Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tri For Joe

I had been toying with the idea of doing a triathlon this summer.  About mid-May I started getting serious about finding one.  Trouble was I found the perfect 1st Triathlon and it was less than three weeks away!  I registered and got busy swimming and biking.  Lucky for me the high school swim coach sponsored Open Swim and was willing to help me on my technique.  She and her husband had done triathlons in the past and their help and advice was invaluable.

So on May 29th we headed to Cincinnati for me to participate in the Tri for Joe. 

700 m swim

20K bike

5K run

And done!!

This was one of the most exhilirating moments of my life.  I finished each segment of the race ahead of my projected time and was shocked to be handed a 2nd place award at the finish. 

Coney Island gave all participants two free passes for the day, so we enjoyed the pools and the rides together as a family.  We had such a fun time.  I think this will be an annual tradition!


Happy Mother's Day!

With dad going through cancer treatment (surgeries, chemo, radiation, etc.) my mom has been under a lot of stress.  I start feeling pretty helpless being so far away.  So for Mother's Day I decided to fly out and suprise my mom.  The most supportive husband ever (thank Chris!) took care of the boys for 5 days while I went out and spent some time with my family.
Cami and I at Samuirai 21 in Mesquite.  It's a Japanese steakhouse that cooks right in front of you on the Hibachi grill.  It was so fun and the food was fabulous!

Brad and Keriann came down from Provo and we all went out.  Brad & Keri, Daylen & Ashley, Cami, me, Christy & Maurie.  I love my family!!

My mom was genuinely surprised when I walked through the door.  Cami and I had fun spoiling her on Mother's Day by preparing a special brunch.

Ready for Brunch!  We had OJ, Martinellis, a cracker & cheese platter, fresh fruit salad, muffins, waffles, and breakfast casserole.  Whew.  We'll just say no one went hungry that day!

Johnny models the table setting.  He makes anything cuter!

Happy Mother's Day mom.  We love you!!

Cooper's Sixth

It's time to get caught up on the blog!  Cooper turned 6 in April.  He had kept asking me to make him complicated costumes for his bear.  I am not much of a seamstress (as in, I can sew a straight line if I concentrate really hard!), so I told him about Build-A-Bear and maybe we could go there sometime.  He decided that's where he wanted to have his birthday.  Fine with me!  They do all the work, I pay the bill and off we go.
The closest Build-A-Bear is in Louisville, so the Jeans who are now stationed at Ft. Knox met us there.  Cooper's friend Carter from school came too.  The kids had fun being silly.

Cooper picked out a Clone Trooper costume for his black bear.  Jasper settled on Batman, and Carter got Darth Vader (no wonder he and Cooper get along).  I had fun looking at all the girly outfits with Hailey and Riley.

Afterwards we went to our favorite ice cream place, Graeters.  Mmmmm.  Like heaven in a bowl.

Then our family went to Olive Garden for a delicious carb-load. 

On Sunday, Cooper's actualy birthday, we invited a few friends from church over.  The kids got to decorate cupcakes.

Cooper got to open gifts, including his life vest he's wearing in the picture.  I guess he likes it!

Happy Birthday Cooper!  We love you!!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

9th Anniversary

April was such a fun month! To celebrate our 9th anniversary Chris and I were able to take a 4-day kid-free getaway to Florida. He was completing the last of a three-part Dental Implant course. Luckily we knew an awesome girl that was able to come and stay with the boys for the long weekend (probably longer for her than us :-)). We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort where the course was being held. It was amazing!

There were several pool areas, but they were all continuous and connected.  Very fun!

I got to enjoy the pools and the spa while Chris was in his class.  One morning I got to take a long run around the lake and golf course. 

We had a great view of the lake from our room.  They had kayaks and paddleboats you could take out on the lake, and an awesome runnng/bike trail going around it.  The other side of our room had a view of Disneyworld and we could see the fireworks at night.

We spent one of our evenings going out to dinner and then to see the Cirque du Soleil "La Nouba".  We had front row seats and great views of all the action. 

I spent one afternoon at Crossfit Firebase Orlando (Crossfit is one of my new addictions!).  After a training session with Carlos I got to stay for the WOD (Workout of the Day).  Exhausting, exhilirating, and awesome.  That is Crossfit for you!

We spent our last day enjoying all the fun things at the resort.  First we biked to the nature trail and took a little detour to enjoy a picnic by the lake. 



Rock Climbing

And we tried to make Sunday feel more like Sunday by driving out to the Orlando temple.  What a great way to end our trip!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jasper's Birthday and Easter

The last couple of months have been a lot of fun.  Here are a few of the things we've been up to:

We celebrated Jasper's 3rd birthday by having an Easter Egg Hunt at a nearby park.  Good times!

