I feel like I start every post with, where did the time go! I don’t even really remember Christmas at this point, and I have some other things I want to post about, but this is pretty recent, so hopefully the pictures will jog my memory!
One of the great things about Christmas this year was that Jessica came to stay with us for a couple of weeks. On Christmas Eve we went for our traditional meal of Chinese food. The last year we were in SLC we did a progressive dinner with friends on Christmas eve, but we’re not really within close walking distance of too many of our friends here. Chinese food is yummy, and I don’t have to clean my kitchen! After dinner we went to the Marriott to look at the decorations. We got there just in time for Christmas stories (I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled Doug was!).
Because Christmas was on a Sunday this year, we got to start the day out at church. It was really a wonderful way to help the kids understand the true meaning of the holiday. My absolute favorite thing about church was that we got to sing, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” twice. It’s my favorite carol, and it was like my special holiday treat!
When we got home from church the kids got back into their pajamas and we opened gifts. There were lots of presents from grandpas and grandmas, and a few from mom and dad! Our main gift to the kids this year was an XBox Kinect. I got it at Walmart on Black Friday, and I managed to do it with very little waiting in line, so all in all, it was a success. Of course, the kids haven’t really taken to it … except for the nightly family Zumba workouts!
We had a delicious Christmas dinner and then we packed up for our big road trip the next day. We rented an 8 seater van, and took everyone to Florida. We stopped for a couple of days in Baton Rouge first, and had a lot of fun with cousins. Doug and I did our interviews for the family history project, plus I got to take the kids to see some plantations.
After Baton Rouge we headed to Crestview for a few days to see Mike and Ingrid. We talked about playing some board games, but that never really panned out. I don’t know if Jessica could have handled the fierce Roberts competition!! There were hamster balls though, and a trip to the beach. I always wonder what the hostess is thinking when she sees our huge, crazy group show up and ask for a table for 15!
After a few days in Crestview, we made our way back to Baton Rouge. We spent another night there so that Doug could help his grandfather with some spreadsheet stuff. We made our way back home on New Year’s Eve day. One of the coolest things about the trip was the constant show of fireworks from Houston to San Antonio, We actually made it home right at midnight. It was a little hard to get up for nine o’clock church the next morning, but we made it work!
Alright, it’s not exactly John Steinbeck, but at least I wrote a little something!
I hate that I’ve been looking at that lost post forever! I wanted to write about the other 4 days in detail, but really I just want to move on to the other things that have been going on. What’s kind of lame is that I’m going to combine all the days from the reunion!
The reunion was the p0int of the whole road trip. We needed to be at Rocky Mountain National Park to meet up with all 50 members of my husband’s family for three days of non-stop action and potato sack races. Because the baby was still pretty new at that point, I didn’t do as much visiting as I would have liked, but the kids had an amazing time. The sad thing about family reunions is how it reminds us that we don’t live near any of our family. Our closest family is five hours away. I know that’s not too bad, but it would be great if my kids had cousins to play with on a regular basis.
The biggest kudos of this trip go to my mother and father-in-law who organized the whole thing. It’s a huge task to get this many people in the same place, and not one person was missing! Thanks also go to Bryan and Charlotte who planned a lot of the nitty gritty (including the aforementioned potato sack race!). Samuel and William even made it to Junior Ranger status on this adventure.
The weather was absolutely perfect the entire time. There was still snow up in the mountains, which was a treat for my kids that weren’t born in Utah! It really was a great few days. I should write more, but I really do need to move on! Hopefully I’ll be able to get better caught up!
Where was I? My last post had us arriving in Denver pretty late Monday night. We met up with Doug’s brother for a quick minute and then got everyone into bed.
Tuesday morning our family of 7 plus Mike and Ingrid’s family of 7 pretty much took over the lobby of the Embassy Suites hotel! After breakfast and a few errands we made our plans for the day. A trip to Hammond’s Candy Factory and then and afternoon birthday party for Ben at the playground.
