family pic

family pic

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sending 2011 out with a Texas size bang! {day 5}

So there we were, driving down the Texas freeway towards ..... DALLAS! Of course Nate had figured out what was in store but the kids were not sure, though Stock had some ideas and had passed them along he wasnt entirely sure he was right {as if it would have been anything else in this bloody blue family}! This little jaunt was probably the biggest patience tester of the course, the kids were on their very worst behavior and we were tired. Might have been the only time i was feeling like a road trip was not a good idea, thank goodness it was a fleeting moment and i suppose we had to have at least one of them. We checked into Embassy suites late the evening of day 4 and I was delighted to crash into a bigger hotel room built for families!

I know what your all thinking .... boy were these two lads cut from the same mold ... i know i know!

Day 5 morning my kids read a clue about watching a battle and ensuring that we bleed blue, all with hopes of victory! and I dressed them in cougar duds. Bowl game destined we traveled in glee! A big shout out to the Thursday Heroes program that so graciously made this happen for our little family and brought us all pure delight.

Almost just as we arrived we ran into Cosmo, saylors used to be destined beau. He proposed immediately, she giggled, and he blushed. Too bad saylor has recently figured out that mascots are not at all real and that there is actually a person inside there! she has now resigned to not marry an actual cougar, she still thought it was fun.

I particularly was excited about the fact that the bowl game was the "armed forces bowl"! i have such a tender American spot in my heart for those that have and those that do fight for our freedom. We all had a good time hanging out in the REAL choppers used by our military, watching the parachute-rs drift down into the stadium, and the jets are always a sure fav!

The game was for the most part a bit disappointing, that is until the last 11 seconds when the game turned and adrenaline rushed. It was one of those moments in which you just would not want to miss the excitement. So proud of the cougs for turning things around and making magic happen!

Family pic at the stadium and stock in front of the doak walker statue. we traveled over to the after game concert featuring the "lt dan band" meaning GARY SINiSE ... you know CSI NY or otherwise known as LT Dan?!!! AHHH i personally love this guy so i was super excited to see him in real life ... too bad with 4 kids, one being a baby and another in a chair it was next to impossible to get anywhere near close enough to satisfy my curiosity. we arent much for concerts anyhow, we prefer a great sound system at home or in the car.

Off to dinner at one of our favs Cheesecake Factory, where i had perhaps the best dish i have ever had there! To the container store, somewhere i could spend hours in and a late night visit to the DALLAS T!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sending 2011 out with a Texas size bang! {day 3&4}

Thankfully we started off day 3 of our trip a little more lax, a little less early, and with people that we love very much. We needed a bit of a slow down. Love this baby pic of the two boy cousins Kyler & Nox at breakfast.

After Peyton & Hallie conquered a pediatric dentist apt and Heather taught me a little bit about the necessity of a fountain soda vs a can at home soda we ate a yummy lunch, prepared by none other then the talented and lovely Heather O'Brien, and headed out to Sea World for the remainder of the day!

This is about as cheezy and I get, max Audrey cheese! I heart sea world! I love water animals and they astound me, captivate me, draw tears even! So I was truly excited to experience this adventure. I found San Antonio Sea World to be a tad different then San Diego where there are a lot of exhibits and places to go watch the animals, more zoo style, San Antone is more ride and show style! Its glam so to speak.

We all had a great time! Saylor enjoyed every minute of the Atlantis roller-coaster not once but twice and that is the whole caboodle of us minus heather, me, two babies, and peyton. Even Hallie rode that thing! Heather, aaron, me, storie, & stock rode the steel eel! And storie was scared out of her pants, she ducked down to the floor the whole time! fantastic coaster and a good hiatus from being the mom to a new baby, if even for just a few minutes! Coasters just make me feel young and carefree again, who doesn't like that feeling?!

For my friends with disabled kids, did you know that Sea World offers disabled individuals a 50% off ticket a long with their caregiver?! really = one free pass.

Next day started out slow too with a little sleep in and some lax time at the O'Briens pad. A little spiritual insert here. In all my planning I could think of no better time for our families schedule to go do this, and I knew nate really wanted to visit aaron in SA. BUT it was hard to match up aarons schedule and unfortunately he could not get anytime off during our visit, so i just prayed that somehow they would get to spend a bit of time together, and as it turned out ... prayers answered! Aaron came home much earlier then usual and was able to get away from the hospital relatively easy both days we were there! so day 4 we just chilled until aaron got home around 230. and then we headed out the door for a night down town!

we went to "the river" but before that, a little stop off at none other then the ..... ALAMO!

