Wednesday, December 28, 2016

2016 Adventures Recap.

I don't want to sound insincere because we lost a lot of great icons and even our dog in 2016.  It was pretty shitty.  But looking back on all our adventures, it was actually a pretty great time.  Here's a quick recap of everywhere we went this year...

Miles traveled by car: 3,184
Miles traveled by plane: 17,488
Miles traveled by train: 1,231

3 Countries Visited: Spain | France | Switzerland
4 States Visited: Arizona | Utah | California | Hawaii
9 Campsites Sites Visited: Grand Canyon National ParkChevelon Canyon Lake Campsite | Lynx Lake Campsite | Fossil CreekManzanita Campsite | Arches National ParkSecret Spot | Kauai State Parks |

16 Days / 8 Nights Camping - not bad for a family of four with two full time working parents; a dad with 2 jobs and a mom with 4 (four!) businesses.

45 Days of Travel Total including time in hotels.

Grand Canyon in January
Tucson in February
Chevelon Lake in March
Lynx Lake in April
Fossil Creek in May
Barcelona in June
Switzerland in July
Manzanita | Oak Creek Canyon in September
Road Trip to Arches
Arches National Park in October
Our Secret Campsite in October 
Kauai in November
and Flagstaff in December

Where will we go in 2017?  I have a list of places I want to make it to, but we'll see what happens!  What about you? Where do you want to go, if you could go anywhere?  if not, what's stopping you?!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What to Pack for Kids on a Snow Trip.

 We decided to drive up to Flagstaff after Christmas to catch a bit of the snow this weekend,  They got 12-18 inches in some areas.

Last time we tried to make it up to play in the snow it was a whole 2* f and we lasted only seconds. This time we thought we'd have better luck with the slightly warmer weather and proper warm gear, but turns out I still forgot a few things, here's what I can suggest for those desert dwellers taking a quick day trip to the snow, who maybe don't have all the full winter gear.

For each kid you'll need:

  • 1 warm hat
  • 1 pair of waterproof gloves or mittens. - these would be perfect because they have extra arm protection so snow can't get in!
  • 1 waterproof warm jacket (pink one here, blue one here)
  • long sleeve shirts and hoodie for under the jacket and indoors
  • 2 pairs of socks - one on in the snow which will inevitably get wet no matter how careful you are, and one dry pair to put on after the snow.
  • Rain boots or better yet snow boots if you can find used or cheap - they're worth the investment since they actually tighten up around the pants and you cold buy a size up and get two seasons out of them.
  • Toe Warmers
  • 2 pairs of warm pants - because one pair will get wet when playing in snow, even with snow pants.
  • Snow pants if planning ahead - since this was last minute we didn't have snow pants but they're reasonably priced so wouldn't be a bad idea if planning for winter weather, it rarely snows nearby so when it does we hop in the car, not a lot of planning ahead over here. 
  • Blankets - as soon as the kids got in the car we threw a blanket over them while they changed their clothes and blasted the heater, 
  • Tea - I brewed hot peppermint tea before we left, put it in the termos and it was still steaming when we got there, 

Warmer kids mean longer snow ball fights.
Seriously though, about the extra clothes and socks, it took our youngest more time in the car than she was even in the snow to stop crying.  I forgot to pack an extra pair of socks thinking that they were protected since the boots were waterproof but no, they got snow all up and in those boots, and apparently the feet warmers weren't sufficient once their feet were wet.  So much crying.  To be fair she was tired, but also she was plenty warm,

What do you bring on your quick trips to the snow?

Thursday, December 15, 2016

How we said goodbye to our Little Lola

We said goodbye to our sweet dog, Lola last month and it took me a minute to process it, but as I sat down to write about it I knew I'd want to share it here, eventually, I knew it would be sad, but I thought it might help to hear how we made the process and choices with our kids in mind, and how we would take this experience to understand death as best we could.

To start, I want to share a little bit about our sweet dog and why this decision was so hard.  Our story starts at Bookmans in Tucson.  Husband and I already had one dog, Brutus.  And our friends were visiting from Phoenix, when we were living there.  They were at a nearby bookstore, where they were having pet adoptions, my friend Danny called or texted I can't quite remember, but he was like you guys need this dog, she's sweet.  So, I went over there and took one look at her and thought (or said), 'you are the perfect match, you would make the sweetest set.' because they're they same coloring and I could just see them being the perfect pair.  I talked to Lola (her name means sorrows, which is fitting only now, anyway) I talked to her foster mom and asked even though we had a month long trip planned we wanted her, would she even be willing to foster her for a month while we were gone? If so, we'd like to try introducing our first dog.  The woman was so sweet and kind and said, "of course!"

