Day 19 – Utah

It wasn’t a HUGE travel day but we are tired and definitely feeling our almost 3 weeks on the road. We left Moab at 10:30am and the plan was to head towards Garland, Utah.

Look at all the smiles.

We drove North West up through Provo and Salt Lake City.

The red in the rocks are from rust and the green is created when the iron in the rock reacted differently and at a lower concentration than the iron that caused the orange. It’s all just so pretty; and so different than what we typically see in BC.

We travelled out of the desert and into snow dusted mountains. There were lots of dead zones with no coverage as we drove through Utah.

I find it absolutely fascinating how the landscape can so dramatically change as you drive within only a few hours.

We decided to not go to Garland but to head to Snowville which is only about 10 mins from the Idaho border. It’s an interesting aspect of our journey. Trying to find a location to travel to that’s not too far away but has a decent looking RV park. It’s lots to juggle especially because once you book a spot you are kind of committed and hoping that everything goes smoothly between where you are and where you’re headed. Along the way there’s gas to get, bathroom visits to be made, food to eat and sometimes a break because you’re tired and feeling way too close to a meltdown.

We made it to The Hitching Post in Snowville, Utah sometime after 6pm. I’ve got to give a huge shout out to Jonathan for his graciousness with my navigating skills. I can organize and plan like a Fortune 500’s top Administrator but Google maps confounds me. We have needed to reroute more times than I can count because I struggle to read the map and follow Google’s directions. Trying to find The Hitching Post in Snowville was no exception. But in my defence, we have gotten to travel some of the cutest and bumpy back roads as we circle around and we would never have had that opportunity without my exceptional navigation skills.

So I’d like to think it’s a win for all and really what’s a few extra moments when you get to see the sights that hide off the main roads.

We pulled into the bustling RV park. If you look really hard, you can find our rig in the photo.

There was the cutest diner back on the Main Street and it has real food. So we went there for dinner.

If you get a chance, you should ask my boys about these cute little houses that the owner’s son makes. They were surprising and so adorable.

We enjoyed our food and then headed back to the quiet campsite. We are not too far away from home now. It’s only going to be a few more days and I’m feeling all the feels. I have loved this trip and I’m ready and not ready to go home. We have learned a lot and if we have another opportunity to do a road trip, I would jump at the chance. It’s definitely a core memory!

Day 10 -Part 2 – Arkansas to Mississippi

The trip between Arkansas and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi is about 7 hours of driving – which for us is about 9 hours of travel. We wanted to arrive late afternoon which is why we were trying to leave early.

The day was grey and we were expecting to drive through some rain at some point. We’ve been fortunate to have mostly gorgeous weather. Driving through Arkansas looked a lot like this……pretty green, some trees, lots of land.

At the second gas stop, we found Snowballs. Siah’s been wanting to try them. The package had 2, so each boy got one to try.

And then Siah got to eat both of them because they were NOT Judah’s fav.

We crossed into Mississippi just before noon and the rain started. We passed a sign for the Petrified Forrest and Jon shared a story about how he had petrified wood as a child and we made the decision to stop and check out the gift shop. We weren’t gonna do the trail because it was raining but we could stop and maybe find a souvenir.

We parked and ran through the rain to the gift shop. It was filled with Rocks and Gems and was such a fun place to check out. Jon got a piece of petrified wood which was a fun memory. It’s really cool looking.

The petrified wood is really cool and I can only imagine how interesting the trail must be.

I love the Color’s of the different rocks and gems. They are just so vibrant and beautiful.

As we travelled further down into Mississippi we passed through a rain storm and it was a downpour. Like big fat soaking wet rain drops that drench you.

About an hour from Bay St Louis the sky started clearing and it was stunning. We were pretty excited to be getting closer.

We pulled into Buccaneer Bay State Park around 6pm and found our RV pad. It was right across the street from the beach.

By 6:20pm the boys were in swim suits and down on the beach.

It’s been surprising how few of the sites that we’ve stayed at have had a fire pit. This one does and so we made a fire. Unfortunately, we forgot our marshmallow roasting sticks at Xani’s so the kids foraged for a dead branch to use.

Jude’s stick was ready to use but Siah brought back a dead small-ish tree and then spent an hour whittling the trunk down to a size that could hold a marshmallow. FYI, this park has no wifi and it was awful that I didn’t realize it when I booked it. I’m the worst mother for making them do things like having creative fun.

We eventually doused the fire and crawled into bed. Tomorrow is supposed to be gorgeous, sunny and 24 degrees. I can’t wait.

Day 10 – Part 1 – Leaving Arkansas

Today’s a 2 part-er because we had a whole adventure before we even left the property!

We woke up at 7am with the hope of leaving by 8am. Okay, let’s be real…I figured we’d probably pull out by 8:30am and we most likely would have, if not for that little issue with a tree.

