Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trust me...you CAN survive!

Just a heads up that I'm on a bit of a soapbox today...

Three weeks ago, we loaded Jane, 5, Megan, 3, and Ben, 20 months, into the van at roughly 4:00 in the morning to make the drive from Albuquerque to Salt Lake City. I was slightly apprehensive--the only other time we had made this drive we had left at 7:00 in the evening and arrived at 5:00 in the morning, pretty solidly assuring that all three kids slept the entire time. While we left when it was still dark, the vast majority of our drive would be in full-blown daylight.

I spent an hour (or maybe more...) scouring the internet for ideas about how to keep kids occupied and content for hours in the car. I read blogs about quiet books, presents to unwrap from the Dollar Store, and even an entire scheme for sorting puff balls of multiple colors into jars of various sizes--all while sitting in a car seat! I was impressed at the ingenuity and resourcefulness of those moms.

And yet, the voice in the back of my mind kept telling me it wasn't worth it.

When I was a kid, we made a fair number of long road trips. We drove between Utah and Washington State a handful of times. For many years, my dad worked as a truck driver for USPS and we would join him on day-long adventures visiting what seemed like every single post office in the entire state of Utah (even though I know better now). Other years, my dad drove a service route throughout the Western United States and my siblings and I each had a chance to travel with him on a two-week run. In short, while I was growing up, we spent a lot of time in the car.

And in all that time I spent in the car, we didn't have cell phones. We didn't have portable dvd players or iPads. The most we had was an old airline bag full of cassette tapes featuring Tom Bodett, Garth Brooks, and John Denver. I single-handedly burned out a copy of Garth Brooks' The Hits when I refused to listen to anything else one summer.

It was with this history in mind that I started prepping my kids for what I considered our first family road trip. I planned the food--various crackers, cookies, and fruit stashed in little baggies labeled with each person's name--and I planned the entertainment. In one basket between the girls' seats were a variety of books. In a bag near the driver's seat were a variety of activities including whiteboards and markers, coloring books and crayons, small toys and trinkets, kid computers, and my own laptop with a stash of dvds. Feeling thus prepared, we headed out.

I am quite happy to say that we made it 1200 miles, there and back, with 3 kids, and NO ELECTRONICS.

Did I do anything special? No.

Are my kids super-humanly amazing on car rides? No.

So what's the deal? I hear you ask...

In my humble opinion, it was a matter of expectations. Simply put, my children do not expect to be entertained in the car. They know that we get in, drive, and when we get there, we get out. They had snacks at the same intervals when we eat at home. They had stretch breaks every time someone had to pee, and they read books. Just once did Jane say she was bored, and we waited half an hour before getting out the crayons and blank paper. They colored for a bit, and then all on their own they put the crayons away and they never came out again.

We did listen to The Piano Guys, a bit of Marty Robbins, and yes, even Garth Brooks' The Hits using the car stereo. But we never pulled out the laptop, we never turned on a DVD, and we never sorted any colorful puff balls. We just took a ride in the car.

We're headed back to Utah again next week for David's wedding, then to Idaho two weeks later for Brenda's graduation, then to Idaho again a month after that for Chris's high school reunion, then back to Idaho for Heather's wedding in July, and finally we'll be making the 21-hour one-way drive to move to Atlanta. And you know what? I'm not worried about driving that long with my kids. We're just taking a few more rides in the car.

Soapbox done now.

P.S. I double-posted this here and on my website. Check it out and leave a comment there, too! Moments of Joy Blog

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Monster Puddle

Megan and Ben were impressively content and well-behaved at the tire shop is morning, so I rewarded them with a trip to the sandbox (I won't say playground because it's too pathetic to be a playground...maybe a slide at best) at our apartments. They had all kinds of fun filling Megan's shoes--in lieu of buckets--with sand and dumping it all in a hole that was already there.

The real excitement began when the hole suddenly started filling with water from a semi-buried sprinkler head. That's where the true fun is, don't ya know.

 Until, that is, when the newly formed water stream starts chasing you. No more fun there!

...unless you happen to be the mom, in which case you think it's really funny and take a picture.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Exploring Explora

This is another flashback post--all the way to March 1. It seemed perfectly fitting that we make our first family outing to Albuquerque's Children's Museum on none other than Deborah's birthday, our local children's museum queen.

I've got to admit, Explora is pretty dang cool. We only even heard of it because it was a field trip for Jane's class, and I'm really glad we decided to make it a family event. It was well worth it.

