Miscellaneous

A Day in the Life {January 22, 2015}

A glimpse into my day. I’m stay-at-home-mom with a 3.5 year old daughter and a 19 month old son. My husband and I are currently on day 21 of the Whole 30 challenge and we are homeschooling my daughter’s preschool. This is my fourth Day in the Life post.

{You can read the first three here, here and here.}

Disclaimer: This is long but I want to document as much detail as I can for my own enjoyment later.

5:30 AM – I hear Alvy over the baby monitor talking to himself. I throw the covers off my legs and roll out of bed. On my way up to his room I stop by the kitchen to turn on the coffee pot. I pick him up, change his diaper, get him dressed and then we both sit down in the glider so he can nurse. Yes, I’m still nursing him.

6:00 AM – We go downstairs, I pour my coffee and turn on the TV and hunt down Alvy’s hearing aids. We both sit on the couch and watch WordWorld while I drink my coffee. I look at our meal plan and make a grocery list for a trip to the grocery store later in the morning.

6:10 AM – Jason leaves for work.

6:45 AM – I get off the couch and start breakfast. I’m having bacon, eggs, sweet potato hash browns and sliced apple. The kids are having french toast, bacon and sliced apple

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7:00 AM – Evie wakes up and stumbles into the den.

7:30 AM – I turn off the TV and the kids and I sit down to breakfast.

7:45 AM – I put in a load of laundry, Evie goes to get dressed, I clean the kitchen, get myself dressed and make the bed.

8:30 AM – We leave for the grocery store. The kids are rowdy and the trip is somewhat stressful. It started off well but quickly deteriorated to this.

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…and this.

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Thankfully I went in with a good list and the store was relatively empty.

9:30 AM – We get back from the grocery store. I start Evie on her schoolwork while I unpack groceries and put in a load of diapers. Then I sit down with her. She does pages from her workbook (Complete Book of Grade K) and we read a Bob Book (Bob Book, Set 1:Book 11). Alvy plays with his ABC puzzle and his wooden farm blocks.

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10:15 AM – Alvy becomes unruly. He’s yelling, throwing puzzle pieces and generally being disruptive so I “pause” school to lay Alvy down for a nap. Evie plays on her Leap Pad quietly downstairs while I nurse Alvy.

10:45 AM – I lay Alvy down in his crib. He is extremely fussy and refuses to settle himself. Screaming ensues. He’s been cutting a tooth the last few days so I give him some Tylenol hoping that will help. Evie and I finish school then I fold the laundry that I washed earlier in the day.

11:15 AM – Alvy is still screaming so I go upstairs to rescue him. I bring him down and hold him with one arm while I make lunch with the other.

11:30 AM – We sit down for lunch. The kids have almond butter and honey sandwiches, apple slices and some cheese and I have a huge taco salad (lettuce, avocado, tomato and taco meat).

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11:45 AM – I take Alvy back upstairs for nap attempt #2. We read one of his favorite ABC books and I put him back in his crib. He cries for just a minute then starts to settle himself down. Phew!

Evie makes a loud noise playing downstairs and he starts crying again.

Just. Go. To. Sleep.

He’s over tired and mad. Our little boy has quite the temper.

Just as he settles the doorbell rings, it’s the mailman with a package. Growl. Once again he starts crying.  As I pass through the den I notice Evie has dug out about a dozen milk bones from the pantry and is feeding Baxter on the rug. Earlier in the day I would have told her to stop but after listening to Alvy scream for an hour I really don’t care.

12:30- He FINALLY lays himself down. FINALLY. I sneak out of his room and start working on the mountain of laundry that needs to be folded. Evie follows me into our bedroom and sits on the bed and helps me fold and plays word games on the tablet.

1:30 PM – Laundry is folded and put away. I change into my workout clothes and dig out one of my old pairs of running shoes. I’ve been having some IT band problems lately and I have suspect it’s an issue with my shoes. So today for my workout I’m going back to my old Mizuno Wave Creation 13s to see if they make a difference in my band tightness. I spend a few minutes fiddling with the laces, then when I am satisfied with how they feel on my feet I go into the kitchen to prep dinner.

2:00 PM – My chores are finished so Evie and I sit down and at the kitchen table to play with her Legos. We work on building a sports car from a little kit. I also fold the diapers.

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2:55 PM – Alvy wakes up from his nap in a much better mood.

3:15 PM – We leave to run errands, go to the chiropractor and go to the Y. I run 3 miles, do Strong Lifts Day A (squats, bench press, inverted row, pushups and reverse crunches) and let the kids run around the indoor track. I was pleased with my shoe experiment. On Tuesday I was only able to run a mile and a half so the shoes made a difference. IT band was still tight though.

6:00 PM – We finally make it back home. Time to start dinner. The kids play quietly for a while but then start to pester me in the kitchen so I turn the TV on and let them watch a couple episodes of Signing Time while we wait for Jason to get home.

7:15 PM – Jason gets home and we immediately sit down to dinner. Pecan Crusted Salmon, Roasted Carrots and Beets and Shredded Brussels Sprouts.

7:40 PM – Jason cleans the kitchen and I go take a quick shower.

8:10 PM – We herd the kids upstairs. It’s time for bed. Alvy is obviously ready for sleep telling everyone, “ni-ni” as we walk up the stairs. Evie and Alvy read two books together and then go their separate ways. I take Alvy and nurse him then lay him down. Jason takes Evie to her room, reads her two books and then they cuddle for 5 minutes before he goes downstairs.

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8:35 PM – Alvy is almost asleep in my arms so I lay him down in his crib. He fusses for about two seconds rolls over and goes to sleep. I sit in the glider for a few minutes to make sure he’s asleep before I try to leave. As I’m sitting there I hear Evie crying in her room.

I walk into her room and she tells me she’s mad because dad won’t let her sleep in our room. I explain to her that she needs to sleep in her own room first and she can come to our room in the night if she wants. She reluctantly agrees and I promise to go check on her.

