Saturday, December 3, 2016

Western Vacation - Part 1

So, a lot of "boring" scenery pictures ahead. This is your warning! :) 

The week before Thanksgiving, I was scheduled for a continuing education class in Las Vegas. I didn't really want to go out there by myself, so Kevin and I decided to add on a few days to my trip, and we would have a mini-vacation.  We flew out on Sunday and flew home on Saturday. It was by far, the longest we'd ever been away from the kids. 


It took For-Ev-Er to get there and by the time we got our luggage and got the rental car, we were exhausted.  We made a quick-stop for lunch/dinner at a West Coast staple...


And then drove to Utah where we checked into the hotel and crashed. My dad travels a lot with his job. Not sure how he does it! 

On Day 1 we ate a great breakfast at a local restaurant (Meme's Cafe) and then went to Zion National Park.  Our original plan was to drive THROUGH the park, and keep driving until we got to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.  As we were talking to the ranger when we entered the park, we realized that wasn't going to be possible.  The North Rim was apparently closed, which is crazy because we did lots of research prior to the trip and the National Park website says that the roads only close when there has been snow.  It was like 80 degrees while we were there, and it had been for some time, so these roads weren't closed. Who knows.  

This was the view right outside the restaurant where we ate breakfast. 



We just changed up some plans, and decided to spend more time in Zion National Park on the first day than we planned. This turned out to be one of our favorite days of the trip. 


Yep. Definitely NOT in SC anymore...


At the end of the drive, there was a place where we got out to hike.  There is a trail that is one of the absolute most popular in the park and it is call the Narrows.  You walk to the end of the trail, and then get out into the river and walk down the river through what is called a slot canyon.  It sounds pretty cool, except for the walking in the 20 degree water part.  So, we walked to the end of the trail and then turned around and came back.



So again, it was around 80 degrees in the daytime while we were there, so Kevin wore shorts and a t-shirt most of the time.  We got out to start on my hike and it was a little cooler than he anticipated, because we were at the very top of the mountainy area.  He reconsidered and put on a really thin long-sleeved shirt, but when we actually started walking, it was COLD.  And I mean, I was even a little chilly and I had on a long sleeved shirt, boots, and a vest. Kevin had to do a little bit of running to warm up. I mean who goes to Utah in November and wears shorts and a t-shirt!?!




After the first hike, we drove back through the park to take in some of the scenery that we missed the first time. 


This is an area of the park called the Court of the Patriarchs. The peaks here are called Abraham's Peak, Isaac's Peak and Jacob's Peak. And that whitish peak on the right is the top of Mount Moroni.  


So then we attempted a more intense hike.  I used that term very loosely because I am NOT a hiker, so in all actuality, our first "hike" would probably more accurately be described as a stroll.  Trail maps called this next hike "moderate" and it's called the Canyon Overlook trail.  I don't really have an great pictures from here to show how high up we really were, but trust me when I say that this fence was necessary. 



We were getting pretty hungry about this time so we drove back into town and ate at Wildcat Willie's restaurant.  True western sounding name, huh?  You laugh, but it was really great!  There was a souvenir type shop next door so we stopped in to find the girls some goodies. WE bought them some necklaces and some dinosaur eggs.  And then I spotted these little gems...


Anybody remember these? I guess some things are easier to get away with in the west.  I totally remember buying these as a kid.  Probably should have bought a few packs to take with us when we went to Las Vegas a little later in the trip. Maybe we would have fit in a little more. Ha!

Day 1 was exhausting, but fun. The scenery is SO different from SC, but definitely beautiful in its own, unique way!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Karsten-isms

Oh wow - Y'all.  I started this post MONTHS ago, and totally forgot about it, so this is old.  Like, 6 months old.  But, these are things that I definitely want to make in my blog book at the end of the year, so I'm sharing it now... (PS - the pictures are new. Only the post part is a few months old.)

I have loved writing down the things Kate has said these past 5 years. She makes us laugh more than any kid we know.  Now that Karsten has started putting phrases and sentences together, we know she's going to make us laugh just as much.  These are some of the things she is saying at 20 months...


Meh-me do it. (Let me do it.)


Tonight we went to Cook-Out for dinner. I ordered a cheeseburger and got Karsten a grilled cheese.  As I was pulling out everyones food and handing things out, Karsten kept trying to get my burger.  I handed her the grilled cheese again and said "No, you got a grilled cheese.  That's mommy's burger."  Well, she reached across the table, grabbed my burger and said "That's KARSTEN's now."



Kate has a few eye patches from her pirates birthday party last year (when she turned 4).  Karsten has found them and loves wearing them around the house. She'll put one on and tell us she is Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  Often she'll walk around saying "Arrrhhhh, Mateys!"



Our kids have called Bradford Pear trees and Crepe Myrtle trees "Popcorn Trees".  There is one neighborhood that is close to us and we drive through it nearly every day.  Basically every yard has Bradford Pear and Crepe Myrtles. As we drive through the neighborhood, Karsten is constantly yelling in the back seat "POPCORN TREES!! POPCORN TREES!"