When we pulled in and parked, we didn’t necessarily think 100% through the leaving situation and although it was a little bit awkward to park: it was downright exciting to try and get out.

Getting ready to leave wasn’t the issue. It was actually hooking up the trailer and navigating out of the driveway that took a little…….creativity!

Good thing we’re creative.

The driveway comes in from the road. The house is on the left side and at the end of the driveway is a garage. We parked parallel to the garage. There is a small center island that you can pull around and keep driving – now you’re on the right side of the driveway and then it connects back to the main driveway. On the right side of the loop, just passed the garage is a bit of a drop off AND to make things more fun…a tree from the center island area tilts slightly over into the road, so while a car or even a truck might get through – a trailer would not.

While Xani and I supervised the entire “situation”…Jon and Jimmy (Xani’s father in law) did the actual heavy lifting or driving or navigating.

Okay. First issue was actually hitching up the trailer to the truck. Remember the previous mentioned drop off – we found it. The space between the trailer and the edge of the driveway didn’t allow for a lot of navigating. Fortunately, we also have 4 wheel drive and were able safely get all 4 tires back on the driveway. We got the trailer hooked up and moved onto the second challenge of backing up the trailer enough so that we could exit on the left side.

The issue was…..well, let’s see, we had multiple trees to navigate around, a giant drainage hole to not fall in and the center island to avoid. All with a 25 foot trailer connected to a long truck. Epic. They managed to avoid the hole but a tree jumped out and grabbed the trailer. Rather than rip the drain spout off the trailer, they decided to move the tree. Ya! Move the tree. I was surprised they were just gonna cut a tree down but it’s even better than that.

In between the tree they moved and the tree they cinched to, you can see the edge of the driveway and the drop off on the right hand side. Not a lot of room to navigate. In the next short clip, you can see the “filled in” drainage hole they successfully avoided.

It took some effort to get the strapping unhooked from the trees.

Put your back into it, babe!

We said good bye to Mac and Xani and Jimmy (Dalton was already at work and missed this adventure) and hit the road by 9am. A little later than planned but with a great story.

We stopped to fill up the tank and headed out on the 7 hour drive to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

Vacation 2014 – Part 4 (The End)

As the end of the first week drew to a close, I was really unsure if I wanted to stay up at the lake for the second week. We’ve always gone up for a good chunk of time and this year I even had my own RV which made things so much better, but for some reason, I just wasn’t “feeling” the love for camping.

Normally, I go up with the kids for the first week and then Jon joins us for the second week, but because this was our inaugural trip with Ethyl I didn’t want to be by myself if something went wonky…..and we weren’t entirely certain that everything would go smoothly. She is an OLD lady after all and has lots of quirks.

Fortunately everything went amazingly and after a HUGE amount of hmmmmm’ing and haaaaaw’ing I decided to stay up for a bit longer.

My brother and sister in law had come up for the weekend and it was SO good to spend some time with them. It doesn’t happen enough. We are busy and they are busy and sometimes its just tough to make it all work….

As they were packing up to leave, friends of ours pulled in which was so nice. As it meant that I wouldn’t be alone.

This couple has two boys and they are just the sweetest boys ever. Their oldest son has some special needs and it was refreshing to be able to spend time with other parents who have children with special needs and to know that you are not alone in this journey of raising these unique and amazing kids. It doesn’t matter that the needs that make our kids special, are not the same…..its just nice to know that someone else gets it….that they “get” that even though you love your children desperately….that sometimes it’s tough or difficult and you may not feel that you have the energy to give to them, but that energy is required whether you have it or not, and you end up continuously running on a deficit……

I realize that most parents may feel like that from time to time and I – in no way – am discounting how tough (and yet rewarding) parenting is. But, parenting a special needs child is unique and comes with a different set of challenges……and rewards.

I sat and talked with the father a bit one day. We ended up talking about the grieving that you experience over and over again as you watch younger siblings surpass milestones and activities that your your older child hasn’t yet, if they ever will, accomplish. It’s not easy…..physically, mentally or emotionally.

There were so many fun moments, and Judah mentioned to me that his two favorite things from this summer were the walks and adventures he went on with his dad; and the walks and adventures he went on with Zac’s dad.

One night after my boys had gone to sleep, Zac and his momma caught this HUGE frog. The kids always catch little 1-2 inch sized frogs. They are all over the place, but one night….this big ol’ guy was just hopping around waiting for Zac to catch him…..the boys were THRILLED the next morning when they woke up and saw what a mighty hunter Zac was.

We were also able to capture an animal a few times, but it was completely unintentional….there are a million of these little deer mice running around, especially after dark and we woke up a few mornings to a mouse or two that had climbed into a bucket – I’m assuming they were scrounging for food – and then the bucket was too deep and they couldn’t get back out.

