July 24, 2010
Let me break that down for ya. That is about 5.15 years. To be more specific, it means 1,876 days of total body invasion. That is over 45,000 hours.
So, here's how I figure it... At $7.25 an hour, I would have made $326,424 by now. That averages out to a yearly salary of $63,383. But, do you know how much I actually made for all this work? Zero dollars.
Now, I would be willing to settle for $3.25 an hour. Or a dollar an hour. Heck, I'll even take a dollar a kid. Because at this point motherhood has not been terribly lucrative.
Once, (during a low point personally) I added up all the time I would spend in my lifetime trimming fingernails and toenails. I have to take care of my twenty, plus each kids has twenty.... So that is 100 nails I am in charge of. I figured out that I would spend like four full months in my lifetime just trimming nails, that is 4 months of 24 hour per day trimapalooza.
Between the nails, and the diapers and the laundry, the occasional bite while breast feeding, the literal kicks to the inside of your rib cage, the spit-up that you don't even know is running down the back of your shirt... You would think SOMEONE would be giving me the $7.25/hr.
I love being a mom, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. (Sure, I have my moments where I fantasize about driving my anything-but-a-van to work, I walk in with a starbucks and an expensive pantsuit. Oooh, and highlights. It's my fantasy, and here I have great shoes and highlights. And a mother salary.). But, other than the occasional pantsuit dreams, I love love love what I do.
I just wish I got one measly penny per fingernail.
But for now, I guess I will take the payment I get. Because, it's not all spit-up and nail clippings. It's also a lot of hugs, smiles, sloppy kisses, squealy giggles, memories, and first moments... and more joy than any pantsuit could ever bring. Maybe someday I will get to be a grown-up, with a car that accommodates a reasonable-but-not-excessive number of passengers, and I'll have a job that pays me *something* for the work I do. Maybe I'll be required to wear pantsuits, and I'll have great shoes and highlights after all. But, I'll probably miss this season of my life. And I'll wish I had savored this time more. I might even miss the van. (However, I seriously doubt it.) But, I guess that a van isn't the worst thing... If it's full of everything you love.
July 19, 2010
I guess I'll go back and update how the last several days have gone. After the Grand Canyon, we camped at the Navajo National Monument Campground in Shonto, AZ. It has some of the best preserved, original navajo cliff dwellings in the country. It has free primitive camping, an unbelievable view of a huge canyon, and red ants. But, that was not my concern... I was terrified of the HEAT! In the dessert, our car registered a temperature of 130 degrees. I am certain that was not accurate, but still... Even if it was off by 20 degrees, it was still outta control hot.
But the night was actually beautiful in the desert! We set up camp around 7pm, so the temp had already dropped to 88. we cooked fish, lentils, brown rice and corn and got in the tent to play pass the pigs and a round of war. we slept without the fly, under THE clearest and most beautiful sky I've ever seen. It was the perfect temperature all night.
In the morning, we packed up and headed to arches national park. Also ridiculously beautiful. We did a very short hike to see the double arches, and climbed just a little. I got so many great pictures of the girls climbing into a little cave. Harper stayed at the bottom yelling "echo."
That night, we did a last minute campsite change because the one we had planned on had "a LOT of bears.". Since we couldn't exactly hoist two coolers and a bin up into a tree... We opted for a less primitive site for the night. It was still private, and really nice, complete with a mountain view and babbling brook. It's really getting ridiculous how gorgeous some of these places have been.
in the morning, we headed to great sand dunes national park. These dunes were quite a challenge for the kids. Harper was exhausted and had "mall-leg" (which is what tom gets if he has to walk around a shopping mall for more than 15 minutes.) And marlie was pretty much bent over in the shape of a horseshoe most the time. Annalee was a trooper, pushing herself to climb up one dune. It was a lot harder than it sounds... Especially if both your feet were boiled off in the sand. Which mine were.
