Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mount Rushmore & The Badlands

The drive home was loooong, but scenic.  This far away from Kansas City, why not stop and see some of these iconic things.  We went downstairs to the small museum and watched the movie about the history of Mt. Rushmore (so interesting!) and took the scenic route through Badlands National Park.  On the drive home we listened to the Wizard of Oz Book on CD (who knew Dorothy's shoes were actually silver in the book! no ruby red slippers to mention :), the kids watched Annie (a few times!) and Poppy started calling me Ms. Hannigan and singing "it's a hard knock life" over and over.  We pulled in to our driveway a lot later than expected (ahem, 4am), and fell into bed.  Just today David and I were reminiscing and said we've both already forgotten the nightmarish parts of the drive, and are so glad Painter Roadtrip 2014 is in the books.


 We spotted a grizzly just 15 minutes outside of the gates to Yellowstone.  That definitely set the mood for what we would experience during our 2 days in Yellowstone. (and maybe renewed my fear of getting eaten while tent camping!)
 We drove to our campsite to get everything set up.
 And the kids were really intrigued with the bear box and insisted on being the ones to load it!
 The first day we explored all the geothermal areas, Old Faithful!

 Grand Prismatic Spring.
 We let the kids pick a souvenir.  The boys both wanted a personalized Yellowstone pocket knife, and the girls each picked a stuffed wolf.  Poppy brought her wolf with her to each sight and made sure "wolfy" had a spectacular view too.

 This little bee bee was a trooper.  She spent lots of time in a carseat/stroller/backpack.  But the tent is where she roamed free.  Actually, almost all night long haha.  All the other kids did great, fell asleep fast, and stayed warm with the 40 degree low.  I think David and I woke up a million times to cover them up though.
We were able to attend a Ranger Program (about grizzly bears) and the kids earned a Junior Ranger Patch.  We visited a few museums, and were able to spot almost every large game animal at some point in the park (except we didn't see a black bear) which was pretty sweet!  We made the large loop around the park and sometimes it felt other-worldly with boiling water and bubbling mud.  Only once did Poppy fall off a boardwalk, and roll towards the boiling water.  No joke.  So many interesting formations and geological history.   Honestly, we could have spent so many more days here.  And if we had more time before school started, I think we would have!  At the end of the 2nd day in Yellowstone, we said our good-byes and spent the night in Cody, WY.

Grand Teton National Park - Jenny Lake

Day 1 of our vacation consisted of a little bit of a late start (despite allll the planning haha), 14 hrs on the road, lots of electronics for the kids,  Hank the Cowdog book on CD,  fast food and medium fast Qdoba, rest stop races, about 10 magazines for me, and a roadside Lincoln Memorial before everyone fell asleep.  Whew.

Day 2 we woke up and the kids played at our hosts playground (we stayed 2 nights in the guest house of David's friend Brad.)  They were honestly just as thrilled with the trampoline as they were with the fact they were on vacation :)  We drove in to Jackson Hole and then on to Grand Teton.  It felt great to hike around Jenny Lake and play in the water after all that driving.  I also loved having a low key agenda.  And being in such a different landscape than what they are used to was super fun.  The kids oohed and ahhed over the mountains and all the details they were seeing. (AND 60 degree highs and NO humidity in August!)  They had binoculars and water bottles and maps full of information, they took it all so seriously.

I love to see these kids out in nature, they are in their element.  We decided kind of last minute to make this trip.  Spurred on by a few things, one of them being our day in the nature sanctuary.  They really enjoy being explorers, and the imagination and teamwork that happens in these kinds of places is amazing.  We knew we wanted to do it on a much larger scale.  Also, back in July we watched a documentary on Yellowstone.  David was like, we are going. (he had never been) And I'm more, uh, that requires an insane amount of planning for a family our size.  And him, what?  no. easy.  I'm gonna make it happen.  So I agreed. Ha!  If he would plan everything.  And he totally did, down to roadside attractions and restaurants.  Although, I'm sure those details were strictly to satisfy me.  Honestly, it was just what our family needed, after years of working straight through the summer, it felt so good to end this summer with time together.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

I'm just so glad these kids have a dad. One who turns 100ft of plastic and a bottle of soap into a freaking awesome summer afternoon.

4th of July

This year, my parents were going to be out of town, so for the first time in (ever), we needed to make our own Independence Day plans.  Very last minute we decided to have a little BBQ at our home.  With some friends.
 Mormon friends!  Ha! So that means lots of kids.  And sparklers lit by a blow torch.  You know.
 We thought, shoot, these kids are so cute.  We need a photograph.  Except, when us moms had them all seated, with our cameras ready, their dads had begun a pyrotechnic endeavor in the street...

Fireworks always win.  And all of the pictures look like this.  
Which in the end, was kind of perfect.  It was a happy 4th of July.