October 17, 2014

Not the Best Vacation Ever - Part 1

I'm sitting here in a beautiful hotel suite in beautiful Sedona, Arizona with my beautiful family having a grand old time.  After an exhausting fun filled day, the kids are unwinding in front of the t.v. and John and I are staring at our computer screens.
Since we are having a blast, I guess I can finally look back and laugh on the disastrous attempt at vacationing last go round.

Our trip to Moab was cursed from the beginning.  Seriously, even this blog post has been cursed...it has somehow self-posted more than once, before I'd even written a word.  So if anyone actually reads this and has already seen these photos, I apologize.  Cursed, I tell you. Cursed.

The drive down itself was a nightmare.  Okay, it actually was a little bit funny.  Well, I laughed.  John did not.  
So to sum it up, the 3 hour drive took 5.  During those tedious 5 hours we stopped 3 times for potty breaks, lost a shoe, heard "are we there yet" countless times and had a faucet of blood spontaneously erupt from Macie's nasal cavity.  After not one, not two, but THREE exploding blow-outs by our sweet Tessa, we were officially out of wipes.  Which didn't bode well considering the mysterious fecal matter on John's hand...we'll just stop there.  

We all sighed a huge breath of relief when we at last pulled into our hotel.  Only it wasn't our hotel.  Our reservation was at "the other" Best Western in Moab.  So we drove there.  Nope, not that one.  It was actually the first one we went to.  Keep in mind we'd been in the car for way too long with a screaming diarrhea-ing baby and three hellions rambunctious angels...oh, and we were pulling a trailer.  Yes, back to the original hotel we went.  It was at this point John decided to start speaking with a heavy western twang, or his version of one.  Cole (who never EVER gets embarrassed) was mortified when John informed the hotel staff of their mistake with his new found identity.

Finally.  FINALLY.  We arrived and unpacked and headed to the pool.  
Except when we got to the pool John realized we couldn't get in because he didn't have the room/pool key.  The room keys were in the room.  Oh, and we forgot Tessa's diapers.  Oh, and it was at least 105 degrees.  Oh, and the key to the trailer somehow flew out of John's hands and was sucked into the abysmal crack between the driver's seat of our car and the center console, never to be found again.  Like never.  Despite John spending a good half hour in the oven of a car, cramming his arm into impossible crevices, the key remains there to this day.  Luckily only our bikes and most of our belongings were in that locked-for-all-time trailer.  

Lessons learned (up to this point):
1.  Always pack extra wipes.
2.  Don't ever assume anyone else has the room key.
3.  Don't travel with children.

After a trip to the hardware store, John and his McCoyverish ways, pried open the lock, recovered the room key, AND purchased diapers.
Finally, to the pool we went...
Where the kids swarmed their hero while Mom tried to restore her blood pressure.
So at this point I think we had a bit of fun.  I remember thinking, was swimming in this mediocre hotel pool worth all that?
The laughter and joy on the kids faces as they leaped over one other may have been worth it. 
 (Totally lying)
Another lesson learned: 
4. The local rec-center is always an option.  

The next day we were off to explore.
I think I've blocked this part of the trip out because I can't quite remember all that went wrong except for that things did go horribly horribly wrong.  I do remember driving around and around and around trying to find a parking spot that wasn't miles away.  I do remember our water pack closure-piece was m.i.a.  I do remember waiting 30 minutes in the sweltering heat for McCoyver to fashion a replacement part using hair ties and bobby pins.  It didn't work.  There's more I'm sure, but we'll just leave it at that.  
At last, we were off to hike three miles to the famous Delicate Arch...
So we literally walked about 10 yards, snapped the above pics, stopped to tie multiple pairs of shoes, heard "I'm hot!" and "I'm thirsty!" at least a dozen times...it was at this point, John and I looked at each other and knew it was over.  It takes a smart person to know when to quit, at least that's what we tell ourselves when things just get too hard.  We returned the few steps to the car and called it a day. 

More lessons learned:
5.  Do not go to Moab or Arches National Park or anywhere in Southern Utah in June.  Or July.  Or August.

