This new route put us on a highway frontage road south towards Fort Collins Colorado, and then it would take us back up to Laramie Wyoming.  This route would normally double our drive time in normal weather.  Since we were on a frontage road just after a snow storm, it added about three more hours to our trip.  Still not too bad in my mind, it was interesting.

The good thing is that we finally got out of Cheyenne and had a route to Laramie and were back on track.  The bad thing was that as we were driving on the snow covered frontage road (going about 20 miles per hour), we saw a lot of traffic on the highway.  Apparently we did not have to take the frontage road to take this detour, although I have no idea how people got on the highway.  Anyway we made to to Laramie and were back on our way.

We had thought about possibly driving through the night and as we neared Rock Springs Wyoming, we decided that we would go ahead and trudge on.  The kids had been great, thanks in part to our portable DVD player, and they were already sleeping soundly.

Day Two

We drove through the night passing Salt Lake City, where I would have loved to make a stop…maybe next time.  Things were going well, kids sleeping, me staying awake.  I wasn’t tired at all, I was excited about the trip, enjoying the ride, and I really do love driving.

Alex woke up for his usual middle of the night bottle.  We are trying to ween him off of the bottle and try to only give him milk around the time he sleeps (just before nap, before bed, and the middle of the night).  He has trouble sleeping and we are trying associate milk with sleep-time.  So, we kept milk in a cooler for just this occasion.

At about two or three in the morning Alex throws up!  Not just a little either, vomit all over himself and his car seat.  There were large puddles in every possible area.  Of course this happens when we’re nowhere near a town or gas station.  We got him out of the car, changed his soaked clothes, cleaned up his car seat the best we could, put a blanket down in the car seat, and got back on our way.

With the car now smelling like sour milk and vomit, Alex is back asleep and we can continue on.  We drove the rest of the night without any problems…until the morning.  About an hour before daybreak, he vomited again.  Even more vomit this time!!! I could not believe it, poor kid.  We used up the last of our blankets and wet wipes getting him cleaned up.  Be careful of milk in a cooler kids.  Actually, I think it was car-sickness more than spoiled milk.  Regardless, we decided to not give him anymore milk.

On a Dark Desert Highway

Our goal next was to make it out of Nevada and into Oregon.  Reaching Winnemucca, NV around daylight. From here, we had to take route 140 to Denio Junction (boarder of Nevada and Oregon).  About 100 miles of Nevada desert, on a small state route with no towns in between.

This was a long stretch. Boring, slow, small road with no traffic…and no speed limit signs!  I wanted to go as fast as we were allowed, but had no clue what the speed limit was.  The last sign I saw read 55, I think, so were going about that speed.  This took forever.  Later we realized that Nevada has areas without speed limits!  Going a bit faster on this leg would have a made a world of difference…oh well.

We finally made it to the Denio Junction and saw our fist sign welcoming us to Oregon!  Google Maps had some trouble getting us through this area, possibly because cell reception was a bit sketchy.  We missed a turn, but were soon back on track.  Into Nevada again and through some mountains and we would then officially be traveling through Oregon.

Oregon!!!

We finally made it to Oregon.  The change of scenery from rocky desert to plush mountainous green was welcomed and almost instant.  Practically as soon as we reached the Oregon border, the landscape changed dramatically.  It was such a good feeling.

Just a few more hours and we would reach our destination.  The countryside was so beautiful that even being up all night, and driving through the desert in a vomit scented car, the drive was enjoyable.

We stopped in Lakeview for lunch, it is a cute little ski town.  Already thinking that I would love to live here.  Next stop was Klamath Falls.  We decided to take a long break at Moore Park in Klamath to let the kids stretch their legs and get some energy out.  What a ridiculously huge lake! We had, fun and the park was amazing.

Final Destination

Medford, Oregon approximately 5pm.  We checked into our hotel, Super 8 in Central Point.  We chose this hotel because they had a  pool.  We thought it would be a great amenity for the kids.

I had stayed a Super 8’s before and really did not have very high expectations for this one.  I was pleasantly surprised to see how new and clean the lobby and room were.  The people were very friendly and helpful.  The pool was great!  It was a little frustrating to find out that they did not allow pool toys though.  Kids love to swim, but it would have been so much more fun if they would have allowed toys…oh well.

