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Monday, December 31, 2012

In Case You Missed It...


This was our little Christmas announcement....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Where have we been?

Remember my little family?

We are alive and well....just infinitely behind on the ol' blog.
Nothing like a little catch up from the last six months huh? Don't worry, it's mostly cute pictures.

Soooo....

July:
The biggest event of July was that we got to spend ten days in Glacier National Park with our dear friends the Barretts. Kevin used to actually be one of Trev's college professors, but now we are just like family. We also invited Trevor's folks to join us, and they did.

The Barretts are hikers. Intense hikers. They showed us a wonderful time in Glacier...by guiding us on 57.6 miles of trails. Yep - you read that right. We hiked 57.6 miles in a week. Awesome.

Every day that we hiked over ten miles we rewarded ourselves with pie and ice cream from a local place - Ivie loved it
So beautiful
                   

August:
In August Ivie started dance class - which she loves. It is a mommy and me creative movement class, and we have both come to cherish Monday mornings at dance together.

We also had a visit from our cousins - Ty, Erin, Eden and even Jade (Ty's older brother) in August. Ivie and Eden loved hanging out. We did a lot of video gaming, hiking and eating. Love those guys.
Swimming with Dad in the Virgin River at the top of Zion Canyon
Working on Junior Ranger packets with Cousin Eden
Hope these girls get to have lots of sleep overs just like this through their lives
September:
September was a blur, but it also marked Ivie's first big screen experience as we took her to see Brave at the cheap theater. It was a hit. She loved having her own chair, popcorn and soda. This is her excited face.

October:
Oh October. This was a month of mixed emotions. My cousin Nick was killed early in the month while working as a border patrol agent in Arizona. It has been a difficult and sad thing for all of my family.

October also brought hunting season and our annual Halloween party. Highlights in a hard month.
Ivie wanted to be a "pink kitty" for Halloween
Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood
November:
We celebrated Thanksgiving this year in California at Disneyland with my mom's family. Ivie loves Pluto and thought her life was pretty much complete when she got to see him not once, but twice!

Riding a ride with Grandma and Grandpa Cobb
  December:
How is it December already? We are gearing up for Christmas. But our highlight so far was Ivie's dance recital. She had a previous recital in November where she came out on stage and FROZE. This past Saturday she got to try again and did so good! It's crazy how fast she is growing, and how quickly time flies.



And there you have it - the last six months...sorta....of course there was more--good, bad and ugly--all we can really say is that we are loving life and looking forward to the rest of forever.

Fabulous Fourth

There are a million things I love about the Fourth of July.

This year there were several special things as well.

1 - Trevor's clean cancer scan the day before! WooHoo - five years cancer free officially equals remission. :)

This is Ivie outside of Daddy's MRI clinic. She mae me laugh out loud when she sat up in her chair like this, stuck her hands behind her head and started chanting: "Boring. Boring. Boring."  I have no idea where she even learned that word! Some days I feel like I have a teenager instead of a toddler.





Later in the Doctor's office, as we were waiting for him to come in an read the scan results, Ivie informed us she was bored again. Trev told her only boring people are boring (Yeah, practice up on that one Dad, I've a feeling we'll be telling her that ALOT) and so she and I decided to sing songs. Trev managed to capture a VERY RARE video of the performance (Most of our video camera attempts culminate in Ivie seeing us get the camera out and then running over yelling, 'Me see cam--eeerrrr--raa' Yup, we have a million videos of that and hardly any of her being cute). 

To celebrate his clean scan, we went to the Hogle Zoo.

At the Zoo entrance
Best place to see the animals from? Daddy's shoulders
 There was a time before Ivie that Trev and I would go out to some fancy restaurant to celebrate clean scans, but we have turned into bonified parents now. Ivie loved the zoo - and our sweet cousins Ty, Erin and Eden met us there too!
This giant elephant plays music and squirts water out of its trunk (where Ivie is sitting)

We spent the actual Fourth with Ty, Erin and Eden as well. We don't get to see these amazing people often enough, and we always leave wishing we could have stayed longer and swearing we are going to find a way to get together more often.

