Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacations and Trips. Show all posts

The 10 Books I Am Bringing On Vacation




Let's talk about the books I am planning on bringing with me on vacation this year!  I hope I'm not the only one who puts a lot of pressure on myself to pick the perfect books to bring on vacation.  I went so far as to include book-buying purchases in my vacation budget this year.  It's that important to have a good book to read on a road trip! (Let's just overlook the fact that I can't even read in the car without feeling nauseous these days.  I still need the books.)

I typically like books that are light-hearted, quick reads on vacation - the typical beach read, but I went a slightly different direction this year.  This time I chose books that I knew would probably not disappoint me.  After spending last year's vacation on a book that ended with a not-great message, I wanted to skip over moral depravity and choose something a little more likely to contribute to my intellectual growth.  And of course something that I'd enjoy reading.  So here we go!

(I hope you don't mind that I used affiliate links below.  Trying to up my chances of recouping some book costs, since I spent too much on vacation books...yikes!)


Fiction/Non-Fiction Books

The last time we took this particular trip, I made it through five books on my vacation.  That's alot, even for me! However, I chose five books for this trip as well.  I highly doubt I'l get through all of these since they are all a bit more meaty than the books I brought with my the last time we went to Arizona, but still, it's best to be prepared when it comes to books.



Persuasion - Ever since I finished my third Jane Austen book in high school, I've been hesitant to pick up another one.  Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I had precious few Jane Austen books left, and if I read them all I would never again have a new Jane Austen book to read.  I realize now how silly this was, since I've been itching to pick up Emma as a re-read.  I am not a re-reader, but I will re-read Jane Austen and probably enjoy it every bit as much as the first time.  Still, Persuasion is one of her books that I haven't read yet.  I've decided I need to just go ahead and read all of Austen's works instead of trying to spread them out.

Deal Alert!! You can actually get the kindle version of Persuasion for free and add the Audible narration for $0.49, as of the last time I checked!  Get yourself over there and grab it if you are a fellow Austen fan!

My Cousin Rachel - I picked this up because I read Rebecca last year.  And despite that book ending rather horribly (it's not really a spoiler because you kind of get that sense of impending doom from the start), I somehow weirdly really liked it.  I feel like maybe it's not a great book for a Christian girl to enjoy, but I kind of did.  Even the ending was a weird sort of poetic justice that was weirdly satisfying.  In a weird way.  Anyway, Du Maurier's writing is just fun to me because in Rebecca there was just the right amount of creepy, so I decided to just go for it and try My Cousin Rachel.  I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

The Big Four - You just cannot go wrong with Agatha Christie.

The Choir Immortal - This book was still in the mail when I took the picture above.  Several years ago I read House Of Living Stones, and I loved it and then forgot about it...until I realized that Schuermann's third book in the series was coming out and I hadn't read the second!  I remember liking the characters and small-church-in-a-small-town atmosphere in the first book, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next.  This is just my happy book, in case I get tired of the potential tragedy and crime from the other books on this list.  

The Life-Giving Home - Two different people recommended this book to me recently, and then I saw that Elizabeth was reading it too...so I decided to go for it!  I've read a bit by Clarkson, but this will be my first full book by her.


Activity Books

And of course, no road trip is complete without some fun activity books, right?



Wipe-Clean Usborne Books (this is my blog friend's consultant link, just FYI) - I wanted something for the kids to do in the car that wouldn't get too messy or complicated, and I thought these books looked fun! They include a bunch of mazes, tracing, etc, with a dry erase marker that wipes clean.  I think the kids will love them.  I got four, even though I'll probably confiscate Clarice's pen...or give her a washable marker that matches her shirt.  But she would be indignant if I left her out.

True North Guide To The Grand Canyon - We're going to Arizona this year, and I remembered these guides from the homeschool conference I went to last year.  I hold to a young earth creationist perspective, and was excited to see these guides from Ken Ham's publishing company (I'm a Ken Ham fan).  I'm excited to take these along as we tour the Grand Canyon on vacation!  It'll also give me some interesting things to tell the kids about what we're looking at (since I don't think they'll be as awed by the Grand Canyon as we are.)



Audubon's North America Field Guide To Wildflowers: Western Region - This one is me trying to sneak a little more nerdy nature study/science in on this trip, for me and the kids. Plus, I've been dying to have this guide for a while, and I figured this was a good chance for me to use it!