Remember the Alamo? Well I dont, but anyhow it was a fantastic old building with great character and symbolism. We actually picked a horrible day to visit downtown san antone as it was the evening of the Alamo bowl and there were just you know maybe 60 thousand extra people and their cars! it was a bit stressful with 2 strollers a wheel chair and 7 kids! But it was fun to see and no regrets!

Its all lite up at night during the holidays so also just a little extra cheer! We ate out in the most true mexican style we could fine, because that was nates wish all along and my dismay, @ casa rio on the river and then we boarded a boat to join the ranks of what tourists do in this grand western city. It was lovely though because where else can you get that much history in 30 minutes? really truly fascinating, the architecture and engineering were divine and i found myself very intrigued by the history, must be getting old!

it was night and i only had my camera phone so good pics were few and far between but this building looks quiet interesting from this particular angle. almost like a sheer flat single wall. and this tree ... its the oldest and tallest of its kind still standing today.

Unfortunately the evening ended with us boarding our trusty Honda Odyssey and heading in a new direction for new adventures on day 5 and sending the other O'Briens back to their normal lives. But we sure did have a lovely time with them, and we most definitely appreciated their hospitality! Not to mention the priceless cousin moments!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sending 2011 out with a Texas size bang! {day 2}

*Before I get started with day 2 .... NEW music on the blog for 2012. As per the request of several peeps. It is only 13 tracks, but 13 very delightful tracks!

We began the day early in the morning in order to arrive at one of our bigger destinations before the evening drew too late. First on the docket was a stop off in an area that may put us at risk for alien abduction, Roswell NM. I fully intended on stopping and touring the silly alien museum but instead we counted the aliens on all the business signs and read about the myths and legends regarded here in this cooky town and only stopped for gas. The kids were being really good, Nate had figured out our end of day 2 destination and I think he was antsy as all get out to get there! sigh ... oh well not all the plans can work out perfectly.

Between Roswell and our next destination {were we did get out!} we experienced are very own episode of ice road truckers. We were also carrying expensive and valuable cargo, only difference was we were in a Honda Odyssey. Apparently NM had experienced some sort of crazy storm that led to unusual amounts of snow for them. They were so ill prepared for snow removal and de-icing the roads that around 100 miles of this particular leg was like skating on ice. I counted several dozen cars off the side of the road abandoned and we passed a dozen or so accidents, some already being attended to and others waiting. It was frightening, really truly some white knuckle driving.

Nate is a really good driver and has driven some harsh conditions in all his journeys, he got us through the ice and onto dry road before we hit .....


I myself was particularly giddy about this one. Finding a stop on our journey such as this just screamed fun no matter how po dunk it was. I did some research and found out the actual fort in the town Fort Stockton was still in tact and could be toured. By the time we got there it was mid-day, we had all been in the car around 6 hours and our little nox was proving to be the sweatiest baby {along with the sweetest} that we have ever created and filling is clothes and car seat with poop, everyone needed a potty break and some fresh air and this was just the right place.

Though this likely is a popular tourist destination {if you were to ever be a tourist in this small town for some odd reason}, not another soul was there besides the Indian woman at the museum desk who actually was pretty clear about her loyalties.

This history of this fort in short is that the military built this as a camp essentially to house traveling militia and serve other purposes not as front line as one would expect. The fort exchanged hands between the military and Indian tribes a number of times and so the name also changed several times. With these change of hands came a few battles as well. Today the main hall and a few bunk houses exist as well as a church, graveyard,jail, and some leadership housing.

I myself took a special liking to these captains homes that are now privately owned and renovated homes on the Fort property.

we all got a kick out of Nox's little noggin in this soldiers cut out and we used the time outside to catch some sun and air this little man out a bit.

Saylor's chair was dissembled and buried in the car so she was forced to walk, we saw this as a good thing but when she got tired stock the rock took over. Here you can see their happy smiling faces and the church {now painted turquoise} in the back ground. There was still a "jail" so to speak on the premises as well and I loved the old Texas wood original door.

The city of Fort Stockton has acquired themselves a mascot, the roadrunner. We found this especially funny considering that the mascot of the kids elementary school here in Provo is the roadrunner, so we couldn't help but stop by and take a pic next to the giant enormous replica of this strange and exquisite animal, apparently native to Texas.

We left Fort Stockton rejuvenated and ready to get to our next destination which held the primary reason for our journey. When I was contemplating destinations I knew that my hub would really like to visit his brother in San Antonio, he talks about it frequently. I contacted heather my sister in law and we did what we could to figure out the husbands schedule and plan this little surprise. It was a little comical at times, both Aaron & Nate became suspicious but it was still fun to pull off a bit of a surprise. Nate doesn't show emotion much and I wouldn't say he did on the trip either but I could sense his excitement and anxiousness the closer we got to San Antone. The kids were all thrilled as well, they adore uncle Aaron & aunt Heather. We were set to arrive around 7 at night and we wanted to surprise Aaron in a fun and unexpected way rather then just showing up at his house. So with Heather's help over text we planned a little Costco size surprise.