Eden is just a year or so older than Ivie, and so tender with her. She is a beautiful, sweet little girl. Ivie woke up this morning asking about going swimming with Eee-Dan again today. I hope these two girls get to have the same sort of special cousin connection Trev and I have with Ty and Erin. Love those guys.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh, You crafty huh?

Remember my Pinterest Promise to myself? The one where I decided I was only allowed to play on Pinterest if I followed through on at least one of my pins once a week?

I've been holding to my goal pretty good, dedicating each Pinterest manifestation mostly to activities I do with Ivie or to recipes we try.

Then summer hit St. George with it's 100 degree plus fierceness and I found myself wishing for a few more comfy dresses.

See, when it gets hot down here, I roast. I roast even more in shorts and t-shirts. I prefer to wear short summer cotton knit dresses or skirts, or long breezy maxi dresses.

Those long breezy maxi dresses are also on my Favorites list because they hide my often not-so-hairless legs in the summer too.

So, I've been oogling dress tutorials on Pinterest. I enjoy sewing, but I'm a quilter - not a clothes sewer and the crinkle of pattern paper pretty much terrifies me. Then I stumbled across this dress and tutorial that I figured even my-non-sewing-clothes-as-a-rule self could handle.

Loved her blog. Loved the tutorial.

Here is my version.

The picture was taken on my phone, and isn't the greatest, hence the washing out look to my skin. BUT I am happy with how my maxi dress turned out. So happy I even sported it to church today and had lots of ladies give me compliments on it. So happy that I think I'm making another of these bad boys this week.

on another Pinterest note - I think I've finally settled on a theme for the update of Ivie's room. I've wanted to change things up in her space for awhile, and with everything going on the last couple of weeks it seemed like a good time to throw myself into some crafting therapy project. The decision to move her room from a baby's theme to a little girl look was timely too because the JoAnn's in out town is changing locations prompting a HUGE liquidation sale of cheap material at their old store. Trev was a dear and came with me on Saturday to help pick out material for all of our upcoming projects. All of the prints and incredibly bright and happy. I can't wait to get started, so look for more pinterest inspired posts and pictures to come.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Even those that never fully blossom bring beauty into the world"

I have debated and debated about writing this post. After all, miscarriage seems to be a somewhat taboo topic. I think that is because everyone handles miscarriage so differently, and no one quite knows what to say.

But I am a talker. I need to sort my feelings and experiences out through words. And many times, I need the strength of people around me to help me through my sad or hard times.

I debated writing anything in this space, because well - it is a very public space. Additionally, it seems slightly odd to write about the loss of a pregnancy publicly when I had not yet even announced that pregnancy publicly in the first place.

On the other hand, my life is different now. Yesterday my life changed as instantly with the loss of a baby as it did weeks ago with the appearance of that pink line and the anticipation of a new baby. I can't pretend that it didn't happen, because it did.

I know that miscarriages are common. In fact, most women I know have experienced one. It's not a unique expereince, but it is an individual one. And I am grieving the loss of a baby I won't get to hold and rock, a baby that my body rejected.

Eight weeks is not far along at all...but 8 weeks or 18 weeks or 28 weeks...or any number of weeks is enough to love and want the child growing inside of you. And I know that no matter how many weeks go by or how many other babies come, I will not forget this one. When what would have been his or her due date rolls around I will quietly mark the day in my heart every year for all the years to come, and while I will always be a bit sad, I hope I can still celebrate that almost-birthday as well.

After all, I have lots to celebrate. Along with celebrating my sweet husband and lovely daughter, I will celebrate the opportunity that my Heavenly Father gave me to love and nurture another baby, if only for 8 weeks.

And I will celebrate the goodness of our family and friends and the people in our lives. Trevor and I have both talked and marveled at the many similarities in our experiences with our two babies--the one we got to keep and the one we didn't.

