Sunday, June 19, 2022

A Father's Day Tribute

Dad in the background building a garden plot in our backyard

Dad standing at our front door.

I feel such gratitude for my father, Jim Lauret.  I have flashbacks of him working under the hood of a car in the garage while listening to a BYU football game on the radio.  That scene morphs into him building a master suite in the basement, then into him building my dream bedroom complete with a loft bed and a stairway.  Next I see him gathering up zucchinis and tomatoes from the garden.  His jeans are dirty, his old holey shirt is dirty, and his brow is wet with sweat.  This is dad on Saturdays.  

Next we see dad in his suit helping his boys tie their ties, then his hands are wrapping wads of newspaper around the beam on his bike to create another seat.  We are riding our bikes to church today, just until dad finishes fixing the van.  Dad packs one kid in a backpack thingie and another balanced on his makeshift bike seat between his legs.  At church, he whispers to us to think about Jesus as we take the sacrament.  Then it's time for Sunday school.  He's the favorite teacher.  As his students answer questions correctly, they get to toss rolled up socks into colanders balanced on their classmate's heads.  There's homemade chocolate chip cookies for the winners.  When we get home, dad's already in the kitchen chopping veggies and frying onions for a warm dinner.  This is dad on Sundays.  

Me (age 9ish) and my dad, just a snapshot in the van in between parade of homes stops

If it's Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, then you're hearing the front door creak at 5:50am as dad sneaks out to play basketball at the Stake center.  He comes home a little after 7am and wakes up all the kids for prayer time.  By the time we all gather in the living room, he's well on his way to having a hot breakfast ready for us.  Sometimes it was pancakes, sometimes biscuits, often egg omelets or breakfast burritos.  He's often helping with last minute math problems or finding missing shoes before we head out the door to school and he to work.  When we come home from school, mom ensures we don't eat too many snacks because dad will be home to make dinner at 5:10.  I liked to be near when dad made dinner so I could help.  If I was there, he'd give me jobs.  "Stir the onions until they're translucent" (What's translucent, dad?), "Peel 6 carrots,"  "Wash this lettuce," "Hold out your hand (pours salt and spices into it) now sprinkle it on the meat."  Within moments, we were having a hot dinner as a family.  As the news came on at 10, we'd stay up to watch the weather report together.  If Mr. Eubank, the weatherman, was wearing his white coat, we knew there was snow coming.  Then it was time for scriptures and prayers before going to bed.  This is dad on the weekdays.

As we got older, dad got busier keeping up with us, but he kept up!  He went to everyone's everything- band, choir, and dance concerts, football, soccer, softball, basketball, and baseball games, plays, fairs, awards ceremonies, etc..  He took us camping in the summer, on road trips to the national parks on school breaks, and to ghost towns to hunt for fool's gold on weekend getaways. 

Then, we kids got really older, moved out, and had families of our own.  He still gathers us for dates, cooking competitions, dinners at his house, reunions, camping, Easter egg hunts and gingerbread house building.  Dad taught me that relationships are important and shared experiences are what build those relationships.  So true.

As far as fathers go, my dad is the best.  I love him so much!  Happy Father's Day!

April, me and dad on a date at Mongolian bbq place in Springville, Utah.

Dad putting some details onto this toy story 3 gingerbread house

A hike with "grandpa Jim" at a campout

Dad cooking to feed an army of family kalbi pork!

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Our Florida Vacation

Florida chose us for a vacation this summer.  When grandma Debby and Grandpa Jim let us know that they would be taking a group of grandkids to DisneyWorld in Florida and we could come and have our lodging taken care of, I started scouting out tickets.  We got to meet up with quite a few family members including Jake's family, April's family, Hayley, Lyndsi, Dad and Deb and the group of grandkids (Max, Devon, Parker, Maizie, Stockton, and Owen). Although we didn't do the theme parks with the others, we were in Florida for 5 days and did get to spend time together on the other days.
Delta takes care of their passengers with free headphones, drinks and a snack.

Hello Orlando airport!  We made it!

Of course, the girls didn't want to go straight to bed, they wanted to go swimming at 9pm!

Our Airbnb had an awesome pool that was completely screened in.  It was AWESOME!