Jon came up on the Wednesday, after work, and picked us up. For the first time that I can remember – I was actually happy to be leaving the lake and heading home. I really enjoyed our time this year. I do, every year that we go, but this year was different…..not bad different…..just different.

I’ll leave you with another series of shots of my sweet Siah…..

I told him to smile.

Then I laughed at him and told him to give me a REAL smile…..

I almost peed myself laughing after the second shot…..but asked him to try one last time…..

And DING! DING! DING! we have a winner….what a cutie.

Vacation 2014 – Part 3

Ok, so life got busy and I didn’t end up finishing posting about our vacation.

I’m sure that some of you feel like you’ve just been left hanging……..HA!!!!

Ok, maybe not so much, but……continuing on….

It’s amazing how quickly the busy-ness and chaos seems to seep back into every facet of your life, once you leave the “vacation” and head back into reality. I guess that’s the beauty of vacation or holiday time….it’s a moment to relax, settle, absorb……just breathe.

There were lots of those moments, in between the bustle of life with 6/7 people. No family vacation is really a vacation for the parents…’s more of a break. Once I realized and accepted that, I’ve been a lot more content on our “holiday’s”.

Jon took the kids on a number of walks and this sweet boy here…..

He brought me back something from almost every walk. He is such a thoughtful little soul.

This time he brought me back some lovely flower puff things…..I have no idea what they were and they were almost dried, but I put them in a beer bottle vase and he was so thrilled to see his gift treasured.

After the first 3 days of sheer panic, this lovely fellow settled down (as long as there were no other dogs walking past) into the camping lifestyle and was almost a gentleman….almost!!!!

He has such sad eyes.

There was SO. MUCH. SWIMMING…. and Judah even sucked up his courage enough to jump off the dock TWICE!!!!

Jeremy was determined to get this rubbermaid bin to work as a boat and although it took a fair amount of figuring to work out the ballast and balance…he finally managed to tool around a little, until it dipped a little too much at one corner and then filled up and sank….

Sometime, this little one just slays me with his nerdliness…..he is such a sweet quirky treasure.

I have no idea what he was trying to show me in this picture.

Here is where you get the best peek of my little darling….ear folded over and all…and he wasn’t swimming….just wearing the goggles because he wanted to.

Oh I love him, so!

The Skagit Valley is a beautiful place with so many interesting things to look at and experience. It feels like our own little corner of heaven on earth. These puff ball mushrooms were just growing in the campsite, but it wasn’t till we got home and I could google them that I found out they were edible and not poisonous. They were just so cute, all nestled into the ground.

Read about Part 1 of our vacation here.

Read about Part 2 of our vacation here.

Part 4 coming….

Vacation 2014 – Part 2

There is something absolutely INCREDIBLE about this place. It’s like….you are so far away from EVERYTHING that everything that is pressing on you or weighing heavy on you starts to fade into the background and you can just “be present” in the beauty of it all.

I love it here

It doesn’t even seem like much from this picture (it was SO HAZY from the forest fires further in Washington)……how about this one…..

The Sky Before the Storm

We had either just had a storm or were just about to have a storm blow through when I took this picture.

We’ve been coming to this particular lake since the year we got married….and have only missed 2 maybe 3 years. I really, REALLY didn’t want to come this year. I’ve just been so worn down with my life and the lives of those that I’m responsible for. Each day feels like it requires super human effort (that I don’t have to give), and I know that I have people who wonder why I’m not visiting or doing coffee – and to be completely honest……I’m just surviving each day…..barely!

I was SO exhausted and packing up for the lake just about did me in. It took about 3-4 days of early nights and (I’m so incredibly thankful to my boys) not-too-early mornings for me to feel like I was actually unwinding and relaxing.

Seeing as we weren’t quite set up, (we arrived a lot later than intended) we had a lovely breakfast of cereal and crazy….pretty much a normal breakfast for us. Note Jon and Jeremy’s sweaters… true ADHD form, both of them managed to forget to pack a sweatshirt or coat, but ever so fortunately….Xani was able to help both of them out. Nice Ugly Christmas Sweater, Jon!!!!!

First Morning

(Siah pipes up completely randomly, as he is known to do: “Milk comes from plants, Judah……right Mom?” I had to laugh because that’s all they know – soy and almond milk)

Somethings are more important that others….and coffee and clean teeth rank pretty high in my books.

Camp Mornings

This was the first time we have brought Zeus up to a community camp ground and he tends to be a bit of a nut job when other dogs are around….he just wants to play and play and play and play….so he was a bit unhappy that he was tied down and that we kept shushing him everytime a “friend” walked by.

Sad to be tied down

In Jeremy’s perfect world, he would be either Survivor Man or Cody Lundin. I asked him to put on shoes at one point and he informed me that he planned to be shoeless for the entire time we were up there as he needed to work on his calluses so he would have tough feet. At one point, he was practicing making feathersticks.

