Sunday, November 20, 2016

Route 66 campground & casino 9/24/16

This was a little gem we weren't expecting. As usual we didn't know where we'd stop & we came across this rv park in the back of the casino. It was brand spankin' new & we got the promotional price. It was still pricey for my taste, but it was so nice & spacious & only a few campers out there. No we didn't venture into the casino since we had the kiddos, but that's ok. I don't like losing $$ anyway, which usually happens. This rv park had concrete paved sites & the kids loved the fact that the roads were paved & not gravel. They rode their bikes all over the place & it was pretty windy out there too. There were newly planted trees, but that was about it. Nothing to block the wind, but oh the view! So pretty. I was bummed we couldn't sit outside & enjoy it because it was cold & windy. They had a gorgeous swimming pool, but of course it wasn't opened up & it was too cold anyway, a super cute community center all decked out in route 66 style & two big dog parks that our pups loved. We could tell because they were running fast chasing each other & jumping on the green grass. We were just there for the night so we could continue on. We were on a deadline to get to KY. A nice place to stay, but probably won't stay again because the prices went up after their grand opening. On-on!

Antelope Canyon & Horshoe Bend 9/22-23/16

Yes finally! Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend. These two sites have been on my "must see" list for years. I've seen so many photos online of the beautiful swirly rock patterns & colors of Antelope Canyon with that magical beam of light coming thru and shining on the ground. I couldn't wait to see it. Before you head out there are some things you should know. First of all you have to be on a guided tour if you go to the Upper Canyon area. I don't believe you need a guide for the lower canyon, but it was recommended. There are ladders & steps on that lower tour, just fyi. No way around the UC guided tour, which means you need reservations from one of the local tour groups. You should really set up your tour far in advance because they fill up fast. There's only one tour group that takes first come first served tourists (can't remember the name of the company, but it was an Indian tribe group). Everyone I called was full for that day, but they each told me to Indian tribe group. Thankfully we got a 10am spot. Yippee! This is where hubby likes to chime in with his "see it's ok to wing it" mentality. Nope, I'm a planner & had I known about the reservations then I wouldn't have had all that last minute struggling & stress. Oh & the best time to view that magical beam of light is between 11-1p (depending on time of year), but be prepared to be overwhelmed with professional photographers who are also there to capture that light. *Side note, they offer a professional photography tour also.* So....part of the tour is a 4x4 wheel drive to the opening of the cave area. You're in the back of the open end truck where it's very sandy, very windy & very bumpy just so you know, but so worth it. We loved it, but it was a bit chilly that day so the kids were all cuddled between us trying to stay warm. We arrived at the start of the tour & I was surprised to see so many trucks there. You see all the touristy places have the same or close to the same time slots so it can get a bit crowded & you're almost guaranteed to have strangers in the background of your photographs. Our tour guide was very informative & took pics for all of us using our personal cameras/phones. He knew which areas had the best lighting & angle for best results. He had a wealth of knowledge & it was nice to hear that National Geographic has been permanently banned from taking pics there because they illegally & without permission drilled holes into the sides of the rock to try & capture the water raging thru the canyon. Yes they got it on film, but they also lost all their equipment & it's never been found & no one has ever seen the footage either. Tsk tsk. When you get a nice guide like that be sure to give them a tip. I know he was appreciative as hubby handing him a tip when we got back.

When you walk thru the canyon it's one way in & out. You walk to the other end take a few pics then you turn around & walk back the way you came to get back to the truck. So yes you are walking past a bunch of people coming in. We did manage to see that beam of light, but man they shooed us past real fast because the professional photographer group was guaranteed 2 minutes to take pics without people walking by I quickly turned & clicked a few shots hoping to get at least one without 200 heads in my way. Not magazine worthy, but at least I got a photo. I really wanted a shot with my babies standing in that beam of light, but oh well.

 There really are no words to describe the beauty of Antelope Canyon. The colors are amazing & the way the light shines in is breath taking. There were a couple rocks that were named after presidents because the shape of it looked like the profile of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. There was also a bear I believe. You could go into that canyon at different times of the day & year & get different looking photos of the same rock formation simply because of the light coming in. You just gotta go see it for yourself, that's all there is to it. Just take it all in. Natures beauty.
Of course it wouldn't be a normal trip without someone having to go pee, ahem Dalton. Unfortunately we were quite a ways out from the bathroom, but thankfully we made it with no accidents. They do have bathrooms at the site to get on the trucks, but they are stinky nasty. We used the port-a-potties & they were nicer than the bathrooms. No bumps or bruises on this tour so I say it was a success! We headed into town after the tour for some bbq. So yummy & close enough to Texas style as you can get. Soon I would have my TX bbq fix & TexMex. Can't wait for that. But for now next up was Horseshoe Bend. It was on the way back to the trailer so we had to stop.