The candy factory was a great time. It reminded me a lot of the Sweet Candy Factory in SLC. Sweets was a little more Willy Wonka-esque, but Hammond’s has an amazing candy store.We drove out to the most amazing playground in the afternoon for Ben’s birthday party. We had cake and drinks, plus all the props for our Angry Birds course. Unfortunately, as soon as we got there the lightning alarm went off. That’s how cool this playground was: it had a lightning alarm!
It was raining buckets before too long, and so we decided to postpone the party. We went to Cafe Rio for dinner, and then back to the hotel for some cake and sorbet.
On Wednesday we headed to the Denver Science and Nature Museum. There was a pirate exhibit plus a space exhibit, and a gemstone exhibit. There was also a body exhibit. There was an exhibit that was “supposed” to measure brainwaves and relaxation. It must have been broken though, because it said that Doug was more relaxed than me … I think we all know that that’s a statistical impossibility!
After the museum we headed to a restaurant recommended by a friend. Unfortunately it was closed. However, there was a Happy Cakes right next door, and a pizza place on the other side. The greatest thing about the pizza place: it had a mix your own soda machine! Plus, the restaurant was empty when we showed up, so the 14 of us didn’t really disturb anyone but the guy working the counter!
At this point everyone was pretty wiped out, so we returned to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Except for Ingrid and who went for a late night workout in the gym … we’re dedicated like that!
On Monday morning we checked out of our Santa Fe hotel. I only had two requests: a visit to Trader Joe’s and a visit to the State Capitol. Am I the only one with a love of state capitols?! Those two locations were pretty close together, so it was easy. Doug then wanted to go to Taos and check out the area. Since I knew Julia Roberts has a house there, I was all for it! I also consulted our little Paul Roberts Santa Fe guide and noticed that he mentioned the Bradbury Science museum. We entered it into the GPS and saw that it didn’t put us too far out of our way. Monday was a free day, so we decided to head to Los Alamos.
I have to say that I loved Los Alamos. It’s like you actually get smarter as you drive up the mountain! I couldn’t help feeling though, like we entered an episode of Lost. In New Mexico a lot of the houses are adobe style, but Los Alamos looks pretty Main Street, USA. Clearly it was built by people who weren’t local to the area! I loved the museum. They had all these stories of people who had worked in Los ALamos and what they did. Doug loved the technical things, and the kids loved all the Legos. It was very impressive for a free museum!
Taos however, was less than impressive. I was expecting a Park City/ Vail type of town, but instead it was pretty unremarkable. I think the problem was that we didn’t drive all the way to the ski resort. Maybe it’s totally deluxe 20 miles up the hill.
The rest of Monday was spent driving to Denver. It was a pretty long drive, but we saw lots of beautiful scenery and the kids were great. We got into Denver late Monday night and met up with Mike and Ingrid and their family for a couple of fun filled days in Denver.
Day 2 was so much more relaxed than day 1. Although, I have to say, that even with going to the gym every day, I was not prepared for the toll that the caves exacted on my calves. I could hardly walk on Sunday morning!
We knew we were going to take it easy on Sunday. We went to church at 11:00am, which was pretty much perfect. The people were super friendly. After church we headed to El Parasol for lunch. This was a place recommended by Doug’s cousin Paul who used to live in Santa Fe. Paul told us that El Parasol had the best tacos in the world. That’s a bold claim to make considering the best tacos in America are available right here at Taco Taco! The tacos at El Parasol were very yummy, and the whole experience was helped by the fact that there was no wait!
After lunch we went for a drive through Santa Fe. I don’t know if I could live there all the time, but Santa Fe seems like a great place to spend a week-end. Another place recommended to us by Paul was the Tesuque Market. The food here was amazing and the ambiance was great. We also took a little walk through an outdoor sculpture gallery. The kids thought it was great to pick out their favorite pieces and to see if they could identify certain things. Some times it’s a little nerve-wracking to have them running around $10,000 pieces of art, but they didn’t destroy anything!