 

After checking into the hotel we went to visit Sarah’s parents and her brother.  It had been several years since we had seen them and it was nice to see how happy everyone was to see each other again.

BeanBoozled

Ever since we picked up the BeanBoozled jelly beans, Delilah had been bugging us to try them out.  We had told her that we should wait until we got to Medford so we could taste them out with her uncle.  Glad we waited, he is fun guy.

This turned out to be a very entertaining experience.  I was amazed at how the flavors were exactly how they were supposed to be.  Although, this was not exactly a good thing.  After driving for so long in a car that smells like vomit and sour milk, I ended trying two jelly beans at the same time.  Just happened to be vomit and sour milk…let’s just say that this really tested my gag reflex.  It was a lot of fun though.  I would recomend BeanBoozled for anyone, just stay away from real thing beforehand.

After a long day, finally reaching our destination, visiting with family, and experiencing the taste of vomit, boogers, dog food, and grass, we were ready for some rest.  Back to the hotel.

Redwood Forest and Beach

Our next adventure consisted of a drive through the redwood forest and a day at the beach.  Of course we had to stop and see the trees.  We found a great spot near a slow flowing river.  The kids both had a lot of fun playing in the water and climbing around the giant trees.

We spent a little too much time in the forest, plus we got a bit of a late start and we ended up getting to the beach in the late afternoon.  It was a bit chilly so we did not swim in the ocean.  We did have tons of fun playing in the water though.  Alex kept running to water, he really would have loved swimming in the ocean. We will definitely have to take the kids to the beach another time.

After driving all the way from central Nebraska to the west coast ocean, we ate at McDonalds.  Ha! It was late, getting dark and we were cold and wet.  We needed to eat, but we also had to get back to town and just went with the first food place we could find.  I think when I was in Belize, I ate at McDonalds too.  They’re everywhere! Someone could probably have a travel/food blog just about eating at McDonalds all over the world!

Ashland

Ashland, about ten miles from our hotel.  Growing up around artists and having some influence in music, I was excited to visit this “crunchy” little town known for it’s artistic charm and world-renowned Shakespeare festival.

A little back story.  I grew up in Tucson and was inspired by music and art at a young age.  Tucson’s most colorful area is 4th avenue, Downtown and near the University of Arizona. I remember just walking around there at random times, there was always something entertaining going on.  On a slow day there would at least be a street performer or someone walking around reciting poetry.  And there were always the friendly “crunchy” “hippie” types who are always up for stimulating conversation.

I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with Ashland.  I was expecting it to be like Tucson’s downtown area, but bigger and better.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very nice and very artistic.  I just assumed there would be more street entertainment.    It was fun for sure, but I had expected to maybe meet some of the “crazies”.  Someone told me that they had banned smoking in the downtown area to keep the “hippie” locals from loitering, making it more appealing for tourists.  I wish they hadn’t have done that. Oh well.

We had a nice walk in Lithia Park.  Although, of course we did not cover all 96 acres. This park was huge, and we only got see a small taste of it.  Very lush and shady with plenty of little trails, water, and activity areas.  It was getting to be pretty hot so we decided to cool off indoors and get some food.

We decided to eat at Sesame Asian Kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised in the restaurant.  I usually have high standards when comes to restaurants.  I don’t think that I’m a jerk or anything, I just maybe expect more at most places, but I believe I’m fair in my criticisms.

But I digress, this place was amazing!  It was in the afternoon and they were a bit slow, but the service was great.  Out waiter was prompt, knew the menu, and was the perfect amount of friendly, knowledgeable, and outgoing.  Wish I could remember his name. I had the Stone Rice Bowl, their version of bimimbap crispy rice.  It consisted of bok choy, shiitakes, kimchee, pickled cucumber, bean sprouts, fried egg, scallions, and korean chili paste.  I asked them to make it extra spicy.  It was amazing!! The stone bowl crisped the rice to perfection and the combination of flavors was excellent.  A great blend of fresh and cooked, sweet and salty, bitter and umami.  Very impressed and very happy, I would recommend Sesame Asian Kitchen to anyone.