The master bed, where Steve and I stayed


It was great to see wildlife in this very populated place.

May I say that you should plan a full hour or more to park and walk to security and go through that rigamarole, then wait for transportation to the actual magic kingdom.  Add to that, it is already a sweltering 90 degrees outside with high humidity that you feel as if you're walking through a steamy bathroom.  Such intense heat plus exercise exacerbates my POTS condition, so I wasn't doing too well on the ferry ride over.  I was considering canceling my day and heading back to the hotel when I recalled that there were wheelchairs available.  So, we went with renting an ECV.
You had to take a ferry boat to get to the land where the theme park is.

Smile like it's actually nice out here.  Hide your sweat tacos.

Enter magic kingdom along with the excessive amount of other insane people venturing out into this oppressive climate. See Steve on the right with his tourist hat, out of his natural habitat, and trying not to stress. Be prepared to feel stuck and crowded- much like how the fly-tape hanging in our kitchen looks.

We used the Genie Plus service on the app.  Steve thought it was a total waste.  I thought it was useful, though a little frustrating.  If you're using it to get on popular fast rides, then use it strictly for that and hopefully you'll get onto them all.  I'm guessing you'll get at least 3 in.  Steve and Lily wanted the thrill rides so their experience was disappointed when a reservation was cancelled because Space mountain closed down, and when halfway through the day, you couldn't get reservations for any of the "good" rides.  Amara and I like riding whimsical story rides, so it was nice that we didn't have to wait 45 minutes to get onto Winnie the Pooh or Small World.  Our lightning lane got us on in closer to 5 or 10 minutes.
It's a Small World!

We got front row!

Steve and Lily enjoyed Thunder Mountain

We were eating at Pecos Bill restaurant when the parade came down the street.  I didn't realize it was going to be so cool.  I'm so glad we were close by.  The floats were amazing and the performers were dazzling!

More of those cool birds hanging out with the people!

Steve's face is so intense. I think my gun was a joke.

EAT HERE!!!  If you go to Disneyworld, a great choice for tasty treats is the little waffle shop on the corner called Sleepy Hollow.  Their waffles are better than the waffles you can make- they just are, I'm not sure how- and everyone in my family liked the food (that doesn't happen often).  I recommend the spicy chicken and waffle sandwich with broccoli slaw.  The strawberry and creme funnel cake was the best I've ever had.  And you can't go wrong with Nutella and strawberry waffle sandwiches either.

Another delightful attraction was the monster's inc laugh floor.  Unexpectedly hilarious, and a nice cool place to rest your feet.

As you wait to be seated, you can submit jokes that they might use in their show.  Lily submitted a couple which they ended up using in the show previous to the one we were seated in.  "What is blue and smells like red paint?  BLUE PAINT!"

We met up with April's crew of thrill riders at the end of the day to ride splash mountain a second time.  The ride wait was 45 minutes which ended up being totally inaccurate as we waited 2 hours before getting to ride.  It was great that we all got to ride together, but too bad it took so long!

a picture on splash mountain

We weren't going to stay for fireworks but since we got stuck in that ride line forever, we got to see them.  

These crowds were impossible to maneuver.  It was the WORST way to end our day.  Two long hours on our feet waiting for a ride we already rode, then stuck in a people-jam trying to leave the island which was extra bad because their monorail was down.  So two hours after trying to get out of there we finally made it to our car.  Then it was a traffic jam to get back to our airbnb.  So we didn't get to bed until 1am and we had to be up early the next day for our trip to Universal Studios.  We were all so exhausted, physically and emotionally.  Everyone (except me) had such painful feet from so much walking.  Then it was another day of more walking ahead. Steve was dreading it! 

$18 gets you a digital download of your splash mountain pic!