From the sand dunes we did a crazy through-the-night drive through the rest of colorado and into kansas. We arrived at 6am to visit our wonderful friends merrie and lance, and their son javan. It was so much fun there. Merrie is a great cook, and spoiled us with food and the best water I've ever tasted. (I really don't know if it is because we have been drinking hot water out of boiling nalgene bottles, or if her water really is the best, but it was seriously good.)
The kids all had a great time at the sprinkler park, and their little children's museum. It was sad to say goodbye today, but we had such a nice visit... I'm certain they will skip their upcoming honeymoon to puerta vallarte in order to come to rochester to visit us instead.
We were trucking along through illinois and indiana, when we called to confirm campground reservations. We were warned not to tent camp tonight because of the severe thunderstorms that would be happening all night. So, after a lot of vascillating between toughing it out in the thunder and lighting, or doing another drive through the night... We decided just to head home tonight instead of tomorrow.
So, with great sadness we are actually heading home. We should arrive around 4am, tuck our kids in their own beds and sleep inside our own house. I know I should feel so relieved to get home, but the truth is that I am sad to see this adventure come to an end. I feel like a kid that has to leave summer camp and just isn't ready to. It has been the best summer of my life, and I have to say that I have never been more thankful for the husband and family I have. Not every husband would let their wife convince them to do this crazy trip. And even fewer would be able to singlehandedly set up a tent as fast as tom can. It's kinda hot.
Well all, thanks for reading. I'm sure that more stories and quotes from this trip will surface again. Thanks to those that prayed for our fun and safety, and especially to those that opened their homes to us while we stunk so badly. Love to you all!
July 16, 2010
July 14, 2010
1) "You may not even SAY juice box." (Said to harper, in response to the 455th request for a juice box.)
2) "do you smell butter?" (Referring to the unique smell of London's full diaper.)
3) "there is no jumping, pushing or pulling by a canyon."
4) "no thank you risking your life."
5) "thank you for apologizing, I forgive you, but if you do that again you will fall and crash and be all gone."
6) "clap real loud so the rattlesnakes know we're coming."
Z7)"k guys, we have to eat very tidy so the bears don't come."
8) "honey, that's not a geyser, that's a sprinkler." (or fog, steam, a smokestack, etc.)
9) "I promise you will not fall in that big toilet."
10) "no, you may not." (Said in response to marlie asking "can I just get one little pinch of that baby's bun?"
11) "nope, no more picking rare flowers."
12) "we do not put our native american clay stones in our mouths."
13) "for a moment." (In response to harper asking if he can "be wake?")
14) "honey, you're not burning."
15) "I know sweetheart, we're all burning."
16) "look at that little granny, isn't she cute?"
17) "you need to apologize to christine for peeing at her party."
18) "london's pacifier is not in the oven."
19) "she just spit up in my mouth! Ew, my own breastmilk..."
I have to attribute this to my deep and unresolved pride issue, because every time I say how "my kids get along sooo great" they suddenly fall apart in front of whomever I just praised them. Just when I proudly say out loud how "harper has been potty-trained for so long" he starts habitually drilling into his handy manny underpants like he's getting commission for it. As soon as I say "this trip is going so smoothly" I wake up with a migraine and tom looks like a burn victim where the poison ivy is slowly "melting his skin." (His words.)
So, given the migraine (and his ever-faithful companion: nausea) I was pretty useless yesterday morning, so tom had to pack everything up by himself, which is a big job, especially for an almost-amputee. Needless to say, we got a late start.
We did our usual unnecessarily long (and out of our way) drive in order to hit nevada, then into prescott, az. (Pronounced like biscuit, as in "prescotts 'n gravy.") What saved us (and our delayed, migrained, poisoned, deformed selves) was a phone call to my in-laws updating them on our location and schedule. They (randomly) have friends in prescott, who also happen to conveniently be THE nicest people on the planet. They also happen to be willing hosts. with a basement. and pie. They are the best.
So, instead of driving through the desert at 10:30pm trying to find a flat, safe and rattlesnake-free campsite in the dark, we ate pie with mark and shelly baker. We were so blessed to be able to stay with them, and without much notice.
