Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Spring Break Part Dos

I promise I didn't forget about the second part of our Spring Break trip. I've just been a little preoccupied with the care, feeding, and wrangling of my herd of little blessings.  Without further ado, here's the second installment of our trip to New Mexico: (Part 1 if you missed it and if you like pictures of cute kids! Wink wink.) 

After we visited White Sands we drove up to Cloudcroft and our cabin, Cedar Lodge.  When we stepped onto the porch and peered through the front window we could see all the way through to the backyard.  And to our astonishment, the welcome wagon (otherwise known as a group of deer) was staring right back at us!  Very cool.  Yes we have deer in Texas but these were different.  You know, like mountain deer or something...

As soon as we set foot inside the cabin we fell in love with it.  (Well, I was already pretty in love with the place from the pictures and description on the website).  It was simply perfect: cute, cozy, and clean!

Now you should know the entire time while I was planning this trip I was hoping the kids would get to see some snow.  Well sure enough, up on the mountain there were still a few patches left on the ground - which is all we South Texans need to have a good time!  Shoot, .4 is all we need.

So the first thing we did upon our arrival at Cedar Lodge was don our puffy jackets for the second time in two days and head out to have some fun in the snow!

After a good time frolicking in the snow, it was time to head in for some hot chocolate!  We never would have thought to bring hot chocolate with us, but that's one of the many little extras already taken care of at Cedar Lodge.  The owners also provide homemade scented candles, soaps, and lotions thoughout the cabin - another fun little touch.  And music to create whatever mood your heart desires!  I chose the perfect artist for our first musical selection - George Strait!  :)
After dinner it was time to pajama up the kiddos and herd them off to bed.  At home we had been reading Little House in the Big Woods each night so I brought it along on the trip because I just had to continue reading it while we were staying in our own version of a little house in the big woods.  There were also a ton of children's books upstairs for the kids to read. I didn't take any pictures of the bedrooms, but EACH child had their own cozy bed, if you can believe it!  There was even a crib for little Rebekah. 

After the kids were good and zonked out, Billy and I relaxed with a friendly game of Scrabble.  I usually lose to him (and am, in fact, a very sore loser) but for the record I would like to point out that I won this time. But like I said I usually lose and we have to wait months in between playing games because I get so irritated about losing.  Seriously.  
Anyway, later that night (a few minutes after Billy and I went to bed) we were startled by a large thump from upstairs. Billy went to investigate and discovered Joe coming to get us because he had thrown up in bed. We cleaned him up and settled him closer to us on the floor downstairs and hoped for an uneventful rest of the night. (It was.)

I had a basic itinerary outlined for our trip but the next morning Billy and I had to figure out how to adjust our plans to accommodate a feverish and sick Joe (and find a laundromat).
In the meantime Daniel and Mikea enjoyed games with each other...
And then Dad joined them for a game of Monopoly.
Around this time Rebekah began showing signs of getting sick, too.  (We didn't know until we got her home and to the doctor that she had an ear infection - poor baby!)  Don't forget that Billy was sick as well, so that made 3 out of 7 of the family who were feeling pretty miserable.  This meant that over the next couple of days we spent way too much time making multiple trips to the Wal-Mart in Alamogordo to buy medicine, detergent, and bleach and then more time doing laundry at the laundromat in Cloudcroft.

But this was still Spring Break for goodness sake so we did our best to have good attitudes and make the best of it!  More game-playing:
And jumping: (Alamogordo has a cute little zoo, where we all competed to see who was the best jumper.)
Look at Dan fly!
Go Mikea go!
Even I tried it.  Actually I think I was the first one.  Hmmm...these pictures are out of order.  Anyway, I like how Mikea is studying my technique.
There was also planking on turtles, of course.
Ah, my cute little family.  :)
All right, everyone get ready for your close-up:
Rebekah's close-up was a little too close for her runny nose so I won't show you that.

On the evening before our departure the kids took turns putting corn out for the deer one last time.  We didn't get to see any more deer after the first day, but every day lots of gorgeous blue jays entertained us from the window. 
Mikea just loved hauling that bucket of corn! (Poor baby tripped and fell right after I took the picture.)
The last night of our stay Billy and I worked hard to clean up and put the cabin back in order.  But earlier in the day we discovered we had no more hot water, so I spent the evening boiling water on the stove to wash the dishes.  It was a pain, but I just tried to pretend I was a pioneer.  Turns out we had accidentally flipped the switch that controls the hot water heater.  Oops. Now we know.