 I read on some reviews that the walk to see Horseshoe Bend was pretty close to the road so I was expecting a fairly quick walk. I could see where all the other people were walking so the walk to the top of this little hill looked easy enough. HA! Once you got to the top of that it was still quite a ways away. Thankfully it was downhill, but coming back....ugh all uphill. Of course it was all worth it. No words to describe it. Every time I look at this photo I see a face in that formation. Do you see it?
It was hard not getting the entire bend in my photo (duh why didn't I use the panoramic feature...geez), but this was the best I could do. It made me so nervous having the kids close to the edge. Even I got a bit freaked out looking over to get a good photo. This is where a selfie stick would have come in handy. There were lots of people there, way more than I would have thought. Later hubby told me some Asian guy was taking a photo of Dalton. Say what? That's just weird & had he told me sooner I would have approached that guy & made him delete the photo. I asked him if he did or said anything & he said he just gave the guy a mean look. Grrrr. Leave my babies alone. I know they're beautiful, but you don't have my permission to photograph my babies. Anyway, back to the bend. Annika pointed out a boat at the very bottom & it looked like a teeny tiny ant. Sure wish we could have taken a boat ride down there & taken pics from the ground up. Maybe next time, if we're in the area again. After our pics & walking around it was time to tackle the hill back up to the parking lot. Ugh! Talk about a leg workout & we didn't take any water because I thought it was a "short walk" from the parking lot. Forget that, take some water people! Emry was too cute & was looking for the little lizard she saw on the way in, but we couldn't find him again. He was sun bathing on a rock by the path. It was a nice trek & as usual hubby was waaaaayyyyyy far ahead of us. Good thing none of us got hurt or else he never would have known. Daddy long legs.

 Another place to check off our list. Woohoo!

Camp Verde, AZ 9/20/16

It was a fairly quick drive from Payson to Camp Verde considering the twisty windy road. Ugh! I'm surprised I didn't get car sick. We did a search while on the road (you'll see a pattern here) and chose an rv park called Distant Drum. Wow! This place was great! It was right off the highway, but I never heard any road noise while inside the trailer. Outside I heard a little bit, but really not much. This place was spotless! The concrete pads with greenery in between gave the park a nice uniform look. Of course I prefer shaded trees with ample space between slots, but this was a really good find. My kids were excited about the smooth roads so they could ride their bikes. The staff was exceptional & really went above & beyond to help hubby back into his slot. Keep in mind he's a new 5th wheel driver & this was his first backing up slot. It took several tries IN THE RAIN, but the camp host was there guiding him as well as a fellow camper. They were so nice & we were so appreciative & grateful for their help. Had I been the one guiding hubby....well let's just say he would NOT have been smiling the whole time. Hubby mentioned something about a "pow wow" that evening. My mother in law & I were all excited, but it wasn't an actual full dress pow wow. Instead it was 3 men singing traditional songs. Still it was very nice & they had a fire pit going & free snacks. After the singing we enjoyed smores, cup cakes, fruit, hot chocolate & other goodies. Their laundry room was huge & I had no idea they had a full workout room. I decided to use the showers & took the kiddos along & whoa! They had 6 large private bathrooms with showers in them. Plenty of room for all of us. I was impressed. Overall we enjoyed our stay at Distant Drum & gave it 2 thumbs up.

Since we weren't staying long we had to squeeze in both the Wildlife Park and Slide Rock in the same day. We got up the next morning after checking in & headed to the park. The kids were excited to use their new CamelPaks. Yay talk about a back saver for me....well it should have been. No more carrying bottles of water for the kids was the plan. Now they carry their own water & a couple snacks. Of course I carried my own CamelPak with my stuff (keys, phone, small wallet, wipes, band aids, antibacterial gel, extra clothes for Emry, etc) as well as extra snacks. My back was feeling it & they didn't even eat the snacks I packed. Good grief. They ate the potato chips from vending machine purchased by the grandparents. Uh huh. Of course if I didn't have the packed snacks then they would have been wailing for them. Better to prepare I guess. Anyway, we had been to this wildlife park years ago when my oldest was about 3 yrs old so we decided to revisit. We took the bus tour & it was hilarious! They gave us celery sticks to feed the giraffe & hubby got a wet tongue to his beard by a giraffe. We think the giraffe liked the texture of his beard. I got the perfect photo too. That's a keeper for sure. Annika & Emry both fed the long necks, but Dalton was not interested. Party pooper.

 It was a bumpy ride on that bus, but fun & very interesting to learn about all the animals. Afterward we took a tram up to the top where we could walk around & see other animals (tigers, bears, wolves, hyenas, etc). We were passing time as we waited for the animal show to begin. They brought out 3 animals. A big ol snake that all 3 kiddos touched, a cute tiny hedge hog and this weird looking rat/deer/rabbit that turned out to be a Cavy.

 After the show the complaining started "I'm tired, I'm hungry, I'm done looking all the animals" etc. I still wanted to do the zip line, but wasn't able to because of the time situation. We still had to do Slide Rock. Thus instead we went back to the rv park, fed everyone then changed into our swim gear & headed to Slide Rock. We drove thru Sedona & that was beautiful....until all the touristy businesses popped up. Why must we put up all these stores & take away from the natural beauty of the land? Oh Grrrrr. I didn't see one store that made me want to shop. What a waste I tell ya, in my opinion anyway.

We pressed on & got to Slide Rock, which by the way used to be an apple orchard back in the 1930s. There was a subtle scent in the air....sniff sniff....ahhhh apples! I was craving them from that point on. I was able to buy some wet socks in their little general store. Lifesaver! You see as a mom we think of everyone else first so before we left Tucson I made sure all the kiddos had proper water shoes & of course I never got any for myself. Thus, I was excited to find wet socks for myself. Woohoo on towards the water! I was anxious to get in & then......I felt the water. Brrrrr! Holy freezing temps! I slipped while walking & scraped my knuckle on a rock then Emry slipped & scraped the side of her leg, but she's a trooper & no tears. The older kids told me she stepped into a puddle & much to her surprise it was deeper than expected & she was in past her knees. That would have been funny to see. Hubby walked to the start of the sliding area with the kids, but I could see a lot of hesitation from everyone. The girls came back over to me to wait & discuss what they were going to do. Hubby took our son with him & proceeded to slide. I was laughing because I could not only see the expression on hubby's face, but hear a somewhat high pitched noise coming out of him as a result of the freezing water. I knew he'd only venture down once & I was right.