When Ivie was born friends and family came and cleaned my house from top to bottom. Other friends brought food. Some brought flowers and we received too many phone calls, texts and emails to count.

When we lost little brother/sister, friends came and cleaned my house from top to bottom. Wonderful Darci kept Ivie all day while we cried. Trevor's boss gave him yesterday and today off of work to stay home with Ivie and me. Friends brought food, some brought or sent flowers and we received so many phone calls, texts and emails from the few who knew we had been expecting that we can't count them all. 

How grateful we are for our family and friends in both times of joy and sorrow.

And how grateful we are for eternal perspective that informs our lives through the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To be honest, I don't know how miscarriages play out in the eternities. I know many people believe and say many different things. Some think you might raise these babies later, some think our bodies reject these babies because the physical process of gaining and growing a mortal body--a crucial part of our spiritual journey--is not happening in the correct way. There are a million other thoughts and a million other theories. Maybe it was meant to be, maybe it wasn't. I don't know. And to be honest, it doesn't matter to me that I don't know.

What I do know is that my Heavenly Father loves me. And I know that as Joseph Smith was told in Doctrine and Covenants 122:7: "Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good." I do know that in whatever capacity my baby is or was, that (s)he knew I loved and wanted him or her. (S)he knew they were coming to a family that would love and treasure him or her, just as they know we grieve this loss and will always treasure the sweet, if short blessing these eight weeks offered.

I am grateful and will celebrate the lessons and truths this baby has taught me in the last eight weeks, and especially in the last two days, and this experience while heartbreaking will be, and is, for my good. 

Where have I been blogging?

I have been blogging, believe it or not...just not here :) Awhile back I decided that I needed to have as much structure to my at-homeness as possible. This is mostly so I don't default to sitting around with a big box of NERDS candy (mmm, my favorite) and watch Law and Order reruns while Ivie runs around the neighborhood like a feral child. (Without structure this is a real concern for me)

So I adopted a productive play program I've been doing with Ivie for about six months-ish. Problem is, that after awhile you start to run out of or just repeat, repeat, repeat your own productive play ideas. So a new blog was born. I already contacted some of you about it via this Facebook message, which I am reposting here because I'm lazy:

Hey ladies -

As many of you know, I'm making a career change and leaving DSC for a time to stay home with my darling baby girl. I've worked at something or other since I was 15 and suddenly I am facing a job with no training manual or instructions - so I find myself approaching the task the only way I know how - from a very logical, academic, Type-A- Personality-At-The-Extreme way.

To that end - I really want to be able to not only enjoy my time with Ivie, but teach her as much as I possibly can too. I'm a parenting believer in play with purpose, and over the last six months have been constructing and doing different activities with Ivie in 7 different learning areas: literacy, math, physical health, science, social & emotional growth, creative arts, and language. We focus on one area every day of the week and I try to have a lot of our playtime build on concepts appropriate for her age.

Now, certainly, this is a parenting approach that is debatable. And quite frankly, there is plenty of evidence in both camps that claim great effects and negligible effects. What I like is that this sort of structure helps a mom with my kind of personalty find new, fun and positive ways to play with my baby. I've found lots of ideas via the internet, but also from other moms I know, and it all got me thinking:

Wouldn't it be great if there was some sort of structured way for me to pick the brains of all the people I know?

My vision became to create a blog with many contributors. Together we could create a virtual Joy School of sorts, and if there are enough of us that participate we could each contribute just one or two activities a month, but could all reap the benefits of having a fun play/learning activity pre-planned for us each day. Activities can be simple or complicated, whatever you are feeling. They can be original or linked to online resources and tutorials.

I'd be happy to make a posting schedule, email list and set up the blog if enough of you are interested in participating. I'm reaching out to you ladies because we all have kids roughly the same age. I'm most interested in activities right now that appeal to 18 m. to four years old- and I think we could leave it up to one another to adjust activities to our own child's needs/age.

