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Posts Tagged ‘travel’

We’re thinking about food.  A little unsure what may be confiscated at the Canadian border, we’re trying to not be too attached to what we bring, but also want to be well equipped for miles of wild.  Chris (aka referred to as “Mom Chris” from here out; I’ve been blessed by many Mama’s in my life!) has cooked, shred and frozen 5+ pounds each of beef and pork.  I’m doing chicken and corned beef, maybe some lamb as well.  We’ll take dried beans and rice, herbs and spices, and hope to find veggies and fruits along the way.  I suspect I’ll have a lot to say about food as we travel.  Stay tuned!

All different forest animals on them for easy i.d. – look! a moose!

I’ll tell you something we did invest in: stainless 8-ounce stackable cups and silicone sippy lids!  We were blessed by a particularly ridiculously awesome sale that was irresistible.  Let me back up: With all of the other kids, we started them off on a My First Years plastic sippy lid.  They were interchangeable with Tupperware cups and were perfect.  We preferred the simple construction and ease of cleaning.  But apparently, now they’re “vintage” (insert rolling eyes here).  They’re a fortune on Etsy, and rarity on Ebay.  Realizing it’s time to branch out, yet resisting the modern sippy’s (I hate them), I went online shopping.  I wanted something that’s functional, multi-age-usable, organic’esque, and flexible.  Not just another container to play hair-pulling find-the-lid for.  These silicone lids fit the bill: They can slip onto just about any cup, including restaurant cups, etc… They’re BPA-free.  Frankly, they feel a little bit breast-esque, and I think Aury will love them.  The stainless cups stacked nice and tight, taking little space, and were slightly reminiscent of another childhood favorite: aluminum cups at Grandma’s — also expensive and hard to replicate at home.  And, well, aluminum.  No thanks.

Speaking of my Grandma… Several weeks ago my Grandpa had both a stroke and a heart attack, landing himself in a hospital then rehab.  Never having really spent time in the hospital, it sounds like it was quite the experience.  We were all glad to hear he was able to go home almost two weeks ago.  He built his house in the 1950’s with his own bare hands “in the middle of nowhere” (now five-ish blocks from the state university and smack dab in the center of a metropolis), and has raised all four of his daughters there from babe to now grandparents themselves.  Ever since I’ve known them, their house had an open door policy.  Every Sunday they made more food than they’d ever need, inviting any and all to partake.  I believe their influence in my life at an early age impacted a lot of who I am today, for which I’m thankful for.

Each summer when my mom and aunts were youth and still living at home, my Grandpa would load up a van and take the family and a group of students to Alaska, traveling the Alcan Highway, camping and living wild along the way and at their destination.  Being a teacher himself, he was able to spend quite a lot of the summertime exploring and teaching wild-living in a hands-on way.  I’ve heard many stories about these adventures (and many more!).  I know the memories made have been quite lasting on their girls.  It gets me excited knowing that several of our kids are at an age that experiences such as this hold and mold.  As much as I may resist the thought, it is likely one of our last big adventures with the olders.  Their lives are quickly advancing to independent interests and potential careers.  We cherish these times more than ever.  We also are incredibly proud of who they have become, and where they are heading: They have consistently made personal decisions to keep Christ their focus in all of it.  What they do beyond that is in His Hands.  We have no desire to shape that around what we would choose, be it keeping them at home forever (trust me, we’ve threatened it), etc…  I’ll share bits here of a rather convicting writing that our very dear friend Kurt Settles, now a pastor, penned:

Here’s what we don’t want: …we don’t want a son/daughter who is so dependent upon external support and validation that they can’t function independently, know right from wrong, be able to overcome obstacles and challenges, and be a generally useful member of their society.

treating them like they are the center of my world and this universe is a terrible tragedy.

…I am angry at parents who continue to raise generation after generation of immature, dependent, and fragile children.

…Christian parents need to stop worshipping their children and instead bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, raising them to be mature and able to function without the approval of man, seeking only the approval of God.