I go downstairs and make a cup of hot tea.

8:55 PM – Back upstairs to check on Evie. She’s already asleep. Jason and I sit on the couch and watch TV while I drink my tea. This is literally the first time I’ve sat still since 6:30 this morning.

9:35 PM – We go to bed.

THE END.

A Day in the Life {September 15, 2014}

It’s been a while since I did a day in the life post and now that Alvy is older I would like to document how my days are spent. My daughter, Evelyn is 3 years, 4 months old and my son, Alvy is 15 months. Today is a pretty typical Monday.

This post will be relatively long but I think this will be fun to go back and read later so I want to document as much detail as I can.

5:15 AM – Jason’s alarm goes off. I’ve been getting up with him lately because I like having a cup of coffee before the kids wake up. Evie slept with us last night and has her head glued into the crook of my arm, which is halfway asleep. Jason gets in the shower. I lay in bed and enjoy a sleeping kiddo cuddle until I hear him get out.

5:30 AM – Once he’s out of the shower I roll out of bed and no sooner than I walk into the kitchen to pour my coffee do I hear Alvy up in his room crying.

*headdesk*

So much for a quiet cup of coffee. I hurriedly pour my coffee, grab my tablet and head upstairs. I try to lay him back down but no dice. He’s awake. For the day. At 5:30AM. Bummer. I nurse him and we cuddle in the glider in his room and then he crawls out of my lap and begins playing.

6:00 AM – I sit down at my desk in the game room and write a MOMS Club email while Alvy plays. The email is long (about our upcoming monthly calendar) so it takes a while to write. I’m thankful he’s playing happily so I can concentrate.

7:00 AM – Alvy starts to get fussy so I assume he’s hungry. Before heading downstairs I change his diaper, get him dressed and lay Evie’s clothes out for the week in her room. Downstairs we go.

7:15 AM – As I’m making breakfast Evie wanders in still half asleep. She helps me out by cracking eggs as I make tortillas. We’re having egg and cheese breakfast tacos.

8:00 AM – Breakfast is over. I spend about an hour cleaning up after breakfast and doing my morning chores (unloading the dishwasher, making the bed, feeding our pets, putting in a load of laundry, picking up random toys). Evie goes upstairs to get dressed. The kids play quietly some inside and some outside while I watch through the window. The weather has been so nice the last few days they’ve been eating up the outside time. I want them to burn some energy because I need to go to the grocery store and I don’t want them squirming in the shopping cart.

9:00 AM – I tell Evie that we need to go to the grocery store and she has 5 minutes to finish playing. She is having so much fun in the backyard she doesn’t want to leave. Bribery follows. I may promised her a donut. 30 minutes later everyone is in the car.

On the way to the store we stop by the chiropractor for an adjustment and then finally make it to the grocery store around 10.

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I spy pie pumpkins!

Grocery shopping goes off without a hitch and almost $200 later we leave. It is a pretty high grocery bill for us but we were out of almost everything so I’m not too surprised. The cart was overflowing.

11:30 AM – We get home. I unload the car and start making lunch (a double batch of chicken nuggets for the freezer and sweet potato fries). The kids play in the backyard while I watch from the kitchen window as I cook and put away groceries.

Chicken nuggets.

Chicken nuggets.

Backyard fun!

Backyard fun!

12:30 PM – We sit down for lunch. By we I mean Alvy and I – Evie insists that she’s not hungry and refuses to join us. It’s not a battle I’m willing to fight right now so I let it go. Alvy inhales the nuggets and sweet potato fries and I eat leftover pizza.

1:00 PM – Alvy has a meltdown. Nap time. When I tell Evie is time to go upstairs for quiet time she informs me that she’s hungry. Of course. I give her some lunch and tell her to sit at the table and eat while I lay Alvy down for a nap. I sit down in the glider, nurse him then lay him in his crib. Though it’s time for his nap and he’s obviously tired sleep isn’t coming easy. I sit back down in the glider and wait for him to settle himself down. He cries in the crib. Cries turn in fuss and fuss turns into silence. After 45 minutes he finally lays himself down and falls asleep. At some point Evie wanders into her room and begins playing quietly. The whole time I’m hoping the dog doesn’t eat the chicken nuggets left on the table.

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Sleepy sleep little boy!

1:50 PM – I go downstairs put the chicken nuggets in the freezer, pick up after lunch and come back upstairs to find Evie.

2:00 PM – We start “school”. We’ve been doing school every weekday while Alvy naps. It’s challenging for Evie and it gives us some good one-on-one time. Today we do sight words, number writing, a reading lesson, practice counting to 30 and write the letter J.

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Writing numbers.

Sight words.

Sight words.

3:30 PM – School is over. We both go downstairs and I clean up from lunch, clean out the pantry, finish putting away the groceries and call I the audiologist (the tube on Alvy’s hearing aid is ripping in half). Evie practices using her scissors on our junk mail and leaves tiny little pieces of confetti all over the kitchen floor. Once I get all my mandatory chores done I continue to clean like a mad woman knowing my time my time is limited. I also change into my running clothes so I’m ready to go when the opportunity presents itself.

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Clean pantry!

4:30 PM – Alvy wakes up. I change his diaper, feed him a snack and let him play for a few minutes. I am about to put the kids in the stroller for my run but I hang around just long enough to find out that Jason was leaving work. Immediately I decided to postpone my run until he got home so I didn’t have to push the stroller.

5:15 PM – Jason gets home and begins playing outside with the kids. I talk to him for a few minutes then leave for a 5 mile run. After about a half mile I realize how late we were going to eat dinner and instead decide to shorten it to 3 miles in exchange for more family time. Didn’t look at my watch at all just ran a leisurely pace. My legs felt reluctant but the weather was nice so I was a happy girl.

Daddy's home!

Daddy’s home!

I love being outside!

I love being outside!

