Trip

Disneyland

Posted in Family outings, Trip on October 19th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment
Castle pic

On Tuesday, the four of us took a break from the beach to go to Disneyland. We had hoped to go with one of my coworkers and his family, but they ended up not being able to go. So, it was just a Sellers family outing. We left our beach house early in the morning to avoid traffic and get to Anaheim before the park opened. Sadly, Molly got carsick on the way there, but she recovered quickly after we arrived.

Our first stop was to sign up for Jedi Training. We were expecting a long line like we found in Orlando, but found there to be no line at all and we had our pick of times to train.

We had hoped to take the girls on Space Mountain for the first time, but it was sadly closed during our visit. So, instead, we got on our first ride - Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (which also had no line).

Buzz Lightyear

Buzz Lightyear

We then went across the park to the Indiana Jones Adventure. The girls did not like this one (too scary), but they made it through. I think Leah said she just kept her eyes closed the entire time.

There was much debate about whether to do Splash Mountain or not, as the girls didn’t want to get soaked. After seeing it, they were happy to try it. Here we go down the big drop at the end.

Splash Mountain

We ate our packed lunches in New Orleans Square, then went on one of our favorite rides - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which we actually rode a second time later in the day because we liked it so much.

The girls did Jedi Training, as they had done in Orlando. Leah is excellent at calming her mind to use the Force.

Use the force

Half the kids fight Darth Vader, while the other half fight the Seventh Sister. In Orlando, they fought the Seventh Sister, so I was glad they got to fight Darth Vader this time.

Fighting Vader

Fighting Vader

Fighting Vader

After Jedi Training, we had to ride on Star Tours to continue the Star Wars fun. We only rode it one time this trip.

That wasn’t true of the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which we rode twice unintentionally. We rode it once, but then the staff said they needed to take our sled off the course for a minute to help with flow control. So, we slid off to side for a couple of minutes. When they let us back on the course, they told us we’d get to ride for a second time for our trouble without even having to get out of the sled.

It was a hot day, and we got the perfect cold treat. As a kid, my favorite thing at Disney World was the Mickey Mouse ice cream pop. So, we of course all got one. It was fantastic.

The best treat

Most of the stuff in Toontown was geared toward little kids and uninteresting to our girls, but Gadget’s Go Coaster caught their eye. It’s really small and short, but there was no line. So, we rode it three times in a row.

Gadget's Go Coaster

We enjoyed the afternoon parade, including Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins

We rode on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, cooling off under the sea.

Finding Nemo

We ate dinner at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Café. We walked through the castle, and then went on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. Afterward, the girls demonstrated how they looked while riding it.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

We rode the Mad Tea Party, and did Big Thunder Mountain Railroad again.

We stayed all day, so got a picture in front of the lit up castle at night. The girls appreciated that Disneyland has a different castle than Disney World (Sleeping Beauty’s instead of Cinderella’s).

Night-time castle

I think we all gave Disneyland a big thumbs up.

California trip

Posted in Trip on October 18th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

I work for an incredibly awesome company. We’re a fairly small team, somewhat distributed geographically across the United States. We decided that we should really hang out together some. This resulted in a company-wide retreat to Los Angeles. So, the company flew all of us, and our families, to California. We rented a couple of big fancy houses on Venice Beach for the week and had a great time.

We left a day late (since we had to stay in town for Molly’s belt test) and arrived late Saturday. Sunday was a relaxed day, just hanging out and exploring around the area. We walked down the Venice Beach Boardwalk for a while (which is cool, though not exactly our thing) and then wandered down to the ocean. This meant the girls got to see and touch the Pacific Ocean for the first time.

Pacific first

Cold splash

Chilly ocean

Leah was excited about playing in the sand, and we made plans to return with proper sand castle tools.

Sand play

That night, we joined up with everyone else at the house we were staying at for dinner and fellowship. It was fun to get to meet co-workers and their families in person for the first time. Three of us decided to go running together in the morning, which we did.