I was up next. My youngest decided not to go so it was me & the oldest. As we got to the beginning there was this sudden swarm of young teenage boys. They came out of no where. Turns out there was a large bus full that unloaded. Either some kind of camp or after school gig. All I know is that we got most of their backs on camera as I was getting ready to slide. My daughter quickly changed her mind as I was pulling her down to sit. Yeah it was cold alright. My body was telling me to high tail it outta there, but my brain was telling me we had to do it at least once. I had her kinda on my lap in between my legs & I pushed off. Holy smokes did that take my breath away. Have you ever been so cold that you momentarily can't catch your breath? Brrrr!!!!! I lost my grip on my daughter & she kept going with her little fingers clenched to her nose. We got to the first pool area & I quickly yelled "get outta the water, get outta the water". I helped her off to the side then here came one of those teenage boys & he kinda knocked me off balance and there I went further down the pool area. You can hear me on the video making all kinds of noises then I was so numb I couldn't get up on the nearest rock. I felt like a beached whale rolling onto the rock. Yes it was funny afterward. Since hubby only went in once & refused to go again, I as usual took one for the team & stayed in so the kids could go down the second smaller area into the next pool section. The things we do for our children. My son went about 4 more times & my oldest daughter went a few more. My youngest daughter kinda jumped from the side once & that was enough for her. There were really no grips along those rocks so once you went that was it. I went with my son a couple times & I got him to the side safely, but the current kept pushing me. I had a death grip on the side of the rocks to try & get out, but it required hubby's strong hands to pull me onto a rock where once again I felt like a beached whale trying to catch my breath & my strength. It wasn't a raging river, but that current was enough to push you along & tire you out. I don't know how long we were there, but it couldn't have been longer than 30 minutes and we were ready to go. It was a bit of a walk out of there with all the steps to climb up. We did see a red & black striped snake along the way. This little guy caused quite the debate among our family & I had to recite the poem "red & yellow kill a fellow, red & black put him back/friend of Jack". I was right, he was a friendly so on we went & tried to warm up. A few more pics & we were outta there. Checked that on off our list. I'm sure when it's 100+ degrees that cold water would feel wonderful, but it sure didn't on the day we were there. Fun yes, but dang soo sooooo cold, but gotta do it at least once.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Payson, AZ campground

We set off on our new journey and said good bye to Tucson. After 2 yrs 8 1/2 months I was ready for something new. I guess that's the result of so many military moves. Some enjoy the moving every couple of years & some dread it. I for one like it. Yeah it's a pain as far as getting everything out of one house & into another while cleaning both old & new house, but I would always get that itch for a new place, a new adventure, a change of scenery, so yes I was ready to leave Tucson and I did not shed one tear (not that I ever did in our many moves). Yes I was kinda sad to leave the area where we made so many memories with the kids, but the beauty of it all is that we can take those memories with us wherever we go. My oldest didn't want to move because she was going to miss her friends, my middle child didn't want to move either because he would miss our house and his new classmates, but my youngest didn't mind moving. She is still a bit confused about us never going back to our house & that our 5th wheel is now our "home". She asked if we would go back because one of her classmates was going to invite her to a birthday party, but I had to explain that we had moved & we are not going back. She's my adventurous child so she shrugs her shoulders & says "ok" like she's game for whatever. I'm pretty sure she won't remember living in Tucson the same way my son doesn't remember when we lived in IL.

We headed north to our first official stop in Payson where my in-laws live. We got a small storage unit where we put a few items in & I had to do some rearranging since hubby likes to just put stuff wherever. I labeled the boxes "front" and "back" so he knew what went were, but that didn't matter apparently. Turns out my china boxes were on the bottom of several heavy boxes (gah!) and boxes labeled "front" were in the back under other boxes. Not sure why I bothered. I think he just likes to ruffle my feathers. Anyway, we set up at the one rv campground in town. Talk about being close o your neighbors. Geez it was not only a tight fit, but steep as well. The whole park was dirt & gravel, which made for a dusty mess in the trailer, but there were a lot of trees, which made for a somewhat peaceful setting. It was a full house when we arrived since it was the weekend, but it cleared out Sunday morning. Nothing like waking up to the sound of loud motorcycles. It got quite chilly at night & although in the beginning I didn't feel the fireplace in our trailer was necessary, we sure got some use out of it on those chilly mornings & now I'm thankful we have it. We also discovered that we can change the color of the fire & background. Ooohhh aaahhhhh! Anyway, I did find it odd that there were no trash cans throughout the campground. The place was clean no doubt, but I just assumed trash cans throughout would be helpful. I gotta say it's no fun carrying those dog poop bags around & back to the trailer. Speaking of dogs, I'm happy to say that our 2 pups have gotten soooo much better with their no barking while walking. I think they have gotten used to seeing other people, cars and dogs around & don't feel the need to bark like crazy fools. I also think the frequent walks & exercise helps too. We were worried that we would get warnings or complaints from the campgrounds about our barking dogs, but so far they are doing great & they travel so well. Their happy place is simply sitting on the kid's lap.