So, if you are interested in collaborating on this project, please reply to this note with an email address I can use to add you to the blog administration. Once I have stuff set up and ready to go (hopefully by the end of this week or next if enough are interested) I'll send you more info. and instructions.

If you aren't interested, just ignore the note

And please - if you are interested in participating or not, but know someone who might be, pass the info. along to them and ask them to contact me. I'm hoping for a solid pool of thirtyish brilliant mommy minds to pull from.

Thanks!

In recent days I have started the blog up and running, and I'll do the first round (maybe a month) of posts for awhile to get in the swing of things but then I need YOU
 to help me add more ideas and content. Really. You have to.

Ok - you don't have to...but I hope you might consider it, and if you are interested in helping out and haven't already let me know, leave me some info. in a comment, or send me an email at millionwaysmama@gmail.com.

Personal posts about my life and cute kid coming soon!!!!! 

OH And I almost forgot, here is the blog address so you can actually check it out:  http://millionwaysmama.blogspot.com/

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Big Feelings and Kisses Better

Ivie and I had a doozie of a moment on Monday. It left me drained and rattled and questioning everything I thought I knew about being a mother.

The rundown?

Ivie doesn't watch much TV - she didn't watch any until she was 20 months old. This has been a parenting choice that is important to us. And while she can watch TV now, her viewing habits are pretty restricted. She basically can watch Mickey Mouse, Little Einsteins, Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock - preferably all streamed via computer and without commercials. We also try to keep it to a single show, every other day.

Because she goes to Darci's house (our adopted grandma and babysitter) on T, W and TH - she gets to watch Mickey Mouse there.

However, over the last couple weeks Trevor and I have been so swamped with school and work that we have found ourselves letting Ivie watch her shows a little more frequently. We reprimanded ourselves and decided to cut back again.

Problem is that Ivie LOVES Mickey Mouse, and wants to watch Mickey Mouse all the time.

So, Monday:

Ivie requested to watch Mickey Mouse.
I told her we weren't going to watch Mickey Mouse or any shows today, but that Mommy was home all day and we could play whatever she'd like.
TOTAL and COMPLETE MELTDOWN
I'll be the first to admit that temper tantrums completely grate my nerves, and I don't cope well with them. I set Ivie on the couch and told her I'd talk with her when her fit was over. Isolate and ignore right? That's what almost every parenting article/book I've ever read says to do.
Well, 30 minutes later she hadn't even missed beat in her screaming and wailing.
Next I tried to talk to her a little - met by more screaming.
So I went back to the kitchen and tried to distract her "I would love it if you'd come in and help me cook lunch for Daddy" "Mom is going to do the dishes now, I sure need a happy helper."
No bites.
Fit continues.
40 minutes in I go in and  tell Ivie that I am going to hold her until she calms down. I try and tell her that I love her and to take deep breaths. All that good positive, calming chatter that is supposed to tame a tantrum.
No avail.

And then I lost it. I snapped, yelled, swatted her bottom and sent her to her room.

THEN I felt AWFUL.

Ten minutes later Ivie has calmed down, but I'm still pretty upset. She came out of her room and I held her. I tried to talk with her about her feelings, mommy's reaction and more. EPIC FAIL ROUND 2

Mommy: You were feeling mad because Mom said we weren't going to watch Mickey.
Ivie - nodding
Mommy: Then Mommy got mad too huh?
Ivie - nodding
Mommy - Does it make you sad when mommy gets mad at you?
Ivie with a devilish glint in eye - No, I happy.
Mommy - No, you are not happy. You are sad. I am sad. I am sad we got mad at each other. Aren't you sad?
Ivie: (laughing) No, I happy.

