Today I realized that this is probably the longest I have been on vacation in my life. Well, if you can call it a vacation with six kids! No, they really haven't been that bad. We'll return to Utah in a week, spend a week there, and then spend a week traveling to Washington, DC. Eating home cooked meals is a treat now. It use to be that eating out was a treat, but we've been doing that a lot lately and will continue to do so for some time until we find a permanent home, perhaps in Maryland or maybe in Virginia. I have a new set of pots pans waiting to be opened when we find a home. Todd doesn't know this, but I bought some at Costco when he left. At first I was going to open up the box and use them, and then I thought, why unpack when you're going to have to repack them anyways. So, they just got added to the growing pile of boxes that was in the garage.
Last Thursday I drove over five hundred miles from Alamogordo to San Antonio to visit Todd. It was such a great trip! It was so much fun to see Todd and spend the weekend with him. The drive there wasn't so bad, just long. The speed limit is 80 most of the way. I always pictured Texas as flat, but the road to San Antonio wasn't so. It's not mountainous, by any means, but there are hills, plateaus, and valleys. Outside of El Paso, it's not much to see, but as you travel deeper into Texas, the landscape changes and it becomes greener. More humidity too. I've also got to admit that I have developed a bad habit while driving--I drink Dr. Pepper. It helps me not feel so sleepy and it wards off that dull headache you get when you've been traveling for a long time in a car with six kids, with at least one child screaming at any given moment. I'll have to say that Seth was probably one of the best during the drive. He doesn't mind being in his car seat which is a huge blessing. Kate, Emily, and Dane each took turns sitting in the seat next to him to help care for him. They would feed him bottles or entertain him for short periods of time. I bought a small TV for the van so the children can watch DVD's as we travel. How did we as children ever survive road trips? We never had a television in the car to watch! We did play a few road games, the ABC game and another game we call the Car game. Starting with the oldest in the family, you watch for oncoming cars and the first one that you pass is "your car". For some reason having a diesel pass when it's your turn is a very good thing. The kids always had to start with dad, even though he wasn't with us, because they didn't want to leave him out. And of course Seth had to be included too. It took us roughly ten hours to get to San Antonio. On the way there we made minimal stops. We didn't want to waste a minute of the time we had with Todd. We arrived at Lackland AFB around 6:30 on Thursday evening. Being in the military we are priviledged to stay on base if there is space available in their luxurious hotel suites. Todd is training at Fort Sam, but there was no space available there, so we stayed at Lackland. We went to a mexican restaurant for dinner. During dinner Karsten sees a fly land on our table, so he takes off his shoe and proceeds to try and smash it!
On Friday, Todd had to turn in some equipment and had his graduation ceremony. Since Todd really isn't a huge fan of graduation ceremonies, he told us not to worry about coming and so we just spent time shopping and driving around base to see if there were any open swimming pools. Not! Gonna get some getting use to living out side of Utah. When Todd got back on Friday we took the kids down to the River Walk and took a boat ride tour. Afterwards we ate dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe. The kids thought it was so fun, and that's all that really matters. In my opinion, the restaurant was nice, nothing fabulous. It was all decked out like a rainforest and we were priveleged to sit next to the gorillas who would hoop and hollar every half hour. Overall it really was a lot of fun. I have a few pictures that I'll post sometime when I can download them onto my own computer.
Saturday was the big day! We took the kids to Sea World. It was a very fun and very exciting day. Todd, Kate, and Alex went on every rollar coaster. Emily and Dane went on as many as their heighth would allow. Alex also went on every water slide as well. I held the baby, which I was perfectly fine with. I did go on one ride with the kids and was priveleged to be the one who went under the water fall! At least I wasn't hot anymore! Sea World to me is an amusement/water park with some aquatic animal shows sprinkled in. Nothing like I imagined, but not disappointing by any means. We saw three shows: the sea lions, the dolphins and baluga whales, and of course the orcas, or more commonly known as the killer whales, which, if you ask Emily, will remind you that a killer whale is not a whale at all, it is a dolphin, otherwise called an orca. It was amazing to watch the dolphins jump out of the water. Or watch an orca climb up on the deck. I could have watched them again! We did a lot of walking, and by evening we were exhausted. The kids had had enough and were very grumpy!
Saturday was also Todd's birthday. When we got home from Sea World we were suppose to surprise Todd with his present, but Dane and Karsten had already given it away the night before, I think. Can't keep a secret for nothin'. So, it wasn't too surprising, but still fun. We sang Happy Birthday to him and let him open his gift wrapped in an AAFES bag (wal-mart bag) and decided the cupcakes we had bought could wait until morning since we were all so tired.
Sunday was set aside for rest, as every Sabbath is meant. Todd gave me some nice jewelry for Mother's day. He's getting really good at this! Using Todd's recently acquired GPS on his phone, we set off in search of an LDS meeting house. Our first destination brought us to a Kingdom Hall for Jehovah's Witnesses. Not quite what we were looking for. Off again we go to another destination which did bring us to an LDS chapel. We quickly rush inside as we were just guessing at meeting times and find that a spanish speaking ward is about half way through their sacrament meeting. So we sit in the parking lot for an hour waiting for the next English sacrament meeting to start. By now I don't know what was going through Alex's mind, but he'd decided he'd had enough and turned into super stubborn man. Todd took the kids into the chapel to find a seat and I spent about a half hour trying to coax Alex out of a hot van and at least into the shade of the trees. I did get him out of the van but no further, so he spent all of sacrament meeting standing next to the van. We decided to skip the rest of the meetings and head back to our room and have lunch. Later that evening we went and met a few of the people Todd has been training with. We then returned back to our room and had lasagne for dinner. It was definately not as good as the ones I make, but we made do. Sadly, it was time for bed seeing as how Todd had to be back at Fort Sam at 5:30 in the morning for PT.
The drive back to Alamogordo took us a little longer, eleven hours, as I decided not to rush back. Just drive and enjoy. It was hard to let Todd go again, perhaps because we've been through a lot these past seven weeks. But we'll be together again in less than two weeks, so really no big deal, right? I hate the thought of deployment, but what do you expect when you join the military? It's just part of life. Hopefully his deployments will be no longer than six months. That is what we've been told anyways, but you never know. Things always change. I'm grateful for the memories we make when we are together! We're planning a mini-vacation as travel across country as well. We plan on seeing Mount Rushmore and stopping in Nauvoo. Just planning on more and more fun!