Friday, December 31, 2010

Rachel's a "Big Girl"

Hooray for Rachel!  She is potty trained - officially a "Big Girl!"  Since we had 3 days off with nowhere to go (no music or dance classes because of the holidays), I decided it would be a good time to potty train her.  So, we broke out the underwear - 8 pairs of Tinkerbell and 8 pairs of Elmo - enough to make it through 3 days of possible accidents!  I turned up the heat in the house, and had Rachel wear just a shirt and her underwear, so she wouldn't have to deal with getting pants up and down, and set out the training potty.  I gave her lots to drink, and set a timer to go off every 20 minutes, and she'd sit on the potty for 1 minute and "try."  The first half of the day, she didn't ever go on the potty, but had 5 accidents in her underwear... and then on the 6th time, she made it to the potty, and after that, she didn't have a problem!  So, the next 2 days of potty training were easy, because she just caught right on, and didn't need any help.  I still kept her in underwear only the 2nd day, and made her stay in whatever room I was in all day, so we could get her to the potty fast, but the 3rd day, I got brave and let her wear stretch pants and play in her playroom without me.  She's done really great!  One of her favorite things about potty training (and Lizzy loved this too) is I enlisted the help of my mom, Jason, and my sister, Michelle, to play characters (Tinkerbell, Diego, and Dora) that Rachel could call after going on the potty successfully to let them know what she'd done! After the 3rd day, we went to Wal-Mart and got her "Potty Training Present" - an Ariel doll, just like the one Lizzy picked when she was potty trained.  We're so proud of Rachel!  Such a "Big Girl!"

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010!

We had a really fun Christmas!  It started out on Christmas Eve, when we went over to Jason's brother's house for the Gale Family annual Christmas Eve dinner.  There was lots of good food, and fun presents from Grandma and Grandpa Gale!  Lizzy and Rachel got a big box of Princess dress up clothes, which they promptly dressed up in!  Naturally, we did not bring our camera anywhere we went, so I am lacking in the photos!  After the party, we drove around the neighborhoods looking at Christmas lights, and then took the kids home and got them into bed.  In the morning, Jason got a picture of the 2.5 girls waiting to go see if Santa had come!

He did come, and in fact, he installed a new kitchen sink faucet for me!  Here is the before:

And the after:

Our old faucet was leaky and had parts falling off of it.  It was really a cheap, bad faucet.  The new one is SO nice, with a pull down sprayer, just like in a professional kitchen!

I also got a carving knife - good for cutting up roasts, turkeys, and your enemies:

The kids were really thrilled to come out and see that Santa had indeed come, and he had eaten the slice of pumpkin cheesecake we'd left out for him, leftover from the Gale family Christmas Eve dinner that we had at Jason's brothers house!  The kids started off on their presents right away, and they were so excited!

After opening presents, we had our Christmas breakfast, which was a giant puff pancake!  It was quite large and impressive looking - it's hard to tell from the picture!  But, it was really delicious, and everyone enjoyed it.

After sitting around and relaxing for a while while the kids played with their new toys, we headed out to my mom's house for Christmas dinner!  (We forgot our camera, of course!)  We opened more presents with them, and I was so excited to receive a 4 slice toaster, so I can make toast for the whole family all at once, instead of in batches as I have to do just about every morning!  (We love toast!)  Jason had a lot of fun with his new laser sighted Nerf dart gun that my sisters got for him, and they had also gotten some for themselves, so they had a fun Nerf gun war!  The kids got a gigantic Zhu Zhu pet maze for their Zhu Zhu pets to run through, and that was so fun for them!  We had a delicious dinner of prime rib, and then headed out to my dad's house.  After opening even MORE presents with them, we sat around and chatted for a while, and then it was time to head home and put the kids in bed.  They were really tired out, and in fact slept in this morning until about 10:00 am!  A new record!

I hope everyone had as fun a Christmas as we did!  Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No More Binky!!

Rachel has given up her binky!  It has been a pain dealing with binkies with Rachel - Lizzy never liked them, but Rachel sure did!  However, it has turned into a horrible middle-of-the-night search for binkies, and we were fed up!  So, I made a chart for Rachel with daytime and nighttime for a week, and got some star stickers to put on it.  I told Rachel we were going to be all done with binkies, and every day and night that she went without her binky, she would get a star on her chart, and when it was all full, she could get a little toy from the store.  Rachel was very excited about this plan, and gathered up all her binkies and threw them in the trash!  Over the next week, she did really well, and although she was sometimes a bit fussy, especially in the car, where she really liked having a binky, I would remind her that if she could be happy and not fuss without her binky, I'd give her an extra star sticker on her hand when we got home.  So now, she is all finished with her binky, and she chose a Zhu Zhu Pet for her no-more-binky prize!  She is thrilled!

