Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Visit to the Giant Sequoias

We were all astounded by the size of this trunk. Little guy, not astounded enough to stop chomping his apple for a pic, but whatever.
After a frustrating evening spent trying (unsuccessfully) to get a camping reservation, I decided to plan a day trip for our family instead. Have I mentioned how hard it is to get camping reservations in California? Okay, maybe I've gone into that before, but anyway, it's a real pain!   Extremely annoyed that I didn't have any luck finding a spot at my favorite campgrounds, and determined to avoid another Clear Lake disaster, if possible, I decided to go on a scouting expedition for new camping opportunities.

Quickie RV Nightlight- no battery drain!

 Anyone who's camped with kids knows that as soon as you think you know exactly what they like, those darn kids change things up on you! Yep, my kiddo who has previously insisted on total darkness for sleep, suddenly was afraid of the dark. So, in the middle of the night, while dry-camping (no hook-ups) in our RV, I "Macgyvered" a solution. I didn't want to leave an RV light on all night, and drain our RV battery. So, I found one of our little cheapo kid flashlights (about $1.99 at amazon, walmart, or target) and turned it on next to our water bottle. It illuminates the bottle and gives a cozy little glow in the RV. Not too bright for those of us that need to sleep in the dark, but bright enough for those who are a little scared of the dark.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

One Hour

This year, my youngest is in half-day kindergarten. This has been really great for both of us.  It allows both of us a gradual transition to full-day school next year. However, since my older girls are in school full time, there are often little blocks of time between pick-ups or drop off at school that can make getting "real" things done tough. Lots of time people ask, "what do you do with that hour?"

Friday, May 20, 2016

Who cries during "The Chicken Dance?"

I think we've all been there. That moment when you watch your child do something and you swell up with pride for them. I sure have. I think it's because we've watched them, held them, been on this journey with them....and then in these special moments, we see them soar. I remember the strong will with this one. She was determined to do things on her own. She wanted her own space. She hated the car with a passion. A furious, red-faced, screaming infant passion. Nothing I could do would appease her. And as frustrating, and infuriating as this was for me as a mom, I did have to begrudgingly admire her strength and her unrelenting determination that she would.not.give.in!

Anyway, in the years that have followed, I've truly been in awe of this girl's drive, her strength, and her ability to work her way towards her goal. Her dad and I have fostered this in her, but I know with all of my might that this will is all hers. She is one of the most determined, hard-working people I know. And she's 10.

She's done math problems I really don't think I could do now (and most definitely not without a calculator). She finishes her home and school work prior to a family vacation. She furiously memorizes scripts that her teacher says she can use a paper for; because she knows it will look more authentic. She loves math and science and art.

But this morning, I am teary-eyed for a different reason. My scientific, mathematical, factual little girl has really evolved over this past year. She joined the "Spirit Club" at school and has been giving speeches and presentations. And this morning, as the school's pep rally began, a Beach Boys song came on, and my little girl started dancing. She killed it! But more importantly than that, she had a HUGE smile on her face the whole time. I am so proud of her because she is constantly pushing herself, and growing and learning new things.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Yellowstone: West Thumb

Yellowstone Park was so enormous, it was a bit overwhelming to decide which portions to see each day. We did a bit of research before our trip, but even so, we didn't really feel the magnitude of its size until we were driving through the park each day. We kind of stumbled upon West Thumb because of its proximity to our campground. It looked really interesting as we were driving by, so we pulled in to explore. And, it was so interesting we ended up going back twice. We all had fun exploring this portion of the park.

Here's a useful map for this portion of the park:
Map of West Thumb
This interactive map helped with navigating the entire park:
Main Map of Yellowstone

I also had downloaded the Yellowstone National Park by Chimani app on my phone. It was extremely helpful. If you download it directly onto your phone (or tablet) you don't need to have cell service or use your data plan while you use it in the park. It does take quite a bit of space on the phone, but it was well worth it!

In one easy walk, you can truly get a feel for the landscape of Yellowstone; where thermal features mingle with the raw beauty of the lake and forest. It's really one of the most unique things I've ever experienced.
 The kids loved walking on the wooden boardwalks, and navigating around the little geysers and thermal features.