It really was a perfect travel Sunday.
So, now that we’re officially done with Summer travel, I can write about some of it with an air of nostalgia! I thought about writing in the moment, but some of the moments weren’t that pretty! Now, everything has blurred into a fuzzy happy memory! There were no children screaming in the car, There was no peeing on the side of the road,and there was certainly no yelling on my part!
Enough preamble. It’s time for day 1. Keep in mind that this is the first road trip of the Summer. I’ll get to the other road trip when I’m done with this one.
This was the family reunion roadie. It involved three days in Estes Park for the reunion, two days in Santa Fe and three days in Denver. Day one was supposed to get us to Santa Fe with a stop at Carlsbad Caverns along the way. It was 6 hours to Carlsbad and then another 6 to Santa Fe. Twelve hours is a lot of driving for one day, but we figured if we left at 5:00am we could do it. What we failed to calculate was the time it would take us to actually hike the caves! That whole adventure added about 6 hours to the trip!
We actually got on the road on time. Unfortunately we got a little waylaid by my need to get an egg mcmuffin! We also forgot to set the house alarm, but thankfully Dixie helped us out there! Because we left so early, we made really good time to Fort Stockton. Doug got a little annoyed because I wanted to take a picture in front of the Road Runner statue (the world’s largest, btw!), but he calmed down once we got out of the car and Miss Fort Stockton was there taking publicity photos! It’s not every day you get your picture taken with a beauty queen and a road runner! We then had lunch at Dairy Queen and packed everyone up again.
We got to Carlsbad Caverns early in the afternoon. If you’ve never been there I highly recommend it. I would however also recommend going when all of the elevators are working! We had to wait an hour to get out of the caves. The kids all did a great job of walking down the cave, but there was no way they were going to be able to walk out.Here’s another fun fact: you can’t take your stroller into the cave! So, I had Charles on my back, and Afton was a trooper and walked by herself.
After hiking the cave and the Big Room it was time to go. Ben used some of his spending money for a miner’s hat (turned out to be a good investment because the same hat was $2 more in Denver!), and then we waited in line to exit. By the time we got out it was just a half an hour until the bats so of course we stayed. Little did we know that it was a half an hour until Ranger Randy started his presentation on the bats! The bats exited the cave at about 8:00pm. Ranger Randy said this was the most bats he’d seen … ever! Another helpful hint: don’t bother lugging your big camera to the bat exit, because you can’t take pictures. Bats are very sensitive to electricity. If you don’t believe me, try and use your phone at the bat amphitheater. You’ll get a nice visit from the law enforcement ranger. He carries a real gun and a tranquilizer gun!
Now we had a dilemma. It was 8:30pm and we were still 5 hours from Santa Fe, and that was before stopping to feed the baby. We foolishly soldiered on and made it to Santa Fe at about 2:00am. Next time I would just stay at the Travelodge in White City. They have waterslides! We did make a quick stop in Roswell to feed the baby. If you’re ever in Roswell, you should probably check out the coolest McDonald’s.
So, that was day 1. Stay tuned for a relatively laid back day 2!
We were in Crestview for Halloween, but I thought there was already an overload of pictures on that post, so here is my separate post dedicated to Halloween, which is odd because we didn’t even trick-or-treat this year!
I have been planning the kids’ costumes for almost a year. Let me rephrase that, I had been thinking about the kids costumes for almost a year. Everyone is loving Mario, and I thought that would be an excellent theme. William could be Mario, Samuel could be Luigi, Ben could be the yellow mushroom head thing, and Afton was going to be Princess Peach. I thought these would be super easy to put together myself. Some overalls,some hats, a church dress for Afton, how hard could it be? I know I could have bought the costumes, but they look cheap and are actually pretty pricey. So, after thinking about the costumes for almost a year, I headed out to Goodwill in search of overalls … the week before Halloween! I had no luck, and also no costumes! I also had to figure in that Samuel no longer wanted to be Luigi, he thought Bowser would be a better costume. Plus, we were also getting ready for our trip. Apparently even if you are thinking about a costume for a year, you are still able to procrastinate the actual construction of said costume!