Though we value our time and understand our rather big responsibility of raising them (and adore them dearly, knowing that tho’ they are some of the most wonderful gifts this side of heaven), we realize that we serve a God who has a big picture.  We are simply a speck in it.  He has bigger plans than we ever could wish for our children (and ourselves!).  So as long as they follow Him, they will always be in the best place they could be.

Whoa, my entry about food sure took a different turn than planned!  I guess I just want to say that no matter how important all of these travel (life!) preparations are, and how well we try to execute them and retain their value, the every-moment-goal doesn’t change.  We intentionally sojourn as God followers with eternal-mindedness our goal for how we choose to use our today.  Our today is not a passing moment in anticipation of heavenly treasures but is an opportunity to intentionally share the gift we have been given to reflect Him instead of … well… anything else!

…magnificent though creation (everything we participate in) is, it is only a reflection of God’s glory.  It exists to reflect the ultimate declaration of glory, God Himself.  If we are blown away by the beauty of creation, how much more beautiful and awesome is God! – Andrew Scott

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As the days tick by, we’re busting the moves on our To Do list.  We’ve been doing great so far!  A lot of the list items have been tasks in and around the house, preparing it for our leave.  Making sure fences are in ship shape and zapping at the highest potential, garden beds covered for later, barn cleaned out and organized.  This will make the work much lighter for those at home managing the homestead.

Now we move our attention to the travelers themselves.  We’re doing haircuts (what shaggy animals the boys would be when we return if we didn’t), bentonite clay masking, plucking eyebrows and waxing mustaches (did I just say that out loud… who does that?!), and giving each other pedicures.  We never spoil ourselves quite so much, but since we’ll be grubbing it for so long, we figure we may as well start as soft and done up as possible.

17″ of hair donated to others who need

I’d been threatening a dramatic hair cut for a while.  Several years ago I went shorter and it was fabulous for a season, and I was itching for something easy like it again.  They say you shouldn’t make big decisions when you’re pregnant (think: extreme hormones), so I held off.  After Aury was born, I started having hope that my post-birth hair loss wouldn’t happen this time.  Ha!  Right at 3 months postpartum, just when I thought I was in the clear, it started falling out more than I imagined it would (but no more than it has in the past… I just forget!).  I waited still.  At first, I had noticed I started wearing my hair up in a not-so-cute messy bun during most days.  Then I started to at night in hopes of shedding less.  At that point, I realized it was time to make a move, so I gave in.  Scott gave me the thumbs up, and I wanted to actually have some left to donate, so chopped off 17 inches.  It’s been so dreamy!  I’ll get one last trim before the trip, then let it grow again.  I really do love long hair, but am so enjoying it this way for now.  Especially for a road trip and camping!

We’ve started a list of what we’d like to take for ourselves, limiting it to just a few clothing items that are both durable and versatile, non-wrinkly and thin for easy hand washing.  We should have quite the variety of temperatures, and diverse engagements, so we’ll be creative and put to practice living simply with less.  In some ways, this thrills me tremendously.  In others, I worry we’ll forget something important.   But really, we won’t be roughing it by any stretch, even if we forget something semi-important.

We have several e-books (to conserve space — I’m otherwise not a fan of electronic book reading), and a few motivational and devotionals that we’ll read quietly and aloud, as time permits.  I’ve put together a list of music for Aury to enjoy while napping if he needs a distraction, and some for adult entertainment.  The kids have gathered a few games for their electronics, tho’ I imagine we’ll limit those pretty heavily.  We don’t really do a lot of that, and don’t want to start on such an awesome, family-filled, outdoor-rich adventure!  Here are some (more…)

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ALaskaBird

wish I knew who to give credit to – hilarious!

This whole “the mosquito is Alaska’s state bird” is getting me a little freaked out.  I mean, I don’t like mosquito’s (who does?!).  I’m not really scared of getting some freaky disease – the itchy welt is enough to scare me.  And we have a wee babe!  How much would it stink to see sad little white bumps on his tiny little chubby body?  No thanks!  But what are the alternatives?  Chemical-laden sprays?  Did you know your skin is the largest organ of your body and since it’s porous, absorbs most of what you put on it?  I don’t want that stuff on me, or in me – or contaminating my littles!

