Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Ella's PEAK Meet

The weekend of Preston's birthday, which is the next thing I really need to catch up on!, was also a long course swim meet for Ella. Mike and I were especially excited to see her swim after missing her first long course meet of the season while we were on our trip. Ella swam Friday and Saturday (13th and 14th) and did really really well. She even dropped lots of time on events she swam less than a month ago. My parents were able to come out Friday night to cheer her on (and the meet was all the way in Pearland) and we also got to see my friend from high school and her family which was fun. Ella had a lot of fun hanging out with all her teammates between races and Addie and Preston loved their electronics time as usual ;-). Ella is seconds away from her A times on each of the events and on a 400 or a 200 that isn't much at all, so she is really excited and hoping to get some next month!
It takes over an hour to get to the Pearland pool so we pulled Addie and Preston out of school a little early to get there on time. Right as we were pulling into the natatorium it started raining pretty hard so we decided to wait in the car a bit for it to die down. Well, it just got worse and worse and before we knew it was hailing, HUGE hails everywhere. It looked like someone dumped ice out in the grass! I was worried it was going to damage the car, but it didn't and eventually it stopped so we could run inside through the rain.
Mike trying to get hail INTO the car haha
results are out of 11/12 year old girls combined
The first race Friday night was the 400 Free, so no video but she ROCKED it!!!
seed time (from 3 weeks ago): 5:46.81
this meet: 5:35.80 (12th/41)
talking with Coach Val after the race
Mike was timing and she was in his lane for her 200 IM which was fun.
seed time (from 3 weeks ago): 3:07.88
this meet: 3:04.95 (22nd/57)
(lane 1 at bottom of screen)

and on to Saturday...
200 Breast
this meet: 3:27.23 (13th/48)
(lane 3, middle)

50 Free
seed time (from last year): 37.02
this meet: 35.51 (29th/66)
(lane 4, middle)

200 Free
seed time (from last year): 2:57.76
this meet: 2:41.21 (14th/62)
(lane 5, middle top)


Friday, May 27, 2016

Oh, Hello Real Life

And just like that the trip we had been planning forever was over and we were right back into real life. The kids had the next day off of school, so it ended up being a nice transition back into the swing of things.
We were able to spend some extra family time together and then by Saturday it was back to the usual swim practices and lessons, birthday parties, laundry, fighting kids ;-). I didn't have any photo shoots scheduled until the next week though so that was nice.
It is definitely hard to get out of vacation mode!
Within 3 the first 3 days back we had multiple swim practices, haircuts, a birthday party, the spring swim banquet and fielder follies at the elementary school. May is crazy...so glad at this point we are almost through it.
saving a turtle Addie spotted in a parking lot
The 11 year olds in our ward became family history indexing specialists this year and got to skip sharing time every other week to go work on it in the family history center. This was a brilliant idea because they are over sharing time at this point anyway and they accomplished so much, indexing over 1,000 names!
Spring Swim Banquet with guest speaker Alex Meyer, former world open water champion and US Olympic team member.
Monday was Fielder Follies at school for Addie, the talent show they do in music class. I brought my regular camera and then realized I had forgotten to put memory cards back in my bag...thank goodness for phones!

That afternoon summer swim team started!
After much debate and researching our options we decided to switch summer swim teams this year. We have been with Falcon Point for 5 years and it is where Ella learned to swim the summer she turned 7, so it was a hard decision! The head coach who I have loved, especially for Addie and Preston, wasn't coming back, the traffic has gotten worse so drive time would be worse and they are still in a division that requires an extra meet because they have an extra team (summer swim meets are no joke and 4 is plenty...5 killed me last year!).
We ended up signing up with the Creekstone Crocs, which are literally across the road from our neighborhood. We can leave our house 5 minutes before practice and be there early which is amazing. The team is small and the atmosphere is very relaxed. There is a playground right by the pool where Preston plays with his new BFF Eli (who is a good kid) while Addie swims. We have loved it so far! (and Ella is getting extra time with Claire)
lunch with Preston for his bday a week early because there was state testing going on the week of his real bday
haircut time for Eddie
Girls' lunch, a date with Ella to see the play at her junior high and subbing in Addie's class at the school while the teachers were treated to a lunch for teacher appreciation week. I popped over to say hi to Preston really quickly too. These teachers are saints to do this every day!
Our cute reader
Mother's Day is seriously my favorite (pretty picture from our family photos at the beginning of April..more of those to come eventually)
And lastly for now, Preston and the book he picked for the birthday book club at school. Mike has called him monk (short for monkey) since he was little and he loves cats so it was a perfect fit (although the book itself is a little strange haha).