We built block towers,

played with magnifiers,

built block towers,

played with bubbles,

built block towers,

flew a plane,

built block towers,

played puzzle games,

and built more block towers. Ben was really digging the blocks.

Megan had her share of fun with the blocks, too.

A couple of the COOLEST attractions here were the tightrope bike and the elevator. Yes, I said the elevator. But bike first.

I was surprisingly nervous to actually get on myself, until it was compared to skydiving. Yes, I went skydiving and therefore this was a piece of cake. I was even complimented on my great skill in getting in and out of the harness. If Outlook taught me nothing else, I'm a whiz with these harnesses now!

Chris went, too. He wasn't nervous at all, ever.

As for the elevator, this is hands-down the largest and coolest elevator I have ever seen. Not only is it ENORMOUS for an elevator--especially considering that it only goes between two floors!--it's furnished.

I didn't get any better pictures, but I will admit that more than once have we gotten on that elevator and completely forgotten to push the buttons to actually go anywhere. Why think about leaving when it's so comfortable to stay?

All told, it's an awesome place to play. We went back with Heather and Brandon for a double date a couple weeks later, and...we forgot to push the elevator buttons again.

We'll be going back.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Forgotten Februaries

My blogging brain was largely out of commission during the month of February (and March), which means I have a plethora of unblogged pictures just waiting to make their online debut. I debated long and hard (or maybe more like short and not at all) about whether to backdate these all in the individual posts I had envisioned at the time of the picture-takings, but...nope. Not gonna. Instead you get February 2013 in a nutshell. A colorfully adorable filled-with-my-children nutshell.

There is a really nice playground just across the intersection from our apartment complex that is quite fun. We've been there several times now, and even ran into Chris's boss there and chatted with him while our kids played with his girls. That was fun.

This particular day was really cold, despite the sunshine. Wind in Albuquerque is a killer--Jane's bike streamers can give you some idea. On the upside, this park has a sidewalk track perfect for bikes, several slides, swings, and even a zip line.

Not in Utah moment: I can't remember any park near our house in Salt Lake that actually had sand instead of bark, pebble gravel, or rubber. I also can't remember any park that didn't have a bathroom. No parks in Albuquerque have bathrooms, no matter what time of year it is. But at least the girls have been able to make dozens of "birthday cakes" to their hearts' content.

Hey, remember that holiday in February? Valentine's Day, I think? Yeah. Our entire celebration of Valentine's Day consisted of Megan, Ben and I joining in on the party at Jane's preschool. Note how healthy the lunch menu was that day. Made me smile since they generally are such a health-food conscious establishment.

 We had a good time. Megan and Ben especially loved the chance to actually stay and play, when generally they are just in and out and don't touch anything while I'm dropping off/picking up Jane.

Cute girls!

Since it, you know, doesn't snow in Albuquerque, we've been getting fair use out of the bikes the girls got for Christmas. Around our apartment complex we are constantly coming across weird seed-like things that fall off the trees and litter the sidewalks. After bike riding one day, Chris decided to bring a few of the seeds inside so we could all dissect them and see what their guts look like.

That was a fun little family science experiment.

We also have been known to build block towers. Lots and lots and lots of block towers. So many, in fact, that I have gotten tired of pulling out the camera so I only have pictures of one.

Last but not least, Chris built me a desk. I had been doing all of my business work while sitting on my bed, which is not conducive to prolonged productivity, let alone back health. Perfect timing--he found three large sheets of MDF next to a dumpster that he claimed on my behalf.

It's quite different working on this little porch versus the garage we had in Utah. (I was going to add quite a list of positive adjectives before the word garage there, but let's not rub salt in the wound, eh?)

 By the way, that's not snow, it's sawdust.

It would have been a really nice desk. I say would have been because in the very last stages of building, in the steps of adding superfluous elements solely at my request which were completely unnecessary structurally speaking, the whole thing broke. In a move to tilt it back from its side to upright, the MDF split apart at no less than six of the screw points. Always a risk with cheap wood, and here was excellent proof of that. So, instead I now have a black skinny folding table for a desk. Much less personal and "built with love"...but Chris still totally gets all the wonderful husband points!

Which reminds me--I have never blogged about our bed!!! I have been shocked and dismayed at how many people don't know that it's finished, and especially don't know how gorgeous it is. That most definitely deserves a post of its own and it will be coming soon!