Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family. Show all posts

All The "Summer" Fun

Somehow June is almost over, and it still doesn't quite feel like summer around here.  The weather has been so weird.  It's barely rained at all, so everything is looking dry and brown - but it hasn't been the typical summer-warm either.  It's like the rain is just hovering in the air, but can't get it together enough to actually do something.  I bought a kiddie pool for the kids, but it hasn't felt consistently hot enough to break it out yet.

The point is, June went by in a flurry and I still feel like I'm waiting for summer to really get started.  We did do some fun things though.

My Birthday

Those of you who follow me on Instagram probably saw my birthday celebration day posts, so this may not be news.  Derek took us all on a hike/picnic, and then we dropped the kids off with my mom so Derek and I could go to a movie.  I'll be honest, I wasn't sure if I wanted to waste my birthday date on a movie, because I haven't seen one I really liked in about two years.  Everything (that's not based on a true story) is either too depressing, too politically motivated, or the character and plot development is seriously lacking.  Hollywood needs to get it's act together.  

But we saw Guardians Of The Galaxy 2, and aside from a few crude jokes, Derek and I really liked it!  It is rare to see a movie we actually enjoyed these days, and I was so happy it happened on my birthday date.

On my actual birthday, Derek brought home cheesecake, the whole family lit candles and sang me "Happy Birthday", and then I got my present - a Kindle Paperwhite!  I was very excited about this, because it's nearly impossible to read a Kindle book on my iPad out in the sun.  Now I can read ebooks while the kids play in the kiddie pool (if the weather ever heats up enough to use the kiddie pool)!

Father's Day

For Father's Day we went to church, and then came home and had a campfire.  I bought Derek a couple books and a new game called Ticket To Ride.  We played it with our friends the other day, and it's a really fun one!  I lost, because I didn't have the strategy part down yet, but I have high hopes for next time.

Parks And Books

Aside from that, we've had a lot of park days with friends this month, to the point where I have given up getting a five-day week in with our summer homeschooling schedule.  If we can get 2-3 days in per week I'm pretty happy, and we'll pick up the pace in the fall.  I wanted to try to get ahead before the baby comes, but on the other hand, it is summer, and I think we should enjoy the weather and everyone's scheduling freedom while we can.

I've also been trying to catch up on some reading in June, and I'm currently on a Jane Austen spinoff kick.  I started Persuasion and I am really enjoying it, and I've read Jane Of Austin, and Austenland.  Full reviews on Goodreads, but it's been fun so far!  I'm feeling the itch to switch genres again though, and I think I'm going to read a middle-grade novel next, in between all the non-fiction books I have to finish.

That's all that's new around here, until Monday when we find out baby's gender!  Then I'll have to get busy putting together our gender reveal party plans (we have a fire ban on now, which may mess up our party a bit...I'm hoping it'll rain so they'll lift it again).  If you haven't filled out this form with your guess yet, please do, because someone who guesses right will win a little prize from me!

Now to just get the next four days to go by faster...

Tips For Visiting Antelope Canyon With Babies And Toddlers

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, we went to Arizona for vacation this year, and one of the places we knew we wanted to visit was Antelope Canyon!  This is a slot canyon through the sandstone that was formed by flash floods.  It is absolutely gorgeous and was certainly a highlight of our trip!

Flash floods can still run through the canyon, so you are not allowed to go into Antelope Canyon without a guide.  Complicating matters, we also had four young kids (still in carseats) to take with us!  Overall though, it ended up being very doable and really interesting for the kids as well as us!

We decided to do a morning tour, around 8:00 AM, which we were told was a quieter time in the canyon.  Many people like to go around "prime time", which is the middle of the day when light beams start shining through the rocks to the canyon floor.  However, even though we went at a slower time of day, it was still very busy!  There were people all around us through the whole tour, but the tour companies know to space their groups a tiny bit so you are still able to get some photos without other people in them.

Some recommendations for visiting Antelope Canyon with young children:

Do the Upper Canyon.  

If you want to do Antelope Canyon with kids, be aware that Lower Antelope Canyon requires navigating some pretty steep stairs.  Our kids are a little young for that still, so we ended up doing a tour of Upper Antelope Canyon, which you just walk straight into.  It was an easy, short walk, and was totally manageable even for our three year old.

Book a tour ahead of time.  

We arrived in Page thinking we could book a tour on the same day we wanted to go (I had read that online), but many of the tour companies were booked two or three days out! I would recommend picking a company ahead of time to visit the canyon.

Make sure your tour company accepts young kids.  

I had done some research before we left and picked a company, only to find out when we arrived that they would not accept children under six years old on the tour because of an insurance issue.  Thankfully not every company was restricted this way, and we were able to find another one!  Call ahead of time to ensure that they can accommodate car seats if that information is not clear online.

Realize that you will have to bring your own carseats.  

You are not allowed to drive your own vehicle out to the canyon, you must ride in your tour guide's vehicle.  Make sure your tour company knows that you have children in car seats ahead of time, and arrive early to make sure there is time to get them installed in the vehicle.

Don't be late!  

It's easy to run behind schedule when you have multiple young kids, but there are hundreds of people touring the canyon every day, and many tour companies coordinating their tour groups.  If you are late for the tour, you will be out of luck, because they don't leave a second later than they are supposed to!

If you have a baby carrier, make sure any buckles are tucked under a coat or blanket.  

They didn't let me bring my carrier in for Clarice because the buckles may scratch the wall and I didn't have anything to cover them with.  Thankfully the walk was only about a quarter mile for Upper Antelope Canyon, and it's an easy walk, so this wasn't a problem for us.