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Last Stop, London!

We were able to work our itinerary on the way back to give us a 24 hour layover in London, giving us time to explore one more place before finally heading home. We left Athens on the morning of April 27th at a decent time (8am, not too early) and then with the time change ended up landing in London at 10am. This was the start of our first class journey home as well and after all our little "normal" flights it was even more exciting to be given the special treatment!
Upon landing in London we got our bags (it is truly a miracle that we never lost a bag once this whole time! Some of our connections were short!) and then got in a taxi to head to our hotel, the London Heathrow Marriott (with points). When we got out of the cab and he told us how much and Mike handed him the amount in Euros...we had no idea that England didn't use them too! Luckily the cab guy was nice and took them anyway, but come on England, get with the program ;-).
We got settled in and then went downstairs to talk to the front desk about how to navigate the city. We had been thinking we would just do one of the big bus tours they offer in every major tourist town, but it was pretty chilly and they turned out to be pretty expensive. It still would have been worth it had we cared to see most of the sites in London, but we just didn't really haha. We really wanted to see Abbey Road (and eat something delicious of course) and that was it, but felt like we needed to take in more while we were here. So, with careful instructions about which line to get on and which stops to use we boarded a bus and then took the tube into the city.
flying over Venice
We got off at Hyde Park Corner and walked to Buckingham Palace. We then walked through James' Park, which was very lovely, and were making our way towards Big Ben on the Palace of Westminster. By this time we were also quite hungry and were worried about needing to change money since all we had were Euros but we could not spot a restaurant anywhere. We did happen upon some guards changing which was lucky timing and then as we were coming down another road saw this adorable restaurant called The Red Lion. There was only a short wait, the inside was adorable and the food ended up being amazing. We definitely lucked out!!! We had fish and chips as well as one of their pies (which were savory, meat-filled and sooo good!) and some hot chocolate to warm us up. The weather was sunny and beautiful but still quite chilly for us :-).
(no idea what this guy was doing :-)


and exposed to see the view out the window
Big Ben was right around the corner so we took some pictures of it and thought, "well, we checked that off the list" :-).
Mike flagged down a taxi and we were off to Abbey Road. The drive there gave us a quick overview of the rest of the city. The townhouses you think of when you think of London, Hyde Park and more old churches.
Unfortunately part of the crosswalk on Abbey Road was covered up due to construction, but we waited for a break in cars to take a quick picture of the half you could see. We walked down by the actual studio, which you cannot go in because it is in use still, and then on to the gift shop. We bought some prints for our kitchen that we need to get framed and Mike got a cool t-shirt. It was pretty crazy to be there! I was OBSESSED with the Beatles for quite awhile...who hasn't been though I guess :-)!
We were feeling pretty exhausted by this point and decided to start the journey back to the hotel and get organized for the next morning when were flying alllll the way back home.
a monument dedicated to animals in wars?
When Mike booked these tickets using miles over a year ago he had tried to find an itinerary with the American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER that has the flagship first class suites, but it just never worked out so we went ahead and booked something else. Well, a couple months before our trip we got notification that our schedule had changed a bit and we ended up getting moved onto one of those planes! We flew non-stop from London to Dallas this time in super comfort (SOOO much better than the Chicago stop we had on the way there because we could just settle into our nice seats and relax before having a super quick flight on to Houston). It seriously was amazing flying this way! I watched 4 movies laying down or reclining and even could get a massage in the chair! We had a menu to select our meals from and a snack bar up front to use anytime. Pajamas to change into. The chairs swiveled to face the desk so you could work if you wanted. Privacy screens. I mean, it was seriously amazing. The 10 hour flight went by in a flash!
By the time we landed in Dallas though we were so excited to get home that the Dallas to Houston to home leg of the trip seemed to take forever. Eventually we arrived at our front door at 6:30pm. Yay!!! The kids seemed relatively excited haha! After a brief catch up we headed to Lupe Tortilla for dinner. Even after all that yummy food in Europe we were ready for Mexican ;-)!
at the lounge in London Mike tried porridge :-)
some of our airplane food. I specified gluten-free for the flight home because I knew it would be time to be good :-)
a Mike photobomb on my immigration picture haha
our nice welcome home!
And our last memory from the trip...
After about a week in Italy we realized how many silly signs we saw and decided to start taking pictures of them from that point on. I'm sad we don't have pictures of them all, but these ones still make us laugh.