I know that God's hand has been over us. I know that he is the one that is keeping us safe, sparing us from all sorts of potential disasters. And I know that he mustn't be loving any pride I have, because god seems eager to humble me at first sight of it.
So, we just got into grand canyon national park. It is really more vast and beautiful than I could even attempt to describe, let alone capture in a photograph. But no sooner than I was thinking "we've done it! We've arrived! Nobody thought we could make it this far with this many kids... But here we are, at the GRAND CANYON!" Harper completely fell apart. He pottied in his undies, cried and fussed. So tom took the girls to view the gorgeous canyon, while harper and I sit in the van. We both lost the privilege. He, for throwing a fit. And I, for good old fashioned pride.
So, we are nearing the end of the trip and while I have loved almost every minute... I won't bother saying how brilliant things are going. Because just as soon as I do that, I will slip while we are hiking and will get propelled off the highest cliff at the grand canyon, being humbled by my imminent death.
July 11, 2010
in reality though, this xc trip has seldom felt like actually vacating our lives. all the time we spent preparing (the itinerary, the meals, the destinations, the details) have resulted in a fun and smooth trip, but did not eliminate all the hard work.we have taken this opportunity to really focus on some character issues with each of the children, and have done our best to correct some of the attitudes and behaviors we saw creeping into their lives when we weren't as diligently focused. we have had to get up early and often get down late. we have driven thousands upon thousands of miles, many of which on roads so winding they made me want to throw up on my atlas. we have set up camp and tore it down countless times, most of the time within a twelve hour window. we have cooked or prepared meals on picnic tables, in the car, and sometimes even on the ground. we have done lots of dishes without once using a sink. it has not been a convenient vacating of our daily lives. in a way, it has sort of been like taking all our usual chores and forced us to do them (or at least a micro-version of them) on the road. it has been a lot of work.
so, why on earth am i loving it so much? perhaps it's because at home, a lot of those chores are left undone anyways, and heaps of guilt inevitably ensue. or maybe it is because i am energized by the activity level we have maintained, or maybe it is empowering just to see all that we are capable of as a family. i am not sure which... but, i think i would take this "vacation" over a typical one any day. it has been such an adventure.
we are over halfway through the trip at this point. we are in pauma valley, ca at uncle brandon and aunt shannon's house. the kids are loving it here, playing with their cousins and having a few days off of travel-mode. all the kids are playing so well together and it has been such a great time so far. brandon is on his way home from the airport right now, as he has actually been in new york for a mission trip! so, we are all excited to see him.
we will be leaving here on the 13th and heading toward the grand canyon. we have a lot left to see yet, and i am already starting to feel a little sad about the trip winding down. i have loved having our whole family spend uninterrupted time together, without any of the distractions of everyday life at home. i have loved watching the girls (especially) bond during this time, and, admittedly, i have loved having harper strapped down to a seat much of the day.
so, until we are back on the road... i am going to enjoy the little time we have left to just relax at bran and shan's, actually vacating. two kids sleeping and two kids playing. i'm one lucky gal.
God, your God, is leading the way; he's fighting for you. You saw with your own eyes what he did for you in Egypt; you saw what he did in the wilderness, how God, your God, carried you as a father carries his child, carried you the whole way until you arrived here. But now that you're here, you won't trust God, your God - this same God who goes ahead of you in your travels to scout out a place to pitch camp, a fire by night and a cloud by day to show you the way to go.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
July 10, 2010
July 8, 2010
July 7, 2010
newburg, oregon right outside of portland. We had so much fun with
them. "Uncle rick" spoiled the kids with pudding, donuts, candy,
chocolate milk (with sprinkles in it) and s'mores. I guess he was
testing the sincerity of my road-trip advice to break the rules. The
rules certainly went out the window, and everyone had a great time.
We go to see christine get baptized, meet some of their friends,
pastor and his wonderful family, and tom and I had the best coffee
we've ever had.