Speaking of kiddos we did get our first trailer booboo. For some reason the kids like to sit on the stairs of the trailer & my son was sitting there when the door was partially opened & he stood up. OUCH! Yeah the corner of the door hit his head & drew blood. It was a doozy, my poor baby. I swear he's had so many head injuries & he's only 5! Lord bless him & keep his noggin safe. His Abu (my mother in law) was sure to give him extra potato dumplings to make him feel better. I told the kids that this would be their last dose of dumplings for a while since we would be on the road. They had them for breakfast & lunch for a couple days. It's funny that when I say we'll see Abu my kids automatically say "dumplings" and when I say we'll see grandma (my mom) my kids say "tortillas". My son wasn't the only one with a booboo on this trip. My youngest fell off the swing at the park. Her grandpa was pushing her on the swing & decided to spin her at the same time. I was taking a picture & could see the fear & nervousness on her face. I could hear her say she didn't like it or thought it was a good idea. Before I could go to her it was one more spin as she was airborn & boom on her booty she fell with a bonk to the back of her head. She held onto that swing, but not quite enough. Oh boy. Nothing like mama hugs, kisses & snuggles to make her feel better. She's a tough cookie for sure. It was a good 2 days before she forgave her grandpa. Hahaha!

Another reason for our trip to Payson was so the in laws could join us & travel a bit. We had plans to see Slide Rock, Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend. I was also waiting to hear from Amazon on when & where to take my drug screening so I can get the thumbs up to work. Never heard from them so after 3 days we decided to head out.

Early Birthday/Going Away

My oldest always has her birthday during fall break so we would have her birthday party a week early so her classmates could celebrate with her. This year we had to do the party extra early, like 3 weeks, due to selling the house & moving. I told her it would be a combination of early birthday/going away party. We discussed many times where the party would be and what theme. She chose Zootopia & I checked the zoo to see about a party. Wowzers! A bit on the pricey side. She didn't want a skating party, swim party or bowling party. She debated over a horse riding party or an indoor jumping party. She finally decided on Peter Piper Pizza. Ugh! Of all the places. It's all noise & chaos & me constantly scanning the area to count all my chickens. My daughter wanted her 2 best friends there & they were. She was so happy. You see one of her BFF moved to a different school this year & we didn't have his contact info so I decided to take an invitation to his school & thankfully he got it. He was as happy as my daughter was & the 3 of them were together again. We made sure to get addresses before we parted ways. As much as I didn't want to be at PPP, I was happy for my daughter who was all smiles. It was worth the torture. We had to send her off with one last hoorah. I also had my youngest invite some of her classmates as a good bye/early birthday as well. She had  a few friends come out & she was happy with her cupcakes. I had my son invite some of his friends, but sadly no one came. I felt so bad for him. It was like a repeat from his birthday party earlier this year, but he still seemed to have fun. There was a classmate party after ours at a bowling center & another classmate party the day after ours so I figured they were all going to those since our invites got out after theirs. Still I hoped at least one friend would show. Poor kiddo. He's a trooper. I'm just thankful I didn't have to do any cleaning & only a tiny bit of prep work. The only stress was having the kids pick out their junk toys at the counter. Cake & candy & everyone's happy. Happy early birthday to my girls.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Good bye House

We got everything out of the house on that last day. The house echoed from being empty. I had the kids do one last good bye. They said good bye to their playroom, good bye to grandma's room (guest room), good bye to her bathroom, good bye to the fireplace and kitchen and back yard. It reminded me of the book Goodnight Moon. Instead it was "good bye room, good bye kitchen" etc. It was kind of sad. We lived in that house for 2 yrs 9mo & had so many memories. Going all Griswald at Christmas & decorating the inside & out (we got 1st place the first year & 2nd place the second year), hiding 200 Easter eggs in the front & back yard, throwing big birthday parties, having sleep overs, having my mom stay with us, having my in laws come visit, the many booboos, the huge yard & patio, being at the end of the cul de sac so kids could ride bikes, the rocks they painted, the frequent chalk art on the patio, the big daddy fires & smores, the beautiful mountain view, the dark sky & star gazing, jumping on the trampoline, playing in the snow (yes in southern AZ), taking neighborhood walks & runs. It was a nice house. It was too big (3100 sqft). The mortgage was too big. The upkeep wasn't fun. The constant cleaning drove me nuts, but it was a nice house. It was the first house we bought & sold. It was the first house that didn't have all white walls (military). It had lots of space, but just too much space. I didn't like having the kids on the opposite side of the house at night. They were simply too far & although I told them to sleep in their room I often carried at least one back to my room to snuggle at night. You'd think I would be used to moving every couple of years since we did that with the Air Force for so many years, but I was still sad. Would the kids remember living in that house? Dalton didn't want to move & said he was going to miss our house. Annika didn't want to move because she would miss her friends. Emry was my cheerleader & said it was ok that we moved. I know we have more adventures ahead & we won't regret this decision, but it's still kinda sad closing that door forever. I asked hubby as he locked the door behind him if he was sad about it & he said "kinda, it's a nice house, but we need to get out before it falls apart on us." As long as we're together, right? Good bye house. Thanks for the memories.