So here’s what I did: I made some bug repellent.  I really hope it’ll work, and isn’t just a “feel good” alternative.  But the things I know about the essential oils I used (and if you know me, I’m not into the essential oil rage – more below) are pretty solid.  So I headed to my oil cupboard, where I keep all of my soap and body product makin’ goods.  Here’s what I mixed together and put into a 4 ounce dark glass spray bottle, to be shaken before each use and stored in a cool dark place:

  • witch hazel, filled to half of the bottle
  • quality water, filled to half of the bottle
  • 20 drops of clove
  • 20 drops orange or lemon
  • 10 cinnamon
  • 10 eucalyptus or peppermint
  • 5 rosemary
  • 5 tea tree
  • 1 teaspoon of glycerin, if you choose (I didn’t bother)

I won’t lie, I didn’t count out drops.  In fact, I suspect I was a little exuberant and over-did it, using closer to double what I called for in this recipe.  I love that this is something perfectly safe to use on my wee one (keeping out of the face, of course).  If nothing else, we’re going to smell amazing – leaving that travelers funk to the birds!

Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve had a pretty wet, lengthy Spring.  That means a lot of damp places, and I suspect a lot of summertime mosquitoes here as well.  The rumor mill (weather man) says that this coming week will bring sunshine and warm temperatures.  I’m not sure I believe him, but I suspect we’ll be hearing that incessant, annoying, awful buzz sooner than later.  We’ve little time to put this spray to the test, but we may have a good opportunity to try!

Now folks, here’s where I want to share my concerns about the essential oil fad (pyramids) that y’all probably have at least one friend pressuring you to join… (more…)

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Friends of ours warned us to apply for passports early.  Since we made the decision late in the game to get passports, despite several (valid) sources saying we don’t need them, the clock was ticking, and I was feeling the pressure.  Looking online only confused me.  So I decided to write it down, in the event that I need to start this process over.  Or in the event that it’s helpful to you.

Randon tidbit: A passport book gives us access to international travel by air.  Had I stuck with my Enhanced Driver’s License, I would have been limited to crossing borders by land only.  So this gives us a little more flexibility for emergencies, and prepares us better for future travels.

To submit for my own Passport, I would need a filled out, printed Application, an original Birth Certificate, Driver’s License, and a photo*.  The photo had to meet certain specifications.  Despite there being lots of excellent options (phone app’s, Walgreens, Costco, etc) that knows all of the rules, we chose to have the US Postal Service do it.  I’ll share more about this in a paragraph or two…

Now, to submit the kids’ applications, it took a bit more paperwork.  Because they are all minors, and because Scott’s schedule really didn’t allow both of us (parents) to be there in person to apply, I had to have a signed and notarized copy for each application of Scott’s Statement of Consent (link below) agreeing to this, as well as a copy of the front and back of his driver’s license.  We had our local bank do the notarizing, as they offered it free to members (Cha-ching!  Saved ten bucks a pop!).  Thankfully, they offered services well into the evening, when we spent the good portion of an hour stamping, signing, and right-hand oathing.

We chose to apply only for the standard (no extra pages) Passport book.  We opted out of a card.  Here’s the order we did all of this in:

  1. Filled out a DS-11 Application online here for all 5 kids and myself.  Saved and printed them.  Actually, my sweet neighbors did since my printer is on the fritz right now
  2. Gathered birth certificates, my drivers’s license, and copies of Scott’s (both sides multiplied by all 5 kids), along with his signed and notarized DS-3053 Statement of Consent for each of the kids app’s – they do not need your social security card
  3. Went to our local passport Acceptance Facility – for us, that was the Post Office in La Center

We got there promptly at 11am, as the gal had recommended on the phone.  We were about 3 from the front when the gal asked how many passports we were applying for.  When she heard six, she laughed and said she’d be skipping us, because she is taking lunch in 15 minutes and can’t finish us in that amount of time.  We took a spot along the wall.  By now, the Post Office had quite the line, and apparently, all were there for passports.  I hadn’t thought it through well, but it was Spring Break, and everyone was preparing for summertime.  In fact, by the time we left, there were at least 30 people in line behind us to apply.  Now if you don’t know our area, I’ll tell you, La Center is a pretty wee bitty town.  A crowd like that isn’t seen often in one place. (Unless you’re visiting the new casino – it’s a madhouse.)