Working on Fiddlesticks

This was my attempt at a featherstick….not too shabby for a first time, eh?

My attempt at a Fiddlestick

We settled in to “camp life” fairly quickly. Jon and Jer took the chainsaw and headed out to find some deadfall so we could have AMAZING fires. At least we had this guy to look over our campsite and keep watch over us.

Chainsaw Carving

this was Jon’s first attempt at chainsaw art

Judah’s mantra for the entire 11 days was, “CAN HE BE MINE?” It didn’t matter if it was a frog, a fish, a mouse, a beetle or this particular grub/maggot thingy….He was found hiding in a piece of wood after Jon split it up…I found it to be equally fascinating and disgusting.

Gross and Fascinating

This was a very different vacation for us. Geli was at Camp Goodtimes Teen Camp for the first week, and Xandra and Jeremy slept during the day…..they never sleep during the day. It was so amazing to see them get some extra rest. I’ll admit that I was a bit worried that Jer might be getting sick, but nope…..just tired and needing a nap. The fresh air and outdoor activities seem to really agree with every one of us.

Resting....away from it all

It’s so fun to see my babies growing up. There is such an age difference between the three older kids and the two younger ones. And the two little boys are becoming such great friends as they grow a bit bigger and older. Jeremy actually remarked that he was a bit jealous of the fact that the two boys had each other, and that Geli and Xani had each other and that he was stuck in the middle alone.

I Love Him So....

The two littlest boys are becoming bigger, little boys and while they are not babies….they will always be my babies. Although I will admit that they are a lot easier to care for now that they are a bit older. I am definitely thankful to be beyond the baby stage. I love that I can snuggle all the babies in my life and give them back and get a good night sleep. HA!

Siah worked ALL DAY and a part of the next day and finally managed to chop through a tough waterlogged piece of wood……with a hatchet. Not an easy task, but he was so determined. He was so proud when it actually chopped through….he asked me to take a picture of him and his log. Note the bare feet…..we are ALL about safety!!!


Judah…..well…..he is just my sweet boy and I love him so. I really don’t need any reason to post pictures of him.

Love him so....

Part 1 here

Part 3 and a bazillion more photos coming soon.

Vacation 2014 – Part 1

So, we bought an RV………an OLD RV… a 1978 Vanguard RV.

We’ve named her Ethyl…..cause she’s an old lady and she runs on gas…..ha ha ha, we are so puny!

I’m not a tent person. I will camp in the wilderness without electricity or internet or plumbing for a month…… long as I have walls and a fridge. I “HATE” using coolers. My sister, Chelle, is the most amazing camper….in a tent, with multiple coolers….she’s incredible. Me, I need walls and a fridge….

We tried a tent trailer two years ago, but….it just wasn’t the same as a trailer or RV. Last year, we moved from a townhouse to a HOUSE…..and that was our big purchase for the year. We also went to Puerto Vallarta for our anniversary….so Jon had used up all his vacation time and I really wasn’t wanting to head away from our new home, so no camping last year.

This year, we didn’t manage to “get away” as a couple and I have to tell you……it just about did me in to not have a break from the crazy and chaos that we call our everyday lives. That once a year “get-a-way” is a life saver….in so many ways and I was feeling so tapped out that I couldn’t even contemplate packing up to go away.

Typically, I take about 3 weeks and PLAN THE HECK out of our camping vacation. It involves an insane amount of lists, and an equally insane amount of time and effort, but then everything runs smoothly and we know exactly what to buy and what to pack and what we are having for meals and snacks, and on what days, those meals and snacks will be consumed.

It’s extremely anal!!!!! and I’m not even ashamed to admit it.

It makes everything stress free (as much as is possible with a 7 person family who will be camping for 2+ weeks in a remote location, off the grid).

This year, I didn’t want to go. My garden is GLORIOUS!!!!! and ready to harvest DAILY!!!!!

The RV that we got for a smoking deal, had/has a few “issues” that need to be dealt with and I wasn’t even certain that we’d actually be able to go.


NO Lists
NO Planning
NO Packing

And then Jon got the RV working enough that we could go and we were supposed to leave in two days.


So without any lists or planning or anything….we bought way too much, threw everything we could into the RV and the Van and about 4 hours later than planned, we were off….

It was so stressful… panic attack stressful. Like….I never want to “throw it all together” ever again…..planning, no matter how anal it seems, makes things WAY LESS STRESSFUL for ALL OF US!!!!!

The road up to the lake was amazing. (it’s 60KM of dirt road and typically a brutal washboard) We got the “PERFECT” spot. (right on the water and right across from the outhouse) and best of all……WE WERE THERE.

We parked. Set up the tent for the girls, threw a few things out onto our camping space, and WENT TO SLEEP!!!!

(Prepare yourself for a bazillion photos in the next few posts.)