Our 5th Wheel, Our Home

Initially we decided on getting a 42ft 5th wheel with 5 slide outs. Hubby said if we were gonna live in it full time then we needed to be comfortable & have space. I agreed, but man o man the price on that thing was not appealing. The whole idea was to do this debt free, but it wasn't going that way. Instead of getting a used truck to pull it hubby got a brand new truck. Oh boy. Then instead of a used 5th wheel he wanted new so he wouldn't have to deal with anything breaking right away. I can understand that, but ugh the cost of a brand new 5th wheel. I really liked the one we picked initially. It was a Highland Ridge Open Range 3x427BHS, but the more I thought about it the more I was sure it would be too big. Someone had mentioned the state/national parks & that we probably wouldn't be able to get in due to size. I'd like the opportunity to workamp at a state or national park, but if our rig is too big (haha that rhymes) then would they turn us down? I told him we needed to rethink & research again. He found a shorter one & I agreed it was a good one. It's 10 ft smaller, but looked good. It's a Jayco Eagle 325BHQS. It has the triple bunk beds that I wanted & hubby likes the 2 recliners that looked straight on to the tv vs having to turn your head to the side to look at the tv. It has an island in the kitchen area, which helps with counter space. I realized that tonight as I was cooking & prepping dinner while my in-laws were here. Our bed is facing the wrong way (I wanted it to face side ways so the closet was bigger vs being straight), but oh well. Gotta sacrifice something I guess. Another sacrifice was the bunk house only has 1 slide out vs 2. I really liked the dual slide outs because it was extra floor space for the kids, but again we had to compromise. We also only have 1 bathroom, which wasn't a big deal but that 42ft one had a separate bath all for the kiddos. I just tell myself that that was one more thing to clean that I wouldn't want to clean :-) I think overall it's a good fit & I can't imagine having an extra 10 ft to pull. Of course buying the darn thing was a hassle. We drove 4 hrs to El Paso, TX to buy it. We looked at several different bunkhouse styles that they had on the lot & decided on the Jayco Eagle. We were prepared to buy it right then & there & drive it home, but there was a paperwork problem. Gah! Seemed like we were having one problem after another getting started on our journey (first the house, then septic, now this). Because we were residents of AZ & not TX they didn't have the AZ title paperwork & couldn't get it until Monday. Of course it was Saturday. After hubby's dramatic talk & show he put on they agreed to do everything right then (paperwork, sale, gift card) and deliver the trailer to our house that Tuesday. We were on a time limit due to closing, but in the end it all worked out & we have our new home. Here she is

Adventure Bound Campground Vail, AZ & bike riding

Once we sold our house we had to stay in a local campground for a week so hubby could finish up at work. The closest one to the kid's school was Adventure Bound Campground in Vail, AZ. It was convenient to the highway & Wal-Mart, which we seemed to be at quite often. The pictures online looked nice so I booked. Let's just say it didn't look exactly the same. It was a decent campground, but it was mostly a mobile home park with a lot of permanent rv'ers. The laundry room was clean & plenty of washer & dryers. The bathrooms & showers were clean (only used the showers once) as well. The pool wasn't huge, but it was clean & nice with chairs & an area you could entertain. We were all the way on the left side of the park with nothing but fence behind us (you could hear the coyotes at night) & no one on our row except at the ends, we were in the middle. The space between was ok, but thankfully we had wide open space. We had a concrete pad with picnic table & rocks instead of grass or gravel. It made for less mess coming into the trailer, which was nice. There were quite a few kids in the park as well. The swing set really needed to be updated. It was that old metal type & one of the swings had lost it's black outer layer & it was just metal. I feel bad for the kid who cuts himself on that. I liked how it had poop bags & small trash cans all around the perimeter of the campground so you could clean up after your mutt & toss in the can vs having to carry the poop home with you. The best part of being there was Emry learning how to ride her bike. It's a feeling I can't describe when you see your child take off on their bike for the first time all by themselves. I was so excited & just in awe. I owe her riding ability to the Strider Bike. If you don't know what one is then you're child is missing out. You see it's hard for kids to learn how to balance & pedal at the same time so what the Strider bike does is make them learn how to balance first, which is harder. The pedaling comes more natural afterward. There's no pedals on the bike so they use their feet, like Fred Flinstone, to walk the bike while learning to balance. I bought the bike 3 yrs ago, I think, so my son could learn. My oldest actually got on it & quickly learned how to balance (she was 6). Once we moved into our house she learned how to ride a regular bike so fast. The training wheels came off & away she went. My son (5 1/2 now) also learned how to balance on the Strider real fast, but he's still hesitant to get on his regular bike without training wheels. At the same time he was learning to balance so was my youngest. Oh how they fought to get on the bike. Once she mastered balancing she would fly on that bike & cut corners so fast. Made me nervous yet amazed at the same time. I took off her training wheels when we were still in our house, but she wasn't real interested in getting on just yet. At the campground she decided to give it a try & by golly her first time out she got it! I was holding onto her seat at first, but her bike is so small I was hunched over too far so I grabbed the back of her shirt & ran while helping her balance. After a few minutes I lessened my grip then finally let go. The smile on her face was priceless. Yes I got it all on video! She was so proud of herself & so was I. She mastered it so fast & I credit it all to the Strider bike. She would go down the slopes in the road & pick up speed while I held my breath & ran behind her praying she wouldn't crash. I was sure she'd munch it, but nope she even put her legs out to balance more. Smart cookie! While at the campground we would walk the dogs at least 4 times a day & there she was on her bike zooming past me. She'll be 4 yrs old next month. Way to go baby girl! Next is to get my son rolling along with us.