Feeling pretty discouraged, we opted to drive around the Park and see what we could see.  
At one view point, an angel disguised as a discouraged parent much like ourselves, informed us of the ideal way to spend our day...
Just feet from the parking lot lurks Sand Dune Arch, otherwise known as the biggest sand box ever.
The kids wasted no time at all kicking off their shoes and exploring.
With shade here and there, it was the perfect place for a young family (way out of their league) to spend the day.
Tessa ate (and threw) plenty of sand and was in heaven in her Daddy's hands...
Macie showed off her gymnastic abilities... 
Coley climbed, rolled and soared...
And Wyatt did this...
Which was so unlike him.  Seriously I'm still shocked.  Besides creating the biggest nightmare of sand in hair, eyes, nose, and mouth (not to mention ears, pillow, bed, undies, car, etc) he jumped and climbed to his heart's content.
Clearly we would highly recommend this area of the park to anyone with young kiddos, if you're willing to deal with the aftermath that is.  Which brings me to another lesson:
6.  Sand in every nook and cranny = Pain.

  Despite the rough beginning, middle, and (SPOILER ALERT) end...there were some fabulous moments mixed in with the crazies and Sand Dune Arch was definitely top of the list for us.  
Not the Best Vacation Ever - Part 2 coming soon.
PS.  I love my family.  More than anything.  Sometimes I just need to vent, ya know.  And let's be honest, pictures sometimes paint a perfectly unrealistic picture.  Just keepin it REAL.
PSS.  Arches National Park is stunningly beautiful.

October 4, 2014

Colaf

Playing catch up on the blog this fine October morn'...
Rewinding to May when we celebrated a special day for our Coley Moley.
7 years old and as cute as ever.  
He awoke bright and early and dressed for school without a word from Mom (a common occurrence) and was ready for presents. 
 His favorite gift this year?  Easy.  In a word: Olaf.
(Side note:  Notice Gus in the bottom right...yeah, that carrot nose didn't last long.)
After denying Cole's request for a fabulous Frozen themed party, I hoped this ridiculously expensive toy would satisfy his obsession with the lovable snowman.
Okay, I just realized the creators of Frozen must have stolen my Coley when channeling Olaf.
 One in the same I tell you.
So I just showed Cole the above comparison and he's thrilled beyond belief.  His signature goofy-camera-pose has Olaf written all over it.
Moving on.
Cole had big plans for his birthday.  
He requested strawberry and cream filled crepes for breakfast...
...Ramon noddles for lunch (a rare commodity) and pizza for dinner.  
Like his sister, he also wanted to make his own cake for their combined family party.
Which turned out pretty amazing...
Though maybe not as exciting as a Frozen party (saving the big friend party for next year) he loved his orange cake, fun with family, and of course opening more presents.
He also wanted to go mini-golfing with our family...
So come to find out, we aren't the best miniature-golfers around, but Coley was excited to give it a shot and without further adieu we were off...
With a few tips from Dad...

...And a variety of interesting techniques....
We trudged our way through the course and had a great time.
Coley checked mini-golf off his bucket list, and John and I got to repeat of our very first date...
 Only 14 years, 4 babies, and a few gray hairs later.
 
(Wow, feeling crazily blessed).
Our sweet Olaf...Cole...Cole-off Colaf is such a blessing in our lives.  
We love and crave the light and joy he brings to our family.  He is carefree yet completely caring, so sweet, yet brutally honest.  He LOVES his family and friends, particularly his Dad (whom he worships).  He loves playing, being silly, the color orange, playing x-box, recess, and making us laugh.  He is great at math and reading and fantastic and making new friends.  
He shares anything and everything he has and is fun and silliness wrapped up in a 40lb package.
I just can't handle my little Coley Guacamole (so sorry, I can't help myself) growing up.  I still can't believe he is somehow 7 years old.  He is so much fun and we adore him completely.  Love you Cole!  Don't ever EVER change!

September 23, 2014

Dear Summer, I Miss You.

Somehow, the first day of school has already come and gone.
The kids were all very excited.  Okay, that's not quite true.  Wyatt and Macie were excited, 
Coley not so much.  
After a hardy breakfast and some prayers on Mom's behalf (seriously, thank you Wyatt) they were off, bringing an abrupt end to our Summer festivities.
After Tessa and I wallowed in our lonesome sorrow for sometime, I reflected over all the fun we had this Summer.  Seriously, one of the best, which makes it that much harder to say goodbye.