I love being outside too!

I love being outside too!

5:50 PM – I get back from my run and Jason informs me that I left the door to our upright freezer in the garage open when I put the shrimp away after my grocery trip. All the food inside has thawed and ruined. At first I was mad at myself but most of the food in there was very old and probably needed to be thrown out anyway. Still kind of a bummer. I guess I know what I’ll be doing tomorrow. I spend a few minutes outside cooling down.

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My run.

6:15 PM – I go inside, take a shower and start working on dinner. We’re having Huevos rancheros – fried eggs served over a tostada, covered in salsa and queso fresco. Served with refried black beans, country style potatoes and bacon.

7:10 PM – We all sit down to dinner. Jason and I talk a lot about his work and a little about my hair brained business ideas. Evie tells Jason about her day at school. She actually eats quite a bit of her dinner, something that only happens about once a week.

7:45 PM – Evie asks if she can be excused from the table and she had eaten relatively well so we let her. As soon as she leaves Alvy starts screaming, “ALL DONE! ALL DONE” (which sounds like Ahhhh da! Ahhh da!) and waving his hands in the all finished sign. The kids both go in the den to watch Mickey Mouse. This is the first time all day our television has been on. Jason and I continue to sit at the table and chat and enjoy some quiet time. Ahhhhh.

8:00 PM – We finally leave the table. I clean the kitchen and do my evening chores (make the coffee for tomorrow, program the dishwasher to run overnight, get the next load of laundry in the washer and pick up the house) and Jason goes outside to make a work phone call. The kids play.

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Dinner aftermath.

It's never too early for lessons on proper golf form. :-)

It’s never too early for lessons on proper golf form. 🙂

Dishwasher helper.

Dishwasher helper.

8:46 PM – I’m standing in the kitchen talking to Jason and Alvy walks over crying. That’s our cue that’s it’s time for bed. We all trudge upstairs to change the kids into pajamas. Once in his PJs Alvy gets a second wind and we all play in Evie’s room as a family.

9:15 PM – I take Alvy, literally kicking and screaming, into his room for bed. He was having such a good time playing with his daddy and sister that he didn’t want to stop but it was past time for bed. I rock him and nurse him until he’s calm.

9:30 PM – I lay Alvy down in his crib. He cries for about 3 seconds and immediately falls asleep. I sit in the glider for a few minutes to make sure he’s well settled before leaving the room.

9:45 PM – I walk downstairs and find Evie and Jason reading curious George and watching football. As soon as the book is finished Evie comes to cuddle with me on the couch. It’s time for both of us to go to bed. Lately, she hasn’t been sleeping well in her room so we’ve been letting her sleep with us. Jason stays up to watch the rest of the football game and she and I go to our bedroom. I move the pile of unfolded laundry off the bed and on to my dresser (I’ll deal with it tomorrow). She and I curl up in bed in a mommy/daughter cuddle and we both go to sleep.

Today was a pretty good day. I was in control all day, no epic meltodown, no tantrums, nothing I couldn’t handle. I can walk around with my head held high proud of the two, well behaved, little people I’m raising. Days like today, I feel like I’ve got this stay-at-home mom thing down – until tomorrow when the kids run me over like a Mack truck. {Two days later as I’m editing this, I can tell you that’s exactly what happened – oh well. You win some you loose some.}

One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t trade this time for anything.

A Day in the Life, December 2013

Things have changed a lot here since my last Day In the Life post and I thought it was about time for me to do a new one. I wrote this on December 9. Today Evie is 2 years, 6 months, 22 days old and Alvy is 6 months, 9 days old.

Today is a fairly normal day for us. It’s a Monday which means a trip to the grocery store. It’s also a rest day so I don’t have a run scheduled. I also have plans to go to a MOMS Club event, return books at the library and buy stamps for our Christmas cards.

I wrote this post entirely on my phone.

6 AM – My day begins. I wake up as Jason is getting ready for work. I try to get out of bed but Alvy, who is laying in bed with me, has other plans. “FEED ME MOM,” is the cry I hear when I try to sneak out. So back in the bed I go to nurse the baby.

6:21 AM – Alvy is done eating and falls back asleep. I finally sneak out of bed and pour myself a cup of coffee. I spend a few minutes reading Twitter and Facebook in silence.

6:45 AM – Evie wakes up begging to watch Mickey Mouse Christmas on Netflix. I make her breakfast. An egg, bacon and some sliced up pear. I put it all on a TV tray on the floor of the den so she can watch Mickey while she eats. I also make myself breakfast (the same thing).

7 AM – E leaves her spot on the floor to throw a piece of pear skin in the trash. With her eggs unsupervised the dog swoops in and eats them. She is understandably upset and asks me to make more. So I kick the dog outside, dig the skillet back out (which I’d just finished washing) and cook her a second breakfast.

I use this rare silence as an opportunity to address Christmas cards. I manage to get them all done before…

8:12 AM – Alvy wakes up in a great mood. I take him upstairs to change his diaper and get him dressed. I try to nurse him but he’s more interested in playing.

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The three of us sit on the floor and play for a half hour.

9 AM – I get dressed and take Evie upstairs to get her dressed. I make a second attempt at nursing Alvy while E plays. I drink my third cup of coffee.

9:45 AM – We all leave the house to go to a Christmas cookie decorating party with MOMS Club. I visit with my mommy friends while Evie systematically licks the icing off her plate and eats two sugar cookies. Alvy spends the entire time in the Ergo fussing and trying to Houdini his way out.

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11:15 AM – Alvy has a meltdown at the cookie party and we leave in a frenzy of screaming baby and angry toddler who wasn’t quite done playing.

11:30 AM – I nurse Alvy who falls asleep in my lap. I consider laying him in his crib in our room but Evie is playing quietly and he’s sleeping peacefully so instead I choose to continue holding him. I’m already tired and consider making another pot of coffee. I begin to wonder how I’m going get everything done I need to do today.

