So, to kick-off this renewed effort at the world of blogging, here is my first report of the new school year - What I Did During My Summer Vacation!
After our little side trip to the land that time forgot, we were back on the road and finally made it home to Southlake, TX. I truly did appreciate my experience in California and I am grateful for the things I learned about myself, but it felt SO GOOD to finally be home in Texas!
On June 5th, the whole family came to town (everyone except Jason...sniff, sniff) for Julie's high school graduation. Now, I know the Carroll ISD wanted to save money by having the commencement ceremony at Dragon Stadium, but seriously, the gale force winds were a little ridiculous! The graduates' hats were flying off their heads, the flimsy folding chairs were toppling over ("Can you fold under pressure?" "Like a lawn chair."); every other word of the speeches was swallowed up in the wind, making it impossible to understand what anyone was saying. But, despite the less-than desirable weather conditions, we all cheered for Julie as she walked across that stage to accept the single sheet of paper that is supposed to represent 12 long years of toil and trouble. The best part of the evening was when we all convened on the hallowed sports turf where our beloved Dragons play every week under the Friday Night Lights. My sisters and I even showed our enthusiasm for this year's most anticipated film in the form of the following jump pose:
Not the most flattering photo, but do you see the air that Julie got on her jump?! Amazing!
We spent the next couple of days together as a family, going out to dinner, going to the movies, going shopping. And how can any of us forget the Great American Cookie Thief? We were all at North Park Mall in Dallas, and we were taking a break from our shopping, sitting on one of the big benches in the middle of the aisles, eating cookies from the aforementioned Great American Cookie Company. Dad had bought a box of a dozen cookies for us all to share and my brother, Chris, was going around with the box to let everyone choose a cookie. As he is letting my nephew, Ethan, pick a cookie from the box, this RANDOM LADY walks by him, stops, reaches her hand into OUR box of cookies, takes a cookie out of the box, and then continues walking! All eight of us stop what we are doing and, with mouths wide open, stare as this RANDOM LADY walks away, munching on one of OUR cookies! After we all realized what must have happened - she must have thought that Chris worked for the GAC Co. and was handing out free cookies to passers-by in the mall - we erupted into laughter, still not believing what we had just witnessed. Who does that?!?! Who takes a cookie out of a box of cookies like that? To this day, I think that it was one of the funniest scenes I have ever witnessed in my entire life.
The very next week after Julie's graduation, I had the wonderful opportunity of helping out during the Church's Stake Youth Trek. For those of you who have never had the experience, every four years, the youth of our Church participate in a "pioneer trek" - for two to three days, they pull handmade handcarts and reenact the journey that the Mormon Pioneers made as they crossed the United States on their way to the Utah valley. The girls dress in long skirts and bonnets, the guys dress in long pants and straw hats. They put all of their provisions in their carts and hike, with the cart, up and down wilderness trails, camping each night under the stars. I never went on a trek when I was a youth, so I was excited to be a part of it, albeit as a helping hand. The youth of our stake were amazing! It was hotter than Hades, the trail was really rocky and the water truck broke down on several occasions, but everyone maintained a positive attitude and learned valuable spiritual lessons about the Gospel and about themselves. My wonderful, amazing and extremely tall sister, Julie, participated in the trek (her second trek experience!) and seem to always have a real glow about her. Maybe that was because of all the sweat....
Mom, with the water truck.
Julie, as she makes her way off the trail and into the camp after a long day of trekking.
Julie and I, fresh as daisies!
See what I mean about that "glow"?
The month of June was also the month of birthdays! Chris turned 24 and Dad turned...another year older. And Julie and I, once again, shared our birthday on June 17! Julie turned 18 and I turned 26. So....HAPPY BIRTHDAY to US!!!
Hmmm.....I'm trying to remember if anything fun and exciting happened in the month of July. I know there was something that we did, but I just can't quite seem to remember....
WE WENT TO EUROPE!!!
My sisters, Jen and Julie, and I took a 12-day vacation to Europe and visited London and Paris. The full run-down of our adventure would take a good four hours to describe (believe me, we already went through it once, complete with our 1500+ picture slide show!), but in a word it was AMAZING. It was great fun to travel with my sisters (although we were missing Kim, my oldest sister, who was actually in Italy for part of the time when we were in England. I know, we Romney's are such savvy international-traveling divas.); we shared plenty of laughs (canoeZ, Julie, seriously?) and had quite a few stories to tell when we got home....
Here are some of the (editorial) highlights:
- While in London, we saw all the main sights - Tower of London, Westminster Abby, Globe Theater, Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, etc.
- Took a day trip to Stonehenge - amazing! While in Salisbury, we ate lunch at a little cafe and attempted to find out what the soup of the day was, to which our waiter replied, "Caaahhhrrr-it ahnd Coorreeahnder." We said, "Huh?" And he said, "Wuhl, a caaahhhrrr-it is a caaahhhrrr-it, and coorreeahnder is an hhhh-aaaiirrrb." We still said, "Huh?" Whatever, dude.
- On that same day trip, we traveled to Bath - really cool city and even cooler Roman Baths. The only damper on our day was when I rolled my ankle on the uneven ancient tiles and proceeded to watch as my ankle swelled to the size of a grapefruit. That's right. I sprained my ankle while vacationing in Europe. And instead of icing it down and keeping off of it for a couple of days, I continued to walk 5+ miles a day on it for the next week.
- Julie and I went to Oxford - great university town. Just being there made me feel smarter!
- While in London, we saw Wicked and Blood Brothers - both excellent, excellent musicals/plays. Loved them both.
- We took the Chunnel to France and successfully communicated our way through Paris! Quite an accomplishment for three people who don't speak a lick of French! I kept on trying to talk to the cab drivers in Spanish, hoping that they would understand what I was trying to say.
- While in Paris, we went to all the main sights - Arc de Triomphe, Le Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Rodin Museum, Notre Dame, etc.
- We went to a ballet - "La Dame aux Camelias" - at the Palais Garnier. It was a beautiful performance and we felt very sophisticated, sitting in our little opera box.
- After the ballet, we went to a very nice restaurant for Jen's birthday dinner celebration. Jen had ordered a fish entree, and the waiter comes out and shows her the fish - and I swear it was still flapping on the plate - and asks her, "I prepare for you, no?" I thought I was going to die - either from laughter or from the gag reflex that the mostly-dead fish had produced in the back of throat!
- On our last day in Paris, we went to Versailles - very impressive palace and gardens. We were a little disappointed that it was so overcast, but still worth the trip.
Again, those are just the highlights! One of the best parts of the whole trip was when we landed back on American soil! Seriously, near the end of our adventure, I started to lose it - the inefficiencies and shenanigans of Europeans were starting to make me hyperventilate and more than once I had the urge to throw myself to the ground in frustration. Just ask me about the last twelve hours of our stay in London before we got on the plane....it's a doozy!
And now, some photo highlights:
Summer 2008: A Review... (Part II): Coming Soon...