(She got a hold of one of the sheets of star stickers and stuck some on the bottom of her chart before I caught her!)

Lizzy's Nutcracker

Lizzy's Ballet school put on a little Nutcracker performance for Christmas, and it was so cute! 

They all put on mouse ears and ran around being the bad mice!

Then, they changed into soldiers, and got swords to fight the mice away!

Next, they had scarves to dance to the different candy dances.

Then, they all got to be Sugar Plum Fairies!

It was a super cute and fun performance!  It was about 20 minutes total of dancing, with excerpts from the Nutcracker Suite and a narration telling the story while the girls danced and did their costume changes!  Lizzy had a really fun time!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brocklee Gale

Well, we're having another girl!  Here are the latest pictures of our cute little Brocklee:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Checkups and Haircuts

Lizzy had her 4 year old check up, and she is very healthy, as always!  She continues to be between 75 and 90th percentile on height and between 25th and 50th on weight, so tall and skinny, just like dad!  She is 42 inches tall (3 feet 6 inches) and weighs 35 pounds.  Because of her November birthday, she misses the school cut-off for next year, and won't start kindergarten for another year after that... which is too bad because all of her friends from church are going next year, and she's as tall or taller than all of them!  She is going to be the oldest, tallest girl in her class - by a lot!  I have heard (but obviously never experienced) that tall girls get teased and hate being the tallest... any tall friends reading this who can advise me about that??  Anyway, she's growing up so healthy and strong!

Meanwhile, Rachel loves to help around the house:

Here she is on laundry day folding the kitchen towels and bibs - that pile to the left of her, she did that all by herself!  Also in the picture, you can see how long her hair has gotten.  Unfortunately, it has grown in as a mullet, and looks rather scraggly all the time, so we decided to take her for her first haircut:

She has natural curl in her hair - not enough to look really curly, just enough to look messy all the time, but this new haircut looks a lot neater and cleaner than her mullet did!  She did a good job at the salon too, and didn't cry!  She's seen Lizzy get her hair cut many times, so she wasn't afraid.  It was all even and straight when wet and cut, but then the natural curl came in to play, so it still looks messier than I'd hoped.  Oh well!  When she gets older, she'll have a never ending battle with hair products and the straightening iron... just like the rest of us!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lizzy's Birthday

On Sunday night, we had Lizzy's family birthday party, with her grandparents.  She had lots of fun getting presents!  She got a Zhu zhu pet, a bulls-eye horse to go with her Jessie doll, the new Tinkerbell movie, a Dora and Boots playset, and a jar of jellybeans!  She got the jellybeans because, when we called her Grandma Gale to invite them to come, she was asked what she wanted for her birthday, and she told Grandma, "I want jellybeans!  In a little jar, and you have to wrap it!"  She was thrilled to get them, too!  I made her a chocolate cake at her request, and put Jessie riding Bulls-eye on top, which I made out of chocolate. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lizzy's 4th Birthday Party!

For Lizzy's 4th birthday, I threw her a party for her and her friends!  It was my first time ever throwing a kid birthday party, and so I was a little nervous about how to do it, but it turned out really great!  I made red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and at Lizzy's request I decorated them with cowgirl hats I made out of chocolate:

To start, I gave out little goodie bags and party blowers to each kid, and then the first game was "Pin the Tail on Bulls-Eye."  Each kid got a turn to play, and received a treat for their goodie bag.  After that, we did "Drop the Clothespin in the Boot."  I set up a chair in front of one of Lizzy's cowgirl boots, and gave each kid a clothespin.  They had 3 tries to stand on the chair and drop their clothespin into the boot.  They all got a prize for their bag for that game too.  For the next activity,  I gave out big pieces of paper from an easel paper roll, and the kids laid on them and traced each others' bodies.  Then, the pizza was ready, so we all had pizza and punch.  The bigger kids sat at the table, and the little kids sat on the floor!

When everyone was done with their pizza, it was time for cupcakes!  Everyone sang happy birthday and Lizzy blew out her candles!