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Pasta with meat sauce

NOON – Evie screams and wakes up the baby. After his little power nap it becomes clear he isn’t going back to sleep. I get up and make our lunch.

I make Evie a peanut butter and honey sandwich and some blueberry yogurt and I heat up leftover pasta for myself, which I cover in cheese. I turn on VeggieTales and E eats while I make a phone call and send a few emails regarding some volunteer work I do. I then inhale lunch while Alvy sits in the Bumbo.

I realize stamps and the grocery store might have to wait until tomorrow.

(Please note, I wrote this post on a Monday, I didn’t end up buying stamps until Friday.)

1:10 PM – I change Alvy’s diaper, top him off and we all pile in the car to go to the library. Once we get there we return Xanda’s Panda Party and Don’t Worry Bear which were both due today and browse for something new to take home.

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2:13 PM – We leave the library and go back home with two new books, I Can Do It Myself and Puddles ABCs. I realize I’m exceptionally thirsty.

2:30 PM – I take Evie upstairs, change her diaper and lay her down for a nap. I get Alvy out of the car seat, fill up my water bottle and grab a handful of chocolate covered cherries off the kitchen counter.

(As I’m editing this days later, I realize this is when things all start to go downhill.)

Alvy and I go to our bedroom so I can nurse him and put him down for a nap. Just as I am getting comfortable I hear Evie yelling, “I want my books!”

I leave Alvy in the bedroom to go get the library books off the kitchen counter. I also grab a second handful of cherries.

2:45 PM – For the second time today Alvy decides that it is playtime not nap time.

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I’m Batman!

He’s learning to sit up right now and he’s so excited to practice his new trick! We sit in bed and play until…

3:27 PM – I see an eye rub and decide it’s a good time to try to lay him down. I turn off the lights and nurse him but apparently I am wrong. He is obviously tired but is fighting sleep. He moans, trashes, hits me in the face and otherwise tests my patience for another half hour.

4:00 PM – I need a break, so I lay Mr. Refuses-To-Nap in his crib and go into the kitchen to get a glass of wine and another handful of cherries.

(Can you say, self medicate?)

While I’m gone he gets very still and quiet in the crib and I think, mistakenly, that he will fall asleep. Unfortunately, he sees me poking my head around the corner and starts screaming again. I pick him back up.

4:14 PM – Alvy FINALLY falls asleep in my arms. Under no circumstances do I dare move for fear of waking him up. My full wine glass is just out of reach. I stare longingly at it.

4:26 – I realize I’m definitely not making it to the grocery store today and I make the decision to pull out one of our emergency freezer meals for dinner instead. I carefully lean over and rescue my wine.

4:58 – Jason sends me a text message asking what we’re having for dinner. I tell him about our frozen options and he offers to pick sushi up in the way home instead. I tell him that, at this point, I’d be appreciative of anything he brought home for dinner, even if it was gravel. He thinks sushi would be better than gravel and I agree.

Alvy is still asleep in my lap. My left arm is completely numb. I consider laying him down but I’m really enjoying my break.

5:05 PM – Evie wakes up from her nap crying. I am forced to lay Alvy down in the crib and thankfully he stays asleep. I go upstairs to get Evie. She tells me she is cold and asks to be changed into her snowman pajamas (which she has worn every single day for almost 10 days straight). We go downstairs to cuddle on the couch and enjoy some time, just the two of us.

(We don’t get that much anymore, it was nice)

5:35 PM – Jason calls to tell me our favorite sushi place is hosting a private event tonight and is closed. While I’m on the phone coming up with a back up sushi plan…

5:45 PM – Alvy wakes up from his nap. I walk into the bedroom to pick him up and while I’m gone Evie goes into the kitchen, opens up the pantry door and helps herself to a Graham cracker. She then does gymnastics on the couch eating her cracker and watching WordWorld while I attempt to nurse the baby. At this point I am merely trying to survive until Jason gets home.

6:05 PM – Jason comes home with sushi. We eat and after dinner watch Wheel of Fortune.

7:00 PM – We all go upstairs for some good family time. Jason plays the guitar while I give Evie lessons on how to use the touchpad on the laptop. She does surprisingly well.

7:45 PM – Alvy decides he’s had enough family time and starts crying so I take him downstairs to put him to bed.

8:30 PM – He’s finally asleep. I hear Jason upstairs getting Evie ready for bed. I lay Alvy down in his crib. He immediately wakes up. I decide to hit the “easy button” and just lay down in our bed and nurse him back to sleep.

9:15 PM – I get out of the bed and carefully lay Alvy in his crib. I then go upstairs to tell Evie goodnight. When I get there I realize that Jason has fallen asleep in her bed. I lay down with them and enjoy a little family cuddle. I may or may not have dozed off.

10:45 PM – I wake Jason up and we both leave her room. We sit on the couch for a few minutes while Jason drinks a glass of water.

11:09 PM – We finally call it a day and go to bed.

Camping at Dinosaur Valley State Park

After a great Thanksgiving holiday, Friday morning we packed up our truck and headed to Dinosaur Valley State Park for a camping trip with my brother, sister-in-law and 10 month old newphew.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for months! We love Dinosaur Valley, we came here several times for day trips back when we lived in Dallas. It’s been several years since our last trip and I couldn’t wait to share the park with Evie. There’s something very novel about touching a dinosaur footprint!

It’s a four hour drive from our house so we decided to stop at Baylor both on the way down and the way back to stretch our legs. It’s a beautiful campus and a great place for E to run around. She loved visiting “sic ’em bears!” More importantly while we were on campus I saw a sign for the Bearathon (!!!) to be held March 22. It’s a half and is only three weeks after my scheduled full. Perfect timing!

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our campsite

Once we got there it didn’t take us long to get our camping equipment unpacked and our tent put up.

Our campsite was nice and backed up to the site my brother and his family were in. A small trail led from our site to theirs though some trees.

