Jul 4, 2015

Adventures in Germany

7/04/2015 — cori
Gavin has returned home from his Adventures in Germany in one piece, I am thrilled to say!  This was a life changing trip for him.  He said he felt he grew in independence, confidence and especially in his German language fluency.  He also acquired many great, new friends along the way.

Max and his family hosted Gavin while in Lahr. 
Max is the one directly next to Gavin.

This is at the farewell party the night before they left Lahr.  
Enjoying his time with a group of new American and German friends.

Gavin has so much to say about his time in Germany that he will be devoting pretty much the rest of the summer to regaling us with his tales of adventure.  Be sure to check out his blog.

I've been asked often how I handled it while he was gone.  Actually, I wasn't the least bit sad, worried or scared. I trusted him and his teacher immensely. I trusted God. There wasn't a whole lot any worry could have done to help.  I missed him, but not in a sad way. I was excited each time I got the chance to text with him and hear about his day. It was one more little step towards the ultimate goal of 'letting go'.

Most of all, I shared his sense of excitement and adventure.  I knew he'd come home a changed, more well-rounded young man with a new outlook on the world around him.  You can't teach what he learned by going abroad in a classroom.  Real life is the best teacher.  It also helps that he had an amazing host family, a teacher who has been doing this same trip with kids for 20 years and a great small group of friends.

Jun 30, 2015

Travel Woes

6/30/2015 — cori
On our last day of vacation, the one where you fly all day and wait part of the day in the airport for the next leg of your flight and then fly some more...that day.  It was not very good.  Apparently, it is Thompson tradition for someone to get sick on vacation.  We kept that tradition alive.  Isaac threw up on our drive into Zion's one morning.  We all sort of thought breakfast didn't sit well on his tummy. But come Tuesday morning when both Katie and Chloe have been puking all night long, we suddenly feel that maybe there was something more to it.  Maybe it was a virus.  Then, on the way to the airport that morning, Chuck starts getting nauseous. Chuck has a stomach of steel.  He's never sick to his stomach.

This had to be one of the worst flights ever, especially for Chuck and Chloe.  They both were throwing up in their puke bags as the plane was speeding down the runway for take off and as we're climbing into the air.  I've never felt so helpless.  I've only seen Chuck throw up one other time in my life and that was before we got married.  So this was traumatic for all of us.

The kids and I were sitting together on one side of the aisle and Chuck was in the aisle seat adjacent to us sitting next to two strangers.  He almost filled up his bag he was that sick.  I had another one at the ready to give him if he needed it.  Apparently, so did many other passengers.  Meanwhile, I'm also holding Chloe's bag for her because her tummy decides to empty itself at the exact same time as Chuck's.  They were miserable.

This was the sad scene during our 3 hour layover in Denver. 

Even Chuck fell asleep to escape his miserableness.  Not a fun way to travel.

Thank God, neither Bennett nor I got sick.  Unfortunately, all of Katie's kids came home from school throwing up as well.  John and Isaac were the only ones unaffected in the Thompson clan. On a positive note, it was only a 24 hour bug, so everyone was back to normal the next day - one day too late for all those plane rides.

Uniquely Utah

6/30/2015 — cori
We have never before been to Utah.  We were pleasantly surprised by the unique beauty of the land. I expected a desert terrain and ecosystem.  There was plenty of that but it also had beautiful mountains and lush greenery.  We spent the week with our dear friends, the Thompsons.  We've sort of been following them around the country and wherever they move, we come visit.  They can't shake us off that easy.  Friendships like theirs don't come around very often.  When you find something that valuable you treasure it.  This is our way of treasuring them.  We spent a full, glorious week with this special family exploring all Utah has to offer.

There was Wes.  This adorable toddler kept us in stitches the whole time.

We went to Park City where the 2002 Olympics were held.  They had
a fantastic ropes course that the kids all enjoyed.

Even Chloe put her American Ninja Warrior skills to the test.

At the end of the ropes course you had to zip-line your way back down.

Neither of my kids seemed to mind.

We had quite a lot of picnics - which we love.

These pictures show the changing landscape as we drove
from Salt Lake City 5 hours south to Zion National Park.

The variety of the landscape and the beauty held me in awe.

I never before saw such beauty in the desert ecosystem.

Our final destination.  We had never heard of this amazing place.
It is only 2 hours north of the Grand Canyon and 2 hours east of Las Vegas. 

The Paiute Indians called it Land of the Straight-Up Rock

After our drive we did this short, little, seemingly unknown hike. 

It brought us to this amazing place!

We like to call this "Cliff Jumping."  It was by far one of our most favorite 
activities.  We came here twice and both times it seemed like we were the only ones here.