After lunch on Monday, my family decided to head up the beach a bit to the Santa Monica Pier. It has a bunch of fun stuff (ferris wheel, roller coaster, games, etc.). After we got there, we found it to be more of a tourist trap than we hoped (every little thing cost way too much). We ended up skipping the rides and just getting some fun ice cream cones from Scoops (Cookie Monster, Salted Caramel, Mango, and Cookie Dough). They were a total mess, but very yummy.

Santa Monica Pier

After our failed adventure to Santa Monica Pier, we decided to hit the beach by our house. Leah was still a little timid around the ocean water, but Molly loved playing in the surf.

To the beach

In the surf

Beach fun

Getting wet

Strike a pose

Strike a pose

Get wet

But that was just the start to our trip. There’s a lot to do in L.A. besides the beach, so the next day we headed to the happiest place on Earth. That deserves its own post, of course.

Goodbye Aruba

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on August 19th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Eventually, our trip to Aruba had to come to an end. It was a great trip, and it was great to get away together. I don’t think it was our favorite island destination we’ve been to (that would probably go to our Puerto Rico trip or the Bahamas), but it was a great place. And, if you’re the sort that likes to just sit on the beach for a long time, Aruba’s beaches are awesome. Sadly, that’s not us.

I think this will be our last trip to an island for a while. Jen’s motion sickness keeps getting worse, so water activities are becoming bad choices as evidenced by this trip. So, maybe next time we’ll have to check out the Grand Canyon or New England or something.

I can’t end this on a negative note. We had a great trip to Aruba, and got to spend an entire week just the two of us. Thanks again to Grams for keeping the girls so we could do this.

Sun and aloe

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on August 18th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

We tend to focus more on active things than chilling on the beach, but we did spend a little bit of time on the beach in front of our resort. We also discovered that by staying in the area that caters more to Europeans, you get the occasional (to our right and our left) topless sunbather (not pictured).

Beach time

Most of Aruba is dedicated to the tourism industry, but they do have at least one product that they are known for exporting. Given that they get so much sun, that product is a logical choice - aloe. We went to the Aruba Aloe factory and got the tour. Here our guide shows us the inside of the aloe plant right next to rows of aloe on the aloe farm.

Aruba Aloe

Aloe farm

Aruba Aloe farm

We also got to tour the factory, though it wasn’t fully operating since it was the weekend.

Aruba Aloe factory

Aruba Aloe factory

They make lotions, creams, soaps, and more. And we managed to make it out of the place having only bought a couple of things, which I call a win.

Eating around Aruba

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on August 17th, 2017 by c-had – 1 Comment

We try not to eat out all the time when on vacation. Thankfully, with a kitchenette in our hotel room and a grocery store within walking distance, we managed to avoid restaurants for a couple meals a day. That said, we still ate out several times and had some excellent meals.

The night we arrived, we went to Yemanja Woodfired Grill in Oranjestad. It’s a nice restaurant with good food. It was a bit of a pain to get to since there were cruise ships in port creating a lot of traffic, but that was thankfully the only day cruise ships were in port during our trip. Not cheap, but nothing in Aruba seems to be cheap. I had the BBQ mahi-mahi and Jen had the grilled swordfish. Jen’s favorite part of the meal was the pesto risotto. This turned out to be our only meal we ate indoors - most restaurants had outdoor seating given the always perfect weather. We failed to get a picture at dinner (sorry).

A couple days later after our busted eco-tour, we decided to find some dinner near the hotel. Our concierge recommended we try Tulip, a restaurant offering traditional Aruban food down the street that seemed to be somehow associated with our hotel. We arrived and found the place deserted (we were actually the only patrons for part of our meal). I had the Keshi Yena, a traditional Aruban casserole with pulled chicken in tomato sauce with raisins and green olives, gratinated with Gouda cheese. It was different, but good. Jen had grouper, and learned that she’s not the biggest fan of grouper. We failed to get a picture at dinner again (sorry again).