The weather was cooperative. It was a little chilly but turned out to be pretty much perfect. No rain, just cool enough for a campfire at night and just warm enough during the day for you to not shiver.

Back in the pre-kid days we would have hiked the entire park but during this trip, with three kids under three, a three mile hike seemed appropriate and even a little ambitious. By the time the hike was over both babies had melted and E was asleep in her daddy’s arms.

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To her credit she hiked a full TWO MILES up and down some steep hills. I am impressed she made it that far!

Seeing the footprints is such a special experience. No matter how many times we visit I am still in awe that we have access to something so unique. Unlike in a museum where you’re told DO NOT TOUCH, at Dinosaur Valley not only can you touch them, you can stand in them. It’s fantastic!

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crossing the Paluxy river, hunting for prints

It is quite an adventure finding the prints. They’re in and around the Paluxy river so you have to cross the river just to get close. If there’s been rain in the area recently the river will cover them completely, luckily for us the river was down but most of the prints in the water were covered in mud and debris.

Even when you find a print it’s difficult to know what you’re looking at. Some of the prints are eroded badly, making them unrecognizable. You find yourself wondering, “Is that a footprint or a hole in the rock?”

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eroded footprints

You may spend 20 minutes crossing your eyes, struggling to use your imagination but then you see one clearly. Once you see one, you start to see them all over the place.

Oh, there’s one!

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this print is freshly uncovered by the flooding river

There’s another one!

And one over there!

Oh my goodness! They’re everywhere! This is incredible!

Then you do silly things, like sit your kids in a mud puddle to take a picture.

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Camping with two little kids is hard – but isn’t everything? The memories I have of camping as a child are some of my most cherished. They embody everything that’s awesome about being a kid. Though Evie and Alvy are too young to remember this particular trip we will continue to take them to this and other special places to build their own sets of special memories.

The moral of the story here is that if you have kids (and a sense of adventure) take them to see the dinosaur footprints at Dinosaur Valley! It is a trip that they, and you, aren’t likely to forget any time soon! 

Favorite Things

Chaos. That word perfectly describes my life right now. Pure utter chaos.

Keeping the kids happy, the house clean(ish), getting dinner on the table and (maybe) getting laundry done takes just about every available second I have. I’m not complaining, I wouldn’t trade this life for anything but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that some days are hard, very hard.

That being said, there’s a handful of items that I rely on every single day to help me stay sane – my favorite things. My favorite things aren’t expensive and they bring me a little closer to sanity each for their own individual reasons be it convenience, organization or just plain joy.

Please note, this is not an advertisement. I purchased these items on my own terms with real, actual money.

Timex Ironman Watch

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I’ve had this watch for some time now and I still love it. Actually I never take it off except when I run and it’s only to put on my Garmin. For a while I quit wearing a watch. I mean, really with cell phones you really don’t need one anymore but when you’ve always got a handful of something (in my case, kids) it’s handy to not have to fish your phone out of your purse or pocket to see what time it is.

I guess any watch would serve this purpose but I particularly like this one because it was cheap and is virtually indestructible. I think I got it on sale at Academy for $25.

The count down and count up timers are perfect for toddler/kid use.

I read once that if you use a timer to dictate when a fun activity is over then it makes the end of said activity less arbitrary and more concrete.

“Five more minutes at the playground, little one. When Mommy’s watch beeps its time to leave.”

You can argue with Mommy, you can’t argue with her watch.

When Alvy was a little smaller I set the count down timer for 2 hours so I knew when it was time to feed him again (also useful for remembering when to dispense medicine).

Need to leave the house at a certain time? Just set an alarm to remind you when it’s time to go or in my case, get ready to go.

The best part about this watch is it’s waterproof. When I swim at the Y, I always know how long the kids have been in ChildWatch. How long I’ve been I the shower? The answer to this question is especially useful if I’m showering in the evening and racing bedtime.

Maybe it’s just the Type A in me but I find this indispensable.

I heart this watch.

Camelback Eddy Water Bottle

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I have two of these bottles. I actually bought a second one because I was constantly chasing the first one around. Where did I leave my water bottle? Is it in the car? In my gym bag? In the bottom of the jogging stroller?

I like them because they don’t spill and I can keep track of how much water I’ve had for the day – important information when you’re running in the heat and breastfeeding. Any less then 100 oz (4 bottles) a day and I start noticing a drop in my milk supply. Since I run in the evenings I try to drink two bottles before my run, one bottle during my cool down and one bottle after my shower while I’m feeding the baby.

Downside? After two years I had to replace the lid on my first bottle. Repeated opening and closing caused the little hinge to break. But seriously, two years and the replacement lid was only $8. Not too bad.

Something to watch out for though, if you put cold water in it then leave it in the hot car with the nozzle open the heat causes pressure to build in the bottle. When you pick it up it turns into a little mini volcano spilling several tablespoons of water all over your cup holder, the console and your shorts. Not that that’s happened to me or anything…

Taylor Four Event Kitchen Timer

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Let’s face it, once you have kids you live in a constant state of distraction. In the days before children I was able to remember the pot of chili on the stove and the cookies in the oven. Somewhere between then and now though I lost that skill. After almost ruining one of my pots by turning a sick of butter into charcoal and testing the nonstick qualities of the silpat with a batch of biscuits, I decided it was time to invest in a kitchen timer. I found this one at Ace Mart (if you haven’t been, you need to go, they’re open to the public) and it quickly entered can’t-live-without status. You can time four separate events in either count down or count up mode. All you have to do is remember which timer goes to what item you’re cooking.

The only thing I don’t like about it is the inability to turn off the beep every time you press a key. It’s amazingly loud and annoying.

Northface Caraballo Bag

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I love, love, love this bag. Unfortunately, it’s been discontinued (why?!). I’ve looked all over the internet for a place that still sells it but to no avail. This means I can never, ever lose it because apparently getting a new one is impossible.