And then I lost it again. I set her down and put myself in a time-out in my room while she began happily playing with her toys. I was so upset. I sent Trevor a flurry of irrational text messages about how I was obviously failing as a mother. How maybe I should keep working, because she doesn't act like this when she is with Darci, who is clearly doing a better job raising our daughter then I am. About how our daughter has no idea how to understand emotions or empathy and just might be a sociopath.

Five minutes later my phone rang. It was Darci.

I answered and ended up spilling my guts to her. After a good conversation and some rebuilding of my mommy self-esteem I felt better.

I realized that Ivie is still little. She is still learning emotions. Sometimes she seems to mature about this in other areas that I expect too much of her all the time.

For instance, last week I was surprised and touched by her emotional understanding of the following incident.

Anytime Ivie gets hurt these days she wants a "keess." We fix-up bumps on the head, hands, knees, or any aching part with a quick kiss and then she is as good as new.

While she and I were playing CandyLand she got excited and swung her little game piece around quickly, bashing her fist directly into my eye. It  hurt and I exclaimed, "Oh Sweetheart! You hurt Mommy's eye! Please be careful"  With all the concern in the world, she laid her hand on my shoulder, brought her little face within inches of mine and said, "No worry Mommy. Daddy keess you better." She then took off yelling for Daddy to come and "Keess Mommy!"

So precious. And I thought it was a good sign that emotional understanding and intelligence had developed.

 Then fast forward to our mutual meltdown last Monday.

Ivie is still little. She is learning how to push buttons. And she can't always be practically perfect.

I'm still a new mom. I'm still learning to be a mom. I can't always be practicality perfect. 

We are going to have hard moments. We will have moments that make me question everything I think about being a mom, and everything I know about trying to raise a healthy, happy child.

But there will be a million beautiful moments too, and I'm clinging to that. And when the hard moments come, we'll just kiss them better.  


Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Pinterest Paradox....and some park-playing

My cute friend shared this joke with me a few days ago:I laughed, but the sentiment got me thinking as well.

In the blur of the end-of-the-semester (end-of-career WEIRD!) general feeling of overwhelmed-ness, I've found myself using pinterest for a little on-line therapy on more than one occasion. I'm not sure why - put looking at creative,crafty, cute or interesting things online is sort of satisfying.I know plenty of people who claim pinterest is just another online time-suck. And they are right, I can easily see how you can spend too much time looking at life on pinterest as opposed to living it.

So I made a deal with myself.

If I am going to use pinterest - with the assumption that I'm learning things to further enrich and enjoy my life - then I have to actually DO one thing that I discover there each week.

Otherwise, all I am doing is wasting time.

So this week I tried a darling idea I discovered about toddler finger-painting. And I have to say, it was a big hit with my toddler!The original idea comes from The Hippie Housewife (officially love her!) and you can find the link here.

The gist is that you pour some paint into a sealed ziploc bag, seal it and then tape it down to the kitchen table. By sliding a piece of paper underneath the bag you create the effect of finger painting on paper.Ivie loved squishing the paint around - and sat and painted for a full 40 minutes! (That's like eons in Ivie time)We let the paint dry in the bags and then hung them up of the fridge. She is still very proud of "Me paints!"(The blurred hands in this picture are from some furious clapping, applause for her own artwork)

So - it is safe to say that our first Pinterest experiment was a big hit - we'll definitely be back for more.We spent the rest of our Saturday hiking, biking, feeding the ducks at the nature center and playing at the park with Daddy. Here are some of my favorite park pictures.(Just pointing out that the gloves on Trevor's hands are bike gloves - 'cause we rode our bike to the park - it's not some sort of weirdo fashion statement - Once my grandmother was looking at a bunch of biking pictures of us and exclaimed, "are those kinds of gloves what men are wearing now?")
I love Saturdays like this, and am looking forward to more pinterest inspired projects and activities.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Because My Daughter Needs Me

By now some of you know, some of you don't - that I have decided this is my last semester at Dixie State College. So many of my thoughts and emotions about this have been pretty tender lately, sparked by my own internal conflict as well as the public conversation about this very topic touched off by Hillary Rosen and Anne Rommney's tacit exchanges.