Our Summer began with a visit from Uncle Jim and Aunt Lisa and ended with a visit from Uncle Matt and the other Aunt Lisa.  
Though I took little to no photos of our fun times with them, I did scrounge up a few phone photos.
We went for bike rides and hikes...
Visited cupcake shops and camping sites...
Played games, watched movies, and most importantly, hung out with cousins.
And in between our visits from the lovely Lisa's (and their hubs) our Summer was jam packed with adventure.  

Warning:  Lots and LOTS of pics (mostly crummy phone ones) are crammed below.

Summer 2014 consisted of the following:

An uncanny adventure up Rose Canyon, complete with dog rides, teeter-totters, and the demise of an unlucky spider (by gun shot).
A princess party.  A.K.A. "The best day of Macie's life."  Tess had fun too.  Thanks Aunt Jackie!
An 80th birthday celebration for good old Ewles Marshall McCoy.  Filled with lots of McCoy family fun and some pretty amazing Mexican food. 
A picnic day at the beautiful Silver Lake.  Followed by an ill-prepared dip in the water, hence Macie's swimming attire.  


A hike to Secret Lake.  Accompanied by a severe and untimely attack of the stomach flu.  Poor John.
Which was immediately followed by a Paras family reunion.  Truly, poor John, the kids however, didn't skip a beat.
There were a few biking goals Wyatt and I failed to accomplish, but had a blast cycling around nonetheless.

Speaking of bicycling, someone made a miraculous transition this Summer.  After a brief pep talk (from and to herself) Macie Lee ditched the training wheels and was off.

There were swimming lessons every single day and for some reason I didn't take a single pic, (until the last day when Cole wasn't even present) despite the kids amazing accomplishments.  They all improved so much and loved every minute of it.  Wyatt was especially proud to finally conquer the high dive after 2 years of working up the nerve.

After much thought and deliberation, plenty of research and lots and lots of prayers...This Summer also brought about a big change for Coley. His ear surgery went great, he didn't shed a single tear before, during, or after and was up and dancing around like a wild man the very next day.  He is without a doubt, a complete stud.  I'm so proud of him and John and I both feel like it was the right thing to do for him, despite the fact that we both miss those darling pokey ears.  
On a side note: John charmed his way into becoming the marketing/website consultant for Cole's plastic surgeon...I'm surrounded by studs.  Does anyone use the word 'stud' these days?
Moving on.

Our last little Summer getaway to Bear Lake was just what we needed.  Of course I completely forgot my camera (notice the theme here) and had to make do with the phone.  Again.  We laughed historically at Tessa's wardrobe malfunction (thanks Dad), had a blast tubing, pigged out on raspberry shakes (what else?), celebrated Wyatt and Thomas's birthdays, and played hard with cousins 24-7.
 
And with that Summer is behind us.
I am typically thrilled to welcome Fall, but that was not the case this year.  After the hell strength building experience of last year, I enjoyed every minute spent with these kiddos of mine this past Summer.  I loved waking up late, watching cartoons, enjoying Grandpa's garden, wearing swimming suits all day, eating popsicles, and just being lazy.  
My heart literally broke the day they all abandoned me for school.  
Despite a lonely first week, I am really enjoying my time at home with our sweet Tess, not to mention catching up on some much needed housework.  

The kids have been doing great at school so far.   
Wyatt loves the third grade, his new teacher is "the best in the whole school" and his Math class is "AWESOME!" The transition to first grade has been no sweat for Coley, he's as popular and friendly as ever, kids adore him, he LOVES recess, and is finally starting to actually eat some of his lunch each day.  Macie is the cutest kindergartner ever.  Seriously.  Like ever.  Wyatt and Cole's friends inform them of this fact daily and they proudly agree.  She's doing great at reading and cursive and loves to look for her boys at recess.
With a few exciting fall actives planned ahead, we are able to bid Summer farewell.  
Though I for one, cannot wait to get these kiddos all to myself again.