Home...I mean Roadschooling

Ahhh homeschooling, what can I say? In my head it's all sunshine & roses, but in reality it's quite stressful for me. It's mainly fear. Afraid I'll mess up. Afraid I won't be up to speed on what they should be doing. Afraid I'll screw them up. I tried the homeschool thing a couple years ago with my oldest when she was in 1st grade & although it started out well, my sweet child decided she didn't want to cooperate. I know what the problem was. I was too busy & preoccupied with other stuff to give it 100% & she got lazy & uninterested. Thankfully she's a smart cookie & the mommy plea of "please just read for 30 minutes every day" was a huge plus because she went into 2nd grade reading on a 4th & 5th grade level. Whew! Thought I totally screwed her up. Of course her math wasn't up to par, but she bounced back & was right where she needed to be by mid year. Going into 3rd grade her reading again was fantastic & her math up to par. Her recent benchmark test scores was a 97% in reading & a 90% in math. I think she's doing just fine. So now that I've dropped everything off my plate with no distractions, except the great outdoors, & we're ready to roll. I will have all kinds of time to homeschool....I mean roadschool. This time I'll have a 9yr old, 5 1/2 yr old & 4 yr old to school as well. Oh boy. Prayers are always welcome & much appreciated :-)  I have all their curriculum ready & a schedule as well. I decided to piece it all with some of this & that vs going with one company's curriculum. Honestly it was just too pricey & I know my kids & what will work for them so I wanted to pick & choose. This is what we'll do in case anyone is curious:
Math: Math U See (Primer & Gamma). LOVE the use of those little blocks & the videos blew me away! Gonna have hubby watch & learn to because I was impressed.
Reading: 30 min of daily reading for the 9 yr old with book reports when she finishes a book & 15 min of reading for the littles along with different reading programs (Hooked on Phonics, Reading Eggs, Reading Bear, Teach Your Monster To Read, etc)
Writing: Cursive for the oldest & different daily fun writing ABCs & 123s for the littles (writing in shaving cream, using bingo daubers, paint, watercolors, worksheets, etc)
Language Arts: Grammar Ace from Sonlight (uses School House Rock Videos)
Science: Magic School Bus videos & Young Scientist Club bundle with 60 different experiments!
Geography: As we go we'll learn about the state, capital, state bird, flag, flower, facts, etc (Brain Food Doodle Map)
History: Liberty Kids videos with discussion
Government: Tuttle Twins book with discussion
Music: Learning all the notes (whole, half, quarter, etc), FACE, EGBDF then hopefully as a family we can learn the guitar
Art: all the time, we love creativity & will use the great outdoors in our projects
Life Lessons: cooking, budgeting, saving money, giving, etc
Bible: Daily readings from their children's bible, discussion, memorizing verses

I know it seems like a lot, but we won't be doing all these every day. Each day will be bible readings, life lessons, math, reading, writing & language arts then we'll do science on Monday, History on Tues, etc. I plan on having several breaks so we can walk the dogs & get the wiggles out so they can come back & concentrate better. Studies show that kids who play more & are outdoors often have better concentration on their school work. Total opposite of what public school is like now. I'm nervous, but excited to see how we roll with this. No choice really since it needs to be done & we're committed to full time wandering for a couple years. Let the teaching begin!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Selling a Home is a Nightmare!

Gah! Talk about an ordeal it was to sell our home! We had agreed to close sooner than the set date because hubby was anxious to get on with our move, but we had to have our septic tank inspected & certified before closing. Oh boy that's where the nightmare began. Well let me back up a bit. First the home inspection was to take place. We waited & waited while a week went by. I texted our realtor & told her we were having our estate sale that weekend & hopefully the inspector wasn't planning on coming on the weekend during the chaos. (Side note the estate sale was CRAZY & we sold everything except a few items that were later picked up & donated to a new thrift store that would benefit the local high school & food pantry. We made almost 3 times more than I expected. Woohoo! I'm sure several items also walked off & jumped into someone's vehicle, but whatever). Ok where was I? Oh yes so the realtor contacted the inspector & he stated he had already been to the house. Uh, wait what? No he was either confused or went to the wrong house because he never came by. Good thing I said something or else our wait would have been longer. So then the realtor messages me back & said the inspector will be there in 30 minutes is that ok? Uh no it wasn't ok since I was getting kids ready for school & the house wasn't in tip top shape, but at that point we were tired of waiting & needed to move the process along so yeah I guess I could be ready in 30 min. Of course he deactivated the alarm over an hour later. Grrrr. So that went well & only a few minor repairs that the buyers agreed to let hubby fix. Done. Next was the septic inspection & certification. We lived in that house for 2 yrs 9 mo & never had any septic problems & never had it pumped out. So the guy comes out & pumps it all out (peee-uuuu) and tells us we have a bunch of tree roots growing into the pipes & it was going to cost like $150 or whatever PER HOUR for him to cut them out. Seriously?! That was unexpected & we rolled our eyes at that. Oh how I wish that was the worst, but no it kept getting worse. Upon inspection he says he can't get to the filter, it's jammed or something & needs to be repaired & up to code. Gah! Then he discovers the whole top of the tank is cracked & we needed a new top. NOOOOO!!! He called his sub-contractor to come take a look & thankfully the company they got the tops from had one in stock, but oh sorry they couldn't deliver that day & the next day they had deliveries in Phoenix & they don't work on the weekend & oh yeah that Monday was Labor Day so no work on that day either. Good grief! So Thursday turned into Tuesday & the top arrives, but that guy says the tank isn't draining. Seriously? It was draining just fine before they started farting with the whole thing. Can't certify it if it's not draining. But oh wait the first inspector guy documented on the invoice that it was draining just fine. When asked about it he claims he told us differently. Umm no you didn't & he documented it himself. Hmmm so who's lying? Anyway so they have to dig up even more of our yard to find the problem. Turns out they had to replace all the pipes. So our $600+ estimate turned into over $6000!!! At this point we were just ready to be done & out of our money pit of a home.What was probably the most irritating was that the guys working those little Cat diggers were the owners of their company & guess they didn't like working past noon & one day past 2p. Oh c'mon! Finally after digging two 30ft long trenches, laying all new pipes & hooking it all up it was all done (2 weeks later). They had to put our yard back together as well. I was so grateful that we were at the end of the cul de sac with an empty house on our right & the house next to that one was also empty & the house across the road from those 2 empties was also empty waiting for the new buyers to move in. All that was near us was our neighbors to our left who worked all day, but I still felt bad because those darn diggers were in our side yard next to them for 2 weeks. I did apologize to them for the mess & he was nice about it. Probably glad to see us go with our noisy kids & dogs...hahaha! Anyway so when it was all said & done we closed on our house with very little profit in our pocket, but it was done. Hope they don't hear the little critter on the roof who stops by now & then at 1am. Our new 5th wheel sat in our driveway (thankfully we had a huge driveway) for almost 2 weeks & we were more than ready to get outta there. Yes it was a nice house with a great backyard, but it was simply too big & the mortgage, ugh don't get me started. So my advice to you is do NOT buy a house with a septic tank & beware of the trees that are near that tank. Nothing good will come out of it & it'll leave a hole in your wallet.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Flexibility because we CAN!

