Saturday, April 23, 2016

Big Bend: Getting there

Last month we took our spring break trip to Big Bend! This was a dream trip for E. J. and after years of talking about it, he got me hooked too. It was our first major trip in the travel trailer and after lots of prep work, we were off...EARLY in the morning! The plan was to leave early so we would arrive during the daylight (12 hours later) to set up camp. You know what they say about plans...
Take-off time.
Looking rough at 4 a.m. but nonetheless, excited for our adventure.
Rainy start.
Because the truck gets terrible gas mileage when you're hauling the travel trailer, we had a number of stops planned and reserve gas in the bed of the truck (gas stations are few and far between in west Texas). Our first stop was two hours into trip, AKA everyone's favorite stop: Buc-ees! We grabbed breakfast, gassed up and then headed out.
As we were leaving the steep parking lot E. J. said, "I shouldn't have gone out this way." And then about a second later we heard a huge scrape and a pop. 
Yup! Two bolts were sheared off. We immediately drove back up to the parking lot because it was highly possible that the trailer could fall off the truck at any moment.
Look who got pooped on by a bird while he was checking out the damage.
Realizing that there was nothing E. J. could do to fix it, we drove to a Firestone about 1/2 mile away and waited for an hour and a half for them to open at 8 a.m.
I managed to spill coffee all over myself while waiting in the truck.
Once Firestone opened, things were still iffy. They weren't sure if they would be able to fix it. But by 9:45 a.m. we got the good news that they were able to fix the hitch successfully. We've never been so relieved! Despite the not-so-ideal start to our trip, we were all in good spirits.
On the road again!
Beautiful shot.
Once we got on the other side of Austin it was smooth sailing.
It wasn't until 12 hours into our trip that Kathryn asked her first "are we there yet?" Not too shabby! 
But wait, there's more! As we were pulling out of a gas station in Fort Stockton around 5:30 p.m. (on a Saturday, mind you) it sounded like were a motorcycle gang as the truck accelerated. Think of having a REALLY loud exhaust. Once again, we pulled over. E. J. looked under the truck and couldn't see anything that indicated a problem. Meanwhile, I was Googling like a mad woman to find a repair shop. After a few calls, I got through to a repair place that was still open. They were scheduled to close in less than an hour but were incredibly kind and let us stop by. After a quick look, they determined that a pipe cracked under the truck. Great...
The family that ran the shop barely spoke any English but we didn't care, they were helping us. I wanted to hug all of them. After welding the pipe, all was back to normal!
Check out their dog!
On the road again, again.
I'm not even sure how to explain how we were all feeling after that last stop. We were all tired, relieved, still in surprisingly good spirits and anxious to get to Big Bend. With 100 miles left, we headed out into the dark, completely unknown territory with little to no cell phone reception and minimal civilization. As we entered into the mountainous terrain, we could literally hear the transmission screaming. It. Was. Terrifying. 
When we pulled into the resort at 9:30 p.m. after the 18 hour drive, we were so happy that we could have kissed the ground. We had no idea what the surroundings looked like (it's an International Dark Sky Park which means no lights on after 9 p.m. to avoid light pollution). E. J. got the trailer hooked up, I prepared our beds, we took showers and then we were out!

I'm incredibly happy to report that we started out the trip by exhausting all of our bad luck. The fun stuff is next. To be continued!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Around here

Spring is upon us! As we creep farther away from my favorite seasons, it's hard to believe that it's time for spring cleaning, school is wrapping up, we've registered Kathryn for camp and the anticipation of summer vacation is here.
Trying to repair her "Louis Baton" (she gave it that name years ago). 
Her class had an Easter Egg Hunt at school and they had to make custom hats for the big event.
This magazine captured her attention in the check-out line in the grocery store. So I fed into her obsession with David Bowie and let her get it. Since then, we read an excerpt each night before bed (and I have to be very quick to make-up words when it gets to a not-five-year-old-friendly section!). She actually pays very close attention and it very interested in learning all about him! 
Easter morning! She also got the BB8 light on her wall from Grandma (she's had her eye on that for months).
After the Easter celebrations, we all started Kathryn's school project: create a Boxasaurus. It was a family project (more like a Dad project).
Day 2!
Putting on the finishing touches.

Kathryn's description of her Boxasaurus (all her words).
Sassy Pants

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Karate & Politics

We returned home yesterday from a week-long spring break vacation. It was a blast, but we're adjusting back to the 'real world' and coming to terms with having to go back to school/work tomorrow. More to come on that soon! For now, here's a little taste of what's been happening in our house lately.
"You have problems" - her official diagnosis after playing doctor with me.
As usual, surrounded by her animals at bedtime. 
I found a fully marked-up American Girl catalog with Kathryn's wants. I told her she can't have another doll, which is why they are all x'ed out and everything else is circled. I especially like how the cash is circled. I'd pick that too.
Kathryn had another karate tournament a few weeks ago and did awesome! She won her first round of sparring. She's really getting there (it's tough for a sweet girl to turn into a vicious girl).
She was amazing during her Freestyle Kata. She practiced leading up to the competition and blew the other kids out of the water. Even better, you can tell she was having a great time!
First place for her Freestyle Kata!! So proud!
The news is on a lot in our house, which seems to have played a part in molding Kathryn's political views. It's interesting how she has absorbed information and believes so strongly in pieces that she's heard. 

I decided to take this video the night after Kathryn asked me if she could vote in this election. When I told her that she wasn't old enough, she broke down crying. I think you'll get a sense of passion after watching this...

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Donkey Basketball

I'd was a tad bit jealous that Kathryn and E. J. had last Monday off from school/work in honor of Presidents' Day. To celebrate, they went to see a movie together for a day of fun.
Her first hot dog, which she loved.
Speaking of Presidents' Day, Kathryn brought this home from school.
"The President does important stuff for our country."
On Monday evening, we went to Kathryn's school for a small town school tradition/fundraiser; Donkey Basketball Well, I assume it's a small town school tradition because E. J. talks about how he played his senior year in high school.
Here's the jist: you have two teams (typically teachers versus seniors). If you get the ball you have to get on the donkey and ride it to the basket and try to make a basket. It's pretty funny to watch because in true donkey form, they are stubborn and don't want to move.
Kathryn got a kick out of it, especially when the donkeys used the bathroom on the gym floor. 
I noticed Kathryn started using some new/expensive methods for decorating her room. 
As I was driving home from work on Friday, I got a warning when I turned on our road that I had a low tire. THANKFULLY I was able to make it home. Although the tire wasn't repairable, one new tire later and E. J. was able to get me all set to get to work tomorrow.
Running errands on Saturday....she told us that she came prepared to take a nap. She knows what she's talking about.
A Saturday evening video message to Nana (a little long).
Sunday morning - a good reason to make homemade blueberry muffins.
Sunday morning baseball.
'Take my picture, Mom. I'm the Statue of Liverty' (spelled how she says it).
A few rounds of Candy Land. 
K set up a 'snuggle area' for her and E. J. Rosetta Stone joined in too. 
Kathryn and Zoey.
Fresh and clean!
She has the comfiest bed.
Hugs with Rosetta Stone.