For the last activity, I spread blankets on the floor and put on Toy Story 3, which I gave Lizzy for her present.  The kids LOVED that movie, and I was able to get the kitchen all cleaned up while they watched.  

It was a really fun party, and everyone had a great time!  I can't believe my little baby Lizzy is 4 years old!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Michelle's Pictures

Here are the pictures that Michelle took, to fill in the gaps for my lack of photography!  Thanks Michelle!

Here's Lizzy, Michelle, and Jason just after the big splash-down on "Journey to Atlantis"

Lizzy holding the baby crocodile at Gatorama!

Lizzy got a butterfly painted on her cheek at the Lake Placid Halloween Festival!

Rachel is ready to go to Sea World in her fairy wings and skirt!

Feeding the gators some bread through the holes in the fencing.

Jason and Rachel sacked out on the bed!

Cute girls in pigtails!

Kicking our feet up at the pool!

Florida, days 7 and 8

On Wednesday, our final day in Florida, it was sunny again, and so we had a pool day.  We swam after breakfast, and then again after lunch, until the kids were sick of it!  They had a lot of fun, jumping in off the edge into our arms, and playing in the fountains!  After dinner, we went to the resort's ice cream shop and got some ice cream, and then went over to their game room and played ping pong and foosball.  The kids were too little to really play the games, though, so they got frustrated fast, and we had to go back to the hotel.  We got them into bed as early as we could, since we had to be up at 4:30 am to catch our 7:00 am flight, but Jason and I were kept awake, as always until 11:30 when all the pool music and yelling teenagers finally quit. 

We woke up early Thursday morning and loaded all our stuff and sleeping kids into the car.  We returned our rental car, got our plane tickets and went up to the gate.  We said goodbye to Michelle, and Lizzy was very sad to leave her!  We boarded our plane, and started down the runway, and then stopped!  The pilot came on and said that one of the engines had a problem and wouldn't pressurize, so we were going to have to go back to the gate.  We sat at the gate for a little while, and then they told us to all get off, and they'd see how long it would take, but we probably wouldn't be going until at least 10:00 am!!  So, we sat around in the airport for 3 hours, until they finally found us a new plane!  The positive things were, the plane was now very empty, so just about everyone had a whole row all to themselves - Rachel and I sat in our own row, and Jason and Lizzy in their own row.  They also gave us all free meal vouchers, so our lunch was free, and gave everyone the headphones for the movie for free.  We were all exhausted from waking up so early, and Rachel napped across two seats (thank goodness for the empty flight!) for about the first half of the flight.  Then, she was happy and cheerful for the rest of it.  Lizzy did well, too, just watching movies on her portable player.  Lizzy fell asleep in the car on the way home from the airport, and continued her nap in her bed for the next couple of hours.  We all had a really fun vacation, but it's always nice to be home too! 

Florida, days 5 and 6

Monday in Florida, we spent the day at the resort.  We had breakfast, and then went grocery shopping to load up on food to eat at the condo.  Then we grabbed some lunch, and headed back to the hotel.  We swam in the pool - our first daytime swimming - and also let the kids dig in the sand at their fake sand beach.  It was very hot!  The pool water was just the right temperature, so the kids didn't get too cold, and they were both brave and dunked their heads underwater, but they didn't want to do it more than once!  Mostly, they just wanted to kick around the pool in their "floaties."  Sadly, every time we went down to the pool I forgot our camera, but I think my sister, Michelle, may have taken some pictures, so I'll have to see what she's got and post it later.  We went over to the grills they have at the resort and grilled up some bratwursts with peppers and onions for dinner, and enjoyed it out on the screened in patio overlooking the pool.  Now, the problem with having a hotel room over looking the pool is the NOISE.  They had a speaker right underneath our window blasting pool music into the pool area during all open hours - 9 am to 11 pm.  The problem was, their timer was screwed up, so the music actually played from 9:33 am to 11:33 pm!!  Also, because the music was on, people would be down at the pool yelling and being loud, until the music went off.  We called and complained a couple of times, but it never did get fixed.  So, if you ever go to a resort and they try to give you a room overlooking the pool, say NO!!  The kids were so tired out every day, they went right to bed and didn't seem to mind, but it kept Jason, Michelle, and I awake every night. 

