Wednesday, August 28, 2013

road trip: the way there

Here begins the chronicles of our summer road trip to Colorado. My dad's family decided to have a long awaited reunion this year in Colorado.  That meant we were pretty obligated to go with our month old baby.  After much planning we all agreed on a spot in Southern, CO that was about 9 hours from Phoenix, if we had driven straight through.  To make the trip easier on ourselves and our kids, we broke the trip into a few days.  We made the first leg easy by driving just two hours up to stay the night in Flagstaff.  We stopped once for gas and pie at the Rock Springs Cafe--a worthy stop... mostly because of the pie.  
The kids were all troopers in the car.  Jimmy tends to get car sick so many forms of entertainment are out for him (ie: no reading, iPad, movies, etc).  Last summer an Auto Bingo card from the Michael's dollar bins had saved our trip to the beach, but alas Michael's had none this year.  I managed to find a pack of 12 cardboard cards at Smeeks and once again they were a hit.  The whole family played this time (okay, not Nora).  I feel bad that Jimmy gets sick, but I also like that it forces us to travel the way my parents would have had to back before so much technology was available.  We play lots of good old road trip games like "I Spy" and "20 Questions" and "The Alphabet Game."  I like that we are all forced to talk to one another.  Turns out the baby ended up being the easiest of all three kids.  I guess it figures.
We stayed at the very awesome Little America Hotel (I highly recommend when going to Flagstaff).  Erin, Danny, and my Dad all met us up there and stayed there, too. After we checked in, we found a place to eat downtown and we found the Burches who had come up a bit earlier.  We got ice cream for the kids and then headed to the Lowell Observatory to check out the stars.
We got to see the giant telescope and they demonstrated how the whole roof moves, but they weren't using it for viewing that night because of weather and clouds and things I don't understand.  We could see plenty of beautiful stars with our own eyes and they had a smaller telescope set up to view Saturn.  Jimmy was amazed that we could see the rings!  There was also a little museum exhibit in the main building that the boys had fun playing around in.  I enjoyed the computer program that showed you how much of the world different sized Comets and Asteroids would wipe out.  You can put it on your own address and see how much damage the smallest of Asteroids would do.   While creepy to see our neighborhood destroyed,  it was fun to imagine the Walmart being demolished.  I didn't show that to my kids hence the happy faces you see below (so happy to be able to put their sweatshirts from Nana on).
The beds at Little America were so cozy that none of us wanted to wake up bright and early and get back on the road, but we did it anyway.  
Some a little faster than others...
First stop on Day 2 was the Cameron Trading Post.
Jimmy was excited because there was a bridge on the Auto Bingo card that he thought was going to be hard to find.  I called it first, but that little smarty pants noticed that there were actually two bridges next to each other so he was pretty proud.   We stopped for a photo opportunity with said bridge.  That brown ground behind us is actually a river.  I took us awhile to believe it as well.
 Apparently, the Burches were just a bit behind us on this trip and thanks to Lucy stayed for an hour at the kitchy gift shop that I never even entered.  We made a pretty quick stop for snacks and diaper changes and were on our way.  I gave my kids granola bars, but Baabee insisted on an Ice Cream Sandwich.  Luckily for them, he shared.
Our next stop was just a bit before Tuba City at a little road side "trap" called Dinosaur Tracks. 
Guess what they have there?
 Basically there are a bunch of Indian guides that take you out into the desert for about 10-15 minutes and show you dinosaur tracks in the the rocks.  They boys liked it, but it was hot so we couldn't stay long to browse or play, especially with Nora.  The recommended "tip" to our guide was $20 for the group.  A little steep, but it is one of the things they kids remember most about the trip so I guess it was worth it.
Here the boys are standing in what is supposedly a T-Rex track.
(The rocks are laid out to help identify it)
 A smaller foot print and dino eggs:
 Here is part of a head and backbone:
 Next up: Monument Valley
 The drive was beautiful.  Erin and I were alone with Nora in Dad's truck at this point.
We stopped a lot to get pictures so be thankful I only posted these few.
 We dipped into the very bottom of Utah and stopped at Gouldings Trading Post instead of heading to the Monument Valley Park.
We thought it might be more fun for the kids.
 Lots of John Ford movies were filmed here so Jimmy learned who John Wayne was.
 Despite the heat, the boys had fun playing in the old wagon and stage coach.
 The car seemed a lot better after I told them people used to have to ride in things like this.
 We went on the little trading post tour and saw the living quarters up stairs.
Jimmy says he "likes old fashioned things" so he wanted me to take a picture with the kitchen.
(That's my boy!)
 Our best attempt at a family photo:
 Then Erin and I stayed in the truck again and let the boys go ahead.
She is a good photo buddy.  Much better than my husband who is usually annoyed by such things.
Nora was such a good sport for having to stay in that seat for so long.  She had to suck on my thumb quite a few times to tide her over until our next stops, but I have no complaints.  No major pukes and only one time on the whole trip did we have to pull over just to let her nurse.  Thank you God for this little blessing.
 Okay, one last scenic shot:
 We finally stopped for a late lunch in Mexican Hat which was nothing special, but had some cool signs on the rocks.
 After that, my family all joined together back in the minivan for the next leg into Colorado.  I won't go into the details or point fingers (Dad), but Zach was never given clear directions and with limited phone service we had no GPS to tell us we missed our turn.  We figured it out a half an hour later so it only put us an hour behind schedule.  As you can imagine our kids didn't mind at all or even question one time why it was taking so long.  We got to see a convenient store with a bowling alley in Blanding, Utah so it was totally worth it.  The desert was lovely, but this scenery was a nice change of pace by the time we actually made it to Colorado:
 We stayed that night in Durango along with the Burches.  It is a very cute town, but we didn't get to see much of it.We did go to a little French Bakery Downtown because my sister read they had cinnamon crisps--a Taber family favorite.
 Back on the road that day, we had some beautiful scenery, but the curvy roads did not agree with Jimbo and breakfast came up.
Fortunately, it happened right when we were stopping at this lovely scenic overlook:
 He was able to walk around and feel better and it ended up being the only time it happened.  More prayers answered.
Then back in the new minivan on our way to the ranch...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