Sodoku - I haven't done a Sudoku puzzle in forever, and I'm horrible at them, so I'm not sure what possessed me when I picked up this book.  I am hoping I won't get quite as carsick with this, as opposed to regular book in which I will be sick for an entire day if I dare read a chapter.  We shall see.  I am also packing pencils and erasers.

Brain Games - Unlike me, Derek is the Sudoku master, and whizzed right through the extra-super-hard puzzle book I bought him last time, so I'm hoping some of these will stump him.

What kind of books do you like to bring on vacation?





On The Road Again - 2017 Vacation Plans



Now that I'm out of the first trimester, it's a good time to start thinking about vacation!

We are going on vacation pretty soon, and after some debating back and forth, we decided on Arizona!  If you've been around a while, you might remember that we took a trip to Arizona with Gwen was a baby.  For some reason that trip is just a quick blur in my memory.  I remember two days actually at the campground in Arizona, and I can't for the life of me figure out what happened to the rest of that vacation.  This is why I am thankful for this blog.  Someday when I am old (or not so old), and I can't remember anything, I'll be able to look back here.

(Actually, skimming over that 2013 vacation post, I can see why I don't remember it.  The whole vacation got cut short by budget problems and Shingles.)

So this time, I'm hoping no unforeseen monetary or health problems arise, and we can do Arizona right.  Here's the plan:

Day One: Road Trip.

Day Two: Road Trip with some sightseeing mixed in.  Going to a resort in Page, AZ.  The resort had mixed reviews online since they are apparently undergoing construction, but from the pictures, I have high hopes.  We should reach the resort by evening.

Day Three: Antelope Canyon! Click here to see some gorgeous photos.

Day Four: Aside from the Canyon there is nothing to do in Page, AZ that is kid-friendly.  We could go boating on Lake Powell, if you know, we had a boat.  Since we don't, we'll head on down to Flagstaff.

Day Five: Grand Canyon, maybe?  Except we are staying far, far away from the edge.  I don't know if this is a mom thing, or just a me thing, but I have visions of Clarice wandering under the guardrails to look over the edge and slipping. Ugh, I don't even like to think about it.  We'll just drive around and stop a couple places where I feel relatively secure, and Clarice will stay in our arms or the stroller the entire time.

Day Six: Not sure.  I'd like to check out this Rock Slide Park I've heard about.

Day Seven: Pack up the kids and drive up to hang out with my Gramie and Grandpa Bill!  We'll spend a couple nights at her cabin.

Day Eight: Spend the whole day with my grandparents, exploring, playing game, etc.

Day Nine: Pack the crew up and head home.

Aside from all that, I am hoping to sneak in as much swimming as possible.  Arizona should be much warmer than our home state in May, so I'm going to get a jump start on swimming lessons with the kids while we are there!

You'll notice that this year we are not camping.  We pack up our tent and air mattresses almost every year for vacation and usually love every minute of it, but the Lord blessed us a with an unexpectedly good tax return this year, so we decided to make life easy on ourselves and stay in hotels.  I am happy about this, because the last time we went camping while I was pregnant, I admit I was ready to be done by the time we headed home.  Something about being pregnant just makes dirt and rain/cold less tolerable for me, and I like to feel pretty when I'm pregnant, which makes a shower and other amenities a must have.  I'm grateful everything worked out the way it did this year.

I will say though, it is ridiculously hard to find a hotel that will allow you to keep four kids in the room with you, which I find absurd.  I'll say it for the thousandth time, four kids is not that many!  Our hotel days may be over for a bit once the fifth kid arrives, unless we want to book a suite or two hotel rooms.

So those are our soon-to-be-executed vacation plans, assuming all goes well and I don't come down with Shingles again.  Next week I'll share the books I'm planning on taking on vacation!  The important stuff, you know.

Have you been to Arizona?  What should I put on the must-see list?  Where are you going for vacation this year?


Tent Camping With Toddlers

Tent Camping With Toddlers | Through Clouded Glass


Since we took our camping trip in June, I have gotten lots of comments from friends about how brave we were to attempt tent camping with three kids four and under - and one on the way!

Honestly, I'm not sure whether the comments make me feel like supermom or make me wonder if we really were a little crazy - but in the end, it wasn't too difficult.  We had a great time, and it doesn't take much to make a camping vacation a success with toddlers.  Still, I wanted to share a few tips for those of you who might feel a bit intimidated by getting out into the Great Outdoors with your munchkins!  These are the things we found made our trip go more smoothly.