Saturday for lunch we decided to skip the PB&J and try something different. There was a fish monger next to the grocery store called Daily Fish. In addition to buying fish to cook yourself, they would fry the seafood for you. It was much more reasonably priced than the other restaurants (around $10 per person), so we thought we’d try it. I had fried cod and Jen had the calamari, both with potato wedges and coleslaw. We also tried a coconut soda there for the first time, which Jen liked so much she started searching Amazon to see if she could get it in the states. The lunch certainly wasn’t fancy, but it was good and inexpensive, which was perfect for us.

Daily Fish

Saturday night we went to Madame Janette, a restaurant known for great food, and it did not disappoint. What’s in front of me may look like a potato, but it’s actually their Cordon Bleu Schnitzel. They took ham and dutch gouda, then wrapped it in their famous schnitzel. It was delicious, as was Jen’s gnocchi fungi e tartufi.

Madame Janette's

Despite being very full from an excellent meal, we still ordered dessert. It was delicious.

Dessert

We knew we had to try Dutch Pancakes at some point on our trip. So, on Sunday we ventured into Oranjestad again to wander around and get lunch at the Dutch Pancake House. I had a Dutch pancake (it covers the whole plate, thinner than American pancakes but thicker than a crepe) with fruit and whipped cream. Jen had poffertjes (kind of like silver dollar pancakes but puffier). They were delicious, as was the fresh squeezed orange juice.

Dutch Pancake House

Monday, we had reservations at The Flying Fishbone for a fancy dinner. However, we had just been on a long excursion (and eaten a late lunch). We also discovered that we were going to have a 40 minute cab ride to get to the restaurant. Neither of us was up for that. So, we cancelled and ate at our hotel’s Passions on the Beach. It’s a restaurant that is set up daily on the beach.

Final dinner date

Here’s a view of the restaurant. Every afternoon at 4:30 they clear this area of all beach-goers and set up tables for dinner. The kitchen is a permanent building behind the tables.

Passions on the Beach

We sat down just before sunset, and got to watch the sun set on the beach as we waited for our food to arrive. It got a bit dark while we were actually eating, but it was still very nice. I had the grouper with scallops and shrimp, and Jen had the Mediterranean shrimp. It was good, though not great. It was also quite expensive, but at least we saved the money from that long cab ride.

Our table

Overall, we ate really well. Just be prepared to spend a lot on food if you’re planning a trip to Aruba.

Finally, a complete eco-tour

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on August 16th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After the failure that was our first excursion into Aruba’s natural wonders, we debated about what to do. We’d been looking forward to that tour more than anything, and we felt like we were cheated out of the experience we wanted. We didn’t really want to spend more money on another tour (we’d already spent enough money on this vacation), but we really wanted to see more of the undeveloped part of Aruba. So, we eventually decided to book another one with a more reputable company (thanks to Courtney for recommending them). They had jeeps that actually worked (and were surprisingly comfortable, though Jen did have to hold the door closed up front since it didn’t latch). And we were glad to have the jeeps, since the terrain was pretty rough.

Jeep tour number 2

We drove the jeeps up a hill to see the view of the coastline.

View from on high

Our tour took us back the the Natural Bridge. It was pretty much the same as our first visit there.

Back at the Natural Bridge

We then went to another place nearby to explore a cave at the coast. Here’s Jen climbing down.

Cave exploring

We walked along some rocks toward our cave destination.

On a rock

Eventually, we came upon a cave with a pool of water, protected from the ocean by some rocks. Our guide Eduardo (next to me) told us to jump in. Many thought he was joking (it was about 10 feet down), but Jen and I were ready to go. Here I go.

Jump

Mid-air

Falling

Splash down

Then it was Jen’s turn to jump. She went for the cannonball approach.

Jen ready to jump

Cannonball

It was a very nice pool in a cave. We explored it for a while before climbing out to continue our tour.

In a cave

We then went to the Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins, where the Dutch used to process the gold before shipping it back to The Netherlands.

Gold mill

Gold mill ruins

Gold mill inside

We saw the Ayo Rock Formation, but did not go up to it. It gets really hot in the middle of the day as it is made of volcanic rock (like much of Aruba).