It’s the perfect size, it’s small but not too small. The fabric is flexible but still holds it’s shape when you put it down. And most imporantly it still holds a ton of stuff. It easily holds everything I need for both kids: diapers, wipes, extra onesies, a burp cloth, a bib, E’s water bottle, a pacifier, snacks and Sophie the Giraffe.

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The two pockets on the outside are perfect for my phone and wallet. There’s also a separate pocket in the back which I use for catchall stuff – receipts, maps of the zoo, etc. I can easily adjust the strap to wear across my body, over my shoulder or to hang on the back of the stroller.

It’s washable (extra handy when your toddler smears banana on all over it), super durable and as a bonus the zippers sound like those on a tent, which makes me happy.

I can only hope North Face has replaced this product with something equally wonderful because if I loose this and can’t replace it with something that I love just as much I will be pretty upset.

Crayola Washable Dry Erase Markers & Board

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This isn’t my favorite thing for me, it’s my favorite thing for Evie. It’s good for hours of endless entertainment and if she gets it on her clothes no big deal! I got this as a set at Michaels for $11 or $12 with the six markers pictured above. The board is the perfect size to fit in her little lap. I’ve noticed the washable dry erase markers are a bit harder to wipe off than regular dry erase markers but a wet rag will clean the board nicely. This board has already seen countless erasures! The only downside? She’s still not strong enough to get the lids off the markers so she has to bring them to me for help.

I’ve enjoyed sharing my favorite things with you! I have no doubt that soon I will have more things to add to this list as I discover new products that add just a little bit of sanity to my day. Each item has a link to its listing on Amazon (with the exception of the bag), just in case you’re interested in buying one of these for yourself. If you do take the plunge to buy something I’ve mentioned I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

P.S. The item on my wrist in the watch picture is a ponytail holder. I have several of them and unfortunately, I don’t quite love them enough to include on my list. They don’t grip my fine hair well enough for me to be 100% satisfied with them for their intended use. BUT I do like them as bracelets; they’re pretty, generally match my clothing and don’t drag on the table or my computer keyboard (my main peeves against bracelets). I switch them from wrist to wrist to remind me which side I finished nursing last. 🙂

A Day in the Life

I have always enjoyed reading “A Day in the Life” posts from other bloggers and since this is a special time in my life with the birth of my son I thought I’d do one of my own. So, here is a glimpse into the life of this stay at home mom with a 26 month old daughter and a 7 week old son.

Disclaimer: This is very long but I think I’ll enjoy reading it later so I want to include as much detail as possible. I apologize for its length.

12:45 AM – Alvy woke up for his first feeding. I picked him up out of his crib and put him in bed with me to nurse. While I was awake feeding Alvy, Evie woke up almost hysterical, “Mommy! Mommy!” I sent Jason upstairs to comfort her but she wanted nothing to do with him. I leave Alvy (who was almost back asleep) downstairs and go up there to figure out why she was upset. While I’m calming Evie down I hear Alvy downstairs crying, mad because I took away his midnight snack. I go back down to our room and finish nursing him then go back to sleep around 1:30.

I wake up several more times in the night to feed Alvy but never look at the clock. Since he co-sleeps with us after his first feeding I just latch him on and go back to sleep.

6:30 – I wake up as Jason is getting ready for work. I sneak out of bed without waking the baby and sit in the living room for a few precious moments of alone time with just my thoughts and a cup of coffee.

6:48 – Alone time over. Alvy wakes up. Evie wakes up two minutes later. As I’m changing Alvy’s diaper he smiles at me. It melts my heart. I take them both into the living room and turn on an episode of WordWorld for Evie to watch so I can nurse Alvy without her climbing all over me. As I’m nursing I put together my grocery list.

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7:25 – I make breakfast. Eggs, fruit and toast.

8:00 – I leave the table to get myself and Alvy dressed. When I come back I discover that Evie has fed most of her breakfast to the dog.

8:20 – The baby is fussy and it’s time for his nap. I take both the kids upstairs so I can attempt to lay Alvy down. As I rock him to sleep Evie plays in the gameroom across the hall. I try to explain to her that she needs to be quiet so he can fall asleep. Apparently I didn’t explain well enough.

8:42 – I finally lay Alvy down in his crib and am able to get Evie dressed. I spend a few minutes picking up after breakfast.

8:50 – Alvy wakes up. I change his diaper and sit back down in the glider to start the nap process over. I realize I may never make it to the grocery store and I really need to wash a load of diapers today.

9:05 – I lay Alvy down. As Evie and I leave his room she trips over a toy and wakes him up. I give up on the crib nap and decide to take them to the park instead hoping he’ll fall asleep in the stroller. I put him in the carseat and he starts screaming. Before we leave, I grab a second cup of coffee and my shopping bags, just in case I make it to the grocery store while I’m out.

9:28 – At the park I nurse Alvy while Evie plays. I watch her climb onto and off of the rocking pony all by herself for the very first time. I love seeing her achieve these small but important victories. She gives me a huge smile, she’s so proud of her accomplishment.

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9:48 – When Alvy is finished eating I lay him in the stroller. He’s not asleep but he’s not crying either. I park the stroller in the shade near the playground where I can see him and take the opportunity to play with Evie. I realize that she still has jelly on her face from breakfast.

10:17 – Alvy starts crying so we head back to the car. I change his diaper and decide that I don’t have enough time to go to the grocery store before he needs nursing again but I don’t really want to go home either.

I decide to go to Target even though I don’t really need to buy anything. It’s a good opportunity though to try out the ride along board that I bought Evie for the stroller. Alvy sleeps in the carseat while Evie and I shop. She loves her board!

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11:00 – I buy four t-shirts that are on sale then we leave Target. In the car Alvy starts crying. When we get home I quickly make Evie some lunch, a peanut butter and honey sandwich and a second attempt at fruit. I put her in her highchair in the living room and turn on the second episode of WordWorld for the day. She eats.