I love to see rick and christine together, and they are so great with
my kids. It makes me so excited to see them as parents, especially so
I can pay them back by indulging their kids with treats, late
bedtimes, and getting them all riled up right as they are getting
tucked in. They are great friends, generous hosts and the best
honorary aunt and uncle we could hope for.
From rick and christine's house, our next stop was crater lake. We
dragged rick and christine with us, and it was lovely... Good weather,
relaxing, a truly splendid evening. Oh wait, this is us we're talking
about, so of course it couldn't go that smoothely. In actuality, it
was arguably the worst possible night we've had yet. It was very
cold, but the real kicker was that there was a lot of melting
happening, so all the mosquitos on planet earth hatched the day we
arrived. It was brilliant timing.
Rick and christine posted some videos on their blog, which I am
supposed to share by inserting a "hyperlink" here. So, good luck
finding those videos.
From crater lake, we crossed the border of california and drove
straight to our campsite in the redwood national park. It was
unbelievable. We set up camp, then went for a hike. We didn't make it
far because we kept stopping to hug the gigantic redwood trees, take
pictures and climb on the root system of a hiuge downed redwood. It
felt like we were trapped in a jurassic park/honey I shrunk the kids
hybrid movie set. It was amazing.
We saw a five inch banana slug, which is apparently not too common,
and is rarely seen outside this area. we were fortunate not to see any
bear or mountain lions, which is apparently becoming more commonplace
here. We took great caution in cleaning out our van very well,
putting all food, chapstick, toiletries, etc. In the bear boxes. When
I asked the ranger if it was safer to keep things hidden in the back
of our car or in the bear boxes he said "oh. The bears can smash
through a car window very easily.". That was a comforting to know as
we set up our tent (significantly weaker than a easily-smashed window)
and piled in our four delicious kids.
This morning, we packed up and drove to klamath overlook, stopping for
some local native american smoked salmon on the way. We just arrived
at the overlook, where the klamath river and the pacific ocean meet.
it was very exciting to reach the pacific ocean! We really made it to
the west coast! We are supposed to be whale-watching, but so far we
are just whale-looking.
-we have driven almost 5,000 miles and through 16 states. (Since this
is day 13, we are averaging more than a state a day.)
-christine and I figured out our future plans which include she and I
running multiple empires that are highly lucrative, allowing tom and
rick to retire and be our cabana boys.
-watching the kids finally reach the "specific ocean!"
-hearing harper sing "ohh ohh ohh ah ohhh, ladies first!" (Sung loudly
and to the tune of "hangin' tough" by the new kids on the blcok.)
-watching marlie "gaggle" at the smell of smoked salmon.
-watching all three kids eat the smoked salmon and like it (marlie included.)
-seeing lots of different animals, but not getting eaten by any of them.
-watching the kids recite our theme bible verse for the trip, not just
when we talk about it... But when it's actually applicable.
-seeing the Big Tree Wayside (formerly the tallest tree, until the top
blew off, leaving just the trunk... Which is 22 feet in diameter. We
haven't actually done this, but it's our next stop and it sounds
-harper yelling "geyser!" and pointing to anything that might be
mistaken for a geyser. (Including fog or sprinklers.)
-seeing christine get baptized... Or "bathtized" as marlie said.
-hearing the kids talk about what we should do "on our next cross-country trip."
-having the best coffee I've ever had. (Organic spicy mexican mocha... Mmmm.)
-meeting Joaquin Pheonix. I think. Maybe. (He had sunglasses on, but
we talked for a while. It was definitely him.) (Maybe.)
