Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Natalie is 31

I don't normally post about my birthday's but this year was just a bit comical to not share.  I felt a little like Raj on Big Bang Theory.

Sunday we had my sister and her family out for dinner for my birthday.  Emily offered to make a cake and Chris grilled some delicious kabobs.  Since it was a Sunday we called in for our weekly Facetime Chat with my folks.  They were sitting around the table in FL playing Oh Heck and answered saying "we have everyone here!" to which I replied, "that's funny! We have everyone here too."  And I turned the iPad to reveal Em and her family were over at the house.  So mom and dad got to see them and her kiddos and much happiness ensued.  Then I showed off the cake and Emily said they needed to stick around and sing happy birthday to me.  Hence, the reference to Raj on BBT.

My sister actually put 31 on candles on my cake!

My parents singing Happy Birthday to me via facetime.

Blowing out 31 one candles at once, can she do it?

Shockingly yes!

Emily had mentioned making a fancy cake so I was super impressed when she cut in to see this:

So impressed I even interrupted the FL card game again to show it off.  And then in honor of the folks in FL we put on a movie for the kids and played Oh Heck ourselves while we enjoyed some birthday cake.

On my actual birthday I did what has become our traditional band camp dinner out with my teacher friends and then the best birthday present a mom could ask for: I got to walk around Target with Cameron without any kids.

Not a bad birthday.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Frozen Fun at Hollywood Studios

After breakfast we hit the park running.  Not really.  I had to promise this trip I wouldn't run and rush us around the park.  And I will say, I've gotten much better about slowing down.  So we headed over to  get set up with some fast passes with the new fast pass system that I hate.  (It's great for resort guests and multiple day pass people but for us folks just popping in for one day it's terrible.)  We were lucky enough to snag some fast passes for Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror.  Then we headed over to get tickets to the Frozen Sing-a-long which was really the big thing I wanted to do because I knew the kids would love it.  So after we got tickets for that in hand I was prepared to relax and enjoy the day.

We crossed the park one time to do Tower of Terror and then spent most of the time over in one little corner where the other shows and rides we wanted to do were.  
The Tower of Terror, or Fun House as I kept calling it around Sarah.

The Tower of Terror is my favorite ride.  I like it more Rockin' Roller Coaster which is saying something because I do love a good roller coaster.  Tower of Terror is such a simple ride but I love it.  It makes me giddy.  I especially love how it has so many drop programs that you never ride the same one twice in a row.  Before heading to Florida I looked it up and then measured Sarah and was so excited that she was tall enough.  I figured she was going to hate it, but I still had to get her to ride it once. 

Holding on for dear life.

(Aunt Sarah shared her My Memory package with us so we got downloads of all the pictures they took of us in the park)

Sarah didn't love it.  But she also didn't cry so I'll take that as a win.  She tried really hard to be a good sport and at the end I said, "wasn't that fun!"  She said, "yeah....but let's not do it again."

What 10 am really looks like at Disney World

I actually left my cell phone at home and kept the big camera in the bag for the most part so I don't have that many pictures.  Oh well, I have a lot of good memories.

After Tower of Terror we rode the Great Movie Ride.  Sarah and Cody both LOVED it!  And I loved the air conditioning.  I find the key to happy kids at Disney World is lots of snack breaks and balancing outside time with air conditioning time.  

Snack break

A nice person passing by offered to take a picture of everyone.

As we were heading to I can't remember where, there was no line for Phineas and Ferb so we took a moment to say hi.

The highlight of the trip was at noon when it was time for the Frozen Sing-a-long.  They allowed taping with your devices so find it on youtube and enjoy.  It was a great show.  It was well written and witty and just plain fun to be in an auditorium full of folks singing along at full blast.  Being outside in the heat was so worth it when Elsa came out at the end to sing Let it Go.  When she walked on the stage Sarah's face lit up.  She was so excited.  And they blew foam snow down from the ceiling and I though Sarah was just going to explode.  It was great to see.  Chris was standing at the back of the theater cause Charlie was a little fussy and he noted how there were more people watching the show from their little screens as they recorded then actually looking at the characters on stage.  I thought that was sad but also made me think of how often I'm too busy taking pictures and trying to get good ones then to actually enjoy the look on my kids faces.  So I guess it was a good thing I forgot my cell phone.

