Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The City of Parks, Part ?

A few days after Martha's family left to go back home, we went on our annual (pretty much) trip to the City of Parks. I was trying to figure out how many years we've gone up there (thanks to the folks' timeshare), but we've missed a few years here and there. It's been since the girls were little, though. 

Anyway, even though we've been up there a bunch of times to stay, this year was a year of firsts. This was the first year that none of my siblings were around to split up the week with, so we got to stay the WHOLE TIME. Talk about fun. Another first was that this was my first ever working vacation. That just meant that the kids got to do more things with just their dad. It's usually the other way around, so I don't think they minded the opportunity at all. The other first is that Pen wasn't with us on vacation. She had to stay home to go to dance camp for her dance company. It was weird, but gave us a taste of what it will be like when she's gone at college next year. 

The first thing we usually do when we get to the resort is take a stroll around. I captured this cute picture of the besties together. Edith was over the moon with excitement to be on vacation for a whole week with her dad. 

After our walk we settled in for dinner followed by an evening of games. While I was getting dinner ready, Edith discovered the ginormous tub. She loved swimming in the pool followed by "swimming" in the tub while we were there. 

I only took one picture of the game-playing, but it was a big part of our vacation (as usual). Edith discovered the game of UNO, and she's ruthless. :) If you moan and groan after she dumps a Draw Four on you she singsongs, "That's just part of the game!"

Being at the resort for a whole week instead of just a few days made us feel more free to take advantage of the resort's offered activities, rather than just trying to maximize our swimming time and ride the rides. Because I had a lot of work to do, Rophone usually took the kids after breakfast to do one of the activities offered by the resort while I got some things done. Then they would come back for lunch and a little game-playing, followed by an afternoon swim for all of us. After the swim, we'd eat dinner and I'd join them for some game-playing or something else for a little while in the evening before I did a little more work. It ended up being a really great arrangement. 

The first morning, Rophone took the kids and Edith got to finger paint for the very first time. She doesn't like being messy, but ended up relaxing about the paint on her hands and having a really good time. The finished artwork is beautiful. Thanks for the great photo, Ginger!

We went swimming that afternoon for 2 1/2 hours before dinner. Ginger snapped some photos with my phone before she hopped in the pool. Thanks again, Ginger! I got out and snapped a few, too, resolving to bring my regular camera down to the pool before we left. Still, phone cameras do pretty well.

Hey! Proof that I was there. Getting whacked in the face as Edith was trying to throw the water bomb, but I was there!

We were all pretty worn out after swimming, so Rophone set the kids up watching an episode of 'My Little Pony' on his laptop. A perfect after-swim activity, for sure. 

The next morning, Rophone took the kids on a photo scavenger hunt. They had a really good time. Bud is the one who took all of the photos of this activity. Thanks, Bud!

"Majority of the team doing handstands":

"Imitating a Statue":

That afternoon we went on another long swim. And this time I brought along my real camera. It was a beautiful afternoon for swimming and we had a great time.

Edith loved spending time with her grandma in the kids' hot tub when she started to shiver  in the big pool. 

The other kids loved playing "Monkey in the Middle" with their grandma. I don't think they realize that not everybody's grandma does that. 

Big climbed out of the pool over and over again to dunk the ball. After a while, it was all he could do to drag himself out because he was so tired. It made me laugh, but I admire his determination and dedication. 

On the third morning we were there, Bud and Ginger competed in the resort's Iron Chef competition. They went downstairs at 9:30 to receive the secret ingredient (Granny Smith apple) with instructions to return with their finished dish at 12:30 for judging. After some discussion, the kids decided to make a gourmet grilled cheese. We already had two kinds of cheese they could use, so Rophone took the kids to the store for some nice bread and an onion. Two-cheese grilled cheese with sautéed apple and caramelized onions on sourdough bread? Sign me up! 

Here's a picture of Bud caramelizing the onions:

And here's Ginger, slicing the apples to be sautéed:

These two really love being in the kitchen. I gave them some advice, and showed them a few techniques, but they did all of the actual cooking themselves. And look how gorgeous it looks! 

Off to judging:

Obviously it tasted as good as it looks, because they won! Way to go, kids!

After the judging, the attendees were told they could sample all of the entries. Well, except for the grilled cheese because the judges ate it all. :) It inspired us to have delicious grilled cheese for lunch, too. 

While the kids were cooking, my mom discovered a crazy long arm hair. Yeah, she's holding it in the tips of her fingers. I had to document it. 

The kids liked hanging out in front of the resort, too, relaxing in the giant rocking chairs and drinking fruit water. The temperatures were so much cooler there than at home, so it was nice to just be outside.

In the middle of the week we had a cooler, rainy day. Perfect for a lot of game playing and a visit to the outlets! It was nice to do a little something different with our afternoon to break up the week. We got the kids a few things for school and I got a few things for life, so it was fun.

The next day was the day we rode the rides. Finally! We made the kids wait almost the whole week, knowing that if we did it too early they'd be begging us to do it again. Sorry kids, it's a one time shot. I chose to go on the Alpine Coaster with Bud and Ginger, and we were super happy when my mom decided to join us. I convinced her that she'd like it and she did! It was tons of fun.

When we were done (after a long wait in line under the glaring sun), Rophone and the two youngest were still not on the chair lift to go up to do the Alpine Slide. All the time in the sun made Rophone not feel well (stupid Crohn's), so I took his place in line with Big and Edith. I had a hard time deciding which ride I wanted to do, but now I was getting to do both! I feel bad that Rophone had to miss out, though. 

Here we are headed up on the chair lift (so bright):

And here we are at the top getting ready to slide down. 

After a week of missing out on a lot of activities with the kids, it was really fun to be able to be with the kids for both things. I really like seeing them have fun.

That night we went out by the pool to roast some s'mores. It was something we've never done there before and it was tons of fun. 

Way to multi-task, Ginger!

To be honest, a lot of the reason we wouldn't do some things at the resort is because families that were staying there used to smuggle a lot of family and friends in to do things with them, so it was craaaazy crowded. This year they instituted a wristband system and it's amazing how much less overrun it was. It made it much more enjoyable to do things.

Finally, the day before we left, I was able to go on a hike. Edith and Big wanted to go (of course), and then my mom decided to come with us at the last minute. Fun! I love hiking up there-- the air is clearer, there are more trees...so nice. It's a beautiful hike.

Edith used the hotel room's notepad to try her hand at drawing a Mack Truck. I think it's super, and I think we did a pretty darn good job of checking the suggested items off on the To-Do list. 

Thanks, Mom, for taking us with you to the City of Parks! We had such a good time! It's a great tradition we really enjoy.


jww said...

That really looks SO FUN and relaxing!!! So glad you could go.

Sue said...

So awesome. I was sad we didn't get to go this year, but glad you guys didn't have to split it with anyone! I love the pictures of Big tiredly climbing out of the pool! And glad you got some things for life at the outlet :)