Camping Vacation - Successes and Fails

I am finally getting around to sharing about our vacation! I mentioned a few weeks ago that we were going to spend a week camping in South Dakota.  Overall, we had a really nice time! The kids loved sleeping in a tent and running around outside, getting dirty. I love waking up to the sun shining through our tent.  Though, for half of our vacation it was not sunny when we woke up, so that I did not love.  But we decided to escape the rain the last day and spend some time in Wyoming, which made me love it again!

Overall, there were a few things I think we did right, and a few things I would do better.


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What We Should Have Done Better

1. We didn't have to make reservations for the whole week.  The campground we stayed at was alright (and there were friendly bunnies running around that the kids loved to chase).  But the owner's attitude toward the patrons could have been better, and there were some other campgrounds that I think we would have liked more for other reasons too (better playground, for example).


Off Camping (Plus A Giveaway For You!)

Well, I am off this week on vacation - Derek and the kids and I are going to be camping in South Dakota!  I never really thought of myself as a tent-camping type of girl, but a couple years ago we went camping in Arizona, and I loved it.  I am excited to go again this year, and I'm thinking South Dakota will be such a fun place for the kids.  I think even Gwen, at two years old, will think presidential faces in the side of a mountain are pretty cool.

I spent most of last week packing - on the one hand, camping/road tripping is great, because you can bring snacks or whatever else you want without space (except for the size of your car) or airline rules being an issue.  On the other hand, camping with little kids takes a lot of prep work, and our van is packed pretty tight.  Plus we are still potty training . . . so yes, it will be interesting trying to get the kids out when we make stops!

I packed a few movies for the kids to watch on the road, as per usual, but this year I decided to bring some fun new books to read to them too!  I've been having a lot of fun reading Winnie The Pooh to Wyatt over the last month or so.  He is finally to the point where he is getting better at listening to a story without a lot of pictures, so I am going to bring some chapter books to read to the two big ones - I think they'll enjoy it.




I am also excited to bring along our brand-new devotional from Tommy Nelson to read to them as they go to sleep!  We always read a Bible story and/or a devotional with the kids before bed time, and I think it will add another element of fun to change things up on vacation with a new book.

Bedtime Devotions With Jesus starts each devotion with a Bible verse and ends with a short prayer of thanks to God of everything He does for us.  There aren't a ton of pictures, but that is okay with me, because my kids tend to get distracted by really detailed pictures, so the simple illustrations on every other page are a good amount, I think.

This devotion is full of comforting thoughts for little ones that I think would be appropriate and understandable even for young toddlers (like Gwen).  We haven't read through the whole thing, but I have flipped through several of the devotions, and it seems like a lot of them talk about how God loves us and takes care of us.  I feel like the topics in this book are perfect to get kids in a peaceful frame of mind for bedtime!

(I'm also on Tommy Nelson today, talking about more ways to get kids to think about Jesus before going to sleep - check it out!)



Tommy Nelson is offering to give one of my readers a copy of this great devotional book! If you would like a chance to win, just fill out the form below!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I received a copy of this book for free from Tommy Nelson in exchange for an honest review.

I have a couple guest posts lined up for this week, one on blessing new moms, and one on beach trip essentials - keep an eye out for those, and I'll be back next week with a recap of all our vacation fun!


Music City



As you all know, I started writing for the Tommy Nelson blog earlier this year - and last week Tommy Nelson flew all of the ladies who write for their blog out for a meet up!  I have never done anything like this before, and it was so exciting!  Here are some of the things we did.

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On Thursday they flew us in, and we got to meet Tommy Nelson's amazing marketing team - the ladies we work with regularly, and who planned this wonderful trip!  

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(They had these goodie bags waiting for us in our rooms - I felt like a VIP!)

We settled in the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Resort - and I just have to say, it was beautiful.  The rooms were spacious, and out room had a balcony that overlooked one of their three gardens!

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Before dinner, we took a boat ride through the river system that runs through the gardens - it was so cool.  Then we went out to eat and it was so neat to meet the other bloggers in person!

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On Friday we went to the Thomas Nelson offices and had meetings, and we got to meet so many people from the Tommy Nelson team.  I was just so impressed and encouraged to hear everyone's heart for reaching kids for Jesus through the books they publish, and it left me even more honored to be able to work with this company.