We continued to walk around an check out the shops.  I have to say, I wasn’t really impressed with anything.  Like I said before though, I have been a bit spoiled before with the artsy stuff. It was getting pretty hot and kids were anxious to go to the pool, so we headed back back to the hotel.

Crater Lake

Our next destination was Crater Lake.  It was a beautiful day.  We were watching the temperature drop as we headed up the mountain.  I think we saw it get down to 55 degrees.  Kept seeing more and more snow and dreading the cold again.  But the sun was shining bright and I was so amazed at how warm it felt.  It almost felt like we were at a nice beach in California.

This place was beautiful. The lake was formed from volcanic activity.  We did not get very close to the lake, but from the top of the mountain it was absolutely gorgeous.  The lake reflected just like a mirror.  At times, it was hard to tell where the horizon over the lake actually started.

Almost Over

We spent the next a day or so with Sarah’s Sister and her family.  Mostly just visiting and enjoying their semi-secluded property near Klamath Falls.

We really enjoyed visiting with family and didn’t want to trip to end.  It was such a relaxing setting and pleasant area, I wanted to stay.  Of course we couldn’t though.  We savored every minute we had left and really enjoyed the rest of our visit.

Homeward Bound and Yellowstone

We said our goodbyes and got back on the road home.  We decided to take bit of a detour and longer route to drive through Yellowstone National Park.  Neither of us had been there and we thought that this would be a great opportunity to check it out.

After driving half of a day and through the night, we made it to Yellowstone at about seven in the morning.  It was perfect timing.  I wanted to get there early so we could have as much time as possible to check it out.

Within minutes of entering the park, we saw some Bison with a baby.  It’s amazing to see animals like this, just hanging around with all of the people and cars driving by.  Our first destination in the park was to see some geysers on our way to Old Faithful.  Have you heard the saying “It’s not the destination, it’s journey”? Well, it couldn’t be more true in Yellowstone (this whole trip for us, for that matter).  This is some of the most beautiful  country I have ever seen.

West Geyser

So we had a chance to check out some geysers at West Gyser.  Here, we had the opportunity to get out of the car and walk through a trail that leads you through dozens of geysers.  The first thing we noticed stepping out of the car was the smell of sulfur.  It was a strong smell, but we didn’t’ mind.  The sulfur smell was easily dwarfed by the site of all of these geysers and the rainbow colors of the water and mineral deposits.  Just beautiful.

Even with the beauty of this site, we were getting excited to see Old Faithful.  It was also pretty chilly outside and the kids were getting cold.  So we got back in the car and headed for Old Faithful.

Old Faithful

The centerpiece of Yellowstone National Park.  I was surprised to see how the geyser is in the middle of essentially a town.  Buildings, hotels, gas stations, gift shops and restaurants surrounded the Old Faithful area.  The great thing is that it really doesn’t take away from the beauty of the park, especially when you consider the necessity for visitors to fill up on gas and have a place to stay the night.  The park is so big that it is almost necessary to stay at least one night.

We found a place to park and headed straight for Old Faithful to check the schedule.  There is a daily eruption schedule for the geyser that erupts about once every hour.  The timing worked out perfectly.  We arrived at the geyser just minutes before the eruption.  It was definitely an experience.  We lucked out with the timing, but ran out of luck when it came to the side of the geyser we were on.  It was still cold out, maybe about fifty-five degrees, and there was a bit of a breeze.  As the geyser started to erupt the wind gusted and covered us with water.  It was still fun though.  It only lasted a few minutes, but it was worth getting wet for.

Heading out of Yellowstone and into the Tetons

Aside from the geysers and scenic landscape, the hope to see wildlife is another attraction.  It doesn’t really sound appealing to just drive through, but the park is so beautiful and you are constantly looking for animals.  We drove through the rest of the park probably averaging about 20 miles per hour, stopping frequently to take pictures and see different sites.  I still felt that we were driving too fast.

After leaving Yellowstone, we entered the Grand Teton National Park.  What we did not realize was that we had to pay to enter, but had no choice to get back home.  A little upsetting, but worth it.  Grand Teton was a lot like Yellowstone, but with a little less traffic and a few less rules.  I liked it better, just because we could pull over pretty much when we wanted.