A couple of weeks before Halloween, Samuel’s class was studying ancient Egypt, and so there was a lot of talk about mummies. I know it’s not the most original costume, but I was very happy. I spent $21 on long underwear, which the boys have been wearing for pajamas. I had a ton of muslin in my fabric collection and I had lots of Halloween make up that I bought on clearance last year.
Since Halloween was on a Sunday this year, I knew that we wouldn’t be trick-or-treating, but because of our trip we were also missing the ward trunk-or-treat. Originally we were planning on a trip to Disney, but when the shuttle got delayed, so did all of the Disney plans. Luckily, the town of Crestview has a Fall Festival, and we were able to dress up for that. There was also candy for the kids, but not too much! It was a great little bit of Halloween fun.
Doug has been wanting to see a shuttle launch since they announced the retirement of the shuttle program. Originally there was a launch scheduled for September 15th. That launch got postponed in August, and so we started planning for the November 1st launch. The launch was set for a Monday and we were leaving on Thursday. We were heading to the panhandle to visit with the Crestview Roberts for the weekend. We were all going o head down to Orlando on Sunday night, do a little Disney visit on Monday morning and then head to Cape Canaveral on Monday afternoon. We would then head back to Crestview on Monday night and head for home on Tuesday morning. This allowed us to miss only 3 days of Samuel’s school. This is important because at 4 days the school can file a misdemeanor complaint against the parents for truancy.
So, we left Thursday morning at 10:00, which was only a half an hour behind schedule. The GPS said that we should arrive in Crestview at 10:30 pm. This was obviously very optimistic and didn’t include any stops for gas or bathroom breaks. We did pack a cooler of lunches so that we wouldn’t have to make extra stops for fast food. We had sandwiches at a rest stop, which only cost us twenty minutes. We ran into some traffic in Houston because of an accident, but that was the only snag. We made excellent time to Baton Rouge where we ate with Doug’s grandparents. I made a quick trip to Walmart, because we weren’t going to make it very far without the diapers! Then it was on to Crestview. I think with the Baton Rouge stop we ended up in Crestview at about 1:30. Mike and Ingrid were up waiting for us, and Ingrid served us ice cream on a tray (she’s very much the Italian hostess in that way!).
On Friday morning we found out the launch had been delayed by a day. We were still planning on staying because we had scheduled in one day of cushion, but Ingrid and the kids weren’t going to be able to come because of school commitments. At this point though we were still all planning on Disney on Monday morning.
On Friday the cousins all played and then we went to the Air Force Armament museum. This was a lot like the Air Museum that we went to in Shearwater last year, but they had way more planes outside. The kids loved it, and we were having a great time with Mike and Ingrid. After the museum we had a little Wendy’s picnic at a park while Ingrid went to a Symphony rehearsal. We took the kids home, and a sitter came so that we could meet Ingrid for a late dinner in Destin. THe boys were super excited that their cousins get to watch movies at night, which meant that they could stay up past their normal bed time.
We ate at what I think is Emeril’s favorite restaurant in Destin. There was live music and snails, plus some very yummy dessert. We then went home and fell asleep watching the Mentalist!
On Saturday there was tie dyeing, Halloween carnivals, a performance of Madama Butterfly, and a late dinner at Applebees. I don’t know how we stayed awake, because it felt like non-stop action! On Saturday we also found out that they delayed the shuttle until Wednesday, so we decided not to make the trip to Orlando. We decided to start the trip home on Sunday night.
Sunday we had church and then Ingrid threw a fancy party for Samuel’s birthday since we kind of ignored it! There was hula- hooping, parachute marshmallows, eyeball spaghetti, cake and ice cream. Then there was a second feat of roast! We got packed and left their house a little after 9:00, which meant that we didn’t get in to Baton Rouge until after 2:00am. Everyone crashed hard! We had a great visit with grandma and grand-dad on Monday morning, and then we headed home. Except for the rain the drive was smooth. So far we haven’t need a dvd player. The kids are great in the car.