Heather got Aaron to go to Costco with her and so we pulled in and proceeded to appear as though we were shoppers and happen upon them. Aaron caught a glimpse of Storie first and wondered if he could believe what he saw then we came around the corner and surprised him. One of the most fun moments of the trip! Good times, memories!

We were all starving so we let Aaron lead the way to something we would not be able to find in Utah. Food was on Nate's mind, the kind you cant find anywhere but Texas. So we experienced Rudy's!

Some good down home BBQ with down home sides. A chain that is found in various places in the big T accompanied by a gas station usually. With your choice of meats this dining is family style and comes with an entire loaf of bread and any drink you want in the gas station, they are all the same price bottled, fountain, or otherwise. We put our pin on the map, we just couldn't help ourselves!

All the adrenaline from excitement led to a late night for the kids and an even later night for the adults :) end of day 2!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sending 2011 out with a Texas size bang! {day 1}

2011 was an epic year for my family, {though we haven't had a mild year for nearly a decade} this year brought a plethora of challenging but exquisite adventures and exciting new chapters in our book. Like many other people, at the end of a year and the beginning of a new one contemplation arises. As I reflected on what has made my year special, what makes my family strong, and how to represent something more for Christmas I came up with an idea. Not many things I could gift my kids would last a lifetime and I wanted to give them something that would, AH HA! a memory!

Then I got to thinking about how often I have thought about time over the last year and how fast it goes by, I seem to have a constant realization upon me that I am indeed running out of time to create precious childhood nuggets of laughs. So my idea expanded into a trip, a vacation of sorts but more a memory making endeavor. So I Put my planning and organizational skills to the test and began to create a secret trip full of clues, surprises, and experiences hoping that on the other side of the trip little phrases of comical speakings would become part of our lives, laughs would be had for years to come, and smiles of glee would emerge when this trip was thought of. Crazy right? Perhaps even lofty! I do have a new baby {not easy to travel with} and Saylor is still not 100% stable and good to go from surgery, Storie is exhibiting new teenage behaviors we have not adjusted to, and Stock tends to act like a 2 year old still when he is too tired! But something inside me whispered it would all work out, I trusted my spirit and went for it. Truth be told I knew there would be some bad moments, there was bound to be a little ornery-ness here and there but hey, all part of the memories right?!

Christmas morning my family got an envelope that said something to the effect of "Merry Christmas we leave tomorrow on a trip!" And detailed out the clue based affair and how it would go down along with a few rules. We left the next morning and started with this clue...

"we are headed to a place made of entrada rock, a geological wonder filled with formations shaped by eons of weather."

Because we left at about 4:30 in the morning we arrived at one of the two best times in the day to be at arches, sunrise! My kids have never been to arches and this gem of a place right close to home holds some of the most extravagant natural beauty on earth. I was excited for them to visualize in wonder. I knew this adventure would not take us much further then the road and a few look outs with a new babe and Saylor in tow, but it somehow felt like enough.

My personal fav spot ... the 3 gossips overlooking the courthouse towers, more appropriately renamed by a friend the "3 judges".

I was thrilled with the fascination and entrapment these natural wonders held in my kids eyes. I know that the modern day kid might find things such as this boring or assess little value, though I would hope for more in my parenting skills. This was a bit of a pay off. I knew then that the next destination would also be a hit!

On our way to destination #2 we took a little detour just a block or so off the main road ..

A modern day temple leading us to an ancient one!

MESA VERDE - a gem I myself have never visited {at least that I can remember, sorry 'rents}. We just couldn't get enough of this place. We ended up here several more hours then I had planned or anticipated but it felt so right so we just enjoyed. Many of the actual hikes to the dwellings were closed for the winter but the drivable loop and look outs were all open as well as the main dwelling behind the museum and visitor center. Even though it was paved its quiet steep and a bit of a long walk. Saylor trooped through it like a champ!

The mystery and intrigue of the genius of this ancient culture is so extraordinarily captivating. Its hard to describe in words.

This particular ruin has no doors to take one in or out and appears to be some kind of a place to worship, a temple so to speak. A fascination of symbolism and engineering.

The remainder of day 1 was spent driving to Albuquerque to rest our little buzzed with excitement brains. Thank you priceline for a 5 star hotel for $45!