Monday, September 22, 2014

A Baker Family Road Trip

As promised, here is the update on our last venture…The Howard Family Reunion in Lava Hot Springs.  Let me start by saying that driving six kids eight hours, promises to be eventful! I will save you the drama and headache of depicting the FULL eight hour drive, but in a nut shell this is what a long drive in the famous "Party Wagon" (twelve passenger van) looks like.

Plan to leave at 4:00 pm
Actually leave at 7:00 pm

Finally get on the road and wait…give it about ten minutes…

"Mom! I have to pee"
…"Mom! I'm hungry"
…"That's a dumb movie, why can't we watch something good?!"
…"Kyle's touching me"
…"Stay on your half of the bench!"
…"Can we stop for a treat"
…"Mom! I'm thirsty!"
…"Dad! Are we there yet?!"
…"Dad, dad, dad, dad…"
…"Mom! are we there yet?!"
…"Mom! I'm Squished!"
…"Mom! I'm Bored!"
…"Whats that smell?!"…"TYLER!"

You can basically put this soundtrack on repeat for eight hours, and you'll get the idea.

Once we arrived in Lava Hot Springs, we were pleasantly surprised with our lodging. We weren't quite sure what to expect, but the two small cabins sitting on five acres of secluded land was just perfect! That night we enjoyed visiting around the fire while enjoying a delicious tinfoil dinner.

We played a lot of cards and board games in the evenings. Then jam-packed our days with outdoor play and activities such as, swimming/water slides, target shooting, fishing,  and sight seeing. It was great to spend time with Brad and the kids and reconnect with my siblings as well. 

A special shout out for my sister, Charity and her husband, Todd: She read my last post depicting my hesitant children as well as my diet restrictions and the absence of junk food provisions…Well, they made sure to provide plenty of treats for my kiddos (Brad included), who were happy to oblige, of course! Thank you Charity!

Overall, we had an awesome trip! Looking forward to doing it again and again, for many years to come :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

"Rollin' with my Homies"

You gotta love family vacations! The Bakers definitely LOVE family vacations…at least mom and dad do. The kids are a bit harder to convince. I am the first to admit we take a lot of trips, but in my defense, not nearly as many as I'd like to take! Did I mention we had three, yes THREE family reunions over the summer? And might I add that none of those had to do with "my side of the family" so to speak. I hate saying that because it sounds so segregating, like "this is MY family, that is HIS family, that is HER family" and with a blended family that is easy to do, but I prefer not to. We have a lot of family, and it is all OUR family, and thats that. But I am just pointing out in the only jargon I know, that we have been to all of these functions, and have yet to attend a reunion in association with my roots, my siblings, my homies….however you want to put it. And, well…its time!

My parents are these amazing people who are seriously larger than life. They live part of the year in Germany, restoring their old villa (yes it is literally, by definition, a German Villa) Part of the year in the Caribbean,  where my dad has been finishing his third (that is not a typo, his THIRD) doctoral degree, and part of their time just traveling to obscure places of the world, like Jordan, Egypt, Cambodia to name a few, and a very small part of their year is spent  in my part of the world where they live as Grandma and Grandpa Howard. They are amazing people with an impressive life, and they have five highly functioning adult children who love to travel just as much as they do. Knowing a little about my parents and the type of family culture I grew up with, is it any wonder I have just a little gypsy in me?

My siblings and I finally decided that since we never know where mom and dad will be, nor for how long, (but that's ok, mom and dad don't know any better than we do!)…we were ready to have an annual family gathering, with or without them (sorry mom and dad! You are missed!) We now have a Howard Reunion (at least with siblings...) every labor day weekend, and seeing as that begins tomorrow, I am making preparations to get out of town! Again! YAY! 

So, we had to let our kids know that we would be leaving thursday night and they would need to make arrangements accordingly. In all honesty, they are rarely excited to leave friends, and they are not fans of missing school. I am happy that they are such responsible students, but seriously…is that normal?! It's actually a bit comical. When we started reminding them that they would need to turn in assignments and talk to their teachers, and so forth, it was like we were headed to work camps in Siberia. I mean, really?! So first Katelyn begins to cry because she will miss the home football game, then the other teenagers join in with their qualms. Even Avrie, our ten year old, shed a few tears because she had planned a friday activity with her friends. But the kicker was when our little eight year old, Olivia comes in and starts to cry, "No! I had plans!" By this point, I was laughing out loud! I am used to this behavior in my teenagers, and my fifth grader may be approaching this stage of struggle for independence, but now my third grader?…this was funny! I could have been sad or offended, but no. I was simply amused. Somehow they missed the memo that said, "Any plans made by a child, is not finalized until approved with a parent, and even then we reserve our right to veto." I think they got that message loud and clear this time around, but a child's memory seems to be selective and I guess we'll know for sure, next time we leave town.