And here's his birthday at home:

In April we hosted the first annual Clifty Family Dental Easter party.  Wow.  That's a mouthful. 
Here is Cooper doing the Easter egg bash (with some accidentally soft-boiled eggs just to add some extra excitement!).

The little folks' Easter egg hunt.

The big kids got their own Easter Egg hunt.  They got into it quickly when they found out cash and i-tunes gift cards were involved!

Later that month we had a very unique opportunity to listen to a Holocaust survivor and author speak.  We have an amazing little bookstore downtown called Village Lights Bookstore.  They bring in authors and artists.  It's an awesome place.  So they invited Fred Gross, author of One Step Ahead of Hitler to speak.  It was a very moving and awe-inspiring experience to hear him tell of the experiences he and his family had that ultimately spared their lives.

No bad guys are allowed at our house -- so don't even think about it!  We have signs for the front *and* back doors too, just in case you're looking for a loophole.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth!

Chris had another implant conference in Orlando.  It coincided with Cooper's Spring Break, so we decided to go with him this time.  I was able to take advantage of Disneyworld's Military Salute program and get 4-day passes for $99 (highly recommended to any of my military friends!).  Jasper, just a week shy of his 3rd birthday, was still free so the timing couldn't have been better.

Friday night dinner with Uncle Curtis and Aunt Cathi.  We realized when planning this that we hadn't seen them since our trip through Florida back in 2002 -- 8 years ago!  In that time we have had two kids, Curtis and Cathi have married off all four of their kids and now have two grandkids, we have moved three times, and Chris and Curtis have both earned their doctorates.  I guess a lot can happen in 8 years!
Day 1: Animal Kingdom
First stop: Festival of The Lion King, full of all the favorite Lion King songs, awesome dancing, costumes, firedancing, dancers flying around like birds, and acrobatics, as well as the Disney-famous animatronics.
Jasper kept his ears covered the WHOLE time ("It's too loud!").  Cooper could not contain his enthusiasm.  He was very excited by everything that happened.

After some exploring we made our way to see Nemo, the musical.  It was very creative and innovative in the way the characters were represented.  I was unimpressed by the music, but they made up for it in the costuming.  The jellyfish were my favorite.  The materials they were made from really looked like they were floating through water.  The boys were mesmerized.

On the Maharajah Jungle Trek we saw the Rodrigues Fruit bats.  Instead of being nocturnal these bats are crepuscular, which means they are most active at sunset or sunrise when it is easiest for them to catch insects.  Unlike most bats, their ears are too small to use echolocation for navigation.  Instead, they have enormous eyes and are one of few bat species to have incredible vision, ideally suited for locating their prey in dim lighting.  Because of their 4-foot wing span and lack of ankle bones, we were reassured that they had no way of crossing through the 18-inch-wide openings between us and then -- they can't sweep in like a bird would because there would be no way to land.  It was amazing to see these awesome animals up close! 

We also saw a Komodo Dragon, Malayan Tapir, Elds Deer and Asain tigers.  The tigers were incredible to watch -- almost as good as Cooper and Jasper's tiger impressions. :-)

Then we went on the Kali River Rapids.  Jasper just met the height requirement (he's a whopping 40" tall already!).  Everyone got a little wet, but there was one spot on the boat that got totally drenched -- right where Jasper and I were sitting!  It took him by surprise and he didn't like it much.  He cheered up at the end when we were getting squirted by the animatronic baby elephants.

On the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail we continued to be amazed.  We saw the okapi (above).  It looks like it would be related to the horse or the zebra, but it is most closely related to the giraffe.  It's blue tongue is so long it can clean it's face, eyelids, and ears (inside and out) with it.  They are able to recognize each other by their stipes.  Their large ears help them hear sounds up to a mile away.

Along this trail we also saw hungry, hungry hippos (they sure are big!!), mole rats in their underground burrows, meerkats, and dik-diks (above -- so cute!). 

But the most impressive were the gorillas.  There was a mother gorilla with her 4-week old baby.  She would feed it, rock it, groom it, and then when it was time to move she would position the baby facing her so it could hang on to her, dangling beneath her while she'd walk on all fours.  I've never seen anything like it.  It seemed notable to the guide and observer as well, because they began consulting in hushed tones while the observer furiously wrote notes.  I couldn't get a picture because of the crowd.  The guide was very cautious because Jasper wanted to get too close to the glass.  He explained how over-protective the mother had been since the birth of the baby. 