I made this decision more than eight months ago, but have put off writing about it because I was still (and sometimes AM still) sorting out my feelings about it all.The long story short: midway through Fall semester I was losing it. My classes and administrative duties at Dixie have grown more demanding, while simultaneously my little girl has also grown bigger and more demanding, while simultaneously Trevor's life demands have meant he can help me juggle it all even less. On the verge of a complete and utter mental breakdown, I told Trevor I was going to see a therapist.

I do this every few years. I am not a girl who adjusts to major life changes well, and inevitably when they come (getting married, Trev's second bout of cancer, having a baby) I need help to process it all. I am a huge proponent of counseling, and think it is especially important for women. So I usually end up working through my major changes every couple years for a couple of months with an expert. I'm pretty sure there are names for people like me in psychologist's circles, so I figure I may as well take advantage of their expertise.

Anyway - so back last semester I worked with a lovely lady. After talking a lot with her and Trevor it became clear to me that I needed to make a choice, and I chose to turn in my official resignation to DSC.Some women can do it all. I am amazed by them. I always thought I could be one of them - and I could make myself be a good working woman, a good mama, a good wife and a good person in general. I know I am capable of doing that. However, I have an extreme Type A personality and in trying to do it all, all I could really see is that I was doing it all half-throttle. And in splitting myself in so many different directions I wasn't really enjoying any of it. In trying to manage it all I was missing it all too.I have an amazing husband. We have been blessed with an extremely supportive and generous family that have helped us build a solid foundation financially and Trevor is incredibly bright, dedicated and hardworking. His work opportunities right now have really blossomed, and there isn't a financial need for me to work as much.

But Trevor has always maintained that my decisions about family and career are exactly that - MINE. He has always promised support in whatever I choose.You'd think that would make it easy - but it sort of made it harder. I had to take total responsibility for my choice, and it is a choice between two things very important to me.
Ultimately, I decided to stay home, take care of my daughter, vacuum a little more frequently and focus on both my freelance and creative writing and publishing.But saying goodbye hasn't been easy. I have built the program I am in charge of at Dixie. In many ways, it has been my second baby. I have also worked since I was 15 - in a lot of ways work defines me, and I am not sure how to cope without receiving a paycheck and accolades for career oriented accomplishments.Additionally, I am a little apprehensive about the increased pressure that staying home carries with it - after all, Trev and I have always agreed that if one of us stayed home it meant that this would become that person's full time job - translating into an eight hour shift of cleaning, cooking and building a home that is safe and warm and a place we all want to be. Truth be told, working has always provided me the justification and excuse of "being too tired" to do laundry on time or vacuum even when our living room is in desperate need. It has provided a reason to order in take-out and throw Trev's shirts back in the dryer with a wet wash cloth instead of busting out the iron. I know that both of us have different expectations about how our home will look and feel if one of us is here full-time.As the last three weeks of the semester - and my career for a time - wind down, my emotions are mixed and bittersweet. However, I saw this link posted by a friend on FB today, and it warmed my heart. (Seriously! I know this has already been a long post, but I LOVED this article - read it!)

I have made this choice because my daughter needs me...but, also because I need her. And for a time, I can put the soap-flowers, teaching the creative writing courses I love, and attending professional conferences on hold. I may go back some day, I may not. I'll cross that bridge when it appears.I'm so grateful to be a woman that does have a choice. I'm so grateful to be married to a man who honors my choices, no matter what they are because he trusts me to do what is right for me. I'm honored to associate with wonderful women who have embraced their own choices and who are dedicated to their homes, their jobs or both.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finding some Fun

What do you do after you book 10 days in the campground at Glacier National Park for summer 2012?

You buy a travel trailer of course!

Check out our cute little trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKkw5XCFaW0&


WE ARE STOKED!!!!

