Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Road Trip 2014 {Mount Rainier National Park}

On June 11th we visited Mount Rainier National Park.  We had stayed in Yakima, Washington and from there we took Hwy 12 into the park.  The views were stunning entering the park from the East.  We couldn't have asked for a better day to view Mount Rainier.  Mark and I visited the park in 2004, and we didn't see the mountain like we did on this last visit.  It was breathtaking.

This view was from a stop just before we entered the National Park.



This is the entrance near SR 123.

We took the short Grove of the Patriarchs trail to view the old growth forest.  We saw enormous fir and cedar trees. 

Can you see Will and Ben?

So big!  It looks like they are trying to hold up the tree.

We had to cross this bridge over the Ohanapecosh River.


At the Paradise Visitor Center the boys had their National Park Passports stamped.  This is the first year that Will has really gotten into collecting the stamps for his passport.  He and his aunt (who loves National Parks too) compare their stamps.  We started collecting the stamps back in 2010. 



The view of from the Paradise Visitor Center.

Will and Ben could have played for a long time in the snow.  They loved it!  
It looks like it'd be really cold.  Our light jackets were helpful, but it was sunny so you can see that Mark isn't wearing a jacket in the photo above, and he wasn't too cold.  

Getting ready to take the short hike to Narada Falls.

This is really cute!
Looking for woodland creatures living in the tree.

Narada Falls behind our family.


Will was going to see how cold the water felt in the stream.  It's really cold!

More scenes from the park.
We couldn't believe how much snow was on the ground in parts of the park.



View of Rainier from Reflection Lake




More amazing views

I'm thankful for the opportunity to see this park and share it with my family.  
It really was an amazing day.

If you missed my first Road Trip 2014 post, it's here.

Don't forget to check out my road trip secrets at Unexpected Elegance.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Road Trip 2014 {OK, KS, CO, WY, UT, ID, OR, WA}

Road Trip 2014 {OK, KS, CO, WY, UT, ID, OR, WA}

Mark and I are teachers and every summer since we've been married (except for 2009 because we had a new baby) we've taken a road trip.  This year we took the longest road trip we've ever made.  We drove 5,515 miles total.  The first day alone we drove 22 hours.  Now that we're home, I can't believe we pulled off that trip.  We had such an amazing time, and we made so many memories.  This week I'll start posting about our road trip.  I'll start with the first few days of travel.  We left Texas on June 8th and stopped in Utah on June 9th.  

For the first time ever we drove through the night to start the trip.  Mark and I knew we were going to have to cover a lot of ground the first day because our plan was to make it from Texas to Salt Lake City, Utah.  The great thing about traveling at night is that the boys slept, and we didn't have to stop for gas until Wichita, Kansas.  Mark and I took turns driving and while he drove I tried to rest.  The craziest thing I saw while it was dark was miles and miles of red blinking lights in Kansas.  I finally realized that it was wind turbines.

Since it was dark when we drove through Oklahoma and parts of Kansas, I don't have any photos from those states to share.  Even though there are no photos on here from those states, I don't want to forget how cold and windy it was in Kansas.  I'd packed coats for our family because I knew we would need them in the mountains in the Pacific Northwest, but I didn't know we would need them for Kansas.  When we stopped to get gas around, Colby, Kansas it was 46 degrees and who knows what MPH the wind was blowing.  The rain was hitting us so hard when we got out that it was painful.  It felt like winter.

The Colorado blue sky was a beautiful sight after driving through the rain in Kansas. We made great time through Colorado.  One of the boys favorite stops was north of Denver.  We got candy bars and Icees.  Little treats like that made the boys happy.  I felt like it was a good compromise to keep them content since they'd already been in the car for a long time and we still had a long ways to go.

 This stop was fun and just by chance.  We needed a bathroom break and to refuel so we stopped at Buford, Wyoming since there wasn't anything else around.  Mark said he'd seen this on TV before.  I thought the sign was hilarious.  I made the boys pose for a photo with me.  It was pretty cold when we got out.  Will said, "I wish we had longs on." which translates to "I wish we had pants or jeans on." because if shorts are shorts, then pants should be longs.  Makes sense, right?  

Scenes from the road.



When Ben saw these rocks he said something cute like they looked like monsters.

This is what relief feels like after traveling for 22 hours straight (around 1400 miles).  The boys were so happy to be out of the car.  We made it to Ogden, Utah, which is just north of Salt Lake City.

This was on June 10th in Idaho.  We stopped for lunch in Boise and continued on our way to Washington, but first we had to cut across the Northeastern corner of Oregon.

The photo of the mountains in the distance in Oregon just don't do them justice. So many times on this trip I couldn't fully capture in photographs the beauty of all we were seeing. It was overwhelming in the best kind of way.


I-84 follows part of the Oregon Trail.  We made a few stops and each rest area had historical information about the Oregon Trail.  It was neat to read about.


This is what the boys look like in the backseat.  Ben usually watches movies and wear headphones.  Will doesn't like the headphones as much.  Both boys have favorite pillows, blankets and toys to keep them happy.  The first day the didn't use the iPads at all.  They watched movies or looked at books.  I packed paper and markers so they could draw.  We all like to listen to music, and that helped pass the time.

I think this is Oregon getting close to Washington. It could be Washington.  