After the Frozen sing-a-long it was time for the car stunt show.  Cody was pretty excited about that one.  We had great seats, it wasn't crowded at all.  We were so close in fact that all the noise and heat freaked Charlie out so I took him out of the theater.  Chris said both of the kids were enthralled the whole time watching the cars race around.  (Since I'm writing this weeks later, it's funny that Cody will now pick a good guy car and find a bunch of bad guy cars that are all the same color and act out some stunt scenes with them.)  They loved it except some big scene at the end where apparently they set the water on fire.  Cody was not a fan and kept telling us the rest of the day that he did not like that part.

Then we enjoyed some more air conditioning with the Muppets in 4D.  Sarah's old enough now to keep the 3D glasses on.  Cody, well, not so much.  Then more snacks as we waiting out a rain storm.  The wind that came with the storm was great, but the humidity that stayed after the storm was killer.  So we hit the fast pass for Toy Story Mania (the only way to do that show) before popping into the Frozen Oaken Trading Post to do a little souvenir shopping.

And we called it a day by about 5 I think.  It was a long hot day and we only did 3 rides and 3 shows but that was enough with 3 kids 4 and under.  Everyone had a great time.  No major melt downs.  I was impressed with how well humored all the kids were.  

We even stopped for one last picture on the way out.
Only Charlie was completely over it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Play and Dine

Wednesday, my Aunt Sarah took off work to go to Hollywood Studios for their Frozen Summer Fun.  I had high hopes of making it for the special Frozen Fireworks at the end of the night but Chris and I realized Sunday as we were finalizing the plans that there was no way or kids would make it to 10 pm. So we switched our dinner reservation for a breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine.  I love that place because you don't just get to meet the characters but the kids also get to dance and play.  About every 10 or 15 minutes they start a new song and the breakfast hosts invite all the kids down to dance.  Sure, not a whole lot of eating goes on as the kids are very distracted, but Sarah LOVED it.  As soon as a song started she'd say, "can I go dance?"

Dancing with Sophia

Sarah and I have been here once before on my birthday trip 2 years ago.  I will say, others must be figuring out this place is by far the best character meal for this age because last time at the 8 am reservation it was pretty empty.  This time at the 8 am reservation the place was packed!

Sarah and Cody with Sophia

The food was great.  I will say since we had just done Ohana the day before, Ohana had better quality food, but Play and Dine has more options.  And Hollywood and Vine has those chocolate things that I ate my body weight in on our European Vacation.  I love finding those places.  Reminds me of such a great trip and wonderful memories with Chris and my parents.

Meeting Doc McStuffins

I don't know why but the big headed toddler characters freak me out.  Good thing the kids love them.

I'm pretty sure Sophia was Sarah's favorite this time.  She kept squeezing her way in to be next to her for each song.

While Cody would just stare down the people singing and dancing.  

The characters of course made their way around the tables like other character meals.

Yo ho!

With Jake

But this really is my favorite because of the singing and dancing the kids get to do with the characters.  It's the only place where you truly get to play with them and interact more than just a quick stop, sign, and pic at each table.

Handy Manny

I'm sorry we wouldn't be able to stay for the fireworks at the end of the day.  Or to see the show Fantasmic.  But part of doing Disney for only one day with kids is knowing your limits.  There will come a time when they'll be old enough to stay up all day and see Fantasmic at the end of a long day.  But that day was not today with a 3 month old in tow.  So I'm glad we made the decision to change our dinner reservation to a breakfast one and have this experience.  Especially since they will quickly out grow these characters.  I'm pretty sure we'll have one more Play and Dine when Charlie is just about 3 and that'll be the last time we get to do this.  Sniff, sniff, these kids are growing up too fast!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Schwartz's vs "Ohana"

I have a strict no travel with a baby policy that was put into place, you guessed it, when Cody was a baby.  Just kidding, I didn't really like to travel when Sarah was a baby.  It's just too stressful for me.  So I did not want to drive 16 hours to Florida to visit my parents.  Thankfully my husband knows me well and really pushed for us to go because he knew I'd regret it if we didn't.

My parents are leaving at the end of July to serve a mission for 18 months in Bangkok, Thailand.  Thailand!  For 18 months!  That means, when they get back, Sarah will be 6 and half way through her first year of kindergarten.  Cody will be the age now that Sarah currently is.  And Charlie with be almost 2 so he'll be walking and if he trends like my other kids talking a lot.  Charlie will only know my parents via Facetime for the first 2 years of his life.  It bums me out a little to think about their mission in those terms.  

Thankfully, my kids are quite use to Facetiming with their grandparents.  We did it from time to time when they lived in AR.  But once they moved to Florida a weekly tradition of facetiming them just sort of happened.  So every Sunday before family movie time we call the folks for a little video chat.  The kids mostly use it to play show and tell but at least they are seeing and talking with my parents.  And since mission rules are different for couples then the young kids that serve, we will still get to do our weekly video chats.  