Ayo Rock Formation

We also visited Fontein Cave in Arikok National Park, which was inland a bit.

Fontein Cave

Fontein Cave contained lots of cave drawings from the Arawak Indians.

Cave drawings

This is what you look like in a dark cave when someone takes your picture with a flashlight.

In headlights

We then drove on to Baby Beach again, which was actually supposed to be part of this tour (unlike our previous one). While most of Baby Beach was very shallow, a small part of it was deep enough to snorkel (snorkel gear was provided on this tour). Jen tried snorkeling again at Baby Beach, and didn’t get seasick. Hurray!

Snorkeling

There were lots of fish there. Some of them were quite large.

Big fish

Black fish

A fish

This visit to Baby Beach was much more enjoyable than the first.

Baby Beach selfie

We then dried off and headed back to the ABC Tours facility where they provided lunch. They have a little restaurant on site which served the lunch that was included in the tour. It was quite good.

The tour was great. I’d highly recommend ABC Tours to anyone. We wish we’d decided to go with them originally. Our guides were great, the sites were good, the lunch was good, and most importantly, the jeep never broke down.

Our jeep

Sunset kayaking

Posted in Celebrations, Trip on August 15th, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

After Jen getting seasick on our sailing adventure and having a busted eco-tour, we were excited to try a different excursion. This time, we went for a night kayak tour. We’ve done kayaking on previous trips and really enjoyed it. We were excited to do it in Aruba. Jen was a little worried about being on the sea again, but she took two Bonine and thought she’d be fine.

The tour was supposed to have other people, but they cancelled at the last minute. So, it was just us and our guides. We had a clear bottom kayak to see the marine life under the boat. Jen’s smiling at the beginning of the adventure.

Kayaking

We got started as the sun went down so we could see the sunset from the ocean.

Kayaking

Sunset from a kayak

Sunset behind Jen

Sunset

Kayaking

Our clear bottom kayak was equipped with underwater lights so we can see the fish after the sun goes down.

Lights

We didn’t see any larger or more colorful fish under the lights (like those we’d seen snorkeling a couple days before). I guess they had all gone to bed. We did see some little fish, though.

Little fish

Sadly, this was where things went wrong. Despite taking two Bonine, Jen got seasick. Our guide asked if everything was OK, and she told him the situation. So, we stopped paddling around and just headed straight back to the beach.

Once we got there, we sat in the parking lot while Jen recovered and our guides packed up the boats. We could see the lighthouse well from there.

Lighthouse

They gave us some fruit, iced tea, and water as post-paddling refreshment. After 20 minutes or so, the stuff was packed and Jen was feeling up to driving back to our hotel.

Our guides were great. I’d definitely recommend a kayak tour with Clear Kayak Aruba, though I’d probably choose one of their day tours in a different area to see more life under the water. That of course assumes that you don’t have major problems with motion sickness. For us, I think this’ll be our last kayak tour. I don’t think our next anniversary trip will involve any boats.

My Manidokan Trip

Posted in Church, Molly, Trip on August 3rd, 2017 by molly – Comments Off on My Manidokan Trip

Hi, it’s Molly. I had a great time at camp. On Sunday, first I got there. Then I unpacked. I was sharing a room with my friends Riley and Keira at the time.

Old friends

I also had some more friends named Sarah, Emma, Jordan, Haley, Grace, Lilly, and Camille with me.

Friends

Riley, Keira, Molly (me), Lilly, Camille

Church friends

Sarah, Molly (me), Emma, Sarah (Emma’s older sister)

School friends

Jordan, Grace, Molly (me), Haley

Last year I only had one friend, this year I had nine friends.

After unpacking I changed into my bathing suit to take the swim test with Riley and Keira. After the swim test I had to say goodbye to my family. When they left I hung out in my lodge until dinner. After dinner I went to the campfire with my group. We sang some songs, saw pirates, and then some of my counselors came back from somewhere else claiming they had not seen the pirates like we did. We did not have s’mores that night though. After everything we went back to the lodge and had snack. Then I went to bed.