Meanwhile, Alvy is still crying in his carseat which is now sitting in the laundry room by the back door. I pick him up and rush upstairs to change his diaper then I sit down to nurse.

11:45 – Both kids are full and happy so I decide that now is the perfect time to take them to the grocery store. I run upstairs to change Alvy’s diaper and off we go! The shopping trip was uneventful. Alvy fell asleep in the sling, I got all my shopping done and Evie got to “push the button” (a game the store provides for the kids that she’s really too young to play properly).

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1:05 PM – We leave the grocery store and make the 10 minute drive home. When we get home I unload the groceries.

1:20 – I take both kids upstairs, lay Evie down for a nap and change Alvy’s diaper. Then he and I go downstairs to my bedroom so we won’t disturb Evie. I swaddle him up and get comfy sitting on the bed, ready for a long nursing session. I turn on the TV and begin an attempt to put him down for a nap.

Just after I sit down the doorbell rings. The foot pod I ordered for my Garmin arrived! Luckily, the doorbell didn’t wake Evie and Alvy wasn’t asleep yet so no nap damage done. When I went to the front door to get the package I noticed the dog vomited in the floor. I choose to ignore the vomit for the time being.

Back into the bed I go. With Evie in bed upstairs and Alvy quietly nursing I get some much needed quiet time.

1:40 – The baby is asleep in my arms. I lay him down in the crib in our room. He wakes up as soon as his head hits the cold crib sheet. I walk out of the room hoping he will settle back down to sleep.

1:47 – He doesn’t. I crawl back in the bed and begin nap attempt #2. While watching TV, I see Rachel Ray using a metal whisk on a nonstick skillet. It makes me cringe. You’re not supposed to do that!

2:00 – Finally, I’m successful at laying Alvy down for a nap! Not knowing how long he’ll sleep I dash into the kitchen to prepare for dinner. While I’m chopping vegetables, I realize I still haven’t eaten lunch. Getting the veggies cut is more important than lunch though so I continue dinner prep.

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2:30 – Time for lunch, a homemade pimento cheese sandwich on homemade whole wheat bread with baby spinach and more fruit. (I keep a bowl of cut up fruit in the fridge, lest you think I am cutting up fruit for every meal).

2:39 – Lunch is gone! I spend a few minutes picking up the kitchen so I have a clean place to cook dinner. Then I go upstairs to get Alvy’s dirty diapers. I lug the diapers downstairs and put them in the wash. Realizing that I need to be ready to go to the Y when the opportunity presents itself, I sneak into the bedroom to change into my running clothes. I also clean up the dog vomit.

3:01 – Alvy wakes up ready to nurse again. While I’m nursing I begin to think about the oatmeal cookies that I made last weekend and how those little balls of cookie dough are just sitting in the freezer. I spend 35 minutes surfing the internet on my phone while Alvy naps in my arms and forget about the cookies…almost.

3:36 – I put the baby in the swing so I can mess with the diapers. Since he’s happy there I spend a few minutes on the floor doing hip strengthening exercises.

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4:03 – Evie has been asleep for almost three hours! Nap WIN! I go ahead and put the diaper bag in the car and lay Alvy down for some tummy time.

I hear loud thunder and look at the radar; it’s been a bad week for thunderstorms.  I worry the thunder will scare Evelyn. We had a bad thunderstorm yesterday that made her wake from her nap frightened, I don’t want it to happen two days in a row.

4:22 – Evie wakes up from her nap. The thunder gets louder and I realize our trip to the Y will likely get delayed. I need to nurse Alvy before we go anyway so I decide to give it another 20 minutes and see what happens.

4:50 – Now is the time to make a break for the Y! I run upstairs to change Alvy into a disposable diaper and we walk out the door.

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5:07 – I check the kids into Child Watch and get on the treadmill. I spend a little over a half hour starting at the word “honesty” written on the wall, pretending it is the word “dedication” because that’s what it took to finish that run.

It’s only my third post-partum run since I got clearance from my doctor to exercise last week and is by far the most difficult to date.

6:02 – I walk back into Child Watch to pick up the kids. Alvy starts crying immediately when he hears my voice as if to say, “MOM WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN???”

6:15 – We get home and I immediately start feeding Alvy.

6:35 – Time to make dinner. Evie plays quietly with the extra pots and pans at my feet while I make shepherd’s pie. Cooking goes smoothly until…

7:05 – …Alvy has a meltdown and dinner isn’t even close to being done. Jason still isn’t home and I have no choice other than to alternate letting him cry and picking him up and shushhing him every few minutes.

7:25 – Jason gets home. I put dinner in the oven and race to the couch to nurse Alvy who, at this point, is convinced that the world is ending and he’s never going to eat again. I give Jason the task of grating some cheese to put on the shepherd’s pie, which I neglected to do.

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7:50 – We FINALLY sit down for dinner.

8:10 – I watch Evie take her first ever bite of a leafy green, which she declared, “Yummy!” Funny enough, I almost didn’t give her any salad because I was sure she wouldn’t eat it. This was a good day for firsts.

8:20 – Alvy is exhausted and fussy, more than ready to be put to bed. I leave Evie and Jason in the kitchen so I can change his diaper and put him in pajamas. While I nurse Alvy down to sleep Jason cleans the kitchen and Evie finishes her dinner.

8:37 – Alvy goes to sleep and I lay him in his crib. He is OUT. Evie and I go upstairs to put on her pajamas, brush her teeth and play for a few minutes before bed.

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9:00 – Jason joins us upstairs. He throws a foam golf ball across the game room. Evie chases it and brings it back to him in her mouth like a dog. I decide that I need to find her some more human friends. She spends too much time with Baxter.

9:03 – We take Evie into her room for bed. Jason tells her goodnight. I read her four books and spend five minutes cuddling her. That’s our routine every night.