Coming off of a very grueling and frustrating day at Disneyworld, we all hoped for a better experience at Universal, after all we paid a pretty penny to make some good memories.  It was a hard choice to purchase the VIP experience, especially during peak season with peak prices, but with 2 parks to do in one day and a husband that hates lines and crowds, and knowing our kids are getting older, and remembering my amazing experience eating an expensive meal with my family in a Palace in Portugal, I decided to pay the extra money to tailor our experience without crowds and without lines.  I didn't realize how much I was going to enjoy not having the stress of planning where we were going next and juggling everyone's interests. This was worth it.
Upon arrival things were already very different.  We had complementary valet parking which had it's own security checkpoint, which had no line at all, and the people were so friendly.  
Next, we had a complementary gourmet breakfast buffet with other VIP goers.  The restaurant was not full, it was a pleasant place to dine, and the food was so good.  It made me wish I had a bigger appetite.

My favorite breakfast items were the overnight oats and the warm elderberry croissant.  Get that croissant! It's dark because of the berries in the dough and then you're surprised by the elderberry filling inside. 

Don't know what this flowering plant is, but isn't it stunning?

There was zero wait time for us.  Our tour group had 7 people.  Our tour guide would bring us to a ride, tel us about it, then take who ever wanted to ride straight through the exit where we'd be placed on the very next available spot.  She was so helpful and would hold our bags while we rode, was knowledgable and could answer all our questions, she even could tell when it was about to rain, what rides would probably close down, what we could/couldn't ride with express pass.  It was so nice.  Amara and I didn't mind waiting and watching Steve and Lily ride crazy fast coasters, especially since we'd only have to wait 10 minutes or so.  

The Velocicoaster was Lily's and Steve's favorite roller coaster.

Hagrid's motorbike ride was one I didn't know if I could handle, but I got talked into it, and it was THE BEST!  I loved it so much!  I'd totally ride again.  Amara is the only one who didn't do this ride, she just waited with our tourguide.

The architecture and theming here was outstanding.  I would say they actually do it better than Disney's magic kingdom (and that says a lot because Magic Kingdom is incredibly themed and well thought-out)

Our gourmet lunch buffet was also included.  We all loved the salmon!  Everything we had was delicious and cooked perfectly.  The chefs really knew what they were doing.

Here's our group- a father and daughter from Texas, and Sally from Arkansas, plus our tour guide DeAnne

I include this picture only to tell the world that this is the worst ride I went on.  If you get motion sick, steer clear of the Simpsons!

We got to go backstage and on set behind the ropes at a few locations including Men In Black ride.  

You can see the line up above of people waiting to ride, then there's us down below checking out the set.

I really liked getting to shoot the aliens on that ride!  I got the high score in our group of 164,650.
Welcome to the wizarding world of Harry Potter!

Me in my covered ECV taking on the world

Our tour guide knew exactly when that dragon was going to blow fire.

Gringotts bank was incredibly done.  GORGEOUS!

Butterbeer!  Lily got frozen and Amara got regular.  I sipped it before they threw away the remnants and it's some really sweet stuff.  Like drinking syrup.

Hashtag really warmed up to Lily.  We didn't know who he was, but apparently he's on the Jimmy Fallon show, so we got some pics with him.

I loved the Seuss land.  It was so cute.

I bought the exploding bonbons to share with our group.  They were white chocolate with pineapple flavor and pop rocks inside.

It was so nice to valet park and have our car brought to us at the end of the day!


We met my family for lunch at the T-Rex Cafe, which was a dinosaur themed restaurant with meteor showers every 20 minutes or so where the lights on the ceiling flicker and change colors and there's sounds of thunder and such.  

Lily got the mushroom Swiss burger
I got the triassic trio (sirloin, scallops, and shrimp)
Steve got the brontosaurus burger. And Amara got Mac and cheese (not pictured)

For dessert, we had the chocolate extinction!  Get that!  It's chewy brownies, ice cream, chocolate sauce and crushed butterfinger served on a tray that is billowing smoke out of a central pillar.

THANKS dad and Deb for buying our lunch!  It was super special and a really fun place.

The remainder of our time was enjoyed relaxing at our airbnb and the clubhouse pool down the street.  We also visited everyone else at the Raptor Retreat where they were staying.  Bryndee did an awesome job with designing that rental.  
Amara and Maizie spent almost a whole day in the pool.  Glad they had each other.

relaxing in the shade at the clubhouse pool
Thanks Florida for the good times and the memories!
On our way to Maryland.  Frontier's seats don't recline, there's no snack/drink service, and we were lucky to get seats all together because we paid a very cheap airfare.