At least a half dozen people went ahead of us before the new employee clocked in and took us to the front.  I may have given my kids a lesson on how unfortunate it is that they were discriminating against a “big” family, when in fact, they served that many people anyway, just one at a time.  Then I let it go.  Or did I? … since I’m sharing this rant here… 😮

When we got to the front, we had to process each passport application one at a time.  I had prepared at home by bundling them by person (application, birth certificate, copies, etc).  But before we could start, she took us across the hall to take photos.  She didn’t give us any warning.  Snap! “Next!” Snap! “Next!” “No teeth!” Snap! My sweet kids were so uncomfortable.  But they were champs about it.  And we giggled plenty.

Back at the front counter, the employee swiftly worked through our paperwork.  Each Application had to be notarized: more oath-giving, more right hands on our hearts.  When all was said and done, I had to write 7 checks: One for each application, and then one to the Post Office for their part in it all.  The kids’ Passports were $80 each to the state, plus a $25 service fee and $15 for the photo to the USPS.  Mine was $110 to the state, plus the $25 service fee and $15 for the photo to the USPS.  Mine will be valid for 10 years, the kids’ for 5 years (16 years and up qualify for the 10 year expiry).  I suspect Aury may look a touch different before his expires.  I also suspect he has the cutest passport there ever was.

he got to smile.

Even with Passports – or had we only used Birth Certificates – when crossing the border, we will have (more…)

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Early in February we drove down to Arizona.  The kids and I piled into the van and drove, taking it easy as we went.  We stopped a motel in Redding, then with cousins in Los Angeles the second night.  The short days made for an easy ride.  Flynn was fantastic the entire time, hardly complaining at all.  He seems to enjoy a good ride.

We stopped at the Olive Hut on the way down, after our nights stay in Redding.  We planned our whole drive down around this.  We’d stopped before a few years ago, having a picnic behind their shop, and really wanted to go back.  We picked up some garlic and jalapeno stuffed olives among other things, and snacked on them the entire trip.

On the last day of the drive, Colby started coughing and sniffing.  Uh oh.

We landed ourselves in Phoenix at my brother JR & Sarah’s apartment.  My bioDad, “Papa”, came down and picked up the three older kids and took them up to his place in Flagstaff so that Flynn and I could attend the AFBF Young Farmer Rancher Conference over the weekend.  Flynn ended up with a fever and cough for the majority of the conference, so we skipped out on any extra “fun” activities, getting him extra doses of rest when we could. He slept on me in his wrap most of the weekend.  We did, however, have a date at the Pita Jungle one afternoon, just the two of us.  It was lovely.

Come Monday, I was missing my bigger kids and drove up.  I left cooler (but still warm) Phoenix behind, and trudged through what was a huge snowstorm the day before in Flagstaff.  Funny the difference that 2 hours (and 4+ thousand feet in elevation) does to the roads.  By the time we reached Papa’s house, I switched from flips to tennis shoes and a snow coat, and headed in.  Flynn was about ready for bed, so Grandma Chris rocked him while we all piled into the jacuzzi.  The sky was clear, so we spent a good while contemplating the stars while bubbling away in the warm water.  The cold air was fantastic.  Even the icy walk back into the house wasn’t so bad!

The kids had all suffered a cold over the weekend, later passing it onto all of their Arizona cousins.  I feel so bad!  The good that came out of it was an electronic nose-sucker.  With no bulb syringes to be found at Walgreens, and having just heard from my step-sister how much she loved her battery-operated one for her babe, we got it.  And played for hours.  Yeah, we’re easily entertained like that.

Adyn moving the telescope.

Adyn moving the telescope.

The next day Papa took us to Lowell Observatory.  They were having a Mars and Pluto exhibit, starting with a video, then a tour of some of the telescopes – one particular being the one that Pluto was found through.  Pretty cool.

