Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Parenting

There are times I feel like I'm failing as a parent. I know everyone feels like that, but sometimes, I just wonder why on Earth I was given the responsibility to parent three children.

Like when we are in the middle of the Pacific ocean cruising to a tropical location and two of my kids are acting like absolute brats fighting with each other.  Like when one kid had a fit because their one gift at Christmas wasn't as good as the three another sibling got. Like when I have mountains of laundry, dirty dishes in the sink, a full dishwasher, poop on the side of the toilet and not one kid will offer to lend me a hand. That would require putting down their electronic device and noticing what is going on around them, and let's face it, most kids are oblivious to that.  Heck, most parents are!

Then, there are moments when I feel like I'm nailing it and everything will be okay.

Emily got all A's on her report card.  They only do semester assemblies, so we don't go to one for her again until the end of the year. But, we are so proud of her. All of her academic classes are honors courses and she's really stepped up and has excelled.

Noah got mostly O's and a couple of S's. They don't start letter grades until 3rd grade, but he's come leaps and bounds in his reading this year. He started the year still reading little picture type books, and over Spring Break he read Diary of a Wimpy Kid!  That's a huge jump in 6 months!  They also don't do assemblies for Noah until 3rd grade.

Ben had his assembly yesterday. He was called up so many times, he should've just sat on the stage.

Here he is for Principal's List (all A's). There were only 7 kids in all of 5th grade to get all A's!

Here he is being called up for Perfect Attendance.  He hasn't missed a day or been late all year. This makes 2 years in a row as he had perfect attendance in 4th grade too.


They acknowledged the kids from Honors that did the Wright Flight program.


And he also got Student of the Quarter:



And prior to the assembly his teacher came over to David and I and said how impressed she was with Ben's recent essay on Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken. She said his deep thinking and writing should be published!  Last week when Ben wrote it, I asked David to look it over for punctuation. David read it and asked if I helped Ben write it, nope, not a word. The only thing I did was suggest he make paragraphs since he had it as one giant paragraph. But, the words were all Ben's.  Honestly, I couldn't help him if I wanted, Ben's already surpassed me in his writing skills. 

I'm going to copy it here, just so we have it always.
Here's the actual poem if you are not familiar with it:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

And here is Ben's essay:  
The Road Less Traveled Theory
By Ben Galeana

In this poem, I don't think that the man is a traveler or that he's in the woods. Instead, I think that he is struggling to make a difficult decision. Something I noticed he says, in the very first line, is the two paths are diverged in a yellow wood. I “Googled” it and it said that yellow is a non-tolerable color if you are going through a lot of change. The narrator in this poem, alias Robert Frost, seemed rather depressed for the duration of this poem.

This could mean that he is going through a ton of change. However, it says nothing about the grass being yellow, so I will just assume that the grass is green. Green resembles ambition and greed. But remember, this isn't actually grass and the man is not in a forest. The colors are not there, but the colors' meanings are what his choices include.

His two choices, which represent the paths, are either: one, taking the long and hard way; or two, taking the easy way. The poem was written in 1920, just nine years away from World War I. The number nine resembles pain and long lasting, just like the first world war. The great depression also took place during World-War I!

The great depression was at a time when earning money was very, very difficult. So, if this poem takes place during the great depression, then I may have his choices figured out. The short and simple path is stealing money since the narrator is very poor. The long and hard path is him not giving up and still looking for more civilized ways to receive money. This would also explain why he says, “Oh, I kept the first for another day!” It means that he has been doing the long and hard path, but it just isn't working out for him.

And finally, the last stanza will be explained. I say that it represents what would happen if he took the simple choice or the hard choice. Him saying, “ I shall be telling this with a sigh,” means that he decided to take the easy choice and stole, got arrested, and went to jail. However, saying, “ I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” means that he took the hard path and his life turned out for the better. However, even if he took the hard path, it didn't exactly end with a happy ending. You see, the narrator of the story, Robert Frost, died while serving our country in World War I.

Okay, so this is the timeline: World War I happens and the great depression begins. A man doesn't have a job and struggles to earn money. He has two choices. The first, do not give up and keep looking for a job, and the second, become a crook and steal cash. If he took the easy way, stealing, he'd be caught and look at this moment with a sigh. However, if he took the hard way, he'd soon fight in the army to get some money. He died doing this, but is now known as a military hero and has made a lasting impression... and that's made all the difference. 