What we didn't know was that the hardest part of the trip was yet to come: the ride home, complete with a miserably sick Rebekah and BLUE VOMIT.  Oh yeah.  But I'll save that story for another day. :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spring Break Part 1

It's now time to share our Spring Break adventure (from over a month ago) because new adventures are already on the horizon and I don't want to forget this one (well actually I do want to forget some parts).  The trip was quite a doozy I tell ya, and looking back it was really the first time I questioned whether a family trip of ours was worth the hassle.  But despite how difficult parts of it were, we made more good memories than bad ones...so YES, it was worth it!

Our destination was Cloudcroft, New Mexico via El Paso.  The day of our departure was cold and rainy as "winter" tried to get in one last hurrah.  So at our first major stop, Balmorhea State Park, we broke out the puffy jackets.  Kids just love wearing puffy jackets, especially since it only happens like two days out of the year. 
After over 5 hours of riding, the kids were more than ready to burn off some energy.
The main attraction at Balmorhea State Park is a pool created by natural springs. The water temperature is always in the mid-70's and we let kids take turns dipping their hands in it. (Fun little fact: Ten days after we visited the park the pool was closed with the following notice: "Some swimmers have experienced bites causing skin itching from an unknown source in the pool."  Oooh how mysterious! And creepy!)
Joe had a little trouble on the slippery rocks.  For a moment I thought he was going to slide straight into the water and I was already trying to figure out how we were going to dry him off.  A little mud, a little mess, oh well.
The park also contains a marshy area called a cienega with a cool underwater viewing area.  Except the water was kinda murky and we couldn't see really see anything.
Aw, look who still had hair back then!
We couldn't stay long at the state park because we still had several hours of driving to reach to El Paso, our stop for the night.  The El Paso stop was actually the beginning of the hard stuff, starting with having to wait for what seemed like forever for a table in a crowded restaurant with 5 tired, hungry, and squirmy kids who should have been in bed.  Then that night I only got about 2 decent hours of sleep because Rebekah was completely off her routine and refused to settle down for the night.  (And I forgot to mention that Billy was sick the entire trip.)

The next morning we drove on to White Sands, New Mexico.  The kids were pretty grumpy for some reason, which in turn made me grumpy (plus remember I was tired and Billy was sick).  The blinding sun didn't help, either.
Adrian was upset because he had to stay in the stroller.
But then Dad worked his magic and started cheering everyone up.
Eventually even Adrian!
Here's Mamacita!
Handsome Joe!
Pretty Mikea!
And the Danimal!
Oh yeah, and don't forget the handsome Daddy who prevented this little excursion from being a complete grumpfest!
My hero.  :)

After White Sands we drove up into the mountains to Cloudcroft and the CUTEST CABIN EVER:  Cedar Lodge.  I can't wait to share more pictures and share the fun and not-so-fun events of the next few days of our trip.  But that's for next time.  Hopefully tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Blessed Easter

I sure wish I could say that Easter weekend went off without a hitch, but it didn't. It was a good thing for me that a few days before Easter I read an article discussing how the devil doesn't want us to celebrate the Resurrection, so he'll use every opportunity he can to steal our joy by making us think we've failed if we don't acheive the "perfect" celebration. 

So when I had car trouble on a 600-mile road trip on Good Friday, when two of my outfits for the weekend ended up with major wardrobe malfunctions, and I was missing an ingredient for a recipe for a family gathering, I did my best to just brush it off and not get too worked up about it.  It's only cilantro after all.  My only meltdown was on Saturday when I realized that despite all of my planning, I wasn't going to get away with not washing Mikea's hair.  Washing, combing, and styling her hair from beginning to end takes a minimum of 4 hours, with no interruptions.  And you would be correct to surmise that I've never been able to style her hair without interruptions, so whenever I "do hair" I have to set aside an entire day to get it done. I didn't have that kind of time and for a few minutes I thought Easter was ruined because Mikea wasn't going to have an elaborate hair style.  This is where my super hero of a husband came to the rescue again (the first was on my road trip the day before when he loaded up the kids, drove to where I was stranded, and changed my tire - fortunately I was only 30 miles from home!) He washed Mikea's hair, put 3 of the kids down for naps, and took Rebekah to the store so I could have Mikea all to myself.  After combing out her hair, I only had time for a ponytail - but that's ok, she was as still pretty as a picture. 

All that aside, the best part of Easter was that the oldest three kids finally seemed to understand why we celebrate.  I overheard them at the lunch table prompting each other with, "Jesus is risen!"  "He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!" What a happy sound!  We decorated eggs, enjoyed family gatherings with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and participated in no less than 3 egg hunts!  (Four for Joe counting the one at school.)


Looking back, it was a blessed Easter indeed!