christmas in july

We decided to celebrate Christmas in July this year.  Last year, I let the boys get out the electric train one day in the summer and promised them I would let them do it one time every summer.  Nana told Jimmy that her girls used to watch Christmas movies one day in July, and Jimmy, obviously, loved that idea.  When Nana suggested we make a whole day of it, Jimmy really got excited.  But really I think it was when Aunt Erin got on board that the ideas really took off.  Honestly, I couldn't have done it without her help.  She and Jimmy spent a long time making a Christmas palm tree the afternoon before so that it would be ready for the big day.
First thing in the morning was snowman pancakes.
Don't be impressed.  This was a last minute improv on my part.  
I took frozen pancakes from the freezer and we had whipped cream and blueberries on hand.
(and, yes, that top pancake is pretty burnt)
 I enjoy that you can see both our "Christmas Tree" and 4th of July rockets in this one.
 They got a present in the morning which was really something Mimi had given them a long time ago that I re-wrapped since we had yet to use it.  
It is called Speedy Snow and I thought this would be an appropriate day to finally bust it out.
So it starts out like what you see above and then when you add water it turns into this:
Gus was not really digging it, but Jimmy and I thought it was fun.
Gus was far more excited to get out the electric train. 
Jimmy was excited that his favorite cousin,  Finn, got to come over for the festivities.
And as I said, I was lucky enough to have Aunt Erin over to help me with three little boys and a baby.  
She and I made sugar cookie dough with Gus because the older boys just wanted to play together.
Then after we let it chill for awhile, we let them all help cutting the dough.  We used both Christmas and other shaped cutters.
 Then we decorated:
 We had also wrapped up some random things we had around our house and all opened presents.
For example:  Finn got a McDonald's toy, Gus the last plane from a box of model airplanes that we got for Christmas, Jimmy got a puzzle, and Erin got a bag I got for free at Old Navy.  In the morning the boys had watched Rudolph and when Gus took a nap the other two watch The Grinch.  That was sort of the end of the festivities.  We didn't do a big Christmas dinner or anything.  That would be fun, but seeing as I barely cooked anything all summer, it was not likely.  I am sure my boys will want to continue this tradition so I am not really sure what I have gotten myself into, but let's hope they are okay with it staying pretty make-shift and low key.   Let's hope I am sane enough to keep it that way, too. If Aunt Erin isn't here for it next year, then we may just have to do the train and the movies and keep it at that.  I am always looking for fun ways to keep my kids happy indoors during the summer and this was a hit so I guess I better keep doing it.