On Tuesday, we headed back to Sea World.  They were having a promo where you could go a second day within the same week for free, so we went again!  It was overcast and threatening rain, but that was kind of nice, because it wasn't so hot or bright.  Jason and Michelle went on the two wild roller coasters, and then Lizzy, since she was tall enough (barely) actually agreed to go on the "Journey to Atlantis" splash-down ride!  This is no kiddie ride!  She was a little scared, but also liked it, so she said, until we suggested that she go a second time, and then she refused!!  So, it was a little much for her, but we were all impressed that she did it!  We went and saw the sting ray petting pool, and the dolphin underwater viewing, which was really cool, and also "shark encounter," where you ride on a moving sidewalk underneath a tunnel through the shark tank, so they swim all around you, and also to the manatee exhibit, where Rachel accidentally dropped her pacifier into the manatee's pond!  We told a Sea World worker so they could fish it out before the manatees ate it, but we didn't want it back after that!  We also went to the penguin encounter, which was cool too.  Then we went to see a show with acrobats and dancers in the "Nautilus Theater."  It was a really cool show, and the kids loved it!  On our way out, it had started pouring rain!  We stood under a tree and waited to see if it would let up, but it just got worse!  We wanted to go see the dolphin show one last time, so we started walking through the rain to find a place to wait for it to start (we had an hour).  Luckily, the dolphin stadium, and also the shamu stadium, and all the others are covered (probably because it rains so much in Florida) so during the show, although it poured on all the performers, we stayed nice and dry.  That second dolphin show was amazing, and the animals did even cooler tricks than last time - we supposed that they liked the rain or something!  After the show, we decided to go back to our condo, so we had to walk back through the park and parking lot to get to our car.  By that time, we were thouroughly soaked - I mean we might as well have jumped into the dolphin tank in our clothes.  Florida rain is HEAVY, so it was even getting in our eyes really bad, and making it hard to see.  Luckily, Florida rain is also very warm, so it wasn't cold to walk through it.  Jason said it was like Taiwan.  We got back to our hotel and put all our soaking wet clothes in the dryer.  Then, one of our old friends from grade school, Bethany, and her husband had moved out to Orlando not long ago, and so we had arranged to meet while we were all there.  So, they came over to our hotel room and we all had dinner together and visited.  It was a lot of fun, and really great to see Bethany again, and meet her husband! 

There are no pictures for this one - I didn't take pictures the second day at sea world!  I just forgot about the camera a lot on this trip!!

Florida, days 3 and 4

On Saturday, we woke up as early as we could, considering Florida time is 2 hours later than Utah time, so it felt very early to us!  And we headed to Lake Placid, which is a two hour drive away, into the Florida "Highlands" where much of the orange groves are.  (And also the big lake, Lake Okeechobee that you can see on globes.)  We visited my grandpa and grandma there, and they took us to Gatorama, where the kids had a really fun time seeing the alligators and crocodiles that are farmed there for meat.  Lizzy was really brave, and even held a baby crocodile (with help from one of the workers)!  Gatorama has a large boardwalk that you walk on, with fenced in sides, that goes over a large pond where all the adult alligators and crocodiles live.  You could buy a bag of bread at the beginning and toss it into the water and watch the alligators and crocodiles snap it up!  There are also holding pens with the baby alligators and crocodiles, and those were really cute.  We also got to be there for "feeding time" where one of the workers stood on a pier and fed the crocodiles chicken parts.  It was very exciting!  She would hold a piece high in the air and make the crocodiles jump to get it, and snap their jaws with a very impressive sound!  They have the most powerful snap of any animal on Earth.  My sister, Michelle, took some pictures, but I have yet to collect them from her, so I'll have to post them later.  After Gatorama, we went back to my grandparent's house and had a nice dinner, made by my grandma.  Then, the city of Lake Placid was having a Halloween fair on the high school's football field, so we headed over there and had some fun visiting the booths, seeing the costumes, and getting candy.  Unfortunately, Grandma ran over a screw in the parking lot and got a flat tire, but fortunately, Jason and Michelle were able to swap out the punctured tire for the spare!  On Sunday, we went to church with my grandparents, and had a nice after-church supper.  The girls played in the sandbox that my grandparents have in their backyard, and also got to decorate a pumpkin with little spiky decorations (think like a Mr. Potato head)  Then we all headed back to Orlando.  On the way back, we stopped at the Red Lobster to visit briefly with mine and Michelle's cousin, Amanda, who works there.  She was happy to see us!  We didn't stay there for dinner, though, because the kids were super hyper, and having been restaurant servers ourselves, Jason and I didn't want to inflict that kind of pain on my cousin!  So, we headed out of town, looking at the restaurants along the way.  On the way into town, the previous day, we had noticed that there were A LOT of little dive BBQ restaurants... Big Daddy's BBQ, Sonny's BBQ, Woody's BBQ, etc.  Lizzy was especially excited about "Woody's BBQ," since it sounded like Toy Story.  So, continuing on with the story, as we're driving down the street on the way back to Orlando, I was suggesting restaurants that I saw by the side of the road.  Jason, having been on a mission to Taiwan, really doesn't like Americanized Chinese food, so jokingly, I called out, "ooh, look, "Chinese Buffet!"  Lizzy, from the back seat, cries out, "VETO!  How about Woody's BBQ?"  We all laughed and laughed... we couldn't believe she remembered Woody's BBQ from the day before, with just a passing mention.