We already have a book for a Captian's Log, but we are taking name suggestions for our new voyager...got any ideas?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Stranded on a corner in Winslow, Arizona"

Wood or stone?Both! Once wood, now Stone - welcome to the Petrified Forest

After telling me that he didn't think there was any way he could take off from work and school for Spring Break, I was completely ELATED when Trevor came home early last week and announced that he could take a long weekend and we could go camping and biking in the Petrified Forest.

The reasons this was awesome?
1 - I've spent maybe a total of 24 waking hours with Trevor over the last TWO weeks. Blah. I never see him these days - Ivie has seen him even less since he is often home after she is in bed.
2 - We love camping. I ESPECIALLY love camping food actually :)
3 - It was the Petrified Forest - A National Park, which marks one more NP on our life-long list of destinations.

Trevor and I have a life-long goal of visiting all the National Parks. There are 58 in total - we have been (counting the Petrified Forest) to ten together so far. Individually, we have been to more, but the goal rule is that we have to hit them all up together.This trip was FABULOUS and FUNNY in so many ways. I also had lots of deep and philosophical-ish thoughts on this trip, resulting in many things that I'd like to blog about. However, to do so in a single post would net an entry far too long for even my most dedicated readers. I am hoping to blog about some of these things individually over the next week. Here is the preview topic list:
  1. Why I believe in National Parks
  2. I am a chameleon, but I think I'm okay with it
  3. Why I love road trips
  4. Route 66
  5. Life changes in a hurry

BUT - before we can delve into any deep thoughts on such subjects, you have to first understand the random hilarity of the trip.

Thursday - we threw all our stuff in the car and took off. I love road trips with Trevor for too many reasons to count. We just always have a great time. We get to really visit and talk, like deep conversations about culture, politics, religion etc. It is the sort of conversations that initially drew us together back YEARS ago. When we were dating we would talk and talk and talk all the time. These last few years our conversations all too often revolve around who is going to be home when to tend the baby or pick up dog poop.

But on road trips, we get to really talk. Another thing we do each camping vacation is read a book aloud together. This trip we read A Wrinkle in Time. I'd read it before, but it had been years. Trev had never read it. We highly recommend this quick little classic. Lovely.

Anywho - Thursday night we drove across the desert to Arizona. My favorite moment on this ride was when I asked Ivie if she wanted me to hang a blanket in her window so the sun wouldn't shine in her eyes. In all seriousness she replied, "No Mommy. I watch animals." Ummm....in the desert there are no animals to watch. This, however, didn't deter her, and every fifteen minute or so she'd yell some variation of "Mommy! where cows?" Daddy! Horses? Where animals?" Ironically, only after she fell asleep did we FINALLY see a fox dart across the road.

She is a champion traveler

And so is Rips - who thinks the best way to drive is with her nose under Trev's arm

We pulled into McHood State Park campground (a free campground in Arizona) really late. So we decided to just shove all our stuff out of the car, lay all the seats down and blow up our air mattress. Conveniently, I bought us a new air mattress this year on a Black Friday sale. HOWEVER, I failed to realize that I bought a TALL air mattress. Meaning that when we blew the thing up it was three feet tall in our car. We had to army crawl in on top of it, and sleep with our noses inches from the ceiling. WAY FUNNY!

Friday - We woke up, and rode bikes around McHood lake and creek. In another day camp area we found this awesome old retro playground, which Ivie loved. After a few hours of riding we loaded up and headed to the Petrified Forest - an hour away.

PF is amazing. Really an incredible place. Petrified Wood is hardly uncommon, it is found in every state in the country, but this national park has the largest deposit anywhere, and some of the prettiest crystallized wood around. We hiked several trails on Friday and took in the beautiful rock-tree formations. Some of these trees are 200 feet in length. One of my favorite moments was when Ivie crested the top of a little hill and, with her hands on her hips, looked out over the valley full of dark, long petrified wood below, shook her head and said with disgust, "Mommy, all these poops out there." She had a point, petrified logs do kinda resemble...well... :)

***As a side note - PF is the MOST dog-friendly national park we have been to thus far. Ripsi could come on all the trails with us, and we all loved that!