Anyway, I digressed there.  So Chris convinced me to brave the trip and we headed to Lakeland to spend a week with my parents before they left.  It was a nice relaxing visit.  We spent a lot of time just chatting and hanging out.  My parents have a new hobby and took up dominos with a group of people from church so they borrowed the set and taught Chris and I how to play Mexican train.  Then Chris taught us how to play Chicken foot (that game took 2 nights to finish!). 

And of course we played plenty of Oh Heck.  (No picture necessary.)

Mom read lots of books to the kids.  They were particularly fond of Dick and Jane and Vampires.

Mom gave me the run down of what to do if they die or something.  You know, standard things to worry about when you are traveling and living overseas for a year and a half.  She took me to the storage unit so I'd know where it was.  That was a little depressing seeing your parents lives packed up into a storage unit.  

So since Lakeland is only 45 minutes or so from Orlando we decided to take a day trip over and do some sight seeing and of course hit Disney with the grandparents.  Just a nice fun memory for my kids before they leave.  And here's my free Disney tip.  If you want to do something Disney-ish that doesn't involve going to the park, have a character brunch at one of the resorts.  Your kids get to meet characters.  The food is always great.  And you can ride the monorail for free and for fun. So that's what we did with my folks for one last fun outting with the Grandparents.  We went to the Polynesian Resort to have brunch at Ohana.  It was awesome!

Ohana was a family style buffet so the food comes to you and it was so yummy.  I'm normally not a juice drinker but whatever the juice was they served there I drank at least a gallon.  And the eggs were so fluffy and the potatoes had a little salty sweetness going on.  I seriously could have gained 10 pounds there.  To. Die. For. 

Plus, Cody got to see Mickey Mouse which was his big request.

Charlie was less than impressed with Mickey.

Lilo also stopped by the table.

And they met Stitch

We had a great breakfast.  Plus the resort is beautiful so after breakfast we walked around the gardens and looked at the different picture cut outs and tiki statues. 

The Polynesian Resort is on the monorail line, so after we were done exploring the grounds we hopped on the monorail and rode the loop.  Hey free scenic train ride, my kids loved it.

Then we went and walked around Downtown Disney for a bit to go to the big lego store.  Unfortunately there is a ton of construction going on at Downtown Disney while they rework and make it Disney Springs or something like that.  Not sure.  But the Lego store was amazing.

After downtown Disney we headed to the Orlando Temple to go to the Distribution Center.  Sarah went inside but Cody was passed out in the car so I stayed with him.

Busy morning wore Cody out.  Poor little dude.

Then we rounded out our day trip to Orlando with a trip to Costco.  We have a membership so we took the folks so they could buy 18 months of vitamins and razors and other things they'll need that cost more over in Thailand.  If their mission didn't seem imminent and real before, watching them buy a hoarder's amount of vitamin C and men's and women's daily vitamins definitely put how long they'll be gone into perspective.  

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Charlie's Blessing

Today Chris presented Charles to the body of the church to give him a name and a blessing.  While this is our third child, I've realized that I've never really explained what exactly this means and why we do it.  First we to do it out of obedience, in Doctrine and Covenants section 20 verse 70 we are told, "Every member of the church of Christ having children is to bring them unto the elders of the church, who are to lay their hands upon them in the name of Jesus Christ, and bless them in His name."  Chris, having the Melchizedek Priesthood is commissioned of Christ to act in His name.  Therefore, he has the right and privilege to present Charles and bless him according to the will of the Lord.  Second, we do it so that our children are "children of record" which basically means their names are on the roll of the church (though they won't officially be members of the church until they choose to get baptized after they turn 8).  

In LDS culture, the blessing of a baby is similar to what I know of other faith's baby dedications.  It is not a baptism, but more of a public declaration of our desire to raise our children in our Christian home and according to Heavenly Father's will.  

What makes it different from baby dedications that I've been to is it's a little more personalized in a way since the Fathers (or selected priesthood holder if the father is unable to perform the ordinance) are performing the act rather than the pastor.  So, Chris fasted and prayed before presenting Charles that he might know what blessings Heavenly Father wanted to bestow upon him at that time.  Then Chris, my father, my grandfather, and my Uncle Ken stood in front of the congregation and made a cradle out of their hands for Charles.  As they all held him, Chris presented him, named him, and then left the blessings that he was inspired to by direction of the Holy Spirit. 