July 6, 2010
July 5, 2010
July 4, 2010
July 3, 2010
Thursday we did the grave of sacajawea, then found an awesome utopian
paradise of a picnic spot. Lake, mountain, pine trees, perfect. then
grand teton national park (see picture below) then into yellowstone
where we did old faithful (which was a bit overrated and not all that
faithful if you ask me, but the kids loved it.) We saw buffalo, closer
than I was planning... Plus herds of elk (sans horns) and deer. But
the high point was the grizzly bear. The picture is horrible because
with a naked eye, the bears looked like a small speck. Honestly we
never would have seen them, but there was a crowd of foolish people
(and their unfortunate children) walking out TOWARD the historically
ferocious grizzly who would surely kill to protect the 3 cubs who were
feeding on a carcus near a small lake. So, we pulled off to see what
the crowd was all about, and a guy told us about the grizzly bear and
cubs, but said we would need a really good zoom or some binoculars.
We used our video camera and let the kids all pile into the front seat
while we watched the grizzly bear and cubs walk around (safely from
the vehicle.). It was pretty awesome. We did the entire grand loop of
yellowstone, which is crazy considering we had already done so much
earlier in the day. The kids were excited to "stay in a hotel that we
don't have to wear our shoes in the house." Which is more than we can
say for the jackpine motel from the previous night.
Friday we woke up and ate breakfast on the road, drove through the
rest of montana, then idaho and into washington state where we camped
for the night. Idaho was actually unbelievably beautiful, which I
didn't see comin' to be honest. We got to our campsite with plenty of
time to cook dinner, make s'mores and even pre-make breakfast (bear
surprise) for this morning. We cooked bear surprise on the fire,
packed up and got going around 9:30am. We are heading now to mt.
Rainier, despite a great deal of peer pressure from our friends rick
and christine to skip the mountain altogether so we can arrive at
their place in newburg, oregon earlier. I'm sure once we arrive
(smelling like campfire and beef jerky) they will wish hit mt. St.
Helens as well.
A lot of people following our tour de usa have asked the same
questions: how are the kids doing? are you glad you actually did it?
Do you think you'll come home early? Are you having fun?
Well, we are having fun. It would definitely be EASIER to have stayed
home, I mean it is a ton of work, packing and unpacking at each
stop... But it is so worth all the amazing things we are experiencing.
I do not think that we will come home early. We are pretty determined
to complete the trip, and so far we have hit everything on our
itinerary! The kids are doing great. Below is a list of unsolicited
advice for anyone considering traveling with young kids for an
extendied period of time.
-rotate team captains. Each day one of the kids is team captain, and
they have some extra responsibilities. (Ex: "captain, I have to go to
the bathroom, stand here and make sure the baby doesn't roll away!"
But, the real fun is that the team captain gets to make special
choices, and they feel pretty bad-to-the-bone when the opportunity to
navigate the fate of the family comes up. It is usually something
obvious. (Ex: "we can have tunafish or s'mores for our treat,
captain's choice.") But the captain is also in charge of choosing the
music, the show if they watch one, and even the campsite or picnic
spot. This is also a great charcter-building opportunity, when you can
throw the whole thing in their face. (Ex: "uh oh, the captain
shouldn't have taken his shoes off and thrown them, because now one's
missing and you have to hop around on just one sneaker.")
-name your meals. Everything should be ridiculously named. They get
more excited about "bear surprise" or "mountain pizzas" than they
would if we just told them what we were actually eating.
-use pita bread and tortillas bc they don't squish.
-use shows as a privilege to be earned, not a constant thing...
Otherwise the trip will be a "movie-marathon" instead of a road trip.
-break the rules. When I was little and was camping with my dad, he
said we were having orange cremesicles for breakfast. It was a dream
come true. breaking the rules makes it fun and keeps kids involved and
excited to see what might come next.
-if you are camping with your baby, bring extra everything. If your
baby needs to eat and all your other kids are sleeping and you can't
risk waking them all up and you are NOT one to risk the tragic
outcomes of removing your baby from the carseat while in transit, and
if you are really desperate, and agile, I recommend crawling in the
back, contorting your body in humiliating positions so you can lean
over and breastfeed your baby in the carseat. Again, agility is key
here. Also, you must be willing to "check your dignity with the
seatbelt and just go for it."*
-make an activity pack. I have a 60 page one I can email you.