I've been meaning to write the last week & have just been busy researching. Researching 5th wheel trailers, home I mean roadschooling, campgrounds, workamping jobs, etc. You see our plan has taken on a life of its own it seems, but that's ok (Emry-ism). We initially planned on selling our home & downsizing by buying a piece of land & putting one of those manufactured homes on it (smaller in sq footage) so we could lower our cost of living overall & put some real savings into our account. The more hubby thought about it he felt it was pointless to invest in land if we didn't plan on staying in Arizona for a long period of time. He said "let's just go then". Hey I wasn't about to argue with that, but the question was "and go where?". The plan changed to moving to Texas to be close to my family. Simple as that. Then an idea got planted into our head & has taken off since then. The plan of getting a trailer and hitting the road. At first it was lets get the trailer & move to TX then live in it until hubby finds a job & we find a place to put down roots. Well then it changed to why not just live in the trailer & travel? Heck ya! We've done it before & we know what it entails so why not do it again? This is where the to do list has begun. The first step was sell the house. Thankfully after almost 2 months we are under contract & the home inspection was yesterday. I pray there's nothing major that comes up so we can move forward with our open road plan. Next step was to buy a newer, more powerful truck to pull the trailer. Check! Hubby did that about a month ago & he can now beat on his chest & grunt with pride of owing a man's man truck. Whatever. It makes him smile & Lord knows he needs to smile more. We have researched & researched & looked at many 5th wheels & have finally agreed & found the one we want. It's bigger than I thought we'd get, but hubby said if we're going to be living in it full time for who knows how long then he wants to be comfortable & have some space. I agree, but the price tag is not appealing to me. *Side note. This is where being debt free comes into play & makes life easier* We've decided on a Highland Ridge Open Range 3x427BHS. It has a bunkhouse in the back for the kiddos & both slide outs come out, which I wanted to maximize their space back there. We have tracked a couple of them down in southern CA & in Las Vegas. Both about the same distance drive from us so it's who can get us the better deal at this point :-) So from here on out all we have to do is buy the trailer, sell everything in our house & move out.....all by September 5th! Yikes! It's ok it's ok we can do it. We're motivated & excited about this so where there's a will there's a way, right? We have a local campground in place & we have both applied to Amazon for their seasonal distribution jobs in Kentucky (Texas & Tennessee are already full). So it all seems to be lining up, but get this. My idea was to stay & let the kids finish out the school year so hubby could continue to work & we could save save save. Our expenses would be minimal without all the mortgage & utilities, but hubby says nope. He's ready to leave now! Uhhh wait what? (Emry loves saying that). Thus our clock is ticking fast. We should be driving outta here by mid September if all goes well with the house sale. I can already hear that National Lampoons Vacation theme song in my head.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ballerina Girl

My Emry girl loves to dance even when there's no music. Tonight as I sat in the office on my laptop she was dancing in circles singing a tune she made up. She was telling me she learned that song when she was a baby and when she grew up and was 9 years old something or other happened. I thought..."ummm you're only 3 you haven't been 9 yet" but I don't want to stomp on her creative stories. She told me to sing it over & over again while she danced & when I stopped she promptly told me to "keep singing mommy". Her little arms were in the air & she would gently kick her leg out as she twirled. Oh my heart. She wants to be in ballet class & I keep saying yes but haven't done it yet. I must get on the ball & just enroll her. She would be so beautiful in her ballet outfits & I can just see her all serious yet a huge smile on her face while in a dance recital. Yes I must enroll her this fall. I know most places take a break in the summer then start new in the fall with a recital scheduled in the spring. Dalton still wants to do Taekwondo so I'll get him in that & of course Annika wants more horse lessons. Why must she pick the most expensive activity? They all have their likes & I want to encourage & support them.