Next we went on the Kilimanjaro Safari.  It was very cool to see the animals wandering around.  Here we are in our safari truck.
The non-violent animals like giraffes, white rhinos, ostriches, zebras, flamingos, wildebeests, warthogs, etc. were just roaming freely and could get very close to the safari trucks.  The lions, black rhinos, cheetas, and other potentially dangerous animals were separated from us by natural-seeming barriers like cliffs or rivers.  We saw several "termite mountains" -- tall towers of dried mud made from colonies of termites using their saliva to hold the dirt together.  Yuck.   We also saw ostrich eggs.  They looked about the size of footballs.

At the end of our almost-perfect day we saw some very bright macaws.  Cooper saw this picture and said, "It looks like I'm about to commit a crime!" :-)  I was so worried about taking the boys alone this day, but we had so much fun.  It really is a magical place. :-)

Day 2: Hollywood Studios

We waited until after lunch when Chris was done with his convention to hit the park.  By the time we got there the drizzle had started.  A couple of hours later it was in full downpour.  Many productions and attractions closed because of the rain. 
What?  No Jedi training???  Oh my, what were my young Padawans going to do?  We forked out the $30 to buy four rain ponchos and still managed to enjoy Star Tours and the Toy Story ride. 
I was able to sneak away with my friend Celestra to ride the Tower of Terror while the guys took the kids to the Indiana Jones stunt show.  Then the boys went to the Muppet 3D movie. 

Day 3: Magic Kingdom

For being the happiest place on earth, it sure was hard to convince the boys to let us take this money shot in front of the castle! 

Now hurry!  Off to Splash Mountain before Cooper realizes what he's getting himself into. :-)
He really like it until the big drop.  He said he needs a "medium" roller coaster.  But, he did it!  And I think it was a bonding moment for us -- he rode with me for the rest of the day without any argument. 

Jasper *really* wanted a picture with Woody and Jessie, so we waited in line for a while.  Then he puts his hands in his face for the pictures -- nice. 

Here we are on the Magic Carpets -- exact same ride as Dumbo without the long lines!

Chris and I both chose the 3D Philharmagic movie as our favorite experience of the day. 

Jasper and Cooper both loved driving the cars.  Put, put, put.  We also had fun on the Monsters' Laugh Floor (an interactive comedy show with the Monsters hosting).  The boys got scared silly going on Stitch, and we did a 4D shoot 'em up Buzz Light Year ride.

On the way to Toon Town with my wild animals!  We saw Mickey's house and garden, Donald's boat, and rode the "medium" roller coaster.  They loved it!

We ended the day watching a production in front of the castle.  It had Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, all the princesses and pirates, fireworks, dancing, and had everyone chanting "We believe in Dreams" and other such fluffy feel-good stuff.  It was a fun way to end the day!

Our sweet little angels, all tuckered out.

Day 4: Epcot Center

If I had to choose my favorite park, it would be a toss-up between Epcot and Animal Kingdom.  I'm guessing it's because these two parks are a little more educational in nature.  There are few rides that are just for fun or thrills.  Almost everything teaches you something new.  We saved Epcot for our last day because we knew we had to leave by 2:00 to catch our flight home and thought we'd see it all by then.  As it was we didn't even make it to any of the World Showcase, and there still would have been plenty to do in the Future World. 

We started off the day doing Spaceship Earth (inside the iconic Epcot ball).  Cooper gets soooo intense and I have to keep reminding him that the animatronics we are seeing are not real.  It took us through the history of mankind and ends in an area with some pretty cool educational 3D games. 

C&J are placing the body parts onto a skeleton -- kind of like the game Operation, but without the buzzing.

Jasper and dad ride in a big shell on Seas of Nemo.  After that we went to Turtle Talk with Crush -- a favorite of ours.  It's an interactive session with an animated Crush who answers all kinds of questions on the spot -- very creative.  We also had fun in the Seas building watching the dolphins from down below.  I love dolphins.

Next we went to the Earth building and went on a ride called Living With the Land.  A boat takes you through their experimental greenhouses where they use innovative technology to grow a lot of the food they serve at the parks and an aqua environment with baby alligators and fish.  Most of the plants they were growing were not in soil.  Their roots were exposed and were spritzed intermittently with a water/nutrient blend.  It was fascinating.

Our last ride of the day was the test track.  I knew it would be fast, so I worried that Cooper and Jasper (and Chris!) would be scared.  As it was, we all loved it.  But you can see by this photo that the end of Day 4 had us all pretty tuckered out. 

Cooper tries out a real car in the show room at the end of Test Drive. 

Wow, what a fun-packed few days.  We are so glad we went.  We definitely made some memories.  I'm not sure when we'll go back, but having never been to Disneyworld I can now see what all the hype is about.