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(All of us with the Tommy Nelson team!)

We went out to Puckett's Grocery for dinner that night.

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(Me with my roommate, Whitney from Rambles Of A SAHM.)

Then we walked around Broadway - we did not go into any of the honky tonks, but as we were walking past I could hear the live music in each one.  It was quite the experience!  Then we went to a boot place that had an amazing deal on cowboy boots.  Derek has been wanting a new pair for a long time, so I got him a pair, and I couldn't resist getting myself some too.

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(See, the turquoise on my boots?  I couldn't pass that up.)

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(Gorgeous night in Nashville.)

On Saturday we went out to breakfast at the Loveless Cafe!  The biscuits were so good.  I don't think I've ever tasted a biscuit like that.  I'm serious.

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(They had these custom Tommy Mommy Meetup t-shirts made for us!  That is my Twitter and Instagram handle on the back!)

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(All of us at breakfast.)

We went shopping at the Opryland Mills that afternoon, and then Johnny Rocket's for dinner!

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(Sporting my new boots.)


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After dinner we went to the Grand Ole Opry to see a show!  I am definitely a country music fan, so I really enjoyed the artists!

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At intermission a lady came up to our rows and had us follow her, and we found out that we were getting a backstage tour!  We got to see the back entrance where the stars enter, the dressing rooms, and the green room.  

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(That guy on the left in this picture is Jonathan Jackson, one of the stars of the show "Nashville".)

We watched a song from the side of the stage - it was so cool!

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Then we got back to our seats, and Vince Gill came on!  It was so cool to see him perform!

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The whole Grand Ole Opry experience was so cool, a once in a lifetime thing!  

We went back to the hotel and I had to get a picture with my roomy, Whitney.  She was so fun to hang out with on this trip, and we actually have a lot in common!  We stayed up way too late on Saturday night talking - I was so glad I got to room with her!

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The next day we flew back home.  I was excited about getting to see my kiddos again, but sorry to see the trip end - everyone at Tommy Nelson made us feel so special and planned everything so well!  I am proud to be a part of this group!

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Check out the Tommy Nelson blog to read more from all these ladies!

To see more pics, follow me on Instagram!

Going To Nashville


Tommynelsonmeetup

As you are reading this, I am probably on my way to the airport to fly to Nashville!

It kind of makes me want to burst out in song, but I don't know a Nashville-related song off the top of my head.  Let's see…

"Goooing to Nashville, and I'm, gonnnna meet Tommy Mommies . . ."

(You know, to the tune of Going To The Chapel?  I know, it doesn't really work.)

Lack of a soundtrack notwithstanding, I am very excited!  This week is the Tommy Mommy meet up - Tommy Nelson is flying out all of the moms who write for their blog, and they've got a bunch of fun stuff planned for us.  I am excited to see a new place and meet some of the amazing ladies who also write for the Tommy Nelson blog!

I also admit that I am eagerly anticipating getting a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep.  That hasn't happened in . . . I'm not sure how long.  But it's been a while.

I was thinking yesterday as I was packing that I think this is the first time that I have traveled totally by myself - and I think this will be the longest that I will be away from any of my babies since they've been born.  It makes me a little anxious, leaving them, even though I am sure they are going to have a ton of fun spending the night at Grandma's house, and then hanging out the rest of the time with Derek when he gets home.

Sometimes it can be good as a mom to get away for a little bit and refresh, but I find for me, it's not really the time away that does me the most good.  It's the time leading up to leaving my family.  I realize that I am not going to see them for a little while, so I enjoy every little thing a bit more.  Suddenly it doesn't bother me as much when one of them gets pumpkin all over my pants with little sticky fingers, or when one of them needs to be snuggled a little longer before going to sleep for the night, or when one of them wakes up and asks me to "sleep on my pillow" for a little while.

It's good to realize I am leaving them for a few days, because I remember that I don't really want to, not for long.

It's good to get away and rest up and get inspired, so I'm ready to come back and give them all my energy again.

And it's good to come back, because I missed them, and I remember how much I love this mom gig.
 
I love it even when everyone is crying all at once, and there are cheerios all over the floor, and I still haven't had a chance to shower this week, much less finish packing.

It's just fun being their mom.

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I have a couple posts scheduled for early next week, but I'll get a recap of my trip up as soon as I can!  If you want a sneak peek, you can always keep up with me on Instagram!