-if you have a million kids and don't want to buy them each their own
sleeping bags, just buy two and zip them together making one
queensize. You'd be surprised how many kids you could pile in one
double-bag. Plus, they stay warmer together then they would in a
single sleeping bag. Also, two camping pads laid horizontally is
usually long enough and plenty wide for a few kids... And cheaper than
buying each child a camping pad.
-don't be afraid to let them stay up later than usual and wake them up
before they would normally get up... It just means they will sleep
more in the car.
-use backpacker's squeeze tubes. These are great bc you can fill them
with peanut butter, jelly, condiments, homemade baby food, etc. We use
them to squirt pb and j right into a pita... Great for the road. (I
know you can buy squeeze jelly, but I don't like that kind of jelly
for my kids, so this is a way to have the convenience of a squeeze
tube, without compromising your eating preferences... Basically you
get the convenience without the food coloring and high fructoose corn
syrup. just put your own jam in the tube. Voila!).
*i must give credit to sam cassara for the hilarity of this remark.
July 2, 2010
July 1, 2010
we've covered, by the end of today we will have gone through thirteen
different states. In this week we have seen and experienced so many
things. It's crazy knowing that some of these experiences will be
once-in-a-lifetime type of things. Then again... There's always next
So, yesterday we made it to Mt. Rushmore. I was shocked how much I
enjoyed it. I had always heard that it was really overrated, but
worth it for the kids enjoyment. So, my own enjoyment was a pleasant
surprise. It was huge, which surprised me for some reason and the
actual attraction was relatively small and manageable. We were able
to drive in, check it out, picnic and get back on the road quickly,
but without having to rush.
After that, we drove as far as we could to get into a hotel because
this morning is yellowstone. We didn't want to camp too close to
yellowstone because of the bear population. (We felt like we run a
high-risk for bear attacks between harper's gremlin cry in the middle
of the night - which could be confused for a wounded animal - and
london's poop inexplicably smelling like movie theatre butter.) So,
we stayed at a little place called the jackpine motel in riverton,
wyoming. If you are looking for a small, quaint, clean and rustic
place to stay in wyoming... This is not the place for you. If,
however, you are looking for green shag carpet and a questionable
odor... We highly recommend jackpine. But, the showers were hot and
the toilet flushed... Which is a luxury these days. It is funny how
quickly our perspectives shift after a few days without little
pleasures like toilets. At mt. Rushmore I filled our nalgene bottles
with ice and water from the soda fountain and the whole family
(included tom) gasped in delight.
Yesterday we realized that en route to yellowstone from our hotel, we
would come within an hour or so of Sacajawea's grave. I did a report
on her in 3rd grade, because she was the only female on the list of
explorers that you could report on. Her whole story amazed me, and I
was disappointed that her burial site and memorial statue wasn't right
on the route. But, tom had set the gps to get to the site while I ran
into the store to restock supplies and just headed there without my
knowing it. I was so happy when I realized what was happening! I
might have cried a little. (But I also cried recently when I got a
season pass to seabreeze, our local amusement park, for my birthday
this year. I like surprises.)
So, we just went to an active native american cemetery where we
visited the grave of sacajawea and her two sons - one was actually the
baby she carried in a papoose (sp?) while she led lewis and clark on
their expedition to the pacific, and the other was her adopted son.
Both lived into their 80's, while she died at 25. She's my hero. So
is tom for going out of our way (when we were already running behind
schedule) to let me go there. This was also cool for the kids too,
because it is also had the first ever school for native american
children. It was also interesting to see different burial customs
that native americans have compared to ours. The kids each put
something (flowers, a coin, a plastic egg with a coin in it) around
the statue of sacajawea, which ended up making for some neat photos.
Next stop, yellowstone national park. The drive is gorgeous, and the
kids each got a piece of clay rock from the wind river indian
reservation when we stopped to take a picture on the side of the road.
Nothing like a road trip on a budget to make you steal souvenirs from
the native american's protected landcape.