Geez, maybe Ben should take over this blog!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Taking Flight

As part of the honors program at Ben's school, they get to participate in the Wright Flight program in fifth grade.  It's an intensive study in navigation and coordinates that the kids work on for 2 months. They have to pass a test before they can participate. Emily didn't take the test and get in honors until sixth grade, so she didn't get to participate, which is too bad as it was such a neat experience.

It takes place in Tucson, which is a little over 3 hours south of us.  They have to be to the airport by 7 AM, so we decided to drive down Friday night. We stopped at Sweet Tomatoes in Phoenix since it's semi healthy with a salad bar and stuff.  But, it also has an ice cream bar, which the kids loved.


We got a hotel right next to the airport.  The kids love staying in hotels.


Ben cracks me up. Last night, he's laying like this on the sofa and he says to me, "paint me Jack". He's quoting Titanic.  He's silly.


We had to wake the kids up at 6 AM and they were so tired. We all were. Luckily, the Tucson airport was a whole.2 miles away from our hotel.  It was nice it was so close.


There were 15 kids. They got checked in and had to go to a safety briefing for a bit.


David went in and listened.  I stayed in the other room with the Emily and Noah.


Here's the big group of Wright Flight kids.


There were 8 planes.  Ben's was the second one in. The red one.


Ben went up with another classmate and Steve was their pilot.


Here's Steve.  I felt pretty safe with trusting Ben with him. He's been in the Air Force.


Steve took everything very seriously and went over everything with the boys. Ben seemed a little out of it at first. I think he was tired and a little scared.


I sent Ben up with a camera.  He was trying it out.


Ben's in the backseat for now.  They flew to Nogales, which is on the border to Mexico and about 60 miles from Tucson.  Ben was in the back for the first half. Then, they land in Nogales and switch places and then Ben got in the front.


The propeller started and there was no turning back!


Eeek!  We were all a little freaked out.  We knew he'd be fine.  But...  You just never know. I mean if JFK junior can crash a plane and he had the best training and plane money could buy...  This is the stuff you think about when you send your kid up in a tiny plane with a man you've never meant.


Here he goes...on the runway.


There he is...that little dot in the middle of the red circle.  


They were going to be gone an hourish, so we went back to the hotel, since it was so close. We got packed up, ate a little more for breakfast since we didn't have much at 6 AM, David and Emily took showers, and we headed back.  I was glad to have my mind off things and not be sitting there worrying for an hour.

Then, we got back to the airport and some of the kids were already back.  Ben was about the 6th of 8 to take off, so I was hoping he wasn't back already.  We went in and there 4 planes back.

So we waited...here's a plane....no him.

Here's another one....nope not him....


Definitely, not him!  We didn't realized that so many major airlines flew out of Tucson. 


Is this him???  YES!  Yippee!  


And here they are after a perfect landing with Ben as copilot!




He had a great time!  His favorite part was taking control of the plane.  I thought they'd get like 20 seconds of holding the controls, but it was more like 20 minutes. He loved it!

Pilot Steve was super impressed with Ben and kept saying that Ben was a great navigator and knew so much of the lingo.


Ben was thrilled with the experience and I think he was thrilled to be back on the ground again.


Here were the pics Ben took with the camera he took up:

This was the oldest plane there.  David said when he looked in, the armrest still had an ashtray in it!  Ok, that made us a little nervous.


Here's a pic of Ben in the plane.  


Ben took this last picture of his family before he went up.  I looked at him in the window and gave him a thumbs up and I could tell he was nervous.


Here's his view....




And the landing....


We were going to do something in Tucson, but we just decided to head home. We were all beat.  We've had so much rain lately, the desert is so pretty with tons of wildflowers.


This little guy was wiped out!


We are happy to be home.  This was the third weekend in a row that we drove 400 miles. Two weekends ago, was 400 miles to Long Beach. Last weekend was 400 miles home. This weekend was 200 miles to Tucson and 200 miles home.  We aren't going anywhere for awhile!

But, we are so grateful Ben got to have this experience.  Ben can say in 10 days, he went zipling through the jungle in Mexico and flew a plane!  How many 11 year olds can say that?  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Home

We woke up to a cloudy overcast day in Long Beach, California, which is typical. It's always overcast in the morning. 

David and I were talking about what a major production a cruise ship is.  It runs pretty seamless for everything they have to do.  Passengers start getting on the ship almost as quickly as passengers are getting off.  They turn the ship around in a matter of about 6 hours and it's ready to go again for another week.  There was a steady stream of 18 wheelers unloading food at the port.


This is the Queen Mary which serves now as a hotel and museum. They say it's haunted.


This big dome building is where they check you in and out.