I did record the blessing, I have recorded all of my children's blessings.  I thought about posting them here publicly since they aren't private blessings.  But since they are still of a sacred nature, I've always refrained from posting them.  Instead they are recorded in my private journal and pretty soon I'm going to add them to preserve them for future generations.

Charles, your blessing day was a special one.  We drove to Florida to bless you so that my dad could be included in the blessing.  I had mixed feelings about this because we could have blessed you when you were one week old when my dad came to visit.  I knew traveling to Florida would mean leaving out the rest of the family and was worried that we might offend people by our decision.  So I left it up to your dad and Chris chose for us to go and do it in Lakeland, FL.  And by doing so your day was just so calm.  I didn't feel the need to rush home after sacrament and put on a huge luncheon.  It was a calm and quite day and filled with love.  And because it was calm and quite for the first time ever we remembered to take a picture of the priesthood holders who stood in the circle to bless you.

Uncle Ken, David, Chris, Grandpa Sherwood

This picture made the decision to travel to Florida to bless you worth it.  This picture is dear to my heart for a very sentimental reason.  Charles, if you truly are the last child Heavenly Father intends for our family, then you complete us.  And these men who laid their hands upon you at the end of the growth of our family, were also the same men who were instrumental to the beginning of our family.  Grandpa Sherwood sealed (married) Chris and I in the Nauvoo Temple in 2004.  My dad and Uncle Ken were the priesthood witnesses of the marriage.  So it is sweet and fitting that these men who were there the day Chris and I became one, were also apart of the moment when Chris and I finished growing our forever family.  

I'm thankful for the gospel and the impact it has had on our lives.  Chris and I strive to have Christ centered home.  I hope that growing up in this environment will give you peace and comfort and allow you to learn and grow physically, intellectually, and spiritually.  I hope that you will live up to the pioneer lineage that you are named after.  That you will be steadfast in all things.  I hope that you will have a strong desire to serve a mission and that you will take the best attributes of both of your parents and be a force for good in this world.  But mostly, I hope that you get to experience true joy in this life, the joy that comes from following Christ and serving others.

We love you!

Chris and Charlie heading to church.

Grandma and Grandpa Smith with the family.

L to R
Aunt Sarah, Dave, Chris (with Charlie), Natalie, Irene, Grandma Pat, Grandpa Sherwood
Cody, Sarah

Dad, Chris, and Charlie

Great Grandparents with the Great Grandkids

Family of Five

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Schwartz's vs Common Ground Playground

Shortly after my parents moved to Lakeland, Fl my mom mentioned a cool park that was near their home.  So Saturday we loaded up and headed to this "cool park".  Upon arrival I discovered that cool wasn't really the right word.  It just doesn't accurately describe how awesome this park is.  We spent about 2 hours there the first day and didn't get bored.  I took a couple of short clips on Instagram trying to show off the park to friends back home.  But since instagram only allows 14 second video clips, these really don't do the park justice and I should have switched over and taken a full video.

(eat your heart out Bekah over this playground.)

When I posted the videos some friends tried to compare it to the Shelby Farms park.  And I know a lot of people around here LOVE the shelby farms park.  But I don't.  The idea might be similar in that both parks have different sections.  But Common Ground is much bigger and more diverse.  There are multiple things for any age child to do at Common Ground.  Whereas, I think Shelby Farms really only has about 4 things to do, and the biggest section there is a climbing web that none of my kids are old enough to do yet.  So in conclusion, this is the best park EVER and I wish we had one here in Atoka.  (Not even in Memphis, I don't want to drive that far to go to a park.  ha!)

The first day at the park we all, kids and adults alike, pretty much just ran around and tried everything out.

Playing in the fire truck.

Climbing up the rope ladder in Mole Hill

One of the many climbing structures.

Walking on the tetter totter balance beam.

Resting in the butterfly garden

Running and sliding down Mole Hill
The grass at this park was awesome!  FL has nasty grass because it's hard to keep more lush grasses alive there.  So all this grass is actually astroturf.  Cushy for landings, doesn't stain.  This was awesome!

Walking on the Unsteady Steps

So, funny story about the unsteady steps.  I really underestimated their difficulty.  The red circle is the starting platform and after that they wobble.  I thought, this is a kids park how hard can it be so I took a big ol' step onto the first platform and immediately found myself on the ground!  I laid there and laughed for a good while.  They were really unsteady!

Also, not pictured are the dizzy seats, cause I took videos instead!  These things were seriously hilarious and everyone took a turn in them.  Cody loved them the most.  When we went back to the park a couple of days later he rode in each dizzy seat there.  He thought they were hilarious.  

Dizzy Dave

Dizzy Cody