6 Tips For A Non-Boring Staycation


The word "staycation" never conjured up particularly good images in my mind.  I always thought it sounded a bit boring.  However, I am happy to report that after our staycation a couple weeks ago, I have become a fan!  We had a great time, and we managed to squeeze a lot of fun things in while still relaxing.  I'm not a staycation expert, but I thought I'd share a few tips for making a stay cation fun from my limited experience.


Staycation


Play Tourist

I don't know why, but it seems like people tend to take for granted all of the tourist sites that are right down the road from where they live.  Before our staycation we came up with a list of touristy places and activities in our area and picked a couple of them to do.  It was fun to go some places that we never go.  We even went to one national monument that we had never visited before.  It made it feel like we were going somewhere new, even though we were staying home.

Take A "Road Trip"

On your way to your touristy destinations, treat the drive like a road trip.  Turn up the music, roll down the windows, play a movie for the kids (if you have that capability).  Or if you are like Derek and me, listen to an audio book or drama.  Do whatever you would normal do for a road trip, even if you are only driving for 30 minutes.

Go Camping

Set up a tent in your backyard, complete with air mattress, sleeping bags, Skittles, and a movie on the laptop (yes, that is how I camp - I'm not hardcore).  You can even add a fire and s'mores if you have a fire pit, or if your area allows.  We were planning on doing this, but we ended up being so busy with all of the stuff we wanted to do together that we actually never got around to camping.  However, if we had, I think it would have been pretty fun!

Add Something Tastey

For us, this translated into special drinks that I made for Derek and myself when we got home early enough (virgin pina coladas and homemade sodas).  We also stocked up on snacks, and we added an "eating out" budget so we didn't have to make as many meals.

Ignore The Mess

It can be difficult to relax at home when you are a neat freak like me.  But cleaning and working don't really go with a vacation (or a staycation), so I cleaned as much as possible on Sunday night, and then ignored the mess as much as possible during the week (okay, I admit, I did declutter a little - just a couple times).

Unplug

I wanted to treat our staycation like a vacation as much as possible, so I decided to put away my laptop, limit my contact with the outside world, and just spend time with my family.  The only thing I did was Instagram some of the great pictures we took!  It gives more of a vacation atmosphere when you take a break from normal distractions and obligations and just focus on spending time together.

Those are my tips!  The main point is just to do something you wouldn't normally do, relax, and spend time with your loved ones.  Those are the things that can make a staycation just as fun as a vacation, in my opinion.  I no longer balk at the idea of staying home - and the distinct advantage is that you save lots of money with staycations!

Have you ever taken a staycation?  What did you do to make it more fun?

Lovely Staycation

Well, we're "back" from our staycation!  It ended up being a lovely week.  We got to do a lot of the touristy things we have been wanting to do for a while, and we just spent time together as a family.

We went to the zoo.

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We went on a movie date (thanks to Derek's mom and dad watching the kids for us!).  We saw Maleficent, and it was actually better than I was expecting.

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We visited a petrified "forest" - fossils of giant redwood stumps!  It was interesting, and the kids liked being able to run around.

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We had a lovely 4th of July.  I have been reading a book called "The Soda Fountain", and I followed their recipe for blueberry syrup and made us some homemade blueberry sodas!

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Waiting for fireworks later that night.

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We wrapped up our staycation with a relaxing day at home, complete with a trip to our neighborhood park and a movie night with a fort (built by Derek).

Staycations never sounded like that much fun to me, but I have to say that I really enjoyed it!  We got to do a lot of fun stuff together, and just relax.  It was definitely just what I needed after the week before!

These are just a few of the many pictures I have from the week - request to follow my photo blog to see the rest over the next couple days!

(Note:  If you are a new follower, I have a separate photo blog for pictures of my kids.  It's just an effort to hide pictures from search engines, but I love showing off my cute kiddos, so please don't hesitate to submit a request!)

Time For A Staycation

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(Watermelon limeade that I made the other week.)

I had grand plans to get a bunch of posts scheduled this week, but then last week happened.  I tell you, I'm not sure I've ever had so many bad days happen in one week.  Here's a taste of what we had to deal with.

-I forgot Clyde's circumcision appointment (thankfully we were able to reschedule).

-I ran out of gas on the same day that I forgot to bring my wallet (thankfully a sweet gas station attendant loaned me ten dollars of her own money so I could get home!).