So, Husband met her with our dog and they played together.

I remember him texting me, (because I was at work) asking if I wanted THIS one, was this the right dog?  She was drooling and scrappy (apparently, he didn't think she was my style). I was like YES, get her, did they do okay together and he assured me they got along great.

We brought her home for a couple of months before our big trip and in that time, she shredded an entire pillow all over our living room, feathers everywhere, and I almost second guessed myself, now that moment is my favorite memory of her, happy as hell to be covered in feathers and sitting in the middle of it.  Anyway. we leave for a month and she stays with her foster mama and about (not exaggerating) 20 chiwawas and tiny dogs.  We pick her up form this woman's house and there are dogs everywhere, no carpet because with 20 dogs who can be bothered.  Anyway Lola sees us and starts doing her "happy feet" and welcomes us home and we're reunited.

We moved to phoenix that weekend and finally have our dogs back, but now we're house hunting and living with family and living with our Brother (in-law) at his apartment and Lola is living in her crate because we're not supposed to have dogs and she ate a comforter while home alone. FINALLY, we get our house and move in.  The dogs have a proper yard and we're all happy to be together again.

Then, I get pregnant, and the poor dogs get kicked out of the bed because we're preparing for baby who will co-sleep with us and Lola lays outside our door crying all night.  Simultaneously breaking my heart and pissing me off - because that's how pregnancy hormones work.

I give birth at home and the dogs are wonderful, they love this new baby and protect her and keep her safe.  They bark if people play too rough, and follow babysitters from room to room.  We know these dogs would protect our children and when they hear strange noises they bark and patrol the house.

As the kids get older, the dogs are allowed in our room again, sometimes the dogs sleep with the kids and sometimes everyone piles in our bed, but we're complete you know? This is our family.  The animals, the kids, the partner, we all fit together exactly how I imagined.

Which get's me to the heartbreaking shit, about 2 weeks ago we noticed that our sweet, beloved dog of almost 9 years is  looking rather swollen around the abdomen, and this brindle pit mix had always been squatty and round, so we didn't notice how bad it had gotten until Husband pushed on it and it flexed back,  I knew it wasn't normal but I also knew that there wasn't much to be done for an older dog.  Hoping it was just a stomach allergy type situation, you know changing her diet, I called the vet.  Husband brought her in and after running some tests confirmed it was probably a bleeding tumor and filling her abdomen, they could do surgery but it would probably come back, and when we first adopted our pets knew we wouldn't opt for chemo or surgery, not because of the money but because a dog doesn't have the verbal complexity to understand why you are cutting them open and stitching them back up, especially a dog that was probably abused.  We never wanted to lose her trust.  So we opted to wait and see.

Then, a short two weeks later we knew it was time, she wasn't walking around as much and while we were assured it wasn't painful, that she would just get tired and hard to move around as much. I could hear it in hear breathe, I knew she was struggling, so I made the appointment with a vet who would come to our house.

We sat outside and husband made a fire, our friend brought her a second last meal, because husband had already fed her a steak, she laid with us and we told her how much we would miss her. The vet showed up late which was stressful and yet I tried to find the joy in just a few extra minutes with her,  I grabbed some fabric to wrap her in but she chose to lay on her bed outback in the grass.

The vet was kind and her poor veins were so flat he had to try a few times, which was the worst fucking thing to watch but she didn't react after the first try, she was done fighting, and she was a fighter, you guys.  I could hear my youngest crying inside because my sister wouldn't let her outback with us, she watched from the window in tears with everyone else in the house, I could hear their cries.  Once the shot was in I thought it would take a second so I ran into give my daughter a kiss while the vet and Husband were outside.  But by the time I was back she was gone, and he was checking her reflexes, he said their was no heartbeat and checked her eyes, I felt horrible I wasn't there with Husband and her as she passed but we sat there together and said goodbye and after a few minutes wrapped her in a blue blanket and buried her in the backyard, Husband had the shovel and I couldn't just watch so I started adding dirt with my bare hands.  I've never seen my partner cry like that. He's one of the strongest people I know and of course he cries but never like that.  After taking our time to console each other outside we went in and had a drink and talked about our memories with her.

There will never be another Lola in our lives she was the sweetest dog you ever met with the toughest look.

I couldn't bear to look at the pile of dirt empty in our backyard so we bought her some flowers and added them on top, The only blessing in death is the contribution back to the earth, all our lives we take and take and then when we are done, we give back our bodies, and in this the soil is replenished.  So, every time I go out back and start to cry I remember she is there no longer as our sweet pup but now as part of the whole, she's part of the dirt and the flowers and eventually, we all will be too.

we miss you Lola.