Karsten is obsessed with her stuffed bunny, which she calls "Bunny".  So much so that we have a backup bunny that stays at her Nana's house.  A few days ago, when we got home from church, Kate and Karsten got out of the car and started walking to the back of our yard to let our dogs out of their pen. Karsten had Bunny with her and I tried to take him away so she wouldn't drop him and get him dirty, but she was having none of it.  So I just let her go ahead.  While the girls were walking to the back of the yard, Kevin and I walked into the house to go through and open the back door for them to come back inside through. About halfway through the house we start hearing Karsten screaming bloody murder and Kate yelling "NO COOPER!".  Kevin rushes outside to see Cooper running through the yard with Bunny in his mouth. Luckily, Kevin got Bunny back before any destruction took place but Karsten was hysterical.  We brought Bunny inside and he was a big, yucky, slobbery mess so he definitely needed to be washed.  She walked with me into the laundry room area so I told her that Bunny needed a bath and that he was going to go swimming (hoping that would stop her from crying).  Well as soon as I threw Bunny into the washing machine and the water started pouring down on him, she lost it even more.  Guess seeing Bunny almost ripped to shreds, and then an attempt at drowning him was a bit much for her!  (Bunny was clean and back in her arms after her nap.)



One thing that we've never really given Karsten to drink is orange juice.  We spent the night at my parent's not too long ago and there was OJ in the fridge so I gave some to Karsten. She loved it.  A little later that day she kept telling me "I want pink! I want PINK, Mama!" and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what she wanted.  Finally she started saying "I want yellow!" and held out her cup to me and I figured it out.  She wanted Orange Juice.



Karsten LOVES to swim and has gotten pretty good at swimming in her puddle jumper.  She was climbing up the steps to get onto my Dad's boat, and Kevin grabbed her puddle jumper and helped pull her up.  When she got to the top of the steps, she looked up at Kevin and said "Thanks, Daddy! You saved my life!"



A few nights ago at dinner, we were eating baked potatoes as one of our sides.  Karsten stuck her spoon into the potatoes and then looked at me and said "It got sand on it, Mommy!".  Turns out it was salt.


I LOVE to get Karsten out of her bed when she wakes from her nap. She is cuddly and happy and just so sweet.  One day when I picked her up, she laid her head on my shoulder.  We had this conversation:

     Me: I love you Karsten!
     Karsten: I love you too, Mommy!
     Me: I love you more!
     Karsten: I love you FIVE!

Guess my "more" sounded a lot like "four".  Ha!



Karsten LOVES some Winnie the Pooh.  We are constantly hearing "I wanna watch Mimi-ma-poo, Mommy!"


Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Princess Halloween

I am on a mad rush to get all caught up with my pre-Thanksgiving posts, so here we go!  Coming up on this little blog of mine... Halloween!

In late-September, the girls and I were walking through Target when we realized that the Halloween decor was already out.  Kate begged to walk through the aisles, so we did. We turned the corner of the first aisle, and immediately Kate spotted a Princess Elena costume.  For those who are unfamiliar with this princess, she is one of the newest on Disney Junior. She is a Spanish princess and my girls have come to LOVE Princess Elena, of Avalor.

Kate BEGGED for the costume but up to this point she had not even mentioned being Princess Elena for Halloween, so I was hesitant to get it. I mean we were still 6 weeks away from the actual holiday and anyone with small kids knows that they will change their minds one hundred million times.  But she begged and begged so I told her I would get it, but she HAD to be Princess Elena and couldn't change her mind. I also told her that she couldn't wear the costume until Halloween.  I think this was a good call because she never wavered in her decision to dress up as Princess Elena.

Now - since Kate was going to be Princess Elena, what did Karsten want to be?  Princess Elena, of course.  With her birthday at the beginning of October, we gave her both the Princess Elena dress and the Princess Anna dress (from Frozen).  Up until a few days before Halloween, Karsten kept insisting that she was going with the Elena costume.  Eventually she did switch to Princess Anna, which I think is more fitting with her Frozen obsession.

SO - here are our two Disney princesses on Halloween....


Aren't they the cutest?  Kate was especially proud that I let her wear lipstick.  She even made me reapply it 2 times during the night. :) 

Princess Anna was in full-on run mode all night long. 



And Princess Elena looks 13 years old.  Seriously.  Where did my five year old go? 



We actually went trick-or-treating with some friends in a nearby neighborhood and in true halloween fashion, the girls each got 30 lbs of candy. Nearly a month later, and we still have a ton of candy sitting in a bucket on top of our refrigerator.  Surely we aren't the only ones? 


And that, friends, was our Halloween. 