-I had a really rough day at work.  I don't even want to go into it.

-I forgot to bring my pump to work on Friday, and it was too late to turn around, so I had to stop by Walmart and buy another one (there goes 30 bucks).

-Harvey hurt his leg, and we had to take him to the vet.

-I got a flat tire.  A nice man helped me change it.  Then the spare was flat.  I had to wait 1.5 hours in a hot car for AAA to come tow me.  We had to buy a whole new set of tires.

-We decided to wait at a Target across the street for Derek to come pick us up, and we held up an entire line of traffic through a green light trying to cross the street (Wyatt lost his shoe, and I had to carry Gwen, tug Wyatt along, and try to manage a stroller all at once.)  I was ready to cut my losses and leave the shoe, but a nice guy ran back and grabbed it for Wyatt.

-Gwen almost ruined two outfits (but she loved that ICEE while we were waiting at Target).

-I lost the opal in my right-hand ring (I think they should be able to replace it.)

There were a lot of silver linings and helpful people, and I know it was the Lord trying to tell me everything would be okay!  But still, I'm pretty much exhausted.

This week Derek is on vacation, and we decided to make it a staycation!  We've never had a staycation before, but we decided we better save a little money since we had to spend so much last week. (We also had to get Derek's truck fixed, get our septic tank pumped, and get my camera fixed - that plus the tires and the vet added up to about $2,000.  Yuck.)  I think it will be fun though, and I'm going to try to treat it like a real vacation as much as possible.
So I'm signing out for the whole week after posting this, and I'm not blogging at all.  I'll be back next week with a recap!

Camping Vacay (With Little Kids) 2013


It's the post you've all been waiting for - the one about camping with kids two years old and under!  Get ready, because it's going to be a long one.

So this vacation had an unusual start.  The weekend before we left on vacation we went on a little trip to my grandma's house with my parents and siblings, and we left Harvey at my parent's house because they have a nice breezeway where they could keep Harvey for us.  When we got back, Harvey had destroyed the gate that was keeping him in the breezeway, and he broke through one of my parent's window screens and chewed up their custom blinds to get into their house!  Turns out there was a thunderstorm while we were gone, and he's terrified of thunder.  All the repairs kind of cut into our vacation budget, so our plans for our week-long camping trip went out the window.

I was pretty disappointed, but we made plans to go spend another couple days with my grandma and then camp a couple nights and then come home.

Unfortunately I had been feeling weird all week, and the day before we left I figured out that I had Shingles.  Shingles! I thought I was too young for Shingles, but apparently not. It started out with weird shooting pains in my ear area, then developed into painful swollen lymph nodes and a tingling scalp, and then on the day before we left I finally developed an itchy/painful rash.

It was pretty awful.  My doctor told me I'd probably have a mild case since I was so young, but if that was a mild case I'd hate to have a severe case!  It hurt!  I had to use calamine lotion for the itch (which made my hair all greasy because it was mostly all through my scalp) and I stayed on my tylenol and anti-virals the whole time.

Thankfully after the first couple days I started to feel alot better, but it made for a stressful start to our trip.  But no way was I going to cancel, so on July 4th we left for my grandma's house! We stopped in the town where she lives and walked around a carnival and got ice cream first.

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The petting zoo - Wyatt loved it!

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Out for ice cream!  I got a chocolate soda float, and it was really good!

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Later at my grandma's house in our patriotic garb for the 4th of July!

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The next day we kind of just hung around my grandma's house, and then we went into town for dinner that night.  We wanted to take Wyatt to splash in the river, but the weather ended up being a little rainy, so we just walked by the water instead.

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My grandparent's with Wyatt and Gwen!  We had such a nice time visiting with them.

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The plan was to go camping the next couple of nights, but last minute we decided to change our destination and go to the Grand Canyon! It turns out the weather in Arizona was going to be a little cooler over the next few days as well, so we didn't even have to worry too much about the kids getting overheated.   We made the long drive there and made it just in time to set up our tent before dark. We camped in a nice KOA campground!

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 I was a little nervous about our first night in a tent and whether Wyatt would like it or not, but he loved it!  Gwen, on the other hand, was up 2-3 times during the night, but she was that way at my grandma's house too, so I think it was just because she wasn't in her own bed.  In the early morning I just snuggled Gwen under the sleeping bag with me, and when we woke up Wyatt and Derek were gone - they came back a little later with donuts!  It was refreshing, waking up to the nice outdoor air, and it reminded me of the summer I was a counselor in teepee camp.  I decided then and there that I really liked tent camping!  I hope to go again next year.

