Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fun Vacation Memories

I realize my blog can be overly practical at times and my last blog about vacation didn't mention any of the fun stuff we did. So here is a list of the fun memories from our family vacation in no particular order.

1. Playing on the beach every day with the kids.
2. Micah's excitement as lake waves reached his chin and he'd smile and say, "More!"
3. Sun bathing with the other moms as our children took long naps in the warm cabin.

4. Going running with those same moms after our kids went to bed.
5. Learning how to play "Hand and Foot."
6. Sneaking into the bedroom at 11:30 at night as 3 boys slept in nooks and crannies.
7. Finding those 3 boys playing when they were supposed to be napping in the bedroom.
8. Papa telling stories at midnight to help Jackson be brave during a big storm.
9. Taking Lilly and Jackson to their first evening movie "Despicable Me" in 3D.

10. Jackson shouting, "I wish Papa were here, he likes M&Ms" at the movies (my in-laws stayed home to watch the 4 younger kids).
11. Going out to eat for my mother-in-law's birthday and announcing that we are expecting our 3rd child in March.
12. Caravaning with my sister and her husband to WI.
13. Jackson shouting, "My mommy has a baby in her tummy" right when we arrived at the Door County cabin ... so much for timing.

14. My brother teaching me how to play "Texas Hold 'Em."
15. Playing dominoes with Becky, Lora and Jackson.
16. The AMAZING burgers and steaks Brian and Lora made.
17. Getting alone time with my sister.
18. Learning how to make "Cloud Nines" (chocolate chip cookies, Reece's Peanut Butter Cup and roasted marshmallow) over a fire pit.
19. Playing "BS" with Taryn, Caitlin, Diana and my dad (turns out he's not very good at it).

20. Witnessing Caitlin and Taryn becoming teenagers.
21. Seeing Ericka with the rest of the family even though my brother wasn't there.
22. Bible Story times as a large family.

23. Watching my two boys bond with other family members!!

There really were so many good memories to mention them all in this blog. I will truly treasure this trip for a life time.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Vacation Notes

We just got back from a lengthy vacation to the Midwest and I wanted to be sure to take note of the things that I'd do for next time.

For the first leg of our trip we flew out of Ontario (which was a lot less hecktick than LAX) and flew into Omaha and drove to Spirit Lake all in one day. We didn't actually arrive at the cabin until around midnight, but it felt like ten o'clock to us. We stayed there for one week with the rest of the Doughan families arriving about a day and a half after we arrived. We had a total of 8 adults and 6 kids (under the age of 5) in a small two bedroom cabin.

At the end of the week we drove 4 hours and stayed in a hotel and then the next morning drove another 4 hours to a cabin in Door County. We were there for only a weekend and the adults out numbered the children almost 4 to 1 which was a nice change of pace. After a short weekend we drove 3 1/4 hours to my dad's and spent about two days there.

Overall, (if you include the night we spent at my grandparents' in LA) our trip spanned 14 days and we had about 32 hours in an airplane or a car.

If you know me or spoke to me or read my facebook at all before we left you'd know that I was a little stressed about the possibility of the craziness that could have arose from the long trip we had planned. I truly tried to give my worries to the Lord and enjoy each and every moment I had with family and by God's grace the vacation was a lot less challenging than I thought it would be.

For next time I would:

1. Guard our schedules before and after the trip to make sure we get plenty of sleep and eat healthy well balanced meals. This helped us all have much happier hearts and also made sure our immune systems were in shape.

I was nervous that my boys would get sick like they usually do when traveling on airplanes, but I think it helped that we weren't traveling during cold and flu season.

Arriving at the cabin a day or so before the rest of the family helped with this too. The boys were able to get a good night's sleep and get adjusted to the two hour time change before they gained some roommates/playmates at night time.

2. Be okay with snacking while we travel and bring healthy options for snacks so we don't fill up on junk (airport security had no problems letting me bring pre-sliced apples and carrots on the plane).

The time zone changes, pressure changes in airplanes, motion sickness, being out of routine, etc. all lend to snacking. I'm okay with it the days we travel all day long, but I try to quickly get us back on regularly scheduled meals as fast as possible.

3. If we have to eat out make sure we choose healthy options because vacations tend to lend themselves to having lots of "treats" be that chocolate brownies or hot dogs and potato chips. Subway was a lifesaver for us many times on this trip.

4. Be okay with watching more DVDs than normal in order to give the kids a little down time after a long day of play and to get through long car rides. Our portable DVD player came in VERY handy.

Note: I did bring some new toys and even wrapped them so the boys could open them and play with them in the car, but they lost interest in them very quickly.

5. Drive a bigger vehicle if possible for long road trips. We ended up renting a Ford Flex (about a mini-van size) and I put Micah in the third row behind Jackson in the second row on the right side of car so that I could reach both of them easily without making myself get motion sickness (which can happen to me pretty easily).

As a result we all got a few naps in in the car (with the exception of Colin who drove), but I'll know for next time not to rely on those naps because they may or may not happen.

6. White noise is a MUST! The Spirit Lake cabin had lots of fans running and even though most of the kids were sleeping in the same room with each other I think the fans really helped them stay asleep even if someone woke up crying.

It was an adventure when we had a huge thunder storm the first night (100 mph wind) and we lost power for 24 hours. Luckily our sound spa can run off of batteries and my sister-in-law's dad was able to bring over a generator so we could run the fridge.

7. 14 days is LOOOOOOOOOONG vacation for little kids. By about day 10 Micah was having random melt downs every day and Jackson was more irritable ... to be honest, so was I.

I loved having that much time with family, but I may either have to mentally prepare myself for that again or cut the trip by about 2 - 3 days for my sanity. We may have to see my dad first next time though since he had the "burnt out end of the trip" this time around. :)

8. Make sure to give our family about 3 - 5 days AFTER our vacation to fully adjust back to our normal routines. Time zone changes are hard and Micah's been having some big issues with napping since we've been home.

However, I must say that even though it seems anal and can be a frenzy to do a good house cleaning before we left on a long trip it was a huge sigh of relief to come home to.

We had SUCH a good time on our trip!!! It was so good to see everyone especially the Fanning side in light of the past years' events. It may sound crazy to me know, but I really am hoping to make this more of an annual event.

Spirit Lake, IA

The one-year-olds! These three boys are each 4 months apart in age starting with Micah then Orin and then Tucker.

The two oldest cousins ... 4 years old and also 4 months apart in age.

Micah making "soup" with sand and lake water.

Jackson having some bonding time with Great-Grandma Heyer.

Door County, WI

Union Grove, WI

BOYS! Jackson loved to wrestle and play with his older cousins.

I think Micah's favorite part of the trip was Gomez ... my dad's dog.

Grampa Fanning giving the boys fresh blueberries and raspberries from his garden.

Jackson's Birthday Buddy

This post is about a month overdue, but it's been a busy month (translation: don't be surprised if you see me posting multiple blogs over the next couple of days to catch up).

Jackson's best friend here in California is two weeks younger than him and last year they had a joint birthday party together. Little did we know at the time that we'd be here for another birthday party this year and of course we wanted to do a joint one together again.

Those two boys are best buds! We had a great turn out for the party, but the boys are such best buds that they would have been perfectly content if it was just the two of them.