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Pumpkin Carving

One of my favorite fall traditions as a kid was carving our pumpkin.  Kristi and I would typically draw out what we wanted the face to look like, and my dad made it happen.  I'm pretty sure it was already apparent at a young age that she and I were not all that creative because our pumpkins always had the same triangle eyes, upside down triangle nose, and crooked toothy grin.  Always.  Clearly we were both destined to be CPAs instead of something a little more "artsy".  Anyway, my dad always did the actual carving, but Kristi and I were the ones to pull the "guts" out of the pumpkin. We loved it.

The girls have been so young, they never really got into the whole pumpkin-carving experience. We have done it, but they just didn't care.  Not this year.  Kate had been begging for weeks to carve a pumpkin so the weekend before Halloween I (stupidly) bought one of those carving sets at Target and brought it home.

I cut off the top, pulled on the stem, and tried to get the girls to start pulling out the seeds and junk. It was a no-go. Kate would NOT touch it.  It took some convincing, but then Karsten went to town digging stuff out.


Eventually Kate was convinced to try it out, but she made sure to use a spoon so her hands and fingers didn't touch anything. 






I said "stupidly" earlier, because the pumpkin carving kit that I bought had all of these designs for you to actually carve out. No easy triangles on our pumpkin. Kate picked out an owl, and so guess who had to carve that out?  I'll give you a hint, it wasn't Kate or Karsten.  Kate was so proud of her pumpkin though. 


It's a little hard to make out what it is in the daylight, but once the sun went down and we stuck a candle in it, you could definitely make out the owl. 


And that, my friends, was our 2016 pumpkin!


Friday, November 4, 2016

1-2-3-4, 1-2-3-4, C-L-E-M-S-O-N!!!

A few weekends ago, I took the girls with me to Clemson's homecoming.  And yes, I took them by myself. Crazy, huh?

Technically I wasn't completely by myself.  I drove to Clemson by myself, which is always an adventure since traffic backs up miles before you even get to the town.  We parked in an area of campus that I used to live, because I know we can easily get out of there, and then walked halfway across campus to meet some of my family to check out the homecoming floats. So I wasn't alone all day, but with 2 kids, just parking and getting across town in the crowd wasn't easy.




After the floats, we walked the rest of the way across campus to get to our tailgate. And then we ate!


Here is our Clemson crew for the day. Love it when my family gets together. We were missing MANY people but still so fun.

Usually Kevin comes to the Clemson games too but he'd already had plans to go to the Georgia/Vanderbilt homecoming game with friends. Karsten had never been to a Clemson football game so I knew this would be an experience for her!



Near the end of the game she started saying "I'm all done now. Bye Bye Clemson!" and waving to the field.  I knew it was over at that point, and since Clemson was LOSING, I didn't want to stay until the end anyway.   To be honest, I was a little nervous about possibly walking all the way across campus by myself, with both kids, and being in the middle of 80,000 people.  I mean Kate doesn't exactly listen very well sometimes and I could just picture her taking off running from me and getting separated.  So I was more than happy to leave at the end of the 3rd quarter. 






We walked back to the car and I just about died.  Clearly I am not in shape anymore and Clemson's hills are intense anyway.  Add a 40+ pound stroller, holding a 25 pound girl, and my back and legs were toast.  I was sore days later.  We stopped multiple times for "Kate" to rest, but I was happy for the breaks too.  When we were just about to the car Kate looked at me and we had this little golden conversation:

Kate: Mommy, this was a TERRIBLE idea. 
Me: What? Coming to the Clemson game? 
Kate: Yes! 
Me:  Why? I thought you had fun. Do you mean because of all of this walking??
Kate: Yeah. You shoulda been a Georgia fan like Daddy. He didn't make me walk this far.

Clearly Daddy found a better parking space a few weeks ago than I did.

I assumed both kids would fall asleep on the ride home since it had been a long day.  That was NOT the case.  They were wide awake and wired.  They had a blast, and so did I.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Snaggle Tooth

Sooner than I'd hoped or imagined, Kate lost her first tooth!  Not sure why I thought that this milestone was normally reached during first grade, but apparently that isn't the case anymore.  One of my best friends has a little boy who is a few months younger than Kate.  When I saw that he'd lost his first tooth back in the summer, I knew it wasn't too far off for Kate.

Apparently I was right.


When school let out for fall break, one of Kate's bottom teeth was loose, but not incredibly so.  For her first full day out of school, she must have wiggled that tooth all day! That is all we can figure because when she got home that evening, this tooth was barely hanging on!  She asked her Daddy to pull it, so he tied a string around it and 2 seconds later, it was out.  For the girl who is blood and pain averse (as in, she dramatically overreacts to nearly everything!), she did great. 

She was so excited to put the tooth by her bedside and for the tooth fairy to visit her. The next morning she woke up to a note and a $5 bill.  Her first reaction was "I'm gonna leave this tooth here again tonight so the tooth fairy can come back!"  Ha! Smart girl.  I was quick to tell her that it didn't work out that way. 

But look at this! Can't believe how grown up she is getting lately.  I better stop blinking or she'll be in high school.






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