On Monday, first I woke up. Then I had breakfast. After breakfast I did Bible study. The 5-6 kids (me) had two groups of kids to do some things like rafting and pool games because we had 30 kids. I did the rock wall with group B. Group A did rafting. Here is me on the rock wall.

Climbing wall

After the rock wall Group B had lunch. Group A had lunch at land near the river they were rafting on. After lunch Group B had pool games. We didn’t have pool time though because they heard thunder. So I hung out at the lodge. Then after an hour of waiting we had store time. Store time is when you can buy stuff from the camp store. After store time we went back to our lodge and had free time until dinner. After dinner we had the evening activity. After the evening activity we went back to the lodge and had snack. Then I went to bed.

On Tuesday, first I woke up. Then I had breakfast. After breakfast I did Bible study. After Bible study I went on the Sawmill Creek Hike. I did not jump off the rock this time because the water was freezing. Anyone that jumped off the rock was shivering when their head was above water. It was hard to get used to the water. After Sawmill I had lunch. After lunch we did zip lining. Here’s a video of me on the zip line (I’m videoing on the zip line).

After zip lining I had pool time. Then I had store time. After I got my stuff from the store I went back to the lodge and had free time. After my free time I had dinner. Then I did the evening activity. After that I went back to the lodge and had snack. Then I went to bed.

On Wednesday, first I woke up. Then I had breakfast. After breakfast I did Bible study. Then I went to get ready for rafting with group B. After getting ready for rafting I got in a van and the driver drove us to the destination that we started rafting at. First we rafted to our lunch spot. Then when we got to our lunch destination and we ate lunch. After having lunch at the lunch destination we got to go swimming. Where we swam there was a jumping rock. The jumping rock was a long rock that was just above shore, but where you jumped in the water got a lot deeper. Here’s me and some of my friends when we jumped off.

Ready to jump

Jumping in the river

After swimming for 30-45 minutes we started rafting again. After 50 minutes to an hour we got to the rapids. After everyone went through the rapids we got to swim in the water. During that time we played king of the raft. But sadly, Jordan couldn’t play due to her swimmer’s ear. Just swimming the current took us far. After all our fun we got in the rafts and paddled to our end destination. But the kids in my raft were the lucky few. When we were almost there the kids in my raft were very tired of paddling so the adult in our raft let us get out and swim the rest of the way. When I got to shore I went to tell the other kids from other rafts that we got to swim some of the way back. Some of them were jealous.

After some waiting I got in a van and the driver drove us back to our lodge. When we got to our lodge we relaxed and some of us got ready for the pool. I was one of the kids that got ready for the pool. When it was pool time I went down to the pool. After pool time it was store time. After store time I went back to the lodge and had free time. After free time we had dinner. Then we had Mission Night. Mission Night is a night that explains what foundation you can give the rest of your store money to at the end of the week. This year it was the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Also we played water games to learn about the foundation. After that we had our evening snack. Then we went to bed.

On Thursday, first I woke up. Then I had breakfast. After breakfast I did Bible study. After Bible study we got ready to go to Harper’s Ferry. After that we got in a van to drive us to the path that we walked on to Harper’s Ferry. The walk to Harper’s Ferry was long but felt short. After what felt like 10-30 minutes of walking and talking we got to the walking bridge. Then we stopped and got told a story. The story was about a man painting an ad for a powder company on a mountain. One day the man’s wife found out that the man cheated his wife and used his wife’s money! So one day when the man was painting the ad his wife cut the rope of the man’s paint bucket and the man’s rope. So the man fell to his death. On the mountain there was a splash of paint under the ad, that was from the man’s paint bucket from when the bucket fell. So we learned our lesson - don't cheat people, you could die. After hearing the story we walked across the walking bridge. Here is a picture of the train bridge right next to it.

Harpers Ferry hike

After we walked across the bridge we went to our lunch spot. After lunch we split up into four groups. First, my group went to the book store. Then we went to a historical candy shop. I got cotton candy there. It was homemade! Here is a picture of me with it.