We even made it home in time to watch Dancing with the Stars … if only we hadn’t canceled the cable!
Thanks Ingrid and Mike! Hopefully we didn’t wear out our welcome too much, because we might be coming back in February!!
p.s. Just so I don’t forget, there was chess and a panini press and probably a million other wonderful things that Mike and Ingrid did for us.
pps The shuttle got rescheduled again!
You know I love me a road trip!! I just wish that we could do these for five days instead of just the week-end. We had to leave before the shrimp boil this time, and it was a little sad! Of course, 4 out of 6 people got sick on this trip, so it was probably time to head home!
This was by far the best drive we have ever had through Houston. I was grumbling a little bit about having to leave at 4:30, but everything worked out really well. We even went to the Houston Aquarium for dinner. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it. It’s right off the freeway and it’s outside of the Aquarium so you don’t have to pay admission, but there are huge tanks in the restaurant. If only we had known that Doug’s sister and family were also in Houston that night, we could have made a group trip!!
We arrived in Baton Rouge on Friday morning and hung out with the family and grandma and grand-dad’s house. We went for a swim in the pool and then checked ourselves into the hotel before dinner at the BRCC.
Ah… the country club. I have oft lamented that we didn’t get to go to the country club very much, but now I know why. My kids do not do particularly well in that environment! We had our room because there were so many of us, and there were children doing somersaults on the dance floor, hiding under the piano, knocking over giant divider screens, and throwing up (the last two were mine, in case you were wondering!).
After dinner my darling husband took the kids, and the ladies and I went to go see whatever Twilight movie is out right now. A shout out to my brother-in-law, Dan who knew someone at the movie theater and got us passes! I’m just going to say that these movies make me feel old and unromantic, but am I the only one who says go with the hottie werewolf instead of the slightly creepy 150 year old vampire?! Also there were a couple of guys in the row in front of us making fun of us while texting on their phones. I think if you’re two teenage guys going to see Twilight by yourselves on a Friday night, maybe you shouldn’t be making fun of other people!
On Saturday we had a fun birthday celebration for my niece Julianna and all the other July birthday people. There was lots of yummy food and an almost swim party. Unfortunately it started to thunder and lightning once everyone got their swimsuits on!
Saturday night some of the group went to see the Sound of Music and some of us stayed back to visit. After the play Doug and his brother Mike went to see the Last Airbender while Ingrid and I chatted in the hotel hallway. I’m trying to convince Mike and Ingrid to move to San Antonio, but so far I’ve come up lacking!
On Sunday we had church and then a quick visit before we started the drive home. I had just read about a BBQ place in Houston, so we stopped to try it out. It was a little out of the way, and Doug still hasn’t found a place in Houston that he likes better that Goode & Co.
So, now we’re home sweet home preparing for the next adventure, which will probably be sometime during football season!
I feel like we’ve been taking little week-end road trips forever. We’re looking forward to an actual week-end at home this week! What’s nice is that our trips aren’t really that far, so we’re able to do them in three days. What was great about this trip was that we got to meet a new niece, and I got to talk all about photography with Sharleen. I also got a lesson in logarithms from both Doug and Sharleen because of a faulty equation from my photography class (the term starbust miles comes to mind!). That’s right, our road trips are fun and educational!
We went to Dallas for our nephew’s baptism, and the whole thing went wonderfully well. The weather could not have been more perfect. It would be nice if we could head up to Dallas during the week at some point so that we could see some of the sites. Maybe next time we’ll add an extra day to the trip. If I was a little more informed we could have gone to see the implosion of the old Cowboys Stadium, but I didn’t read about that until Monday morning.
So, this is really about the pictures! If you want to read about the crawfish boil that Dan and Amy hosted, check out franklyentertaining.