We ended up driving through both Yellowstone and the Tetons without seeing much in the way wildlife.  I was hoping to see some bears, we saw plenty of bison though.  After experiencing a sample taste of Yellowstone, we now must go back and get the whole seven course meal.  I would love to camp out there for at least few days and enjoy some long nature walks.  All in all, it was a wonderful and beautiful experience and a wonderful and beautiful park.  It was definitely awe inspiring and left us with warm feelings knowing that a place like this still exists in our world and is being preserved and taken care of.

The End of Our Trip

The rest of our trip was comparatively uneventful.  Once out of the mountains, the rest of the countryside is flat and pretty barren.  We drove through the night again, probably shouldn’t have.  We did stop at a rest area where I got a few hours of sleep.  By the time we got back home I was ready so sleep for a day and half…and I did.

This was our first family vacation and our first family road trip.  It was fun, full of exciting things to see and do, and a new experience for all of us.  The kids had a great time and had a chance to see some of our country’s beautiful national landmarks.

I was certainly inspired and the kids did so well on the trip.  I am already planning our next road trip.  I think we will check out Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and do a little camping in the Black Hills, but for now it is good to be home.  I can’t wait for our next road trip and another first…camping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Things Your Kid Needs to See You Do

Children are very visual learners.  They need to be led by example.  It is important to know that what they see you doing or not doing is a lesson that you are teaching them.  Parents really need to mindful of what their child sees.  Here is a quick list of 5 things a kid needs to see their parent(s) doing or not doing.

 parenting tips, things your kid or child needs to see you do
  1. Chores Around the House

Chores will always need to be done.   Might as well get your child to help out.  They really do want to feel helpful and useful.

My 1 year old son is obsessed with vacuums, brooms, and mops.  I clean the house often and he just wants to be like daddy.  I was surprised the other day when I was doing some spring cleaning.  Out of nowhere, both kids started vacuuming the house! Of course, they needed a little help here and there, but I was so elated to see them working together and having fun.  It was great entertainment for all of us and we were accomplishing something.

  1. Reading/Learning/Studying, quest for knowledge, having a question and finding the answer

“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

A child needs to see you always willing to learn and educate yourself.  This teaches many things.  Independence in solving problems, the importance of self education, using your brain, reading is cool.

  1. Get on their level, play games, do what they want to do, interact

Kids also need social interactions and fun time.  We don’t always need to be the parent, we also need to have fun on their level.  Put on funny costumes and pretend you’re their favorite cartoon characters, get hyper, do what they do.  For a child to respect you as a parent, they also need to respect you as a friend and playmate.

  1. Not Getting Upset

Children tend to have problems with patience.  It’s understandable, everything they do is new.  Doing anything for the first time is hard and can be frustrating.  For your child to see you in a frustrating situation and handling well teaches them patience.  They Even if you don’t have much patience yourself, being aware that your child is always learning from you may help you become more patient.

parenting tips, things your kid or child needs to see you do

  1. Be Stern

Kids are always learning, and they remember what they see and experience.  Too many warnings or saying one thing and changing your mind later is not good.   “No, you cannot have candy for breakfast” child cries and cries and screams “ok, here’s some candy”. This is teaching your child to cry and throw fit when you say no, and they get what they want.  Even if you only this once, they will always remember that one time and always try to duplicate the same outcome.

A Fun Food for Spring

Delilah helped make fruit spring rolls
Delilah helped make fruit spring rolls
Fruit Spring Rolls
Fruit Spring Rolls

Fruit Spring Rolls

For Easter dinner/lunch I decided on Fruit Spring Rolls.  I wanted to do something different, interesting, and fresh.  I figured that fresh fruit would add to the feel of spring.  It was also a lot fun getting Delilah involved and it was really exciting for her to feel the different texture of the rice paper.

This recipe is great fun for kids, requires a bit of technique, but as long you have a bit of patience it is a enjoyable treat.

Ingredients

1 Package of Rice Paper

1 Package of Rice Noodles

Fruits of your choice

Dipping Sauce

1 lime

1/4 cup of Honey or Agave Nectar

1 Pinch of Salt

Fresh Mint

Directions

Start with preparing your fruit.  Julienne the fruit into thin uniform slices. Don’t worry, they don’t have to be perfect.  Just try to keep the slices thin about the size of matchsticks.  I put all of the different ingredients in separate dishes so I can easily build my wraps, like an assembly line.

