And our magical Disney Cruise came to an end when the kicked us off the boat Monday morning at the Port of Miami.  We sat on our luggage and waited for our shuttle back to the airport.  My kids murmured somewhat about the wait, but I am just going to brag a little at the amount of travel we were able to log over what was essentially a long weekend.

We flew back to Denver and arrived around dinner time. It was sad to have to go to Wendy's instead of Pinocchio's Pizza. And paying for soda is so overrated.  Yes, we were definately back in the real world.

Colorado is having a major cold snap, and as we drove westward over the mountains, we noticed the outside temperature just kept dropping.  It got as low as -24 degrees!  That is just crazy cold.  I shed a little tear as I realized that just this morning in Miami we had been over 100 degrees warmer (it was +80 there) than the current outside temperature! 100 degrees!

The kids were working on homework as we drove (they all have school Tues. morning) and we all had time to reflect on our trip and talk about some of the highlights.  Gabe, rather offhandedly, said, "That was a really good trip.  Our family really needed that time together."  After Gabe had gone to sleep, John quietly asked me if I just about died when he said that.   I smiled and said that of course he knows I was savoring every syllable with fits of joy and delight.  And yes, I did keep replaying it over in my grinning head as we drove home.

But really, Gabe was right.  It was such a perfect little get away for our family.  Just us. Out of cell coverage.  Trapped together on a boat which is aptly named the 'Disney Wonder' because as cheesy as this sounds, our long weekend was Wonder-full! We loved it!

On a little tangent, I have had a few people ask me what I thought of the Disney Cruise as compared to other lines.  I have to first say that we are not big Disney people.  We own all of the movies on DVD, but I don't have a Mickey Mouse watch or anything like that-so take that for what you will.  The Disney part of it, while definitely omnipresent, was in no way smothering.  We chose Disney because they were running a really, really good sale which made it even cheaper than some other lines and I am all about value.  I don't know think I would have felt justified in paying full price.  I don't know that it was THAT much better than, say, Royal Carribean (which honestly is all I have to compare it to personally ;)). My kids only attended 2 hours of the kid club stuff, so I don't know if it was amazing and worth the extra cost-they seemed to like it all right.  I imagine if your kids spent a lot of time there that it would matter more, but that is not our style.  The kids pool (shaped like Mickey's head with a waterslide) was literally NEVER open on the boat because they closed it for 4 hours each time there was an accident.  And Gabe and Seth will tell you that this is NOT the cruise for teens.  There were almost none. Like, not any.  Maybe it is not as pronounced in the summer months?  But the stewards, staff, servers, etc. were all great.  The food was good.  The entertainment enjoyable.  Private island was lovely. And all of my kids said that they loved it. That being said, my husband and I agree that next time we will do a Royal Carribean cruise with a flo-rider on the ship. ;)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

DC2013-Disney's Private Island

Sunday was the day we went to Castaway Cay-Disney's Private Island.  Jebb asked me if we would be going to church and when I told him we wouldn't, he got very quiet and after a pause responded softly, "That is really just too bad."   I agreed with a somber face, paused for what I felt was a respectful few seconds, then asked if I could put sunscreen on his face.

They say that Disney is the Magic Kingdom and I now know that the magic extends to both their cruise line and to their private island.  We got off the boat and hopped the shuttle bus over to the beach.  The very first thing we came to? WATER BIKES!  Jackson was SOOOO happy!  We swiped our magic Disney card (billed directly to our Credit Card) and he was off pedaling around in the ocean.


John and Jackson















I am not sure it was all Jackson had hoped it would be, but he had a big smile on his face when he returned to tell me that his legs were tired.

Everyone found lots of fun stuff to do. There was a big water slide place.  There was snorkeling (Gabe saw and grabbed a stingray).  There was beach volleyball and tetherball.  And of course, all the ice cream, soda, fruit and food you could eat.   As I laid in the shade reading a book, kids occasionally checking in or reapplying sunscreen, I thought I felt the Magic once again.





