Just Keep Swimming

2 months ago I finally put my 3 kiddos in swimming lessons. This is something I wanted to do when they were babies, but something always came up. The fear of them drowning was real. 2 years ago we were swimming & I put my son on the side of the pool sitting while I took his floatie off. I was sitting next to him when I turned to my right to throw the floatie to the side of the pool. My son was on my left. As I turned back around I see him jump into the pool. It took me a second to remember he didn't have a floatie on. I jumped in after him & grabbed him. When I pulled him out he said "I swimmed" and I replied "no you sunk". He scared the crap out of me & I can only imagine the worst if I weren't right there next to him. Hubby was on the other side of the pool & he saw him go in, but was further away. I got to him first.I couldn't help but think of my daughter's classmate who drowned 3 years ago. That sweet boy's face flashed in front of my eyes after this incident. I told my hubby we had to teach them to swim asap even if we didn't have a pool. He wasn't as motivated as I was. So fast forward 2 years (with constant worry about them drowning when near water) to their first lesson. I had already assumed my 2 youngest would take to swimming fast & my oldest would not. My oldest didn't even want to get her face wet in the shower/bath so swimming underwater for her was going to be rough. Well I was so wrong. My youngest decided she did not want to get her face wet (this was after she already experienced it once in class) and my oldest decided she loved it. She learned the fastest & is like a fish. I don't worry about her so much, but still keep a good eye on her always. My son is a daredevil & loves to dive for toys on the bottom & can hold his breath for a really long time. He still worries me & I have to set rules for him, which he loves to test. I am glad he isn't afraid to learn, but dang he's just over confident. Must be a boy thing. My youngest is getting there & the more she's in the water the better she gets. Today she put her whole face in the water many times to get diving sticks & she practiced her swimming kicks. I'm amazed by them & ever so thankful they are learning & loving to swim. They want a pool so they can swim daily & if it weren't for us selling our house I'd get a pool. I would love for them to be on swim team when they get a bit older, but one step at a time. I remember telling my oldest not to be afraid & how awesome it'll be when she knows how to swim because she'll have so much fun. The smile on her face tells me how right I was. I told her "see didn't I say you'd love swimming?" and she said "yes". I use this as a teaching thing whenever she's afraid to try something new & I use it for myself too. I tell myself "if she could do this after being terrified then I can do _____". She has inspired me. I was also so moved & emotional in a good way when I saw my oldest daughter helping her younger sister at the pool yesterday. I've bee taking them on base after my fitness class so they can get more practice. Keep in mind these 2 do not always get along, but my oldest was helping her sister "dive" into the pool while sitting on the side. She praised her & gave her pointers too. I was loving it & thought "why can't they be like this all the time?", but I'll take what I can get. I just look forward to many new water fun memories to be made.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Payson Mogollon Monster 5k Mudder

Last weekend I was at my in-laws house ready to compete in my first ever 5k mud run. I had no idea what to expect, but I did look at the video posted from previous years  I was both excited & nervous. This 42 yr old mother of 3 didn't have a whole lot of confidence in herself, but I thought it would be fun & something to check off my list. I knew I had to do my best because my kids, hubby & father in law were all watching & recording. I remember waiting for my heat to start & I had serious cotton mouth because I was so nervous. I made sure to place myself towards the back of the pack so I could watch everyone else & get an idea where to go & how to tackle the obstacles. They advertised 30 obstacles, but actually had 46. Woah! There was no turning back so I headed out & did my thing. Now let me tell ya I'm not a fan of heights so when I came to the first jump into a muddy pit I hesitated......for a while. Yes there's video, but I did it & ooohhhweee that water was cold! If there was ever a time to pee in the nasty water, that was a good time to do it....hahahaha! Anyway after that I had to climb a wall, but thankfully there was an A frame on the side I was able to step up on to get myself over. From there I had to pick up a tire & carry it then there was climbing over a metal rail fence, picking up a sand bag & walking with it then carrying it thru a muddy pit. There was also hopping in & out of tires, walking up a big rock hill (smelled like hot asphalt), sliding down a water slide into nasty muddy water, running, climbing over a tire wall (needed a bit of technique since they are flexible), army crawling under barbed wire, trail running, walking (hunched over) thru a metal tunnel thingy where I gashed my finger & thumb (bled a lot). There was also a big jump into more yucky water that smelled like either horse or cow poo (yes I hesitated again) and mud so thick I almost lost a shoe. I had to pick up a fireman's hose, toss it over my shoulder & walk up bleachers (I ran!). Then there was the maze of rope to duck under, climb over. I also scraped my forehead going under a log (there was about a 4" gap between the log & water I was floating thru). Many more obstacles, but my oldest asked me which one was my favorite. I thought about it & it had to be the 2 sets of monkey bars. Why? Because I thought for sure I wasn't going to be able to do it without falling. I thought my arms weren't strong enough. I thought I wasn't fit enough. I saw the lady in front of me, who looked pretty fit, fall after 3 bars so I assumed I'd do the same. I scooted over to the side where it wasn't as wet on the bars & proceeded. I was shocked that I made it all the way thru without falling. There was a break in between then another set of monkey bars. I had a little more confidence at this point so I proceeded & again I made it all the way thru without falling. I blurted out "I can't believe I just did that!" I know for some it seems ridiculous, but I was so proud of myself (I haven't been able to do that in years) & as I came to the end of the mudder I was all smiles because I not only accomplished what I set out to do, but I did it without quitting & I was having the time of my life. I was on a "runners high" and ready to do it again. Who needs an expensive mud spa when you can do a mud run? I'm already planning on doing it again next year & any others that pop up in the mean time. Of course as the day went on the soreness started to set in (& lasted 3 days or so). The next day all the bumps & bruises surfaced & I counted 18 bruises & about half as many scrapes. I was asked "did you learn you lesson?" Why yes I did. I learned I should have done one of these years ago & I learned I needed to do it faster, but most of all I learned that I should believe in myself more because I CAN do whatever I set out to do. The ultimate best part was when my kids said "congratulations mommy" and "you did great mommy". They held my medal & jumped up & down all excited. My heart was full

Back at it again

Well well it's only been 3 years since my last post. How pitiful is that? As a mom most of you can probably relate. Time is not on my side. All of my posts since my last entry have been on facebook (not nearly enough in my opinion), but you can't really go into depth on there so here I am again. This is mainly for my sake so I can look back & remember because as my 5 yr old son asks "did you lose your memories?" Yes, yes I have. Seems like I can't remember squat these days. They say having kids does that to your brain. Mommy brain never seems to recover. I initially started the blog to document our cross country travels after my hubby's retirement & I'm so glad I did because I forgot so much of what happened on our journey. This time around it'll just be to document all of my kid's funnies, accomplishments, milestones & whatever else strikes my fancy. So let's get on with it.