We will have a great trip! I will say, my little ones weren't too happy about the "treats" I bought (fruit leather, organic whole grain fig bars, and so forth) but that's the fun of having a mother with Hoshimoto's disease…but thats an entirely new post. My kids are awesome and we always have a lot of fun. They have already shifted gears for the most part and are getting pretty excited about the trip.  I will update my blog when we get back in town, and I'm sure I will have lots to share with you! Happy Trails!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Summer Days, Drifted Away

It's been a great summer! I really enjoyed having my kids home.  With that said, I am so ready for the structure that will renter my life once school is back in session.I remember the first summer I had with my kids after being married to brad one year. I was determined to maintain production throughout our days and order within our lives. So, I presented the kids with a sort of daily action plan outlining how we would spend our days. It consisted of things like: do your chores, practice your instrument, reading time, outdoor play time, craft time...I am laughing right now, like seriously I am laughing so hard!  I know what I was thinking...but seriously, what was I thinking?! Let's just say, that didnt go over well, and it didn't last long. In all honesty that idea hardly left the drawing board. Knowing my kids like I do now, its a miracle I didn't have complete anarchy on my hands after that one. But in my defense, I wanted to put my best efforts into the thing I love most, my family. They're it for me. My husband, my six kids, they are my world and they get my best efforts. I know those efforts can be misguided, and a bit intense...but I give everything I've got because they are literally everything to me.

You want to know the baker summer vacation secret? When kids are on summer break, mom is on summer break, and you know what?! I have learned to love it! I have taken the expression, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" to a whole new level! Our summer days at home look  like this, wake up...whenever, do our house jobs...providing at least a little productivity, and yes I'll admit, I don't want to completely let on to brad or the rest of the world  how ridiculously chillax we are. Who am I kidding? I can count on one hand how many times I have styled the girls' hair this summer, and we are none the worse for wear! So in reality it would take one look at my poor rag muffins and their astranged looking mother to know: we are rediculously chillax. We change our clothes IF we feel like it, generally straight out of pajamas into our swimsuits and by 11am we are lounging pool side (I was flaunting a gorgeous tan, by the way).

Im not kidding about the swimsuit thing! Olivia had a friend at the cabin staying with us and her mom overheard them talking as Olivia was explaining why her friend shouldn't sleep in her bathing suit. She explained that it would make her bottom sore. She was absolutely sure of it, since she slept in her swimming suit and did not take it off for five days! Five days! She showered in it, then put her pjs on over it, then woke up in the morning ready to go. Of course I was completely oblivious to the whole venture, and thought she was changing out of her suit each time she showered. And aparently her bottom got very sore through the whole ordeal. Well, she learned. It may have been the hard way, but she definitely learned. She was devoutly lobbying to her friend all the reasons that sleeping yin your bathing suit is a bad idea. Clearly, she had lived it!

So after we have been lounging in our bathing suits all  day (or more In Olivia's case!) Unfortunately, by the time brad gets home in the afternoon, it's hard to find signs of the chore efforts we had made that morning. And when dinner roles around, it goes something like this, "Yes children?  what's that? You are begging for Little Cesar's Pizza again? Well call me mother of the year... I oblige" Ok, I feel the critics. Let me say in my own defense, that's not the full picture. We have been very busy vacationing between our laziness. I am the young women's president of our church youth group, and brad serves as a counselor in the bishopric, so youth conference, girls camp, church activities, and the like have kept us going as well. We also have four summer birthdays: Olivia, me, Annie, and Avrie, plus Brad and I have our anniversary in July as well as Olivia's baptism...and somehow we managed to spend ten days at the cabin, on top of two family reunions and a trip to Wyoming for a family trek. Interesting, when I put it that way, I sort of feel like super-mom. I guess I fit both sides of the spectrum?! Perhaps the Baker summer vacation is more of a work hard, play hard scenario?...nah! More of a vacation hard then play hard. Let's be honest here, it would appear the baker summer vacation model is play hard, play hard.

In short, I have taken a welcomed sabbatical from my typical routine. I feel refreshed, even anxious to "get the ball rolling" so to speak. My workout routine, my eating habits, the laundry...all a few things on my list that need some revisiting. But the reality of it is, I'm already planning our next vacation! Until then, I will be whooping this crew back into the grind...welcome fall! We're ready for you!

Summer Highlights

Summer Highlights: Frame by Frame 

Disclaimer: I'm NOT like that awesome mom you may know who carries a professional camera on her hip! I can barely promise ONE photo to document SOME events, and I have almost nothing of my oldest teenagers who literally avoid the camera…but hey, here's the best I've got! Enjoy! 

Downtown Fun with Cousins!

A Special "Date Night" for Mom and Dad

My little sister suffered a massive stroke in late May.
Olivia and Avrie are painting her toes at the physical
 rehabilitation center where she was living at the time.

We had the opportunity of having my sisters 
adorable kids while she was recovering, 
you will see them in a lot of our summer photos. 
Annie, Avrie, Olivia, my three youngest girls
and little Harvey and Jorgan…so cute!

Lounging Poolside!

Making Cookies with my sister's 
little guy, Harvey…I LOVE this kid!

Family Trek

Olivia's Birthday

Motorcycle ride with Daddy-o!

Kyle gets braces.

Biking Zion for my Birthday

Olivia's Baptism

Avrie's Birthday

Annie turned twelve and she and Kyle found 
their own family names to take to the temple!
(She actually had a birthday party also, but like
I said, I am a lame parent that way and all the 
photos are on Katelyn's phone…go figure!)

SELFIE! I am now sporting an ombre.

Tyler with my sister's baby, little Jorgan…he 
was a bit nervous, but he is actually a natural!

…and more of the Family Trek

Lagoon with the kids!

Kayaking at the cabin.

Do you see what that is? We sited several 
bears…yes, BEARS at our cabin this year

Lagoon with our  church Youth Group

Visiting the Ogden Temple with our Youth Group

And finally…Back to School!

Yep, no Tyler or Katelyn back to school photos. 
I couldn't convince them to pose for the picture!
But yes, they went back to school as well, and YES 
they looked fabulous (naturally)