Harper's Ferry treat

After that we went to an ice cream shop. Then we went back to the candy shop. After that I got some candy mint things. They were not homemade though. After shopping we went back to the lunch spot to meet the other groups before our journey back to where we started. When every group was there we started our journey back. Again it felt very short. But this time there was a lot of walking, talking, and singing. After some waiting I got in a van and the driver drove us back to our lodge. When we got back we relaxed in our lodge and then some of us went to the pool. After the pool we went to the store. After store time we had free time. Then we had dinner. After dinner we went up to the hill and played games and roasted marshmallows. After that some kids stayed at the hill to sleep there, and the rest of the kids went back to our lodge to sleep.

On Friday, first I woke up. Then I had breakfast. After that we had Bible study. After Bible study we did field games for 15-30 minutes. Then we had pool time for the rest of our two hours. After our field games/pool time we had lunch. After lunch we packed up our stuff. After everyone had packed we had snack while we watched the new version of Beauty and the Beast. In the beginning of the movie very few kids (including me) went to the pool. Then we had store time. After store time we had free time until dinner. After dinner my family came and every group there talked about their week at camp. All my friends were sad to go but had a fun time. Here is one of our final pictures.

Camp girls

I had a fun time at camp. It was even better than last year. Bye!

Headed home

Posted in Family outings, Family visits, Trip on August 2nd, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Saturday morning, we woke up, packed up, and began our journey home from Callaway. Here we are as we get ready to leave on the drive home after a great week at camp.

Time to go

Longs

We drove about two thirds of the way Saturday, and spent the night in a hotel in Christiansburg, Virginia. We drove over to Blacksburg for dinner at Mellow Mushroom and to see a bit of Virginia Tech’s campus. It was the girls’ first time eating at Mellow Mushroom, and it was very reminiscent of college for Jen and me (eating at Mellow Mushroom just off campus).

After dinner, we went in search of a treat. We found Gardner’s Frozen Treats in Christiansburg, and it was delicious. They had lots of flavors of Hershey’s ice cream, and then a few flavors of their own. Leah opted for Hershey’s rainbow sherbet, while I went for the homemade blueberry lavender (which was very different, but very good).

Ice cream stop

Molly went for homemade double stuff Oreo while Jen went for homemade pistachio. They were both delicious as well.

Ice cream

Then we got a good night’s sleep before driving the rest of the way home on Sunday. I was worried traffic would be awful the Sunday after July 4th, but it really wasn’t too bad. It was still a long trip, though, and we were very glad to be home.

Callaway comes to an end

Posted in Family visits, Field trips, Trip on August 1st, 2017 by c-had – Be the first to comment

Our time at Callaway was fantastic, but all good things must come to an end. The younger kids have an awards ceremony at the end of the last day (Molly’s now in a group that is too old for this). Leah was named Future President (which Leah’s talked about as far back as preschool, though she is not currently planning for a term in the White House).

Future President

Emmie was given the Natural Leader award, so I guess we’ve got some leaders in the family.

Leadership

Leah, Emmie, and three of their circus performing counselors.

End of camp

That evening was the final circus, and they held the awards ceremony shortly beforehand. I won the tennis tournament (as I had done the last time we were at Callaway), and got another t-shirt (though this one was in a smaller size for Leah).

Tennis champion

The kids again paraded around the tent.

Closing parade

And then the held the final circus. Afterwards, Leah and Emmie had to get a final hug from their counselor, Jess.

Final hug

Circus counselor

Molly got a picture with her counselor, Brooke, after a very busy circus performance including the Spanish Web, the Triple Trapeze, the Bicycle Built for Five, and serving as Ring Master.

Talented counselor

Camp at Callaway was again incredibly awesome. I used to think Jen’s family was crazy for going to the same place every summer for ten years. I now totally get it. We wish we could go every year (and if any of you have a plan that might entail us going every year, I’m all ears).

Giant chair