Cook the rice noodles.  Boil a pot of water, remove from heat and place noodles into pot for 5 minutes, gently stir.  Strain the noodles and place in a bowl or pot of cold water.  Without the water, they may stick to each other.

Time to assemble.

Fill a large bowl with hot water.  Place one sheet of rice paper into the bowl and wait about 30 seconds, then remove.  Place the rice paper onto a plate or cutting board.  Be careful not to fold it onto itself, they get sticky pretty quick.  Tip: Wet the plate or cutting board beforehand, the rice paper tends to stick.

Now stack your fruits in the center of the rice paper in a nice neat little pile, about the size of a small eggroll. Fold the bottom section of the rice paper over the fruit pile and lightly tuck under.  Next, fold the sides over and roll to complete the wrap.  Set your spring roll onto a platter.

Repeat the process until you have completed all of your spring rolls.  Be careful not to let them touch each other on the platter, they will stick.

Dipping Sauce

Combine in a bowl, zest and juice of 1 lime, honey, chopped mint, and salt.  Stir or whisk to incorporate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Overwhelmed and Stressed Parent: 10 Tips to Help Cope

Overwhelmed and Stressed

Parenting is a challenge.  Especially if you work a full-time job.  Kids are always needing something, always making a mess, and almost always doing something to get on your nerves.  Not to sound like an ungrateful parent,  I love my kids and wouldn’t trade them for the world, but it can be frustrating and stressful.  Laundry piling up, screaming kids, dirty dishes in the sink, spouse frustrated and upset because the house is mess.  This stuff snowballs pretty quick, any parent could easily find themselves overwhelmed and stressed.

As a parent, I have found that it is extremely helpful to have a schedule or routine of things to do throughout the day, or when I get home from work.  It is also gratifying to have time for myself in a quiet and clean house.

Here is a list of ten things that I do that make my life, and everyone’s lives a little bit easier:

1. FIND YOURSELF A HOBBY

A hobby is a great way of relieving stress and keeping the mind occupied.  By giving yourself a “me time”, you are connecting with yourself and providing an outlet for your frustration.  Like a form of meditation, this reduces stress and helps to keep you from feeling overwhelmed.  Since this time is for you, you are more likely to give yourself a schedule and make sure you adhere to it

2. ALWAY BE PICKING UP AND PUTTING THINGS AWAY

There is no way that you and/or your spouse are going to keep the house in order by just picking up once or twice a day.  It may work if you are single or don’t have kids, but this will NOT work once you do.

A kids job (at least in my experience, is what they truly believe) is to ALWAYS have fun, be loud, and make messes.  Both of my children are very very good at their “jobs”, they could be considered masters.  But I digress, this must be countered by ALWAYS constantly trying to keep up.

I try to pick something up or put something away every time I walk into a room.  To wait until they go to bed or are done playing just does not work.  The messes simply get worse, take longer to clean up, and you will always feel overwhelmed.  Not to mention the stress on yourself or your spouse when he/she comes home to a messy house.

3. Fresh Diaper, Full Stomach

A baby will almost always sleep much better with a fresh diaper and full stomach.  Preferably in that order.  Don’t want to wake the baby to change a diaper, if he/she falls asleep while eating.

This one is pretty much common sense. But if you are a new parent, common sense sometimes goes out the window.  Screaming baby, sleepless nights, about a million new changes to your life.  It can be stressful and difficult to think sometimes.

4. Don’t give your kids a bath

Don’t bathe your kids (at least not every single day). Regardless of what you may think or hear, many sources suggest that a bath everyday may actually be bad for your child (and yourself for that matter).  Bathing removes the body’s natural oils that nourish and protect the skin.  By skipping a bath day, you can have more time to relax, a have fun with your kids, cook a more complicated meal, or just have one less thing to worry about today.

5. Keep the kitchen sink empty

This goes along with picking things up.  I cannot stress enough though. The more often you clean up the little messes, the less stressful everything is at the end of the day.  These things don’t just sit there waiting to get taken care of and you can easily find yourself overwhelmed.  With kids, messes pile up like Tetris.  In my house, there are times where literally there is a new bowl or cup or utensil…or stuffed bear wearing a tutu, every five minutes in the sink.