Happy girl, all snuggled under the covers!

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Happy boy, with his donuts!

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The plan for the day was to drive to the Grand Canyon!  We got there and walked around the visitor center first.

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It was gorgeous!  It's been a long time since I've been there, and it really was amazing to look out at this vast canyon.  Looking at something like that just always reminds me of how much bigger and more awesome God is than anything He's created!  I'm glad I serve a God who can do that.  It's amazing.

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We wanted to drive around to the north rim, but when we figured out how far it was we realized we probably wouldn't have time because we wanted to see if we could drive up and see Antelope Canyon while we were in Arizona.  But then we found out that the road to Page (where Antelope Canyon is) was closed!  I'm wondering now if it was a fire or something?  It would have taken us another couple hours to take the detour, and honestly, we felt bad keeping the kids in the car for so long.  So we decided to just head back and hang out at the campground the rest of the afternoon.  I was bummed we didn't get to see Antelope Canyon, but we made the right decision.  Maybe next time!

Back at the campground.

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I got so much reading done on this trip!  I think I read 5 books cover-to-cover, minus a couple chapters that I started before we left.  It felt good!

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We had fun just lounging around in the tent!

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Derek made us hot dogs and beans for dinner!

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Wyatt played with his bubbles while Derek heated up our food.

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Gwen fell asleep in the tent - she was pretty cozy in there.

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Wyatt talking on his "phone".  He was having a very serious conversation.

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We did realize that we were right next to Route 66, so of course we had to take a drive!  Yes, we took pictures next to an auto park sign.  It was the best Route 66 sign available.

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I thought it was fun to drive and see all the motels, but it was a little sad too.  I've decided if I ruled the world, I would make all the businesses along Route 66 retro-1950's-themed to make it a fun touristy attraction.  There were some buildings left that still had a 50's flair, but I think it would be fun if they were all more over-the-top!

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In the evenings when we camped we all snuggled in the tents and watched movies on the laptop (I know, we were really roughing it).  The first night we just watched some of Wyatt's Veggie Tales show, and the second night we watched Marley and Me and ate chocolate.  It was fun to have our own little movie night!

All snuggled in the tent the next morning!

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Unfortunately this still had to be a short trip because of the whole Harvey-chewing-up-our-budget issue, so we had to pack up our tent site and head out.  The drive that day was a little nerve-wracking too, because our power-steering fluid decided to leak!  I'm glad I have Derek around, because I would have had no idea what to do.  If we had known we were going to drive so far we would have gotten a tune-up for the car before we left.  We didn't break down though, and we did stop by Four Corners!

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We had to wake the kids up from their nap to see it, so they were both really grouchy and hated the wind and the sun.  I didn't even pay attention to where I was standing when it was our turn to take a picture, and only later did I realize that we weren't in the exact middle!  Rats.  Wyatt and me are in Colorado and Derek and Gwen are in New Mexico.  At one point Wyatt and me were in New Mexico and Derek and Gwen were in Arizona, and vice versa.  I don't think any of us made it to Utah.

The plan was to camp one more night on the way home, but when we finally got to the place we were planning to camp we were all too exhausted to bother setting up a tent and decided to go to a hotel.  That ended up being  mistake though, because Wyatt hated it!  I think he kept thinking we were going to leave him alone in the hotel room or something, so we didn't get to do too much.  Looking back, we should have just camped after all.  Oh well!  I'm actually glad we didn't go for a whole week.  I think five nights was about the limit for the kids.

We also stopped by Focus On The Family as part of our vacation!  We missed the last tour for the administrative buildings, but it was worth the trip even without the tour.  The downstairs is entirely for the kids, and it is amazing!  They have all kinds of stuff to play with, plus a soda shop.  Of course, my favorite was the bookstore.  I could spend way too much money there if I let myself.  We escaped with a new movie for Wyatt, more Arch books for Wyatt and Gwen, and a marriage book which we're both looking forward to reading.

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I love going on vacation and I'm so glad we decided to make the trip and go somewhere we had never been before!  But I have to say, it felt good when we got home.  Even when we were greeted by this:

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We're just going to budget to send Harvey to doggy camp next time we go somewhere.
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