 We relaxed, hung out, soaked up the sun, and were just together. Perfect.  Even a little bit Magical. ;) Heading back to the boat we stopped to take a few pictures and the kids talked us into getting a few souvenirs.  The only sadness I felt was a slight twinge realizing this was our last day of the cruise.  I think it took me 3 whole days to just unwind from the stress of getting us here.























That evening on the boat, J&J wanted to try out the kid camp and Gabe and Seth wanted to do...whatever it is they did on the boat during the shows.  So Elise and I convinced John to go to the evening musical show starring Peter Pan.  Lots of faith, trust, and pixie dust references, but I liked it.  Our seats were so good that Peter Pan seemed less like a boy who refused to grow up, and more like a thirty-something-grown-strangely thin-gay-man in green tights keeping a tween-pajama clad-wearing a bad wig-girl, up all night visiting various Disney heroes.  There was some flying on wires, real snow that fell, and some good musical numbers. Very enjoyable.







At dinner the family was reunited and I was glad to see we weren't all completely fried, but just a little sun-kissed.  On the menu was Escargot as one of the appetizers.  It was fun to see the kids give it a try.




















But of course the best part was just being together.  It took us a few days to hit our stride and be JUST our family.  We talked about how fun it would be to have had some other families to hang out with on the cruise, but I secretly didn't mind a single bit that we all had to just be together.  It was a great way to end a great long weekend-snails and all.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

DC2013-Nassau, Bahamas

Today the boat stopped in Nassau and it was easy to decide what we wanted to do.  We signed up to go to the Atlantis Resort there.  It was just as cool as it looks on the TV commercials.  We met a family on the way there from New York there that had 5 kids just like us, and they even had a few teenagers (which was rare on our boat).  Yes, they were Mormons.




We found a spot near the kid waterslides, but we didn't stay there long.  There is a lot to see.   At the Lagoon they had these water bikes.

The Lagoon with the bikes

These bikes....
Apparently, they are featured on Disney Cruise commercials and J&J had been on the lookout for them since we boarded the boat.  Sadly, they were not included in the price of our Atlantis admission, so we tried to find other cool things to see.
The Lagoon-wide view
But Jackson still really wanted to ride those bikes.  He couldn't think of anything else when I asked the kids to pose for a picture before we left the lagoon.
Leaving the Lagoon
An up-close of Jackson...not happy
We walked back over a bridge where Jackson made us all stop and look back at the bikes.  Man.  I was feeling pretty mean not letting him ride them, but by now I couldn't just because he was throwing such a fit.  We had to find something he would enjoy fast...
Atlantis did not disappoint.  We went over to the big slides and the lazy river (although it was not lazy, but full of rapids).  It was SO much fun.  They even has escalators so you could stay in your tube and go back to the top of the slide.  He finally cheered up when I let him take me on a few of the scary slides in a double tube.  John said he could hear me screaming all the way down!  We rode the river around for a long time and it was such a blast for everyone. That is definitely somewhere we could spend several days and not get bored of it.




 After lunch and more tubing, the day was almost gone.  We worked our way back to our pickup spot, and wove our way through the underwater aquariums there.  I was impressed and amazed!  You could see 10 foot stingrays, sharks, and colorful fish. 





 Overall, I thought Atlantis was super cool and I wish we could have had more time there.  1 day was not enough to see everything.

Back on the ship, it was Pirate night for dinner.  J&J and Elise all packed stuff to wear.  The big boys were at least gracious enough to wear the bandanas provided in our rooms.  I thought we were a pretty good looking gang of pirates.


I even got everyone to give me an 'Aarggghhh'

Party up on deck complete with fireworks
and a ziplining Mickey Mouse

Aargggghhhh! Jebb is wearing 2 eye patches-ha!
The deck party was fun after dinner with pirates taking over, Captain Hook showing up, and Mickey Mouse saving the day.  Ya, it's a Disney Cruise so of course there were some lovely fireworks as well (although I think they weren't as good as the New Years ones we had 2 weeks ago).
Food Art
  As if dinner, snacks, and soda aren't enough, tonight was also the midnight buffet with all of the fancy food art. Of course Elise and I had to eat a crepe just so we could say we were there. ;)  Jackson and Jebb were pretty darn tired by this time so we went to bed in anticipation of Disney's Private Island in the morning.