Bring cash.  

Just to give you an idea of the cost, we paid for three people, 2 adults and one child (the other three kids were free with our specific tour company), and it ended up costing us about $180, plus a tip.  You also must bring cash, because many of the tour companies do not take credit cards.

Realize it's a quick tour.  

I was expecting the walk to be a bit slower, with more space and time to take some pictures of my family in the canyon.  It was not like that.  There were people everywhere, the tour guide was pointing out all the shapes in the rocks, and the walk in and out of the canyon itself was pretty quick!  We still got some great pictures, but just realize it's busy and distracting in there.  If you want more time to set up photos and such, I'd say the photography tours might be a better bet.

I did some research online about taking kids into Upper Antelope Canyon before we left, and I have to say, it had me a little freaked out about attempting it with kids!  But it ended up not being a big deal at all.  We took four kids under seven years old, and it ended up being an easy and fun outing! Definitely check it out if you are in the Lake Powell area!

Any other questions for me about our experience?  
I'll answer to the best of my ability!

We're Back! Arizona Vacation 2017

We are officially back from vacation, and we had such a great time!  I am warning you all now though, this is a picture-heavy post.  I apologize for the length of time it will probably take to load.  Believe it or not, I took a lot of effort to cut the pictures down to 2-3 from each activity we did, but we still had a lot!

Kids, if you are reading this in the future, you were all at every place we went, I promise.  And I took pictures of all of you.  I just didn't have enough space!


The first couple days of vacation are usually a road trip.  We take road trip vacations because we find they are much easier with four young kids than flying  (not to mention more affordable).  These are usually sucked into a black hole when it comes to pictures, but we tried our best this time to slow down and stop a couple times throughout the drive - it broke up the days in the car for the kids and for us!  So we stopped at parks, points of interest, and restaurants.

Note: if you are ever in Durango, you HAVE to get a coffee at Durango Joe's!  Derek and I have a tradition of trying a local coffee place on every morning of our vacation, and this may have been the best coffee I've ever head. Ever.

On Mother's Day I woke to some footprint/handprint art form the kids (carefully crafted by my sweet husband), and a drawing book I've been wanting!  We also visited Mesa Verde.  Unfortunately a lot of the dwellings were closed until summer, but we walked up to check out Spruce Tree House with the kids.

We finally arrived at Page, Arizona!  We ended dup staying at Lake Powell Resort, and we were really happy with the stay there!  Unfortunately I did not book our tour to Antelope Canyon and we weren't able to get in until a day later than we planned (whoops), and so we spent a full day just having out at the resort - swimming, walking around with views of the lake, and we took a boat tour!

And of course, I broke out my tripod for a family picture.  When you are on vacation there is usually no lack of people who are willing to take a picture for you, but I'm usually much happier if I just find a pretty spot and set up the tripod!  Once I have a good shot for our annual family vacation photo I feel like I can relax!

Also worthy of note: Poor Clyde got sick during these two days of our trip with a mysterious fever.  We had to keep the poor child drugged up on Tylenol so he could enjoy the trip! I felt so bad for him,but weirdly once the medicine kicked in he didn't act or seem sick at all.  I'm still not sure what he had.  Also, I broke out in eczema on this trip in several different spots.  I've never had eczema in my life!  We always seem to get some weird illness when we go to Arizona.

We spent some time in Antelope Canyon, and I honestly got enough pictures there to fill up two full posts.  I'll just show you a few, because we could be here all day waiting for those pictures to load.

A little info about Antelope Canyon - you are not allowed to go there without a tour guide.  Some tourists died there many years ago because they were caught in a flash flood (which is how the canyon is formed), so now you are only allowed in with a guide.  The company I originally wanted to go with could no longer accept children on the tour because of their insurance, so I frantically searched for another company with an opening that would also allow children, and thankfully I found one.

(I'm thinking about writing a separate post on how we did Antelope Canyon with kids, so let me know if you have any specific questions.)

The Canyon was absolutely gorgeous, and I'll share more soon.  But wow.  It was definitely a bucket list item.

Next we headed down to Flagstaff for a couple days.  I was excited to check out the Rock Slide park down there, and we would have if the weather was like the previous week (80's).  The whole time we were there it didn't get warmer than 60 degrees though!  it figures we would go on vacation on the coldest week in May.  It was still warmer than home though (there were several inches of snow while we were gone).

Since our Rock Slide park plans were foiled, we checked out the Grand Canyon.  It was very windy that day, so we just walked around for a little bit and then saw the Imax documentary about the canyon at the National Geographic Visitor Center. We also went to Meteor Crater (a well-preserved meteor crater outside Flagstaff)!  We also ate free pie at Village Inn and ordered Chinese food to our hotel.  The food in Flagstaff was a highlight.

(This is an actual space rock, in case you didn't know.  I made the kids wash their hands after touching it since it contain uranium and who-knows-what-else.)

(On the crater age.)

(Swimming at a rec center, which the kids loved!)

(The Railroad Cafe, a Route 66 restaurant with huge portions of really good food!)

After a few days in Flagstaff we headed to my grandparent's summer cabin, and we spent a couple nights with them.  They were so sweet to feed us really well, the kids loved playing with all the toys my grandma had, and Derek and I got to play a bunch of games with my grandparents!  We love games and never get to play them with other people uninterrupted, so this was a really nice way to end vacation.  We also went on a gorgeous hike (the weather was nicer there than Flagstaff), but I think I'm going to share those pictures next week.

We finally headed home after that, and it turned out to be a fun and relaxing trip! 

Where are you all going on vacation this summer? 

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