Friday, October 29, 2010

Florida, days 1 and 2

We are here enjoying ourselves in sunny Orlando, Florida, where it's in the 80's and so beautiful!  We left on Thursday morning and flew on the plane.  We were a little delayed, because the original plane had something wrong with it, so we had to get a new plane, but they could only find a small one.  Therefore, the last 30 people to arrive for the flight had to take an alternate flight!  Luckily, we had checked in early, and took advantage of priority family boarding, so our seats were assured.  The kids did really well on the plane, coloring, reading books, and watching movies on their DVD players.  After we got to our hotel, we got dinner, and then went swimming.  The kids thought it was really fun to swim in the dark!  After swimming, we set up the girls' beds.  We got them special air mattress beds with a built-in tinkerbell sleeping bag.  They were totally thrilled with them, and slept all through the night in their special beds, which is a vast improvement from having them end up sleeping with us in our bed for the whole vacation!

Friday morning we woke up and went to Sea World!  They were having special stuff for Halloween there, so the kids got to have trick-or treat bags and get candy.  Lizzy was also really excited to see many of her favorite Sesame Street characters, but Rachel was too afraid to go up to them.

We went to the Sea Lion and Otter show, and then got lunch.  After that, we went to the Dolphin and Whale show, which was really cool!  Lizzy was very brave and sat in the "soak zone" with Michelle, my sister, and got splashed by the dolphins!  She was very excited!

After that, Michelle and Jason were brave and went on the "Manta" roller coaster ride, which is very wild and loopy, and you hang upside down from it.  The girls and I toured the aquarium while they did that.  Then, we all went to the Shamu show.  Many of you have probably heard about the Sea World trainer who was killed by a killer whale at Sea World last year, so now the Shamu show is much shorter, and no trainers go into the water with the killer whales.  The whales do their jumps and tricks while the trainers cue them from the sides.  It was still cool, though.  What was fun to see is, a new baby killer whale was born there 2 weeks ago, and the baby and its mother were swimming around in the main pool before the show began for people to see, and I got a picture as they swam by.  After Lizzy had so much fun sitting in the "soak zone" at the dolphin show, we all sat in the "zone" for Shamu, but we were in a little wedge of crowd that didn't even get wet at all, but the people on either side of us got totally soaked!  It was sort of disappointing, and sort of good!

After the Shamu show, we took the kids over to the kid's area, where they have rides and a play area.  Lizzy and Rachel were super brave and rode all the rides, except only Lizzy could ride the Shamu roller coaster with Daddy, because Rachel was still too short.  I was really proud of Lizzy for going on the roller coaster!  It didn't loop upside down, but it had a pretty good drop, and lots of good turns!  Jason said she was saying "This is CRAZY!  This is NUTS!"

You can only see Jason in the picture, because Lizzy is blocked by him, sitting on the other side.  This is right before going up the big hill!  After the kid rides, I took the kids to the Penguin Encounter and Jason and Michelle went to ride the other large roller coasters, "Kraken" and "Journey to Atlantis."  Then we were totally tired, and it was dinner time, so we left.

We went back to the hotel and had dinner at the poolside grill, and they happened to have a Karaoke contest!  Michelle, Lizzy, and I all signed up to sing, and Lizzy actually got 2nd place for her rendition of "Barbie Girl" which was so good!  Michelle and I sang "Love Potion number 9" but we weren't cute enough to win, I guess!  And that's the end of days 1 and 2.