These cliffs and rocks were a good 15-20 feet high and very steep.  It was so scary jumping
off but the thrill far exceeded the fear.  And it was an awesome reprieve from the 108 degree heat.

The breath-taking views continued to humble us day after day.

Even cacti look beautiful when the lighting is just right.

The Best Hike Ever! This is The Narrows.  The entire hike is through the Virgin River.
We thought hypothermia was going to set in after making our first crossing.  But apparently
we got used to it because we hiked a total of 6 miles in the River and 2 on land getting to and from it.

A perfect little out-cropping in the mountains to hold our gang.

More Narrows.  You are surrounded by sheer cliffs the entire hike. 

Chloe and Esther, new besties, walked hand in hand the entire way back.

Our view during our picnic lunch.  Don't worry, we were under shade.
Bennett feared meeting scorpions and/or rattlesnakes the entire time.
Thankfully, they never crossed our path.

On our last day we hiked the Emerald Pools Trail.

It was only a 269 foot change in elevation, but it was very steep!
And VERY HOT!  I never thought I'd be hiking in 105 degree weather.

But the views were spectacular.

We made it to the Emerald Pond but it looked more like a puddle.
So it didn't quite make it into the picture.

Goodbye Zion.  We can't wait to see you again!

At the condo we rented, each night we played fierce games of Nertz.
We even taught the kids how to play.

You know I had to throw in at least one sunset picture.

And it wouldn't be a vacation if Bennett didn't get to play basketball.
This particular day it was 109 out.  The boys immediately jumped right into the pool.

We toured Temple Square with Wes.

Lucy, Esther and Chloe seemed to bond immediately and enjoy the same
gift of friendship that we share with their parents.

Bennett and Isaac.  This is one cool 5 year old.  

Every single night ended this way - Nertz.  It's our thing.

Colorado Mallotts

6/30/2015 — cori
This year's vacation brought us west.  We got to enjoy the Colorado Mallotts for 3 full days before heading on to Utah.  We packed those 3 days full to the brim with fun, outdoor adventures.

We visited the famous Red Rock Amphitheater

Hiked Castlewood Canyon State Park

Were treated to spectacular views

Rode an alpine slide

Spent quality time together

And enjoyed a special tea time at the 
infamous Brown Hotel in Downtown Denver

Bennett absolutely loved his time with his cuddly cousin Logan.

Chloe was thrilled he would still let her hold him.

And of course, as per tradition, we must make fools of ourselves at least 
for one night and play our beloved game of Guesstures.

Jun 12, 2015

Good Advice Ralph

6/12/2015 — cori

Kids really need to be reminded of this on a daily basis.  School, society, friends, media all try to tell you that you are not enough, that in order to be accepted you need to do or be or have this. This is elusive. This never makes any one happy. This changes all the time. Being comfortable in your own skin, happy with who you are and knowing that you are loved is the secret to not needing this

Jun 11, 2015

World Traveling Gavin

6/11/2015 — cori
Gavin has had a penchant toward superheroes as long as he has been alive.  For a while, Batman and Superman sufficed. But then his imagination kicked into overdrive and he was never again satisfied with such ordinary superheroes. My archives document the extent to which his imagination travelled when it came to naming and inventing superheroes. When he was 6 or 7 he even made a powerpoint slide show in which he drew each invented superhero logo and listed out their powers.  I never knew who he was going to be from day to day since each new day brought with it a new superhero.

One day he invented World Traveling Gavin.  The title is self explanatory.   But how he traveled the world is another matter altogether.  This particular superhero packed up his RV and went out to rescue and discover the world.

It was sweet and cute and imaginative at 7 years old. But it has become a reality at 16 years old. In my wildest dreams I never imagined this superhero would come to life. Yet he has. In my heart this is who I see traveling the world at the moment:

But the reality of the matter is that my son is now 16 and closing the gap to independent adult faster than I can eat a cookie. Time has simply vanished. I don't know how he has aged and I have not. As my boy was flying over the Atlantic towards Iceland for his layover and then on to Munich, I could not sleep. Not that I was nervous or scared or worried. I just didn't think it right that I should sleep while he was not. Mom instinct kicks in like when your child is sick and you sit up with them all night and hurt with them. I spent the whole night waiting in case he called or texted - I wanted to be 'with' him and ready for when he needed me.

Actually, I guess he doesn't really 'need' me anymore...but I'm here anyways cuz that's what moms do. I am on the adventure with him, albeit vicariously.  I took such delight in the stories and worlds he created as a young superhero.  If anything, my joy and pleasure is increased even more as I watch those dreams become reality for my World Traveling Gavin.

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