6. Plan a meal ahead of time

I really love food and like to get fancy sometime, but don’t always have the time.  I try to plan our meals at least one meal ahead.  A lot of our meals require thaw time or lengthy cook times, such as crock pot meals, or just plain take time to cut and prep.

Planning ahead and starting at the previous meal allows for saved time and healthier menu plans. Doesn’t take long to prepare frozen fish sticks, French fries, and Jell-O cups. But how healthy is that? It doesn’t take much extra effort to skin some potatoes and carrots while cleaning up after lunch. Then to throw them in the crock pot with a roast and onion soup mix.  Add some beef stock and get on with your day.

7. Always have snacks Prepared

My kids both eat like teenagers.  They are food freaks.  Just like most kids, they can picky.  Thankfully they don’t complain about eating their fruits and veggies.  Delilah (my 5-year-old) often asks for a snack minutes after she finishes a meal.

I have found that keeping snack foods that are prepared ahead of time is a real time saver.  My kids may have less patience than others, but when they’re hungry…they’re “starving!!”  I am a lot less stressed and a lot less frustrated with them, if I prepare snacks and meals on my time, not theirs.

Furthermore, I always try to keep their diet balanced by keeping “junk” snacks down to a minimum.  It’s much quicker and easier to give your child a handful of potato chips than to get out a cutting board and knife, wash and peel and slice some veggies. And then you have to clean up, ugh.  But if it’s already been prepared ahead of time (like when you are prepping the next meal), then it’s all gravy.

8. Be prepared for the worst

Give a one year old a full cup (not a sippy) of water and you can imagine what might happen.  Not to say you shouldn’t do it, but knowing what to expect and being prepared helps to prevent a lot of needless stress.

By always being prepared for what your child MIGHT do, you may better appreciate what he/she DOES do.  This way you are turning the tables on what I see a lot of other parents do, fear the unexpected and be thankful for the expected.  Instead, thinking this way trains your mind to be more aware of the consequences of what your child is getting into.  You can then be more appreciative of the surprises and more accepting of the already anticipated.

9. Schedule nap/bedtime

Having a set time for naps a bed has been an extremely useful tool to have in my parenting box.  Kids need to be guided.  That is what parenting is about.  A one year old may just fall asleep at 8 or 9 and nap throughout the naturally, but still needs the regular routine.  They will subconsciously know after a while and be more willing to go to sleep.

You can’t just say “it’s bedtime” and expect your child to understand and want to go to bed. Using several subtle hints leading up to bed helps to make things go a lot smoother.  Alex (my one year old) has always had trouble getting to sleep, here is a list of our routine leading up to his 8 o’clock bedtime:

  1. At 7, The lights are dimmed.
  2. At 730, Playtime is over, fresh diaper, and we sit down to relax with a quiet entertaining movie or tv show.
  3. Lights are dimmed a bit more and a warm bottle with blanket and pillow.
  4. Pretty much directly after bottle is time for bed

As long as this done every night, as mush as possible, he is more and more willing to go to sleep at bedtime. He is also learning to associate the dimmed lights and pillow and blanket with bedtime.

Delilah (my five-year old), on the other hand, has a later bedtime and doesn’t get tired.  She just passes out when runs out of gas.  So we also try to keep the routine going for her.  She just gets to stay up later than Alex.  I usually give her warning that our “couch time” is getting near and give her a countdown leading up  to it.

10. Say it and mean it

This one is the most important, and find myself slipping every once in a while to.  Say it and mean it.  Be stern, be strong, be a parent.  You are not your child’s friend, you can be fun and playful, but ultimately you are the parent, the boss, the leader.

You say “one piece of candy” and he/she whines and begs for more.  Do NOT let them win…EVER! The one time you give in and let your child have another piece of candy (or whatever they’re whining about) after you said no, is the time where they’re learning the most.  Your child has now learned “if I cry and keep begging, at some point I will get what I want”

From this moment on, your child will always be  hoping for the same scenario as last time.  The more you let them get away with it, the harder they will try next time.  Giving in and going back on what you already said is a very slippery slope and a very dangerous game.

 

 

 

 

 

A "Mom Blog" for fathers and husbands