9:27 – I kiss Evie goodnight and go downstairs to take a shower. It’s the first time I’ve showered in four days. I’m embarrassed at my lack of personal hygiene but right now I don’t have the time or energy to shower every day. It’s just too much work.

9:53 – After a shower I feel like a new person. I sit with Jason on the couch for about 12 seconds before I give into temptation and go into the kitchen for two of those oatmeal cookies which I eat still frozen and raw.

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10:23 – It’s time to turn in for the night. We go to bed and watch an episode of Top Gear before turning off the TV for the evening. I fall asleep around 11.

11:23 – Alvy wakes up. An awakening at this time of night is not normal and I just assume he’s already hungry. When I pick him up to feed him I realize he’s had a diaper leak and is soaking wet. I make my 15th and final trip up the stairs to get a fresh diaper and a pair of pajamas. After cleaning him up I lay him beside me in bed and nurse us both to sleep.

THE END.

Big Bend Ranch State Park

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Big Bend Ranch is a special place. Easily the most unique Texas state park, it’s serious business.

The difference between this state park and all the others was evident when we checked-in. Check-in isn’t even inside the park, it’s well outside the park boundaries, and before we were allowed to venture inside park rangers made us go through an orientation/mini-desert survival training and sign a waiver.

Yup. A waiver.

They gave us a run down on all the local wildlife and urged us to keep our toddler at arms reach at all times, as the mountain lions aren’t exactly friendly. Then they took the name and age of each person in our party and make an note of where we would be staying and how long we’d be there.

Fun times.

Dubbed the “Other Side of Nowhere,” Big Bend Ranch is remote to say the least. It’s the largest park in the Texas State Park system at about 300,000 acres and you begin to understand the size and scope of its vastness during the 27-mile, hour and a half drive from the the turnoff in Presidio where you check in, to the park’s headquarters. Yes, it took an hour and a half.

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27 miles of dirt road that, though it is maintained and passable by a standard car, is quite an adventure in itself. Its hairpin turns, steep grades, and lack of guard rails snake you through the Chihuahuan Desert to the park headquarters in a “town” called Sauceda.

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I use the term town lightly. There’s some bunkhouses, the park “headquarters” (a.k.a. one lone park ranger and a handful of magnets), a mostly abandoned commercial kitchen, and the only indoor plumbing in the park. Though, the 5-gallon buckets of water under the sink in the restrooms labeled “emergency water for flushing toliets” tells me that water isn’t always available and most likely disappears quickly.

Several campgrounds (multiple camping spots grouped together) are available for camping off the main road. The remainder of the camp sites are remote, accessible only by a 4×4 capable vehicle on un-maintained roads. Each camp site has a picnic table (with cover) and fire ring regardless of its location.

Even in the “campgrounds,” campsites are not guaranteed to be level and tent pads are non-existent. No running water or electricity services are available to campers which means to go to the bathroom you must dig a hole or walk 200-yards through the wilderness to the composting toilet – which is extra fun in the dark.

You must bring in all your water and take out all your trash. There’s an ice machine at the park headquarters which the park rangers might stock with ice if they know people are coming – I wouldn’t count on it though.

Because we had our toddler with us, we chose to camp at the South Leyva campground, the closest camping area to the park headquarters. Our first night, two other groups were in the camp area with us but the last two nights we were all alone.

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It’s creepy to be out there by yourself. We found ourselves constantly on guard after dark, using our spotlight anytime we heard an unidentifiable noise, which was often. We were stalked by the local cayotes on multiple occasions and though it was easy enough to scare them off by waving our arms and throwing rocks, it made us wonder what else was out there hiding in the darkness.

This park is a giant outdoor playground full of 4×4 capable off-roading trails, equestrian camping and mountain biking. Our first and only off-roading adventure took place on a trail called the Oso Loop. An intermediate, un-maintained, trail which begins and ends off the main park road. It’s a narrow and steep 6.1 miles, which took us a little over two hours to complete.

It’s highly advised that when attempting to off-road in the park that you carry enough food and water to last your party three days (the amount of time it will take park rangers to find you…if you’re lucky), two full-size spare tires and a 48″ high-lift jack (all information we knew before our trip but were reminded of during our park orientation). This knowledge made traversing the 4×4 trails intimating, especially with a 18-month old daughter to consider.

To be safe, we took 15 gallons of water, five gallons of gasoline and all our food, including our cooler. We only had one spare tire and didn’t have a 48″ jack but we figured if we stayed on the intermediate-level trails then we could probably get away without. Our primary goal quickly became not having a flat tire.

Thankfully, we didn’t need any of our provisions and we came out of the Oso Loop unscathed. Unfortunately, the eggs weren’t so lucky.

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Thanks to several close encounters with cacti our truck is now decorated with something called “desert pinstriping.” Yes, our paint job is destroyed but if you want to enjoy the off-road trails they’re an unavoidable reality.

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The pinstriping is our truck’s badge of honor. It says, “I went to Big Bend Ranch and I had fun!”

By the time we left Big Bend Ranch all our camping equipment was covered in a fine layer of dirt (think powdered sugar) from the drive in and out of the park. This little souvenir remained with us for the rest of the trip. Each time we touched our tent, cooler, camp stove, chairs or bags we were reminded of our Big Bend adventure with a palmful of west Texas dirt. Next time, I think covering our gear in a tarp would be helpful. Future campers take note.

Will we go back to Big Bend Ranch? Absolutely! No question about it. It’s a must for anyone who considers themselves a real outdoor enthuaist and was one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.

I think next time we’ll wait until all our kiddos are out of the toddler/small child stage though.

The uneven terrain is not exactly friendly for little ones who loose their balance easily, coupled with the threat of Evelyn finding a rattlesnake hiding under a rock and the whole mountain lion thing means it’ll be awhile before we go back.

All that being said, I’m glad we went. We had a great time and made some wonderful memories! I can’t wait to do it again!