We shared meals with my brother Robert and his family, took a tour of Flagstaff Landscape Products (my brother owns and operates with lofty plans for future growth).  Heard all about the latest with his airplanes.  He’s a pilot now, and is hoping to fly my Grandpa Miller’s Bonanza soon.  All kinds of travel plans.  I told my kids that they could do anything that Papa said while in Flagstaff away from me except fly with Robert.  Ha!  In all reality, I’m so very proud of my older brothers.  They’re good men with sweet families.

Golfing with Sarah and the cousins

Golfing with Sarah and the cousins

When we got back to Phoenix, I finally took the kids on the long-promised Castles & Coasters.  I used to go there often when I was a kid, and by gum, there’s just no place like it here.  We mini golfed until the sun was going down.  It’s got some pretty rad nighttime lighting, but since it’s in a sketchy part of town, and it was just Sarah and I with 6 kids, we figured we’d mosey out.  It was Valentine’s Day, so us two single gals for the day figured we’d make the best of it.

My second childhood home, Grandma's house.

My second childhood home, Grandma’s house.

Over the next few days we went to my other grandparents’ house in Tempe a few times, explored my Grandpa’s shop, Bighorn Industrial.  He bought the place back in the day when there was little city.  Several years ago the city took a huge portion of it for a new freeway.  Imminent Domain gave my grandpa a lot of years fighting.  He still has a good amount of valuable land left there, as well as investments elsewhere.  The place didn’t even look recognizable.  I used to play at the “lot” all the time as a kid, and yet I can’t get my bearings on where it all was now.

::::I just Googled my Grandpa and have spent the last hour immersed in fascinating articles and information.  He is an amazing, amazing man with so many amazing stories — I’m going to have to put some of this together sometime to share!::::

Flynn and his great-grandma

Flynn and his great-grandma

My Grandma fixed us her famous Mexican Dinner one of the days, complete with tamales from their friend and chili relleno’s.  My godfather, Paul Boothe, joined us, as well as Mary Luth, a life-long family-friend, along with her husband.  We cherish the time we get to spend with all of them.

My godfather and sweet babe

My godfather Paul and my sweet babe

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This coming weekend the kids and I are going to the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Young Farmer & Rancher Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.  We decided to road trip it, both since it is fabulously fun, and because it saves funds*.  As the time creeps nearer, tho’, I find myself getting all weepy.  Friday I cried like a baby.  Scott reminded me that I do this before most trips.  I’m a bit of a homebody, and I loathe leaving my husband.

I’ve waited to even consider preparing for this trip until tomorrow morning.  Then the chaos shall begin.  We’ll head into town for several (too many) errands, then we’ll clean out the van and start loading up.  We’re leaving several days early.  We’re pretty used to the drive, however it’ll only be my second time doing it as a solo-driver (the first time being last year), and the first road trip in several years with a wee one.  So we’ll stay at hotels, visit the Olive Hut (and any other interesting-looking tourist trap), then stay with cousins in LA the final night of the drive there.

I’m guessing we’ll put the DVD player to use this time.  We bought a video about the formation of the Grand Canyon (planning a stop there on the drive back home, heading up a different route entirely for fun).  I’m thinking we’ll be driving in daylight mainly, so not a lot of movie time.  I’m not a fan of driving at night all that much.  My imagination sees oh so many deer on the road.  I printed out oodles of car games: license plate match, bingo, etc.  We have a lot of games that we regularly play, too, but these will be fun new ones that they can write on, and keep a tally of throughout the trip.

A few imperatives: snow chains, sleeping bags, cooler with food, water, flashlights.  The rest is just frivolous.  We’ll be both in Phoenix (75 degrees today) and Flagstaff (28 degrees), so will need an assortment of clothes.  I’m sure we’ll fill up empty space just fine.

We’ve lots of big plans.  That way if there’s spare time, we’ll fill it with interesting things.  Or we’ll just sit back and relax.  We’re game for whatever.  I can’t wait to enjoy some warm sunshine (tho’ if you know me, tho’, enough is enough) and so many of our wonderful family members!

Coming soon: memory making.  Now to just get through the goodbyes…

*our county Farm Bureau very generous financially supports some trips for it’s members, however, we try to keep it as minimal as possible whether any/all of it be from their pocket or ours!

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