I woke up early and was sitting up in the dining area enjoying coffee and looking out the windows.  Then, I saw David walk up.  We were chatting about the birds in the water and drinking our coffee. Then, I looked around the dining area, which was unusually quiet. Nobody was talking and they all had their faces in a phone.  See our phone batteries are still dead and our chargers are in the van just beyond the dome building above. There was no more asking "where you from" or "what excursion did you do", etc. Everyone was consumed by email and facebook now that we all had cell service again.  Oh trust me, if I had a charged phone, I'd be doing the same thing, but it was just sad.  Sad that we enjoy looking at a screen more than we do looking at people.  Sad that we'd rather get a "like" from someone we haven't talked to in 25 years on Facebook, then talk to our spouse and see what they liked best about the cruise. It's just pathetic really.

Then, we walked to the area where we were waiting to get off the ship and every single person had a device in their face. Again, I would've been doing the same thing. But, when it's taken from you, you realize how awful it is, and that it is changing the human race, and not for the better.


Speaking of which, I called David the other day at work from my cell phone and his voice mail picked up. Normally, I'd just hang up and text him, but instead, I left him a message.  But, this is what I said, "Hi babe period wondering if you found your blue tooth at work question mark I remember carrying it in from the car on a book or maybe it was the Costco pizza box period haha exclamation point". Then, I remembered I was leaving a voice message, but I was doing talk to text and I laughed and laughed and laughed. 

And then we got in our van and the first thing we did was plug in our phones.  But, hey, we needed to know how to get to our next destination.  No, not home, the BEACH!

Yes, we had a 7 hour driving ahead of us, but when one of our favorite Cali beaches is 5 miles away, you go to the beach for a few hours.  Anything to squeeze a few more hours of sunshine out of this trip.

Ben likes to wander.



Noah likes to build sand castles.


And pretend to surf.


And Emily found some really cool seashells.


We were only there for a few hours, but it was enough to get us through the long drive home.

Now, where are we going next?

I say that jokingly, but I just put the last suitcase away yesterday and I have to take it back out tonight. We are headed to Tucson tomorrow for an overnight stay. It's 3 hours away.  Ben gets to fly a plane with his honors class at school through the Wright Flight program.  Don't worry, I'll post lots of pics on Facebook.  :)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Puerto Vallarta

We LOVED Puerto Vallarta.  This was my view out our balcony the  morning we woke up.


I don't know who these little Mexican men were, but they were cute.


We did a little gift shopping and then walked 5 minutes to the place where we were getting picked up for our zipline tour. The picked us up in an open jeep type truck. It was so awesome. We could really get a feel of the town driving through and seeing everything.


The streets were packed and you could literally reach out and shake hands with the driver next to you.


It was so pretty there.  I couldn't snap a lot of pics as our driver was whizzing by the town, but it was so nice.


I loved the bougainvillea growing all over this hotel.


And even though there were hotel zones, we got to see the real Mexican parts.  I thought it interesting that even though nobody has windows, they all have satellite dishes.  Priorities.


About 40 minutes later, we arrived at the zipline. They have all these monkeys and other animals. My kids could've spent all day looking at these cute little monkeys. These are always our favorite at the zoo.



Here is our motley crew after our debriefing about all the zipline info.  


And here we go up to our first zipline.


This is the first one called the Bambino.  It was tiny and a good first zipline.


Ben was probably the most nervous which surprised me.



Noah thought he was going to be able to go with someone.  But, he got up there and was so brave and just flew down El Bambino!


Emily even went upside down at one point! 

Ziplines were so fun. It was more than 2 miles of lines and some were 1,000 feet high and 1,000 feet long. That's like a 100 story building!  I couldn't believe the kids were so brave and up for anything.




Then after, we couldn't wait to get in the river!


They had these awesome water slides. The kids looked like little puppets flying off of them.




It was like a giant jungle gym. We could've stayed there all day.



They had so many awesome animals.  Well, not that I like snakes and spiders, but they are cool.





Then, the kids got to go into the monkey house.


And oh my gosh, Emily's face in this series of photos is the best.  She was loving this little monkey on her.





Then, it jumped from Emily to Alanah!



Then, the boys got to go in and man, I hate that I don't know how to use my camera properly.


Seriously, I don't know how to focus and well, I got great pictures of the fence! Urgh, so frustrating. One day, I will learn how to work my fancy camera.


They also have cool birds.


On the way home, we stopped to get a photo with this popular rock formation.



Here's some videos of ziplining and after.


We returned to the ship, just in time to catch a beautiful sunset.  

It was the BEST day!