This is Washington.  We stayed in Yakima because we were going to Mount Rainier National Park the next day.  I love all of the roadside stands selling fresh fruit.  It was nice to see all of the apple orchards and fruit trees growing just off the side of the road.  

If you are interested in my helpful tips in taking a successful road trip with children, then check out my blog post over at Unexpected Elegance where I shared what worked for us here.





Friday, July 18, 2014

InstaSummer 2014

InstaSummer 2014

On Monday, I'm going to start posting all about our summer road trip, but we've been busy with other fun things since we got home from our vacation at the beginning of June.  Lots of photos to share!

You can follow me on Instagram redbirdblue

Vacation Bible School at our church was the week after we got home.  Mark and I help coordinate VBS, and we love that it's such a fun time for our boys and the children of our church and community.  


At the end of June, Mark and I celebrated our 12 year anniversary. We took the boys to eat with us at Mi Cocina.  Twelve very happy years!


This is what they really wanted to do for the photo.  Will looks away and Ben does a crazy pose.  Typical.


Do y'all love Ingrid Michaelson as much as I do?  She's the cutest and has a beautiful voice.
Here's a funny story.  In her song, "Girls Chase Boys" Will thought she was saying "All the broken arms in the hospital" instead of "All the broken hearts in the world still beat" and now when we listen to the song we sing Will's lyrics instead of Ingrid's.  Too funny!  Listen to the song and you'll see that Will's fit in pretty well. 


We had house finch eggs on our front porch in the exact same spot as the last bird nest.  As Big Mama said on her blog about her birds, it was all Wild Kingdom.  I'm sad to say things ended all Wild Kingdom this time for this little birdies.  I checked on them every morning when I woke up, and one morning I woke up and saw that the nest was gone.  I was afraid to look outside because I didn't want to see little helpless birds on the ground.  When I finally got up the courage to go through the garage and peek around to the front of the house, I didn't see anything on the ground.  The bird nest was even gone.  So really, nothing at all!  The one thing I did see was a cat lying (looking very content) at the end of the sidewalk.  I'm thinking that explains what happened, but I guess we'll never know for sure.

 Do your kids ever do this at restaurants?  Sit right next to you, practically in your lap when you have an entire bench to share.  I posted this on IG with the same question and a lot of friends responded.  
Ben and Will both do this, and I think it's sweet except when I'm trying to eat, ha!

This is a photo of my fat crying.  Mark and I started running and watching what we eat.  

This photo is what summer is all about--no where to go.  I love to start the morning sitting on the back porch with a cup of coffee and my Bible.  

We can't grow certain plants and trees in our area because we have alkaline soil (or at least that's what I've heard my grandma tell me my whole life), but we can grow Crape Myrtle trees.  They are spectacular in the summer and bring really vibrant color to the landscape.  This beautiful pink one is my in-law's yard.  One of my IG friends said it reminded her of a watermelon.  That's a great description.  We have several pink, one white and three red rocket varieties at our home. 


My in-law's also have the best driveway for riding bikes.  Our driveway slopes and isn't that long so we loaded up the bikes and boys and took them over for some bike riding at Mamaw's.


Let's Go Rangers!
You'd think we've seen enough baseball for the summer since we followed the Rangers on their West Coast Road trip in June, but we'll never get enough baseball.  We're true fans because we're standing by our Rangers even if they aren't doing well this year.  Just the other night Will told Mark, "The Rangers will win again" kind of like don't give up hope, and he was as sweet and sincere as he could be.  Love him!


Do you ever take a meal to a friend just for the excuse to hold their new baby?  Just kidding!  I take the meal because I know those first weeks with a newborn are rough, and getting to hold the new baby is a bonus.  When I had my babies anyone who brought us food was my new best friend.  I always appreciated those meals because food was at the bottom of my list of concerns.  My friend Jourdan just had this sweet baby girl Emmie.  She was so teeny tiny, around 6 pounds.  Both of my boys were 9.5 pounds so I never enjoyed a sweet baby girl like this.  She was just precious!


We had a bridal shower for an adorable couple in our church, Cheyenne and Rex.  My friend Brandi made the cake.  I love cake!

This photo is totally random.  I'm looking for a new chair for our living room and I stopped by HomeGoods.  This red telephone booth was there.  You never know what  you will find.  I found a chair there about a week later.  I'll have to show you photos soon.


While out shopping that day, the boys got in their 20 minutes of reading for the day.  


Another fun thing about summer is the random things you end up doing for fun.  We invited our niece Maggie over for swimming, and then we decided to make a spur of the moment trip to IKEA that night.  I was still in search of a new chair, and I needed some storage for the boys Legos.  My boys like IKEA and love pretending they are at home in all of the different model rooms.

I'm happy to report that the Legos are more organized, and I've regained some of my sanity.


This week we went bowling for the first time this summer.  My boys love bowling. 


Ben and Will love board games.  Ben ask us almost everyday to play a board game.  Poor Ben got swimmer's ear so we've tried to play with him inside this week while his ear heals. 

Here's Ben at the doctor getting diagnosed with swimmer's ear.  We've had rain in the forecast so that's helped us avoid the pool this week. 


Summer treats at DQ, this one is a S'mores Blizzard, and it was oh so good!

I'll share more photos of our pool fun later, but I liked this one of Will. He looks really old here.  Oh my!


life rearranged

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