These are some of my favorite pictures from this day:


Ivie totally ZONKED in her pack

Friday Night -So, you can only camp in PF if you backpack in two miles from the main trails. We weren't quite up for this, so our camping plans were up in the air for Friday night. We knew we could always go back to McHood...but then I noticed that outside of PF one of the gift shops said that overnight parking/camping was allowed.

AND they had giant plywood tipis you could use. Trev was skeptical, but I said, how many times in a lifetime can you sleep in a giant plywood tipi? So the inside was a little cob-webby and dirty, but I totally made us do it. We put our tent ground cover out on the dirt floor and blew up our air mattress. Trev still rolls his eyes about staying there, but I thought it was pretty rad.

Inside the tipi

Saturday - The wind was whipping this day. It was so intense in fact, that it kind of quashed our extensive biking plans. So we did a little more hiking

Saw some amazing petroglyphs - Ivie loved peeking through the binoculars

and also drove to the North end of the park to take in some of the incredible views of the Painted Desert.

We also spent some time at the old Route 66 site in the park, and checked out this rusted-out classic.

By this time, the wind picked up a lot. We drove back to McHood, but by the time we got there, decided that the wind was whipping so much that we would be hard-pressed to keep a fire going to cook dinner on. We decided to drive ten minutes into Winslow (YEs - just like the Eagles song) to get something to eat.

At one time Winslow was a booming route 66 stop - today it is virtually a ghost town. Our eating options were: Pizza hut, Dennys, a coffee shop, the Subway in the Walmart, and a restaurant inside the Quality Inn. Trev is anti-pizza hut and really anti-Dennys...so into the hotel we went. While we were eating it started to snow outside. Some quick internet searches and the newsbreak on the TV informed us that a HUGE snowstorm was blowing in.

After some discussion, we decided to spend the night in the hotel and leave early Sunday morning.

Sunday Morning- We woke up to a MAD house in the Winslow hotel. The storm had dumped 2 feet of snow throughout Arizona and all the major highways and freeways were closed. There were people everywhere. I think Winslow's population tripled in the space of a few hours. The hotel manager kindly told us that we had until 11:00 to decide if we wanted our room another night, and that there were no plans to open the road until Monday. We waited until five to eleven, then booked the room again. It was a good choice. At this time there were people camping in the lobby. Along with having only four restaurants, Winslow has only a handful of hotels and motels as well.

Since we were snowed in, we hung out, relaxed a bit. Watched LOTS of netflicks on the I-Pad, and then we went to Wal-Mart and bought cheap swimsuits for Ivie and I. We spent lots of time swimming and ordered in pizza.

Above- Vegging' Out

Below - Swimming

All the while, we were laughing about getting snowed into Arizona. When the road was reopened and we were able to leave early the next morning, we couldn't believe the massive amounts of snow! In fact, we sat on the freeway for three hours behind an accident cleanup. During this long sitting we did see a band of pigs wandering along the road, much to Ivie's delight.

Reading a book with Dad while we sit on the road

All in all - this was definitely a trip of memories. It was such a funny get-away in so many ways. We loved every second of it. Ivie loved it too. She is way into rocks right now (my house is full of them) and she loves the color purple. We let her get this purple rock at a gift shop and it is currently among her most prized possessions. She calls it "my purple" (which totally reminds us of Golim's "My Precious") and LOVES it. Now that we are home she put it in a special bag and sleeps with it in her bed. A sweet park ranger also gave her an honorary Junior Ranger badge (usually kids have to do lots of activities to get one) she thought it was pretty sweet to have the badge pinned on her shirt as well.

We definitely would recommend a visit to the Petrified Forest, and I'd even recommend the plywood tipis. Just remember, the weather can be a bit unpredictable in March, even in Arizona :)